Being Really Good at Excel

A surprising amount of business activity depends on Excel.

Many of the most valuable skills aren’t cutting-edge; instead, they involve being highly skilled with a commonly used tool.

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Learning as Investing: 7 Skills That Pay Off in Any Job | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

Being able to organize and express your thoughts in a way that makes action items jump out and reduces back-and-forth is a tremendous asset.

Email is the basis for a dizzying amount of our work. Many workplace email threads I’ve seen are sloppy and disorganized which leads to a sea of noise. 

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Being a Non-Terrible Public Speaker

Being non-terrible as a speaker is enough to make you stand out at conferences and meetings.

At a minimum, you should be able to deliver a talk without reading notes or slides, communicate concisely, and pivot your presentation depending on the needs of your audience.

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Part of this skill is simply being organized and productive. But a lot of it is also about managing expectations. 

Many people, who feel unable to push back against demands, reluctantly agree to work they’re not sure they can deliver on. And this often backfires and makes them seem less reliable in the future.

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Researching Effectively

Finding a comprehensive answer to a question is valuable in any field.

Getting answers from other people is itself an art that requires practice. Even if you can’t be the smartest person in the room, you can learn to access what the smartest people think.

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Most of our experience with math in school is finding exact answers to precisely worded questions. This is a shame because very few problems in life are like this. Instead, we more often face vague problems where only some of the numbers needed are known.

Practicing the ability to quickly ballpark numbers, to make valid estimates of what things should be, is helpful for any quantitative line of work.

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Learning New Software Quickly

Getting quickly on top of new software is increasingly a requirement for professions outside of IT.

Doctors, teachers, lawyers and engineers constantly face new technical interfaces with their work—if you struggle to learn new software, your core professional skills may be undervalued.

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