How to Develop New Skills to Improve Your Business in 2018

Getting started on creating your future and the future of your factory

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The world is changing and we need to continually learn new skills to successfully create our future. How fast your organization learns may determine whether you remain relevant and competitive.

Just executing what you know how to do today will not be sufficient to create success tomorrow.

As you think back, the skills and technologies present today did not even exist when we were in engaged in our formal educational years.

Learning new skills requires practice, it’s not enough to learn about new ideas, that just provides us with awareness.

This post is about describing a framework for how you might develop new skills that will improve your business quickly and based on the book, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast by Josh Kaufman.


In the book, the Josh provides a set of 10 skill development steps to take and shares 10 concepts of Effective Learning. We’ll go over some of them and then there will be additional resources below if you’d like to go deeper with your learning.

10,000 HOUR RULE

In the book, Josh talks about the flip side of the “10,000-hour rule.” The “10,000-hour rule” says that 10,000 hours are necessary to become a premium performer in a particular skill. Well, Josh’s idea is to look at the beginning of learning a new skill.

Most of us probably aren’t prepared yet to become a premium performer, but we can begin to learn new skills by having focused attention on them and devoting at least 20 hours to them.


The first thing he talks about is if you want to sharply define the desired skill, you need to identify the skill level you want to accomplish.

If you want to develop some expertise in building websites or doing social media, think about what skill level you want to attain. You probably don’t want to be a top expert, but you may want to know or understand basic knowledge.

And when you fully understand what skill level you want to obtain, you’ll know at what point you can hire someone to complete the more complex skills necessary. The goal is to set a target skill level so we know where we are going.


If I want to be a LinkedIn expert, the first thing I may need to know is:

Do I have my LinkedIn account set up?

How do I create a post?

Maybe, how do I attach a photo to it?

How do I edit my post?

You examine that big skill and break it down into your sub-skills. Then, work on the most important sub-skills first.

As an example of looking at sub-skills, Josh Kaufman uses the example of learning a language. In English, just 25 words make up 33% of the usage of the language.

Choose a skill and break it down into smaller parts so it’s easily digestible and can be accomplished in a timely manner.


Consider the critical tools that you may need to accomplish the tasks.

Do I need any editing software for text or photos?

Do I need a subscription to a stock photo site?


You need to eliminate barriers to your practice. This links back to the mini habits ideas. How do you make it almost ridiculously easy to do what you want to do?

Set things up so you’re not having to search for things. Maybe the first thing you have to do is organize your materials.

In the case of writing this post, I pulled out a series of books that I thought might be useful to reference on this particular post and kept them nearby so I could easily use them. I also did a search on the book title to find what others had said about the book.


Next, you have to carve out dedicated time to practice. Again, we go back to establishing mini habits. You have to be able to practice if you want to become better at a skill.

Josh Kaufman says in the book if you want to become reasonably competent or proficient, you have to put in at least 20 hours of practice.

Now, in terms of when you think of habits and skills, then it’s probably a longer-term game you’re talking about here.

Even to say I want a new skill on effectively creating posts on LinkedIn, I’m going to have to devote some time to actually making that happen.

As you get into this whole idea of practice and you have these sub-skills defined, practice those sub-skills very specifically, and then get some quick feedback on them.

You may want to have a partner or a study-buddy, or a trusted colleague to help you create fast feedback loops so you can see where you’re getting it right or not.

Have them critique your post and/or your results. Finally, the author suggests, if you can’t “find” 20 hours, even in 20-minute chunks, then this isn’t a skill that you’re passionate about learning.

You might want to look somewhere else where you have more energy around a skill?


The end game is pulling this all together. You want to reach big goals, but learning, practicing, and performing mini skills is your path forward.

Repeated small steps, develop the new, larger skills which will move you toward your future goals.


  1. What is a new skill or behavior that will make a big impact on your business?
  2. What are the first small mini-habits that you need to start?
  3. Is acquiring that skill important enough to your business to find 20 hours to practice it?

Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Here are some additional resources to help you learn about The First 20 Hours

Josh Kaufman created this manifesto/summary of the book. It provides a great introduction to his core ideas.

Sacha Chua’s visual book review of the First 20 Hours. This provides a great infographic of the key ideas from the book.

Pablo Stafforini’s Summary of The First 20 Hours, by Josh Kaufman

From Pablo’s post:

“Skill acquisition is fundamentally different from learning. Learning is only instrumentally useful: we don’t acquire a skill by learning; rather, we learn to acquire a skill. Learning concepts related to a skill helps you self-edit or self-correct as you practice.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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