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Six Habits of a Talent Magnet

| April 12, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading comes from Anthony Tjan’s Harvard Business Review Blog.  Tian is CEO of the venture capital firm Cue Ball and is a recognized business builder.  The piece “Six Habits of a Talent Magnet,” which he wrote with Tsun-yan Hsiehm chair of the LinHart Group, can be found at <>.

In the piece, the authors argue that talent is a make-or-break issue for an organization’s success.  If that’s the case and if you are serious about being able to attract the very best they argue that there are six habits you should practice:

1.  Get to know the most talented individuals early on, before you know you need them.  Can you name two or three individuals that, if given the opportunity, you would want to attract to your team?  Can you do this for each critical position you have?  If not, you need to do your research to identify these individuals and begin to build relationships with them now.

2.  Create and manage the right expectations.  The most talented people are attracted to leaders whom they can trust and role models they want to emulate.  Ask yourself, “Why would any real talent want to work for me?”  You need to be able to answer this question to be successful in attracting talent.

3.  Look at their hearts – and not just their smarts.  In addition to results and qualifications, you need to look for purpose and passion;  what’s the candidate’s motivation, values, and purpose.

4.  Cultivate them over time.  The people you really want are almost always occupied.  Cultivate the best you can, keep them informed of your interests and purpose, let them get to know you as a person.  Keep the relationship alive.  Then when you have an opportunity for them they will likely find it very attractive.

5.  On-board them very carefully.  If your organization thinks it doesn’t have an on-boarding program, it most certainly does – it’s call sink or swim.  New talent want to succeed.  Be prepared to bring them on-board like you are committed to that success as well.

6.  Mentor them for their success.  Be interested in more than what they can do for you;  have a real interest in them as people and in their success.  It will pay off.

I argue that an open position is a hunting license, an opportunity to go out and get the most attractive candidate that you can find.  This reading steps it up and argues that you begin now so that you are ready just-in-case.  Good advice.


Have a great week.  .  .  .     jim