The calendar changed to August, and if 2020 were a typical year, then back to school surge would be about to begin.  In many locals, it already has the option for in-class or online classes.  It is a valid al la carte’ choice that each family has made.

Yet, despite this ongoing pandemic, there is a back to school that might just be missing in your life.

In your professional career, the answer can be as short as a month, and as long as a year.

For professional pilots, the requirement every twelve months involves a “line check,” simulator training every six months, technical training, Crew Resource Management Training, and other courses.  Training is required to keep the job.

For CPA’s Lawyers, Real Estate, Insurance, Medical Professionals, and many other professional designations, there are annual require hours of continuing education.

What does it take to stay to stay current in your occupation?

For myself, as a CPA, it is 40 hours of continuing education annually.  My Accredited Investment Fiduciary(AIF® ) requires 6 hours, Certified Divorce Financial Advisor(CDFA®) adds another fifteen hours.  My Texas Insurance License adds another twenty hours.  Two weeks of CPE to keep my licenses.

The problem that now exists for you and I is how do we grow our skills despite the working from home environment.

A great Will Rodgers quote is, “even if you are on the right track if you are standing still, you will get run over if you just sit there.”


Identify your weaknesses

Your weaknesses are the areas that need immediate improvement.  First, do this simple exercise.  Head up three columns
Strong Skills
Needs Improvement
To Learn

In the first column, write a list of your most persuasive skills. These are the skills you learned at school or on the job that you feel most confident.

In the next column, note your existing skills that could use some work. Include old skills that have become rusty and newer skills that you are not fully confident in yet (like a new computer program).

The final column is for brand skills that could make you a more valuable employee in the future. One way to source these is to view job postings that you might like to apply. Think in terms of aspirations and look at roles beyond your current experience level.

For all three columns, be sure to include soft skills like emotional intelligence and decision making.

Focus on strengthening one or two skill deficiencies at a time.

Conduct an Assessment with your Network

Your peers are the most definitive resource when it comes to prioritizing which skills to learn. Those that truly work with you and know you can even point out what they see as needs for improvements.  In this time of physical distancing, don’t be shy to reach out.  It could be an excellent time to talk with your mentor about what they see in you that needs improvement.

Be ready for honest appraisal   Whoever you connect with, use this time to gain insight on how you can improve your skills while opening avenues to job applications in the future.

Online is the New in Person

There are many free and paid resources available online. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy mimic an online college class complete with video lectures, online assignments, and exams. Courses cover everything from how to be a better communicator to the ins and outs of machine learning.

Many tech platforms, like HubSpot and Salesforce, offer online courses geared explicitly toward using their products.

Be sure to update your LinkedIn profile with completed courses and certificates as you go. Employers love to see that you have taken the initiative to continue your education and professional development.


There is a wealth of educational resources available to you in the form of podcasts, webinars, newsletters, and blogs. Look to your favorite brands, thought leaders, and dream employers to see what they offer or recommend. The shorter format is ideal for shorter bursts of learning. Try listening to a podcast while you cook dinner, walk, or exercise.

Practice Practice Practice

Putting those new skills to work will assist you in learning and improving.  Need a place to practice?  Look for charities, your church, or synagogue as they need volunteers now more than ever.  Unpaid work is not the overall goal for growing your skills; however, the adage of giving more than you receive is always a winning approach.

If you have a great idea or have experienced learning uniquely and would like to share, then send me an email or book a Zoom meeting as I would enjoy knowing about your success.

Got something on your mind or have a question?

All of this can occur even at a distance.

Call us 214-239-4700 or click to set up a ZOOM MEETING

Michael Tannery CPA CDFA® AIF® ● CEO
Registered Principal | Tannery & Company

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 The opinions expressed in this material are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.  Individual circumstances do vary.


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