Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills

It’s true. My confession to you today is that I only have 4 skills.

Skill #1: I Can Read

Being able to read is my first skill.

I read a speed reading book 4 years ago and it changed my life: 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks Beale

It increased my comprehension from 60-70% to 80-90% and increased my reading speed from 300wpm (already quite good) to 600-900wpm.

I can consume a regular sized business book in 2 to 3 hours. And when I studying for my Masters over the last 2 years I read hefty text books in 4 – 6 hours.

The pay off for my reading skill is that I get to steal ideas from the best minds on the planet and rework those ideas into my own.

Skill #2: I Can Write

Being able to write is my second skill. And when I say “write” I really mean “touch type”.

Thanks to a short course at High School when I was 15 I got my fingers on the “home keys” and they’ve been there ever since.

My current rate is 70wpm-80wpm which is pretty good.

The pay off for my typing skill is that I can communicate fast: writing emails, writing blog articles, writing reports, and sometimes, writing code.

Writing is a communication tool that is one of the core parts of my business and life, and I get to make money from it.

Sidenote: I pity school kids these days on iPads. You can’t learn to touch type on one of those things (and Siri taking your dictation won’t be that helpful)

Skill #3: I Can Listen

Being able to listen is my third skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I take the following rule (written by Epictetus, a Greek philosopher 2000 years ago) pretty seriously:

“God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk”

The pay off is that people think that I think that they are awesome and worth listening to. We all love being listened to because it makes us feel important.

If you make someone feel important by listening carefully to what they have to say, what is their impression of you? They think you are awesome too, and when you finally open your mouth to speak they really pay attention!

Skill #4: I Can Ask Questions

Being able to ask questions is my fourth and final skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I ask a lot of questions.

My son is almost three and he is in “why?” mode. If you’ve got kids, or if you’re around kids that will sound familiar to you.

Kids ask endless questions because they are curious and fascinated by the world and want to know how it all works.

I ask my clients lots of questions because I want to know how their business works and it’s my way of prompting them to think about things in a different way because that’s where new ideas come from.

The pay off is that the more work I do up front at the asking-questions stage, the better result I can deliver.

Einstein said it best: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the answer, I would spend the first 55 minutes figuring out the proper questions to ask. For if I knew the proper questions, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.”

Sidenote: Asking questions is the key to dating if you didn’t know already 😉

So What?

The point I want to make is that I have created a successful business out of having just 4 simple skills.

The challenge for you is to imagine the pay off you might get if you were better at each of those 4 skills and then start working on them.

What skills do you have? Are they different from my list? Say so in the comments below.

6 Replies to “Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills”

  1. 2 emails in 1 week. You must be having a communication attack!
    Nice post. The challenge is not in acquiring the information its in applying it. Not easy to do. How many books have we all read without taking action. All the information we could ever want is in books. But we still go to class and go through a program of learning….perhaps there’s a human component to learning. We learn better when “real” people are involved. Or maybe we are just forced to apply the information and experience the results of the action with other people. What makes class learning more powerful than “book learning”??
    Enjoyed your post.
    Have another good day in paradise.

    1. Yep, very true. Maybe we think ahead 5 years to a conversion that goes like “so, what did you do with that stuff we learnt in that class 5 years ago”?



      A motivator I use is to tell lots of people about the project I’m starting and then I know I need to make some progress before I see them next time so I don’t sound lame.

      1. I dont think that strategy works. People forget.
        In the end you are mainly accountable to yourself. Everybody else is there but they are mainly concerned with themselves. Like a tutor in a class has to “sign you off” as competent to wire a house, fix a gas main, install safety belts and now waterproof a house. Your income depends on your ability to deliver and retain your “license” to deliver.
        Marketing and self employment are different. The results matter to you alone. The challenge is the promise you make to yourself and the integrity you see in yourself to deliver. In the beginning Steve Jobs was challenging himself. What could he do? what could he achieve? How fast can this baby go? Nothing to do with anybody else.

  2. Sheldon, you are the most well-rounded marketer I know… and I know a few!! Seriously though not trying to kiss ass.. it’s just fact 🙂 Must be well overdue for a coffee…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *