Best skill stacker wins
Be the flame, not the moth
At school I was good at Maths, but not much else. English was my worst subject and I hated books. My French teacher reported that, Phil is not a natural, but finds ways to entertain himself. After secondary school, I went off to university to study Maths and Computing. My skill stack was limited, but it was a start.
Steven Bartlett made his fortune in social media marketing and is the youngest investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. As explained in his book Happy Sexy Millionaire, he was voted No.1 in a poll of leaders in his industry. This recognition came despite not considering himself best in any one aspect of his industry, including social media, business, leadership, personal branding, public speaking and sales.
Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoon creator) popularised the idea of skill stacking which is at the heart of Steven Bartlett’s success. Let’s do some Maths to illustrate. Assume there are six skills which you need to be good at to succeed in an industry where there are million people involved. You are in the top 10% for each of these complimentary skills. 10% * 10% * 10% * 10% * 10% * 10% * 1,000,000 = 1. That makes you top in your industry. The pattern can be extended to, say, 10 skills and this makes you the best in the world at something.
In addition to competence in a range of relevant skills, we need to go deep in some. Often we start with a core competence. Steve Jobs’ success was built upon his love of design and understanding what people wanted. Specific knowledge, e.g. of a coding language, may differentiate you in the near term, but it’s value decays quickly as it is teachable and not transferable to other fields. By contrast, fundamental skills, e.g. writing, personal branding and business, retain their value over time.
Getting to the top
In order to build a unique, complementary and valuable skill stack, answer:
1. What skills do you have?
2. In your industry which skills do people usually have?
3. What new skills could you learn to give you an edge?
- Steven Bartlett
To get an edge, we should choose to focus on a combination of skills that are not typically seen in our industry. IT people are often great coders, but poor public speakers. Artists typically are not good at business. Those who can build products, lead people and sell have a distinct and valuable advantage.
With internet access we have unprecedented, free access to information. My 5 Step Learning Process should help once you’ve decided what to learn. Here’s a full list of topics I have covered in this blog, including: creativity, negotiation, business planning, product development, decision making, company formation, pricing, marketing, personal branding, design and AI.
The Innovation Stack book by Jim McKelvey
How to Join the New Rich post by Phil Martin
The Inevitable book by Kevin Kelly
Much of what I write about comes from my love of technology, experience in industry and books. I have focused on building my skills stack. Until next Sunday, consider which skills you need to develop to get an edge in your industry.