I’ll Take Manhattan… Timberland CEO Says “Cool!”

jeffswartzJeffrey Swartz, the president and CEO of Timberland Company had some interesting things to say in his recent interview with The New York Times.

For hiring, he said he tells the headhunter to ask the interviewee to please wear their favorite pair of shoes, if they are talking about an apparel position. For a footwear position, he asks that they their favorite outfit.

During the interview, he wants to hear the story behind what they are wearing…

  • This is the most important piece of clothing that I own and here’s why.
  • These are my favorite pair of shoes and here’s why.

Swartz said, “It’s a way of asking what matters to you, and what doesn’t.”

Brilliant!  Great way to avoid crafted answers and really learn about the candidate.

He also described part of the new employee initiation, where a warm-up exercise is to state your name and say your favorite place in the outdoors.

south-street-seaportOne employee was mortified to tell him that her favorite place “is not a hiking trail. It’s not a mountain. I love Manhattan. I love the smell of it.” She thought she was toast, but Swartz was cool with it.

He used this exercise to serve as a jumping off point — explaining how “The individual matters.”

Here’s something else he conveyed:

“I’m desperately probing for the human inside the shell because the people who succeed at Timberland show a little leg, meaning they expose themselves. You have to. To go to a company town-hall meeting and call out to question a strategy you don’t understand or a deeply felt thing, you’ve got to show up.”

Like I said, brilliant!

Note: Make sure to check out the “Corner Office” feature that appears every Sunday in the Business section of The New York Times.

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