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7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke

7 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn Even If You’re Broke

Skills are the gateway to a better quality career and life.

The problem is, money is tight for most of us after covering rent/mortgage, car payments, and just maintaining our quality of life. But don’t worry, there are many ways for you to acquire new skills without breaking the bank.

Here are seven life-changing skills you can learn even if you’re broke (and where to learn them).

1. Public speaking

Speaker giving a talk on corporate Business Conference. Audience at the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship event.

    When Warren Buffett was asked to give one piece of advice to recent graduates, he said that improving your ability to communicate and speak publicly is one of the most valuable skill sets you can develop.

    Most of us don’t have regular opportunities to improve our speaking skills, but there are cheap options you can take advantage of to start practicing immediately.

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    Where to go: The International Toastmasters organization puts you in a tight-knit community of supportive people with the same goal as you: to improve public speaking skills. Having been a Toastmaster member myself, it’s one of the most affordable ways to get consistent feedback and practice around a great group of people.

    2. Personal finance

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      As basic as it seems, getting your personal finances down is something many people haven’t yet handled. It’s one thing to remember that you should spend less than you make, it’s another to know the details of how much you should be saving, where you should be allocating your funds, etc.

      Where to go: A great book that will teach you how to automate your personal finance is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, and as scammy as it sounds, it delivers real value. A free app worth checking out is Mint.com, which automatically integrates your bank accounts and analyzes your spending, budgeting, and income for you in a visual and easy-to-understand application.

      3. Investing

      Making trading online on the smart phone. New ways to make economy and trading

        Once you have your personal finances in order, it’s time to start investing. None of us can get the wealth we want without investing our way there. If you’re not 100% sure which avenue you should pursue (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), it’s worth investing some of your time to learn about it before you get into the game.

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        Where to go: Check out a tool like Investopedia, which has an abundance of resources to teach you the terminology of investing, and even have a virtual stock market platform that allows you to invest “fake” money into the stock market. Wealthfront is another great option to go to, which automates your investments for you depending on your goals, risk-tolerance, etc.

        4. Foreign language

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          We’re quickly entering a multilingual era, where everything from culture, business, and people are integrating globally. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, form a deeper connection with your family & friends, or looking to travel in the near future, learning a foreign language is a life-changer.

          Where to go: The good news is, learning a language has never been easier. Take advantage of free options like this Learn A Language Challenge, delivering 10 new most common words in your inbox every morning. Or if you’re busy, like most people, you can check out Duolingo, which is a gamified application, or Rype, which offers unlimited private language lessons 24/7.

          5. Web/Mobile development

          A few shots of 500px team working on exciting new things at HQ here in Toronto

            Have a great idea, but no idea how to build it?

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            Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on developers or agencies, why not take the time to learn it yourself? Learning how to code has never been more accessible and affordable, and luckily it’s also in huge demand.

            Where to go: Check out free options like Codeacademy, which has you building real applications and websites on their platform, while giving you real-time feedback.

            6. Speed reading

            Reading room with open window

              Books are a game-changer in our lives and careers. They condense the knowledge of experts and thought leaders into one place, and can significantly improve the quality of our lives. The problem is, books can consume a lot of time, especially if we’re busy with our work and personal lives.

              One way to overcome this is to increase our reading speed. The faster you read, the more books you can read in less time.

              Where to go: First, you should take this quick reading speed test to see where you’re currently at. With speed reading, you can either go the technology route, with apps like Spreeder, or you can try to improve your own reading speed through free courses.

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              7. Meditating

              Yoga exercises at the city park

                Meditating has been scientifically proven to increase happiness levels, reduce stress, and enhance productivity to get more done throughout the day. While it was once an uncommon practice, meditation is becoming more mainstream in our culture–for the better.

                Where to go: There are free (with premium options) apps like Calm or Headspace, which will guide you through a meditation practice if you’re just getting started. All you need is 10 minutes a day, and you’ll quickly begin to build a habit that will positively impact your life.

                Which of these life-changing skills were your favorite? Share this with someone that’s also trying to learn something new!

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                Last Updated on April 11, 2019

                How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

                I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

                I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

                Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                How Communication Skills Help Your Success

                Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

                Create a Positive Experience

                Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

                When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

                What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

                Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

                As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

                Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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                Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

                Help Leadership Skills

                It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

                Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

                As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

                Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

                If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

                Build Better Teams

                Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

                In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

                If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

                When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

                Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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                How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

                Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

                1. Listen

                Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

                Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

                People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

                Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

                Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

                2. Know Your Audience

                Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

                Here is a good way to think about it:

                Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

                You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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                3. Minimize

                I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

                He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

                Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

                State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

                The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

                4. Over Communicate

                So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

                What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

                Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

                Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

                Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

                There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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                5. Body Language

                The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

                When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

                In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

                When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

                Conclusion

                Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

                Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

                There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                Now go communicate your way to success.

                More Resources About Effective Communication

                Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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