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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

The Body Shop’s new policy is first come, first employed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) An issue that has been on a lot of peoples minds recently is fair hiring standards, be from sex, race, or age discrimination to former prisoners.



The body shop hires prisoners

Anyone who has tried to get a job in the last decade can tell you that hiring is getting near dystopian. Everyone has heard jokes about needing 5 years of experience for an entry level job or the combined skillset of 3 positions to get one job. Things have gotten to the point where even some large companies are wondering if maybe hiring (and getting hired) shouldn’t be so complicated?

The Body Shop is making a radical change in the way they hire their retail employees this summer. They will be hiring on a first-come first-serve basis. Employees must meet three criteria to apply, but beyond that it’s open season – or “open hiring” as they are calling it.

1. Must be authorized to work in the U.S.
2. Can lift over 50lbs
3. Can stand for 8 hours

The company will not be performing drug tests or background checks for this “open hiring” round. The goal is to remove some of the barriers to entry for people seeking employment. This move will be hugely beneficial to the formerly incarcerated and people who have minor offenses on their record.

The Body Shop’s U.S. GM, Andrea Blieden, said, “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

This isn’t the first time The Body Shop has tested out this hiring strategy. In December 2019, the company ran a pilot program at their distribution center. According to them, their employee turnover rate dropped from 43% to 16% and productivity improved.

This change could be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. According to, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%. To put that in perspective, that is higher than the overall national average during the Great Depression.

When established brands make big moves, people pay attention. If they continue to report success, The Body Shop’s hiring practices could be used as a case study for other businesses looking to shake up their hiring process. Perhaps in a few years, this type of hiring could become more common place among retailers.

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Stay ahead by decluttering your Instagram accounts with this new feature

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Get a head start on your spring cleaning with Instagram’s newest feature. It may become your favorite way to views others accounts.



instagram accounts

In a plot twist you weren’t expecting this week, Instagram is looking to make your life a little easier. Their newest app update includes a feature that groups accounts you follow into curated lists such as most and least interacted with or earliest followed to latest.

If you’ve ever looked at the number of people you follow on Instagram and wondered, “who the heck are these people?” then this update will make your heart sing. Instagram has been around for 10 years now, so it’s understandable that some of our follower lists have gotten a little out of control. Your friends and interests shift over time and it can be difficult to find time to actively curate your social media accounts.

Working with this new feature is simple. To access it just head on over to your Instagram profile and click “Following.” You should see a couple of categories above the list of accounts you follow. As an added bonus, you can also change the sort feature on your follower list. It can be set to show oldest accounts followed first or latest accounts firsts.

instagram accounts

For entrepreneurs and freelancers who don’t have the luxury of a full social media team (or any team at all) small features like this can be a game changer. If this feature sparks you to finally clean up your Instagram, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to keep and who to unfollow.

Why did you originally follow this account?

Does this account still serve your business interests?

What was your main purpose behind following this account? As a business owner you might follow an account on Instagram for any number of strategic reasons. Perhaps this account is a fellow business owner in your area, but they’ve since closed their doors. Chances are you’ll find more than one of these cases in your least interacted with group.

Were you looking for business advice or inspiration? When you’re just starting out with your business, you might have followed a few accounts that aimed to give advice to new business owners. Well, if you’ve been doing this for a few years, you probably already know the basic advice these types of accounts are pushing. It’s time to move on.

Do you know this account IRL? Maybe your business has moved locations or changed niche in the last few years. You might have made some great connections with fellow business owners back in the day, but you may no longer run in the same circles. If you know the person who runs the account IRL and you still want to stay connected there are two options. You can either go follow them on your personal account or you can continue following, but mute the account so it doesn’t clog up your Instagram feed.

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2020 marketing calendar – plan this year’s marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Have you ever wondered when is the best time for your ad campaign, well look no further. This marketing calendar has every event listed, even weird ones.



When you work for a small business or non-profit, marketing is one of those essential tools that can make a difference in your monthly bottom line or fundraising take. And yet it’s often a challenge for busy owners and employees to find — and take advantage of — fresh promotion opportunities.

Add this to your toolkit… a 2020 Marketing Calendar from the team at Liramail, making note of big events and days that you can use online and IRL to engage customers and donors.

February marketing calendar

Some dates are obvious… major holidays, for instance, particularly the gift-giving ones. But you can find success around other events as well. The Central Texas Food Bank uses the Super Bowl as a driver for one of their most visible annual events, the “Souper Bowl of Caring.” On a smaller scale this year, restaurants and shops around the Austin area and all over the country used January 25, Australia Day, to raise funds for bushfire relief—drawing customers into their businesses, creating community ties and doing good all at once.

This marketing calendar compiles dates both big and small, providing plenty of opportunities for tie-ins and promotions. Running a clothing boutique? Play with Fashion Week. Looking for a good cause to support? World Wildlife Day and International Women’s Day are just a few weeks away. Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day… and that’s all just in the next six weeks.

The calendar is as useful for engaging your social media audience as it is promoting IRL events. You don’t have to own a pizza place to make a post with your team celebrating International Pizza Day and quizzing your followers on their favorite topping. You don’t have to be a veterinarian to turn Love Your Pet Day into a way to engage people by encouraging them to share photos of their pets.

And if you do have a direct tie? Absolutely use it. Each March, for instance, the small Austin well-building non-profit Water to Thrive observes World Water Day with a quick Facebook fundraiser. One of the Austin-area businesses that participated in Australia Day, Bee Cave coffeehouse/boutique Runaway Luna Lifestyle, did so because of family ties there, raising several thousand dollars with an in-store event and social media promotion of a GoFundMe fundraiser.

So page through the marketing calendar, making notes of days that you can take advantage of. And don’t forget, if you’re inspired to create an in-store event or other promotion, be ready for it. Get the initial date on the calendar, and then work backwards to create a long-range plan to support your event. Check your inventory, possibly looking for related items to feature. Book your advertising, draft your newsletter, schedule your social posts. Let your audience know that something special is coming up.

Have fun with it. Add your own dates. Whether you zero in on Talk Like a Pirate Day or Make a Difference Day, you can create new opportunities for your business or non-profit and for your customers as well.

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