I can't hear about the Charles Schwab stockbrokerage without thinking of a guy I once worked with who bore the same name. He had his phone number in the residential listings book, but sure enough, once a week or so, someone would call him and ask if they should sell or buy some stock they were interested in owning or dumping.
Charlie would say, "Well what do you think?" and encourage the person to follow his or her inclination. He never took a cent for this sage advice, either.
I mention this to bring up an article I saw that mentions one Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab. He has an interesting way of evaluating applicants for jobs. And what he does is an excellent way of finding out what kind of person he's dealing with.
"I'll ask questions like, 'Tell me about the greatest successes in your life,'" he told the New York Times. "What I'm looking for is whether their view of the world really revolves around others or whether it revolves around them. And I'll ask them about their greatest failures in their life and see whether they own them or whether they were somebody else's fault."
That's all pretty much standard interview stuff. But this...well, read on!
Bettinger's deal is, he tell the jobseeker to meet him at so-and-so restaurant for breakfast. But Bettinger gets there early and gets the manager in on the deal. He tells the person in charge, "I want you to mess up the order of the person who's going to be joining me. It'll be OK, and I'll give a good tip, but mess up their order."
(A lot of places might say there's a good chance the order was GOING to be messed up anyway, but still...)
"I do that because I want to see how the person responds. That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It's just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head."
He wants to see if the applicant will handle the situation reasonably, without demeaning the server or throwing scrambled eggs around.
And if the person orders bacon, eggs and pancakes but is served grapefruit, granola and yogurt - and he or she says NOTHING, but slides it down their neck without quibble - that's not good either.
That might indicate that the person is timid, or does not pay attention to detail, or is not able to right a wrong - - all undesirable attributes in the world of business today.
"We're all going to make mistakes," Bettinger concludes. "The question is how are we going to recover when we make them, and are we going to be respectful to others when they make them?"
I always cook my own breaky, so I have no one else to blame when my grits are dry and my Pork Roll rolls away. I'm always gentle with me.