Three Core Competencies
contemplate my eleventh holiday season message, I have reviewed my own
experiences over the past year to come up with something new to say. This
year has been a confusing year for our country, with the stock market at
all-time highs, unemployment at new lows, but the President’s
approval ratings also hitting new lows---and almost three thousand
Americans lost to a war that continues to go poorly.
work with career clients, we struggle to determine their “three core
competencies”--- what would make an employer want to hire
them. They must, of course, be backed up by examples demonstrating
these characteristics. This is an exercise that seems to objectify
behavior and is probably a good way to approach the New Year.
identify three things that positively impact most people’s job
search as well as life,
I would say optimism, tenacity, and caring.
regard to optimism, I have commented before on Seligman’s work
Learned Optimism. Similarly, the story of The Little Engine That Could
(“I think I can, I think I can...”) exemplifies this critical
element of success. The individual who doesn’t believe will not
take the risks necessary to win.
not to say that we can’t encourage a more optimistic situation. The
need to lend a hand to build optimism came to my mind this weekend. An
ex-Five O’Clock Clubber who has become a
private client was concerned because his son did not want to go out for
freshman basketball. Tim tried all the rational arguments until Chris said,
“Dad, I was afraid I’d cry at tryouts.” Tim, not always
the most sensitive guy, rose to the occasion. Having met and liked the
coach, he suggested Chris arrange to show the coach his skills privately.
The coach agreed and discovered that Chris was intimidated by the skills of
the upper classmen. But, he also saw that, next to other freshmen, Chris
was at least better than average. He is now on the
freshman team and has made two good friends from the team.
example, Tim showed his son that there were different ways to deal with
obstacles, and Tim’s belief in Chris---his optimism---was translated
to his son…a great gift.
to tenacity, I think of Jerry, a client who found me on the web. He is a 22
year old who dropped out of college to do on-line sales of lighting
equipment and fixtures, products for which his dad owned a retail outlet.
Jerry didn’t like retail, but saw the net as the way to go. In less
than three years, he has built a $2 million business and is an E-bay Top 50
uses me as a sounding board. We have worked on business plans and
processes. He recently called to postpone one of our meetings because he
had to go abroad. A Chinese company had offered to sell him for 25 cents an
item that previously cost him 85 cents. He flew to Shanghai, bought 250,000 units, and
quickly sold half the shipment for 50 cents.
when he arrived for our next meeting, I noticed that he got out of the
passenger side of his BMW. His driver’s license has been sus-pended, so two high school buddies now drive for
him. “I have a lead foot,” he said brightly.
is tenacious. He does not give up, but he accepts blame when it is
appropriate. When I asked him how he learned to do the deals, Jerry
said, “I just listen, and I always follow up.”
this year, Kate Wendelton and I have made many
on-site visits to human resource professionals---some who are outplacement
corporate clients and others who have attended the Five O’Clock
Club breakfast briefings. In general, I have been impressed by the
level of real caring that these people show.
when she called to refer her EVP of Sales, said, “I’d walk
through hot coals for Joe” which I thought was a little
hyperbolic. But when I started working with Joe, I could see how he
could engender such caring, and later, when Kate and I met with Patricia,
we could absolutely feel her caring. It was a case of two caring
people encouraging each other.
approach a new year, in which we will face new challenges, let us be clear
about our own three core competencies, and how we can effectively build on
them. I wish you good reflections on this year, and better ones in
2007. Best in Season!
the Table, The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, by Danny
Meyer, New York,
HarperCollins, 2006, $25.95.
been eating in Danny Meyer’s restaurants for longer than the twelve
years my office has been on 16th
Street near the Union Square Care. While
the food and ambience vary greatly, the service is always warm and caring.
I have seen Meyer personally intervene with customers to protect his
employees, whom he regards as the cornerstone of his success.
duck as a natural reflex when something is hurled at them. Similarly, the
excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be
better. The excellence reflex is rooted in instinct and upbringing,
and then constantly honed through awareness, caring, and practice. The
overarching concern to do the right thing well is something we can’t
train for. Either it’s there or it isn’t. So we need to train
how to hire for it.”
some “as told to” or “with” books, the voice
throughout this book is Danny Meyer’s. He reveals a good bit
about his family, growing up in St.
Louis, and a touch of how the personal experiences
affect the business persona. He admits to using “every form of
therapy available” after the death of twin babies born prematurely,
but shifts immediately back to “fighting mood” following
initial bad reviews of his second restaurant, Gramercy Tavern.
doesn’t believe in 110% employees: “We are hoping for 100%,
divided 51–49 between emotional hospitality and technical excellence.
…To me, a 51 percenter has five core emotional
skills…we need employees with these skills if we’re to be
champions at the team sport of hospitality. They are:
Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the
glass is always at least half full)
Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable
curiosity to learn for the sake of learning)
ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be
Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and
how your actions make others feel)
Self-awareness and integrity (an understanding of what makes you tick and a
natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with
honesty and superb judgment)
offers many insightful comments on doing business in New York in a service industry, with a
unique style and continuous improvement. It is a good read of one
man’s struggle to enjoy and contribute in his work---something I
would wish for everyone.