Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson are known not only for their wealth and innovation, but also for their ability to speak in an engaging way, be productive, and maintain a high degree of resilience in risky entrepreneurial and life situations. The young entrepreneurial community in Bulgaria quickly recognized them as their heroes, but it turned out that mastering the so-called soft skills is even more expensive than the investment in high-tech achievements.
“The intensity with which the business environment is changing and the speed at which products, skills, and technologies are becoming outdated is very fast. I can think of not more than two or three professions in which one doesn’t have to work with people all the time. I believe that these are the main factors that make the need for the so-called soft skills ever greater” says Philip Anastassiu, Human Resources Director at Metro Cash & Carry Bulgaria. He adds that in the selection of managers, the soft skills are much more important than professional ones. „If I had to choose one, I would focus on the skill to learn. It requires analysis, decision-making, observation, listening, self-reflection, and concentration skills.”
Silvina Furnadzhieva, who is the creator of the Super Productivity methodology and training for the business, adds that the skills to set clear and measurable goals, and the persistence and good communication are also important. The well-described, well-understood and working processes are key for the financial success, and in them, people are the main actors. „Over time, there is a growing understanding that even if our business processes and work are well organized, there is always a way to optimize. Working smarter means being able to do as much useful work that leads to real results in the least time possible. The effect of introducing clear, scheduled and optimized sales processes takes place in the first one or two months – sometimes with up to 30-40% sales growth in the first month alone. All of my clients also mention something that is very valuable: it significantly reduces stress.”
Health care is one of the most important and expensive investments that businesses or entrepreneurs themselves can make. Lazar Radkov from Live to Lift says that in the 11 years since the project has been in existence, there have been dozens of cases of career advancement and startup businesses of people who have improved their lifestyles. „A person who takes better care of themselves has more energy and ideas, is more productive and will always have a better chance of going further in their career or business. There is no way for a person to succeed sustainably without long-term care of their body,” he says. Lazar also cites an American study, indicating that every USD 100 invested in health, quickly return as USD 136 in the form of costs saved from illnesses. „This is an investment in us and in the future. The next most important skill is learning, communicating empathetically and interacting, and no one teaches us this at school,” he says.
Silvina adds that empathy and creativity are often considered personality traits, but the ability to express them can and should be developed. Philip agrees: “Our success is due to our relationships with our clients and the creative decisions of our team. Happy employees make happy clients. We cannot be up-to-date if, for every need, we look for talent from outside or buy technology. At such a moment, people’s skills come to the forefront. Some of our most successful activities are the result of the creativity of different colleagues or teams. 40% of commerce is science, and 60% is art. And art is made by people,” he explains.
The employer branding consultant, Nadia Marinova, also known as the stand-up comedian Nadia Bright, teaches entrepreneurs and managers in the most expensive art in business – communication and public speaking. She says that the critical thinking, active listening and self-expression skills are timeless. “The public speaking skill is fundamental to the transmission, selling and management of ideas. It combines many skills – making a good impression, formulating and constructing a thesis, an argumentation, connecting with others, being interesting, hearing the feedback, etc.” According to Nadia, success is impossible without good communication. “Always, even in the Artificial Intelligence era, we will need to get along well.”