In business school, it always annoyed me when some of the show-off kids tried to impress a weaker student with their effortless recollection of some complex theory that was discussed in the previous lecture. I would think to myself, “Is this dude serious?” From a distance, it never mattered to me whether I was impressed by the person’s intellect because I was so turned-off by their delivery.
It took me a while growing up to figure out (and some would argue that I’m still learning) how to not be a “know-it-all.” I thought I was smarter, cooler, and more athletic than the whole lot. Then I realized that no matter how awesome that guy is, people don’t actually care.
Since witnessing the hot-head “geniuses” in classes like Advanced Corporate Financials and Global Strategy, I decided to just be honest about how well I perform and what I actually know. There are a lot of things I do know, but many that I have forgotten, or never quite grasped in the first place. I mean, can you remember the actual – and I mean the Harvard, encyclopedia style – definition for economies of scope anyways? And if someone asked you to walk them through a comprehensive list on the assumptions of the WACC formula, you would be more likely to lead them through a minefield of BS than to a valuable conclusion.
I have learned so many things throughout my time in the classroom. There were a few moments that were monumental. But there were abundantly more that were either inconsequential, numbingly intuitive, or straight away over my head.
Bottom line is, we aren’t always at our sharpest. And at times, we all still need our notebooks for reference. I find it interesting that, a few times when I’ve been in the office of corporate executives, most of them still have their Principals of Marketing or Intro to Financial Management textbooks on their shelves, just in case they draw a blank after lunch about one of the
four , wait…five P’s. Or is it four?
There are many things we can remember, and even when some of us are a little slower than others, everyday is new chance to learn. In my first few months out of graduate school, I have tried to keep learning everyday. I will continue to strive to learn everyday. Not because I want to showcase my brain for oohs and aahs, but because I want to make a difference.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and others. Let’s stop trying to prove how much we know. Let’s knock-off a bit of the competitive nonsense. Let’s all do something significant together.