The “Athlete”

What makes someone an “athlete”?

This question randomly came up in a recent conversation with a friend. When she responded, her answers were purely physical, “Someone strong, someone [muscularly] built”. Her definition of an “athlete” centered around physical capabilities.

Google the word “athlete” and you get a slew of dictionary-term definitions — a person who is trained or skilled in exercise, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina. By this definition, I grew up — and am — an “athlete”. I played competitive water polo, ranked nationally as a swimmer, and continue to push my physical limits.

However, when my friend flipped the question back to me, I found I have completely different take on being an “athlete”. To me, being an athlete is about one’s mindset, not physical capabilities.

Being an athlete is:

  • Striving for constant improvement. Kaizen.
  • Knowing that there will be days/weeks/months that suck but pushing through it anyway
  • Knowing that setbacks are just that
  • Taking one step backwards to take two forward
  • Showing consistency and perseverance.

If you have ever done any hiring or recruiting, I’d be willing to bet you have been told to “hire the best athlete”. But, what does this mean?

“Hiring the best athlete” does not mean that you should go look for D1 football players, Boston Marathon runners, or the next Serena Williams. The underlying common trait that these world-class athletes possess, after the super-human genetics that bless them, is that they all have that mindset that sets their drive… their driving motivators.

When you’re told to “hire the best athlete”, hire the ones with the intangibles listed above.

… Then tell them to flex so hard that their sleeves fall off. 😉

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Burning Bridges, Part II

I am an optimist.  I always try to find the best in people… Until I encounter something ridiculous.  I am always surprised by what I encounter on a weekly basis as a recruiter.

When interviewing with a company, the rule of thumb “don’t burn bridges” applies greatly.  I had a candidate who was interviewing for one of my open positions.  Seemingly great background, good personality match, and he and I had a great conversation.  But, we aren’t moving forward with him…  And here is why:

  1. Hung up on his interviewer.  He was mid-conversation with the Hiring Manager (HM) when the HM asked a tough question about management, who he works under, etc.  Understandable question since HM used to work for this candidate’s current company.  The candidate must have been terrified because he quite literally hung up on the HM, and was not reachable after that.
  2. Was misleading about their employment.  As mentioned above, the HM had previously worked at the candidate’s “current” company.  I put current in quotes because the candidate was no longer an active employee.  Naturally, we (recruiters) will find out as much as we can about a candidate through means of our own.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts… We know people, who know people.
  3. Hit on the recruiter.  Check out the final email I received (below).  This is not ok.  Ever.

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My advice?  There is a way to bow out of an interview (or anything, really) gracefully.  Don’t burn bridges; you never know when you will need that network.

Working from Home (WFH)

I think companies should start looking providing this option to employees for a number of reasons.  While many employers fear the loss of control they have over their WFH employees, it’s quite the opposite.  Let me explain.  As an employer, you have full trust and confidence in your employee and allow them to work from home when needed — or all the time.  In turn, your employee feels like a trusted member of the team and ends up producing at levels beyond your expectations.  It is a win-win situation.  

Obviously, there are some drawbacks like maintaining culture or camaraderie.  But, from experience, that’s nothing a weekly video conference call can’t help.  A majority of my teammates are remote, but they are some of the best colleagues I have ever worked with in my professional career.

How many of you are more efficient working from home (WFH)?  I most certainly am.  I get more quality work done, am more focused, and have far less distractions.  

A huge plus: I can load the dishwasher in the 5 minutes of downtime I have.