The Smartest Person

Did you know newspapers publish John's wise words? Here is a recent article that appeared in the Kalgoorlie Miner and the Sound Telegraph.


When we first start in our own business, we’re usually very humble and reserved. This comes from being out of our comfort zone, apprehensive and unsure about life in general.

As we grow into a more comfortable position, comfortable in our own skins and with how the business has grown, we become more confident – all of which is quite understandable. Our staff, our suppliers and members of the community look up to us as an example of “a successful person”.

However, what often happens with this growing confidence is that our humility can turn to hubris and, when this occurs, it can have serious consequences for our business and on our ability to provide effective leadership.

We stop listening to others; we form the habit of being “right”; we lose the faith of our people who (rightly) believe they are not being listened to; and the result is that we become less effective as leaders and managers of our business.

There is also a school of thought that suggests that we should also look at employing people smarter than we are. If we are afraid that a particular candidate is “too clever” what is our real fear? That we will be shown up? What is really likely to happen is that people will say “How smart was the move of employing that person?”

We should develop the courage to seek the opinions of our people (quite possibly discovering that there is a well of talent that we had not appreciated) and to consider ourselves to be fortunate when “smart” people want to work for us – even when they might be smarter than ourselves.

Latent talent lies within our people and we are being negligent in our duty as a business owner, not to uncover that talent and to utilise it, to the benefit of the business and the individual. Similarly, we are being “smart” business owners if we can recruit people that are smarter than we are in some specific regard.

The shrewdest of business owners will surround themselves with the very smartest and talented people and are grateful that those people want to work for them. The trick is to provide the environment that attracts those people, to have that environment known in the marketplace and to continually enhance it, staying ahead of the competition. In this case, the “competition” is any other business owner that would envy you having that talent available to you.

In summary:

  • Retain humility
  • Employ people smarter than you are
  • Create an environment for learning
  • Be grateful that smart people want to work here
  • Uncover the latent talent that lies within

The greatest organisations, be they business, not-for-profit, sporting or the arts are those that brim with talent; the greatest managers are those that create a work place that attracts such talent. 

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What John Matthew believes about small business

That the owner has risked many things that others take for granted;

That there is no guaranteed income or reward for the considerable effort that is required;

That often, the family home is on the line to support the business and its constituents;

That there is a dignity and self-respect that is earned;

That entire communities would be better places if there was an increased appreciation and respect for small business.

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