These days, I am excited and in quantitative production mode. I say quantitative as I am working something around 14 to 17 hours every day, probably for the past four months. Of course, I have few breaks here and there during the day. Obviously, I still need to eat and shower. But it is funny, when you don’t think about being an entrepreneur, but literally sell your soul to your own project and aim to make a dream come true, you often go very far. I have to say, there is only one thing keeping me safe right now: my experience! I know how to handle the pressure, I know why I am doing it, I manage fear and uncertainty. yes I am emotional and get upset if things aren’t as fast as I want or as great as I expect them to be, but I don’t freak out. I still have an overview of what’s happening, and I do certainly have a vision and am determined to make it happen. The most interesting part is that my driving force to make it happen is not for my own sake, but for the sake of the upcoming generation, I am building something to help all other talented people to benefit from so they can do great stuff and benefit our society at scale.
This made me think about talent and experience. I remember a while ago before corona hit planet earth, I ran a workshop on teaming and vision alignment for a global group of 40 marketers working in a data and tech driven company. During the day I found out that age-wise, people are between 27 and 35. At the end of the workshop, as I was debriefing with the group CMO, upon her question how I feel about her team, I responded: “Obviously you have a group of excellent talents brought together…”
Now, I’m asking myself whether age has a direct relation to talent. Am I not talented anymore because I am over 50 years old? Or, am I no longer considered as a “Talent”, due to my age, if some Chief Talent or Chief Recruitment Officer is looking to fill a position matching my set of skills? Am I no longer an entrepreneur and start-upper, if I am not mid 20s, since the core ingredients, the one most elementary component an investor feels attracted to is the young talented founder? So, as an experienced person, is my place now only in some advisory board, VCs, Angel Investor, etc… isn’t that funny how you can classify by age and create preferences for who you might need for what?
Historically, talent was considered a natural skill someone has. Not for any random and trivial task, but the gift or aptitude to do something that might appear as a challenge or a hard thing to do for the majority of others. We used to say one is born with talent. Back in the days, especially in the sport or music world, you could find all these “talent scouts” with the right eye and the gut feeling for the talent. However, as a matter of fact, talents could not be identified unless the scout spent some proper time looking for them, experiencing them in action. The next steps then were “talent development”.
To be talented is also directly connected to being able to improve at a quicker rate when compared to others with the same set of skills– the matter of trainability of talent so to speak. A must read is “Gifted Children” by Ellen Winner, where you are perfectly exposed to the fundamentals of talent and talented people.
In our corporate world, however, the word talent is slightly misused. Damn, every time I write an article, I discover another word being turned into a buzzword… Anyway, I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “war for talent”. How can companies know though, who is a talent, before they even hire and experience them? We become aware of talent once they are among us and the real challenge is how to keep and develop them. And more importantly: when the time comes and you can’t develop them any further and satisfy them, to let them go and grow further. In my current start-up, I am hiring juniors at several key positions. It is a risk I am gladly taking. If it turns out we can agree on a common culture and if they turn out being talented, I hit the jackpot and they have too. I am willing to give so much.
I remind myself of a comment I read from the researcher Esko Kilpi, speaking of the fact that attracting talents, developing and retaining them is a leadership task and is much related to interaction and network. The vision I am currently working on is purely based on interaction and network. So I should be careful I guess when taking into account what more is to be done, creating a shared culture, designing the work itself, by constructing and inventing new models to meet each need. Maybe we need as many talented leaders as we need talents? And maybe the talented leaders have more experience? And are just as talented too? Just not as young?
Be inclusive, remain open to diversity, be willing to always learn. You don’t know everything and that is okay. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t even have to know one thing in full extent of it. There is no end to learning. So, if you discover a talent in you, be grateful, you have something to work on for the rest of your life and have everyone around you benefit from it. And hey, if you don’t like to experience what you are talented in, that’s okay. You will do something else, and no matter what you do, if you have the right intention, right values, if you live aware and conscious, it will all be fine. And you will be wanted.
Don’t chase for talents. Be socially responsible, know your place, give love, act, be authentic, have respect and understanding, and I bet you will find more talented people around you than you can work with.
A good friend of mine Roisin Rooney said to me once “If you are a great talent, but not a nice person, we have no hesitation in saying ‘No.’ Life is too short to sacrifice so much of it, to living with a bastard.”