10 Powerful Skills You Need to Know Immediately

Keep on climbing

Newsflash: the world has changed. It’s a Web 2.0 world now. So clocking in at 9am and working until 5pm for the next thirty years and retiring with a fat pension is a thing of the past, bub. To keep up with the rest of the world, you’ve got to get a whole new skill set.

“A world of flat organizations and tumultuous business conditions — and that’s our world — punishes fixed skills and prizes elastic ones.” — Daniel Pink, To Sell is Human

Here’s 10 skills that you absolutely 100% need to have in order to survive.

1 — Autodidacticism

First on the list is audodidacticism, which is a fancy word for “self-teaching.” Some of history’s biggest thinkers — Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln just to name a few — were autodidacts. There’s a big reason why it’s #1 on this list. It’s deadly important, no questions asked.

At the rate the world is changing and evolving, you’ve got to keep up with all the new trends or you’ll quickly find yourself left behind. Even the old skills you’ve mastered might have may soon be outdated.

It is imperative that you understand yourself and what you are capable of, and that includes how you learn. After that, it’s easy to find resources on the web to learn more. YouTube, Udemy, Codecademy, Lynda and countless others — as well as millions of books — are there to empower freethinkers like yourself and help push you into the future.

2 — Sales

No matter what line of work you’re in, knowing how to sell is mandatory. You’ve got to qualify. You’ve got to pitch. You’ve got to close. You’ve got to deliver. Period.

No matter who you are and what you do, you’ve got to sell. Teachers sell their ideas to their students. Doctors sell their procedures to their patients. Even the guy clocking in 9–5 and putting rivets into steel has to sell his boss on the idea of a promotion or raise.

I started my entrepreneurial path in sales. I am an introvert, so the confrontational nature of selling hasn’t always been easy for me. But my biggest successes were driven by my ability to sell. Whether I was selling a used car, offering insurance, or even closing my business partner on an investment deal I was selling.

3 — Communication

Want to get shit done? There’s no way around it: you’ve gotta communicate with other people. Communication encompasses not only speaking — and selling! — but also covers writing well and getting ideas across.

The Web is all around us. Literally millions of new pieces of content are generated nearly every minute. You’ve got to have a voice, or you’ll never stand out.

So you’ve got to produce. You’ve got to create content. You’ve got to make an impression. And you’ve got to do it well.

4 — Coding/Computer Science

Coding is not scary. Computer science is not scary. In fact, it’s mandatory that you learn how computers work and how you can affect them. Because guess what? They’re not going anywhere any time soon. Computers are a part of our life now and we’ve got to become good buddies with our robo-overlords.

Basic computer literacy is quickly becoming as fundamental as literacy and arithmetic.

And c’mon, folks, coding is not that hard. In fact, coding is far easier to learn now than it ever was in the past. HTML has been around for nearly 30 years. CSS and Javascript have been here for nearly 25. A lot of talented, awesome people have created some groovy ways to making these languages easier. And with technology like WordPress, Adobe Dreamweaver and Sublime, it’s not half as difficult as it used to be back in the ‘90s.

There’s a lot of avenues out there for you to learn coding quickly. Lynda offers some coding opportunities as well as computer science. There’s hundreds of teachers available on Udemy. And Codecademy specializes specifically in code-training.

Sure, you might pay someone else to do all that work for you but 1) you’re going to end up throwing away a shit ton of money if you do and 2) at least understand the basics, so if you do hire someone else to do it, they’re not putting you together on the actual requirements. If you think a basic Wordpress site costs $500 to make, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

5 — Marketing

You aren’t just you anymore. You’re a brand. And you’ve got to market that brand. Because Social media has put each and everyone of us into the limelight. Knowing who you are and focusing on those elements of your character is a big deal these days. Furthermore, everything you do must have the same message, tone and be consistent.

If you want to be a positive role model, then that’s who you’ve got to be every day. Even if you want to be a trainwreck pop singer you gotta keep up that appearance, too. And don’t you dare let things ever get stale.

Trends change. Interests shift. You’ve got to make sure that spotlight stays on you. It’s not enough to build up a base of followers, but you’ve got to retain them, too. Market, brand, market, re-brand, and the cycle continues.

6 — Design

The world of the Web is a visual one.

Whether you’re creating a physical product or a digital, design is crucial. And like every other skill you need to learn on this list, design is also one about consistency. Every part of your life requires design, from what you’re posting on social media to how you dress and carry yourself.

And there’s a lot to know about design other than “does it look good?”. You’ve got to know the elements and the principles, and how they interact with those looking at it. You’ve got to know what the trends are and what’s popular. You could be making great food in your restaurant, but if you’ve got a shit logo or a terrible website, people are going to think your food sucks, too.

Look at Apple. Steve Jobs was a nut for design, often risking the cost to manufacture the products in exchange for bad ass designs. Do you own an iPhone? Remember that box it comes in. Hell, I kept mine! It’s all about the user experience and design is a big piece of that puzzle.

7 —Money

Yeah, money. It’s not a “thing.” Money is a skill.

To be skilled with money, you’ve got to know a lot. How you earn it, whether it’s active or passive. How you spend it. How you save it. How you invest. Economics, macro and micro. You cannot move through this world we live in — especially if you’re, God help you, an American — without understanding money.

There’s countless books on the subject. Read them. I especially love Burton Markiel’s A Random Walk Down Wallstreet and Robert Kiyozaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Even reading the bio’s of famous moneymakers like our friend, Warren Buffett, can help you understand the ebbs and flows of cash.

8 — Psychology

Did you know that there’s over 7 billion people in the world? 7 billion is a big damn number. So big, in fact, that if you took one second to say the name of every single living person in this world every second of every day until you were finished, it’d take you over 221 years to do it.

So you’re going to have to deal with people if you’re going to get things done.

Enter psychology, the study of how the mind works, especially in regards to behavior. I have hundreds of books, and easily a third of those are dedicated to psychology. Not only does understanding give you a window into the minds of those you’re trying to influence, but it also helps you know yourself.

Some of the best books on the subject include Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, and Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works.

9 — Leadership

You can’t do this shit alone. Ideas are tough to execute. Big ideas even harder. And the biggest ideas are damn near impossible. The truth is, that nobody that’s ever been successful did it alone. So you’ve got to lead. You’ve got to have people help you. And you’ve got to keep them coming.

Leading is humility, the ability to tell yourself and those around you that you need help. That you can’t get things done unless they’re by your side.

Leading is consistency. Who you are when you want people to do things for you needs to be the same person when you’re pissed off, tired, and stressed. You can’t give them Jekyll one day and Hyde the next and expect them to keep following you.

Leading is empathy. Remember: the people that you hope to lead aren’t you. They’re nothing like you. They have different motivations, different skills and different views of the world. Put yourself in their shoes and know what you’re dealing with.

10 — Self-control

Finally, keeping your head on in tough situations is a rare skill. Once possessed, self-control will give you an edge in any situation.

’cause guess what? Shit happens. A lot. And you’ve just got to deal. You can whine about the boulder in the road or you can blow it up with some goddamn dynamite.

And change your habits already. Stop spending money — you don’t need all that stupid shit you’re buying. Stop the drugs, the drinking, the smoking. Stop treating your body like a dumpster. No more Taco Bell. No more pizza because a salad takes too long to make.

Hey, it’s great that the new season of Walking Dead is on Netflix — go out and run instead and save that $11.99/month. Still got free time? Pick up a book.

You must control yourself. Failure to do so will force you into a prison of your own design. Whether it’s giving your employer power over you because your expenses are too high and you can’t afford to lose your job, or giving your cravings power by stuffing your face with garbage. It’s you that’s putting yourself there and no one else.


I’m not perfect. Far from it. If anything, this list is a letter to myself. Something to remind me, “Hey, Dave. This is what it takes, dude. Get to it.”

So right now, I’m going for a run. Later!

(What’d I miss? Let me know in the comments below.)