Using the Four Varieties of Smart to Succeed in Business

Emily Holbrook


February 14, 2013

book-heart,-smartsSuccessful businesses, some feel, are the product of pure hard work, while others believe that to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s who you know. But don’t worry if you aren’t into working 80-hour weeks or haven’t yet become chummy with the Trump family. As long as you have the self-awareness to turn your passion into a business, you will eventually succeed.

That’s according to Anthony Tjan, Richard Harrington and Tsun-Yan Hsieh, authors of Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck. To them, it is passion that separates successful business builders from the rest of the crop. But, as the title suggests, it also takes brains, bravery and a touch of luck. Their book delves into each facet, beginning with heart, or “what you purposely, passionately and insanely love doing, period.” It notes that entrepreneurship isn’t something you rationally plot, devise or delay, it is something that is desired so intensely, that it cannot be denied.

But smarts are needed to carry out such passion. As the authors note, the combination of book smarts, street smarts, people smarts and creative smarts are necessary to turn a good idea into a successful company. What is not needed, contrary to popular belief, is a high IQ, which is often overrated and not a requirement for success. But, “what is a requirement for business success is the deft amalgam of the four varieties of smarts,” the authors note.

But what good are smarts without the guts to go forward with great ideas? Guts give successful entrepreneurs the ability to ignore criticism and have the confidence to persevere in the face of defeat.

And of course, no business tycoon has become successful without a bit of luck, and the authors break down this attribute into its component parts by discussing the lucky attitude and how to develop it, the lucky network and how to curate it, and optimism.

Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck presents a convincing, pragmatic and inspirational case with text, charts, graphs and sidebars that help drive home the authors point: you don’t have to fit the mold of a traditional entrepreneur to succeed, but self awareness is a necessity.­
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.