THE UPSIDE OF OUTLIERS
Confidence, contrariness, and cultural fit–the benefits of curveball hires
Greater loyalty “There’s a secret sauce in hiring a person who knows that I believe in him enough to take a chance,” says David Williams, CEO of Fishbowl, an inventory software firm near Salt Lake City. Williams has hired everyone from his electrician to a guy who sold him a snowboard, and he’s more likely to size up someone’s creativity, sharp wit, and patience than what industry he or she hails from. That talent strategy has helped Williams steer Fishbowl to seven consecutive years on the Inc. 5000—and achieve remarkably low turnover.
Challenged norms “Long tenure in any industry comes with a lot of ingrained behaviors and assumptions that are hard to break,” says Dan Pappalardo, founder and CEO of media company Troika. “If you make only cookie-cutter hires, everything stagnates.” That’s part of what led Pappalardo to hire a cultural anthropologist to help the Hollywood-based team better understand what drives consumers. A recent research report she did included an examination of what America’s declining religiosity might mean for TV and film in 10 years.
Culture fit When you care less about industryspecific expertise, you can pilfer personal networks and nab known quantities. That’s why Mike Catania, founder and CTO of Tallahassee, Florida–based savings site PromotionCode.org, hired his former University of Massachusetts, Lowell students for tech roles—never mind that his courses were in music theory. “Since I knew their personalities and work ethic, it was easy for me to get them trained—far faster than employees I’d hired conventionally with better industry experience,” he says.