Paint a picture that sticks

TRD097aHere's how a manager from Sandia National Laboratories inspired an audience of top management at a forum for recruiting employees. He chose the following title: Winning the War for Talent. And then he added a touch of drama.

When it was his turn to speak, he came on stage and stood with his back to the audience while someone came out and silently outfitted him in military attire: an authentic army jacket from World War II, a leather holster with a pearl-handled revolver, a riding crop and gloves, and a helmet.

After he was completely outfitted, a projector beamed a huge U.S. flag on the wall behind him. Then he turned and spoke - but not in the typical fashion of a manager at a national laboratory. Rather, he spoke in the spirited and dramatic manner of General George S. Patton.

What he did was memorize one of Patton's famous speeches, substituting Sandia's mission to recruit talented employees for Patton's mission to gain a beachhead on Italy's western coast. "You are here because you want to win. You love a winner and will not tolerate losing. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for someone who lost and laughed, but will stake my career on someone who will fight to win."

The audience listened intently to every word. At the conclusion of his remarks, he came to attention, did a left-face, and marched off stage as the next speaker took the podium to begin his part of the forum. What normally would have been a routine presentation with slides and polite applause became a provocative call to action that the audience still talked about months later.

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