Bucket List Interview question

I recently heard the tail-end of an interview on Sirius Radio (no idea who it was) about candidate application questionnaires when interviewing for jobs. One of the questions asked was so telling on what really motivates a potential employee. That question was simply, “what’s on your bucket list?”.

If you are unfamiliar with bucket lists, here is a quick google definition:- “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime”.

So what does this question have to do with hiring employees? Take the marketing agency I’m currently with (50 person agency in Atlanta). If someone answers the bucket list question with: Own a super yacht, own a gulf stream to travel the world, have a mansion in each continent….Bucket list items like these are most likely not going to be attainable working for an agency, and as a result, we’d never be able to make someone like this happy during their career with us. What’s more likely is that they’d work for us for a few years (or less), then move in search of fulfillment of their dreams (successfully or unsuccessfully), but in that time as an employee we would have done little to effect the experiences and achievements they desire. In other words, at some point they won’t value or feel enriched with the employment experience with us.

On the other hand, if the candidate answers the bucket list question with: I’d like to go sky diving, fly first class one day, learn how to speak Spanish, drive a race car, live in a new city, give back to the elderly….These bucket list items are items our company can work to full-fill. If someone is performing like a rock star and we have the means to give them a certificate to go sky diving as an example, or perhaps live in a new city when the company expands into new markets, etc.; the net effect is that we are helping them enrich actual experiences they hoped to accomplish in their lifetime. Items like these (not all) are within our means and as a result you’d have an employee that’s happier and loyal. As a company, I’d rather we have an ability to positively effect an employees happiness and dreams than disappoint them during there career life journey. I’d rather give them something from there bucket list than a random bonus that has no meaning.

So next time you are interviewing someone, ask the question and see if your in a company that could actually help that person achieve some of the bucket list items. The theory I heard on the radio interview was that, if you can, hire the candidates with attainable bucket list items (not all the items, but some), then you’ll have a solid hiring experience and equally the employee will as well. I like the theory, what do you think?

BrightWave @ 48in48

What brought 17 rockstar BrightWave employees to donate their weekend (48 hours) in-order to build over 57 email templates for 48 local Atlanta non-profits?

Several weeks ago I rebooted a program at BrightWave called “Day of Awesomeness”, which was originally created by Simms Jenkins (Founder of BrightWave) to encourage employees to spend time on non-billable projects that would help us internally, push ideas for clients, and most importantly, do some good for our community.

In resurrecting the program, we defined some categories folks could focus on, provided some examples, extended the number of days folks could use (and the investment into the program), enabled folks to work in teams as opposed to individually, and introduced the concept of “Shared Values”. Continue reading

Take a Sabbatical – It will change your life

I just returned home after a 17 week family RV trip across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest with my wife, Tovah, our two kids, Nina and London, and our two dogs, Stella and Chai. Read about the trip on Tovah’s Blog. It’s odd to be back and tough to get back into a “normal” routine. But, I’m ready to jump back in the game, my mind is clearer, I’m healthier, I’m more connected with my family, and my career options have only gotten better since I unplugged.

In the US, taking a sabbatical of this length is unusual and both Tovah and I have been lucky enough to take the time off and break from our careers/life. Actually, this is the second time I’ve taken a Sabbatical (took 4 months off in 2009 to travel the world with Tovah pre-kids) and it (hopefully) won’t be the last. In Europe, doing something like this would be common place and highly encouraged. 34 of the top 100 companies in Europe offer a paid sabbatical, 37% of UK companies provide Sabbaticals, and in Japan its 25%.

Luckily, the concept of taking a Sabbatical and the benefits are starting to take off with US companies. In fact, 24% of small businesses and 14% of large businesses allow their employees to take sabbaticals (paid or unpaid of six months or more). Technology (Google, IBM, eBay, etc)  and consultancy (Accenture, Bain & Company, etc.) companies have been leading the change in the US. However, even if companies in the US are offering these types of benefits, the average professional in the US still has a hard time committing to taking this amount of time off (paid or un-paid) for various reasons (cost, break in career, etc.). It’s not our cultural-norm to do something like this in the US, but I can tell you first hard it’s absolutely the right thing to do for your life, your health, your family, and surprisingly yes, your career. Continue reading