Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box for Career Skills

For learning most career skills there is the tried-and-true path, the one that most people know about and have followed. Yet, in some cases, thinking outside the box for certain skills may give you an advantage over people who have followed the well-traveled road.

Here’s an example:

Aspiring writers ask all the time: “How can I improve my writing?” And the usual answers include taking writing courses, reading books on writing, and studying examples of good writing.

Recently I gave an “outside the box” answer to this question because the person asking it wants to be an advertising copywriter. Now anyone who has ever seen, heard or read an advertisement knows that a good ad starts with an attention-grabbing headline and, in most cases, has very brief copy after the headline.

I suggested to the aspiring copywriter that he take improv stand-up comedy classes. Why? Because improv stand-up comics have to come up with short and attention-grabbing sentences. This could be excellent training for writing advertising copy.

This idea met with enthusiasm from the aspiring copywriter. While he said he had never even heard of improv classes, he could see how this might help his writing. I told him it was thanks to my father, who started taking improv classes at an advanced age, that I got this idea. (See my father’s blog at

Do you have other examples of “outside the box” answers for acquiring certain career skills?

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