Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Today’s top skills: Adaptability. Lifelong learning.

Here's the funny thing about great ideas: Once you hear one, you can't shake it. You start to hear it all the time.

For proof, I give you Dan Pink.

The best-selling author of "Drive" and "A Whole New Mind" has written a new book called "To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others." In it, he makes the case that, no matter how we make a living, we are all salespeople. We all spend most of our time trying to sell something -- a product, a service, an idea, a motivation.

Dan's keynote at the 2012 ASAE Annual Meeting centered on that idea, and I followed up with a phone interview and podcast in which he explained his concept in greater detail.

But that's not the great idea I'm talking about.

Toward the end of our interview, I asked Dan what he believes is the most important skill in today's rapidly changing environment. His answer?

"My first instinct is adaptability," he said. "You need to be able to change and adapt. I think people have difficulty with that. Dealing with ambiguity has become profoundly important today. Things are just inherently murkier than they ever have been."

I know what you're thinking: "So what?"

Here's what: MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood has been telling anything that breathes lately that the most important skill we can possess in this rapidly changing world is the ability to learn new skills. Tom even has a formula for it: L > C. That is, in order to flourish, your rate of learning must be greater than the rate of change.

Great idea, right? And one that I've been hearing over and over lately.

"The good news is that our history proves that we're good at adapting to new conditions," Pink said. "I think humans are inherently good at it, even though it makes us uncomfortable in the moment."

This has all kinds of implications for CPAs.

You get the idea. In a way, it's the ultimate Catch-22: If you want to learn new skills, you have to learn new skills -- how to be social, how to listen, how to collaborate.

Welcome to the new normal, everyone. Time to start adapting.

Listen to my interview with Dan in its entirety, then tell us: How are you adapting to this ever-changing business landscape?


Bill Sheridan