Surfer Dad & Son

I don’t support the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades. I’ve always believed in mastery and focus. I however think that people who want to be successful should consider learning certain skills that can serve as valuable assets at the workplace as well as in life in general.

Here I’ve listed 44 skills that I believe can work as little supplements of success. I’ve also included links to some great sources of information that I’ve personally found useful.

  1. Speaking effectively. How to use language so that you can engage people, get them interested in what you’re talking about, and make yourself understood. (Recommended reading: The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking)
  2. Speaking slowly. Create anticipation. Pause. Use concise phrases and pronounce them clearly.
  3. Communicating with people. Showing genuine interest in other people will earn their respect and attention. Learn to be modest, and don’t show off. Guys should be gentlemanly. Be kind to everyone. Respect everyone. Make others feel important.
  4. Writing properly. Grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, unconventional abbreviations and acronyms, and 1337-speak should be avoided. Learn to structure your paragraphs neatly. (Recommended reading: The Elements of Style)
  5. Wording your texts in a logical, clear, and succinct manner. Wordiness and writing without any clear focus can easily cause people to stop reading your stuff.
  6. Writing cursive. Distinguish yourself from others by learning proper handwriting. It’s soothing to look at beautifully penned script. Study calligraphy.
  7. Basic marketing skills. Learn what a niche is. Concentrate on what people want, not what you want. Learn the basics of copywriting. Learn about Internet marketing (mailing lists, blogging, Twitter, social networking). Find out what branding is about. (Recommended reading: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing)
  8. Creating and managing websites. You can outsource the management of your websites, but it’s better to learn the basics yourself. Also study SEO (search engine optimization), and learn how important it is to choose your words carefully, how to structure your websites, and why getting linked to your sites is important.
  9. Personal finance. Understand how adopting a frugal lifestyle will earn you pennies. Learn how to budget your money. (Recommended reading: 10 Steps to Financial Success in 2010)
  10. One sport or physical activity. This is for maintaining your physical health as well as understanding the importance of basics. It’s important to learn to take your mind off your work.
  11. An additional language. Learn how to communicate in another language. Many people speak English, but learning a second language can open many new doors for you. If you have a business, you can also cater your services for a new target market.
  12. The history of what you’re specializing in. If you want to be an expert, you should know your subject as thoroughly as possible. Don’t repeat the same mistakes that were already made hundreds of years ago.
  13. Getting organized. Good organization habits make you more productive.
  14. Time-management. Schedule your tasks and appointments, and make a habit out of using a calendar every day.
  15. Reducing procrastination. Commit yourself to fighting procrastination. Try to eliminate as many time-wasters as possible. You have to truly discipline yourself.
  16. Single-tasking. Stop multitasting and start focusing on one task at a time.
  17. Aesthetics. Learn the basics of colors, harmony, proportion, white space, and typography. Understand what soothes the eye and which designs cause it to see red.
  18. Getting interested in reading books. Good books are the best and most accessible source of theoretical knowledge. They’re affordable too. Public libraries are free. Learn to love books.
  19. How to tell jokes. Study humor. Humor can make people feel good and comfortable. (Recommended reading: Comedy Writing Secrets)
  20. Developing a sense of fashion. Look clean. Your outfit is the primary generator of first impressions. Fashion can also be an effective tool in branding (look at Steve Jobs).
  21. Taking interest in constant self-improvement. Take time, every day, to develop yourself towards the kind of person you want to be.
  22. Meditation. Learn the techniques to calm your mind and focus on single things. It’s important to learn how to become aware of the present and embrace the space around you. You should also learn to create positive energy and dispel negative energy.
  23. Adopting healthy eating habits. This will reduce the risk of catching diseases, feeling fatigue, and causing an untimely death.
  24. Cooking. Simple meals are good. You can also save a lot of money if you cook your meals at home instead of eating out. Cooking can be easier than you think.
  25. Understanding that schools don’t guarantee success. It’s often faster and more effective to learn things by yourself. Higher education is good, but I think it’s overrated. The key to your success is you.
  26. Realizing the fact that there are no shortcuts to success. Or do you genuinely think that participating in the lottery is the best way to become a millionaire? Success secrets are often super-simple. What it usually comes down to is hard work.
  27. Getting interested in people. People will notice if they see that you are genuinely interested in them. Be the one who initiates relationships.
  28. Getting interested in other cultures. Broaden your understanding of different people by studying their cultures.
  29. Developing your own philosophy. What is a good set of morals for you? Do you support eco products, or organic food? Are you interested in decluttering your life by adopting a minimalist lifestyle?
  30. Confidence. People will more easily follow a confident speaker (umm… Hitler?). Insecurity can be spotted from a mile away—it is totally not sexy. Do you want to be successful with women? Learn to boost your confidence. But don’t be an a-hole.
  31. One hobby. Very similar concept to doing sports. You can also combine your hobby with work. A hobby that you’re passionate about is a great starting point for an enjoyable business. Are you good at qigong? I’m sure many other people want to learn that same style you’re doing, so why not offer classes online?
  32. Relaxing. Don’t overburden your mind with work and studies. And don’t hesitate to take vacations.
  33. Bargaining. Earn extra profit. It is not a bad deed at all. Especially when you’re buying items in large quantities, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a polite proposition that will benefit both you and the seller—you get the stuff for less, the seller makes a bigger sale.
  34. How to say “no.” And do it politely. It’s okay to refuse a request as long as you can be polite about it. People prefer to work with honest individuals who know what they want. A person who always says yes is apparently either afraid to say no or doesn’t know what he or she is after. Both cases pose disadvantages to the other party, apart from yourself.
  35. Smiling.“Charles Schwab told [Dale Carnegie] his smile had been worth a million dollars. And he was probably understating the truth. For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success.” Quoted from How to Win Friends and Influence People
  36. Positive thinking. If you stay negative throughout your pursuits for success, you will most likely never arrive at the desired outcome. Learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. You must learn this skill.
  37. How to interact with people individually. Every person is different. Some people need special handling, so you should learn to quickly identify different personality types and react accordingly.
  38. Teaching. If you want to employ people or pass on your knowledge, you have to teach skills to others. You’ll want your comrades to be successful too, so you should learn how to teach effectively.
  39. Volunteer spirit. Not all things have to concern profit or personal benefit. Being too self-centered and caring only about things that involve benefit to oneself isn’t going to make anyone very popular. Offer to help people. Why not make the next clerk you deal with much happier by genuinely smiling at him and wishing him a good day?
  40. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you become the new CEO of a company, would it be the right thing to impose a plethora of rules and regulations foreign to the workers? Try to learn the customs of every community and culture you deal with.
  41. Having a role model. Everyone needs inspiration. Many of us don’t have any ideas how to start. Finding a suitable role model is a great way to lead you toward success.
  42. Not being afraid to make mistakes. Learn to take failures in a positive and constructive way. If you like video games, do this: Treat every mistake you make as 100 experience points in your favorite roleplaying game.
  43. Quick decision-making. Be resolute. Know what you want. Don’t waste any more time than needed to make a decision. Trust your instincts.
  44. Consistency. Success requires time, so be patient. You should find sources of motivation to keep you interested and focused on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Many of the skills I’ve mentioned aren’t skills that you need to spend 20 years of your life to learn. Of course, they cannot be learned overnight either. A good way is to work on a few of them at a time by applying them in real-life situations. Make a habit out of them.

The list is far from perfect so I would love to hear your tips too. If you have any additional skills that you think every successful person should learn, please post them in the comments below. Thanks! (And I would be super-grateful if you would be kind enough to grant me the rights to rehash them in later posts and publications—credited to you, of course.)