I met a gin-soaked Tim Ferriss on my train ride from Boston. At least in the context of podcasting.
Tim is the famed author of The 4-Hour Workweek (affiliate link) and many other hugely successful books and projects.
He also has the number one business podcast on iTunes where he “deconstructs world-class performers” across a wide variety of fields and disciplines.
The podcast format shifts wildly from super-long format multi-hour interviews to short and punchy “one-way” interviews where interviewers simply record their answers to a stream of questions to a variety of other approaches.
One format that I heard for the first time this week is called “Drunk Dialing.”
This is where Tim sits down with a drink (or a few) and calls individual members of his audience to answer their questions directly, one-on-one. It’s a novel podcast format that brings yet another interesting format and way to communicate to light (but that’s not what I’m writing about today).
Tim is a bright and accomplished guy who remains lucid and insightful throughout the night of calls, despite becoming increasingly tipsy.
Questions varied and Tim’s advice was always insightful and well-crafted, based on real-world experience plus lots of thoughtful research and analysis.
But here’s what caught my ear…
It came up twice, unsolicited. While doling out advice, Tim added a strong recommendation to work specifically to develop one’s personal communication skills.
With all the success Tim has had in so many different areas… With all the help he provides to people with so many different needs… With all the experts (hundreds!) he has “deconstructed” and analyzed…
The ability to communicate effectively was, in his view, one of the most powerful ways to “level up” one’s capabilities and therefore odds of success.
In any endeavor.
I couldn’t agree more.
As Tim explained, the ability to communicate–particularly in writing–is a huge differentiator.
The Difference Maker
I like to espouse communication skills as the “difference-maker.”
In any scenario, with other things being equal, you and I would prefer to work with the person who is the better communicator.
People who communicate well are more effective.
They can work more efficiently, they can be more persuasive, and they can garner the trust and enthusiasm of others much more effectively than those who struggle to get their message out, to listen empathetically, or to connect more deeply with others.
That’s why I write books and blogs and guest posts and journals. And interview people on YouTube. And meet people for informational interviews. And attend networking events. And give talks. And sit on panels.
The more opportunities I give myself to hone my communication skills, the better.
It’s an area of professional (and personal) development to seek constant and never-ending improvement.
It’s one of those areas where the more I hone my skills, the more I realize how far I have to go. It’s a craft to be developed over a lifetime.
And as we go, it’s important to look back and feel good about the progress we are making..
To see how much we have improved our work through more effective communication. To see our ability to be clear and concise and to connect. To see how important communication skills can be.
And to motivate ourselves to keep getting better.