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25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

Now that the inspirational sparkle of the new year has worn off, you may be falling back into your old routines and habits. Statistically, you probably are. One way to jolt yourself out of a run is to engage in learning new skills. Last year I’ve had the privilege to do research, interview and report on some of today’s most successful people and they all have one thing in common. They are continually learning. Whether it’s reading books, going to seminars, or taking courses, continuously expanding your mind is a fundamental key to success.

If you didn’t love school, don’t worry. Today’s online options have come so far, you can listen on your commute, download everything to your smartphone, or take an entire class via watching short digestible online videos for free.

1. Programming for Everybody

You’ve probably seen or heard the headlines claiming “everybody needs to learn how to code.” If you agree, this University of Michigan course from Coursera is a great option.

2. How To Make iPhone Apps

This course from Udemy teaches how to finally create that app idea you have. If you are very computer savvy, take five hours and you’ll be ready to submit your first app to the App Store by the end of the day.

3. Introduction to Graphic Design

We live in a visual world. Just like some people argue that everyone should know the basics of coding, others feel we should all learn the basics of good design. This beginner course from Udemy teaches the basic principles of design and the theory behind creating attention-grabbing visuals.

4. Beginners Adobe Photoshop

Once you learn the basics of great design, you’re going to want to start designing! This tutorial for beginners from Adobe KnowHow teaches the fundamentals of a, if not the, vital graphic design program. Also a good course idea for beginning photographers.

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5. Internet Marketing for Smart People

If you want to up your marketing game, Copyblogger is a great resource. This class teaches you how to systematically implement effective marketing campaigns. You also get instant access to 14 value-packed ebooks on SEO, copywriting, keywords and more.

6. Diploma in Social Media Marketing

This course from ALISON goes beyond how to use the platforms and teaches the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, email marketing, blogging, social platforms and increasing site traffic.

7. Social Media 101

Want a social media overview? This is a two-minute-a-day class from Buffer to teach you the basics of social media. Learn how to use each platform, how to create a tone for your brand, and how to understand analytics.

8. Become a Networking Master

If you’re intimidated by networking events, meetings and conferences, you’re not alone. Progress your career or your business with this course from The Muse which teaches you how to network, communicate and give a clear elevator pitch to anyone and everyone.

9. Introduction to Public Speaking

Public speaking skills can improve your performance in meetings, calls, and of course on the stage. This edX class from the University of Washington will help you become more effective and confident on debating, presenting and persuading.

10. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Negotiation is not just essential for business owners crafting contracts. If you want to secure yourself a higher salary, better benefits, or that coveted office with a window, start with this course from the University of Michigan from Coursera.

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11. Competitive Strategy

Getting ahead and staying ahead is a science. This more advanced course from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München by Coursera will teach you the basic tools of game theory in order to dissect strategy and gain competitive advantages.

12. How to Finally Start Your Side Project

Many successful businesses started as a side hustle. This class offered by career experts at The Muse will walk you through how to focus and bring your ideas into the world, while still working your 9-to-5.

13. How to Start a Startup

Entrepreneurship is the new black. Stand out from other startups with knowledge on user growth, fundraising, operations, and more. This Stanford lecture by Sam Altman features leaders from successful companies like PayPal, LinkedIn, and Airbnb.

14. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs

In the middle of starting your own business? This is a short course from Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar. He teaches rookie entrepreneurs key lessons based on his first-hand experience vetting ideas, raising money from investors, scaling a business, and more.

15. Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution

If you’re filled with a million ideas but can’t seem to bring any of them to life, check out this course from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University offered by Coursera. It will show you how to correctly build an idea into an actual, stable and scalable operation.

16. The Passive Income Business Plan

If you’ve looked into entrepreneurship, you’ve probably heard of passive income. It sounds too good to be true, is it? This basic introduction to online business from Udemy covers helpful information for entrepreneurs who are considering starting an online business but don’t know how to.

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17. Diploma in Project Management

If you want to become a department head, speed up the growth of your business, or simply become more efficient, you need to master project management. This course from ALISON offers an overview of project management methodology, tools, project life cycles and case studies.

18. The Secret Sauce of Great Writing

The more I study success, the more I realize that good writing is everything. No matter which career you’re in, whether you’re writing an email, a presentation, a script, or a storyboard. This course from Udemy teaches you to enhance your business writing.

19. Writing on Contemporary Issues

Want to get your op-ed featured on NYTimes.com? This course is an introduction from MIT on writing attention-grabbing prose for online audience with a clear and unique personal voice.

20. Chinese Language: Learn Basic Mandarin

This is another skill that is often recommended, especially if you want to climb up the ladder of international business. This beginner course from edX is free, but you can add a MandarinX Verified Certificate for $50.

21. Spanish I

Like Mandarin, many recommend adding Spanish to your resume. This is a beginner course from MIT that teaches Spanish through a quality drama-filled story.

22. Sports Psychology – The Winning Mindset

If you want to win in business, your career, or just in life, think like a winning athlete. Dr Cliff Mallet offers practical strategies in this Olympic.org course that will ensure you approach your next goal with the right mindset.

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23. The Science of Happiness

Who doesn’t want to be happier? The first class from University of California, Berkeley, offered by edX, will teach you science-based principles and practices for a happy and more fulfilling life.

24. Practical Ethics

If you ever look around at the world today and think “I don’t know what I believe anymore” this course will help you figure out just that. Examine your ethical beliefs with this Princeton class offered by Coursera.

25. Guided Meditations

There’s a reason many successful people meditate and practice mindfulness. Figure out those reasons in this introductory class from UCLA, taught by Diana Winston.

Featured photo credit: GaudiLab via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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