Some people may feel that smart and clever are the same. But I think most consider smart people to be those with strong intelligence and the ability to make use of it. Whereas clever people are witty and know how to work around difficult situations in ways not ordinarily thought of.
Both have their virtues. Smart people are necessary when you have complicated situations to work out carefully over time. Clever people are useful when the situation requires unusual and quick thinking in a way that will delight.
I like to think I work hard to be smart most of the time. I do my homework and consider those around me when involved in important projects. But I also work to sharpen my cleverness. It helps when writing columns, instigating exciting opportunities and writing limericks for my subscribers.
Here are more insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Each issue requires a different approach.
There is a tremendous difference between smart and clever, both in business and in life. I would argue that it's best to have a little of both if you want to maximize your own success. When it comes to facts and figures, I'm smart--I know the answers to lots of different questions on a wide variety of topics (my wife keeps trying to convince me to make an appearance on Jeopardy!). But I'm also clever--I know how to quickly find the answers to the questions I don't know, or how to find someone who knows the answers. I'm a master of hacking Google to find the information I need, and in tapping my huge network of contacts to benefit from their experience. I use both skills to my advantage--when and where I need them the most. --The Management Guy
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2. Cleverness demands imagination.
There's a certain imaginative quality that comes with being clever. When one's cleverness is aimed at developing solutions it can sometimes outsmart the smartest of all! I have a client who manufactures and distributes a beauty product with a unique ingredient. She's a brilliant entrepreneur so she knew it wouldn't be long before less expensive, knock-off products would become her main competition. Many entrepreneurs would allow this to intimidate, even anger them, but not my client. She went into competition with herself by creating her own knock-off product under an entirely different corporation. Clever indeed! --The Successful Soloist
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3. Entrepreneurs, especially, are better off being clever.
I know many smart people who are not willing to take the entrepreneurial plunge. They are smart enough to measure the potential costs and often choose to pursue something safer, grounded and predictable. Let's face it--the decision to break out on one's own is not a "smart" decision. You take all the risk, you may walk away with nothing more than experience, and the dollars you make for the hours you work can be depressing. Not smart. In order to survive and thrive in the entrepreneurial world, being clever is better--and I would suggest necessary. Research shows that many successful entrepreneurs have issues like dyslexia. In order to survive, they must be clever and learn to solve problems in a unique way. Not being "smart" could very well be the greatest competitive advantage. --Lean Forward
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