Longtime readers of mine know I’m always harping on developing skills that will bring their business more revenue. Recently, someone I respect and admire has been humming a similar tune.
Doug Casey, founder of Casey Research, echoed my opinions in an essay titled “The single wisest thing you can do with your money.” In it, Doug argued that “one of the most important parts of taking control of your life as a step to prospering in the years to come is to educate yourself and gain skills.”
With all the uncertainty of the future, he says, building a broad skillset is more valuable than “10 bags of silver, a thousand Krugerrands, and enough food to open a restaurant chain.”
And he means more than what you can learn in high school or college. Doug goes on to say that financially valuable skills come from trade school, self-teaching, and firsthand experience. I couldn’t agree more. The bigger the arsenal of knowledge you can amass, the better.
But Doug’s advice comes from a place of uncertainty:
Who knows what skills may be required in the years to come? What you’re doing now, be it teaching school, practicing law, laying brick, or selling insurance, may be in low demand. But preparing French cuisine, fixing autos, keeping books, or offering financial counsel may be in high demand. Or perhaps the other way around.
Doug is right. You can’t possibly know what functional skills will be most valuable in the future. But he also knows—and I know this because we’ve talked about it many times—that there are fundamental skills that will help you build wealth regardless of what career path you choose.
I’ve spent years learning and writing about these skills, and I’ve come to find that there are five of them. So, if you want the ability to create consistent, lasting wealth, regardless of your age or circumstances, you must master at least one of these financially valuable skills:
- The Skill of Salesmanship– This is the skill of persuading a prospective customer to buy a particular product at a particular place and time. There are many ways of doing this, but sales strategies generally fall into four objectives—fast, slow, short, and long—and two methodologies—hard and soft. (I give details about these objectives and methodologies in my book, Ready, Fire, Aim.) Of all the skills you can have, none will help you achieve wealth as well as knowing how to sell things. To sell well, you must determine (1) the most cost-effective way of attracting customers and (2) the best way to keep those customers buying.
- The Skill of Marketing– This skill is all about acquiring new customers at a reasonable cost. Few “marketers” can do this. But skilled marketers are among the highest-paid individuals in any industry—complete with high salaries, extraordinary bonuses, and the respect and admiration of colleagues and competitors.
- The Skill of Creating Saleable Ideas– Honing this skill is easier said than done. To create salable ideas, a person needs not only the ability to develop products and services, but also the ability to develop those that can be profitably sold in a given marketplace. This is difficult to master, but with diligence, money—big money—will follow the development of this skill.
- The Skill of Buying Right –To many, buying is the process of paying money for desired objects and experiences. But to the wealth builder, “buying right” is a vital skill that affects the gross margin, and the gross margin affects the bottom line. Buying right also includes the nuanced skill of negotiation. After all, you want to know how to work with a seller to achieve a favorable price.
- The Skill of Managing Profits –The skill of management has specific objectives: to promote productivity and reduce unnecessary costs. This means developing an eye for detail and a knowledge of pricing. Regarding employees, vendors, and advisers, someone learning this skill must also develop diplomacy and persistence. And with respect to customers, the wealth builder must develop the virtues of benevolence and loyalty.
Doug Casey says, “The single wisest thing you can do with your money is… to take courses and acquire knowledge in other fields as unrelated to what you are now doing as possible.”
And he’s right—to an extent. It’s important to do that, whether it’s to survive uncertainty or become wealthy… just so long as what you’re studying allows you to acquire at least one of the specific skills I’ve named above.
Doug’s essay is a good one and I recommend you read it by clicking here.