Chapter 2 - The Talent Magnet


Chapter Summary Recognise each person's genius, label it and champion it publically. Let people grow beyond their initial walls and let them go if there is a larger challenge ahead of them. A players: become A+ players, and attract more A players.

Mitt Romney was a talent magnet. He took time to understand people, their capabilities and accelerates them. Thus more talent would be come. He would ask questions like:

  • What is the next challenge for you?
  • What would be a stretch assignment?
  • What is getting in the way of your success?

Becoming a talent magnet is advantageous as it becomes a perpetual cycle - you grow talent, they spread the word and attract more great people.

The Cycle of Attraction 👍


The Cycle of Decline 👎


The four practises of the talent magnet

1. Look for talent everywhere

Recognise there are many origins and types of intelligence, and be proactive in getting it!

Appreciate all types of genius, refer to:

  • Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

  • Golemon's work on emotional intelligence

  • Dweck's work on the effect of mindset on capability

Bring in diversity of intelligence.

Think about how you can make the most of someone's intelligence.

2. Find people's native genius

Things that people do really well, naturally.

Look for natural flow state, authentic enthusiam; ask What do they do...

  • ...better than anything else they do, and without effort
  • autonomously
  • better than the people around them

Once you figure it out, make it known! Tell them privately and publically.

3. Utilise people at their fullest

This is a deliberate management approach.

Find each person's genius, find the stretching task for each.

Bring the team together and make it known why someone is brought to the dream team.


Personally really love this. It's authentic, motivating and rational. Authentic because you are talking openly about someone's great traits. It's motivating because by the action of doing this you're championing a person. And it's rational because if someone isn't brought to the team for a specific strength, then why are they there?

4 Remove the blockers

Be proactive in removing the weeds (process, problems, people) from the organisation.

Sridhar of Bloom Energy, hires the elite and has 1 rule: "No prima donnas". Liz describes one story of Sridhar where he removes a prima donna expecting it to cause a disruption in the team. Instead the team rapport increased and they rallie together to complete the project on time.

Nothing grows under a bayan tree Old Indian saying

What we take is that we shouldn't overly protect everyone. Sun (the opposite of shade) is uncomfortable but it is vital for growth.


Let's be a jungle! Not a iceberg.

The diminisher's approach to managing talent

D's own talent, not develop it.

Aquiring talent

D's find talent and slot it into's its place, making it impossible for people to extend beyond the walls.

Letting talent languish

Empire builders take credit, talent magnets give it.

"one brain, many hands", you want "many connected brains, and even more hands"

Becoming a talent magnet

The first step is honing a skill of "genius watching"

Some suggested steps:

  • name the genius. spend time with the person you want to find the genius in, and when you do, practise naming it publically
  • supersize their job. give room to grow, like a parent buying shoes for their kid. Give a individual contributer some leadership tasks. Comfort their anxiety, step back and let them grow into it.
  • let go of a superstar. let them find greater challenges, celebrate their success, root them on; it'll come back in other ways.