The individuals who taught me useful skills at an early age were not the wisest folks in any room. But boy, were they street smart.
My dad was street smart. He sold grain aerators to farmers in the Midwest. He never drove a fancy car. He had a Ford and made certain it wasn’t shiny clean when he pulled up to a customer’s barn. Often he closed the deal while the farmer munched on a sugar doughnut my dad bought at the general store down the road.
In college in western Nebraska, I was with some wild friends having a spontaneous “purple passion” party that spilled over onto the property of an old rancher. He came flying off his porch screaming, with a shotgun in his hand. Most of us scattered like the wind. Richie, from Philly, approached him with a smile on his face and a special potion of brew in his hand. Ten minutes later, the rancher was singing the chorus to “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
Many years later, I was attempting to close a major sale to a foundation in Florida. They had no interest. Then our sales lady, only two months on the job, shared an emotional story about how her grandmother had kept a journal of recovery for over thirty years. She pulled her favorite page of her grandmother’s journal out of her briefcase and asked the president of the foundation to read a paragraph. The words were honest, simple and intoxicating. An hour later, we closed a major contract that lasted decades.
As I age, I wish to make wise decisions. I want to be street smart.