What Else is New? Why Learning a New Skill Should Be At the Top of Your Marketing Plan

Confidence does more than help you win friends and influence people. Confidence can help entrepreneur’s stay on track and not get distracted. So while you may not think that mastering mountain biking could be the key to a successful marketing campaign, maybe it’s time you learned?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that might be because learning new tricks keeps your dog young. As goes the dog so goes the brain: For entrepreneurs and those in the client-service industry, a growth mindset will not only keep you young, but might ensure your long-term career success. It all boils down to neuroplasticity. Here’s why you need to stretch your gray matter to stay on top of your client acquisition game.

There’s no shortage of articles on the top skill for entrepreneurs to acquire to secure clients. They include listening, communication, strategy, interpretation, management, presentation, and confidence. Or maybe empathy, tenacity, adaptability, responsiveness, patience and confidence, according to others. Others say integrity, dedication, thoroughness, critical thinking, communication and self-confidence are the keys.[1] While those experts may not agree on all of the skills needed, one stands out: confidence. And at the heart of having confidence is resilience. We’ve written about resilience before in the context of investors (or employees) building retirement ready resilience.[2] But advisors also benefit from building resilience.

Learning any new skill requires the same basic set of tools in terms of activity in the brain. Trying anything new changes certain portions of your brain, specifically, the myelin. Learning a new skill also creates more neural pathways in your brain, which may help you think faster or more creatively.[3] As scientists from the University of Utah explained, learning a new skill involves three changes in the brain: “Chemical change occurs in the initial stages of learning something new … [and] primarily influences short-term memory or short-term improvement in a motor skill. Structural change occurs when neurons in the brain change their connections, altering your brains structure. … [It] requires more effort and time…. Functional change occurs when entire brain networks change… as they are used over and over again, become more …efficient when activated.”

While any new skill will increase neuroplasticity, the University of Utah folks note five areas that the new skill should have, including specific attention (like a scheduled time), repetition and intensity (something you work on over a long period of time), Time or duration, intention (something with meaning, relevance or importance) and most important, a sense of novelty or challenge.

So while brushing up on your listening skills through a mindfulness program may seem like the best route to landing new clients, you might benefit more from finally taking those guitar lessons, or learning to knit so you can finish the afghan Granny was making for your youngest kiddo. That’s because the increase in neuroplasticity from those new skills has a corresponding effect on your resilience. Resilience is “the ability to achieve a successful outcome in the face of adversity” according to University of Massachusetts researchers.[4] Neuroplasticity increases resilience and may even help rewire a brain after some traumatic or long term stressful situations.[5] Too much stress, or “toxic stress” (as many may have experienced during the pandemic) can have a negative impact on brain wiring and may create a depressive state. Tolerable stress (like a challenge or a novelty) can have a positive impact on brain wiring, through creating neuroplasticity. The increased neuroplasticity can help increase resiliency and get that sought after confidence everyone’s talking about in client development.

Confidence does more than help you win friends and influence people. Confidence can help entrepreneur’s stay on track. As one expert noted “The resilient entrepreneur looks past short-term setbacks and focuses on long-term mission. The rigid, unadaptable entrepreneur gets caught up in temporary problems; they can’t see the forest for the trees, so it’s easier to quit or get distracted, to work on something else rather than to face the blunt facts of their situation.”[6] So while you may not think that mastering mountain biking could be the key to a successful marketing campaign, maybe it’s time you learned?

[1] https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/14-skills-entrepreneurs-need-to-win-clients.html




[2] https://www.bcgbenefits.com/blog/retirement-ready-resilience

[3] https://ccsuconed.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/the-top-7-benefits-of-learning-a-new-skill

[4] https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/697956

[5] https://www.nicabm.com/brain-science54750

[6] https://foundr.com/articles/leadership/building-resilience-entrepreneur

These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.

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