What’s your red shoe? Why should I work for you?

Kim’s notes from Jerry Zhang’s – “Recruit and Retain Young Talent” – Part 3

This is my final post from Jerry’s session.  Again, I really enjoyed Jerry’s presentation.  At only the age of 17 he is Profit Magazine’s, Fab 30, owns his own company glowstik and has achieved other notable leadership accomplishments.  Personally, I was truly inspired by his presentation – it was relevant, engaging, perfect for the target audience, funny, and most of all insightful.  Get this guy at your next conference if you are talking about Young Talent and Driving Results!

This is my FAVORITE PART!!

Let’s talk ‘culture’.

Everyone says, “we’re different”.  Everyone.  What makes you different?  Can you truly, distinctly, authentically…answer that question in a way that can’t be mistaken or easily replicated by your competitors?  Hold that thought.

Young people want to work for 2 types of companies – cool or big.

Let’s focus on cool places to work. Young people love companies that want to save the world.  How are you saving the world?  How are they helping save the world by working for you?  Figure it out…it’s there somewhere.  For example, helping people with financial planning for the future may be helping save a problem in today’s society…dig in, there is a unique value proposition and a story to tell.  And young people will want to join in for a number of reasons beyond just the pay cheque.

Being weird isn’t a bad thing.  What makes you unique, genuine, special…the non-tangible things that you talk about at the ‘water cooler’ help make up your culture and play a part in recruiting and RETAINING people – more than you THINK!  You need to be able to articulate and promote these unique qualities to compete for talent at all levels.


One day a red shoe, just one, appeared outside the window at Jerry’s company office window.  It survived the ice storm and all the winter elements.  No one knows how it got there or why – but it’s become part of the conversation and part of the culture.  Sombreros, beer Fridays, Kitchen Duty, Scavenger hunts, morning rituals, the red shoe….etc….etc…these are all things that are part of the culture and what make you unique.  Do not, I repeat, do not, underestimate how powerful and meaningful they are to building and sustaining what made you attractive, different, and worth the leap in the first place.  And it’s not always the big stuff like benefits, compensation – those are expected and transactional. How you articulate and promote the message is what counts, will get you the best targeted results and ultimately the best fit hire for your company.  It’s the little things that make a big difference! Jump in!

Jerry – thanks for sharing!  You’re presentation was brilliant!

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