It's back to school time which for most college students that means running up big debt without much hope of a real job at graduation.
Ironically, college-even liberal arts schools-could offer their graduates a fair chance at a real job, if they'd only make a single, small alteration in the curriculum.
Teach students how to sell.
Selling is the universal business skill. While often unstated, the ability to sell is a requirement for success at every job.
The person who knows how to sell will get hired first, advance more quickly, make more money and in general be more successful, regardless of how you measure success.
Take Journalism, for instance. In nine months, thousands of people will take degrees in journalism, without spending a single hour learning how to sell.
And that's crazy, because most of the work in journalism today is freelance, which means selling. Even those with traditional publishing jobs must constantly sell their value.
Engineering is the same way. No question you need technical chops but it's the engineers who can sell their ideas that get the cool projects and the latest equipment.
Legal degrees, ditto. Colleges graduate twice as many lawyers as there are jobs. Whenever a market is glutted, it's the ones who know how to sell that get offered opportunities.
Even Fine Arts works that way. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, to name just two, were incredibly talented at selling the value of their art to critics and the public.
Show me a proverbial "starving artist" who's got real talent and I'll show you somebody who, sadly, never learned to sell.
You'd think that business schools at least would get this right, but it's possible earn an MBA from a top B-school without learning a single sales skill. That's insane!
Beyond business, selling is a universal life skill. As I've repeatedly written, selling is helping other people make their dreams come true.
Show me a great parent and I'll show you somebody who knows how to sell, using influence, example, and empathy... all three essential sales skills.
Knowing how to sell is knowing you can always be of service, that you'll always have a job, and that you'll be compensated appropriately.
We shouldn't be waiting until college to teach sales skills. It should be part of the regular high-school curriculum, ideally coupled with a young entrepreneur program.
My kids are nine and ten, and I'm already teaching them the basics, like understanding how things seem from the other person's perspective.
By the time they're in college, I'm going to make certain that either of them could make a living in Sales, if that's their calling.
It mystifies me why more parents, and more schools aren't teaching a skill that's crucial to the future success of young people, more so now than at any other time in history.
Same thing with the not-so-young. The smartest move any entrepreneur can make is to hone one's sales skills.
Master the art of selling and there's nothing to keep you from fulfilling your greatest potential and helping others to do the same.