When the Right Answers Are Wrong

Seven years ago, I became a host for Whaddayaknow? Free Pub Trivia. During my time at my “side hustle” I’ve hosted around 300 trivia nights at over 40 bars (and dozens of private events). Naturally, I’ve seen everything, including—

  • A bar being evacuated right before I asked the first question because the building was on fire. We did NOT finish.
  • A final round question’s answer worth $100 changing literally ten minutes before I asked the question (thanks a lot, Grammy’s).  
  • A team with three Jeopardy! champions insisting the only other team playing was cheating. The champs won, 142-53. 

The thing about being a trivia host is that you have to adapt to changes on the fly and filter audience feedback, all while commanding the respect and authority of the room. You have to be infallible. 

But I am fallible. The truth of the matter is, for every ten times someone comes up to me to insist that their incorrect answer is actually correct (this happens a lot), there is one time when…it actually is

As the host, I have to retain the trust of the audience and sound confident about the veracity of my answers while allowing for the possibility I may be wrong. It’s a tough line to toe. 

That experience has helped make me a better marketer. When you host a team of Jeopardy! champions, you know full well that they’ll correct you if you get anything wrong. Even with that pressure, you have to stay confident, but remain open-minded.

Every time I propose an internal procedure, or hop on a big-time pitch to a client, hosting bar trivia has taught me how to let my expertise shine through while genuinely entertaining counterarguments and acknowledging my past mistakes. Many people can control a room, but it takes a very specific ability to get something wrong, and still maintain that control after the fact. 

Be confident in your knowledge, but willing to accept and adapt when you get something wrong. The best thing about experience is that mistakes that you make along the way tend to not happen again, so long as you can use that mistake as an opportunity to grow. 

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