Paul Hawken on Business Tradeskill

Have you heard about “tradeskill”?  Chances are, if you’re not into World of Warcraft (where trade skill has a separate meaning) You have’t run across this term.   And certainly not in business.

We at GoodBusiness think it’s the most important business skill that somehow isn’t being talked about.  Here’s Paul Hawken (author of “Growing a Business”) on tradeskill:

“Tradeskill is really the set of skills that spell the difference between success and failure in a business.  It is the knack of understanding what people want, how much they’ll pay, and how they make their decision.  It is knowing how to read the signals of the marketplace, how to learn from those signals, how to change your mind.  Tradeskill gives you a canniness about how to approach a given product, market, or niche.  (The geniuses of trade skill are the turnaround “artists” who don’t even need to “know the business they are in.  They perform radical, successful surgery on the patient simply by knowing what the disease is.) Tradeskill becomes a sixth sense that gives those who have it the ability to make decisions quickly, cutting through months of meetings, brainstorming, market studies and bureaucratic shuffling.  Tradeskill is knowing how to handle money, how to buy and how to sell.”
If trade skill is so important, why’re aren’t we hearing a lot more about it?  Paul explains:
“Tradeskill cannot be learned from this or any other book.  It is not for sale in the best M.B.A. programs in the country… Tradeskill is what you learn as a kid by running the paper route, working in your uncle’s store, or starting an over-the-counter market in baseball cards.”
At GoodBusiness we spend  a lot of time talking about business tradeskill because we think it’s very, very important.  The best place to start is our article about “What is Business Tradeskill?”




  1. James Ojuok says:

    Trade skill comes out as a talent and I would envy anyone who has it. It is like being a genius at something without having to go for formal training. If we could learn how to develop this sort of skill in us then we would all be successful businessmen and women. Great article.

    • Chris Chadbourne says:

      James, I firmly believe that tradeskill cannot be taught… but it can be learned. In the GoodBusinessU section of our site we have a series of posts about the elements of tradeskill. Perhaps you’ll take on the challenge of learning tradeskill… we can’t teach you, but we’re here to help you learn!

  2. Chris Chadbourne says:

    I can do better than that! Please, go to the GoodBusinessU tab of our site and read the series of articles about business tradeskill. I think you’ll find it easier to understand tradeskill from those articles.

  3. Daniel Varbanov says:

    So, in business terminology tradeskill is a mix of talent and experience if I understood correctly. Because not everyone who has theoretical knowledge succeed in business. I think that talent is a must no matter what we do. Therefore, people must first understand what are their talents, and only then to start working.

    • Chris Chadbourne says:

      Daniel, In my own case I discovered talents I didn’t know I had when I started up. I too would prefer to know my own strengths at the start, but that would mean that I understand the work ahead very well… and that’s not always the case, either. Desperation has a remarkable way of giving me the opportunity to discover how much I can accomplish. But I sure do try not to make a habit of it!

      • Daniel Varbanov says:

        Yes, I am also convinced that depression has both bad and good side. If a person is strong, depression helps somewhat.

  4. Great read. For Allen.. tradeskills just refers to acquired knowledge you would get from any business or profit related situation they have had in there life. It’s like a kid at a lemonade state or trading sports cards on the school yard. The more you learn the more you know going forward. Good read, Chris.

  5. I’m also new to Tradeskill. I would love to learn more about it. I’ll keep an eye out for more reads on the topic.

    • Chris Chadbourne says:

      Allen, take a look at the articles in our GoodBusinessU section. I think you’ll find some useful tradeskill information; we’ve got posts on each of the skills. Let us know what you think!

  6. Tradeskill is a term I had not heard of but you have peaked my interest so will follow up with your article “What is Business Tradeskill.”

    • Chris Chadbourne says:

      Jane, if you take a look at our GoodBusinessU section we offer a lot more about business tradeskill. We’re happy to help.

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