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How to become street smart in life

There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. Yes, but this hard work also needs to be combined with what is called Street Smartness. Being Street Smart has absolutely become very essential, more so, in a knowledge-driven world, where knowledge is power. Street smartness is a skill that seeks to leverage all that is present in the external environment, for success. Some intricate nuances of this is sought to be explained in this article.


Becoming street smart is a mixture of commonsense and tact. There are three essential qualities needed in this art. They are: a) the ability to sniff around b) the ability to think out-of-the-box and c) the ability to develop what is called "native cunning" competencies. These are sought to be explained in some detail, based on a number of real world examples.

The ability to sniff around

The ability to sniff around is not specific to Alsatian dogs alone. It can also become or should become common to any human being who wants to make it big. This ability refers to having one's ears to the ground, ability to slog it out in the markets, understand new trends, new possibilities or even new challenges.

For instance, the IIT JEE examination is very tough indeed. However, a huge amount of sniffing around has to be done any parent, right after the student enters the eighth standard. Some idea of the tests, getting one prepared mentally is part of this sniffing around. Street smart parents start such motivation of their children, right from the eighth standard. There is a huge amount of knowledge floating around. How does one harness the extra bit of knowledge floating around, is key.

Two unemployed graduates had just thirty thousand rupees. They wanted to do something different. They went around and saw that a huge number of students of two engineering colleges were converging at one road side hotel and eating unhygienic food. They sniffed a golden opportunity. They started quizzing groups of students if they preferred an alternative. The resounding reply was yes. The students preferred hot food.

The students took a nearby house on rent, employed some two women from the local village to cook a variety of four dishes, that would be taken to the entrance of the colleges and sold. The Managements agreed to co-operate, if only the entrepreneurs did not dirty the area. They talked to some fifty homeowners who had banana trees in their houses. The leaves would be purchased by the entrepreneurs in bulk. Apart from the reasonable prices, each household was also given two food packets free. The so-called side dishes were also given free.

The big break came when two hundred students asked for the food. The food packets, priced at Rs.22 each, sold like hot cakes. Two vans were hired and the students themselves acted as volunteers. Those students were also given free food. In less than six months, both entrepreneurs had more orders than they could serve.

Sniffing around is complex. It goes far beyond identifying the market. It also means identifying various dimensions of a particular situation or market. In the above case, the huge drums placed by the entrepreneurs to collect the used banana leaves or the food packets were dumped into a huge pit in one big house and converted into agricultural manure. This required some good talking. The entrepreneurs did it. This happened near a small town in Tamil Nadu.

The ability to think out-of-the-box

The ability to think out-of-the-box, sort of naturally follows from the ability to sniff around. The Patanjali group of products is the best example. Each product is unique. There is very little competition. And a huge distribution network has helped in expanding the brand to the nook and corner of the country.

Ditto for those who are engaged in marketing a huge range of pickles, manufactured and sold under the cottage industries umbrella. They always have the "native" advantage, cost far less and local branding is very easy. Even if sold without the brand, the price factor will create new markets. This is always the case.

Look at how the Marwari community from Rajasthan have entered the jewellery business in several parts of South India and are doing so well. They speak the local language and know local tastes very well. It is relationship building at its best.

The ability to develop the "native cunning" competencies

The ability to develop the "native cunning" competencies is very crucial. This refers to the ability to fully leverage the diverse skills available in a local situation, and develop that into a competency. The "Tirunelveli Halwa" is the best example. Tirunelveli is a fairly big town in South Tamil Nadu, with a huge agricultural base. However, it is also famous for its brand of Halwa that is now being exported. Special halwa, prepared in one "iuttu kadai" ( dark shop) is particularly famous for its taste.

"Native cunning" competencies have a local flavor. For example, most family-managed companies in India, develop a culture of helping employees personally during every emergency. This becomes a competency that the multinational companies find it very difficult to match. This is called "personal touch"in the common man's language.

The list is endless.

It is very important that the Street Smart person has all the three abilities developed to a very advanced level. It is not very difficult. It is not at all, rocket science. It can be developed. It should be developed by each of us. And by institutions or businesses or organizations too.

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Author: Umesh24 Jun 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

Well presented and nicely woven article by the author.

Today, the world is very competitive and simply being academic may not help at all the times. One should be alert and grab the opportunity as an early bird. Being street smart does not mean to cheat others or get things done in a wrong way. It only means that we should be proactive and keep our ears and eyes open. We should be able to see the trend where society is moving to and where the opportunities are arising.

Some people interpret street smartness in negative ways. I have heard people telling that their children are very good at studies but they are modest and are not street smart so they are not able to chalk out a career path for themselves.

So if a person is modest it does not mean that he should not fight for his goals in this competitive world. In fact, an academic and studious person has more chances of success if he is street smart also. It is in my opinion, a positive trait and a young person should take mileage out of it for making his career.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao25 Jun 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

It is a good narration of the importance of Street Smartness. Working hard is a must for all to be successful. Intelligence added with hard working capability will do wonders. Simply minding your business and completing your tasks only will not work for you always. Even though you run fast, if somebody is going by a vehicle will definitely reach the destination fast. If we know what is going around and what is the best way to follow then if we work hard in that direction you will be successful. A positive thinking and grabbing the situation will add to your success more than your hard work. Decide the path and know the goal and then start working hard. You will be successful. By knowing what is going around and getting updated with latest developments will be always useful.

Author: Reena Upadhya28 Jun 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

Street smartness is more about outgoing attitude and immense confidence that harbors within oneself. It is important to have a mentality as that of a hustler. There should be a deep driven ambition and the most important entity is to possess common sense. Street smart is a person who can very well deal with difficult situations and scenarios easily without breaking a sweat. There is no need for him/her to toil without necessity.

Street smart people are different from book smart. Street smart may not sit on the first bench and get A's in every subject but they step out in the outer world and gain real-life experiences which helps them grow individually. This is why they can carry out all their tasks within the given time by utilizing their wit. They are the doers. They do not need degrees or any qualifications to accomplish their tasks. If the aim is to live a carefree and better life, it is important to become street smart. They will always have good contacts and great communication skills. They are well equipped with survival skills.

To become street smart, it is important to judge people and know them properly before trusting them. It is important to be kind to others but being too nice all the time can invite trouble. Thus, learn to be selective and maintain a balance between the two. Make a wise decision and do not leave any scope for keeping regrets. It is useless to work under pressure. It is okay to disappoint others as it is almost impossible to please everyone. This is why saying no is another aspect that needs to be mastered. It is important to develop an immense confidence so that turbulence in the way can be very well dealt with. Work on weaknesses and utilize the strength to rank high and shine brightly.

Author: Swati Sarnobat30 Jul 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Really useful article! One should not only become highly educated but also should learn simple survival skills.
To become street smart, you should be well-informed about the world around you.
Develop a sense of awareness and alertness. Always ask people questions about current issues, prices, products, etc

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