Skills for the Coming Years

I was asked which skills would be important for business professionals in the coming years, a question I love because I definitely read every article that came out giving me this guidance when I was young and hungry in business. (By this, I mean I still love these articles – except I’m old and hungry.)

Skills for the Coming Years

I feel you’d do yourself an incredible favor if you focused on a few capabilities more than others. You might not need everything I am about to share, but pick as many as you can.

Project Management – you’re the boss of you more than ever before. In a massive company, you have more autonomy. In a solo business, you can only turn to yourself. But people are horrendous at managing their time and resources. Learn some basic project management skills, and learn to stick to your own commitments.

Clarity/Brevity – people have less time than ever before — at least they feel that way. They multitask and split their attention. To communicate, you need to be brief and clear and say what needs saying without having to write a novel to get there.

Video and Audio Making – people are reading less than ever before. The same people who don’t have time are the ones who binge watch entire seasons of TV shows in two sittings (one if you’re really committed). Podcasts are having their fifth or sixth renaissance. Learn how to simply “be” on video and audio. Practice that the way it wasn’t natural for you to email or text people back in the day. Get GOOD with being you on camera and in someone’s ear. Even if you never produce an actual “show.” This sounds fancy but it’s basic. It’s the basic building blocks of modern communication.

Information Curation – you can try to read everything and watch everything and try to catch up and blah blah, but it’s not working. You have to pare back. A lot. There’s no value in blindly searching haystacks for inspiration or to “stay informed.” There’s so much content coming out that you will never make a dent in it. Pick sources to learn from and jettison the rest. Swap it up from time to time. Learn to stop reading/watching. Learn to discern.

Interfacing – I’m using this like a verb which kinda grosses me out, but stick with me. Learning how things and people and systems and the like all connect is a VITAL skill in the coming years. Nothing is staying the same. Everything is adapting. We need to keep sharp with our skills to connect one thing to another, be that people, culture, technology, foods, etc. Working with others. Collaborating. Matching what you do to what someone else does. This is the hardest one and probably the one that will save many businesses. (Sociology is a good subject to study.)

What We Thought Mattered Didn’t As Much

Someone was bragging about all they knew the other day (stuff like all the state capitals). I realized that everything they were talking about was at my fingers with Google and that if I cluttered my brain with it, my life wouldn’t be any better or worse. No one ever pulls a gun and says, “Quick, the capital of Pennsylvania!”

Coal miners don’t want coal mining jobs. They want jobs. They want to provide. They don’t feel they have the skills to do something else.

A lot of times, we cling to the wrong part of the equation. I used to think that the more domain knowledge I had in a particular technology, the more useful I was to the world. But everything I once mastered doesn’t even matter any more. Almost all of my technical proficiencies were wiped out by cloud computing, the death of middleware, and people’s shift to apps over server-based environments. If I had doubled down, I’d be a coal miner of another kind.

Are you working on your future skills?