The world is dynamic and is ever changing, the market is getting saturated, the educational system is getting bankrupt and universities are producing sub-par graduates. Gone are the days when you could just show up with a degree certificate and boom! A comfortable job is available on a golden platter. These days, everyone has a degree whether it’s a Bachelors, Masters or even a Doctorate. In today’s blog post, we’re going to look at 9 important skills you need to acquire in order to survive, succeed or thrive in the 21st century. Let’s gooo!
9 Survival Skills
It's pretty obvious we're in a new age unless you've been living under a rock for the past quarter of a century. This new age requires some new and evergreen set of skills which must be fine tuned to the demands of current society. Granted, some countries are far ahead of others in this new age, for example Apple Pay and contactless card payments are readily available in numerous places in the UK based on my experience but so far I haven't seen it being used in Nigeria. All that side, without further ado let's get into why you're really here.
1. Digital and Tech Skills
Silicon Valley in California, USA is undoubtedly a big reason for why we're in what I like to call the Instant Digital Age which is made up of fast internet speed, social media, search engines, smartphones, etc.
The internet was the first wave and social media was the second. They were more or less the tsunami that marked the end of the Industrial Age or whatever Age they ended lol. In other words, the internet and social media have been complete game changers for the quality of life and the economy. Some years ago, many jobs such as social media influencer didn’t exist or at least not on this scale but today influencers are very sought after people by brands and fans alike.
The internet has levelled the playing field. Bill Gates said “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” And you can see there’s a lot of truth to that, Jeff Bezos the owner of Amazon is the world richest person at over $135 Billion (yes a capital B!) and this is in no small part his ability to properly leverage the power of the internet. Some digital skills you can acquire include web design, programming, online course maker, video editing, affiliate marketing, e-book writing, SEO (search engine optimisation) & SEM (search engine marketing), graphic design, blogging, etc. Don't be scared of acquiring digital skills and you don't need to be a techie to be able to do some of these things such as SEO, SEM, content marketing, blogging, video editing, etc. You can check out Udemy where they have numerous courses on digital and tech skills and other fields both for free and a price, I bought about 4 courses from them when they had their Black Friday sale.
2. Build Your Personal Brand
We engage with brands on a daily basis, the clothes we wear, phones we use, shoes we wear, etc. They are all brands and we associate many with quality, high living, etc. Back then only those who appeared on TV could have real strong personal brands such as celebrities, authors, preachers, etc., but nowadays having a personal brand and amassing a strong following on social media has become easier to do, things only go “viral” on the internet these days and many people are capitalising on it.
Many people don’t wanna to be sold to plainly, they want to be able to identify with the person behind the selling, the person must be relatable, must be real. A good example of a powerful personal brand is Rihanna who has put her surname “Fenty” on makeup, clothes, shoes, lingere, etc. and the people just eat it up like its candy. An even better example is Oprah, her name is not just a powerhouse but an empire because she capitalised on being relatable and brought hot topics, entertainment, interviews, etc. to almost every TV in America and other countries.
Some of those who leveraged social media very well to build personal brands were people who were popular on Vine, you remember Vine right? The 6 seconds videos, they used it to amass a lot of followers which they transferred to Instagram when Vine died such as King Bach, Anwar, Destorm Power, Wuz Good, etc.
For more local (Nigerian) personal brands we have the likes of Lasisi Elenu (Mr "sumn just happen right now") who is Nigeria's #1 Ranter on Instagram, Linda Ikeji, Laura Ikeji, etc. According to Wikipedia, as of June 2018, there are 3.2 billion people on the internet and this number will keep rising so don't be scared to start building your personal brand online, if you do it well, people will love you.
I prefer personal brands which teach stuff for example, Tai Lopez teaches how to run a successful online business, Naija Brand Chick teaches mainly small Nigerian businesses how to succeed on Instagram, same with Emily Wale-Koya and they are doing quite well for them sells when they finally sell their products after giving free info repeatedly.
3. Effective Communication Skills
Humans still communicate with each other even though a lot of it is done over the internet these whether its texts, videos, photos or internet calls and it's through communication that we convey messages even though many people rely on emojis and memes and those mediums are powerful because they're funny and relatable.
Communication skills will remain relevant as long as humans are still primarily communicating with one another. A person with great communication skills is sought after, it will be hard to call you a great leader if you have problems communicating your message to your followers. Imagine Martin Luther King Jnr’s I Have A Dream speech if he didn’t have good communication skills such as choice of words, voice tonality, body language and a banging Southern US accent.
Good communication skills or in this case “game” is the difference between getting a girl you like and going home alone after a night out, it can be the difference between getting a job and not, it can be the difference between closing a sale or losing a potential buyer, etc. The way you communicate matters a lot for example, if I say to my friend “this beat is too hard” he’ll understand me easily but if I say the same thing to my dad he’ll be confused but if I tell my dad "this song has a nice instrumental, I've been nodding my head to it" he'll get it immediately! You can say that communication skills is about conveying an idea in simple and relatable terms.
Whatever you think of the man, communication is one of Donald Trump's strong points to his base, and as Trevor Noah puts it, he makes the complicated simple. Plus, he's interesting even if he doesn't back up what he says at his rallies "Build a wall!", "Drain the swamp!", "Lock her up!" These are some of his infamous catchphrases at his rallies and his followers eat it up like fried chicken. Even though he hasn't kept any of his promises, they still follow him regardless and that's because he's talking their language. Honestly, I can't see the appeal any other way, he's not exactly "relatable" to most of his followers, he's a billionaire from New York and many of them are working class people from Middle or Southern America.
For some tips on improving your communication skills, you can check out Charisma on Command on YouTube.
When I say MMM I don’t mean the Ponzi scheme that scammed numerous Nigerians out of their money some years back, you’ll find out what MMM means in a sec. The economy survives on making money and the way modern life is set up, it’s very hard to do without money so people who can Make, Multiply and Manage money will always be in demand because who doesn’t wanna be able to do all three? Most people can only make money even less can multiply it and even less can manage it and that’s why many people end up broke or even borrowing money after wining the lottery or before their next salary comes in, I’m guilty of this but trying to change.
Let’s do a little exercise because these days parting ways with your money has become so easy! Go to an online store you’ve used before like Amazon or eBay and try to pay for something. Do you have to fill in your card details anymore? My guess is no. You even have contactless card readers in some physical stores. When it comes to buying recharge cards or top ups, it’s so easy that as long as you have enough money in the bank you’ll never really run out of credit or data. For example, I buy at least N1000 worth of daily everyday so at the end of the month I’ve spent at least N30k and at the moment I’m not even working so you can imagine how it is for people who use more money than me. Most rich people have an accountant or someone playing that role, we all like numbers in the bank but not many of us can manage said numbers so accountants, auditors, etc. are very much still in demand. The key is even if you're not an "accountant" you can still build a personal brand on the numbers game.
5. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Many problems we have can be solved if we think hard enough and long enough but many of us are not willing to think and analyse that hard and that's where entrepreneurs come in (you still have to solve some of your problems yourself though). These days, they tell you as a primary business tip to fill a need or solve a problem and that's where you'll make a lot of money. Amazon solved the problem of wasting time going to the store to buy something, social media solved the problem of losing touch with people, generators solved the problem of people not having NEPA light, cars solved the problem of long journeys on animals and all the above are very convenient options. So think about how you can make life more convenient or comfortable for others and you may be laughing to the bank. I want you to keep this quote from Ikta Solork from the anime and light novel, Alderamin on the Sky "Laziness is the mother of invention." Once again, laziness in this context is about making life easier.
I remember in 2016 when I was in my second year of uni, I applied for a job at the SU and finally made it to the interview stage, we were put in groups and we were given some practical questions to answer as a group. I was unprepared because I really didn’t know how to prepare for an interview and I didn’t know what to expect. One of the questions involved being stranded in the desert, at that time I’ve only seen deserts on screen and I hadn’t imagined myself there before, I mean I went to boarding school it doesn’t mean I have desert survival skills lol.
Anyway, there were several questions like this and I barely contributed anything because critical thinking wasn’t really my strong point and other people speaking so quickly drowned out what I was trying to say or even my confidence. When I got to the solo interview and I was decent at best so it’s safe to assume I didn’t get the job which I definitely didn’t. So, develop some critical thinking skills and problem-solving and try to be creative or innovative while you're at it because great people are known for the problems they solved.
6. Learn a New Language
Nelson Mandela said "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
Learning a new language is becoming more essential these days as many employers use that to employ people so if you’re bilingual and qualified for a job, you’re definitely gonna get it over some who is equally qualified but monolingual.
Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world and China are making crazy moves all over the world and they may soon become the new world power over the US. This will make the demand for Mandarin speakers to skyrocket, if you're early to the game, you're definitely gonna get a front row seat! Even if that doesn't happen in our lifetime, learning another language is still important, Chinese people pay well for their children to learn English and if you see Chinese students in so many universities and colleges these days.
As for me, I’m learning Japanese little by little because I watch a lot of anime and it’s beyond the typical “konnichiwa” or “arigato.” For learning languages, you can use Duolingo to learn at least the basics of a new language even though nothing beats living in a place where the language is predominantly spoken, I used the app to learn more Spanish. What language would you love to learn? Comment below!
Humans want things but we can't satisfy all our wants and that's where selling comes into place. The best salespeople will tell you that selling isn't about the product itself but the idea of the product, the feelings or emotions attached to it. I know I feel superior because I have an iPhone over someone with an Android because of how the iPhone was presented as a priced possession and "for the cool kids only" and when I see Android Snapchat camera quality I can only feel bad for 'em and shake my head.
High end designers such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Supreme, etc. are expensive because of the feeling we get from wearing designer and that's why some people can go broke buying these things just to keep up appearances, I mean your favourite musician probably give these brands free promo all the time. So, if you can sharpen your selling skills and speak to the human heart and understand human psychology you won't be looking for a job up and down.
Another thing about selling is relatability like I talked about in communicatiomn skills, I'll buy a product online if I feel a connection or relatable to the seller. This relatability is why Black Panther was such a great sell and a smash hit, an African country which is the most advanced country in the world?A prominent black superhero and villain who are fleshed out and feel real? Now, a lot of black people can project themselves on these concepts and escape in the world of Wakanda, a world of relatable escapism with an awesome black superhero, villain and some bad ass bald melanated queens and Shuri, you can't forget Shuri lol, instead of the usually white dudes running around in capes with super powers.
There's also the aspect of repeatedly seeing the same ad on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube and because we're members of a target audience, we end up buying the product or at least clicking their site because after being subject to seeing the same ad after a while, the strong willpower we had against it is weaker and we're more open to it. I can even stretch this concept to never giving up, if you don't give up, you're selling your idea to God or the universe and sooner or later, they're gonna buy into your idea and grant you success in return.
I'm sure you would've either seen or heard of the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street and you can see how Mr DiCaprio captured the psychology of selling, you can also check out Brian Tracy, a veteran in the business of selling.
8. Agility x Flexibility x Adaptability
ADAPT OR DIE!
This is the most important life skill to have because adaptability is necessary for survival. You can even see this in nature, if you take a plant to another environment with a different season or even climate, if it doesn't adapt, it can die, for example, if you plant apples in the desert, they're probably gonna die, the same thing if you take a grizzly bear to the North Pole because it can't adapt to the cold climate there.
As far as history goes, if you're not flexible or agile enough to adapt on time, you will be be history! When one age was ending and another was beginning, many people had to look for ways to survive so they had to learn new skills for the age they were going into. This doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing all you’ve learnt, it can be using your new skills side by side with the old ones. For example, even though we’re in a digital age, we still have hunters, farmers, factory workers, etc. In their hay day there were much more of them but these days their numbers have decreased considerably. Many of them had to fine tune their skills to the current demand of the economy for example, factory workers are more likely demanded to learn how to operate a computer or robot if not they’ll be out of a job and won’t be able to provide for their families.
A good example of adapt or is music and video streaming services. If you're an artist and your songs are not Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. these days, you're virtually non-existent, if you don't have music videos on YouTube only on TV then you're wasting your time. If your TV show or movie isn't on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. you're at a disadvantage except you're a big company like Disney or Warner Bros and even these companies know they're losing eyeballs when they don't have their movies on Netflix.
It all comes back to "it’s not what you know but who you know" which you can stretch to who knows you or who you should know. Networking will always be a necessary skill to possess as long as humans still need each other and that’s not gonna stop being the case any time soon. A professional network is super important to your career. These days people hardly spend up to 10 years in one company, they tend to move around for a better experience or because they're looking of "something" like they are bar hopping on a Friday night. This means you need to maintain a good network who can help you get new jobs in other companies if possible or to invest in your business idea.
Most of us are already good at social networking with our friends online so it's time to transfer and even improve those skills in the professional aspect, you need to intentionally expand your business or professional circle reaching out and staying in contact with quality people who you can help and who can help you. For more on networking, see Networking Basics: The What, Why, Who & How.
QOTD: “Now, adults need to be able to ask great questions, critically analyze information, form independent opinions, collaborate, and communicate effectively. These are the skills essential for both career and citizenship.” - Tony Wagner
WELL, THAT'S IT FROM ME GUYS, NOW...
Which of these skills do you already possess? Or which are you trying to acquire? Or did I miss any 21st century survival skill that you think should be added? Comment below! Subscribe to my blog for for updates and to get my free e-books. Share this on social media so more people can be aware of these skills and Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I'm also creating a new e-book for you guys and need your input, please take this Short Survey to help me help you. See you next Monday.
My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!