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How to Attract Top Talent

December 22, 2010

I have a secret for you – how to attract top talent.

All the world’s a stage and everyone is watching. 206 eyes were on Brenda Walton. It would have been 210, except two women blinked. Brenda was giving her first keynote to London’s top business women. The blinking gals were two high-level accountants whose eyes were now wide open. There is a war on for talent in professional service firms. Any company that leverages brain power for success wants the best talent but it’s hard to find and even harder to get. Recruiting is time consuming, expensive and potentially risky.

Not for Brenda but then she’s not any accountant. She’s the first female principle at the prestigious firm of Davis Martindale.  She championed a values-based leadership strategy that helped her firm win the 2010 Excellence in Human Resources Award from the Chamber of Commerce. (I was honoured to help a bit behind the scenes).  Brenda asked me to coach her on her presentation. Her goal was to share her winning approach and bring Davis Martindale’s brand to life. She nailed it.

She portrayed who she was and how her firm was different. She wowed her audience by talking with them not at them. She didn’t use dis-emPowerPoint slides packed with so many words they drowned the audience.  Brenda told captivating professional and personal stories with simple powerful visuals. She was, in a word, compelling.

I knew Brenda would be FANTASTIC. I knew she would likely get more invitations to speak and quite likely new clients. What neither of us predicted was that the two wide-eyed accountants would have a heart-to-heart conversation with Brenda after her talk. It was, for them, the tipping point. They ending up leaving their organizations and joining hers. That’s right: two high powered accountants were recruited without expensive job ads,  recruiter’s fees or backroom drama. Brenda learned that in the war for talent, heart-to-heart combat wins. Why? Because it’s still exceptional to see an organization bring values that matter to work.

Attracting talent is always better than chasing it. Those you chase can feel entitled; those you attract are driven to contribute. Outperforming pays off. Bravo Brenda and congratulations Davis Martindale on doing business exceptionally because that attracts the exceptional. Happy holidays, you earned it.

Good is no longer good enough. The goal is perfection and the path that takes us there leads to excellence.
Louise B. Karch