A couple of weeks ago I had a lot of fun being interviewed on The Lang & O’Leary Exchange on CBC Newsworld. Here is a sampler from my interview with Kevin O’Leary and Dianne Buckner, who was filling in for Amanda Lang:
DB: So you begged for a job, did you?
JB: Begged for a job
DB: And did that work?
JB: No. Didn’t work.
DB: And what was the problem? What is your theory about hiring an employer?
JB: My theory about hiring the perfect employer is that you need to have two things. First of all you need to be looking in the right place for the right employer. And [second] you need to find someone who needs you and someone who wants you.
What I found was that there were a lot of people that needed me but there weren’t a lot of people who wanted me. One of the bank CEOs at the time said I’d love to hire you but I’d have a difficult time explaining to my board that I hired someone who had been fired by Canadian banks twice.
KO: So isn’t the whole game in the banking business not what you can get from them, it’s what you can give to them in terms of driving cash flow into whatever unit you’re involved in?
JB: That’s probably the case if you work for a private enterprise, but within a banking culture or conglomerate or multi-national organization at the end of the day it’s about fit. You have to fit the corporate culture.
DB: So this idea of how to hire the perfect employer ... I mean, generally speaking we don’t think of the job hunter as being in the driver’s seat. How are you turning it around that somehow we are hiring the employer?
JB: Well, one of the first things I talk to people about when they come to see me and I’m helping them find a job is that you have to understand what you’re really good at. You’d be amazed how many times I say to someone, “So what is it you’re good at?” And they say, “Oh, I’m a vice president” or “I’m good at sales.” I say, “No, no, what should I pay you for? What should I pay you to do for me?”
So in my particular case when I make my infomercial I tell people that I’m very good at hiring people. I’ve hired over 900 people in my career. I’m a good judge of fit, talent, person. I’m good at looking at businesses strategically, and lastly I’m very good at coaching and mentoring people. So if you’re interested in any one of those three items, I’m very good at that and you should pay me to do those things. So in the same way I say to people, “Figure out what you’re really, really good at.”
The second thing I tell people to do is figure out which kind of people you work best with. Make a list over your lifetime of all the people you’ve worked with and you’ve worked with some more efficiently and happily than others. Look for those [kinds of] people at the organizations you’re going to interview for a job.
All organizations resolve conflict in different manners. Some of them have a benevolent dictator, some of them are accommodative, some are compromising, some are competitive. You have to understand what yours is and [whether] it fit[s] within an organization, because if it doesn’t it carries over to how people see you. So if you’re competitive and in an organization that’s accommodative or avoidance, you not only don’t get anything done, but people say, “You know what? He’s not a team player.”
This last point I made about conflict resolution is key when it comes to finding an organization that wants you. A person with the right skill set might get fired by one organization because their direct communication style rubbed people the wrong way. But that same person, with the same personality and skill set, can end up in a new organization where their communication style is effective and is considered a strength, not a weakness. I’ve seen this dynamic at work many times – nothing changes except how good the fit is.
If you’d like to watch the interview in full, here it is on CBC’s website.