Incredibly smart people aren’t always born that way, but rather are constantly working to improve their intelligence. Here are 7 ways that you can get smart fast in a great post from

From the time you were little, your parents told you to be smart. Most people want to consider themselves smart; certainly no one likes to feel stupid. But sadly, it’s difficult to determine if you were acting smart in a given situation until the time has passed, and of course, then it’s too late. This delayed realization is where the physical act of slapping oneself in the forehead originally developed.

Being smart is not just about being intelligent. Lord knows the world has witnessed plenty of intelligent people do really stupid things. Incredibly smart people are also prone to moments of idiocy, but they do tend to act smarter most of the time. Here is how they do it and you can as well.

1. Focus less on yourself and more on the people around you.

Many people go through life thinking mostly about themselves. Sure, there are truly altruistic people, but most are relatively self-centered. Incredibly smart people understand that it’s the people around you that generate support and opportunities, provided you show them your capacity to make it about them. In any given situation, listen first and consider how you can improve the lives of those in your purview. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the positive force you create for your own objectives.

2. Consider yourself the least informed in the room.

When you walk into the room thinking you are the smartest, your mind is closed to infinite possibilities. Incredibly smart people love to position themselves as ignorant. That way they are open to the learning adventure ahead. If you start by thinking that you don’t have the right answers, in the best case you’ll gain the truth and in the worst case you’ll verify your accuracy.

3. Always be questioning.

Many people think they can show their smartness by providing answers all the time. Incredibly smart people know that people can truly assess your intelligence by the questions you ask. The trick is to make sure the questions you ask are truly inquisitive, looking for new answers–not just a ploy to make a statement or get your point across.

4. Look for something new every day.

It’s easy to stagnate and get into a rut thinking you have seen it all before. Incredibly smart people know that the world is way too large and too complex to master in a single lifetime. Just the act of looking for one new thing to learn each day will increase your sensitivity to all that you never before considered.

5. Concentrate on the knowledge you lack instead of the knowledge you have.

It’s fascinating how seemingly learned people can appear so dense at times. They like to make people think they are smart by readily quoting facts and figures or pontificating over a given subject. But often they lack the nuance that means the difference between competence and brilliance. Incredibly smart people see any obtained knowledge merely as a bridge to learning even more. They know the learning process is a never-ending journey to be enjoyed over a lifetime. Congratulate yourself briefly on each step in the journey, then bear down and learn more.

6. Explore the origin of everything.

Everything, no matter how simple, has a most wondrous story. Incredibly smart people find fascination in the most mundane of items and industries. Explore the world with open eyes and you’ll gain incredibly useful knowledge from the most surprising places.

7. Hang out with the smartest people you can comprehend.

For many, it’s wonderfully ego-satisfying to be the smartest person in the room. Incredibly smart people prefer to be in the company of those who can share powerful insights. Find people who challenge you and stretch your thinking. The joy of learning far outweighs the praise of being right.


photo credit: infrogmation of new orleans


In my view, they’ve left out two of my personal all-time favorites. Dustin Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor in “Kramer vs. Kramer” released in 1979.  His candor and heartfelt sentiments have stuck with me since I first saw in in 1980. It’s cool to see a very young Meryl Streep who won her very first Oscar playing Hoffman’s wife.

John Patrick Shanley, one of my favorite playwrights, who won for Best Screenplay for “Moonstruck” in 1988, delivers an all-time classic. It’s notable that Cher won Best Actress for her performance in the film.

Presentations that left a lasting impression with the audience and television viewers

Aside from the winners and the glitz and glamour of all that’s Hollywood, the most memorable part of the Academy Awards® is the acceptance speeches. Good or bad, what is said on stage will be remembered and live eternally on YouTube. In advance of Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, Toastmasters International, the global organization devoted to communication and leadership skills development, selects the six speeches below (in chronological order) as the most memorable in Oscar history:

Seemingly unfazed by the orchestra’s walk-off music, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s excitement brought his fellow actors to their feet as he accepted the Best Supporting Actor award in 1997 for his role in “Jerry Maguire.”

Accepting the Best Original Screenplay trophy for “Good Will Hunting” in 1998, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon made the most of the short time they had to give their joint speech. The pair thanked those involved with the film, including their families and the city of Boston, all in about one minute.

When Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Good Will Hunting,” he displayed both enthusiasm and sincerity. The late comedian closed his speech by thanking his father, who, when Williams said he wanted to be an actor, told him, “Wonderful, just have a back-up profession like welding.”

Roberto Benigni went wild, climbing over and standing on audience seats as he made his way to the stage when he won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for “Life is Beautiful” in 1999. When he arrived at the podium, he inspired the audience with his passion and graciousness.

As she accepted her third Academy Award – second for Best Actress – for her work in “The Iron Lady” in 2012, Meryl Streep quipped, “When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no! Oh, c’mon why? Her? Again?’” She later went on to thank her old and new friends for her wonderful career.

When Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor Oscar in 2014 for his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club,” he described the three things he needs each day: 1. Something to look up to. 2. Something to look forward to. 3. Someone to chase.

Toastmasters International offers these proven tips for delivering a powerful acceptance speech for any type of award:

  • Show your personality. Your acceptance speech should come from the heart.
  • Be gracious. Acknowledge the good work done by your competitors and thank the organization that selected you for the award.
  • Show excitement. You don’t have to climb over chairs like Roberto Benigni, but the audience should recognize that you’re happy to have won the award.
  • Be modest. Your acceptance speech should be heartfelt but not self-congratulatory.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse with a timer, memorize key people to thank and allow time for the unexpected.

To find a local club where you can improve your next presentation, visit

About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.


by Chuck Kuglen of The Henderson Group

We often forget in communications, certainly I can say this as I’ve worked with even a couple billionaires who represent themselves (sometimes) as a bit more than they are, that being “too” good just does not work for anyone.

Living in this time in the Bay Area, we all know tons of super successful (monetary-wise) people. Often, at least I’ve seen this, they represent themselves as a bit more than who they really are (as people, salespeople, CEOs, whatever). Especially if you know them on a personal level before or after you worked with them. Or before they became a “big deal.” I always find that one very telling.

Brian Williams offers a current story to highlight this conundrum.

So, here’s to all those humble folks out there. Those who realize that it’s not always their success or money within a structure or corporation (especially when they work for Twitter, Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, VMWare, one of the giants) that is driving how much money they make. Or how much recognition they’ve gotten.



Nancy Duarte, an American writer, speaker, and CEO has uncovered a remarkable ‘secret’.

In Duarte’s study of the work of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and other source material, she uncovered a presentation structure that she believes can make any presentation memorable, create emotional responses, and drive audiences to take action.

She discovered that Steve Jobs presentation launching the first iPhone and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech both use this structure.

She is well known for her three best-selling books, which include Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, and the “HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.” as the CEO of Duarte Design, the largest design firm in Silicon Valley. Duarte worked with Al Gore on the documentary slide show known as An Inconvenient Truth.



Here is the second video produced in the Fone Follies series that humorously demonstrate the BluBed headset holsters.

David Hurwitz (who hired us to produce “Doug Serena, CIO” when he was CMO at Serena Software) is the gent behind this new product.

Vince Yap delivers a terrific performance as Bob, who isn’t yet clued-in to the benefits of being #HandsfreeEverywhere.


by Terry Gault of The Henderson Group

Maybe it’s time for me to finally recommend an Apple product.

Personally, I have yet to drink the Apple koolaid. By that I meant that I still have not purchased an Apple computer, iPad or iPhone even though I have many friends who gush about their Apple products and urge me to make the switch. I’ve found that PCs, Android tablets and Android phones have met my needs beautifully for a significantly lower cost.

Then this happened:

On December 18, I received an email from Andrea Holmes, Senior Program Manager, Infrastructure Customer Readiness at

Andrea has taken a couple of our By Invitation Only workshops in SF, held at the Make-A-Wish office.

Her email reads:

Hi Terry,

I just got the new iPhone six, and I’m playing with the verbal dictation feature, and I realized that I can’t use filler words and I must talk slowly in order for this to work. This could be an interesting tool for your students to leverage in order for them to stop using filler words or to start talking slower.

While this is not compelling enough to get me to rush out and buy an iPhone 6, it is an pretty cool feature that may help my clients learn to speak more slowly and use silence instead of verbal filler which makes people seem less articulate and less sure of themselves and their message.

Here are some other posts that touch on related topics:

Speaking Quickly is Killing Your Power

How to Shed Verbal Filler

photo credit: noodles and beef


Our voice is a very important part of how you speak.  If you are not using your voice effectively, your audience may not be listening.

As a trained actor, I spent years learning how to use my voice effectively.

Sound and communication expert Julian Treasure, in his talk at TEDGlobal imparts genuine wisdom on what makes an effective speaking voice that will be heard.



by Terry Gault of The Henderson Group

Nishanth Anil is a Bangalore-based Developer Evangelist at Xamarin, one our clients. Xamarin provides their customers with 3 capabilities for mobile software:

  1. Build: A platform for cross-platform mobile application development that delivers native apps and reuse of 70% of code. They promise: “Create native iOS, Android, Mac and Windows apps in C#. Xamarin apps look and feel native because they are.”
  2. Test: A cloud-based testing service to ensure high quality application performance. Users can “Automatically test your app on 1,000 devices in the cloud. Write your own tests, or have our engineers create and maintain a test suite for you.”
  3. Monitor: An analytics tool that reveals how people use mobile applications. Improve your apps with real-time monitoring. Track crashes and exceptions and understand what is happening with live users.”

Nish recently send us an email thanking us for our work with him at the recent Xamarin Evolve conference. I’d worked with Nish before and his delivery was solid. But his content, while informative and professional, was a bit dull. I was urging Nish to incorporate a theme to make the talk more sticky and fun. He was not clear how that would work and was even hesitant given that his talk was scheduled for 2 hours after our coaching session.

When Nish said, “I’ll give them a guided tour of iOS 8″ my brain lit up and we were off and running. His video of that talk with the opening story is embedded below his emailed thank you note.

Thank you so much! You do not know how much your training has benefited me.

I was hesitant to add a personal story to my “tech talk” in the last moment. But, I am glad I listened to you. A personal story not only grabs attention but also boosts my confidence as a speaker.

Yesterday was one of the largest tech conferences in India – Microsoft TechEd and I was able to do an amazing talk here too! There were so many attendees that the hall could not accomodate. some guys sat on the floor, on the way, stood at the back, and interestingly they sat outside the hall were the organizers streamed my talk in a TV.

People loved it. Here’s what people talked about my presentation both in person and on twitter.



How you represent yourself determines if your ideas get implemented. Being politically competent is part of that equation.

Here’s a valuable article from by Samuel Bacharach.

Put simply, successful leadership comes down to having the ability to rally people behind an idea and gather the support necessary for your idea to bear fruit. Regardless of the quality of your idea and the appeal of your charm, if you lack political competence, you are not a leader.

Having studied the behavioral skills of leaders, specifically their political skills, I’ve learned that this isn’t mysterious. These specific behavioral skills can be learned. At their core, these political skills enhance your ability to win people over, to get others to join your effort, to mobilize, and get results.


photo credit: vinoth chandar