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Archive for the “Hiring” Category

Warren Buffett has stated, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

My philosophy about hiring employees is this: I don’t want employees at all. What I want is peers with a congruent value system to share a personal and business journey. I want co-workers in a horizontal company who can teach me and make me a better human being and businessman. This means everyone, including the receptionist.

This journey begins with common values, particularly seeking out executive business associates who want their work to give back to the world through service and truth-telling to customers and potential customers. Under that rubric of shared values, I have always wanted to only hire executive colleagues who are better than me at both genuine caring for the client and creating efficacious results, in that order. However, the truth is we are all better and worse than each other in our variegated ways.

To me, the staffing ideal is a company that affords all associates the freedom to maximize their own service instinct and acumen with minimal interference from the big, bad boss (me). I’ve found that this philosophy makes for an enlivened, creative company and a happy business community. It incentivizes and vivifies autonomy as a core value.

Etymologically the term autonomy derives from the Greek word meaning self-governing. To be autonomous means to act in accord with oneself. When we are autonomous we all emanate service and salesmanship infused with energy, integrity, and a personal authenticity that sells at all points of contact with the public and with stakeholders.

Authenticity is compelling. Like the judge who, when asked to define pornography, said, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Customers feel much the same way. They know authenticity when they see it. Stephen Colbert famously calls this quality “truthiness.” I see incentivizing “truthiness” in every associate as a primary leadership imperative. You want to activate truthiness, not just because it is moral, but because it is effective.

Therefore, part of incentivization is hiring people who innately share corporate values so they are always, without thinking, succeeding by propelling a corporate narrative from inside themselves. In my case I have hired educated, value-oriented, experienced people who are adults and self-starters.

Of course, everyone works for money. That has to be fair and appropriate. But I firmly believe that passion and commitment are not fundamentally incentivized by money. They are better motivated by a will to generosity, happiness, and autonomy.

As said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.” (Herman Cain frequently appropriated this quote when he ran for President of the US in 2012.)

Thank you, Albert.

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Here I go again. Foaming at the mouth about government hostility to small business. I’m sorry. I can’t help it.

The present occasion for my bile comes out of a Charles Gasparino column in the NY Post (p. 21) of June 3, 2011. Mr. Gasparino speaks about how much small businessmen want to employ Americans in their firms, as well as to keep their companies firmly rooted in the US, but are being forced away from this strategy. He states, “Businesses have learned to make money by cutting costs (i.e., jobs) or relocating to China or India.  And it’s not merely that it’s cheaper to operate overseas; a huge part of the problem is the fear that it’s going to keep getting more expensive to hire here.

I know lots of small business owners and to a man they are lovers of America and are committed to their local communities. But why should any of us hire in an increasingly hostile anti-business environment that limits entrepreneurial creativity and flexibility, and lards on ever-increasing bureaucracy and taxes? I personally know owners of small firms who manufacture things like gloves, eye glass frames, automobile filters, electronics, etc., who are wracking their brains to figure out how to profitably stay in the US.

Or, to look at a large business, Boeing, out-of-the-blue, is being prevented from opening a new plant with thousands of new jobs in right-to-work state South Carolina by an obscure bureaucratic agency packed with unelected labor union activists. If the ruling holds, Boeing will not open a non-competitive union plant. It will simply move the plant overseas. Bye, bye American jobs. John Galt, where art thou?

Peter Sidoti of Sidoti & Company and a specialist in analyzing small corporations, points to the disturbing example of A.T. Cross Co., which makes Cross pens. Cross couldn’t imagine taking on the expense of relocating out of Rhode Island–until it started adding up costs of federal, state, and local taxes and bureaucracy. You guessed it. Another plant goes to China. (And now their stock is booming.)

Sidoti goes on to talk about his own Wall Street firm which pays a 75% tax rate in New York. Says Sidoti, “Washington has to decide what they want the country’s future to be. Is it going to be Detroit, which did nothing to help business so people and capital have fled. Or will it be Texas, which is attracting people and capital?” Mr. Sidoti is himself looking into relocating his office to Austin, Texas.

It’s becoming increasingly easy for small business, as well as large, to relocate internationally and to a few business-friendly states. Like China and India. Like Texas. Note the Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial on Friday (page A-14, June 10, 2011) which lists Texas as generating fully 45% of non-farm new jobs in America since the recovery began. Says the WSJ, “The Texas economy has grown on average by 3.3% a year over the last two decades, compared with 2.6% for the US overall. Yet the core impulse of [the current national government] is to make America less like Texas and more like California, with more government, more unions, more central planning, higher taxes.

To quote Charlie Gasparino again, “The bad news is that not everyone in this country is wealthy enough to own [foreign] stocks or can afford to move to China for a factory job.

Thank you, Charlie Gasparino. I guess.

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