Stress Test

My nephew just completed the first 90 days of his new career in the high-risk insurance industry. The interesting thing is he almost didn’t have the opportunity to take on this new role after spending six years in real estate. After several interviews at various levels of the company, he met with the founder. Everything went well until he got up to leave.

That’s when the key decision-maker looked him in the eye and said: “Ryan, when I was in your position, I would finish an interview and wonder, ‘Where do I stand?’ So I want to let you know what I’m thinking. To succeed in our business, we need people who are 10s. I see you as a five. That’s not meant to hurt your feelings, just to let you know I’m not sure you’ll make it here.”

Although caught off-guard, Ryan said, “Well, I respectfully disagree and hope you’ll reconsider.” They shook hands and parted. After a few hours, Ryan had time to digest the unexpected ending, so he wrote a polite email to this gentleman outlining why he sees himself as a 10 and exactly what he would do to prove that. The next day he received an offer.

A few weeks after starting at the company, Ryan was sharing this story with a couple of veteran salesmen. They smiled and told him the founder did the same thing after their interviews. “He gave you a five?” one of them said. “All I got was a four.”

Successful salespeople have to be comfortable overcoming deflection and rejection. This veteran leader utilizes a unique interview technique to test candidates. Is there something similar your company could adopt to see who rises to the top and responds appropriately?


Powerful Prose

You may have seen the series of insurance commercials in which a Rod Serling-type announcer asks, “Could switching to Geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance?” In a current iteration, he then inquires, “Is the pen mightier than the sword?” After a ninja displays some slick sword work, the camera cuts to a man in martial arts clothing signing for an overnight delivery. He opens the box, pulls out an electronic device and zaps his adversary to the ground.

Posting a comment in 140 characters on Twitter doesn’t take much longer than that television spot. Unfortunately, sometimes the person tweeting doesn’t pause that long to ask, “How will this look if it shows up on the evening news?” Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall caused quite a stir last week – and was dropped by sponsors – after he tweeted comments questioning Osama bin Laden’s guilt in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In this fast-paced world of instant communication, it’s easier than at any time in history to state an opinion that quickly circles the globe. Unfortunately, not having the discipline to consider in advance the potential impact of your comments could lead to big regrets. The Moral of the Mendenhall Mess: Think before you tweet. Otherwise you might end up in full-contact self-defense.