John Cousins
February 7, 2023
2 min read
mad skills start with basics

Success is ultimately determined by your ability perform and deliver value in a variety of situations. This requires fulfilling your potential and becoming most fully who you are meant to be.

The skill sets we all need to continuously develop and upgrade fall into three general categories: words, numbers, and personal attributes.

Words and Numbers

These are the functional skills and the ones that are inculcated since grammar school, the 3 Rs: reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic.

Management and leadership require measurement and communication skills. Goals, visions, and strategy need to be articulated. Numbers and quantitative analysis need to be communicated and explained in plain clear language. Incentives, targets and metrics need to be translated from memos and plans, communicated in language, and implemented in measurable numbers. These tasks require a facility with words and numbers and translating back and forth between them.

The Numerati

Accounting and finance is the realm of pure number. Costs, revenues, valuations, budgets all require an easy facility and comfort with numbers, math, spreadsheets and computers. Those numbers and analyses need to be communicated to others in the company and outsiders with an interest in the company’s performance. This takes communication skills.


Written and verbal communication skills, as well as being a wide and focused reader, are critical to your success and chances for taking on more management responsibility and being an effective leader.

Personal Skills

Personal attributes have to do with developing your character and cultivating an outward appearance that reflects a developed inner life. A career is a relatively long time and there will be trails, tribulations and vicissitudes to navigate and endure. It is important to develop resiliency, the ability to bounce back and endure setbacks. We need inner strength and an inner compass and sense of integrity and ability to discern right from wrong, all embodied in our sense of ethics.

More on developing skills

Here is a post on developing a skills based approach to navigating a successful career path.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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