What is a rising star? What does Talent truly mean?
In a competitive market for white-collar workers in China’s Eastern Coastal cities and now second and third tier cities, we hear a lot about the word ‘talent’. Talent, in the vernacular of the white-collar masses is casually taken to mean people who are very good at their jobs. We hear a lot of phrases like “Discovering Talent” “Asia Talent Conference” etc.However in truth, when people use the word talent in this casual way, what they are really referring to is ‘above-average’.
  • Q1: Firstly, can you describe what you mean by exceptional talent?
  • A1: Examples would be Sajid Javid a 47 year old British Cabinet minister, who at the age of 25 became the youngest Vice-President of Chase Manhatten Bank, and was a multi-millionaire soon after. An extreme example would be Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and an obvious example would be Jack Ma in China. Steve Jobs of course would be a particularly good example (if you’ve read the books and films about him).
  • Q2: So in your view and experience [Robert], what are some of the characteristics, which are unique to people who have exceptional talent?
  • A2:Work hard; have a good education; turn up on time; get good reviews.
Follow-up questions:
  • Do we want exceptional people then if they’re so difficult to manage?
  • Do we want exceptional talent if it comes with an exceptionally poor attitude?
  • Should we build companies with a mixture of talent levels? And if so why?
  • How do we motivate exceptional talent?
  • What if you do not fit into the “exceptional talent” box? How can you still stand out and be (above average)?
  • Is exceptional talent something you are born with or is it related to the way you are raised / childhood? – Is it “trainable” (quite Chinese parenthood question)