How Shackleton hired the RIGHT candidates for the job

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton put together a great team of individuals to accomplish one of the most challenging expeditions mankind had ever faced.  His goal was to lead 27 people on foot across the entire continent of Antarctica.  Many people, including those who knew some of what they would face, thought they were out of their minds and that success was doubtful.  Ironically enough, it was this degree of difficulty and the radical vision of Shackleton to do something that nobody had ever dreamed of or dared to try that created the magnetism for attracting the right candidates for the job.  Here is the ad that Shackleton wrote to recruit his team.  Keep in mind that this ad drew more than 5,000 responses!

“Men wanted for hazardous journey.  Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger.  Safe return doubtful.  Honor and recognition in case of success.”

Transposing this story and concept on the world of business today, the very best candidates for the job are those who want their time and talents pushed to their limits.  The performers who are willing and able to redefine their definition of difficulty and push their level of engagement significantly higher, want to work for a company, and a leader, who thinks much bigger than average.  The $64,000 question for you, as a leader or manager, who is looking to hire the very best people for the job is this:

Is your company’s vision and mission to accomplish something in your industry that has never been done before?  How is your opportunity so radically different than any of your competitors?  Why should a very qualified candidate (who is likely working for a competitor right now) raise their hand and show interest in what you have to offer?  Is the value proposition of what you offer to someone compelling enough to gain interest of the very best people?

Here is a good exercise to start answering these questions.  Ask yourself and your colleagues this:  If a truly qualified person takes this role that we are recruiting to, what will they learn, do and become as a result of working for us in this specific role?  Will they learn, do and become something much more significant than where they currently are now?  Is the opportunity here at our company and in this role showcased in a creative way that clearly showcases a value proposition that resonates a great opportunity to learn, do and become something significant?

If you’re not getting great results, the answers to these questions is probably closer to no than it is to yes.  Just for comparison, go online to any big job board and pull up some ads from other companies. Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate and read what they are offering.  Is the ad really creative?  Does it stand out in a compelling way?  Is the value proposition of the company so strong that you feel the pull to want to investigate?  Is there a strong opportunity to learn, do and become something more significant than where you currently are?

Go back and look at how Shackleton created a very compelling and strong message in his ad about how his team members would be pushed, challenged and rewarded by joining his crew.  Use what he taught us to create a much more compelling opportunity in your company.

I welcome your comments, questions and inquires about this subject.  Thank you!

Pick Up The Phone (or Video Conference Line)

In this modern day of advanced communication tools, social media and other related technology we all use to communicate with people, introduce ourselves and make things happen in our business, let’s not forget the value of the simple and timeless tool called the phone.

I’ll never forget the day at Nationwide Cellular, my first sales job in 1992, when my sales manager pulled me aside and told me this: “the phone is your best friend in sales.”  The phone is one of the fastest and shortest distance between two people.  With cell phones, you can make things happen while driving or stuck in traffic.  You can impact people while at your kids sporting events, running errands or while traveling.

There are the top 3 reasons why a phone call is so effective in making sales happen;

1.  Connect with people on an emotional level:  If you are really passionate about what you do and why you do it, and you really believe that the product or service that your represent really is well worth a customer’s time and money, it will come across in your voice.  On a phone call, you have the advantage of infusing powerful convictions and emotions into the person on the other end.  Even if you leave a voicemail, you can accomplish the same thing.  Asking good questions, telling stories, giving examples and conveying value all over the phone can do for you what no social media site, email or brochure can do for you.

2.  Major Time Saver:  Just about every medium or larger size town/city has traffic jams.  We have all been there and hate it.  However, if you are prepared, you can make quality calls while in the car.  Whether it is a live conversation or voicemail, the phone allows you to cover more ground in the same amount of time than just about any other means of effective communication.  If you know that you have a drive or traffic situation ahead of you, plan in advance to make several calls.  Make notes including names and phone numbers and put them on the seat next to you.  Use your time in the car wisely.  Even if you are not in the car, but working from home or an office, make a list of calls to be made the day before and you will have a very productive start to your next car trip or next working day.

3.  Take Advantage of Video:  On a recruiting assignment I recently concluded, myself, our candidates and my client company conducted all of our interviews and debrief sessions using video calls.  There are many services such as Skype, Oovoo and others that are FREE.  I got to know my candidates and the people who work at several of my client companies in a much better way, since we were able to see each other on our interview calls.  To this day, I have not met in person any of the people I’m citing in these examples, but I feel that I know them well since I can easily put a face to a name.  I am now in the habit of asking every person I do business with if they have a Skype name or use another video call service.  It is easy, free and a very effective way to connect with people on a much deeper emotional level, which is critical to building quality relationships and conveying value to people.

The bottom line is this:  Use the phone.  Make a plan to call a certain number of people for your next day or two.  Put a short list of people you can follow up with, be introduced to, or just want to connect with, for your next trip in the car.  Use the phone for all it is worth and you will see a great return on your investment.