Six Skills For The Next Decade
Work is changing, and a lot of formerly valuable skills will soon become obsolete.
Some skills however, will stand strong, and help you thrive in the coming years. Here are six that are worth cultivating:
Working from home
Many of the things that made an office a necessity are disappearing. Between WiFi, laptops, smartphones, Skype and Google, the advantages of an office moved online.
If you generally sit at a desk all day, there will soon be little reason why you can’t do that from home, in your undies and with your weird music blaring in the background.
It’s a trap.
What if you’re not good at working at home?
When there’s nobody watching, nobody to talk to, no internet filter, no dress code, no meetings, will you still be able to stay on track?
It is a skill, a combination of discipline, personal mastery, self-motivation and time management.
Nobody will stop you, nobody will tell you off. You become the technician and the supervisor in one, and you need a system that keeps you being effective.
The rewards are huge. If you can get everything done in under the usual eight hours, you can pick your kids up from school, or go for a swim at lunch, or start late or finish early. You can take up a new hobby, spend more time on side projects, or even get a head start on future work projects.
Now is the time to start building good time management habits. If you work from home and underperform, it’s really easy for your company to get rid of you – out of sight, out of mind.
According to my friend in IT: 90% of his job is knowing how to use Google.
You’ve probably found something similar, managing to solve tech issues through a quick search on your phone, to the complete amazement of your older relatives.
In Google, we have the most magnificent collection of information ever assembled. The problem is, there’s way too much out there. You need to know how to navigate.
There are three parts to this skill:
1) Knowing how to use a search engine
2) Quickly fact checking something before putting it in your presentation
3) Being able to spot ads and marketing disguised as information
This is important, because tech won’t remove these three components.
Maybe you’ll be asking Siri or Cortana, the underlying skill is in asking good questions.
Maybe you’ll have a fact checking app, the skill is in not believing everything you hear.
Maybe you have an ad-blocker, the skill is in spotting biased data that’s pushing an agenda.
Between YouTube, Facebook and Smartphones, the ability to record, watch and share videos is now completely democratised.
Anyone can make a video of themselves, upload it to a global platform, and tell everyone they know – all for free.
The problem is, there’s too much out there. Having content isn’t enough, you need good content that’s worth your audience’s time.
That means you need to be a confident speaker who can hold the audience’s attention. Even if you’re not on a physical stage, the internet is your stage, and your audience is brutal.
The skill of constructing a talk, whether it’s 60 seconds or 45 minutes, will always be useful.
The ability to hold attention will transcend technology.
The next big platforms haven’t been invented, but you know who will thrive?
The kids who are confident on camera.
They’ll see the potential of the platform, and have the guts to put themselves out there.
It’s amazing what you can find out about a person with a quick google while you’re waiting in a café. A photo that allows you to recognise them as they walk in. A LinkedIn bio that tells you about every job they’ve ever had. A Facebook page of their opinions and holiday pictures.
In the future, there will be more and more personal information out there.
What won’t change is the impression you make face to face over a coffee.
It says so much more than a resume, because people trust their eyes more than they trust the internet.
This is the skill of good conversation, intelligent questions, humility, eye contact and even table manners.
In the future, maybe it’s done over a video call, or even a hologram – the same skills apply. Who wants to be an awkward hologram?
Large event conversations
You’d think that technology would eliminate the conference, but it’s quite the opposite. Music is now available for free online, and yet we have so many music festivals.
TED talks can be streamed, yet tickets for the event are prized.
I can watch every American sport from my phone, and it just makes me want to be there in the stadium.
Business is the same – there will always be conferences, events and networking drinks. It’s also a very different skill from the 1-1 coffee.
This is the skill of the elevator pitch, good body language, reading the room, cold introductions and exchanging business cards.
It’s the skill of properly ending conversations and making people feel welcome.
It’s uncomfortable and invaluable – and I’m always impressed by people who make it look effortless.
Learning the basics of everything
This is the skill of not being incompetent.
The skill of taking five minutes to research something you don’t know, like how your political system works, or how to take a good photo, or how to choose a font.
You don’t need to be an expert, just a 5/10.
It’s the skill of being curious, then taking a few minutes to learn the essentials. The kind of thing you do while sitting on a bus or while waiting at a baggage carousel.
Even if you don’t like Sci-Fi movies, you should watch Star Wars.
Even if you don’t like sports, you should know the basic rules of the games.
Even if you don’t like social media, you should know the difference between Instagram and Snapchat.
You’re allowed to dislike all of the above, just as long as you have an informed opinion. Informed opinions will never go out of style.
For more on the future of work, I highly recommend Linchpin by Seth Godin, and The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss