Glass half-full hall-empty

It’s Okay To be The Dumbest Person In The Room

Last Updated on December 12, 2020 by Rat Race Running

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend Forward Pilipinas. It was a conference of ideas just like TED Talks.

It featured CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno, Maria Ressa, Nico Bolzico, Dr. Gyeng Chul Kim, and many more.

Forward Pilipinas Poster
Photo Credit: Primer, Forward Pilipinas Poster

Being a regular TED Talks viewer, I always wanted to attend one. So I applied for an invitation to the event.

At first, it was announced as TEDx Forward Pilipinas. However, I guess it encountered an issue with the licensing, so they proceeded anyway with just Forward Pilipinas and dropped the TEDx.

I can’t remember exactly how, but I was sure I submitted an essay before I can buy a ticket.

After a few months, I received an email that I was accepted and paid for the ticket. I was filled with both excitement and fear.

At first, I was very insecure about going. I felt I didn’t deserve to be there because other people were more qualified than me. But I went anyway.

I felt like an impostor.

On the day of the event, I came alone. I went early to find my seat and have ample time for getting lost since I was not very familiar with SM Aura SMX. (Even though I pass SM Aura every day going to and from my work at McKinley Hill).

Ticket Pass in Forward Pilipinas
My Ticket during the Forward Pilipinas Forum

After securing my seat, I felt overwhelmed by the people in attendance. I saw celebrities and other people of influence.

I felt I didn’t belong and that I was just an impostor who bought an extra ticket by dumb luck.

Being the dumbest person in the room wasn’t all that bad.

When the event formally started, I was amazed by the presentation of each speaker.

I learned so much that day that some of the ideas I heard stuck with me to this day.

I’ll never forget the importance of efficient public transportation in advancing a nation delivered by Dr. Kim.

Move More People, Not Cars

I also learned more about vertical farming and high-value crops presented by agriculture startup owners, including Nico Bolzico (I also saw Patato, Nico’s pet turtle.)

Man talking about Vertical Farming
Nico Bolzico

I learned about the impact of fake news, which greatly influenced the 2016 elections, to the drug war and beyond, presented by Maria Ressa.

Maria Ressa

And with ex-CJ Sereno freshly ousted by quo warranto from the Supreme Court, delivered the importance of a neutral judicial system.

Maria Lourdes Sereno

Those are what I remembered just from the top of my head. Since then, I have learned a lot and started going to other similar forums and conferences.

There are always events happening around Metro Manila, which were very interesting, and some are even offered for free. Here are some which I attended.

Maria Lourdes Sereno
Maria Lourdes Sereno giving her talk during a forum in Greenhills Christian Fellowship (Main) entitled The Bible and Politics
Randell Tiongson
Randell Tiongson giving a talk about financial management.
Edmund Lee
Edmund Lee of Caylum Institute talking about Stock Market Trading

I realized that having the feeling of being the dumbest person in the room presents a great advantage of being the person with the excellent potential of absorbing the most ideas.

I changed my perspective and associated being the dumbest person in the room as the person with the most opportunities to learn and grow.

Fear and Insecurity

I think anyone can give instances on their lives when, even with great ideas, they felt stupid and insecure about other knowledgeable people in attendance.

And suppose a person can’t identify even one event where he felt less qualified. In that case, I guess he is either the most brilliant man in the event, or he is full of pride to admit that there can be other people who know more than him.

Pride is the enemy of progress because prideful people think they know it all, which results in limited room for improvement.

On the other hand, the feeling of fear and insecurity brings humility. It shows that you are still a glass-half-empty waiting to be filled.

Final Thought

Just like how I took courage others to go to events alone, I hope that you will also take up the courage to feel insecure in a large crowd.

What I realized in those events is that no one knows who I am, and some may even feel as insecure or as dumb as I am.

Let us continually put ourselves in an uncomfortable position and go to places with people smarter or better than us, so we will continue to grow.

Because being the dumbest person in the room gives the highest potential and return on investment.

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