MythBuster: 10 Things That Require Zero Talent

I’ve come across this meme or photo so often on social media that today I took pause. I read this and it sounds good; is it really true? Why do I see so many people struggle to achieve some of the 10 points that the talent-less should be able to master? Do you have all these traits or do each of your employees act with these un-talents on a consistent basis?

No, hell no.

Do you celebrate those who do these things for you consistently or are you blinded by the meme and believe the employee is average and not demonstrating talent?


I looked at the list of 10 Things that Require Zero Talent and I realized that I had to work at some of these things. Not all of these things requiring no talent were natural for me. I’ve earned some battle scars in my career where I didn’t have the talent or experience to do some of the 10 things.

Very few average people do each of these things on a regular basis.

What I do believe when I read this list of 10 things is they are habits that we can master over time that will make anyone stand out. Each of these 10 actions has a meaningful impact in life. Very few average people do each of these things on a regular basis.

Being On Time

Absenteeism and tardiness are most employers number one issue in the service industry. We have unpredictable commutes to navigate. I am notoriously optimistic about my ability to move from one place to another. This often causes me to be on time (or gasp, late) and without the proper 5-10 minutes of prep and acclimation. Too many times to count I’ve let my one on one meetings run over because I was in a good conversation. I didn’t respect my employee’s time or the next person I was scheduled to meet with.

Time is valuable to you and your customer. Instill the value of time in your team. Help them see the impact they have on the business or in their job when things are done on time. Appreciate their dependability and don’t take it for granted. Your team needs to own their time and that means planning ahead for the unexpected and staying as healthy as possible. These traits things take commitment and practice. To secure the commitment make sure you appreciate the good behavior.

Work Ethic

Work Ethic means a high level of work done with integrity. The truth is ethics are a set of moral principals in their life and we don’t all have equal ethics. If we did I would not be writing this. A good work ethic can mean personal integrity, honesty, responsibility, commitment to quality, self-discipline and teamwork. Personal integrity is personal and it roots in how we were raised by our parents and the influence of our teachers. Work Ethic as a zero talent is a complete myth.

Work ethic standards need to be set by a leader. The importance and impact need to be stated, restated and practiced. When work ethic doesn’t meet the standard then a leader needs to set it right. I’ve found in interviews with key employees that they detest their peers not living up to their performance, and at the core they want their boss to address the issue. Work ethic requires a personal principle that is made common across the company for success. That takes hiring for that ethic, living that ethic and not tolerating less.


I put forth the effort to exercise. I give my 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a week. Some days 3 mph on the treadmill is my effort, other days I’ll ride my bike 15 miles in an hour. The biking days take a lot more effort but even the treadmill takes effort to get started. So what does this zero talent of effort mean? Effort is so often a perception. That is the problem, we measure effort with our own mirror or filter. If it’s easy for me then why can’t Bob get it done?

Effort is exertion. You have to exert yourself at something to get a result. So if that’s the case why do we read and hear about so many who don’t do what they could do because “it’s not my job” or “I’m not paid to do that”? Effort is about learning, stretching, being vulnerable and trying.  Consistent effort is a discipline and a mindset that takes talent and drive. Is is not a zero talent.

Body Language

I’ve been a yes man, have you? I’ve sat in meetings when I didn’t agree, maybe my arms were folded, and I said yes when asked for my buy in. My body language showed my true frustration but my mouth was giving lip service. I wasn’t engaged and ready to be real about what I knew or had to offer. Yes-men kill motivation and team work.

I saw body language failure in my call center with how my agents sat at their desks. They would be having important conversations on the phone in a slouched and casual manner. Whatever they were saying could have been better if they would have imagined themselves sitting across from the customer and if they visualized looking directly at the customer. The vibe of sincerity comes from when the tone and words match the body language. You can see it and you can see that through the phone. It takes a conscience effort and awareness to master this talent of sincere body language.


If I ran a restaurant I would have people walk for me as a part of the interview. There is an art to walking with energy or purpose. Walking with purpose is fluid, it is direct, it is quicker than a stroll, it keeps your eyes focused on the end and people get out of your way. Next time you go into a restaurant, observe the team working. A person with low energy will walk without purpose. I hope you don’t get that server.

Energy isn’t about being a collegiate cheerleader every day. Energy is about the positive vibe and tone you give off in a serious one on one conversation or in a group presentation. Those types of energy have different outward levels but they are both positive and successful. The emotional intelligence involved is owning your energy. I’m certain you realize when someone has that special talent and when it is absent.


Is your glass half full or half empty? The answer could reveal your attitude. Attitude is ownable. Each of us decides how to respond to a situation. No one can make us mad; we decide the action we take to an event. Someone who owns their attitude is not a victim of their circumstance but rather they are the master of their destiny.

If you are going to master your destiny then you have a talent that you’ve developed over time. You create a habit to find solutions, to own your responses and on your outlook. Every blamer or every ranting response is from someone who hasn’t mastered this talent of owning their attitude.


Passion is your reason. If your reason doesn’t match your work, quit.

Passion gets you up in the mornings. It makes the difficult things like a puzzle rather than a chore. With passion you have an attitude of “I can”. The talent of passion is believing the importance and not abandoning it. If you are working without passion it will compromise your attitude, your energy, and your body language. You will be miserable over time. A person with passion will have the talent to work that into their job.

Be Coachable

Being coachable requires incredible self-awareness and confidence; it also takes a bit of humility. If you need all these traits to be coachable it seems like a talent to master.

My best call center agents had the courage to listen to their own calls. They would take feedback about their tone or wording. They were open to the feedback because they wanted to be better, because they realized they could learn something from someone else and because they didn’t feel threatened.  For leaders, the talent may come from holding onto being coachable even when they are expected to have all the answers.

Doing Extra

I love the quote from Lucille Ball about giving the busiest person more to do. The more you do the more opportunity you’ll have. You’ll learn more from doing extra. You’ll become the go-to person when you show you can handle a little extra work.

If you want something done as a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do. — Lucille Ball

Doing Extra is the sum of Passion + Attitude + Energy. Not everyone has the talent to do that math. When you hear someone say “that’s not my job”, they’ve failed this problem. If you master doing extra then you may find yourself getting promoted.

Being Prepared

Being prepared has a lot to do with doing extra. A prepared person isn’t lazy. A prepared person rehearses. You recognize the prepared person in life. They have the jumper cables in the trunk, just in case. A prepared person’s house is clean ready to accept spontaneous guest. A prepared person reads for fun and learns new things.

Being prepared means you’ve got your stuff so organized another can pick up where you left off. That that end, a prepared person is ready for a promotion. A prepared person has respect for others time. If everyone was prepared, no one would be left waiting.


It is a myth that these 10 traits require zero talent. These ten traits require an incredible about of discipline, practice, and focus. If you are doing any of these then, bravo; you have talent. If you are not, then chose to practice and master the trait, you have the ability in you.

These 10 traits do not require a college degree to master. While these 10 traits may not be your natural ability you can learn to master them. If you have an employee with all of these traits, appreciate them. Celebrate if you are demonstrating these talents on a consistent basis because not everyone does. Don’t take for granted the ability you have.