We all have skills that take us through life. Some, I find, are more useful than others. For the modern gentleman—for entrepreneurs, businessmen, leaders, and men with ambition, these are skills that are essential.
Every gentleman should know how to...
1) Deliver a Killer Speech
Public speaking is the number one fear in America. While you may not be among those who fear it, it doesn’t mean you have it mastered. Every gentleman should be able to captivate a room, whether it’s in a podium in a convention hall or in the boardroom. You should be able to deliver your words with conviction and clarity—keeping your audience both entertained and engaged. It takes practice, memorization, and a lot of hard work to get good at speech-giving. But, it is well-worth the mastery.
2) Give a Charming Toast
Toasts are the lesser sibling to speeches, but they are far, far more personal. We give them at weddings, retirements, and graduations—and the toast portion of these events can easily be the most excruciating. A true gentleman is a breath of fresh air when he delivers his toast. He is personal, charming, and heartfelt—but brief.
3) Perform Basic First Aid
Gentleman are not all about charm and style. They have substance. That means in times of trouble, they are the first to step up and act. Do you know how to perform basic first aid? Do you know how to handle the situation if someone were to be injured, faint, or have a seizure, and there was no doctor around? Whether it’s handling disinfecting and bandaging minor cuts and burns or being a rock in a serious emergency, the true gentleman has knowledge of basic first aid.
A gentleman admits when he was wrong. He apologizes when he’s hurt someone—and he does it right. Apologizing isn’t being sorry for how someone felt. It’s being sorry for how your actions hurt another person. True apologies are interested in mending a relationship—not in saving face.
5) Repair & Care for Clothing
Everyone should have an inner seamstress. While you need to go to a professional for major alterations, like taking in jackets and trousers, being able to replace your own buttons or mend small tears is something everyone needs to know how to do. And beyond that, just know how to care for your clothing properly! Start separating the darks from the lights. Learn what needs a cold wash and what needs to be dry cleaned. Shine your shoes. Take care of the clothing you’ve invested in!
6) Give the Perfect Elevator Pitch
I tell investors all the time just how important it is to have that elevator pitch down pat when they’re looking for private money lenders. You should be prepared to deliver all of the details and be able to strip down to bare-bones in an effective and appealing elevator pitch. See how short you can get it. Add in what you absolutely need and nothing more—set out the bait and get them asking questions!
7) Wine & Dine
Know how to pick out a good wine. Know how to taste wine. Know what to pair wine with. Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide from Williams Sonoma on varietals, pairing, and tasting. You should also know how to cook the basics—and be able to craft at least one signature meal.
Saying “communicate” is broad. But, it really has to do with listening and seeking to understand other people. It’s doing your best to have good relationships. Communication is more than talking and word choice. It’s body language and tone. It can be what’s unsaid as much as what’s said. It takes hard work to grow into a master communicator.
9) Coordinate a Suit
What’s a gentleman without his suit? We’ve already discussed the importance of a man’s style—but it can’t be overstated. Value your own presentation. It’s not about vanity. It’s about putting effort into your image so that others will take you seriously. Here’s a quick style guide on suits and coordinating: on everything from seasonal colors to pocket squares.
10) Give the Right Gifts
We all have those people in our lives who are “hard to buy for.” But, are you a good gift giver? Sometimes all it takes is paying attention to the people in your life—seeing what they tend to buy for themselves, the comments they make when they shop, the style they have. The best gifts are thoughtful gifts: something that speaks to the person you’re shopping for.
11) Make Time
We are all so busy. We are pressed for time on every side. It goes to work, and more work, and errands, and hobbies, and everything else. But gentleman make time for what—and who—is really important. They recognize where their priorities really lie. And no matter where life takes them, they never forget it.
12) Maintain a Car
Gone are the days where men spend their weekend working on the car. But even if you don’t do the full-service yourself, we should all be able to do basic car maintenance and repair. For one, it saves money if you can change a tire in a pinch and avoid a tow truck or if you can change your own oil. There’s also something heroic about being able to jump off your own car and fix a problem on the roadside.
13) Write Well
The art of the written word is slowly being lost, too. Writing well isn’t just about thank you notes and letters, though those are important. It’s also about crafting a great resume, writing excellent e-mails, and being a great communicator without the advantage of tone, body language, and non-verbals.
There are plenty of skills that we need mastery of to make it as modern gentleman. These are just a handful! What skills would make your list? Let me know in the comments.