A few days ago, I was giving my team a much-need lecture on the importance of constantly reading and staying abreast of trends, as well as improving upon their writing skills. In Asia, where a liberal arts education is virtually unknown, few people have proper reading or writing skills. One might easily fault the language issue…and to be honest, I can be very forgiving of people from countries whose education is not in English. Still, I don’t think that’s an excuse for NOT reading and keeping up with the latest trends. That said, even of the countries with an education in English – Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore to name a few, I find the South Asian countries to churn out people FAR better at speaking, reading, and writing in English. I also find them to be much more driven. Heck…even the Chinese, who don’t grow up speaking English, are more motivated, driven and speak better English and write much better in English than their South East Asian counterparts. I’m honestly not sure why that is, but its certainly an issue in the workplace!
So here are two totally important skills:
Read constantly. Keep up with the trends in your industry. It is the only thing that will keep you sharp and growing at a rapid rate. This is a necessary key to success in the workplace, because to mentor and grow, you need to stay ahead of the people who surround you. Don’t believe me, read this article about Warren Buffett’s success formula, and this one from HBR.
Write well – clearly and concisely. Today I was reading this post about Jeff Bezos’ leadership style. A trained engineer (like me), I was impressed by his emphasis on writing. To be honest, I find writing to be an extraordinarily important skill. It is the fundamental for all success in the workplace…documentation, letters, communication all involve writing, and without it, you can forget getting very far. How you write is how people will connect with you; how they will perceive you; its where all your speech starts, and your thought ends. And I find that clarity of writing correlates heavily with clarity of thought. If you write clearly, it means you are thinking clearly. And how do you write well? Start with reading…the more you read, the better you will write…