After last week’s post about deciding what to learn, I received several emails asking what skills I thought were most important. Certainly, skills like project management, public speaking, and self awareness are essential to building a career or a business. I doubt you’re surprised by any of those.
So, here’s a list that might surprise you.
Here are five skills you probably don’t even know you need.
If you don’t have them, they’re likely holding back your career (or your business), organizations you volunteer with, and even your parenting.
Most of the original list comes from online entrepreneur Sean Ogle, but don’t let that title mislead you. I believe they’re critical for success in any modern endeavor.
Whether you’re selling yourself in a resume cover letter, a project in a proposal, or an idea in a business plan, you must learn to write persuasively. As Sean says, “it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you’re always selling something. Whether it’s an idea, a product, yourself, . . . there is never a time when you aren’t selling.”
You can use it to increase your income, to gather donations for an organization you support, or rally others around a cause, but you must first cut through the noise. Without copywriting skills, you simply can’t compete. To get started, check out the resources available on AppSumo or on CopyHour.
2. Basic Social Media
I know you don’t care what I had for lunch, but you should. For example, if you’re about to cold call me about a new accounting software, wouldn’t it be great to see that I’m in the middle of our budget planning process? You could highlight the cost savings in a very relevant way. Or you might see that I’m running from meeting to meeting today and decide to call tomorrow. If you searched for me on Twitter, you’d likely know all that.
The same is true for nearly everyone you interact with professionally. By discovering their social media profiles, you can often understand their frustrations and preferences, better targeting your approach. It’s also a simple way to start a new connection.
I realize this is often a generational divide, but it doesn’t need to be. The way you interact online is quite similar to the way you interact at “networking” events such as Chamber of Commerce meetings. I’ve often found that my more seasoned friends grasp the basics of social media faster than younger ones because they already know how to build relationships.
Here’s a great 10 minute Gary Vaynerkchuk interview on CNN that explains the basics and how it translates to what you already do. (If you wan’t to learn more, grab a copy of his latest book The Thank You Economy.)
Next, be sure you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Just get started, and keep exploring.
Your first thought is probably, “What is WordPress?”
In short, it’s a content management system that allows you to build websites without any knowledge of design or coding. It’s turnkey and very inexpensive. The latest research indicates that over 25% of the internet runs on a WordPress platform, and that number is growing rapidly.
You can use it for your personal website, a blog, your business, or even as a way to share information within your business (like a helpdesk or training manual).
The best way to learn is to simply get started. I’d recommend this tutorial from Michael Hyatt. If you can’t think of a work project, start one for yourself.
4. Basic HTML
Unless you aspire to be a “coder” or programmer, you don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but you should know the basics.
Think of it this way: If you were traveling to a foreign country, you’d at least learn how to say a few phrases. The same is true for the language of the internet. You need to learn a few key “phrases.” And just like any other language, with a little practice, you’ll have it down quickly.
There are lots of resources that can help you with this, and my favorite is Codecademy. It’s completely free, interactive, and you can even learn with your friends. I started with Code Year, an introductory track that starts with the basics.
5. Basic Accounting
I could certainly be a little biased, but a little accounting goes a long way. If you can interpret a balance sheet and income statement, you’re ahead of the game. Also, with a little understanding of internal controls, you can probably prevent or detect common frauds. Udemy is a great resource and has several options for learning functional accounting.
Simply knowing how to automatically track how much you receive and spend is critical. (If you don’t have a system, how will you teach your kids?) Free services such as Mint or FreshBooks are excellent options.
What other skills do you think are critical to modern day success?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
Basic empathy is critical. The ability to see things from another person’s viewpoint helps in selling, in writing copy, in setting up a retail space, in figuring out where your target market is and what benefits they want. It also allows you to lead. If you can’t see a situation from your employees’ viewpoint, you probably will never get them on board. If you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you are much more able to communicate in a way that will be understandable.
Absolutely! You’re exactly right, Crystal. Empathy is the foundation for nearly all of the skills listed. Without being able to genuinely consider others’ perspective, you can’t perform any of them well. Great point. Thanks for sharing!
After reading Daniel Pink’s, “A Whole New Mind” I’m betting on these 6 skill sets for the impending Conceptual Age.
1) Design (understanding space, color, texture etc.)
2) Storytelling (the ageless art of emotional connection)
3) Symphony (creating synergy and big picture thinking)
4) Empathy (beyond logic systems, how do solve problems technology alone can’t… understanding and making sense of our fellow man)
5) Play (concerns our general well-being, how do we incorporate laughter, lightheartedness, games and humor in what we do?)
6) Meaning (the pursuit of more significant desires in what we do… purpose, transcendence and spiritual fulfillment)
Those that master these skill sets will be paid premiums as we see the logical systems and skill sets of the information age turn into a relatively common commodities brought about by exogenous global pressures like abundance, Asia, and automation.
Hi Kendra! What a great list.
As to the HTML skill set have you seen CodeAcademy? One of the fastest growing online education resources for acquiring coding skills available. The startup lessons are free.