Skill Stacking – One At A Time

Typically, knowledge builds on knowledge. Line upon line, precept upon precept, scripture says.

Consider that we don’t jump into teaching children quantum physics. First, they are taught the alphabet and from there on, words and other concepts of language and comprehension.

The same way, skill stacking is a step by step process that progresses as life does (at least this is how it should be). You learn the alphabet first in any area of endeavour and build on that as you go along. Speaking any language fluently the lessons of the alphabets first before you get to whole sentences. It is therefore important that we don’t skip the basics and rush headlong into the complexities.

The same goes for exploring new areas of knowledge and skills development.

I worked for several years as a banker. My first department was called Products and Markets. Here i was involved in mainly sales of different banking products and getting cash deposits to boost the bank’s balance sheet. At one point i was drafted to develop a new product that would be deployed to cater for a developing market segment. A team comprised of 5 of my peers did the legwork, research et al including naming the product. One of our bosses got the accolades for all that work. I won’t dwell on that matter here. The lesson here is i developed a new set of skills and sharpened a few of the others i already had.

In the years since, I’ve developed many more skills and dropped a few along the way. Here is what my skill stack (in no particular order) currently looks like:

  1. Writing
  2. Teaching
  3. Public speaking
  4. Web design
  5. Coding
  6. Marketing
  7. Personal financial management

I do not consider myself a master at any of these skills. Yet i can say this: I have excellent web design skills, reasonable coding skills (web design is a subset of coding, by the way), above average teaching skills, and as any good writer will tell you, my writing skills still need work. My least developed skill is marketing, however to the extent that i need to apply it, everything works out great.

Let us now define skill stacking.

Learning a new (hopefully valuable) skill in addition to those you already know and have; be it complementary or at first glance not matching what is already in your repertoire.

Combining both old and new skills in order to achieve something unique is one way to bring out value.

In my case, i eventually stacked all my skills one on top of the other and started a learning and design company. Thus far, we have experienced what i call modest success and produced work that i am very proud of.

For me, skill stacking is both a nature and nurture thing. I have always thrived in front of an audience. This knowledge of myself has now been nurtured into developing my communication skills through writing, teaching, public speaking and web design. Thus it is important to discover and understand your natural leanings then build other skills around them.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert the cartoon character writes in his book How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

“Successwise, you’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one.”

In my course – From Skill To Income, we work with you to identify your innate skills and any others you can build around to complement them. You may also have to build what initially looks and feels like an opposite skill but in the end serves as a boost to the value you bring to the table.

Let us consider this example.

1. You can draw a straight line from here to Mars without the need of a ruler or some other guide to keep your hand straight.

2. You have a knack for snazzy colour combinations, with a seemingly inborn ability to know which colour goes with which.

By themselves, these skills may not mean much even though they can serve as foundations for careers in the arts and maybe some sciences. However, combine them and you have the makings of fashion designer or an architect.

Let us assume you now add basic project management to your skill set.

The ability to draw a straight line without a ruler PLUS an eye for colour combination PLUS the basics of project management position you very well to manage construction projects. This example may be a little out there but you get the picture.

Each new skill (as in our example), may be valuable on its own. However when you combine them, you find that more value is created and the greater the number of people who find value in your work, the greater an opportunity you have to grow wealth.

Essentially, the more skills you have, the more valuable you become.

So… What Skills Will Make Me More Valuable?

Darius Foroux shared a list of skills that will make you more valuable and he topped it with productivity. For him, this is the mother of all skills. Learn productivity and all the other skills become easier.

For me though, communication comes first. The ability to share what is on your mind in clear enough terms that the next person does not misconstrue your words is invaluable. As a public speaker, as a teacher, as a web designer, this skill is foundational to my work and has earned me literally all i have gotten so far.

Writing is next. It is an offshoot of communication. Can you write in a clear amd simple way? Then you are more skilled than most people out there.

Next is relationship management. As a former banker, this phrase holds a slightly different meaning for me. In general though, it covers your people skills. How well do you connect with people and manage your interactions with them? This is critical because, every single day of your life you have cause to relate with one or more people. The better you are at relationship / people management, the better your chances of tremendous growth.

Personal finance rounds out my list. The way your money flows is the way your life flows. Get a firm grip on your finances as early as possible in your life. Proper personal financial habits serve as a foundation for lasting wealth that gets transferred to the next generation and beyond. Get started today.

I leave you with a thought exercise from Darius Foroux – with a twist.

Let’s say you own a business and you want to hire a CEO. What kind of person would you hire?

Answer that question for yourself. Write down what skills and qualities that person should have. Then, become that person by acquiring those skills.

Now go teach someone else how to acquire those same skills.


My inspiration for this article is found here, here and here. Background image courtesy Decoist – Follow me on Twitter @bamsprings & @tcoathng

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