Earlier this month, 22-year-old Michael Hood, the co-founder of the Toronto based start-up Voiceflow, whipped out his smart phone, pointed the video camera at Warren Buffett (who was sitting next to him in the back seat of a car), and asked the billionaire this question:
So, you are talking to people that are 21, 22, just graduating school. What is one tip that you can give them?
The Oracle of Omaha did not hesitate in his response:
Invest in yourself. The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now at least is to hone your communication skills--both written and verbal. If you can't communicate, it's like winking at a girl in the dark--nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.
In case you're wondering, no, Hood did not kidnap Buffett and force a 45-second viral video to happen on LinkedIn. He was handpicked by startup incubator Next 36 to be Buffett's escort for the day, so Hood seized the moment as they were driving to a gala.
The brilliant advice hits close to home for Buffett. The billionaire has publicly admitted that, during high school and college, he was "terrified of public speaking" to the point of throwing up.
After taking a public speaking course at Dale Carnegie, he said, it changed his life. To this day, instead of hanging up his diplomas from college or graduate school, you will see one lone diploma on his office wall: the communications diploma he received in 1952 from Dale Carnegie.
Your ticket to success may be in written communication
But let's not forget that Buffett advised honing both your verbal and written communication skills. That said, if you don't put much stock into raising your capacity to write well, it may be the secret to success.
According to an article in Entrepreneur, the National Commission on Writing found that nearly half of businesses surveyed pay for writing training programs for "salaried employees with writing inefficiencies," highlighting the immense need for effective written communication in the workplace.
The commission's report went on to state that 80 percent of companies in finance, insurance, real estate, and the services industries regularly assess the writing skills of job candidates during the hiring process.
Bob Kerrey, chairman of the commission, said, "Writing is a marker of high-skill, high-wage, professional work. People unable to express themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities for professional, salaried employment."