Skills vs Character Traits

Skills vs Character Traits

Maybe you haven’t read my other wrap-ups, but I currently live in Belgrade, Serbia. And quite candidly speaking, I need to leave; otherwise, I’ll become a fluff ball. Food is way too delicious, and there’s way too much of it–everywhere. This needs to stop.

This brings me to something that quite recently happened more than usual. Since I’m meeting a bit more new people and making new friends, people have been asking me more and more this one question.

I cannot tell you how often people ask me this one question when they find out I own this company.

“Character, Like a Photograph, Develops in Darkness.”
—Yousuf Karsh


The question is, “are you a neuroscientist/biochemist/Ph.D.?”

To which I reply: “absolutely not.”

To me, it’s just so obvious why. But I cannot stop being amazed by what single people “think” is valuable versus what the marketplace decides is actually valuable.

First, let’s state one thing that needs to be understood: “there’s no such thing as a successful business owner who wants to be the smartest person in their company.” I’m not even that successful by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t want to be the smartest person here either.

Here’s how I see it.

And I’m going to give you the conclusion so that you don’t have to scroll down to get it. Because we all know, great things come with short attention spans and low effort.

Nonetheless, here’s the juicy part. 

I believe that acquiring skills is the fastest way to get a job.

I also believe at this point that character traits are the things that make you able to create jobs for others.

Further than that, I don’t know. I’m the wrong person to ask. They say it’s beliefs and mindsets. I’ll let you know if I ever find out (hint: it’s not going to be for lack of trying).

Now that I have given you the “what,” allow me to illustrate my thinking.

First, skills are tradeable. There’s a place to acquire skills fast for the exchange of currency. It’s called the labor market. You cannot buy or rent character traits, though.

Entrepreneurs often say something along the lines of: “if you can get a degree to do it, then it’s not that valuable.” This means that if it’s something that can be learned through a course or degree than many people have it and by definition, its value has been diluted.

On the other hand, you either have the will and discipline of a complete monster, or you don’t. You can condition yourself into acquiring it, but it’s going to take time, and you cannot shortcut your way out of it with a couple of banknotes.

By the way, where I live – live permanently, i.e., Zurich, Switzerland –  we have this CHF 1,000 banknote – about USD 1,100. So, it really just takes a few to acquire most things. But I digress.

In the case of formulating groundbreaking supplements and manufacturing them, biochemists and labs can be rented for relatively cheap. In our case, we did it with the manufacturing lab (unfortunately, I signed a NAD with them). The way we worked it out: they refine the formulation at heavily discounted prices, as long as we agree to manufacture with them exclusively for a lock-in period.

So it goes to say how expensive this skill is. Further, even if this was not the case, almost everyone can be hired.

Obviously, we do not test Maximum Mind ourselves, for example. What good would that bring anyway? You probably value third-party testing more than you value “self-control,” so we have it independently tested in the Netherlands.

You know that I tell you all the time about how much commonality there is between fitness and business.

Both things are pretty easy to understand: there’s no secret, there’s no shortcut, all there is, is grit and consistency. 

Now, if that doesn’t convince you, let me give you a relatable example. What do you think is more valuable: to have the skill to perform a perfect squat or to have the desirable character trait to workout every day regardless of how you feel?

In this case, what do you think is more likely to make you extremely fit and have that thigh and functional body that just feels good all the time?

Arguably, acquiring the skill to perform a perfect squat can be done with $100 of personal training and a one-hour time cost. And this is for the sake of argument to cover all possibilities. It will take 10 minutes in most cases, and it’ll be free.

Now, can you buy the desirable character trait of “working out every day, regardless of what happens, regardless of how you feel?”

Well, you can’t.

You either have the trait, develop it, or find ways to argue to yourself that life is just as good when you’re fat and tired. This is why character traits are much more valuable than skills.

Relating to business: what do you think is more valuable: having the skill of knowing biochemistry or having the character trait of “regardless of how you feel and who does what on Instagram, you work all day, every day against self-imposed ridiculous deadlines and objectives”?

I’d bet on the latter, to be honest.

Also, I’d like to point out that it’s not limited to inward character traits either. If you remember, I used to work at a cool company in the professional services thing. I don’t know why I’m so mysterious all of a sudden. It’s not confidential information. The company is called Deloitte–fun times and brilliant people, to be honest.

If you work in firms like that, you quickly realize that the most valuable partners are not the ones with the most ferocious grasp of accounting subtleties. They certainly know the minimum entry level required for the position. But it’s not what makes them great partners.

A great partner is a partner that makes maximum money for the firm; that’s pretty much the gist of it. In that sense, it’s quite valuable to be punctual, respect business partners’ time, and generally speaking, be the kind of person people would enjoy conducting business with.

It’s also extremely valuable to have the character trait of “being the person talent is attracted to” so that you can acquire and retain talent at a lower cost than your competitors. All of these are character traits of great value, and I’m sure you have some in your craft that you can either hone or develop.

By the way, when I said: “it’s quite valuable to be punctual.” I actually downplayed it a lot. Being able to show up on time with the agreed-upon deliverables at the agreed-upon quality feels like a magical superhuman character trait in this world.

I hear you also say: “but you can be a biochemist and Ph.D. and own a successful business!” To which, I’d say that you absolutely can. I just don’t believe it’s the skill/knowledge that is the bottleneck there.

It is my current belief that characters trait are the first constraint of business development. This is of course assuming that you can acquire skills at above average speeds. But the latter is really the most basic of requirements. The second and much more complex constraint might be to break beliefs. More on that later.

That’s it for me for today. I wanted to share this business insight with you. I hope this brings a bit of reflection on what you’ll invest time and apply effort to in your life moving forward.

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