If I Were Running A Company…Persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race,” – Calvin Coolidge.

If you saw Barack Obama’s State of the Union last night, you know his motto this year is to “Give America a raise.” He will give an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers. The minimum wage and gender equality pay will be big issues in HR, but one thing that struck me and should struck HR.

In the last part of the speech, Obama called out Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, who was deployed 10 times (yes, 10) and at his last tour, he was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2009. The blast left him partially paralyzed and brain-damaged, but after surgeries and rehab, Remsburg can walk and speak, though he still struggles.

Remsburg’s story of persistence (and the quote above) is a reminder about HR and recruiting’s constant battle to find talent. I have stated before that HR/recruiting view most anything by face value. They can read and see success, but can they see brilliance behind failure?

HR/recruiting departments remind me of television networks cancelling brilliant shows. While showrunners are trying to create the best show possible, the networks are trying to find the most popular. Showrunners are the innovators, but the networks are the gatekeepers trying to find a formula that is best for a mass audience. The days have changed with more networks and more choices, but the fact remains networks still determines what they perceive is good for their audience and business.

HR and recruiting can learn a lot from Cory Remsburg that there is going to be a struggle but we have to work hard to earn the outcome that we want. That’s the challenge of HR and recruiting today is can they see greatness, in applicants, behind their failures/long-term unemployment/gaps in employment? This is why we always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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