How J.K Rowling Succeeded with Soft Skills
October 21, 2015

Known For: Writing Harry Potter

Primary Soft Skills: Resiliency, Drive Strength / Motivation


“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” – JK Rowling


The creator of Harry Potter didn’t even have a computer when she wrote her first book. She tapped it out on a manual typewriter. Times then were tough for Rowling who was recently divorced, poor, and raising a child alone.

Yet, despite those odds, she finished her magical book! And…it was rejected. She submitted it to another publisher and…it was rejected again. Twelve publishers would reject one of the most popular book series of all time before the thirteenth said yes.


Her Soft Skills


Rowling shows great resiliency. She was single parent raising a child on state benefits. Yet, she still completed her book. Even after she finished the first book, it wasn’t over. Her book was rejected twelve times, but she didn’t give up.

During these dark times, Rowling faced clinical depression and even thoughts of suicide. She later funneled this into the dementors – the soul sucking creatures in Harry Potter.

Finally, the thirteenth publisher, Bloomsbury, agreed to publish Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. She became a multimillionaire in five years.


Drive Strength/Motivation

Writing a book take lots of hard work. Rowling had many factors against her and she completed her first novel. She had a child dependent on her, on state benefits, divorced, and suffered from depression. However, she found the motivation to keep writing and to finish her first book.

Her agent told her to keep her day job because he didn’t think she’d be able to make a lot of money from children’s book. Her current net worth is $1 billion.


What Can We Learn from JK Rowling

Rowling’s rags to riches story inspires everyone. She had a dream of publishing a book about a young wizard named Harry Potter. Harry Potter has 450 million copies printed and has been translated into 68 languages.

She has great technical skill as a writer, but her soft skills; resiliency and drive strength are what propelled her into literary history. Never give up!


What Next?

If you’re interested in learning how you can assess and teach the top soft skills for today’s workplace, we offer a FREE hour long webinar. Just click the button below to claim your spot.


How Elon Musk Succeeded with Soft Skills
September 30, 2015

Known for: entrepreneur, innovator, humanitarian, futurist, founder of SpaceX, Co-founder of Paypal, Zip2 and Tesla Motors

Primary soft skills: Critical thinking, Goal Setting, Resiliency

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.

It’s easy to believe that the age of grand invention has passed. Modern innovations seem to be limited to incremental improvements over technology whose foundation hasn’t truly been revolutionary for probably 20 to 30 years.

Elon Musk has spent his life changing that image, however. As the founder of SpaceX, and co-founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors and Zip2, Elon Musk’s contribution to the world of technology go beyond app development. Driven by humanitarian desires, this real life Tony Stark would probably say that he’s not so much redefining innovation, as he is reviving it.


His soft skills

Critical Thinking

Musk’s willingness to see common objects and technologies as worthy of critique has allowed him to innovate in areas that few have imagined…like the car you drive, for instance. While electric cars have been around since the 1970’s, Musk’s pioneering work has turned them from tiny niche vehicles with limited driving range into Tesla Motors’ sleek, futuristic sports cars that get 200-300 miles out of a single charge.

How about your home power grid? Tesla is also responsible for the Power Wall, a large battery that can store and more efficiently provide power to your house during peak energy usage times. It’s probably not too big of a surprise that the power wall also works swimmingly with solar technology Musk himself touts as the future. The Power Wall’s 92% DC power efficiency is just another symptom of the type of future-thinking that drive both Musk and Tesla.

Even our home planet is not safe from Musk’s self-critique. His company SpaceX lists, on their website, their goal:

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

Musk knows that at the heart of innovation is a willingness to question the way things have always been done and ask if there is a better, smarter and more mutually beneficial way to accomplish these tasks. In his own words:

Constantly think about how you could be doing things better, and keep questioning yourself.

Goal Setting

Speaking of lofty goals, Elon Musk perfectly demonstrates the important skill of setting goals in the mission of every venture he leads. If you were to interview 5,000 CEOs about their goals for their business, 4,998 would tell you it was to increase profit. 1 wouldn’t return your phone call, and 1 would be Elon Musk who,  in a quarterly letter to Tesla investors, wrote:

Profits are not our primary goal…

To many companies, that message may be unpalatable, but for Elon Musk, it signifies higher goals – goals like interplanetary exploration, moving humanity away from dependence on fossil fuels, and the opportunity for every human being to contribute to the collective knowledge.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, Tesla’s stock went up in value following Musk’s bold and transcendent declaration of goals. Staying focused on these goals keeps Musk from being encumbered by failure. Which leads us to…


If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again is a standard phrase among schoolchildren. When Musk’s SpaceX company tried to launch its first rocket, it did not succeed. Musk paid heed to this idiomatic wisdom and tried, tried again. Two more times the rocket didn’t launch. On the brink of losing all investment, Musk tried one more time and finally succeeded in launching a rocket and subsequently, the SpaceX name.

Does failure weigh on Musk? It seems to, but not the same way it does with many people who give up when they’ve failed. He puts it this way:

If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.

So even though Musk has had his run-ins with failure (SpaceX rocket launches, Paypal’s undervalued sale to eBay, etc), he has always continued to try and innovate allowing his vision for a world of cleaner electricity, equal opportunities and space exploration to keep that failure from knocking him down. Don’t just try, try because you believe so much in the outcome you are trying for.


What can we learn from Elon Musk?

Perhaps the biggest, and most apparent way we can learn from Elon Musk is to value and incorporate the same skills that have placed him at the helm of innovation and technological progress into our own lives and lines of work.

We learn to question the processes and statuses of our own day-to-day routines. We learn to set goals that are bigger than the goals we had yesterday, and maybe even so big that the people around us think they are outrageous and impossible.

Finally, when our critique of the status quo mixes with our goal to change it for the better, we learn to be resilient and not back down from this new vision in the face of failure. Like Elon Musk, we learn to embrace failure as a symptom of innovation, and run at full speed toward the kind of ideas that define the future.



How Martin Luther King Jr. Succeeded with Soft Skills
September 17, 2015

Known For: minister, humanitarian, activist, and leader of the Civil Rights Movement

Primary Soft Skills: Empathy, Resiliency, Communication Skills, Attitude, Drive Strength/Motivation

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist. He was an important leader during the Civil Rights Movement during the mid-1950s and 1960’s. In 1964, MLK received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for equality in the United States.

MLK’s success is greatly impacted by his many soft skills. He was an incredible orator and motivator, leading 200,000 people to march on Washington in 1963 where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.


His Soft Skills


MLK had great empathy for his fellow African-Americans in the United States. He believed all citizens should be granted the same rights. He pushed for desegregation and banning of Jim Crow laws. He was empathic towards all people and believed everyone deserved the same rights.



MLK was arrested 30 times through the 12 years he led the Civil Rights Movement. From jail, he continued to write and speak for the movement he represented. He even received pushback from other Civil Rights leaders. After a peaceful protest turned violent, he was criticized for allowing children and families to be in harm’s way. He was also criticized by other American American groups who believed his non-violent approach was weak.

Even with all these setbacks, he still continued to move forward. In 1964, MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work during the Civil Rights Movement.


Communication Skills

MLK was an incredible orator and writer. He wrote 5 books in his lifetime with half a dozen more collections of his writings and speeches published after his death. His “I Have a Dream Speech” was heard by 200,000 people in 1963 and is still studied today.



For all he had to endure, MLK kept a positive attitude throughout the Civil Rights Movement. He never gave up on his dream that all races in the United States would receive equal treatment and rights. During his time in jail, he continued to write and promote equal rights.


Drive Strength/Motivation

MLK had incredible drive strength and motivation during his time as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. His was passionate about his goal of achieving equal rights and he never gave up. His drive strength encouraged and inspired others to continue the movement long after he was assassinated.


What We Can Learn From MLK

There are many things we can learn from MLK. He is someone who was passionate about achieving a goal and never gave up. From him we can learn how to impact change in a peaceful way through the power of soft skills.

His empathy, resiliency, communication skills, attitude, drive strength/motivation are what led him to becoming one of the more influential people in all of the United States’ history.

Soft Skills Roundup: August
September 4, 2015

Here at Conover, we are passionate about emotional intelligence and soft skills. We’ll be looking at six big examples which we think shine a light on how important understanding and developing soft skills can be.


1. News – Stephen Hawking: Black Holes “Are Not The Eternal Prisons” We Once Thought


Space is fascinating. We love this article because Stephen Hawking has used critical thinking to, once again, discover a new theory about black holes.

Prior to this recent lecture, Hawking had said that black holes emit radiation. Now, he’s claiming black holes aren’t as black as once thought. He now believes things sucked into a black hole can exit by the other side..or end up in a different universe.

2. Article – Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20

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We all wish we had known these time management hacks. Most people can agree time management is something they can improve on.

We love #10!


3. Article – The 10X Entrepreneur

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We love this quote by Grant Cardone!



4. Opinion – The Empathy Lesson Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Desperately Needs


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Excellent article by Jo Confino that talks about the importance of empathy. The most important quality a leader can have is empathy because it keeps them connected to the people of their company.


5. Article – 8 New Rules of Public Speaking

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Public speaking is a major fear amongst adults! However, learning how to speak in public, and speak well in public, it’s an irreplaceable trait.

As nerve-wracking as public speaking is, it’s important to learn speaking techniques to help you communicate to a large group.


6. News – Bringing Resiliency and Normalcy to Ebola-Free Liberia

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Resiliency is such an important soft skill. Having strong resiliency means being able to adapt with change, overcome obstacles, and be able to rise above those obstacles.

Ebola is a very controversial topic; however, Jolene Mullins is able to highlight the resiliency of the LIberian people and how they will overcome this Ebola epidemic.

How Abraham Lincoln Succeeded with Soft Skills
August 31, 2015

Known For: 16th President of the United States, Ending Slavery

Primary Soft Skills: Empathy, Communication Skills, Attitude, Resiliency, Critical Thinking


I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.
– Abraham Lincoln

How did a man born in the woods of Kentucky with less than 18 months of formal education become one of America’s most beloved presidents? Abraham Lincoln is renowned as an incredible leader. Strategic, thoughtful, and just, he led the United States through it’s most difficult era. Lincoln had the strategy, technique, and experience to lead this country through its Civil War.

His success can be attributed to his incredible array of soft skills. Scholars and historians still study his leadership today.


His Soft Skills


Lincoln always encouraged a healthy debate. He was a very patient man and there are many accounts of him listening to an angry citizen or the views of an opposing politician before calmly replying.

Even during the Civil War, Lincoln continued to be sympathetic and caring towards all involved in the war and, of course, slavery which he ended with the Emancipation Proclamation.


Communication Skills

Lincoln’s story telling ability is legendary. If you Google “stories told by Abe Lincoln” entire articles and pages come up. He had the ability to relate to almost everyone through his stories and quips. Besides his storytelling, he was able to connect with his audience. He chose his words carefully and routinely boosted morale with his honest way of speaking to everyone.

The Gutenberg project has a great story about Lincoln’s communication:

Lincoln was a strong believer in the virtue of dealing honestly with the people.

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens,” he said to a caller at the White House, “you can never regain their respect and esteem.
“It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

Critical Thinking

Throughout his career as a lawyer and a politician, Lincoln developed incredible critical thinking skills. He was able to see an issue from both sides before deciding on a conclusion.

He had a deep ability to think outside the box and to see through other’s perspective. He was able to bring together groups of people with opposing political views and he could lead them to work together to solve the toughest issues.


Attitude & Resiliency

Lincoln worked as a farmer, postmaster, general store clerk, ferryboat crew, lawyer, and politician. At 23, he ran for the Illinois House of Representatives and lost. He did not give up, but continued learning and trying. Lincoln was hardworking and did not give up on achieving his goals.

He ran again in the following election and won his seat. From there he built his political career and twenty-six years later wins the presidential election.


What We Can Learn From Lincoln

There’s a lot to be learned from Lincoln. His rise to presidency has continued to fascinate and educate scholars and historians. How did a boy born in the a log cabin in the woods of Kentucky grow up to be one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America?

He proves that by utilizing his soft and technical skills with the perseverance to never give up on achieving his desired results.

How Michael Jordan Succeeded with Soft Skills
August 18, 2015

Known for: Athlete, Entrepreneur, Team Owner, Billionaire, GOAT?

Primary Soft Skills: Goal Setting, Resiliency, Drive Strength / Motivation

Even if you’ve never watched basketball, you’ve heard of Michael Jordan. You can see him driving to the basket, leaping in the air with his tongue hanging out, and dunking the ball over opponents. He revolutionized basketball and became a household name.

Hard skills, like knowing how to play the game, only account for 15% of success in life. However, it was Jordan’s soft skills that truly turned a kid with raw talent into probably the Greatest Of All Time to play his game.

Since it can be tough to identify soft skills in yourself, let’s look at how Michael Jordan’s soft skills helped him succeed.

Goal Setting

To succeed, Jordan developed a goal setting system that he applied from high school, through the NBA, and even now as the first athlete-turned-billionaire. He explains his process in his book, “I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence”:


The Bulls desperately needed their leader for Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, but Jordan was lying in a fetal position in his hotel bed, drenched in sweat. He could barely sit up from the stomach virus wracking his system. The team doctor said there was no way he could play.

He had every excuse (even a doctor’s note) to stay in bed. However, though weak and pale, he showed up and played, making a 3-point shot with 25 seconds left to lead his team to victory.

mj-singleDrive Strength / Motivation

Arguably the best basketball player of all time, Jordan was cut from his varsity team in high school. But that didn’t stop him. He worked harder to not only get back on the team, but also to start.

When he was drafted into the NBA in 1984, he wasn’t a very good shooter. To get better, he spent his off-season shooting hundreds of shots a day to become a reliable and intimidating 3-point shooter.

To become a standout defensive player, he spent countless hours studying his opponents and committing their moves to memory to hone his defensive instinct.

Taking nothing for granted, he applied himself to every part of his game to steadily get better and better until he was the best.

Be Like Mike

Success didn’t fall into Jordan’s lap. He created a system to drive himself to accomplish his goals and held on to his dream no matter what. That’s encouraging because it means anyone can succeed if they develop similar soft skills. You, too, can be like Mike.

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