I’ve been fascinated by this phrase ever since I first heard it as a teenager.
My initial thought was that ok, that may be true, but if we took it to its logical conclusion and nobody knew anything, then the world would be a pretty crap place.
The phrase came up again in a Paul Arden book I was reading over Christmas, which used the anecdote of a young architect. This architect was at a pub handing out business cards, presenting himself in such a way that anyone who met him would’ve thought he was the best architect in the world. The flip side of the coin is an ultra talented architect who spends all his time at the office and never goes to the pub.
The ‘right person’ in the opinions of all the pub goers, is the guy stood there marketing himself. He might not be the best architect, but he’s the one they’ll go to with any questions about architecture - i.e. he acquires the status of guru.
This is the power, and the weakness, of knowing the ‘right person’.
People should do their best to convince the world that they are the right person, because that’s where people go when they want a job doing.
But people should think carefully before accepting someone as the ‘right person’. Do you think Steve Jobs was the ‘right person’ to start a company with all those years ago? Popular opinion would probably have said no.
It’s not who you know - it’s who you really know. That’s where the real power lies.