CM 041: Liz Wiseman on Why Learning Beats Knowing

Blog Post - Liz WisemanDo you fear becoming obsolete? Liz Wiseman offers a solution. Rather than run from roles for which you are not qualified, seek them out. In fact, in a world where 85 percent of your knowledge could be irrelevant in as little as 5 years, this strategy may be the key to maintaining and advancing a successful career.

Liz is the bestselling author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. She helps us see how taking on a new challenge, especially when it feels like a stretch, gives us the best chance of staying relevant in an ever-changing world. She also points out the immense value of rookies for our organizations, particularly in leadership and mentoring roles traditionally reserved for more experienced workers.

A frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Time, Liz has been named one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world, and her firm has worked with organizations like Apple, Disney, eBay and Google.

In this conversation, we talk about:

  • Why what we know is less important than how fast we can learn
  • Why we should take jobs that we are not qualified for
  • How experience may get in the way of what we most need to learn
  • How experience can actually decrease our relevance and performance over time
  • How choosing jobs that involve inquiry and discovery will keep us relevant
  • Why one of the most valuable aspects of learning something new is the struggle involved
  • Why rookies bring in 5 times the expertise of experts
  • Why we need to watch out for mediocre thinking to stay relevant
  • The link between surfing with the rookies and testing your assumptions
  • What effective reverse mentoring looks like
  • Why the word leadership may not mean what you think
  • Anti-perfectionism and the power of keeping things small

Liz is curious about what distinguishes between a rookie and a novice with rookie smarts. She wonders why some people persist while others give up. She is equally curious about why so many senior leaders look and feel so broken and what we can do about it.

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


The Wiseman Group

Oracle and Oracle University and Larry Ellison


Growth Mindset and Carol Dweck

Stretch by Karie Willyerd

Herminia Ibarra and Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Bob Hurley of Hurley International

Wayne Bartholomew

C K Prahalad of the University of Michigan

Pareto Principle

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!




  1. […] CM 041: Liz Wiseman on Why Learning Beats Knowing – will reassure every newly promoted leader, senior leader and head teacher that has step forward. […]

  2. […] These unrelated nudges were hard to shift and led me to conclude that you can influence without being a leader (interviewee and Brad).You can lead without influencing, but you can’t be an effective leader without influencing. That authority is not always beneficial. That where authority and leadership are often proscribed, being influenced is discretionary, born out or a relationships connections. At this point, I can not offer any empirical evidence. What I can say is that I have worked for one or two strong school leaders and yet for every stand-out-in-front-leader that has made an impression, I have been influenced by many, many, more brilliant colleagues. (Of course, statistical, there will always be more teachers than leaders.)  In fact, more recently I have sought out experiences to watch or work with less experienced leaders and teachers, after listening to an interview with Liz Wiseman – Why Learning Beats Knowing. […]