I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein.

The Idea:  I’m pissed.  I have two sons that are smart, open-minded, and very hard workers.   One just graduated from University of Michigan, while my younger son graduates next year from University of Wisconsin. I would hire them both, but they and many of their peers are not inspired by the consumer packaged goods industry.  In their words, it’s stale, conservative, and not very diverse. 

We live in a world where talent interviews us, and they are not impressed.

Why is it that we have been highjacked by emerging technology start-ups and nobody cares?  Smaller, burgeoning companies are attracting many of our smartest and creative thinkers.  We used to attract them, but now they don’t give us a second look.  What’s getting in the way?

The era of star high school or college ex-athletes barking out orders in the workplace is finished. We are now in an era of co-creation, extreme transparency, overt vulnerability, and on-going knowledge transfer – not knowledge control. 

Today’s brightest thinkers are attracted to cultures that embrace entrepreneurial and design thinking; they seek projects that are “over their head” and, often, “over their pay-grade.” 

Are you hiring interesting younger talent who challenge your thinking?   And are you personally working for an interesting company, one that’s appealing to talent?  It’s time to deconstruct the game of talent attraction.  We hire talent to both do a job, and challenge our norms, culture, and thinking. 

Is this your mindset?  If not, you may be pushing away some of the best and brightest. 

Three ideas to ponder:

  1. Get comfortable bringing on talent for a season.  Hire creative, artistic entrepreneurs who embrace your values and are free to contribute, challenge, and potentially leave your firm earlier than you expect.   Many may even be launching their own companies after hours.  Fuel their passion and give them the freedom to express themselves creatively.  These folks will bring new ideas and perspectives into your team. 
  2. Think about creating a “reverse-mentoring” coaching culture.  All new, younger talent must share what they know, how they think, and what inspires them.  And, despite the reputation of some in this generation, most still need to be invited into that conversation. The highest performing teams mentor both ways. 
  3. Allow your newest, brightest talent to make a difference much earlier in the game.  Great talent wants to be stretched, and we are better for encouraging that.  Most breakthroughs in thinking come from the fringe by outsiders. Allow fresh voices to freely express themselves under your leadership. 

We are living in a knowledge economy – and a war over talent.   Are you attracting diverse players to your team, or are you chained to your own mental models?

I am doing my best to think and act differently about my own business.  I want it to be a place that my sons would get excited to join.  It’s time for all of us to think differently about talent, culture, and purpose.