Talent is Like Milk – It has an EXPIRATION Date

Talent, the holy grail of business growth. Talent like Milk has an expiration date but good news for each of us unlike milk you can “refresh” that expiration date if you invest in talent and grow your talent base. Whether that is yours or another’s talent I think we all can agree that talent is something that it would be a shame to let rot on a shelf.

In today’s tight employment market talent matters more than ever because frankly there isn’t enough of it available. Now, there a whole lot of people who would then turn this article into a talk about training and certifications – sure, those are really important and you should do that – after all that’s critical regardless of your profession.

Get the training and get the certifications needed for yourself, your technical staff, your sales people, your .com folks – you get the point training matters and I doubt you need me to tell you that since we all know that learning companies are leading companies with companies who invest in learning almost doubling the rate of growth vs their non-talented peers. It makes sense – so do it.

But remember talent, unlike skills, can’t be taught, it has to be awakened. People have to want to deliver, want to grow, want to do better or all the skills training in the world won’t take. It’s the desire and ability to win that matter – what most would call success. That burning raging thing that separates a world of “talented” people who never achieve much from those rare few who actually achieve more than anyone else would have dreamed possible.

You know what I mean – we all have those friends or family members who on paper should be more successful and they aren’t and conversely, we have those who are so much more successful than their background would warrant. It comes down to that secret sauce of confidence + drive + hard work + positive attitude = success.

Now, I think many business owners and leaders have it, and initially they surround themselves with people who have a similar profile. Then they start hiring more people, and somewhere along the way they lose that blueprint of an ideal entrepreneurial hire, and end up with some folks that are quite frankly dialing it in.

Why? Because they failed to apply what I believe is a simple principle. I call it the Willing and Able strategy. You need people who are both willing and able. So how do you figure this out for you – especially if you are the hiring manager.

Able is generally easy to spot on a resume – and it’s how traditional recruiting works, the candidate checks enough boxes to make them qualified

Willing that’s another story – that’s one that is harder to peg and I believe is why so many new hires fail particularly in areas like sales and marketing. We at JS group have even used behavioral psychologists many times for interviews to try to peg it and here is his top ten list of questions he asks candidates:

  1. At times your work load may feel unmanageable. Tell me about a time you were unable to meet a deadline. What did you do about it?
  2. Tell me about an idea you came up with that that involved working with a team that improved the business?
  3. Our company is moving fast that means there will be times you will be asked to do many things at once. Tell me how you would decide what is most important and how?
  4. Can you describe for me a time when you identified a problem or issue with a process and what steps did you take to improve the problem? How did your co-workers feel about your solution?
  5. What processes or techniques have you developed to make your current job easier, or to be more effective? How did you figure that out and how did you implement your idea?
  6. Can you tell me about an idea you suggested to your manager within the last six months? How did you take the right steps to get that implemented?
  7. Have you ever worked with a team that is not motivated? (if they say no end the interview) in that situation how do you keep yourself motivated and motivate others?
  8. We all have good and bad jobs – can you talk about the job that satisfied you the most. How about the least? What was the key difference between the two?
  9. How do you react when faced with many hurdles while trying to achieve a goal? How do you overcome the hurdles?
  10. Everyone has good days and bad days at work. Take your time and think back to a really good day you had and tell me why it was a good day.

I truly hope these questions help you in having a dialogue about “willingness” in the talent equation. Now, I am sure you are wondering what are the “right” answers – if you need help with that please feel free to email me at jschijns@jsgnow.com and I can arrange for a consultation for your specific situation.

Now that we have talked about this success factor in talent, I do want to wrap it up with a few skills that are lacking overall in business today, in reverse order:

5. Generating Demand

  • Prospecting – check out our Will Harris’s program to make your prospecting work gold
  • Marketing brand – do you have someone who can make your value prop sing?
  • Omni channel presence – e-comm matters even if you don’t direct sell you still need to do better here and need talent that can keep your web presence top notch at all times
  • Customer engagement models

4. Solution and Service Management – do you have people who are truly talented in creating real solutions and services with commercialized plans to develop and expand your solution? What are they spending on R&D (Btw if listening to this as a reseller or agent don’t tune it out – your solution is the service model surround you support how will you offer modules or services others don’t?

3. Distribution – direct? indirect? online? These are the decisions that all firms must make and look at, you need real talent here. With more than a dozen 5-star channel programs under my belt I will tell you this is a skill – what do you need? At a minimum, expertise in: Cost of distribution expertise; Channel penetration abilities; Channel relationship management; New channel expertise – managing online channels, social channels, and btw the blockchain channel is coming fast so best to get invested in talent here; Program development and management skills.

2. Strategic Intent – let’s face it showing up and doing what you did in the past isn’t going to work Planning, routes to market, value proposition, distribution, service model (including cost to serve) these are skills that most firms don’t invest in for a reason – they are very costly. The person with talents here tends to be super popular at start up and less so as the business grows because they are costly and become stale by being in the same role …that’s why I recommend bringing in a program like our MAP day to help you here.

1. Human connectivity – biggest gap in talent. People forget you need to connect and connect regularly. This is why I have a monthly activation program that I practice whereby I keep in touch with people regularly based on some good planning and some analytics on who and where I need to connect. Fortunately, I’m a natural connector but not everyone is; therefore, you either need to be comfortable learning this skill or hire someone who is great at it, because connections in a world that is always on matters.

In closing I did want to share a few stats:

  • The CGMA reports that 68% of a company’s value stems directly from the people in the organization. When you view employees as expenses, all you see is the numbers on the payroll. Stop doing that and focus instead on their talents and what it can deliver.
  • Further Research shows that on average, U.S. employees in small businesses waste more than 2 hours a day at work. Some due to time wasters that could be fixed with technology but others are purely due to trying to do something you have no skill to do – and in a gig economy frankly that’s an unacceptable loss of time and waste of money.

Need business strategic growth talents such as product, go to market, channels or sales help that aren’t readily available or where you don’t have the skills?

Talk to JS Group today.


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JSG specializes in creating impactful indirect go-to-market strategies for tech firms. We develop next-gen channel frameworks and deploy innovative growth strategies that go well beyond theory, delivering real-world results.


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