20 Future Skills and My Selection of Expert Advice

Future Skill

[UPDATED: 1/12/2019 – See bottom – 3 more guests]

I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk to many interesting people.

In a recent Q&A, a listener asked me & Mikael what we had learned from our podcasts, and how making them had impacted our lives.

For me, the most important thing has been (and remains) meeting and talking to interesting individuals; learning from masters.

Learning partly from osmosis, partly from research. But mostly from reading between the lines and reflecting on my own.

This article sums up the best advice from Future Skills Podcast yet.

In case you didn’t know —

On Future Skills, me and Mikael Syding talk about the skills and ideas that will become more useful in the future. We also do deep-dives on different areas with interesting and knowledgeable guests.

What follows is a summary collection of advice and Future Skills. Before we hear it from the guests, here are the Future Skills I predict will become more valuable.

Future Skill 1: Metacognition and higher self-awareness (understanding how you think about things and changing your mindset more often).

Future Skill 2: The ability to transfer ideas across industries. Seeing a concept become popular in one industry and being able to replicate it.

Future Skill 3: (related to above): Synthesis; broad, intuitive understanding of multiple fields and how they converge. This generally requires industry experience. Synthesis is conducive to the “bundling and unbundling” of industries; how they are either being broken up into pieces for specialization, or put back together for synergy effects. A similar process goes on with scientific disciplines and ideas.

Future Skill 4: Learning how to learn new things fast and make sense of complex concepts. This does not come about by itself. It requires effort. The best way to begin is by: creating a framework of learning, maximizing associative learning 1) and to create a commonplace.

Future Skill 5: Having a good B.S detector. This requires erudition and/or experience. The amount of trickery, schtickery and humbug now increases so fast you can become a cynic in less than a month. This trend is reinforced by population growth and an easier world. It’s a numbers game – and the odds are in favor of more Homeostasis Dwellers. As P.T Barnum said, “there’s a sucker born every day”. The incentives to trick you will go up.

I think these future skills will become more important over time.

Let’s check back in 4 years. [Set Reminder.]

Now, on to the combined wisdom of our guests….

Note: all the links of guests’ names go to their written summaries.

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Martin Sandquist: Finance Billionaire 

On Blockchain & Crypto:

I’m skeptical against cryptocurrencies but nuanced my view on blockchain technology. I think blockchain can be disruptive in many ways, but I don’t think that the cryptocurrencies or bitcoin are going to be a viable application. I see blockchain as an Internet 2.0. I mean, we had internet that was a decentralized way of sharing information and I think blockchain is the decentralized way of keeping track of ownership. That’s a really good thing.

They say you only have 21 million bitcoins, but you can fork them infinite amount of times and you can create as many Altcoins as you want. So: you don’t really have scarcity and you also don’t have any intrinsic value in a bitcoin.

I think blockchain is going to persist and be a really interesting technology, but I don’t think it’s going to work by using tokens and miners we have today. I don’t know if you’ve read about the Hashgraph. It’s a new technology where you don’t even need miners, you don’t need tokens, you still have this blockchain network.

If you can relate, it’s going to be the way we pay for Internet. Today, we pay for Internet through ISPs, internet service providers. You pay a small fee and you get access to the Internet. It’s going to be the same way with blockchain. If you want to use an application for blockchain, you’re going to pay a small fee. Maybe you’ll have miners compete for that fee in a pool or someway, but there’s not going to be need for a very expensive token the way it is today.

Future Skills:

Become an infinite learner and have a combination of people who all do what they are best at. In Martin’s case, the founders of the hedge fund Lynx all had different strengths:

  • Creative guy: Martin
  • Leader & manager: Svante
  • Quant guy: Jonas

Finance advice: Gaining an edge is all about finding where you have a talent and a fascination, and doubling down on that. Unlike many in the financial industry, Martin is not a numbers guy. But he learned early he was visually oriented and good with ideas. He took to charts, technical analysis, and understanding trends with the greatest of ease.

Ludvig: This is really interesting–to become specialized. You said you were more visually oriented and this is something that you understood. Did you understand this at an early age or-?

Martin: Yes, I think so. Like I said, when I was 15, I started reading fundamental analysis and company reports and I just couldn’t really get my head around it. It wasn’t something that clicked in me so it took some while. Then, I found technical analysis when I was 16….. I started reading about it and I just became fascinated with the patterns and everything.

For more, subscribe to the Future Skills newsletter and get an eBook with Martin’s best lessons (from career to finance to book recommendations.)

Ola Ahlvarsson: Entrepreneur and Martial Arts Champion

Future Skill:

The new style of management is “like a Jam Session.”

Get others to care about the work, rather than forcing it down their throat. This notion was reinforced by Walter Kiechel. 2

Another important skill is to see the world through multiple lenses. This is good for many reasons (brain, empathy, marketing). Here’s a funny example:

What does the world look like through this lens? For instance, if I’m just looking at which networks are evolving around certain things, what can I learn from that and how can I build businesses based on that understanding? It could also be a political lens. For instance if I look at the world with the lens of a militant feminist how do I look on a James Bond movie? How do I look upon the fact that very few women have boats and very many men have boats? I think it’s 99-1, is that fair? Guys pay for all the boats. Is that fair or not fair? I take on a lens….. then another one…. but for a lot of people that is the truth, they have a one-dimensional view on the world.

Alexander Bard: Philosopher, author and TV-personality

Future Skill(s):

1) Omni-angulate:

There’s more information than ever, more crap & junk than ever. But we also have better methods for differentiating between crap and quality. If you read all the perspectives, you get all the different views on what’s going on in the world, and you’re gonna be wise.

Question here is: Can you? Do you have the right ideas in your head to see the patterns? Is your B.S detector strong enough? It’s one of those “theory vs practice” cases. Easy for some people, but not for all.

Then once you have the info, you need to think about the implications. Most people are too mentally lazy to consider higher order consequences.

2) Discipline.

(“Fat people are like children.”)  and  (“Social Justice Warriors are infantilized.”)

Alexander Bard: You get an infantilized human being. And this is the tragedy of our times. This has happened on a massive scale…. They stop trying. They stop making an effort, because they get the same reaction to everything they do all the time. Well, that’s exactly what an obese infantilized person does all the time. It’s just like, “Okay, so I won’t make an effort. We should be given everything we want at any given time, like a tit! without making an effort”. And the nanny state fosters people to think that way on a massive scale, and consumer societies also foster people to think that way on a massive scale. So this instant gratification, anything you want, constantly without any effort…. What’s detached from that is the idea that you do get a reward for something you do, because you made an effort, and you happen to have a talent for it!

Ludvig: Right. But then they go to social media or the internet, and they maybe haven’t developed their talent, and then they get beat on. And then they feel really angry and victimized.

Alexander Bard: And then they start new groups of people who’re victimized together. It’s like a race towards the bottom. This is what’s happening on a massive scale in society. Infantilization spreads. And it’s then rewarded. It creates a certain laziness and ignorance that then gets rewarded again.

Ludvig: You’re really describing how it comes to be. But then it becomes a self-sustaining feedback loop in the body.

Alexander Bard: Yes.

Ludvig: It becomes part of their homeostasis.

Alexander Bard: Exactly. This is my point.

Ludvig: It becomes their physiology.

Alexander Bard: You can literally look at a person’s physiology today and tell whether they’re infantile or whether they’re grownups. That’s scary, but that’s the truth.

3) Acknowledge Tribal Archetypes in Team Formation:

Alexander Bard: I would say that a really good team, is a team where everybody’s aware of their own weaknesses but admires somebody else in the team for having a strength in that department. Meaning that, “Oh, you’re good at that. I throw it on your table, so you can pass things onto me that I’m good at.” That’s what really good teamwork is.

if you have a hunting team, the best hunter in general, is often the leader of the team. But the priest in the hunting team, or the coach who’s assisting, is usually somebody who knows what the other guys are good at, and is not really good at anything else except seeing collaboration for what it is.

Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg: Neuroscientist and Clinician with 50+ years experience

Brain maturation occurs along several parallel themes. The human brain is not fully myelinated until the mid 20s, or early 30s. Then the brain begins to demyelinate in the mid 50s….. With age, we become increasingly established with strategies and patterns.

The rate of innovation in science and business is speeding up.

Specialization–as defined by university education–is becoming a more risky (and important) decision. Those who hit it right, and enter a new industry, have more to gain. And vice versa.

Future Skill(s): Technological know-how, programming languages and software skills. Future generations will be increasingly dependent on these things. Computers will be all over our society.

(I would add to this: Basic online knowledge. Like setting up a website (buy a domain, set up WordPress, and an email list) and knowing the standard interfaces.)

Prof. Barry Schwartz: Author and Psychologist, whose TED Talks have been viewed 20M+ times

We’ve developed all these time saving devices but people are busier than ever. It can take months to arrange something as simple as a dinner for 3 couples because people are so busy today. People are busy doing a lot of things they shouldn’t be doing because they don’t know what they should focus on.

Future Skill(s):

Soft skills, values, and character traits such as: discipline, patience, and politeness–that are hard for a company to train (with lists or systems).

Future jobs: We have an increasing need for skilled nurses because a bigger percentage of the population is becoming old.

Decision-making: The more choices we have, the better we need to become at prioritizing to compensate. (See Paradox of Choice.)

I’d add that Prefrontal cortex activation is key. Habituated people don’t make a lot of decisions. The best way I’ve found of dealing with this is the 4 Pillars of Wakefulness (novelty, variation, randomness, goal-orientation). Read my book Breaking out of Homeostasis for a more wakeful life.

Casey Gauss: Founder of SAAS-Company Viral Launch

An entrepreneur wades through uncertainty and solves problems.

Future Skill(s): Problem-solving, bearing risk, and management. You don’t learn these things in school, but it’s what characterizes a good entrepreneur.

Also, programming: It helps you think of multiple options and anticipate every scenario. This has transferred into Casey’s business thinking.

  • For product launches/software tools, put them out at “good enough” rather than “perfect” because the opportunity cost of perfecting is high.
  • To grow quickly you have to make sacrifices in other areas.
  • Focus on the aggregate. If you can solve 80% of customer’s problems fast and then take care of another 18% within 2 weeks then that’s OK.

Annie Duke: Poker Pro

Future Skill: Making intelligent bets. Playing games (like poker) can improve your decision-making in other areas of life:

Ludvig How is poker like the market?

Annie: You’re trading against other people now, aren’t you? It’s all sorts of different ways. The people you’re playing against will create your market conditions because you can be at a table where the people are more bearish or where they’re more bullish, more aggressive or less aggressive. You have to think about their range, what everybody’s risk tolerance is. You’re always thinking about return on investment, both in a hand and in a game. The kinds of decisions that you make in a particular pot will affect the way that people perceive you and the kinds of investments you can make in the future.

Making bets applies to all areas of life; it’s the ultimate transferable skill. Everything you do is a matter of choosing this or that. It’s about risk-management. It’s about decision-making. In the long run, we are the sum of our decisions. Kill this person and you go to jail. Eat that Cheese-Burgah and you get fat. Those are easy choices.

Career choices and investments are tougher to make.

Another lesson from Annie is that pattern recognition and intuition are important in poker. When can you trust your gut feeling? How much? In general or specific? I wrote about this in detail before.

Walter Kiechel: Author of Lords of Strategy, Former Managing Editor of Fortune Magazine & Director of Harvard Business Review

When Walter started his career he prioritized long-term learning over making fast money. He had offers from management consulting firms, but instead chose a job for Fortune Magazine at half the salary. That was hard at first, but paid off in the long run.

I paid my $50 dollars to get on the Eastern Airlines shuttle to get from Boston to New York. I went down there and he set me up with two people from the company. One was the Editor in Chief, a man named Hedley Donovan, who was Henry Luce’s successor and the other person was the #2 editor, a man named Ralph Graves.

They talked to me and said: “Well, you don’t have any journalistic experience.” I’d never written for the college newspaper or high-school newspaper. “And you don’t really have any business experience….. but we’ll offer you a job.” and so they did. All my business school friends said: “Wait, that’s a terrible idea! How is this going to look on your resume? You can go to work for this consulting firm that’s very prestigious.” But, to me, the offer as a Researcher/Reporter at Time Magazine seemed much more entertaining, thrilling, adventurous. So I took it. Then I had an incredible happy 17 years there.

Life Skills

  • Tell a joke.
  • Deliver a presentation.
  • Have an argument without getting emotional or taking it personal. Find common ground.

Managerial skills:

  • Face-to-face communication is important.
  • As managing editor: don’t attack people’s work or put in your own words, use the Socratic Method.
  • When you are criticized, ask: “Can you give me a better idea then?”

Erik Townsend: Software Entrepreneur, Hedge Fund Manager, Host of Macrovoices

I think it’s important to understand, even though things seem politically unfair in the world, everybody goes through this in their life. Everybody has to live through a period of the world being a really screwed up place. It’s a question what age you go through it at…. Don’t let yourself get down because the world is screwed up. It is really screwed up, but it happens in cycles around every 80 years. It’s gonna get better.”

Future advice:

  • Don’t take middle-man jobs, they’ll be replaced.
  • Investing advice: Don’t emulate Warren Buffett, but do find an area too sophisticated for the average investor. The easiest way to gain an edge is usually within your industry or a hobby-area, because you’re likely to know more than others there.
  • School is currently overpriced and does a poor job preparing you for the future (does not provide the skills to become an independent thinker or entrepreneur). You need to become good at learning and disciplined to study on your own to keep up, not to mention be ahead of the curve.

Mattias Ribbing: Grandmaster of Memory

Fundamentals for improving learning:

  • If you can’t see connections to something you already know, take a step back and stop grinding through information you aren’t ready to learn yet.
  • Instead, read a lot of simple summaries from that area so you have concepts, events, objects and names to connect the more in-depth information to.
  • You don’t want to attempt learning in-depth information about an area you have no basic knowledge in because you will just end up temporarily memorizing that in-depth information then later forget it.
  • You need to have simple references to things you are learning, otherwise it won’t make sense or stick.
  • Here’s an example using the study of history: Read summaries about 2 great men from each era then connect everything to those men. This will improve association and recall.

General skill: Learning to think in pictures and visualize better, to improve memory and retention.

  • There are 5 different senses (vision, smell, touch, hearing, taste) involved in learning information and the most efficient by far is visualization.
  • You want to visualize things in 3 dimensions: Large, in color and in detail
  • Just visualizing for a 1 second fragment is enough.
  • Thinking in images is like giving your brain folders on a computer. (It’s a navigation system).

Tyler Cowen: Economist, Author, Blog at Marginal Revolutions

You can always cite a particular skill that is important right now and that may be true, but software changes, hardware changes, just businesses change. Twenty years from now, you need to have learned something else some other way. Retraining yourself is actually not very easy. Most people can’t do it.

3 Practical tips by Tyler: You should re-read the best books; you should have hobbies that make you think more, and you should argue for what you think is correct, but also understand it’s likely that you’re wrong.

3 things scarce in today’s economy: Quality land, intellectual property, and specialized skill sets.

Future Skill: Your profession/skill set must benefit synergistically from advances in computing power and Internet technology. The key question is: “Are computers and the internet augmenting your productivity, or are you competing against computers? Look at this chart:

[Pictured: Average number of transistors in a CPU vs Employee productivity]

[Note: Employee productivity is the dotted line on the bottom.]

I want to highlight two things:

1) Notice how average employee productivity has only gone up from roughly $10 to $20 per hour. And that’s over almost 40 years!

2) Reflect on the fact that Silicon Valley IT entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists, and their counterparts from other parts of the world (Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos, Daniel Ek) have been responsible for an exorbitant amount of wealth-creation in the last 25 years.

Seth Godin: Marketing Expert, Entrepreneur, Author

Seth advises those who want to pursue an entrepreneurial path to start their own projects:

Find a project, then find another project, and then find another project. Find it in your spare time if you need to, but find a project. Because once you gain the confidence and the skill to be in the project world, you have freedom. And you’re going to need that freedom, because the system’s going to let you down. The system is going to treat you like a cog. It’s going to undermine you and disrespect you. It might not do that today, but it’s going to do it soon. And the best way to avoid that is to know how to make independent projects.

Two big economic ideas:

1) Ted Levitt’s Marketing Myopia

Industries become rebundled about every generation or so. When this happens, most companies must re-define what they do. The question they must ask themselves is: “What business are we in?”

2) Ronald Coase’s Nature of the Firm

Firms come together because of the force of specialization. It’s more effective to have a divided work distribution–with firms trading with each other–than have one firm doing 100 things all by itself. As the value chain shifts and becomes rebundled, new types of firms get created, and new constellations of firms form.  This formation has much to do with the optimum size of a firm. And that has fluctuated historically.

General advice: Master at least one medium. Seth thinks everyone should try writing a blog. Even if it’s anonymous.

Future Skill: Marketing. The ability to spread your message to those who need it or get your product in front of your dream customer. As production costs go down, a premium is placed upon marketing.



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  1. Should I write a separate post on this? A big part of it is to study history. A great resource is Richard Hamming’s speech “You and Your Research”

  2. He said: “For strategy to evolve, it has to face its Jungian Shadow. That means going from numbers-based to psychology & humanitarian-based; enlisting the willing cooperation of people in a corporation. People need to feel they are part of making the strategy.] 


  1. Thank you for the very informative post, Ludvig.

    This is something I’ve been looking for as I determine the most “optimal” (a better word would be suitable) career to pursue.

  2. I love your podcast!
    It’s very easy to listen to. I like that your episodes are not 3 hours long with bros talking about conspiracies and B.S
    Keep It up

  3. Thanks for this.

    In regards to guests and topics I don’t know, but I liked the interviews with Martin Sandquist, Erik Townsend and Alexander Bard. So maybe bring more of these big picture thinkers and try to interrogate them on social trends and their takes on popular theories or books being talked about.

  4. Here’s an invaluable Future Skill: Not Caring What Other People Think.

    This is harder than it might seem; human beings are a social species with a strong instinct to go along with the tribe and seek its approval*. But if you care what other people think, you will be continuously misled by their errors. You can be manipulated by flattery, criticism, and more subtle methods (like the Ben Franklin effect). You will be a sheeple – predictable, exploitable, and usually wrong.

    *This is why political factions always publish surveys proving that their opinions are shared by the majority. Many people will support an opinion for no other reason than that they believe other people do (even though none of them really believe it). Ten girls will chase one guy because each of them believes that nine other girls think the guy is a prize.

  5. Lots of great advice here. Especially good with the clear-up on crypto vs blockchain. That always confused me.

    I look forward to your print book as I dont like Kindle. I will look out for it. Take your time.

    • Every author is probably different, but for me, the idea-part is not hard. It’s the overcoming of curse of knowledge, and putting the information in a coherent manner.

      • Try using the Feynman technique and talk about your ideas to strangers in a bar.

      • As far as I am concerned you should also take your time. Nothing good comes from hurrying. The first version you out was incredible like multiple books in one, I think you are making the right call to put more stuff in it. At least it will save me time lol.

        Good info in this article btw, thanks for sharing with those of us who don’t listen to the podcast. Maybe share the Transcripts? I see many other podcasters do that.

    • I second this. The Kindle version you already out out is very good, perhaps the best book I ever read. It has really changed my life philosophy. Why not just release it on print too.

      Either way, I look forward to the Updated version regardless when you finish it. Have a good weekend.

  6. Hi Ludvig –

    This is a really good overview and repetition since I listened to the episodes when they came. But I think there is something about first listening and then reading.

    Two guests you could have on the show are Jaron Lanier (early on the Internet) and Scott Adams the cartoonist hypnotiser.

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