Book smart vs. Street smart

My friend CL gave me a piece of suggestion the other day. She said, "Y, I know you like to read a lot and you are good at studying in school and for the actuarial exams. I think you are booksmart enough. Now it's time to challenge yourself and to develop your street smart. You need both to succeed."

So I used my book smart to do a research on the web about street smart. I couldn't find too much info on how to become street smart (except watching the Apprectice ;)). Street smart is mostly learned by first-hand experience. But is there a way to shorten up the time to become street smart then?

I asked P about it. And from his experience in the business world (25 years or more, maybe?), this is what he thought, again it's a gem of wisdom:

On “street smart”: The term as I have understood it relates to practical knowledge, often learned (unfortunately) the hard way. I usually think of the term as an understanding of human nature, recognizing that people operate out of their own motives and self interest, and so often when you are dealing with someone, things are not as they appear.

That isn’t to say everyone is out to take advantage of you, in fact I like to think the opposite is often true. But it means that when you deal with people (and this is especially true in the business world), you need to know that while the interests of several people may be complementary, they are rarely identical.

Words of wisdom that capture the concept: “Trust everyone but always cut the cards.” Or as JFK put it, “It’s okay to forgive your enemies as long as you always remember their names.” A healthy cynicism, perhaps....

Thanks P, I'll keep your words in mind. So lesson number 1 on street smart for me is: being street smart is to have an understanding of human nature.


sb said...

I've been lurking for quite a while now.
I discovered your blog by googling the word "actuary blog" and taadaa!

I see that you've been quite productive with your posts, but no comment on them yet. (as far as I've read)

I just want to say that, even though there are no comment, there're still someone (besides your friend) who constantly read your blog, that's all.

Keep posting.

yync said...


Thanks for the note! You are absolutely right, (ha, how did you read my mind?) sometimes I did wonder if other actuaries read my blog or not.

Thanks for reading again and Happy Thanksgiving to you!


Dave said...

I'm also in the read / don't comment group. I'm taking ActSci in University in Canada. I'd also like to say thanks for your posts and keep writing!

yync said...


Thanks for reading my blog! Please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a note if there are any topics you are interested to see on my blog in the future.