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Marius had just seen all his dreams evaporate when the narrator of The Misérables says he ‘had already experienced too much of life not to know that nothing is more imminent than the impossible, and that what it is always necessary to foresee is the unforeseen’.  To believe that things will go smoothly because one has prepared everything well or, on the contrary, to be pessimistic and defeatist will ensure neither success nor failure, otherwise many people would take up clairvoyance!   One must always keep in mind that nothing is impossible, so consider many different outcomes so as to be reactive in any circumstances.

Let’s take a concrete example: do you know what boosted the career of Maurice Lévy, the current CEO of the multi-billion dollar Publicis Group?  He got himself noticed by the group’s founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet due to a fire!  The young Maurice Lévy, then an IT engineer, had archived the company’s data on magnetic tape.  While the building was burning, he kept a cool head and saved the tapes from the flames.  One week later, the business was up and running again.

Maurice Lévy had been recruited just one year before.  A character can make all the difference!  Obviously, to spot exceptional talent and then attract it to your company requires a recruitment process that has both breadth and depth.  In order to really know what sort of person you are dealing with, don’t be content just to look at a CV, background, education, etc., but make the candidate speak about his or her hobbies and sports and what he or she is passionate about.  Don’t hesitate to test the candidate by ‘throwing them a curveball’.  If the candidate becomes withdrawn or evasive, they probably won’t be able to keep a cool head when facing the unexpected.

Don’t be too quick to throw out unusual profiles; those who have travelled a lot for example, or those who have had a lot of jobs without any impressive academic qualifications.  In France, companies are not really keen on candidates like this.  Of course, the training necessary with these sorts of profiles will take a little longer, but just think of the ‘out of the box’ vision these people will bring to the common problems faced by your business.

Also pay attention to young talent.  People speak a lot about the fickleness of the Y generation, but I can assure you they are extremely loyal if allowed to grow and develop in a climate of trust.  Moreover, their ingenuousness spurs them on.  They are young and want to prove themselves.  They look upon the unforeseen as a challenge and adapt naturally, and it is above all they who will think the impossible.

In short, surround yourself with the sort of talent who are not afraid of the impossible!

Charles-Henri Dumon, CEO & Founder of Morgan Philips Group

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