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I was working from home early this morning with the TV on in the background, providing a kind of white noise. I had one of those 24-hour news and financial market channels on and, as I went to refill my cup of Caribou Mahogany coffee, I glanced at the screen and saw the standard “talking heads” type interview. I mean no disrespect to the gentleman being interviewed; I’m just putting the scene into a familiar perspective.

The person being questioned was the CEO of a highly respected tech company and the topic had to do with the “digitization” of the modern work force. The crux of his position was that European countries have a big jump on the US as far as investing in retraining their work forces for this coming trend. He further commented on how surprised he was that none of the candidates in either political party have broached this topic during the heated primary season.

Hearing that distracted me from what I was doing and I digressed, letting the potential consequences of that sink in. After noodling it for a while, I felt pretty good about the career path I had chosen.

High-level Business Development is something I would qualify as a “soft skill.” It encompasses many different areas of expertise and a high degree of social skills, something not likely to be developed into an artificial intelligence computer or software for a very long time.

I write my blogs primarily for the legal marketplace. Developing Business Development skills in that niche has never been more important since 2008. Today’s blog, however, has value to anybody who markets a high level product.

To be able to “digitize” Business Development would require a software developer who had that skill set and could incorporate an enormous variety of variables and responses into a box and then try to give it a personality.

That would harder than getting Red Sox and Yankee fans to like each other.

Lots of people minimize “soft skills” but they are real. They have great value in the business world, and are not a viable target for future digitization. Please keep honing your people skills, your networking, and everything else that makes you unique. Unique will never be put into a box for sale.

Throughout my career I have collected “characters.” Characters are best described as those “uber” unique people who come at ideas and solutions from a totally different angle than most of us. Many of them are so secure that they care little of what others think of them. Some affect outlandish or bold styles of dress to further show the contempt they hold for the status quo. I’m not talking crazies here; I’m talking about smart successful people who march to the beat of their own drum.

This orb we live on that rotates around the sun every 365 days or so has become increasingly overpopulated, 7.4 billion inhabitants the last time I checked. In fact, in a hundred year stretch, starting in 1900, the world population grew from 1.5 to 6.1 billion. As a result, it seems all our laws and political correctness movements are attempting to homogenize us as a people. Individuality is almost considered a curse these days.

Yesterday I passed a lead from a long time attorney-client/friend to my web developer, Patrick, at Headfirst Concepts. I gave Patrick this attorney’s number and asked him to call. Later that evening I got a call from Patrick; “is this guy for real? Have you heard his voicemail message?” I’m not one to pay attention to voice mail messages; I’m usually doing an information dump-and-run. He paraphrased it as: “Hi, you’ve reached attorney XXXXXX and I am not available. If this is a business call, please call my paralegal XXXXX at extension 299. If this is a personal call, you should consider getting some higher quality friends.”

I laughed and assured Patrick that the attorney was on the up-and-up. The day before, I had lunch in Chicago with an attorney who was wearing a suit with cowboy boots. This was Chicago, not Dallas or Houston or Austin. Unique and self-confident.

The trick is not going over the line, but being unique and yourself. Everybody remembers the unique. Nobody remembers the bland. Most of us lack the courage, or self-confidence, to do things like these. Remember, we only have one life to live, so why not live it as you? Many are called, few are chosen (I read that somewhere?)

Until the next time, be the best you can be.

Regards,
Jim