7 Essential Skills for Teens
I believe professional success is directly related to how well we master 7 essential skills. If we master these skills, it won't matter if we go to Princeton University, Wichita State, or East Lansing Community College.
It won't matter if we ultimately enter the private sector, public sector, or outer space - we will succeed in life.
I deployed (and re-deployed) these 7 skills hundreds (if not thousands) of times during my 30-year journey from Yale University, to Investment Banking, to the Navy SEALs, to Harvard Business School, to Firefighting, to Entrepreneurship, to Shark Tank, to PrepWell Academy.
The daily roles and responsibilities in each of these fields were dramatically different. The skills required to get into each of these fields were dramatically similar. And that's the point.
The reason these skills are so "essential" is because they are so "repeatable".
Learning these repeatable skills will allow you to adjust, change, regroup, and reinvent yourself - indefinitely. This is an invaluable skill for teenagers who will soon be entering the gig economy.
Skill #1: Viscipline
Combining long-term vision with the discipline to take the small, incremental, often mundane steps to achieve it. The stronger the vision, the easier it is to maintain discipline on the journey. For each of my stops, I had a clear vision of what I wanted - and why. Teenagers need to develop a clear vision of where they are going, why they are going there, what the benefits will be, and what steps are needed to succeed.
Skill #2: Research
The ability to doggedly hunt down people, places, and resources to find answers. In each of my transitions, I started from scratch. When I moved from Investment Banking to the U.S. Navy, I didn't know a single person in the military. Teenagers need to learn how to investigate, explore, and uncover answers to problems that need solving.
Skill #3: Attention to Detail
Each new venture begins with some type of application. This application is a direct reflection of you. It must be perfect - no errors, no sloppy work, no exaggeration, and on time. Attention to detail is paramount - especially in the competitive world of college admissions. Teenagers must learn this lesson early and college applications offer the perfect introduction.
Skill #4: Standardized Test-Taking
New endeavors typically require a "skill assessment test" (e.g. SAT/ACT for college, Series 7 for Investment Banking, ASVAB for Navy SEALs, GMAT for Harvard Business School, Civil Service Test for Firefighting, etc.). It's critical to learn how to find, register, and diligently prepare for these types of standardized tests. Teenagers have a great opportunity to develop this skill thanks to the SAT/ACT, AP Exams, SAT Subject Tests, etc.
Skill #5: Networking
New ventures require novices to network with people in their chosen field. I had to identify, contact, and nurture relationships with Yale alumni, Investment Bankers, Navy SEALs, former Shark Tank contestants, etc. Teenagers must learn how to interact with people, handle unique social situations, and connect the dots.
Skill #6: Writing
Nearly every new job requires some kind of writing sample (e.g. college essays and personal statements for undergraduate and graduate schools, resume writing, etc.). It is imperative to learn how to write well, succinctly, and with influence. Teenagers must make written communication skills a top priority, particularly in our new world of casual texting.
Skill #7: Interviewing
Any significant venture usually requires a face-to-face interview prior to hiring. The ability to dress appropriately, answer questions intelligently, and demonstrate humility can (and should) be taught in high school. As competition mounts and interpersonal skills become key differentiators, teenagers have the opportunity to stand out by mastering "interview" skills. College interviews are the perfect training grounds to hone this skill.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, life hacks, or tricks to learning these skills. These are not skills acquired after a 12-minute meeting with a guidance counselor. These are not skills learned after talking to a private college counselor at the end of junior year in high school.
These are essential skills that need to be taught, practiced, and repeated for years before stepping foot onto a college campus. These are the skills we teach in PrepWell Academy - and why we start the process in 9th grade.
Teenagers need to see, hear, and integrate these important messages hundreds and hundreds of times during high school. That's why PrepWell Academy delivers digestible bits of guidance on a weekly basis.
If you want your child to begin the important process of learning these skills, enroll in PrepWell Academy today.
Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.
Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.