Why You Need to Be Street Smart, Not Book Smart

You need to know the ‘how,’ not just the ‘what’ and the ‘why’

Stephen Moore
4 min readJan 30, 2018


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

As Scott Berkun so succinctly put it: “There is no doubt in my mind street smarts kicks book smarts’ ass.”

I could stop writing now, to be honest.

That is as clear an answer as can be.

Alas, three sentences don’t count as a blog post, so let’s add some insight to the opening statement.

First off, let’s debunk a theory.

Being street smart doesn’t mean you are ‘uneducated’ or ‘unintelligent.

That is a completely false assertion.

I did relatively well at school and have a university degree. But I would definitely brand myself as streetwise, as would many others.

So What Is It to Be Street Smart?

Being street smart means you have a good environmental or situational understanding. You know what’s going on around you.

More importantly, you can see what’s happening around you.

You are able to make judgments on the scenario, the place, and people around you, and you are able to trust these personal judgments. Let’s call it gut instinct, and yours is on point.

It is, stripped back, having a basic understanding of the street ‘level.’ Being on the ground. Being in the battle, rather than looking down on it.

Further, your solutions to problems and tasks will more likely be practical and pragmatic.

It is developed purely from experience and ‘real life.’

It comes from actually doing the task, or the work, that others read about. From getting your hands dirty. From getting ‘stuck in.’ Whether it is through successes or failures, these first-hand experiences develop your knowledge and understanding of the world and your work.

This is the fundamental advantage. You have learned things you can’t just read about in books. You know the ins and outs that can only be gained by doing.

Whereas book smarts knowledge is gained secondhand from readings and learning.

I Thought It Was a…



Stephen Moore

Editor @Entrepreneur’s Handbook | Prev: editor @Medium | Substack: https://www.trend-mill.com