🚀 Vital Skills for the Next 10 Years - Issue #227

How to surf the wave of disruption

The pandemic simply accelerated changes that began many years ago. More industries and businesses are moving online. Knowledge workers have been able to work at home, while people working in the physical world have either lost their jobs or had to quickly adjust to stay safe.

Remote work changes the competitive landscape. As an employee, you will increasingly be competing with candidates all over the world. As an employer, you'll be in a global war for talent. As a business owner, you'll also be competing globally with other businesses for customers and clients.

I'm already seeing it. Heck, I now make it happen. I connect US employers with smart, talented people that live in much more affordable locations (e.g., Costa Rica).

Advances in automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics are eliminating jobs. The jobs that are “safe” for now are those that still require a human being. They may not be safe forever, but is anything?

Who is going to be valuable and stand out? Who will be hired, and who will be fired? Who will get promoted and move up the ladder?

Yes, there are specialized hard skills that will be in demand (e.g., AI, ML, Blockchain). But, these are soft skills everyone will need in the coming years of accelerated disruption. Master them, and you will be one of those who stay in demand.

  1. Growth mindset

  2. Communication

  3. Writing

  4. Networking

  5. Persuasion

  6. Negotiation

  7. Sales

  8. Global view

  9. Adaptability

  10. Self-promotion


1. Growth mindset

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” — Carol Dweck

The people who tend to be most successful are those who have a love for learning. More importantly, they have learned “how to learn” and embraced lifelong growth and development.

The world is changing faster than ever before. We can’t predict what will happen (e.g., who predicted this pandemic?), but we can continue to learn, adjust, and adapt.

People with a growth mindset will be able to stay ahead of what is coming.


2. Communication

Communication skills have always been essential. Sometimes, when people fail a job interview, stall when climbing the career ladder, or just can’t seem to break into management, it’s due to poor communication skills.

However, I think we’ve all discovered that the wonderful world of remote work has taken everything up a level. I don’t know how people will succeed in the future of knowledge work if they can’t communicate well — and often — with others.

For the past 20+ years, I’ve noticed that those who are promoted into the most senior leadership roles are those who communicate well (e.g., public speaking). Now, every role at every level demands this skill.


3. Writing

Yes, writing is a form of communication. But, it’s becoming so important that I broke it out on its own.

Perhaps I should have called this “long-form writing.” Writing skills are certainly useful for emails, chat, texting, and social media posts. A whole new skill level is required when writing articles, presentations, proposals, books, etc.

How does one get better at writing? There are numerous helpful books on the craft. There are also numerous courses taught by writers and authors. But, it’s hard to replace hands-on experience.

Write, write, and write some more. Publish frequently, and engage with your readers. Don’t wait for perfection. You’ll only find your voice with practice.

If you want people to discover how smart and talented you are, you’d better find a way to publish your thoughts.


4. Networking

No, I’m not talking about the old-school cocktail party networking events. If you’ve read my previous newsletters on this topic, you know that I recommend a smarter version of connecting with people.

Your network is your most valuable asset. It will open doors for you that would otherwise remain closed.

I’ve watched people get invited to interview for positions because of their network connections. They would never have made it through the screeners otherwise.

Now, you have the opportunity to build a global network of smart, talented, and persuasive peers, mentors, and partners, all from the comfort of your home. Take advantage of this opportunity, or you’ll fall behind those who do.


5. Persuasion

Persuasion is a skill that can be learned and perfected. I can’t think of a single job where you don’t need to persuade someone at some point.

For example, it’s how:

  • You convince someone to hire you.

  • Ask for a deserved raise or promotion.

  • Win new clients and customers.

  • Sell your products and services.

  • Convince people to join your company.

  • Get your budget proposals approved.

  • Convince your manager to put you on the best projects.

Persuasive people get ahead in this world.


6. Negotiation

Negotiation is related to persuasion but is more focused on reaching a compromise in the moment. Persuading someone to see your point of view or accept your proposal 100% can often take much longer.

People will often negotiate to reach an acceptable agreement that maintains the health of the relationship with the other party. It requires understanding, empathy, compassion, and relationship building.

Remote relationships are more challenging. It’s harder to build rapport and understand how other people feel when you aren't in the room together and can’t pick up on nonverbal cues.

That’s why negotiation skills will be even more valuable in this new remote world.


7. Sales

I know that creating a successful long-term career requires a mindset shift. You should think of your career as a business that sells you as “the product.” The most successful people are also good at sales. They know how to prove their value and the return on investment of hiring them.

I wish that schools taught sales. I was always shy, so the last thing that I wanted was a job that required me to sell to other people.

What a mistake! I had no idea how valuable sales skills would be in my life later. I had to learn the hard way.

If you haven’t mastered sales, now would be the time to learn.

“I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don't hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.” — Zig Ziglar


8. Global view

Having a global view is essential for future success as a knowledge worker. You can no longer ignore the world outside your city or even your country.

I work with people all over the world. My social circle has expanded dramatically over the years. It has changed me and my perception of work and life.

Yet, I have friends who have no view of the world outside of their hometown. They accept what they hear locally. Their friends in their “bubble” shape their knowledge and opinions.

The future of work is global. This shift has been happening for decades. I worked with colleagues and partners in other countries, even back in 1996, when I was at Apple. My teams were globally distributed at eBay and Yahoo.

I now partner with people around the world. It gives me unique insights and a view of how work will be done.

The local office is dying, whether you like it or not.


9. Adaptability

“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster

We don’t know what the future holds. We can make predictions, but who knew that this pandemic would hit us this year and the impact that it would have?

No one was certain.

But, some adapted and thrived. Some were unable to deal with the changes and lost everything.

However, one thing is certain. The world will continue to change, and those who can adapt quickly will survive.


10. Self-promotion

But the fact is the rate of change is only increasing. And the only thing you are able to count on when it comes to how you are going to make your living is you. And that’s why you better be prepared to be an entrepreneur.” — Paul B. Brown

I wish that shy, talented people could let their work speak for itself, and they would be rewarded. But, the world is full of talented people who never seem to get ahead because no one knows they exist.

No one knows how talented they are. No one knows what they are capable of achieving.

Self-promotion is a skill that seems to come naturally to a few of us. But, many people feel uncomfortable “blowing their own horn.” In many cultures, talking about your skills, knowledge, and achievements is frowned upon.

Where I grew up, people would say that you’re “getting too big for your britches.” There are some more unpleasant sayings, but I won’t share them here.

However, self-promotion doesn’t mean that you have to brag. You can share your knowledge and wisdom to help others and still be humble. I highly encourage it!

No one is going to look out for your career and wellbeing like you will. You have to take control of your professional brand and put yourself out there to be discovered.

It’s the only way to become an opportunity magnet for the best things in life!


What am I missing?

Did I forget anything? What skills do you think will be essential for professional success over the coming decade?

P.S. Don’t forget to check your score on the Referral Program leaderboard!


This week’s professional development challenge

What Are You Thankful For?
You may think of this as yet another gratitude exercise and dismiss it, but you’d be missing out…