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project, you will be

engaging in the sphere of professional writing.


task for

this week’s homework is to select and respond to



related readings from the

first Unit 4


Are Book Smarts or Street Smarts Better at Work?
When it comes to succeeding in business, which is more important: book smarts or street
In a televised social experiment, Donald Trump put this question to the test. During the
third season of ‘The Apprentice,’ he divided contestants into two teams: those with just a
high school diploma and those with college and graduate school degrees. In the end,
though the “street smart” folks made an impressive showing, it was a “book smart”
contestant who walked away with the prize.
In real life, it’s harder to say who comes out on top. Take Sarah, a successful investment
manager who was competing for a portfolio manager job against a Harvard MBA. Sarah
had an excellent track record and had done very well in her interview; still, the other
candidate was chosen for the position.
“I went to a community college then finished up at a city branch of a state university,”
Sarah lamented. “I just couldn’t compete with the luster of a Harvard MBA.”
But wait — the story doesn’t end there. Four months later, Sarah got a call from the
company that had rejected her. The Harvard MBA hadn’t worked out after all, and they
wanted her to join the firm — at a salary $10,000 higher than the maximum point of the
range they’d initially discussed.
That was five years ago. Today Sarah has advanced up the ranks and earned her MBA at
Wharton. A hedge fund director, Sarah now makes numerous hiring decisions herself.
“An MBA from a top-drawer university is great to have and, all things equal, may be a
tiebreaker,” she says.
“However I don’t measure candidates as much by their education or years of experience
as by their achievements and results.”
To be sure, the world is full of college drop-outs who achieved great things. Dell
Computer founder Michael Dell dropped out of the University of Texas; Oracle
Computer founder Larry Ellison and Apple Computer founders Steve Wozniak and Steve
Jobs (who went on to create neXT and Pixar) also left school to follow their dreams.
Even Bill Gates dropped out (well, Harvard, but still he dropped out!) to form Microsoft.
And it’s not just the techies who eschewed college and made good. Wayne Huizenga,
former owner of Waste Management, CEO of Blockbuster Video and owner of the NFL
Miami Dolphins, NHL Florida Panthers and Miami’s Pro Player Stadium, left Calvin
College after just three semesters.
Some moguls even left college involuntarily. David Geffen (founder of Geffen Records
and Dreamworks SKG) flunked out of both the University of Texas and Brooklyn
College, and media mogul Ted Turner was reportedly kicked out of school.
Others such as Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records and Atlantic Airways,
never bothered to go at all.
Anecdotal evidence shows a solid foundation of street smarts (personal drive, people
skills and the ability to communicate and sell) is essential for any successful business
person. Add to that experience and education, and you have a recipe for success.
“Neither book smarts nor street smarts is as helpful as a rich relative,” jokes Tim Knox
who decided to forgo college and today is the founder and president of four successful
technology companies.
“An advanced degree — especially from a prestigious university will definitely open
doors, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter how much education, experience, talent, luck
or money you have. It’s what you do with it that matters.”
Copyright 2005 CareerBuilder.com.

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