2021 is fast turning out to be the year of skills, and for good reason. From YouTube videos to blogs to a-skill-a-minute videos, 21st-century content is motivating people to hike up their skill areas. This has pushed several entrepreneurs to explore different aspects of their own businesses, which were erstwhile quite alien to them. For social media influencer and lifestyle blogger Katie LaFrance, learning new skills is as essential as making your presence felt in the online world today. Katie, who has built up her business and contacts via several social media platforms, encourages people to take the following five skills seriously if they wish to make 2021 their year.
1. Software skills
Today, several platforms are helping amateurs, and even professionals, hone their software skills, and rightly so. Katie LaFrance observes, “In 2021, it’s imperative for individuals to have good knowledge about one software, at least. It could help them to set up their own website or blog, shoot and edit their own videos, or in any other area. As long as it’s something they can do without much help from another, they stand to gain tremendously.”
Katie is right in her observation. To drive in the direction of success, we must develop skills that add value to the work we do. This has another hidden advantage. As your business grows, you might not always have the time to do everything by yourself. At that point, your understanding of these skills will help you hire the right talent. As you would have already gone through that journey, having seen the positive and negative impacts it has on your business, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for in a potential candidate and how to find one.
2. Genuine engagement
It’s bewildering how many people feel awkward, shy, or scared to strike up conversations with others. However, when we take away personal and cultural impediments, people can actually be wonderfully conversant and become good listeners. Katie LaFrance says, “You need to learn how to engage honestly. The operative word here is learn. It’s a skill. It’s not an either you have it or you don’t situation, but either you learn it or you won’t one. And it’s going to be handy in the years to come.”
Branding is all about engagement. What was once one-sided, has become a two-way road today because now, the reader, viewer, and buyer is also a collaborator, helping brands build products that are actually needed than merely being a result of pointless innovation. As an entrepreneur, you must learn the ropes of communication, and that goes beyond simply improving your communication skills. To genuinely engage, you must develop “critical thinking abilities and emotional intelligence that cautions you intuitively from being naive, greedy, and generally stupid,” opines Katie LaFrance.
Collaboration is the name of the game in 2021, and its rules are set by those who are conscious about it. For Katie, “collaboration is the cornerstone of the 21st century. Many people are doing interesting things today, and they find it more satisfying to work with like-minded people to explore their craft and expand their minds.”
It’s true that some people, especially many artists, prefer to work alone. They don’t like the idea of immersing with others in their creative process. While it’s understandable, the good news is that the nature of modern collaboration makes it very versatile. Katie LaFrance says, “Once you complete your piece, whatever it may be, you may have the need to collaborate with master marketers. You have the freedom to find them yourself and seek those out who think like you. This way, you can have your cake and eat it too.”
Some may find it challenging, others completely outrageous; yet, when done right, self-promotion “can be without crudeness and irrelevance,” says Katie LaFrance. “Think of it as sharing what you are doing. Do it honestly, and there’ll be nothing to be ashamed of.”
Self-promotion is not that new a phenomenon. What’s new is the way it’s being done today. In the recent past, when advertising and such avenues were still in their nascent stages, brands were careful about how they were perceived. But today, the deal is to be out there, whatever it takes. A few even resort to gimmicks, noisome hullaballoo, and quite exceptional nonsense. The key when promoting yourself, according to Katie, “is to maintain a modicum of class. The difference between good and bad self-promotion is the difference between revealing and exposing. One’s sensual, while the other is downright vulgar. To be classy, one must be authentic, and to be authentic, one must be daring. But most importantly, one must be honest.”
Humility is underrated. Ever wonder why? It’s very likely because of its perception. For most folks, humility is a sign of weakness, and in today’s brutal world where man eats man, humility, as in being on your knees, will only knock you down quicker.
This perception, as far as Katie LaFrance is concerned, is not only wrong but also reprehensible. She believes “humility is a trait we must hang on to for dear life. It sustains us in ways we don’t understand. I don’t know how it ever came to be regarded as a weakness. In today’s world, humility is perhaps a shield against carelessness, disdainful judgments, and wrongful assessments. To be humble means to know that the large world we are a part of has many interesting individuals in it, many far wiser and intelligent than ourselves. To associate with them is good for business, as they can show us new ways of looking at the world and even improve our perceptions. For me, this makes authentic humility a formidable tool in business. In fact, success with humility is my mantra, and it keeps me grounded.”
“2021 isn’t ready-made for success. It must be made ready for success,” says Katie LaFrance. “And as you garner new skills and become efficient in new tasks, the hope is that you’ll begin to see that success is a culmination of hard work, discipline, and honesty – traits that will always be in vogue, no matter what century you are in.”