I want to introduce you to two people. I don’t know them, but I’d hire both of them without a second thought.
This past November was unseasonably warm in Chicago. Sitting outside, basking in the glow of the soft, midday sun and feeling its warm radiance, felt like a gift. We did this nearly every weekend, savoring a cappuccino on the patio of one of our local coffee shops. On one such Saturday, we tried a new place, a coffee shop we’d yet to indulge in, enjoying our last dalliance with no-coat weather.
An Acura pulled up to the curb, hazards flashing, and the driver quickly popped the trunk. We assumed he was just running in to grab a cup of joe but, instead, he hauled a bucket full of sudsy water out of his trunk with one hand, a squeegee firmly grasped in the other. We were a perplexed, so we decided to ask him what he was up to. He had a spring in his step and positive vibe that struck us, and we just had to know more. He replied, “I put my kids through college washing windows. I’m here to wash the café’s windows and scrape the gum off the sidewalk in front of the door.“ He was so genial, happy to be doing these tasks that so many would tackle with a long, dejected sigh.
He explained that he started his own company when he became a father and he’s grown to love the work. He even said, “I love the work even in the winter when it’s zero degrees and I have to wash windows outside.” He shared his client list with us and it included the names of some of Chicago’s most noteworthy restaurants. He then asked us if we ever noticed how clean a restaurant’s windows where. We admitted we never paid attention, as its a detail so many are inclined to miss. He followed up with a similar question, but one with a distinctly different meaning: “Have you ever noticed any dirty windows at a restaurant?” He wanted to know if seeing grimy, panes of glass would change our perception of a restaurant, and we had to admit that, well, it would. Long story short, this guy had us sold on him, and his business, simply by asking us questions about the mundane things we never really think about.
I tell you this story because that man taught us something that day about the unconscious choices we make in our daily lives. When walking through your neighborhood, hungry and indecisive, you’d likely avoid a restaurant that didn’t make cleanliness a priority. But it’s people like him, the unseen workers, who add to a service’s total experience. It made me realize that, if I were ever in a position to work with this guy, I’d do so in a heartbeat. He oozed positivity, and he understood how his role was part of the greater whole. And after talking to him, he made you see that, too.
The Joyful Employee
My other wishful employee is a woman I see every Thursday morning from May to October. We happened upon each other several years ago, and since then, our Thursday morning routine has become something I look forward to. She’s a landscaper for the city, often mowing the grassy patch just north of Museum Campus. I see her on my morning runs, her driving that mower like it was a Ferrari, with a gleeful sense of purpose. Just seeing her whip around corners while hitting every blade of grass, blasting music and singing along at the top of her lungs, it can’t help but bring a smile to my face. We don’t know each other, and we’ve never so much as spoken a word to one another, but we smile and wave, sharing in that joyful moment together.
When I watch these people work, what I see are two individuals dedicated to their crafts, the kinds that are so often forgotten about. They approach each day with a genuine passion, finding things to love in every little bit of their work. It may not be glamorous, but they take pride in it, doing their jobs with the kind of love that can’t be faked or forged. I get the sense that this isn’t just something that pays the bills, but something that fulfills them, and they just have to sing about so everyone knows it.
One of the most satisfying moments for me always comes when meeting a new client and hearing them comment on our enthusiasm for data management. Not only do we know the field inside and out, but it’s clear we’re driven by it, finding passion in every facet of the business. That’s something I see in those people too, and it’s why I always think of them when I think of what makes a good hire.
So it’s why I ask, what makes you want to hire someone?