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Street Smarts vs Book Smarts: What Does it Take to be Highly Successful in Life

Sep 12, 2008
This is one of the prevailing questions about success: which is more important, street smarts or book smarts? Traditionally, people were brought up with notion that success entails finishing school, getting a diploma, and finding a job that promised a lifetime career.

However, the past few decades have seen the rise of highly successful companies founded and led by college dropouts. These men and women are constantly in the business news and they're examples of how it's possible to succeed in life without getting a college diploma. You don't even have to look in the business news for these kinds of people. All around us, there are self-made millionaires who made their fortune from entrepreneurial ventures. These people often claim to be self-educated from the most difficult school of all, the School of Life's Hard Knocks.

So which is the key to success in life? Who will make it farther: the book smart business school graduate or the self-made, street smart entrepreneur?

Book Smarts Top the List

In Forbes 2008 listing of the world's 100 richest men, 8 of the top 10 richest men graduated with college degrees. Going down the list, there are really only a handful of people who did not get a college diploma. Quite a few of these billionaires continued their education in business school or in a Masters or Doctorate program to earn a post-graduate degree. Obviously, education has been an important tool in the initial and continuing success of these individuals. Running a large corporation or multinational company is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. And yet, a lot of these individuals will tell you that they probably learned a lot more on the job than in the classroom, especially when it comes to handling people and real-world situations.

Street Smarts Make the News

However, more than a handful of the people on the list actually inherited their wealth from family holdings. It certainly doesn't require any sort of educational attainment to inherit money, although it might require a degree to learn how to hold on to it. Also, if you look up the people who didn't obtain a college degree, they're names that are instantly familiar. Bill Gates (3rd richest) and Paul Allen of Microsoft, Michael Dell of Dell Corporation, and Lawrence Ellison of Oracle are the most notable. But beyond their business acumen, charisma and vision, these are obviously naturally intelligent people with enough gray matter to know how to put together their talents to come up with the one big successful idea.

The Keys to Success

It seems that there is no one key to success in life. Academic knowledge and intellectual ability certainly play a big part in the foundation of a successful career. But it also requires vision, charisma, a good work ethic, and not a bit of intuition to pull everything together. Success is not behind just one door. It's behind several doors, and series of doors, so you're going to need more than one key.
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Copyright (c) Althea Marie Tan - The Content Annex is a content development company that offers comprehensive writing solutions for busy entrepreneurs. Visit http://www.thecontentannex.com for more information.
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