It’s not easy to be street smart. To be street smart, you have to spend time on the streets. That puts you in contact with unsavory characters, the kind that typify the hustler that embodies the negative version of that word.
You get street smarts when people try to take advantage of you, when they try to bully you, or when they try to bamboozle you. The people you meet on the streets are tough, they aren’t afraid of conflict, and they’re not afraid to engage in a physical confrontation.
When you’re street smart, you learn to read people. You know when someone is trying to pull one over on you. You know when someone is trying to take advantage of you. You also know how to communicate with different types of people, and you almost certainly know how to use humor to defuse a stressful, tense, or bad situation. You don’t get your street MBA without learning these things.
In business, in sales, and in life, street smarts will carry you a long way.
But book smarts are important too. I know right now that there are influential people telling you that you don’t need book smarts. There are countless articles and blog posts and YouTube videos that show you how expensive college is, and suggesting that you are better off becoming an entrepreneur right out of high school. Right now, the poor liberal arts degree gets no respect.
If you want to be a good, happy, and effective human being, it’s important to get book smarts. You want to understand the big themes that run through human history and the big ideas in human endeavors, including business. Understanding how things work and what people made in the past gives you a context for future decisions. Studying the arts and sciences allows you to see a bigger picture, and it provides different lenses with which to view things.
In business, in sales, and in life, book smarts will help you succeed.
These two types of “smarts” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the combination of book smarts and street smarts is lethal. If you’ve got one, getting the other will give you superpowers.
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