SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
In today’s fast-paced world, consumer demand and technological advances are growing at a faster rate than ever before. The youth of today are blessed to grow up in the current digital age. Young industry moguls are using their talent and motivation as early as they can, shooting them in CEO positions as early as high school.
The term “young CEO” used to be correlated with successful young adults, but nowadays, even a kid can come to mind. Like me, you might think that these youngsters are coming up with some crazy new technology. However, they are doing quite the contrary. They are simply finding success in existing markets.
For example, Leanna Archer. At the early age of 17 years, she burst into the scene as the youngest CEO to open on the NASDAQ. At nine years old she used her grandmother’s recipe to produce a specialty, all natural, hair product line. Just six years later she was pulling $100,000 in annual revenue. For the year 2016, her net worth was estimated at $5 million, not too shabby for a high school senior.
Another young gun is Robert Nay . Unlike beauty products, which have been around for thousands of years, Nay dove head first into a much newer market. Every played Bubble Ball? The game app saw two million downloads two weeks into its launch, snatching the throne for number one app in the free app store. The game they bumped into second? Angry Birds. That isn’t even the craziest part, Robert Nay was 14 when Bubble Ball launched and it was his first development. Today his company, Nay Games, is valued at around $2 million and that number is expected to keep growing.
These are just two of the countless examples of young guns making a huge splash in the business world. But the question remains, what qualities do they all seem to share?
1. Pursuit of Passion
Every success story I researched stemmed from doing something fun and personal use. Robert Nay designed a game to play on his phone that he could enjoy, decided to share it with the world and the world loved it. They say when you do what you love you’ll never work another day in your life. That seems to be the most reoccurring theme when it comes to success. Do what you love.
2. Listen and Learn
If you want to become a leader you have to know how to listen. Listen to peers, listen to your teachers, and listen to your heart. The world can give you the tools to create anything you want but if you don’t listen to the things around you, it will be hard to put those tools to use. Find what you love, learn how to do it to the best of your ability, and make a career out of it.
Nick Haschka, a young business owner of Credit Parent gives his advice saying:
“My best tip for young leaders is to practice humble confidence. You have to be willing to assert and lead, but also be willing to be wrong and adapt to the signals you receive from those below, beside, and above you. A lot of leadership is about listening, which is the humble part. Clarifying, re-stating, and asserting is the part requiring confidence. No one wants to work with an arrogant know-it-all, but people appreciate working with people who can make and articulate decisions and lead confidently. There's a fine line to walk that requires constant attention and deliberate action.”
3. Be Patient
Success doesn’t just happen overnight; these things take time. While some are fortunate to see rapid growth early, this is relatively uncommon. Trial and error is your best friend. They show you what you have and what you need. The key is to keep working and growing until the day comes when you’ve perfected your product. It could take months or it could take years, all good things come with time. For this reason, patience is always a virtue.
4. Stay Curious
“Millions saw the apple fall, but only Newton asked why.” Curiosity is a reoccurring trait in good leaders. The desire to explore and grow in your industry is vital.
William Lipovsky, CEO of First Quarter Finance suggests:
“A young leader needs to realize that early in their career it's about figuring out what to do. Then it's about how to do it. Then it's about finding who should be doing it. Last, it's about letting the who figure out the what.”
5. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
When you’re comfortable being uncomfortable, you’re prepared to handle whatever life may throw you. Navy Seals go through “surf torture”, a process that involves linking arms and lying down in the cold ocean until the body reaches early stages of hypothermia. This is done daily before all other tasks. The goal is to force them to stay focused on their goals, despite how uncomfortable they feel. While this is an extreme example, the point is to never lose sight of your objective. No matter how bumpy the ride is.
Steve Kahan from Lumina Communications said that,
“People love their comfort zones, but those who zoom to the top are willing to shine a light on the important things that must change, and offer accountability for leading the effort. This doesn’t mean challenging everything so you’re perceived as an anti-establishment contrarian. The best approach is to carefully choose your areas of challenge where changes can make the biggest impact, such as increasing revenue, lowering costs, improving customers’ lives, or removing frustrations for your co-workers. You will become known as a leader who successfully challenges the old ways and creates new, better ways where it counts.”
6. Be Persistent
Mikaela, Founder and Marketing Manager of Miracle Marketing starts us off by sharing her advice:
“To be successful at a young age, you have to be fearless, take risks, and trust your gut. Never let anyone tell you what’s going to be hard for you, and never let people project their worries, fears, anxieties on you. “It’s so hard to get a job after college!” Well, that’s only because you believed it to be so. You can choose to go along with limiting beliefs, or not.”
Sometimes you can be your worst enemy. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and believe! Never give up. Tell yourself you can then really believe it. You will be amazed at the results that will be running your way.
While these five qualities are only a handful of those found in successful young leaders today, they are definitely some of the most important. At the end of the day success always seems to find it’s way to those who follow their dreams, work hard, and learn as much as they can. Remember that great leaders don’t tell you what to do – they show you how it’s done. If you know what you want, go out and get it.
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