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We wanted him because he’s a rock star July 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation, Workforce.
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Thanks to data miners like Google Blog Search and Technorati, I come across pieces like this, a post by “Che” from his MySpace.com blog called “Change of Time.” Excuse the long excerpt, but it’s a long article and I wanted to share the story as well as its moral:

I noticed one member of the group sitting slouched over on the grass, dressed in a tank top. This young man had spiked multi – colored hair, full-body tattoos, and multiple piercing in his ears. An obvious slacker, I thought, probably in a band. “So what is your story?” I asked. “Hey man, I just signed on with these guys in the band.”

In fact, as I would later learn, he was a gifted student who had inked the highest-paying deal of any graduating student in the history of his department, right at that table on the grass, with the recruiters who do not “recruit.”

What a change from my own college days in Europe, just a little more than 20 years ago, when students would put on their dressiest clothes and carefully hide any counterculture tendencies to prove that they could fit in with the company.

Today, apparently, it’s the company trying to fit in with the students. In fact, Trilogy had wined and dined him over margarita parties in Gothenburg and flown him to L.A. for private parties in hip nightspots and aboard company boats.

When I later called the people who had recruited him to ask why, they answered, “That’s easy. We wanted him because he’s a rock star.”

This young man and his lifestyle proclivities represent a profound new force in the economy and life of Scandinavia, especially in Sweden. He is a member of what I call the creative people: a fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend.

“We wanted hime because he’s a rock star.” What an amazingly profound statement on the state of recruiting. It tells us how the market has changed, and how creative knowledge workers can largely write their own ticket.

That cultural paradigm – of passively recruiting “rock stars” – begs the question: What are our communities and their employers doing to foster environments where “rock stars” want to be? I can think of the obvious locales, like Boston, Austin, the Bay Area and Seattle. But what of the rest of country? Can we afford to pass on “rock stars” because they don’t fit our cultural paradigm?

Great post, inspired by the work of Richard Florida.

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