Tag Archives: George Anders

“They’re all Rare Finds” (Mike Mayeux, Novotus) – The Ongoing Challenge of Talent Acquisition

Mike Mayeux is a consummate entrepreneur, always cooking up great ideas. (Here he is, cooking for one of his clients).

“They’re all rare finds.”
Mike Mayeux, CEO, Novotus (Novotus, Reinventing Talent Acquisition, Austin, Texas)


My brother is the CEO of Novotus.  He knows talent.  He knows talent acquisition.  His company is growing, dramatically, because so many companies and organizations need help finding the right talent.  Talent:  you know, the right fit, with the right skills and the right temperament for the specific job at hand.

So, I sent him my handout for the book The Rare Find:  Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else by George Anders, and we briefly discussed it.  Mike’s comment:  “they’re all rare finds.” 

That pretty much sums up the talent crisis organizations face.  We all know that there are people needing jobs.  And yet, we hear so very often that specific jobs go unfilled, because companies can’t find the people with the specific set of skills, and the work ethic!, needed to fill these specific jobs.  (By the way, hire my brother’s company – they can help).

From The Rare Find:

In 2010, business strategist Marc Effron surveyed a group of 1,800 human resources managers at big companies.  He asked if they thought they were winning the war for talent. Only 18 percent of respondents said yes.  All the rest felt they were either losing ground or stuck in an endless struggle where they weren’t making headway.

Losing ground; stuck in an endless struggle; not making headway…  As Mike said, “they’re all rare finds.”

Here’s my introductory paragraph “overview” of the book The Rare Find:

So many hires gone wrong – gone bad.
So many times a new employee or colleague turns out to be such a disappointment.  How can we pick better talent?
(How do we become better talent, worthy of being “picked?”) 
This book is about that search.
It is not an easy, quick pursuit.  But finding that right choice is a true, big-time game-changer.  It is worth the effort!
And the wrong choice?
Well, the wrong choice can be anywhere from a disappointment and an inconvenience to a full-fledged disaster.
It’s time to learn how to spot exceptional talent.
This book can put you on a journey to get much, much better at this…


You can purchases my synopsis of the book The Rare Find, with audio + comprehensive handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

The Ongoing War for Talent, because The Right Talent is So Critical for Success

After presenting my synopsis of The Rare Find by George Anders, I decided to take another look at my handout for the book The War For Talent by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod, which I presented quite a few years ago.  If you are in the  “finding the best talent” game (and who isn’t?!), both of these books are worth a look.

Here is a portion of a key section from the book The War for Talent, on “the new reality”:

The Old Ethics

The New Ethics

We invest in all our people equally Some people are more talented than others, and we invest in them accordingly
We give best performers a little more money that average performers We give best performers a lot more money
I know Charlie’s a C player but we have to be fair to him – he’s been here fifteen years We have to be fair to the twenty people working under Charlie
Managers don’t need pats on the back Managers, like everyone else, need to know they are valued
Undifferentiated praise motivates the masses Differentiation drives individual and company performance

Finding, nurturing, improving talent.  This is the name of the game.  Companies and organizations are not buildings and computer and phone systems.  They are people!  Get the people right, get the right people, get the right people doing the right things, and the company will flourish.  Get the wrong people…  well, you know where that leads.


You can purchase my synopsis of The Rare Find, with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  (You can also purchase my synopsis for The War for Talent at our site, but, warning — the audio quality is not as good on our earlier synopses.  Please read the faqs about our audio quality history).

“Don’t Be So Stupid, Stupid” – A Reminder For Those Seeking Talent

Bumblers keep creating crises that didn’t need to happen.
George Anders, The Rare Find:  Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else


Have you ever done anything stupid?  OK – maybe you haven’t.  But I have.  And, I suspect, if your answer is not “yes,” then you are either a liar, or you’ve got a pretty unrealistic view of your own life history.

I think that one way to describe the challenge of life is this:  quit being so stupid!

As I read The Rare Find, my mind drifted back to an idea I read from Neil Postman.  (Postman is probably best known for his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death).  In his essay The  Educationist as Painkiller, he ponders the purpose of education.  And his conclusion, simply, is that education can’t make a person smart — but it can keep a person from being so stupid.  (The essay is available in pdf format here).

Neil Postman

Here are a few quotes from Postman’s essay:

This is the strategy I propose for educationists—that we abandon our vague, seemingly arrogant, and ultimately futile attempts to make children intelligent, and concentrate our attention on helping them avoid being stupid.
The educationist should become an expert in stupidity and be able to prescribe specific procedures for avoiding it…
…everyone practices stupidity, including those who write about it; none of us is ever free of it, and we are most seriously endangered when we think we are safe. That there is an almost infinite supply of stupidity, including our own, should provide educationists with a sense of humility and, incidentally, assurance that they will never become obsolete.
stupidity is reducible…
Stupidity is a form of behavior. It is not something we have; it is something we do.

So, why did I think of this essay as I read The Rare Find?  Partly because of this:  after massive amounts of money spent developing processes for finding and hiring the right people, every book and article I read seems to say that we have not gotten very good at it.  And that includes hiring all up and down the organizational ladder.  (As I write this, RIM {BlackBerry} just replaced its two CEOs with a new “savior.”)   And the statistics pretty much prove this.  Here’s a brief summary from Anders’ book:

In 2010:  only 18% of HR Managers say they are “winning the war for talent.”  All the rest stated they were either “losing ground” or “stuck” with a process that was not successful in identifying exceptional talent.

So, we make stupid hires; and then those people hired do stupid things.  Avoiding such stupidity would be a great, massive step forward, and save a boatload of money and a whole lot of anxiety and despair.  And as the quote at the top of this post affirms,

Bumblers keep creating crises that didn’t need to happen.

The Rare Find provides one remedy:  part of this stupidity is that we trust our “gut” way too often, when our minds, if we could simply focus them, would scream out some much needed warnings.  The Rare Find describes just how hard it is to actually listen to a job candidate, to actually look at work and life history, and then to avoid being “wowed” by the pizazz of a person’s personality.

In other words, if we could focus our minds, we might not make such stupid decisions – in hiring, and in our own life, at work, and everywhere else.

Maybe “don’t be stupid, stupid” should be our mantra…

Competence/Great Skill PLUS Integrity/Character PLUS… – Thoughts on Finding/Hiring that “Rare Find”

“Well, maybe I’ll just hang up here in the air for a while…”
(Michael Jordan; “Rare Air”– the phrase was used as the title of a short volume by Michael Jordan, with photographs by Walter Iooss)


Here's Daniel Shorr with Scott Simon preparing for a Saturday NPR broadcast

I miss Daniel Shorr.  A newsman for over 60 years, he was active on NPR practically right up to the week of his death.  (He died in the summer of 2010 at the age of 93).  For example, I would love to hear one of his well-written, comprehensive, decades-honed-insights commentaries on this year’s Republican Presidential race.  His commentaries would speak to the current situation of the hour with a remembrance of something “similar,” or at least something complementary, from some crisis or hot spot or tense situation going back through the decades, at times all the way back to well before I was even born.

There is no way for someone who “reads” the history to have quite the perspective of someone who “lived” the history.  (I miss Andy Rooney for the same reasons).

Yes, Daniel Shorr was the rarest of the rarest of the rare find in the talent department.

I thought of Mr. Shorr as I worked on my synopsis of The Rare Find, my book selection for next week’s First Friday Book Synopsis.  (Register for our event here).  In The Rare Find:  Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else, George Anders observes that after all the years we’ve spent trying to find the secrets of spotting, hiring, and developing genuine talent at work, we haven’t gotten all that much better at it.  Here’s a taste from his book:

“Over the past few decades, we as a society have made talent spotting vastly more sophisticated than it ever was before.”
(and, yet)…
“In fact, it’s arguable now that our ability to identify great people has deteriorated.  We have created so much data that we’re drowning in it…  Trying to forecast what people might achieve is a bigger mystery than ever.

You want an example:  consider this profile.  Here’s a guy who needs to shower more often.  His eating habits; his personal interaction habits; his seemingly endless lack of tact negatively impacts practically everyone in his path.  He was, at times, unbelievably rude to practically everyone around him.  So – would you hire Mr. Steve Jobs?  You’d be a fool not to.  But, how in the world do you “spot” this talent?

(The opposite is also often quite true.  There are countless “sure things,” examples of “this man/woman is going to be great in this job” failures who crash and burn.  How do we get it so wrong?)

I think genuine talent has to be some mix of the following:

Competence/raw ability; plus “soft skills,” (“getting along” skills); plus work ethic; plus the ability to focus; plus a wide array of experiences (many so very far from the “scope” of “this particular job”); plus character/credibility (old-fashioned “ethos”); plus

Let’s go back to Daniel Shorr as a model.  (Some of this is consistent with the observations in Anders book).  He had the work ethic; he had the wide array of experience, and far-afield experiences; he was beloved by his colleagues at NPR (so he had some of those soft skills); you could trust him to speak truthfully, and substantively…  A rare find!

There may be no job close to as important as this job:  who do I choose to hire?  And, that question is much wider than just “who do I hire at work?’  It is also, “who do I hire as my surgeon?”; and, “who do I hire as my financial advisor?”; and, “who do I hire as my coach, my mentor?”; and, how about, “who do I hire as the cruise ship Captain for the cruise that I take for my vacation?”; and “who do I hire as my next President of these United States?”

Finding that rare find.  It’s worth pursuing with diligence and focus.  And, we really do need to get better at it, don’t we?

The Rare Find & Brandwashed – Our Selections for the February 3 First Friday Book Synopsis

Let me state the obvious.  We have a lot to learn.  And when we learn one thing, there are three more new things to learn.

And, by the way, much of what we need to learn is not new at all.  But, the newer books say these things in new ways, ways that connect to the real world business challenges of this era.

This is why we provide the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  At our gatherings we have great food, wonderful conversations, (networking), and content from two business books – content that can help make you more knowledgeable, and be more effective, more “successful” in your business efforts.  For each book, you receive a comprehensive handout, with key quotes from the book, and a summary of the most useful transferable principles.

For the February 3 First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present a synopsis of The Rare Find:  Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Anyone Else, by George Anders.  The search for talent; the best use of talent; these are needs for every business organization.  This book will help you understand this, and do this, more effectively

Karl Krayer will present a synopsis of Brandwashed:  Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, by Martin Lindstrom.    Lindstrom also wrote the earlier book, Buyology:  Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, and Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy

This really is a terrific monthly learning event, content-filled, and genuinely useful.  If you are in the DFW area on February 3, come check it out.  (At the Park City Club, near the Tollway and Northwest Highway.  We begin at 7:00 am, and we end at 8:05 am).

(You’ll be able to register soon from the home page of this web site).

Here’s a flier with all the details:

Click on flier for full view









You receive useful, comprehensive handouts…

Here's the cover sheet for my handout for the Walter Isaacson book, Steve Jobs, from the January FFBS - click on image for full view










Our book selections for February:






We have a great buffet breakfast, and wonderful table conversations…





And we give away the two books each month…