When Red first heard the phrase "soft skills" she didn't know what it meant. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, communications, and conflict management (vs."hard skills" which refer to tangible and technical skills). Black then mentioned that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) often refers to them as "21st Century Skills" – sarcastically adding how she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

The soft skill topics list below are important for students ranging from middle school to adult education, as well as all employees. That's why we included them in ALL of our Career and Technical Education curricula. What's more, unlike more traditional curricula, they've been developed to allow students to see the relevancy of each topic and how these skills are transferable – between their personal lives and the workforce, and from industry-to-industry.

But don't believe us, check out a few samples! We've linked the high school versions of Money & Math, Motivational Interviewing (Red's favorite because of the worksheet), and Teamwork and hope they'll give you a better feel for our approach.

  1. Introduction Of Red & Black … And Life's Detours
  2. Appearances
  3. Career Opportunities
  4. Communications
  5. Conflict Management
  6. Constructive Feedback
  7. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  8. Diversity
  9. Education
  10. Employability Skills
  11. Intellectual Property
  12. Interpersonal Studies
  13. Leadership
  14. Money & Math
  15. Motivational Interviewing
  16. Negotiating
  17. Policies & Procedures
  18. Project Management
  19. Relationships
  20. Resume & Professional Portfolio
  21. Rights Of Employees & Responsibilities Of Employers
  22. Safety
  23. Teamwork
  24. Technology
  25. Values & Priorities
  26. Vocabulary

Yes, I know the inauguration was last week, and I'm sure Black wants to tell me, "Get over it!" but I'm still thinking (and reading articles) about Amanda Gorman, the amazing 22-year-old who was not only the youngest inaugural poet ever, but also the nation's first National Youth Poet Laureate. Her poem, "The Hill We Climb", was incredible and her delivery mesmerizing as she brought her words to life. But as impressive as that was, what I found most incredible was what I learned later that night when she was interviewed with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

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Everything with us is a story. Several years ago, we were working with a branding company, and one of the team imagined us as cartoon characters. (Thank you, Puneet!) People told us they loved our sisterly banter, so we started doing a single-frame cartoon to introduce our monthly columns. Then we used them on slides at speaking engagements (Black's corporate background taught her how BORING PowerPoint presentations can be, so she refused to have slides filled with words) and people suggested we syndicate them. (Black, of course, then researched syndication.) And, we even used them at a pitch meeting with Hasbro. When we started working with an animation company, and saw their version of our "creatures" we decided they needed to be front and center.

So, just about the time we began developing this website, Black suggested to Red we start a daily "Banter Bite" that we could publish on our Twitter and Facebook pages. It could be about something happening in our lives, current events, some obscure fact/study she happened across, the list goes on and on ... Red's reply? (Keep in mind, she's the self-proclaimed queen of blah-blah-blah.) "I'm not sure we'll have enough material to be able to post every day."

The reality? In the beginning, Black humored Red and we didn't do them every day. But Black kept churning them out based on their conversations – and soon there was a large backlog. We decided to publish them six days a week (we believe Sundays shouldn't be spent on gizmos, although that doesn't stop Black from working).

The feedback? Almost instantly, people told us our Banter Bites are fun and quick to read. But also relevant to their day-to-day lives – and not just on the day they're published.

In other words, they don't have an expiration date! And although they may be considered "old" in today's world of social media and "instant news" (even something from earlier in the day can be considered old or outdated), every month we list our "favorites" of the month.

Find one (or more) you like? Consider sharing it …

A modest man with a humble beginning who was as comfortable talking with presidents and kings, rock stars and politicians, as he was with total unknowns. A truly amazing talent with an equally amazing career.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We're not sure that there's anything more we can say about Larry King that hasn't been said, and by sources that are far more qualified than we are. (Although Black once had the honor of talking with him on the telephone.) From the CNN tribute to the icon who taped more than 6,000 episodes of his show on their network, to AP News covering his life as well as tributes from around the world. There are countless tributes and articles being written about this truly one-of-a-kind broadcast interviewer. But was he really an interviewer? Well, technically, yes. But we feel that he was really more of a broadcast conversationalist. We dare you to watch any Larry King show (here's a Vanity Fair tribute listing some of his most memorable) and not feel like you're eavesdropping on a conversation.