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Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: Who can Achieve Financial Freedom?

It is from experiences such as mine that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as we may choose. — Mark Twain

Book smarts vs Street Smarts is as intense of a battle as the current Presidential election. Each camp has proverbial theory of why their way is the only way to achieve financial freedom and success.

When I was young, I was very studious. I was taught to compete with thousands of kids with the goal to become an engineer. I thought that I can save the world, if I can spend my entire life in the library to explore knowledge and absorb into my tiny brain.

As I grew older, my conviction for the book smarts faded like an old shadow.  Series of life experiences led me to believe that I was on the wrong camp. Street smarts win the battle of achieving financial freedom.

This blog — by virtue of its name — leaves no stone unturned  to prove that street smarts influence even the elite Harvard professors in the debate of book smarts vs street smarts.

I’ve plethora of examples to cite why you want to become a street smart. I have met countless entrepreneurs —  in last 15 years after buying my first hotel – who are millionaires without going to a college.  These entrepreneurs have a street smart mind-set to cite opportunities even in the midst of adversity and they have courage to capitalize on it with conviction.

Street smarts are better at taking the right decision due to their pragmatic thinking.

Your financial success is the culmination of all the decisions you’ve taken over the last 10 or 15 years. If you are a street smart, you possess uncanny ability to navigate through the decision maze – to  take responsibility of your actions and build your own career. 

What does it mean to be “street smart”? It means you follow your instincts, you listen to your gut, you don’t over-think things, you pay attention to the details that tell you what’s really going on, you learn the rules and how to use them, you know when to speak up and when to shut up and you know enough to know what you don’t know and what you must know. You use your curiosity, ingenuity, industriousness and initiative to advance you towards your goals. You don’t wait for other people to do it for you. You control and leverage your attitude to position yourself for success. – Mariette Edwards

Last week I met a professor  while I was at the air port. I naturally glanced at him while he was reading New York Times. Conversation began as we smiled at each other.

Professor: I teach these young kids, but I feel sorry for them.

Me: Why?

Professor:  The best days for this country are behind us. It was a different world when I graduated 40 years ago.

Me:  What do you think about the world, if America’s best days are in the coffin?

Professor:  I don’t know. I feel bad for my students.

The same day, I met with the owner of a restaurant near where I work. Being an entrepreneur, I  couldn’t resist to ask him about his entrepreneurial journey.

This gentleman, Al,  came to America in early 80′s without a great deal of education. But, like a street smart, he has business acumen to capitalize on the opportunity to become wealthy. I learned that he owns three restaurants.

Me:  Tell me how you became successful.

Al: I came first without my family. As I landed on the Atlanta airport, I had no clue where to go. So, I stopped by at the news stand on the air port. I asked the Jewish gentleman who owned the store if he wants any help. To my surprise, he was very kind.

He hired me and gave me a valuable advice that I still keep dear to my heart. My Jewish mentor told me to work hard and play by the rule in America. He said that if you do these two things, success will be yours.

Me: Wow! And I can see that you are working hard even at the age most people would love to retire and enjoy life.

Al: I am 66, but I love what I do. You know, there are so many opportunities in this country.  I wish I was 2o years old now.

His words touched my heart. These were the words I wish the book smart professor vouched when I met him. Unfortunately, there is no college for the street smarts. You have to learn from the school of hard knocks.

Those lessons learned when you are in the trenches are far more valuable to achieve financial freedom than what you learn from a fancy high-rise university class room.

Readers:  Are you a book smart or street smart? Who you think has a better chance to succeed in life?

Elsewhere:

I can see your halo @ Seedebtrun

Why Modest Money? Why Live Modestly? @ Modest Money

Blogging Tips From All the Dumb Mistakes I Made My First Year @ MyMoneyDesign

The Qualities that Will Make you a Smart Entrepreneur @ Joyfulselfmanager 

Photo courtesy: Streetsmarts

 

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Comments (26)

My take:

street smarts are more likely to get you rich.

books smarts are more likely to help you appreciate and enjoy your wealth.

Aah, that’s an interesting way to value each side. I like it.

Great post, Shilpan! I love the concept of street smarts. While many people are still voicing the benefits of a college education, I believe that being a creative thinking and opportunity seeker is the best way to go.

The problem today is that far too many people think that an education equals wealth and happiness. I;m not so sure that this is the case anymore’ if it ever was to begin with.

Agreed. It’s all about an aggressive mind-set and positive attitude towards life. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can’t, you are right.”

The wealthiest people I know are mostly street smart and a few are book smart as well. I’ll take street smarts over book smarts any day =)

Very true. Thank you for stopping by, Holly!

Shilpan,
Great insight!
It’s true, oportunities in this country have never been greater.

With a laptop anda vision, the average person can build great things.
It requires persistance and iniatiave. Take action, adjust it as necessary, and keep at it until you acvhieve success. You don’t need to raise huge amounts of capital as one did 40 ior 50 years ago.

Absolutely. Have you noticed that — despite all the negativity and fear mongering by media and politicians — our standard of living worldwide has gone up during every decade? What was luxury 30-40 years ago has become affordable to even those working on a minimum wage.

I am all about street smarts. Knowledge and book smarts do nothing for you if you don’t know how to apply them. Real life experiences are what we deal with and should use as a learning tool, not what we read in a book.

No wonder that Harvard elites are pondering if their MBA students should learn from the Street Smarts.:)

Love the post, Shilpan! Street smarts and experience proves far more valuable than book smarts. It’s quite interesting to see how ignorant some kids are when they step out of college. They may know everything in their text book but that doesn’t mean they understand how the world or the business operates.

Unfortunately, our universities don’t teach young students to become street smarts.

My son is at this point now. He’s very good in school but misses the majority of the subtle things going on around him. We work daily on being more street smart.

Aah, but luckily he has a street smart dad. So, no worries Joe!

Street smarts are so important. But I’m glad you were working so hard when you were in engineering school. I want the people who build our bridges and do surgeries on our hearts to know their field inside and out. To be successful in life, I think you need both.

I agree with you. Education is important, but it is equally important to learn how to navigate through the ups and downs of the journey called ‘life’.

So true. Unfortunately, you cannot learn street smarts from any book I know about! I would rather have street smarts, because street smart people can learn from a book….if they need to!

Thanks for linking my post, Shilpan! I like that post and I kind of forgot about it. I saw the title and thought “oh yeah…I did write that!” :)

That’s the kind of posts Street Smarts love to read, Michelle! It’s an inspiring article.

Thanks Shilpan for the mention! Whats funny is that might always labels me as book smart. I think this is meant to be an insult :)

Your articles depict picture of a street smart in making! :)

[...] Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: Who can Achieve Financial Freedom? It is from experiences such as mine that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as we may choose. — Mark Twain Book smarts vs Street Smarts is as intense of a battle as the current Presidential election. Each camp has proverbial… Read more [...]

[...] Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: Who can Achieve Financial Freedom? on Street Smart Finance [...]

[...] Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: Who can Achieve Financial Freedom? It is from experiences such as mine that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as we may choose. — Mark Twain Book smarts vs Street Smarts is as intense of a battle as the current Presidential election. Each camp has proverbial… Read more [...]

[...] Street Smart Finance  Shilpan is a brilliant guy who’s actually walked the walk.  The rare times I disagree with him makes me sit back reassess what I think I know. [...]

[...] Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: Who can Achieve Financial Freedom? It is from experiences such as mine that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as we may choose. — Mark Twain Book smarts vs Street Smarts is as intense of a battle as the current Presidential election. Each camp has proverbial… Read more [...]

It might seem odd that many (most?) of the very successful among us are college drop outs. But it only goes to show that ‘education’ and reality can be so far apart. Over-analysis can kill opportunity.

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