“The street teaches what you learn at school …..” Or does it?

January 22, 2010 at 10:44 am (Life in General, Sales and Business)

For some reason, this was one of those little gems that I picked up as a youth. It was a line from a Russian band called Gorky Park, from a song called “Bang!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fmVkWdiVfM ( VERY 80’s!!)

This was my favorite “Pre-rugby-psych-up-song” and anyone who knew me back in the “School Daze” will attest to me having it on a tape (that was the thing that preceded CD’s for you younger folks!!) 6 or 7 times, one after another.

I don’t know why exactly I remembered THAT line but my guess would be that because I was not very academic at all growing up. In fact, I had to attend extra studies classes in junior school and was in all the “streamed” (a nice way of saying “slow”) classes in high school. I could spell “F.E.E.F.E.E” with my final years results. So perhaps I had to hold onto that line and keep faith in it to believe that I would still be able to learn the life skills that I needed to be successful.

Straight out of school, I went looking for manual labour work. Being a “generously built” lad, I had little trouble finding occupation in warehouses, construction sites and nightclubs. After about 7 year of what could be broadly termed as “manual labour”, I started to develop an urge to get a job where I was using my mind more than my body to keep the landlord at bay.

If the truth be told, I believed deep down that I could do a lot more with my mind, personality and passion than perhaps my school results had shown me and after about two and a half years of trying, I eventually managed to get a job as a filing boy for a large Brokerage in the City. I guess I was still doing manual labour but I kept saying to myself that “at least I was in the environment where people could spot my talent that I believed I had..” and I was getting to wear a suit which seemed to illicit a better response from people than a hard hat, visibility jacket and safety boots did.

Eight years later, I am very glad I put the effort in to get into a different environment and actually believed that I was able to do more than a piece of paper said I was capable of.

The more I research some of the most successful people in the world, I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps schooling is not the be-all and end-all for success.

If we look at some of the greatest business people in the world, these are not all people who have MBA’s or masters degrees from big name universities. A lot of them are people who didn’t complete university or even make it to the lecture hall.

I read recently that over the last 40 years, there has been a significant shift in the background of people who are running big multinational companies. This shift was basically that previously most of these companies were run by people who tend to think in a very structured fashion such as Accountants, Engineers, Doctors and Professors but as time goes on, more and more “out of the box” thinkers have been given the reigns. Mainly people from a Sales or Marketing backgrounds. The reason for this is said to be that as we move into more and more competitive environments, the more creative you can be, the more advantage you will have over your competition. I am still to find a junior school or high school that teaches Sales or Marketing….

Henry Ford said about his Model T : ” You can have it in any colour, as long as its black”. Now, Mr Ford was no doubt a great thinker but can you imagine any producer being that inflexible to their clients demands now-a-days? It wouldn’t happen – the competition out there is far too great.

In my opinion, a good school education is very important, but not only because of the academics. I believe that school is also very important to develop more and more of ones social skills, to create friendships, be involved in team play and a greater understanding of what it takes to be successful in a situation – most of which is taught outside of the class room.

I don’t believe anyone’s success is going to be based on how many numbers they know the square root of, how many historical dates they can remember,  or how to find the location of point “X” using a mathematical equation. I believe that success going forward is going to come to people who have the ability to see a situation for what it is, have a vision to work from, be creative in the achievement of the outcome and the passion to inspire others to follow them.

Therefore, I do believe that, “The street teaches what you learn at school” …. and then some 😉

To your Health, Wealth and Happiness.

Paul Harrison

P.S. Please leave a comment and a rating.



  1. urbanjunglesurvival said,

    P.S. The words I refered too are at 1.05 on the youtube link 😉

  2. Mel said,

    Crazy song! For similar 80s fun, I recommend Danger Zone and the rest of the Top Gun sound track, also on YouTube. The next line in your song is: “Look out the gangs are here”. To continue your business analogy you could regard this as a reference to the competition or government(s) in today’s economy. Personally I’m more worried about the goal posts moving than I am about the competition; but it’s the same creativity and ability to adapt that you need to find.

    • urbanjunglesurvival said,

      Ha!! Mel – the 80’s was where it was at…!! Even in South Africa 😉

      Tell you what though, regarding competition, I am due to launch a new product in the next few weeks that I thought was totally unique and I was a bit concerned that I would need to try and develop demand for it (new product into new market) even though it has done very well in testing but recently I have found that there indeed IS another company who is doing what I am doing and I was utterly overjoyed because they have been around for a while and have rubbish marketing (in my VERY biased opinion, anyway;-)) so that means that there IS a demand for it…!

      Its the competition that brings out the best in us 😉

  3. Andrew said,

    I couldn’t agree more. James Caan’s autobiography (Dragon’s Den) is a great compliment to this post!
    Nice one.

    • urbanjunglesurvival said,

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I have heard very good things about James and his book. I haven’t read it yet but will do so. He is doing a VERY good job of increasing his profile right now.



  4. greg said,

    couldnt agree more with the above ! Couldnt help but remember that tape of yours Harry ! Still have that CD in my collection , will pull it out tonight and remember those days ! you the man

    • urbanjunglesurvival said,

      Yup, that song and Dorm 8 always go side by side bro 😉 HOpe you are doing well with your new ventures boet.

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