It's not what you KNOW. It's what you can DO! Get some Skills.

After almost 50 years in university education and in business, Coplin, the Skills Professor, brings the 10 Skill Sets to life in the Skills Win! app and the Playbook. Skills are what set people apart in the workplace. Learn from the master - Follow Coplin on Twitter, Subscribe to his blog, or listen to his podcast. If you want to go to the next level, buy the app or the playbook. Get the Skills. Get Game. Win!

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Use the “P” Word to Sell Students on Skills

All high school students, regardless of social class or educational ability, respond to the word “professional.” Their response is usually based on MONEY. They think professional athletes make a lot of money and that doctors, lawyers and engineers do the same. So asking them if they want to be a professional will get a “yes.”

Whenever I ask students “how does someone become a professional,” they answer “dedication and a lot of practice.” They know skills just don’t come naturally but require what any one of their idols, like Michael Jordan, will tell them.

While some post-secondary education is required for many professional careers, students should leave high school with a strong base for developing themselves into professionals regardless of their first jobs. For those who don’t go on to college, their success will depend on their general attitude toward work and essential skills required to earn a living. For those who do go onto college, there is no guarantee that their college education will automatically turn them into professionals.

The term “professional” also clearly implies personal responsibility. People are professionals because they want to be professionals. They strive for excellence whether it is in their part-time jobs at McDonald’s or in their first job in a law firm. Employers will recognize that attitude and reward it.
In short, “being professional” is mastering the ten skill sets. It just sounds a lot more appealing. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Communicating Verbally

Communicating Verbally
By: Bill Coplin


You may not think that communicating verbally is a big deal since you have been doing it your whole life, but it is.  When you were a child if you cried somebody would come to your rescue to try and fix whatever was wrong. Some people still use this model of communication. They rant, whine or even cry and expect the listener to figure out what they are saying.   Some people don’t seem to understand that the people they are talking to are not mind-readers. Successful individuals act on the principle that communicating requires mutual understanding, which comes when you listen first and then talk.


 In a career setting, try NOT to communicate like you do with family members or your friends. Reacting too fast without thinking or too slow by over thinking, can create confusion and give the wrong impression. Think not just about what you say, but how you say it.  Body language is also very important in getting your point across.


When I hire people to work with me, I make sure I can easily communicate with them.  Being smart and talented only go so far, more importantly they need to be able to communicate effectively.  Miscommunication leads to bad decisions and slows down the decision-making process. More importantly, it leads to high blood pressure, which can lead to a variety of negative outcomes.  By paying attention to how you communicate with others in a professional setting and being alert to the possibility of misunderstandings, you are well on your way to improving your communication skills. ​

Career Killers

By Professor Bill Coplin

Other than a person in the military, physical skills is not typically ranked high on people’s list of what is necessary for career success. While skills like your health, how you look, how fast you type and if you can take and read your own handwritten notes may not seem as critical as some of the other 10 Skills Sets in the Skills Win!, they can be career killers. You might get away with poor typing and handwriting, but poor physical condition and looking like you slept in your clothes is detrimental to your career success and easy to improve.

With respect to health, there are some things you are unable to predict or help, but you can take steps that will ensure you go to work alert and ready for the tasks ahead. This means sound patterns of eating, sleeping and exercise. It also means no substance abuse and no more than moderate alcohol use on the weekends.

Your physical appearance is also very important.  One of my alums wore flip-flops on her first day working at the U.S. Department of Treasury. She realized quickly that doing so was inappropriate and did not make the same mistake her second day. While I am on this subject, remove your nose ring and cover up your tattoos, unless successful people in your career field are walking around with them. Females should always have their chests covered and males have their pants pulled up and fly zipped. While you may not think being judged on your appearance is fair, it is people’s first impression of you and it is your responsibility to make it a good one.

You Are What You Do

By Bill Coplin

Your career success will depend on four things: how much you motivate yourself, whether or not you are ethical, how you manage your time, and how you manage your money. That should be pretty obvious to you, but what may not be so obvious is that you must practice these skills. You are what you do, and “ excellence is a habit” as the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said. The key is to recognize that these good behaviors are skills that must be practiced. Skills Win! gives you tips on how to practice these skills and more, anywhere and everywhere.

Athletes motivate themselves in practice because they know the coach will let them play if they do well. Like them, you should set goals that motivate you to do what it takes to play the game, whether it’s in school or at your job or even adding to your network of people who might help you in the future.  Sometimes you may need to reward yourself by hanging out with friends or watching Netflix because you spent a couple of hours on a task that you knew you should do but didn’t want to do.

If you are in college, take 8:30 AM classes so you don’t sleep through the day or get into the very bad habit of doing your work to the wee hours of the morning. Never be late! Most jobs are 8:30-5:00 and the sooner that you set your biological clock to that reality the better. Pay attention to your credit score; your potential employer will.  Do the right thing by telling the truth and do everything that you promise to.

Check out the game changers and video on these skills in Skills Win! A Playbook for Career Success or the Skills Win! app found on

New Year’s Resolution…Learn Excel!


I have written before about the importance of Excel and how it is neglected in many of our high schools and even colleges as a necessary part of the curriculum. My recent experience in front of 800 parents and newly admitted students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University suggests that things are getting worse.  I asked the students to raise their hands if they could use Excel.  Less than 20 percent of the students who were good enough to be admitted to the University raised their hands as their parents watched in horror.

The failure of our schools to prepare students for the real world, where business, government and non-profits rely on spreadsheets, does not seem to be a top reform priority of our politicians and school administrators. But it should be. Students with good Excel skills will get better internships and part-time jobs more quickly, and we all know how important internship and job experience is.

Where does the blame lie?  From reliance on standardized testing, to a curriculum still tied to the Middle Ages, there is plenty of blame to go around. They will eventually learn that “Excel is Life,” but at what cost?

Make it your new year’s resolution to learn Excel, and emphasize it in your class rooms.

Press Release


NEW YORK CITY — On November 7, 2013 Dr. Bill Coplin, the Skills Professor, and Director of the Public Affairs Program at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, hosted a talk on “It’s the Skills, Stupid!” The talk was held in Manhattan, at the historic Syracuse University Lubin House. Dr. Coplin introduced the Skills Win! App and his latest book, Skills Win! A Playbook for Career Success. The talk focused on the skills job seekers need to master, in order to be successful in any career field.

The Skills Win! App and Playbook are based on the idea that all careers require competence in 10 crucial Skill Sets.

The Skills Win! App sums up the secrets of career success, packaged neatly into an app that will help people improve their careers and their lives. The Skills Win!App provides a variety of ways to learn and experience the content through videos, interactive self-assessment tools, descriptions, and game changers and actions to practice.

With individual instruction from Coplin, the Skills Professor, job seekers are able to take a self assessment to get real with what they need to focus on. He’s tough, encouraging, and “in your face” about what you need to do to succeed. It’s like having your own personal trainer in the Skills gymnasium, to bulk up your skills to succeed in your career, regardless of your profession. Another valuable part of the app is the fresh content – audio podcasts, blogs, and live events each month, including social chats with Coplin, where users can join in on the conversation and connect with others who are working the skills.

A companion to the app, the Skills Win!: A Playbook for Career Success is an action-oriented guide that provides instruction on the 10 Skills Sets, and all 38 Skills. There are practical steps to developing a skills improvement program, including game changers, helpful tips, and anecdotes from Coplin’s extensive experience in helping job seekers achieve successful careers.

“It’s not what you know,” says Dr. Coplin, “it’s what you can do. Get skills and get the career you’ve always wanted.”

For images from the event, please visit the Skills Win Facebook page.

For Press inquiry contact
Sogna Press
Contact: Sebastian Blanco
About Dr. Bill Coplin
Recipient of the L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Coplin has taught over 11,500 students during his tenure the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, as well as been a pioneer in education reform in New York State, and at National levels. With 50 years of experiences, Dr. Coplin has written articles for USA Today, for the educational websites of Newsweek Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, along with authoring over 100 books and articles. Dr. Coplin has written widely, about citizenship, “doing good,” public policy, political risk analysis, social science education, and international relations.
Follow Dr. Coplin, the Skills Professor on Twitter @ProfCoplin and get plugged in at