My last post I teased a question: What are 2 skills, that if you focused on becoming excellent at them, would make the biggest impact in your life or career?
I began pondering this a while back when I was jogging around Diamond Head.
Man, I miss that run.
There's nothing like phenomenal and invigorating views to jostle ideas around the brain.
Getting better means not only learning, but speeding up the pace at which you learn.
Now that's power - creating a system and process that's repeatable and applicable to all learning endeavors.
Like the Tim Ferriss DiSSS method.
So, my current answer to the question:
Writing improves your thinking. Writing saves you time… (write once, then point people to the blog when questioned about something). Writing (copywriting more specifically) is probably the fastest way to improve sales and is a universally applicable toolset. The best content marketers are excellent writers.
Asking better questions is universally applicable to life situations (from the quintessential networking reception, to the boardroom and life at home). It makes you a better person (wiser, smarter, more humble and empathetic). It is one of the quickest ways to build your network.
Now what to do about improving those skills…
How to write better
Here's a few action items I've cooked up for myself.
- Read at least 1 hour every day. Stretch goal: 2-hours. Reading material:
- The Bible (how I start every day)
- How to / education book (currently: How to Write a Good Advertisement, Gary Halbert Letters, and Ogilvy on Advertising)
- General news articles
- B2B marketing materials (helps me do my job better as a B2B copywriter and content marketer)
- Read writing by some of the best authors / novelists (aim for 1 per month or 1 per quarter). I just finished Francis Coppola's The Godfather, and now reading some Hunter S. Thompson (that man's writing style agrees with me)
- Marketing and Writing newsletters (copyblogger, kopywriting kourse, all of these.)
- Write at least 500 words every day (simply keeping an appointment with yourself and clocking a daily metric keeps you disciplined and accountable).
How to Ask Better Questions
“That’s a great question.”
We’ve all said, or heard that phrase before. But what really connotes a great question?
Asking great questions starts at the research phase.
The Apostle Paul, the guy who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he “becomes all things to all people”).
Being engaging and interesting typically means that the person didn’t talk about themselves - they knew enough about what you care about to ask the right questions.
There's a story that John Maxwell recounts in his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership of Benjamin Disraeli and his political rival, William Gladstone.
These two men were politicians of extraordinary ability and were influential in England politics in the 19th century.
Maxwell shares a poignant quote from a young lady who interacted with both men at a dinner party:
“After talking to Mr. Gladstone I left feeling like he was the most brilliant man in all of England. After talking to Mr. Disraeli I left feeling like I was the most brilliant woman in all of England.”
Hopefully, I don't have to tell you which is the better outcome... (For more on things like this, pick up “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie).
Another tactic to learn to ask better questions is to learn from good interviewers.
Matt Lauer, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey. All fantastic interviewers.
Maybe I’ll even take some notes from Zak Galifianakis.
One main reason that asking better questions is an “archimedes lever”, is that it’s an input into a virtuous cycle:
- Good questions means you must be well researched
- Good questions improves interviewing skills
- Good questions improves writing skills
- Good questions improves communication
- Good questions improves relationships and expands your network
And your network is your net worth.
What two key skills will you double-down on? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on the twitter: @luketucker.