Street Smarts-Do You Have Them?

As long as you keep your wits about you, you too can be Street Smart — on and off the streets

A thief looks at two houses on a street — both are large and well-kept, so he is assuming there are great steals in both houses. Both are dark and empty — all the neighbors are at a block party down at the end of the street. Both houses are exactly the same — except that the house on the right has an alarm system, and the house on the left does not. Which house do you think this thief is going to go for?

Same thing for muggers. Do you think a mugger is going to go after someone walking confidently, paying attention to her surroundings, aware of where she is going? Maybe, but he’d more likely go for the person shuffling along; wearing heels so high they’re hard to walk in, let alone run in; distracted on a cell phone; scanning a map worriedly.

Call it awareness; call it survival skills; call it Street Smarts. Whatever you call it — have it!

Street Smarts is not just for keeping you safe –it is an essential business tool. Street Smarts-borne skepticism will allow you to negotiate will ease and skill.

For example, once I was in negotiations for a project with a publishing company about my royalties. From conversations with colleagues, I knew that 3% was an accepted target, so that is what I went in expecting. I could tell right away that these guys were people I could joke around with, so my first offer was 50% — which made the publishing guys look at each other, speechless, before they started laughing. So, they countered me at 10%! I guess they thought I was serious. So, I paused, moved my head back, and squinted, really considering their offer. “Hmmmm, is that fair?” I asked. After much deliberation and some hesitation, which made them feel better that they were playing hardball, I accepted their offer. I walked out of that office ecstatic. I got 10% royalties just because I was able to use my Street Smarts to analyze the situation and interpret the best way to approach it.

“In any pursuit in life there is a formal knowledge base and an informal knowledge base. The formal knowledge is what you are told. It is what you get in the manual when you start a job. It is what you get in the course work in college. Informal knowledge is everything they do not bother to tell you. Moreover, usually that is the stuff that makes the most difference. It is the stuff they cannot say and would not say if they could. That is why we call it tacit knowledge. It is what you learn from your environment. You might say it’s the unwritten rules of life.”

According to Dr. Robert Sternberg of Yale, this informal knowledge, or Street Smarts, is a far better predictor of managerial success than academic performance. He even said a very high I.Q. could be a detriment to managerial success.

“I don’t think Street Smarts has anything to do with big cities or small cities,” Sternberg said. “It’s no longer a negative term that conjures up images of street gangs or con artists. There is no denying that street smarts has its roots in the impoverished areas of inner cities, places in which people had to develop certain abilities just to survive physically; but just as blues singers are no longer slaves, street smart people are no longer just city-dwellers. They are born, raised, live, and work in all types of environments.

“So how do you learn to be street smart? One of the critical things is just your attitude. You must have an attitude that this is something that matters — something you can use to your advantage. So a big part of learning is motivational. It is almost a prerequisite for developing it. Then you have to seek out the information from other people, from your environment, and from within yourself. The first is done by observing Street-Smart people and asking questions of mentors. The second is done by paying attention, both inwardly and outwardly. You have to let the knowledge you already have come out-and we all have more than we might give ourselves credit for.”

Above all, it takes experience, constantly adjusting your attitude to make the most of every situation.

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About Assessment Business Center
Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from the Univ. of Notre Dame, an MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University. In addition to being president of Assessment Business Center, a company that offers online 360º assessments, Tony is also a founding partner in The Cyrano Group and Platinum Rule Group--companies which have successfully combined cutting-edge technology and proven psychology to give salespeople the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with hundreds of clients and prospects. Dr. Alessandra is a prolific author with 27 books translated into over 50 foreign language editions, including the newly revised, best selling The NEW Art of Managing People (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2008); Charisma (Warner Books, 1998); The Platinum Rule (Warner Books, 1996); Collaborative Selling (John Wiley & Sons, 1993); and Communicating at Work (Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1993). He is featured in over 50 audio/video programs and films, including Relationship Strategies (American Media); The Dynamics of Effective Listening (Nightingale-Conant); and Non-Manipulative Selling (Walt Disney). He is also the originator of the internationally-recognized behavioral style assessment tool - The Platinum Rule®. Recognized by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as "one of America's most electrifying speakers," Dr. Alessandra was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2009, he was inducted as one of the “Legends of the Speaking Profession,” in 2010 and 2011 he was selected as one of the Top 5 Marketing Speakers by Speaking.com, and in 2010 Tony was elected into the inaugural class of the Sales Hall of Fame. Tony's polished style, powerful message, and proven ability as a consummate business strategist consistently earn rave reviews and loyal clients. Contact information for Dr. Tony Alessandra: • Dr. Tony’s Products: http://www.alessandra.com/products/index.asp • Keynote Speeches: Holli Catchpole: Phone: 1-760-603-8110 ● Email: Holli@SpeakersOffice.com • Corporate Training: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com • Cyrano CRM System: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com

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