Why It’s Stupid to Worry About Experience

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computer babyThe value of experience is overrated, usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly. Og Mandino said that in The Greatest Salesman in the World.

For decades I have worked with young people; un-degreed, inexperienced, but eager to learn and be a part of a team. They have a desire to know and to prove to themselves and others what they can do. They are fearless of the unknown and have no clue what they do not know. They are assigned a “result” and they figure it out.

They take action—massive action. They are willing to get involved and play full out. They are willing to practice and participate—all with patience. They have a unique sense of reality, because no one told them it couldn’t be done. They are not afraid of struggle or the need to be trained.

  • The best attorney I work with just graduated from law school. No experience.
  • The best writer I work with, I hired during his senior year of college. No experience.
  • The best audio production guy I work with, I hired before he went to college. Now that he has his degree, I hired him for even more hours. No experience.
  • The best videographer for all of my video needs (and Andy’s too), had no experience. No degree in shooting video. But he has massive passion and an excellent eye.
  • The guy that handles all of my online orders and customer service came from working in the back office. No customer service experience. But he is awesome.


If you want to hire somebody to jump rope, do not hire the national jump rope champion. Hire someone who is very active, physically fit, and understands what “showing up” means. Hire the person who loves details, who has pride in their results, who is not afraid to try.

I am more interested in the personality. A twinkle in their eye and a smile on their face are critical. It is shocking to me of the number of adults I have met who do not know how to do the basics like a firm hand shake and eye contact when they speak.

Look for individuals who love adventure, are aware of their surroundings, and get fired up over accomplishments. Elegance and enlightenment trump experience. Look for someone that can finish a job—someone who is not afraid of learning and realizes that they do not know it all. Find someone with manners, politeness, and tact.

Is this post resonating with you? If so, click here to tweet this: Do you ever worry about “experience”? @TheRobertD explains why it’s overrated: http://bit.ly/1apqfRP

3 Questions for YOU Right Now

  1. How far are you willing to go?
  2. How long can you stick with it?
  3. Are you willing to make a commitment to be the best at what you do?


All the answers are within you now. No right or wrong. THE answer is what makes your soul sing and ignites your passion.

Regarding YOUR life, it is YOUR opinion that matters. Own what works for you and disregard the rest.


noun \ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s\

: the process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you

: skill or knowledge that you get by doing something

: the length of time that you have spent doing something (such as a particular job)

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  • Lino

    Totally love this!

  • Tommi K. Korhonen

    Great point!

  • http://SixMonthJump.com/ Alan Jackson

    Like Zig Ziglar always said – “Attitude makes all the difference.”

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Great quote, Alan. I loooooove Zig’s stuff.

  • Tom

    I also sought out people with more street smarts vs. book smarts. They also seemed more focused and have a better ideas for solutions and new ideas.

  • http://timmilburn.com/ timage

    I love to listen to the “great ones” tell their stories. Because at some point, way back when, someone took a chance on them. They tell about someone who believed in them before they had experience. I want to be that person in the lives of all the young people with potential that I work with.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      That’s someone we can all strive to be. Great point!

  • http://www.comedyillusions.com/ Greg Wood

    “Many people don’t have twenty years of experience. They have one year’s experience twenty times” Said by someone smarter than me.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Love it, Greg. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.jasonbladd.com/ Jason B. Ladd

    Skills can be learned. Attitude is much harder to change. I think you are right: look for the drive!

  • Judy

    LOVE what you said about my son. :) So glad there are people out there like you that give the “inexperienced” a chance.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Love working with him, Judy!

    • Shelley Hess

      BINGO, Judy!! Your gratitude is encouraging!!!

  • Shelley Hess


    Thanks so much for your actions that speak even louder than the truth of your words!

    It is my privilege AND delight to pour all I can into the life of one who DESIRES to learn and grow, NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY.

    Thanks for highlighting something we can all put into action in our lives, whether CEO or stay-at-home mom!

  • http://www.developmentandleadership.org/ Zach Clark

    You can quote me on this: “I’ve worked with many people who have tons of experience. But, all their experience was in doing the wrong things!” I am grateful for the way your posts make me better Robert! Also, I’m working my way through Og Mandingo’s book, due to your comments about it in 20,000 Days.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      WooooooHooooo, Zach! So glad that you’re reading Og. If you read those scrolls on a daily basis, you will be shocked by the effect they begin to have on your life.

  • http://EvaPScott.com/ Eva P. Scott

    I got into medical transcription; and court reporting transcription because I sent in a resume (yeah, I’m older). The person who wanted medical transcription at the time wanted someone who was experienced, and they wanted someone to work in their office. I was a stay-at-home mom with a young child, and I worked out of my home. I got both jobs.

    I didn’t get paid a lot for either job, but both set me up for future endeavors.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      That’s awesome, Eva! Love that you were able to make them redefine the type of person they were looking for.

  • http://jimwoodswrites.com/ Jim Woods

    What do you recommend if you don’t have the relationship required to showcase your elegance or enlightenment Robert?

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      That’s the trick isn’t it, Jim? All you can do is put yourself in as many situations in which you can show your personality as you possibly can. This is the “showing up” part of the equation that must be above and beyond fulfilled. The relationship’s not there? Ask yourself what has to happen for it to be there. Make a list. Then attack the list gracefully, without shoving yourself in someone’s face.

      All that said, some decision-makers will still simply not get it. Not everyone can see beyond inexperience. Which is the reason why I wrote this post. :-)

      • http://jimwoodswrites.com/ Jim Woods

        Attacking gracefully is a nice way to put it! Thanks Robert!

  • Brandi Michel

    Thank you for this post! A lack of experience can sometimes hold me back, but no more!

  • Jesse

    Most bosses I see want someone competent and servile.

    Competent = Experienced
    Servile = Youth

    It is a near impossible combo.

    I call bullshit on the driven crap. It is a matter of time before burnout strikes. Everyone gets bored of the same old routine. Dream jobs really are a myth because of adaptation and burnout.

    I feel like my new sales pitch should be.


    1. I don’t care about you or your employees’ personal life (gay, drugs, cheating etc.). Not going to talk.
    2. I have no intent to fuck your wife.
    3. I have no criminal record, great driving record, no STD’s, no drugs, very little alcohol, straight, and not a pedophile. SO, anything that could embarrass the company probably won’t be me.
    4. No existential angst.


    1. Truth is, I might want to fuck your wife. You can’t predict these things
    2. I’m single.
    3. I have no existential angst because I can’t even understand the purpose of the universe. In reality, my purpose is a moment to moment thing, which I may never understand.

  • Funke Uniek Grace Ojo

    i like…a kick in the derriere but i like. being young almost gives us a license to jump in the middle of the sea to get a story out of it…

  • http://ronkelleher.com/ Ron Kelleher

    Completely agree! Hiring the right kind of young people is a great way to build a business because they don’t already know what can’t be done! A few people I’ve worked with had years on the job….the problem is they had one year of experience that they repeated over and over!

  • Price Reynolds

    I agree too. I look for someone who knows how to “Show Up”, someone who is hungry and with struggles to overcome. I think there are more people out there like this than what the world wants us to believe. I think there are many out there practicing for that opportunity. I am one and I know what one looks like too.