(My Dad sent me this, I altered it a little for all those real human beings out there)
The hiring manager looked up into the eager faces of the students and spoke.
"You have likely heard of our company and our culture. We are known for the quality of the work we produce and the quality of the people who work with us. A brand is a promise. For us to keep that promise to our clients, we need to hire the right people and inspire the right people. We receive thousands of applications each year from people around the world who want to be part of our team."
There was silence in the lecture hall.
"Each year we interview graduates from your program and we only hire just one. We are on a search for what we call a good guy or an amazing woman. They function in what we call 3rd gear."
All eyes on the room were fixed on the speaker.
The hiring manager continued.
"You have likely practiced your interviewing techniques and have your resumes updated but, as I said, we are looking for an 3rd gear person. This is someone who is knowledgable, personable, reliable and who gives back. So we are going to try a different kind of interviewing process.
Today, I am going to give each one of you a seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and I will be back here at the end of the semester to see what you have grown from what I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will belong to the person we will hire."
The students were shocked. A few muttered. A few joked. A few looked confused. But all lined up at the exit to collect a velvet pouch containing a small black seed.
One student went home and called her parents. She excitedly told them about this dream company and their odd interviewing process. Her parents advised her to quickly buy a pot and some soil. Her mother suggested she add a little compost. Her father cautioned her not to over-water.
She planted the small seed and placed it near the window in her room. After three weeks, some of the other students began to talk about their sprouting seeds.
She kept checking her pot but nothing emerged from the dark soil.
In class, other students would describe their growing plants but even after 6 weeks, she saw nothing. She called her parents.
"I feel like such a failure," she said sadly "I did everything right and nothing happened."
Her mother counseled her to be patient. Her father asked if she had over-watered.
The semester passed by. Nothing grew in her little pot. She wondered if she had killed her seed. Her classmates compared notes on leaves, flowers, fertilizers and lighting.
Whenever someone asked about here plant, she would only smile and say "I'm hoping for the best."
Each night she sat down to study at her desk and she would look at the little pot . Each night her hopes would diminish a little more.
The semester finally finished, exams were complete and the big day came. The girl looked at her pot on the window and felt tears begin to well up. She sadly wrote her name on a small label, placed it on the rim and carefully packed the pot in her backpack.
The lecture hall had been transformed into a botanical garden. The front table was filled with beautiful plants, many with flowers of different colors and shapes. The girl placed her small pot under the fronds of a cascading palm and hurried to the back row of the lecture hall.
The door open and the hiring manager strode in. The manager walked slowly around the table, examining each plant.
"My, what beautiful plants and flowers you have grown," said the manager "Today one of you will come and work with us."
The students leaned forward in expectation.
"But first, I have to ask, whose pot is this?"
The girl looked up in horror to see her small pot held in the manager's hand. She could feel her face redden as a few of the students chuckled.
"Whose pot is this please?"
She slowly raised her hand.
Other students turned around and stared.
The manager smiled.
"A few months ago, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead; it was not possible for them to grow.
All of you, except one person, substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Almost all of you acted in what we call 1st gear: narrow self interest. Only one person did what I asked. She had the integrity to bring me a pot with my seed in it. She did what she did because that's who she is and that's how her parents raised her. I could see by the shock on her face she didn't expect us to test her this way. But that is exactly the type of person we were looking for. She did what she did because it was the right thing to do, despite what everyone else was doing. In our company we call that amazing, we call that 3rd gear. That is the type of person we want working at our company. They do what they do because that's who they are. So congratulations, you will be our new hire. And we will surround you with other people who are trying to be in 3rd gear as well.
So remember everyone. If you plant honestly, you will reap trust. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. And if you do what you do in 3rd gear, you will often get to work in the company of heroes.
Do you want your kids or employees in 3rd gear? Click here for upcoming events.