Category Archives: Expertise

Knowledge, Skills, Training, and Learning

How to write better and inspire action

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION is the fundamental of #PeopleSkills.  Engaging well with others, whether as a leader or just as a human, is vital.  And thinking, speaking, and writing are inextricably linked by language; work to improve one, and you improve all.

Writing good copy is by no means a skill only needed by those who make their living with pen or keyboard.  Written communication that impels readers to action is not simply the stuff of advertising.  In the corporate world, writing well may be the difference between success and failure.  How much is riding on that one-page pitch, the report to the board, your next job application?  All of those, and far more besides, depend for success on good writing – clear, well-structured, and compelling copy.

I recently attended a 2-day “Masterclass” in copywriting, given by Nicolas di Tempora, in Melbourne.  I’m a regular reader of, and have gained much from, sites like Copyblogger and Blog Tyrant, but the structure and process taught by Nicolas was by far the best lesson I’ve had in writing for my website in particular, and for writing concise, entertaining, and persuasive prose in general.  And it was fun, exciting even.  Nicolas had the group (ten strangers of disparate backgrounds, fields, and motivations), engaged and working together within minutes.

Nicolas now has classes available online, and a great book, Copywriting In Action.  If you’re a blogger, write for a living, if written communication is part of your job, or if you simply want to communicate well (and we all should!), I highly recommend Nicolas’ work.

Happy writing.

Brain Pickings

IF you haven’t already, I highly recommend bookmarking Brain Pickings.

Created by Maria Popova, the site is well worth regular visits.  From the “About” page:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.

Today’s post:  The Pace of Productivity and How to Master Your Creative Routine  is worth reading twice if you’re undertaking any kind of longer term creative endeavor, and/or your routine is less than solidly entrenched.

Here’s the key message.  You. Must. Work. On. Your. Creative project. EVERY. Day.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out the left side-bar under “Labors of Love” and “Must Reads”.  It’ll keep you busy for hours.

Presentation Zen

Brief Book Review: Presentation Zen

SOONER or later just about everyone needs to get in front of an audience and present.

Do you commit death by power-point of do you knock ’em dead?

When you read Presentation Zen, or see Garr speak (see video below), you scratch your head and think, “yes”… so simple. And yet, simplicity is usually defined by what’s not there, rather than what is. That may be the central message of Presentation Zen.

Get it here:      Paperback        Kindle

Garr has several other books out, and plenty of great information on the Presentation Zen website.

Here’s an interview with Guy Kawasaki – Garr outlining the Presentation Zen approach.

Are you building your expertise?

EXPERTISE is one of the four essential attributes of good leadership.

It is rare to find a good organizational leader who has not built up a wealth of knowledge and skills within his or her industry that is directly relevant to the organization, as well as considerable “general knowledge” and a suite of transferable skills.

And for those not in a titled-leader role, building your expertise is just as important, whether you aspire to lead others or not.  Continuously building on your knowledge and skill-sets is one of the privileges of being human.

In broad terms, expertise can be categorized in four ways (the examples are by no means exhaustive):

Expertise-Matrix

To some degree, the range and depth of expertise required for any specific role is contextual, that is, it depends on the role and the organization’s pursuit.  Many a CEO has switched field with little or no Industry-specific skills, relying only on their generic knowledge and transferable skills.  In such cases, said leader leverages the organization and industry-specific knowledge and skills of their team, crams for specific knowledge at the outset, and then learns as they go.  This is the exception though, not the rule.

Continuously building on your knowledge and skill-sets is one of the privileges of being human.

If you can spare a couple minutes, try mapping out your own knowledge and skills using the matrix above.  In which areas could you deepen your knowledge and skills?  Add them to your personal development plan.  You do have a personal development plan, right?

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Economics in One Lesson Henry Hazlitt

Brief Book Review: Economics In One Lesson (Must Read!)

EVERYONE, let alone those in organizational leadership roles, should have a basic understanding of economics.  It is, after all, a field vitally important to us all: the science that identifies the principles governing the origin and growth of wealth.

There are several more academic and in-depth studies of economics available, but Henry Hazlitt’s classic delivers on its promise:  “The shortest and surest way to understand basic economics”.

You will come away wondering why economics seemed so complicated, when it’s actually quite simple.

The book’s greatest strength is the insistence that any study of economic phenomena must look at the totality, both “what is seen”, and “what is unseen”.  Failure to do so is where Keynesianism and its modern variants fall over; why today’s politicians have no hope of reversing the woeful economic trend; and why so many companies got blind-sided by the Global Economic Crisis.

Hazlitt clears this up in the first three pages, then goes on to shine light on the myriad of economic fallacies embraced by many of today’s “economists”, much to our detriment.

Writing is simple, clear, and well-illustrated.  This book can be read in a few hours, and you will come away wondering why economics seemed so complicated.  This is a must read for… well, everyone really.

Get it here:

Paperback         Kindle eBook          Free PDF Download

 

2 Very Simple Time Management Tools

THERE’S no shortage of Time Management tools available.  For your desktop, iPad, smart phone; synch them all up, good to go. I’m just not a fan, at least not yet.

In the meantime, here’s two tools that I find quick, simple, and effective. Continue reading

The Method Leadership Framework

Countless pages have been written on leadership. Anyone wanting to learn about leadership and how to become better at it, could dive right in with more books, videos, and websites that you could ever hope to get through.  Google “Leadership” now and you’ll see what I mean.  A lot of what’s out there is good.  Some of it’s great.  But where to start?  Try here.

Method Leadership is a framework for understanding the essential attributes of good leadership.  It provides a logical structure that makes readily graspable the knowledge and skills to be mastered by those aspiring to become better leaders, both in their own lives and in providing leadership to others.  The essential attributes are:

Independence

The trait of being reality-focused, habitually thinking for oneself, and initiating;

People Skills

The ability to manage one’s own behavior, to influence others, and to lead teams;

Expertise

The desire to always gain in experience, skills, and knowledge in your field of endeavor, and beyond;

Passion

To strongly value and be committed to whatever you undertake.

These attributes are interrelated and foster each other.  They can be learned, practiced, and mastered, and are essential for success and happiness.  Method Leadership draws on the best of the vast catalog of leadership knowledge, the latest research, and hopefully breaks some new ground too.  Feedback is always welcome.