Last week I traveled to Chicago for a sales meeting with my Pearson internship. On the last day, there was a presentation about the importance of high school and college students developing soft skills to be competitive in the workforce. Soft skills are the non-technical skills like creativity, problem solving, and communication that are part of being a well-rounded person. As I was thinking about my own life and how I’ve developed soft skills over the past few years, I realized how much Chloe & the Steel Strings has impacted my ability to think creatively, communicate, and be a team player. Here are the soft skills I’ve developed most by being in a band, and ways you can improve these soft skills in your own life.
Music is obviously a creative endeavor, but the management and marketing sides take an equal amount of creative energy. One way that Chloe and I think outside the box is finding new ways to build our audience and network through social media, as well as fundraising for a touring vehicle. In the past 3 months we have raised $5,000 through donations to our Go Fund Me, as well as tip money from shows – and it all started with a creative marketing idea.
Chloe and I began by brainstorming ways to make our marketing campaign stick: we include free merch for donations of $25 or more, and the merch is personalized with a special “van” logo to commemorate our fundraising efforts. We also mail out the merch with hand-written thank you cards and individually wrap the items in tissue paper: yes, presentation matters.
I love this article from Medium on activities to spark creativity. Chloe and I like to go on walks and discuss our current music and marketing initiatives, and we write down new ideas as they come to mind. By keeping a constantly updated record of our creative ideas and goals, we’re more likely to achieve and ultimately surpass those goals.
Last year I decided that we needed a band website. I like my independence, so when it came to choosing a website builder, I chose WordPress over Squarespace because of its vast customization options. But I didn’t realize how much goes into building a website, and having no previous experience in web design, I looked to the internet for tutorials on how to start.
Let me tell you: our first website was a disaster. I recall slaving away at my white 2011 Macbook (that I still use today), trying to figure out some rudimentary coding I found in an online article. However, with time and continued learning I have been able to build our website to its current state, and while it’s not perfect, I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish.
In fact, my months of trial and error came full circle in November when my Pearson colleagues needed help with a WordPress project. I was able to build a few websites for them and they were thrilled. *Pats myself on the back.*
If you’re building your band’s website, check out this article about helpful plugins from SitePoint. I use the GigPress plugin for our tour dates, and it’s been very easy to use.
Playing live music with 4 other people has been my most challenging and rewarding teamwork experience. Whether we’re writing original music or playing covers, there’s a high level of trust that goes into being on stage and playing cohesively. We’ve become pros at nonverbal communication – at our live shows you’ll see us making weird eye contact with each other, like Chloe staring at our electric guitarist, Pete, to signal the start of a guitar solo.
Being a member of the band has also helped me learn that sometimes other people on the team know more than I do. As a person who is usually the leader of groups, it has been challenging for me at times to let others in the band take charge in situations where they have more experience. Allocating tasks is an important part of being a team player, and I’m improving in that area every day.
In a recent study by Google, the most successful employees were those that exhibited soft skills like teamwork, communication, listening ability, and empathy, and not STEM skills (as one might think). This information inspires me, showing that following your natural creative talents and personality traits is the unspoken key to self-actualization, happiness, and contentment in and outside of the workplace.
We use soft skills every day to chase and fund our dreams- how do you use soft skills in your personal, work, or creative endeavors?
We appreciate your support of our music, and would love to connect with you: follow Chloe & the Steel Strings on social media, sign up for our mailing list for show and travel updates, and check out our new single “Wouldn’t Wish on Anyone” on Spotify!