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Review of Real Skills Conference & Thoughts on developing Soft Skills

I’m noticing a new trend in the technology industry – people are starting to talk more about people or soft skills. I also really like the reframing to call them professional skills.

Akimbo Workshop called them Real Skills.

The format of the event is a 2-hour Zoom meeting with over 100 participants. The real action happens in small breakout rooms (4 to 5 people), where you get to reflect on different prompts. After each breakout room, there is an opportunity for a few attendees to share their highlights with the broader group.

Overall I really liked the energy that all the participants brought to the event. It felt very much like meeting with my tribe. Everyone was focused on doing more good work and connecting better with the world around them.

The ask from the organizers is to respect the privacy of what was said in the workshop and instead share our own learnings.

Lessons from this kind of online workshop

At this level of expertise, there’s very little you need to teach. The new skill is to show that you’re not alone with your struggles and that group provides support to overcome our insecurities.

I like the online better than in person for such an event. It makes the event much more accessible, and I’m seeing that my struggles are similar to what peers around the world are going through.

It’s much easier for me to make good digital notes during the event as I can just type and still look into the camera.

Lessons about real skills

I’m noticing how much of our actions are limited by our beliefs about ourselves. The trick seems to make deliberate changes to our activities. By practicing these new patterns, we can then rewire neural pathways.

The issue with changing our approach to how we handle things is that it’s risky. It seems that the people that make the most progress are the ones that don’t mind if they fail in the process. How you dance with uncertainty is up to every creative individual. The best book on this topic for me was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The most interesting new reflection questions for me were why do you want to work with some people? and why do others want to work with you?. The more I contemplate on them, the more it forces me to consider my interactions. To me, it feels like there is an opportunity to learn a whole new vocabulary.


I left the event feeling that the world is currently hungry for encouragement and permission to do better. This is an addition to a general thirst for empathy and understanding.

We can do better and evolve new ways of relating that will support the emergence of a different way of connecting and being. I’m staying optimistic about what the future brings.