Are You Hiring Raw Talent?

Last week I got invited down to Rock Ventures (Dan Gilbert – the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans – yeah that Rock Ventures) to do the closing keynote for their HR and Talent Summit across the family of companies in Downtown Detroit! Fun, fast-moving culture. Seemingly every CEO of the 130 Rock Venture companies looked to be 30-ish!

As you can imagine, fast-growing organization, that can grow or hire enough talent fast enough to keep up.

One of the sessions was led by Victor You, CEO of Rock Connections, which is a call center that was built for Quicken Loans, but they found out other companies needed a high-quality call center, so they started selling their services. Most of the Rock Venture companies have a similar story. Idea by an employee, run with it, if you can make it happen, you become the CEO!

Rock Ventures is a Detroit company. When I say “Detroit” I mean “Detroit”. The entire campus is downtown Detroit. They hire Detroit city citizens. They are almost singlehandedly turning Detroit into one of the hottest growing cities in the U.S. Therein lies Victor’s problem as a CEO of a fast-growing startup.

Rock doesn’t want to have to relocate everyone they hire to Detroit. They want to hire those people already in Detroit. As you can imagine there’s a skills gap. The normal Detroit citizen is like most urban center citizens. Lower educated, lower income, less likely to have a college education.

Victor graduated from the University of Michigan. Engineering grad who didn’t like engineering. So, he went and sold mortgages. Did pretty well. Good enough that Dan Gilbert made him CEO of a company! What I love about Victor is he gets talent. He gets talent at a very different level than 99% of CEOs on the planet.

Victor explained it the group as “Raw” talent versus experiential talent. Almost all of us hire experiential talent. We have a job opening. That job needs a certain level of experience. So, that’s what we recruit and hire.

Victor doesn’t look for experience. Victor looks for raw talent attributes. What are those?

  • Hard working
  • Pride in the work they do
  • Wants to be apart of something bigger than them
  • Never satisfied

He saw that many Detroiters had these attributes, but no one was willing to give them a shot because they didn’t have the ‘experience’. He was like, “we can teach them the job”, it’s harder to teach them the raw talent attributes. In fact, you can’t teach those raw talent attributes.

The results have been off the charts! Great retention. High performance. High diversity. High concentration of Detroiters.

In a tight talent economy, you need to start changing the way you do things. We need to open up these modern day ‘apprenticeships’. We need more CEO leadership like Victor You.

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