There is no turning back. It’s fall. The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and school is back in session. As we get settled into our schedules and look ahead, it is time to consider how we can head “back to school” ourselves.

Not one of us is perfect. There are skills (sometimes very important skills) that we have not had the opportunity to develop appropriately. It’s time to ask  ourselves what we need to refresher course on.

Here are a few basic skills every modern man should master, no matter his background, personality or attitude. Some seem obvious, but all are talents that many men admit to lacking. How many have you mastered? Which ones do you need to work on this fall? (And keep following the posts at Mancertified as we explore many of these skills in the future.)


  1. Tie a bow tie 

Everyone can see a pre-tied bow tie from a mile away. Tying a bow is not the easiest skill to master, but the best way to learn is by plunging right in. Watch a few online videos, get in front of a mirror and give it a try. Make mistakes and allow yourself the time to get a little frustrated. Ask a skilled friend for help. Once you have it down, you will be everyone’s favorite person at any formal event, and probably the most dapper one as well.


  1. Carve a turkey 

Be that guy that steps up and carves the bird this holiday.  Consult a few cookbooks, cook a turkey yourself and take your time.  The blessing is that an improperly carved bird will still be delicious, but if you carve it correctly, you will only make a special dinner even more memorable.


  1. Change a diaper 

A somewhat debatable skill for the gentlemen set, changing a diaper is important for anyone with young family members. It might not be the most appealing skill to develop, but it will be greatly appreciated (and cherished) by the parents that you can assist. If you have a young one yourself, it’s time to step up.


  1. Make a Martini/Manhattan 

Whether hosting a group of 100 or 1, having the ability to make a decent cocktail is key. Start with a simple Martini or Manhattan. Both have four simple ingredients and they are hard to mess up. Next step: If you can find ways to put a personal stamp on your cocktails your friends will be clamoring to be invited to your next party.


  1. Run a mile 

Physical fitness is key, and a good mile run should be reasonably simple for anyone in decent shape. No matter your age, a little cardio can only help you live longer and more enjoyably. Remember to take care of your knees and hips, but embrace the runs. Try getting off the treadmill and heading outside, if and when you can.


  1. Light a grill

Charcoal, lighter fluid and fire can be dangerous. Don’t be the guy who burns off his eyebrows or knuckle hair improperly lighting a grill. Be safe and learn the proper technique.


  1. Iron a shirt and a pair of pants 

A seemingly simple skill most of us should have learned when we were young, many men do not know how to effectively iron their shirts and slacks. If you think you can get away with wearing that wrinkled article of clothing, the answer is usually a resounding no.


  1. Fix a door knob 

Simple home improvement skills will make daily life much more navigable. (And it’s a great way to show off and assist people in need of those skills.) Start simple. Learn how to replace or fix a broken door knob, and graduate to replacing faulty toilet handles.


  1. Understand savings and investments 

There are scores of people out there telling you what to do with your money. Beat them to the punch by developing your own savings plan. Research your investments and get to know the general nuts and bolts of the stock market. Empower yourself and your money


  1. Make a decent breakfast

Breakfast is not just the most important meal of the day, it is also the meal you hope to be cooking for the right overnight guest. Impress her by having a favorite breakfast recipe (or two) in your back pocket.


  1. Volunteering time for charity

Donating money to charity is a wonderful thing, however, actually volunteering time is an entirely different experience. It can be transformative and highly rewarding. Find an organization you care deeply about. Be proactive and help yourself by helping others.


  1. Change a tire 

If you knew how to change that tire, you could be home in bed by the time AAA is dispatched and arrives. Changing a tire is a simple process, and it is a skill that will only help you during a frustrating moment on the road.


  1. Open wine with wine key 

Sure, there are now a thousand gadgets that help you open a bottle of wine, but there is nothing as classy (and nothing that demonstrates as much respect for the wine) as being able to open a bottle with a traditional wine key.


  1. Cutting a watermelon and a pumpkin

While summer is gone and watermelon season is wrapping up, we are entering the height of pumpkin season. Learning some simple carving techniques will save you the embarrassment of a ruined watermelon or botched Jack-o-lantern. No one wants some kids making fun of them. Minimize waste and learn to be the most effective (and artistic) man with a knife.


  1. Unclog a toilet 

It’s not glamorous, but it’s a problem every household will face. Knowing how to quickly and accurately plunge a clogged toilet is knowledge every human must have, no matter how unsavory the task might be.


  1. Manscape

Manscaping can be complicated, but even the hairiest among us need to spend a little time maintaining ourselves. Research the best trimming options and take extra care shaving your most sensitive areas. (You know which ones.) Avoid being lazy or unhygienic, but sport the body hair that makes you feel the most confident and comfortable. Do not worry about what other people want or desire. It’s your body.


  1. Light a fire 

Learning to light a fire (a campfire or a fireplace) is a skill that few people these days develop. Save the day (or win a reality show) by knowing the best materials and techniques for starting a strong and safe fire.


  1. Jumpstart a car

The ability to jumpstart a car allows you the freedom to bail yourself out when your battery dies. It also allows you the chivalric action of helping a stranded passenger in need. Grab some cables and be a hero.


  1. Shine a pair of shoes 

Shining one’s shoes has recently been relegated to businessmen and corporate executives, but the quality and look of our shoes forecasts to the world so much about us. Learn the difference between polishes and shoe care and always look like a million bucks from the ankles down.


  1. Play chess

Considered to be one of the most strategic and intelligent games ever invented, chess players are often considered to be some of the most sophisticated and advanced minds on the planet. The game’s rules can be complicated and confusing, but once the rules are clear, a game can be great fun. The first step in mastering the game is to understand the game.


  1. Make a great cup of coffee 

A good cup of coffee can make or break an entire day. Give yourself (and whomever you might see in the morning) the gift of a great day by knowing how to brew the perfect cup of joe.


  1. Make your bed 

Our parents made us do it, and many of us did so begrudgingly. However, as we age, some people get lazier and lazier about our beds. Take a few moments in your morning and recommit yourself to the hospital corners. If you need a brush up, chat with you friends in the military and in healthcare. They are experts.


  1. Write a thank you note (or email) 

Times are changing, but proper etiquette has not changed at all. Master (and practice) your ability to write thank you notes by writing a few unexpected ones. Thank a friend for a nice night out, or thank your boss for graciously allowing you that extra day off. Craft a note that is personal and sincere. The effort will be greatly appreciated.


  1. Balance your checkbook 

Balancing your checkbook is the first step to hold dominion over you financial life. Knowing what you spend, and how you spend it will allow you to keep tabs on all your financial habits and will allow you the freedom to make the smartest financial decisions.


  1. Drive a manual transmission 

Manual transmissions might becoming a thing of the past, but it seems you will always be expected to drive one when you least expect it. Be prepared by planning a little joy ride in a rented or borrowed car.


  1. Shuffle a deck of cards 

Most shufflers clumsily and ineffectively leaf through the deck and hope for the best. An especially terrible shuffler can ruin a whole game.  Play with a deck and look into the most effective shuffling techniques. Develop a little shuffling flash and perhaps your tricks will add to the entertainment of your game.


  1. Throw a party 

It’s simple. If you can throw a great party, you will be invited to great parties. Treat your friends like VIPs. Attempt to a memorable, one-of-a-kind event. It does not matter if you are throwing anything from a formal affair to a barbecue: Remember the best way to make a party special is the make it your own. Be personalized and creative.  (You can do better than chips and dip.) The more fun you have planning a party, the more fun your guests will have when they attend.