Role Reversal



Ben Milne of Dwolla. Watch the video of his talk from the BIZ Luncheon.


“I’m the dumbest guy in the room.”

Ben Milne, CEO of Dwolla


Growing up, I was always the “smartest guy in the class”.  I knew more about current events, sports, and miscellaneous facts than all of the other kids in school.  One classmate asked if she could have my brain so she could pass her social studies test.

Today, I wonder if being “the smartest guy in the room” means anything anymore.  Being the smartest guy meant following a script:  get all A’s in school, go to college, get a job, get married, move up the ladder, start a family, make money, yada yada yada.

It was always the “you have to do this, if you want to get to here” road to success.

That script, which I was told to follow and I followed it because it was “the right thing to do” has made me “the dumbest guy in the room.”  I cut myself off from trying or doing different things because someone told me that my dreams and passion was stupid.  I was told to go into a career field that I was never “felt smart” in.  I am an analytical sort of fellow, never creative or imaginative.

I was told to use my smarts to get ahead and succeed.  Oh, I worked hard, but I overworked, stressed myself out, and was never given credit for anything. I felt dumb, used, and washed up.

Bill Gates dropped out of college.  A few others took a detour path and found their drive and motivation.

Sitting and listening to Ben last week talk about how he started selling speakers from his couch to creating Dwolla has made me wished I wasn’t so “smart.”

Because Ben isn’t the dumbest guy in the room.  He’s the most intelligent, humble, and brightest guy in the room.

He didn’t follow that stupid script.  I was the dummy who did.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post Romelle,

    My family was the same way about following scripts – get all As in school, graduate as soon as you can, get a good job, …

    My parents proudly put BSc. (short for Bachelor of Science) next to my name in my wedding invitation! 🙂

    A bit odd considering my parents are entrepreneurs. They run a little shop selling housewares – plates, spoons, buckets, etc – all their life.

    I was a good student and a good employee all my life. I just recently jumped on the entrepreneurship train and loving it! I wish I did so when I was still in college, but hey, it’s never too late to start!

    It’s never too late to break away from the script and pursue your passion! Your future self will thank you 🙂



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