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The Rare Find – spotting exceptional talent before everyone else

November 05, 2011

George Anders

I picked up two books on Thursday evening. The first, by George Anders, is a good read. Started it yesterday and was annoyed to go to sleep last night before finishing it. A lot of common sense in it, but there’s never too much common sense. Anders provides a collection of illustrative examples for how to… and how not to recruit. Covering a wide variety of fields, including Special Forces, professional athletics, Facebook programming, grocery chains, surgeons, and the papacy, he offers hope to those among us who have chosen unorthodox career paths.

Aside from purely technical skills, enlightened recruiters are focusing on character and values. Lining up Peyton Manning against Ryan Leaf as rookie candidates, the Indianapolis Colts found them almost identical in every measureable statistic. Read what made the difference in the team’s final choice. Learn how Isiah Thomas, a star in his playing days, blew it as the Knicks’ general manager by recruiting in his own image. See how the FBI took 20 years to transform its recruiting framework after suffering through 48 years of J. Edgar Hoover’s narrow model (white, male, no small hat size, and no red ties). Facebook’s creative solution to a critical shortage of programmers, in the face of rapid growth, is a very interesting story. How would you like to be the recording label that let Taylor Swift go because she wasn’t worth the $15,000 annual retainer… or the book publishers who took a pass on J.K. Rowling because they didn’t want to risk the $5,000 advance on the first in her Harry Potter series? Ouch!

“Compromise on experience; don’t compromise on character.” Measured in many ways, with pointed references to key character components, this is the theme of the book. This book is an easy, interesting read, and one I’m glad to have experienced. While written in the context of recruitment, the concepts presented are applicable to any and all prospective relationships. I give it a 4 out of 5. No regrets.

Speaking of ‘rare finds’, next on my list is Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Steve Jobs.


Kevin Graham

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