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It’s smart to pretend to be stupid – here are six reasons why



We Overestimate…

It's Smart To Pretend Stupid…what we think we know and we underestimate what we don’t know. We think we’re pretty smart.  We move quickly.  We think quickly.  We know how to solve problems and get things done. We’re pretty smart and we act like it.

Guess what?

Acting Smart Is Stupid

When we believe we Know-It-All, we don’t…

  • Listen
  • Observe
  • Ask Questions
  • Take Notes
  • Study
  • Imagine

When we’re secure in our smartness, we stop growing.  If we stop growing , while things and people around us, vibrate and whistle with change, disruption and evolution revolution, we’re doomed.  It’s just a matter of time.  Doomed.  Doomed. Doomed.

So let’s down trip that trail.  Instead, I believe…

Acting Stupid Is Smart

What I think we should do, is consciously engage as if we were stupid. Yes. I propose we pretend to be stupid.

If we were stupid instead of smart, we would…

  • Listen
  • Observe
  • Ask Questions
  • Take Notes
  • Study
  • Imagine

When our big-brains and hyper-keen attention, revs from an over confident idle to WFO, we discover and uncover what we need to help us grow.  If we stay sharp and renew ourselves, we will remain relevant, attractive and choosable. Choosable. Choosable. Choosable.

So let’s keep this in mind….

The kiss of doom is over-estimating what we think we know and under-estimating what we don’t.

What-uh-ya say?  Let’s make a pact.  Just between us Smarty Pants People.  Let’s be even smarter than we thought we were, by acting as if were stupid.  Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


Cheers and thanks for reading.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Jordan

    April 12, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Alright so I figured this out when I was just a teenager! It wasn’t for business–it was for boys! They would slip and say something sort of offensive to their buddy right in front of me and quickly glance in my direction. I totally heard it, but if I acted like I had no interest in their conversation, they’d relax and continue the boy to boy talk and I’d get to hear it all! Sneaky, I know. Playing dumb has so many upsides.

    Let me clarify, not “blond moment” dumb, just unassuming-not-quite-sure-tell-me-more dumb. 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Ken Brand

      April 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

      I’m not surprised. Experience has taught me that the female tribe is consistently crafty. Not really pretending to be stupid, more like slipping their ego into neutral and acting casual, while they soak it all in.

      I know sometimes, hopefully not as often these days, my guy-ego won’t shut the hell up and I miss out on what’s really going on at the moment.

      Thanks for sharing, Smarty Pants.


  2. Tavia Ritter

    April 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I love this.
    I think if more people would close thier mouth and open their ears…they could open their minds to other points of view and expand on so many levels. (including in business, folks!)
    One of the biggest issues I see with people struggling to make something of themselves is the inability to get out of their own way.
    Ask questions.
    Then be quiet and listen to the answers.
    Then ask more questions.
    We don’t know everything, and that’s okay.

  3. Gina Kay Landis

    April 12, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Ken, ater being the answer person most of my life to many people, I found that this feeds the “know-it-all-ready-answer” syndrome. Since figuring that out, I try not to jump in *all* the time with a bit of knowledge because frankly, to do so right away means I will (as you noted) miss something – a key point, a nuance… so monitoring myself has been key, (and difficult), to any successes I have had in any area in life.

    • Ken Brand

      April 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

      After a while, it’s easy to think we’ve seen and heard this movie umpteen-dozen times. We hear it again and our brain-waves wink-out, while we wait to solve the problem. The problem is because we’re sleep walking in our smartness, we miss what’s important.

      Cheers to self-monitoring Gina.

  4. BawldGuy

    April 12, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I think we may have shared a Grandma. 🙂 This post reminded me fondly of a couple things she endlessly repeated to me.

    You know what you know ’till someone knows more or knows it better.

    If you ever just think you’re pretending not to know it all, you’re already doomed.

    How many times have we heard half of a random sentence and learned something astounding?

  5. Ken Brand

    April 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

    You know Jeff, I grew up running the streets, canyons and beaches of San Diego. Went to Bay Park Elementary and Clairemont High. Who knows, maybe we’re related.

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but yeah, I’m always blown away by how smart, clever, insightful and wise some people are. Especially if I shut the hell up, quiet my inner-voices and simply sit and listen, observe and think real hard.

  6. BawldGuy

    April 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

    My most recent listing was a couple baseball throws from Clairemont Hi. 🙂

  7. Peggy

    April 12, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Hi, Ken: I’m new to your blogs, but enjoyed reading them. I agree with you about not acting like the smartest person in the room all of the time. As a self-employed investigator, I have used this technique for several years in interviewing individuals. In order to get people to trust you, open up, and share information, you have to gain their respect and trust. Being, or acting like the smartest person in the room, actually only feeds your ego, and sometimes just intimidates or alienates the other person. it doesn’t always benefit you and it does not always get you where you need to be. I often have to tell myself to just stay quiet and listen and I will gain more information and insight than I ever would by talking. Thanks for the great advice and your input on the subject.

  8. Ken Brand

    April 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Good point Peggy. I guess we should all be open-minded investigators. You make some great points, and now I’m thinking another reason to pretend stupid is maybe the smart people we interact with are playing stupid and learning that the BIG EGO in the room, who isn’t listening, is actually the dumb one….but they (BIG EGO) don’t know it. Arrgggg….reverse, reverse dimensional thinking.

    Thanks for the feedback. Cheers.

  9. Ramadan Radwan

    April 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    i just wanted to take some time to thank you for the post.

    we always learn at our life,

    just wanted to mention the Difference between who is learn and who is not it’s like the life and death

  10. Joe Loomer

    April 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I was once at a Navy conference where the agenda was to revamp the whole bibliography of study materials for Navy Cryptologists to make it more current and relevant. One of the publications on the chopping block was titled “Security and Emergency Destruction.” The room was chock-a-bloc with big hitters in our little slice of Navy-dom, all spouting how out-dated and obsolete the material was (a course designed to teach safeguarding highly classified material, and how to destroy it securely and rapidly in the case of emergency/enemy acts, etc.). The conversation went on for a good 45 minutes until Master Chief Wally Bischer – who had not said a word – simply stated “what’s the fastest way to make a CT (crypto-tech) a non-CT (lose their job)?”

    He acted stupid up until the point he revealed his brilliance – keep the course and update it, or remove it and risk compromise of material due to lack of education.

    My comment may not be too relevant to most folks on here – but it’s the first thing I thought of – my big mouth got me in to plenty of pinches in my younger days – pinches I could have avoided by shutting up and listening before acting. Thanks for another great referesher, Ken!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Ken Brand

      April 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm

      We should all wear a muzzle for a day. See what we learn?

  11. Paul Stoltzfus

    April 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Refreshing you are, Ken!

    • Ken Brand

      April 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      Now if I can practice what I preach, I’d really be something. Thanks Paul

  12. Andrew McKay

    April 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Warning a big generalization coming up:) I’m a Brit who spent a year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now live in Canada where my daughter is at elementary school. The North American education system in my (limited) experience encourages and rewards the student to say something, anything. The number of classes I took where a student just repeated what had been said by the teacher was in the majority. At my daughters school you get get marks for contributing anything. Even at Real estate school hans would shoot up to ask the most inane questions.
    If your educated this way its a difficult habit to break, to just keep your mouth shut..

    • Ken Brand

      April 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      Interesting observation. Speak Up is most definitely what’s taught and what attracts attention these days. When I was a kid, way back in the days of Gas Wars, Pong and Rabbit Ear Antennas, my dad would smack us if we broke the rule, “Don’t speak until spoken too.” Sadly, over the years I’ve grown to talk more than i listen. Trying to come correct. Cheers and thanks for the feedback.

  13. rob white

    April 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I love this concept Ken. I have a little trick I use to break that barrier. I often preface a question or of statement with “I have a stupid question…” or “Here’s a stupid idea…” and proceed. What comes next is usually insightful OR it IS stupid… but who cares since you taken all the negative energy out of feeling stupid. The only stupid idea is NO idea.

    • Ken Brand

      April 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

      Nice point Rob. Vanishing the tension and relaxing into it. Smart stuff. Thanks.

  14. Anthony @ Indianapolis Real Estate

    April 15, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Good advice. I know a former professor of applied Mathematics who said that once he reached the highest terminative level of Math — a Ph.D. — he realized how much he DIDN’T know. Whereas he would constantly encounter individuals who were studying at the lower levels of math, such as Bachelor’s level students who thought the knew a lot about math.

    The point is, no matter how much we think we know, it’s not nearly as much as we actually know, and sometimes it takes trying to completely master a subject, to learn all that is humanly possible to know about it, to finally arrive at an appreciation for how little we REALLY know.

    • Ken Brand

      April 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Anthony, As you’ve shared, the truth is, the more you know, the more you know, you don’t know. Here’s a quote from American Gangster, it applies here, “The loudest one in the room is the weakest.” Not always 100% true, but something to think about.

      Thanks for the share.

  15. Susie Blackmon

    April 16, 2010 at 5:38 am

    There is one guaranteed way to make men act stupid.

    • Ken Brand

      April 16, 2010 at 6:03 am

      Susie, the benefits are multi-dimentionsal;-)

  16. Agent for Movoto

    January 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    This is a strategy that has stood the test of time over and over. And you’re making a good point overall…. but I think we all know that nobody expects stupid people to listen and observe carefully…..

  17. "Stupid" Sadistic Girl

    May 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Had I seen this post when I was in elementary school I would have called it blasphemy, but I figured this out in my middle school years. I’m 18 now and every now and then my intelligence will get the best of me when proving a point. I have noticed that I have perfected the art of being “stupid.” I came to realize this when a couple of adults were looking at me strangely after I made a statement about legal policy.

    Now, the statement would be known to anyone if they knew the laws of the state and country. The statement was about how anyone can manipulate the law to benefit their situation and how easy it was to manipulate people who were to have no common sense. This was something that I just expressed my opinion on and didn’t think twice before relaying what I thought. The expressions on their face was almost hysterical (in my point of view) they went from over-confident adults to bewildered and frighten children.

    Granted I’m not saying that I like to scare people; I’m stating that I did not know that I seemed so “stupid” to them that with one expression of knowledge would bewilder and frighten them so. I like being “stupid” not because I like to learn more or gain knowledge of the confusing world of the lives around me but for only one main reason. I like to watch those around me fumble and fall.

    I probably seem like a wicked and vile person and no doubt to some I am. I am not trying to hide this fact. I am not nice nor am I kind I will do what benefits me in the end. Now, I’m not looking for judgment or guidance from the path I’ve chosen. I am just stating how I perceive this idea and what experience I have gained from this. Think as you will “she is young she will learn better” I know those lines well but in reality the world is what you make of it both cruel and kind. I will take advantage of both sides and create my mind’s paradise. One day I may come to see this is not the case and I will learn but until then I will try my best to make what I can out of the life I’ve been given.

  18. Sigh

    May 21, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    This article is gompletely false and operates on assumptions no “smart” person would make. Intelligent people are always curious and open to learning new things. That’s WHY we’re smart. It’s the idiots who falsely believe they are smart who stubbornly refuse to learn anything.

  19. Adrian Wnorowski

    August 13, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Durp. Di. Durp. Please teach me something. Someone.

    Please! I’m so dumb! 😉

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace,, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

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The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
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  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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