The Smartest Guy in the Room Syndrome

The Smartest Guy in the Room Syndrome
By   David Silverman
Category: Entreprenurialism, Small Business

I’ve seen it too many times.A friend introduces me to someone with an idea for a business—usually a technology company, but not always—and the person starts off by saying, “It’s kind of complicated, I’ll try to explain, but you might not understand.”

And I’ve already stopped listening.

That’s not entirely true. I will listen, because that’s my job as a business therapist, but I know this person has a long way to go before they are ready to turn their idea into a successful business. Of course the idea is complicated.

The guy probably spent his whole career in some industry and then, whamo!, he sees how things can be done better and puts together a product or service idea that no one has ever seen before. I am sure the fellow is a genius, like Einstein or the guys in those Guiness ads. (Beer! In glass! Brilliant!)

But the difference between Einstein and someone trying to sell a rocket ship based on Einstein’s theories, is that one was being smart and the other one is trying to get my money. To get someone to part with their hard earned cashola, you have to make them effortlessly understand what the invention does.

A cellular telephone is wildly complicated, but any teenager can tell you why they want one—and it has nothing to do with carrier detect multiplexing. So the next time you are pitching your fabulous new invention, be sure to let the customers and investors know why someone would want the thing. Which, come to think of it, is what those Guiness people are very, very good at.


David Silverman, the Business Therapist, is author of the forthcoming book, Typo, The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost $4 Million (An Entrepreneur’s Education). He can be contacted via his website, www.agman.com