Top Five Skills for Success in the New Economy: Entrepreneurs, Students, and Careerists

December 31, 2014 at 6:21 pm 2 comments

New Years ResolutionThe New Year is a new beginning. Often, large companies, entrepreneurs, and disciplined individuals start the year with goals – resolutions of sorts. What are yours this year?

If it’s time to go beyond surface resolutions to ones that will change your career and level of success, take this quick quiz. You might get some ideas to fill your list for meaningful New Years resolutions…toward a more successful you.

Here’s the quiz: True/False

  • In an organization or institution, I regularly seek to understand what is expected of me. If I do not understand, I ask follow-up questions.
  • I “play well with others.”
  • Once something is explained to me, it rarely has to be repeated.
  • I am good at organization and managing my time.
  • I have at least one unique, stand-out attribute that separates me from my peers.

BONUS: I tend to be a curious person and enjoy learning new things.

As you might have guessed, those on the success path will answer “True” to all the questions. If you answered “false,” don’t fret, below are explanations and suggested action items.

Idea: Pick a couple of areas to focus on for the New Year.

1. Define Success

In an organization or institution, I regularly seek to understand what is expected of me. If I do not understand, I ask follow-up questions.

Even if you answered “true” to this, you might be on the receiving end of some questions – from someone who answered “false!” Time for mentoring, and the giving season. We learn in this talk by Caroline Miller, a Harvard-educated performance coach, that “givers are more successful.” So – “false” answerers: Get ready to ask away and if you answered “true” – share your knowledge.

Take the time to define success at school, work, in your business for your team:

  • Clarify with your teacher or professor: “Is my understanding of this assignment correct?”
  • Sit down with your boss or supervisor to ask, “What does it really take to be successful in this organization?”
  • If you are an entrepreneur, take time for annual planning, set goals, and establish an accountability system.
  • Ask others you admire, “How do you stay on track with your path to success?”

Guaranteed: By asking, you will always takeaway more than the person who did NOT ask such questions.

2. Beyond Teamwork to Social Intelligence

I “play well with others.”

Playing well with others isn’t just about teamwork anymore…it’s also about social intelligence.

Technology is changing the rules of the game. This creates a situation in which: 1) Numerous communication “games” are being played – often at the same time, 2) There is inevitable change, which is not comfortable for many. Research by Lasala, et al, states: “The virtual world is a world without restraints where everyone exercises unbridled freedom of expression.” If you are an emerging entrepreneur or staffer, or a frequent foot-in-mouth sufferer, be sure:

  • You play more than one game, and can relate to people in traditional social contexts, in the social media realm, and at a global level.
  • Remember boundaries. For instance: “Facebook is forever.” No managing partner or client wants to see the picture of your crazy Saturday night. Intelligence required.
  • Everyone does not retain your customs on the other side of the world. Again, this is where the “social intelligence” part comes in.

The social landscape has become Darwinian on a multi-faceted level. You can sink or swim based on your knowledge, or lack thereof.

3. “Am I Coachable?”

 Once something is explained to me, it rarely has to be repeated.

If you answered “false” to this question, or even paused, it’s time to think about your coachability. Ed Barrientos, successful angel investor and CEO of online event powerhouse Brazen Careerist cites “coachability” as a critical, but often overlooked, trait for success. Some tips:

  • When someone gives you feedback, take it in as information vs. a personal affront. This opens your “receptors” and enhances your coachability. Information is power.
  • When someone invests time in explaining something to you, use techniques for retention. Most of the world’s population are VISUAL learners. Do you need to take notes? Do you need to take notes and repeat it back? Did you know servers who repeat back orders to customers get larger tips?

What is the “bigger tip” waiting for you when you make sure you’ve listened and gotten it right?

4. Focus and Time Management

I am good at organization and managing my time.

This is frequently a “false” for many emerging and even current entrepreneurs (and “regular people” out there!). Time management is something practiced in school with an ever-increasing workload of classes, extracurriculars, and other obligations. Taken to the work world, this crunch multiplies exponentially. It’s often hard to know where to start in management of one’s time. Here are some things to try:

  • On a daily basis, have a to do list and a “to don’t” list. Make a commitment NOT to drift into certain activities which spit your focus, and time.
  • Assign every task a time frame, and every time frame a place on the calendar. This triage clarifies things pretty quickly for prioritization.
  • Use calendar and to-do systems which give clear visual signals. Search for “best calendar (insert year) app” and best to do list (insert year) app” and try them out. Make it a practice each New Year. Hot right now are the Sunrise Calendar (free) and the apps that integrate with it, such as ToDoIst (also free) and Asana (also free – and with a former Facebook founding staffer at the helm).
  • Observe successful people, ask how they organize themselves.

What gets planned, gets done.

5. Personal Competitive Advantage

I have at least one unique, stand-out attribute that separates me from my peers.

Are you just like everyone else? If so, when it comes to downsizing time – chances are, you’ll be out the door. This is a market populated by the Baby Boom Echo. Employers – large corporations and entrepreneurs alike – have their choice given this large population. Remember:

  • Work on your personal competitive advantage: Something that makes you indispensable.
  • This – and other such traits – increase your value as an employee, entrepreneur, or leader of a student organization.

Time to lead…yourself!

BONUS: Undying thirst for learning

I tend to be a curious person and enjoy learning new things.

If you love learning new things, this can often correlate with the ability to take on challenge. Learning is a constant learning curve. If you LIKE that learning curve, you’re in an advantageous situation because something which seems arduous to many, is a joy and curiosity to you. Develop and enhance your love of learning and ability to take on new challenges by:

  • Asking for them. Specifically approach a teacher or boss about a project, extra credit work, or something extra.
  • Take someone fascinating out to lunch or coffee. You never know what you’ll learn, and research shows our success is based on the success of those in our “tribe” or in close proximity to us.
  • If you are an entrepreneur, what is the “next challenge” or next level for you and your business? Read our “Thinking Big” post.

Processing and filtering/evaluating massive amounts of information or “cognitive load management” is a necessary skill for the future…be it in marketing, tech, or other fields. Check out this Future Work Skills 2020 report.

More from EITC (Entrepreneur in the Classroom)

More Information The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation’s youth. More information is available at The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals.

Entrepreneur In The Classroom. The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom (EITC) supplemental curriculum exposes students to entrepreneurship and the necessary steps to take an idea and turn it into a business. The free curriculum can be integrated into classes teaching a variety of subjects including music, art, fashion, business and many more. Just register for full access to the Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom curriculum. Click here for more.

Related links

Follow NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Twitter

Like NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Facebook

Follow EITC curriculum author Kathy Korman Frey on Twitter


Entry filed under: Business exercises, Communication, Curriculum, Leadership, Social Media, Teaching tools, Young Entrepreneur. Tags: , , .

Who are You and How does this Influence your Entrepreneurial Journey? Entrepreneurship Educators Need to be Rewarded too!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. future entrepreneur  |  April 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    These are great points, especially the first one — Define Success. So many entrepreneurs have an unrealistically narrow view of success — focused on a technology, product or service — without thinking about the ecosystem and other work that will be necessary for real Success.

  • 2. Ratika Shetty  |  May 19, 2016 at 7:02 am

    These are a million dollar points. Very nice and elaborately put up. Ecosystem plays the most important role bin cumulative development and hence, it’s no longer just about profitability. One such entrepreneur that is making a difference is Vraun Manian alongside Roshni Nadar Malhotra,Shloka Russell Mehta etc . The new age entrepreneurship is shaping up. Varun Manian is a young man and his achievements are admirable. You may have a look here,
    He is majorly in philanthropy as well.


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