Hello friends and subscribers,
I sent my previous letter weeks ago covering email marketing. It's the #1 channel for every side-hustler to build an audience and start making money. The ROI is 38x and it’s free to start.
Today, I'd like to share how I look at "professional growth" with a modern take on how to develop ourselves and our skills.
The future business leader will work on themselves more than their business.
Alex Lieberman (President of Morning Brew), Chris Do (Founder of the Futur), and more are on record talking about the benefits of therapy. Not "business coaching," it's therapy.
CEOs work with FBI negotiators to understand how the human mind works. They spend tens of thousands every quarter on knowing what makes people tick. This is pure mindset work.
In a world where low-level skills are so each and cheap to acquire, we need more. Critical thinking, resourcefulness, and "empathy" are more valuable. That's why CEOs spend so much on it.
Your bosses don't want you knowing this. Companies want your professional development to be for their advantage. That's why they often fund courses for you. The idea that you keep the credential for your next job is a very small plus amid several sacrifices.
Times have changed.
The truth is that while the CEO hires coaches to help with "mindset" and soft skills, you're being pushed to take a course on spreadsheets. Sure, spreadsheet skills are useful, but they won't make you a business leader.
I used to think "a mindset coach? Really? What a waste of money." Can't deny it anymore. These skills (and coaching to build them) really matters.
In the early 2000s, professional development was about credentials. MBAs, certifications, and anything that can "prove" we know what we know. It still is, but that model has become old and outdated.
Why spend 6 months studying for a certification that adds $10k to our annual salary next year, when a side-hustle can make you 20k in 6 months (and keep growing from there).
If we're going to be investing in professional development, the gains need to be bigger than a side-hustle could be. That's the whole point. Now that an extra 10k is table-stakes, we need to step up. Old-style professional development won't get us there.
Do you think their "Salesforce IT level 2" (whatever it's called) is the reason they'll be a business leader? No. It's really not. It halts the big moves and leaves us taking small steps (when we could do so much better). I got this wrong for a long time and don't want you to do the same.
So what are we to do?
I grew up on video games. Levelling up in a game meant better stats, access to more of the game's features, and (of course) more in-game money.
What if we were paid to level up in real life? With more than certifications and degrees? I mean our whole selves, in a way that benefits us holistically.
See, in games, there are these things called "cheat codes" and they're amazing. You enter a code and skip all the hard work to get the money and maxed-out stats. It's instant.
In professional life, you want to find cheat codes so you can enjoy the other great parts of life. They suck the fun out of games. They'll only make life better.
These "hacks" are everywhere, and they work, but the difference is that real-life is never instant. It's close to that though. I'd love for the instant results like in a video game, but it's just not that simple. It takes repetition to create results.
The good news is that it's not "hard" per-se, it just takes a little bit of effort, every day. As cliche as it sounds, consistency really is key.
Let's start with a basic example.
A study conducted by David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia tech looked at writing down goals (and the effects) in detail. In his study, David notes that 80% of Americans don't have goals. 16% say they have goals, but don't write them down. Less than 4% take the time to write down their goals. 1% of people write their goals down and review them regularly.
The study then cross-referenced this habit with income. People who wrote and reviewed their goals regularly were earning 900% more money than those who did not have goals.
Literally, it was 9x. This study alone should motivate you to write down your goals.
Is that not a cheat code? Write and review goals every day and you'll be on track to earn 9x more than you would otherwise. I can attest to writing down goals, it really does help.
This is when people get skeptical. Remember, we underestimate what can happen with consistent effort (even just 10min a day). It's real, and it works. Most people just never give it a chance.
This is just one example.
The future of professional development is about finding cheat codes to improve what really matters. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and yes, the classic hard skills too.
The beauty of the internet is you can learn what leads to massive gains in a few short hours.
When you're a total beginner. It's not that simple when you reach an "intermediate" stage. There's more nuance to every situation. Generalized content can't help you as much.
What often happens is people reach a stage of middle management but can't level up past that plateau. They're stuck because old-fashioned credentials just don't work anymore (Salesforce IT level 2 doesn't matter when you're managing teams and doing six-figure deals).
You think it's working. But the gains are too small.
Modern Professional Development is about all the skills your CEO is prioritizing for his/herself. The things that get you off the ladder (small steps up), and put you on a rocket to the moon.
I got stuck too, not because my CEO doesn't want me to know (I'm lucky in that sense), but because there just aren't many options if you're not a founder or CEO.
Private training is expensive (and risky with all the trash coaches out there).
There aren't really any courses that cover this material.
"Mentorship" can work, but it has limits. People give only so much advice for free.
For many people of colour especially, the access just isn't there.
Modern professional development is about learning what CEOs pay six figures to learn, without paying six figures for it.
After about 3 years on this plateau, I finally found my way out, and I want to share it with you.
I'm excited to introduce thelevelups.com → modern professional development for the future business leader.
It's a newsletter that covers all this and more.
Personal scorecards to stay on track (how to set and monitor them easily).
Managing your time (automating small tasks, hiring Virtual Assistants, etc).
Professional branding to raise your status.
Negotiations (salaries, time off, sales, etc).
I've big plans to create a community around this model, and you're the first to hear about it.
Take a look. If you're interested in your professional development, consider subscribing.
More on this in the next email. There will be fewer gaps between emails moving forward.
Thanks for reading.