August, 05, 2014 SusanGraham | Posted in: SGC

A colleague suggested I watch Moneyball – a movie made in 2011 starring Brad Pitt. He thinks I am too close to my employees which makes it harder to make difficult hiring/terminating decisions. That doesn’t seem like such a bad homework assignment, I thought. “You’ll learn valuable lessons in that movie.” he told me. “I’m going to quiz you once you’ve watched it.”

Moneyball, I learned, is about “baseball during the 2002 season where the nation’s lowest-salaried Major League Baseball team put together a 20-game winning streak, setting a new American League record. The team began that same season with 11 losses in row. What happened between is the stuff of “Moneyball,” a smart, intense and moving film that isn’t so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics.”  I made a big bowl of popcorn and watched the move that night.  I loved it.

How many times have you heard the phrase “It’s not personal, it’s business.”? Personally I have a very hard time with that axiom. I can’t help but take things personally – even as a successful business woman. In fact, I was once told by an associate I’m too nice. I need to not be so close to my people. I shouldn’t wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s BUSINESS. It’s not PERSONAL.


I’ve always listened to my intuition and ignored the statistics books. I’m a Moneyball failure. I just don’t get this idea of things being all about business and not personal. If I have to have an uncomfortable conversation with one of my employees I typically lose 3 nights of sleep and consume a half gallon of coffee chip ice cream before I can summon the “business” side of my personality to get the job done. The only wall I’ve been able to put up in my life is the one in my office filled with pencil marks measuring how tall my recruiter’s kids are getting when they come to work with their Moms. They (the kids) feel it very business-like to line up to be measured.

Recruiters are cut from the same mold. We very much have the collective need for people to like us. If we can be assured they do, we can get them to trust us. We don’t work with IT candidates only if we’re sure we can place them. We develop relationships that last for years – sometimes never finding them a job but knowing our bond will be always be part of our intimate network.

In Moneyball, it’s all about statistics (how often do the players get on base) and intuition (when is it time to trade someone who isn’t living up to expectations). At SGC it’s all about running a business that is in no way similar to our competitors. We get close to our people. We get involved. We take things (including your career) personally. It works for us.

What I’ve learned is there is no right or wrong way to run a company. Business plans are made to be re-written. In order to succeed I have chosen the path labeled “personal”.  The business just follows.

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