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Mini Skill Stacking

Overwhelm.  That’s all I could think about.

I had been asked to speak at a career event and address  group of female freshmen at a local college.  The point was to convince them to consider information technology as their major.

My issue wasn’t the speaking bit.  I’ll talk the ear off anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity – just ask my kids.

I was afraid of the Powerpoint presentation part.  I was going to be presenting to a group of young, hip and happening young ladies who pretty much grew up with visual tools.

Instagram.  Snapchat.  Facebook.

How was I going to make my presentation appealing and visual enough for them?

Fast-forward a few years, and here I am actually publishing a book on how to create covers on Powerpoint.  Insane, right?

The key is to have a go.  But not just throw yourself at a problem in its entirety.  That could be a recipe for discouragement.

The trick is to take it in tiny steps.

One baby skill.  Then add another, and another.

Before you know it, you’ll be an expert, or at least, expert enough on something that you never, ever thought would be part of your arsenal of skills.

Mini Skills

What are mini skills? I think of them as those kinds of skills which, by themselves, are relatively insignificant.

An example of an email mini-skill might be how to add a signature.  By itself, it doesn’t really mean much.  I mean, it’s not going to pay the bills, is it?

Here’s another one: how to shorten a URL using Again, simple, and fairly straightforward once you do it once.

Now stack these two mini-skills together, and you can use your email signature as a way to publicize your latest post or product, right there in your email.

Simply shorten the link to your resource in, and add it to your signature.  Now not only are you promoting your content, but you also have statistics on how many clicks your link in the email signature received, and from which country.

Not a bad way to start earning your keep by driving traffic to your stuff, right?

Stacking Mini Skills

My new Kindle book Create eBook Covers In Powerpoint is a really a collection of mini-skills at heart.  The project itself was born out of my own need to get quicker and more predictable at creating covers for my products.

Getting faster usually means trying to use one or two tools at most to accomplish a task, so you’re not bouncing all over the place.

The tool of choice for me last year was Pixlr, as I’m sure you’ve read on this blog.

But I discovered that once I had conquered blending an image into a background colour –  a mini skill – and added in aligning and text effects mini skills, I could compose nice looking covers much faster and more effectively than on Pixlr.

Each one of those mini skills will come in useful in a variety of ways, but I loved that by stacking them together, I could not only help myself and create covers for my products, but I could compile those mini skills into a book with companion videos.

Yes, on its own it might not pay the bills, but it will definitely support my designer coffee habit for a month – may be even two.  If I have the small size. And go just once a week.

Back to facing the beautiful young ladies in the auditorium.  Did we all look that impossibly young back then?

I decided to keep my presentation simple, and use my knowledge of kids’ non-existent attention span to guide me.  I used primary colours, and tried to use hip language and “cool” images.

In the end, the presentation didn’t really matter.  It just got me past the first few terrifying seconds when I took to the podium.  What mattered was their eager expressions, their eyes fixed on me waiting for me to reveal the magic that is computers.

And reveal I did.  I allowed them to see a good glimpse of the mad enthusiasm I have for creating stuff out of thin air – which is what building applications and creating digital products is all about.

Talking of digital products, (warning: shameless plug ahead) don’t forget to pick up a copy of Create eBook Covers In Powerpoint – a step by step guide to creating ebook covers in 2D, 3D and boxed set formats – it’s on launch promotion at just $0.99  (end of shameless plug).

So what mini-skill could you jump in and conquer today? Will it be towards product creation? Or productivity? Will be a butt-in-chair hack so you can write more?


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