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Book review: 'Street Smarts: Beyond the Diploma' gives hints for success

By Stephanie Grimes

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 13 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

"STREET SMARTS: Beyond the Diploma," by Jim Randel, Rand Media Co., $19.95, 125 pages (nf)

Most recent college graduates realize that a diploma is not what it once was. Jim Randel hopes to give graduates an edge by sharing tips for survival and success in a competitive world. "Street Smarts" includes sections that aren't taught in most university courses but could be valuable to those looking to succeed in life after college.

Randel covers 125 one-page micro-topics that fall under nine categories: YOU, Inc.; communication skills; career advancement/networking; time management and productivity; sales and persuasion techniques; financial literacy; savvy; investing; and personal development. Those interested can visit an accompanying website at www.dailystreetsmarts.com for further details.

Throughout the book, Randel encourages readers to focus on personal development.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

This idea of pursuing a passion presents itself throughout the book as the author discusses the power of positive thinking and motivation. "The world rewards excellence," Randel notes, adding, "finding your passion and structuring a living around it is an ongoing life challenge ... but it is definitely worth the effort."

Some tips may seem fairly obvious but serve as useful reminders. Randel urges readers to utilize lists and budgets and to remember the importance of first impressions.

Other suggestions in the book are decidedly arguable. It is suggested that to "add value," one should strive to do more than is expected — but only if one stands to gain personally from the transaction.

"We are not suggesting you add value out of the kindness of your heart," Randel said.

"Street Smarts" is perhaps at its most useful when focusing on modern topics such as social networking, or when giving an overview of basic financial literacy. Randel mentions Facebook and LinkedIn as useful tools for cultivating business relationships.

He also discusses how to handle identity theft and bankruptcy and includes advice on basic investing, noting that such financial lessons are meant as a primer for building one's knowledge about investing.

Although it includes dozens of topics worth discussing, "Street Smarts: Beyond the Diploma" does not go into enough detail to be considered an authoritative source for those looking to succeed after college. Rather, it should be viewed as a starting point for further research.

Stephanie Grimes is a student at Brigham Young University studying history. Twitter: limsteph

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