5 Street Skills That Also Translate to the Boardroom

Cuz you’re not a businessman, you’re a

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Critical thinking. Leadership. Emotional intelligence. Team player. Problem-solving.

There are myriad qualities that can make you successful in the workplace, ranging from natural-born talents to hard-earned expertise. No template guarantees career achievement and glory, but there are many components that can help you navigate your way to the top.  

While some lessons you learn with time (i.e., you will forever be writing “just following up!” emails, the office kitchen is no place for you to warm up fish, you should always keep a lint roller at your desk, etc.), you already possess a lot of knowledge. Having street smarts (skills you learn at the School of Hard Knocks or you know, just being a person of this world) will help you navigate the workplace faster and better than any executive development program ever could.

1. Being Able to Read the Room

How do you know when you’re in a sketchy neighborhood? When you’ve interrupted an important conversation? When you’ve walked into the wrong conference room?  

Whether you believe you “got weird vibes” or that you “read the room,” having situational awareness is one of the greatest strengths you can develop. Observing the environment and people around you and quickly coming up with (smart) takeaways will save you headaches and back and forth in the future. Every second counts when you don’t have the luxury of being leisurely.

2. Trusting Your Own Judgment

To quote Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is you-er than you.” 

You’ve been through a lot, whether it’s past jobs, relationships or difficult or trying situations. You have made great and not-so-great decisions and learned through them. You have built up a reserve of experiences that you can reference at any point. You should trust yourself, whether it’s believing you’re going to make the right decision with the information you have or leaning on your past results to make a future decision.

3. Outsourcing Your Needs

A few weeks ago, my laptop kept freezing. When I tried to open a folder, my screen would lose its mind, opening up a million files and then stop, buffering for something that would never appear. I did what anyone else would do that in that situation: I restarted my computer. When that didn’t fix anything, I put in a ticket with our IT department. 


Because I don’t know much about computers, and I know myself well enough to know that I don’t know much about computers. Technology isn’t in my immediate wheelhouse of skills, but you know what is? Finding people who do what I can’t. You will never be able to do everything—and you don’t need to. 

4. Protecting Your Time (and Energy)

I know how to do laundry, but now, as an adult, I don’t believe it is worth my team to spend four hours on a Sunday washing load after load. Instead, I have it sent out to be washed, dried, folded and delivered back to me. I also get my groceries delivered, and I have a recurring subscription with a company that drops off bottled water every few months. Does all of this cost money? Yes. Do these services make life a lot more convenient and manageable? Yes again. Time management is crucial that it should be deemed a superpower. 

Trying to do it all in the office will only lead to burnout. The sooner you figure out your priorities, the better off you’ll be. If you need a process, some popular productivity and prioritization techniques are Getting Things Done, Eat That Frog and the Pomodoro Technique.

It’s imperative to get clarity on what’s worth your time and what it isn’t.

5. Knowing Everything Ain’t for Everybody

Your friends all have different strengths. Most likely, you know which friend to go to when you need advice, which friend to call when you want to have a fun night out and which friend you’ll hit up when you just want to laugh. Every friend isn’t interchangeable. 

You might consider your coworkers as actual friends. You might secretly hate them and plot their downfall. Whatever the case may be, your coworkers all have different strengths, and you should get to know them. Learn what everyone in your office is the authority on. Learn who you need to contact to get things expedited. Learn who is a wealth of information and knows all the processes. 

Also, learn what you can discuss with who. Someone who may be great to share your drunk weekend stories might not be the same person you rant to when you’re upset with your boss. 

Don’t share everything with everybody, but it’s also a good rule of thumb to never share everything with anybody.

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