Of course by now you have heard, read up about, and quite possibly grown tired of the recent stories of ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd, rebel Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater, and ‘Jenny’, the turned out to be fake ‘Quit my job on a whiteboard’ chick.
In most accounts Hurd, Slater, and turned out to be fake ‘Jenny’ tend to come off poorly, as damaged goods, and worse for them, that the damage was caused by their own doing. Obviously no one coerced Hurd to run around the country with a part-time HP contractor/actress, and low rent reality TV personality.(‘Age of Love?’ Really? Ugh.) No one put the beers in Slater’s hand and deployed the emergency slide to facilitate his escape from what was most certainly an incredibly obnoxious passenger. And (theoretically) no one greased up the whiteboard for ‘Jenny’ to rat out her boss and company on her way out the door.
Looking at Hurd, Slater, and Jenny, we see respectively scandal, appalling customer service and possible criminal behavior, and public humiliation and insubordination – the kind of behavior that gets conveniently and correctly classified as ‘bridge burning’. It’s behavior so distasteful that not only would there be no possibility of ever returning to their former place of employment in the future, but chance of a positive employment reference, of even a half-baked recommendation on LinkedIn are also out of the question. And it’s exactly what countless career advisors advise against. Never, ever burn bridges, you may need those contacts in the future.
So since Hurd, Slater, and Jenny did not heed that advice, I suppose they are SOL in terms of future professional opportunities, right? Surely no serious company would touch these three? Maybe not, but I think a savvy and imaginative organization could potentially get a huge bargain in taking a shot at Hurd or Slater, (or one of the thousands of others out there with similar, but lesser known stories).
- They’re talented – Hurd was CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, Slater was a pretty well respected flight attendant and employee, and Jenny, well she has some cool, hipster specs. They have ability, expertise, and in the case of Hurd certainly, a history of high achievement. It is interesting how sometimes we can forgive lapses in judgment for some super talented people over time, (see Clinton, Bill and Stewart, Martha). Hurd and Slater probably have not changed all that much, it is our perception of them that has.
- They have something to prove – Do you think these guys are done? At least in the case of Hurd I would venture to say he has plenty left in the tank and definitely something to prove. And he has some high profile, powerful people in his corner. After getting run through the meat grinder of the press and the blogosphere, he will be sure to do everything possible to stay on the straight and narrow.
- They’ll work cheap(er) – No way you will ever have a better opportunity to touch top talent like this at a price point well below what they used to command. Sure, Slater was not likely pulling down big time coin with jet Blue, but Hurd sure was with HP. The combination of ego, drive, scandal, and desire to stick it to their former companies would motivate these types, well beyond the paycheck.
Let’s review – scandal for some can equal opportunity for others. Access to experienced, motivated talent, with a huge chip on their shoulder, willing to do whatever they can to redeem themselves to their families, in their industry, and to the public could be a winning formula for an organization willing to see beyond the headlines and angry blog posts.
And you know what else? There are thousands of enormously talented folks out there as well, whose names we don’t know, who are not publicly associated with scandal, but who are also super motivated to prove themselves too. Don’t hold their one mistake against them too, even if it didn’t involve jumping off of a plane, or making a funny video that went viral.
Steve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology Conference. He is also a former Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle and an HR Technology instructor. Steve can also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast … you know, where a bunch of HR pros get together and call in to talk about HR stuff. Sounds like an SNL skit, we know. But when you have Dave Ulrich, the grandfather of HR as show guests, well, I guess you’re doing something right. Talk to Steve via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.