It was the first time the Talent Solvers team attended the Transparency19 conference hosted by FreightWaves in Atlanta, but it certainly won’t be our last.

The event brought together 1000+ of the greatest minds and innovators in Freight Technology to share, collaborate and network over the course of three days.

For us, it was an opportunity to be fully immersed in pivotal freight and logistics conversations, absorbing knowledge bite by bite as topics evolved from market trends to mergers to freight futures.

Although there wasn’t a session solely dedicated to hiring or company culture, the topic arose organically as leaders stressed the importance of hiring and retaining the best talent to lead their organization forward.

For those of you unable to attend, or anyone looking for a refresher, I wanted to recap some of my favorite quotes, comments and insights on hiring and retention discussed over the three-day event.

Craig Fuller, FreightWaves CEO, on Designing a Culture of Intellectually Curious Employees

Let’s talk about culture. What’s your secret sauce? What was your strategy behind hiring the way that you have?

“I think, after going through a lot of businesses and startups that didn’t have the successes that I would’ve wanted, you start to evaluate what drives a company to be successful. And, I think what I look for are people who are committed to the vision.

The first thing I’ll do in an interview is try to understand, “what did they do to prepare for this meeting?” If I can tell they don’t know anything about my business, for example, did they even read the website? If they can’t answer the basics in two minutes I know they have no clue what we do and just walk out of the interview at that point.

I think it’s important that you hire people that really believe in the mission. We don’t hire based necessarily job qualifications. And the jobs we hire them for often evolve because we’re growing a lot. So, we find people who are adaptable.

Hire people that really believe in the mission. Jobs always evolve, so we find people who are adaptable.”

One of the things, as we’ve grown that we’ve learned, is that when you’re a seven-person or 15 people organization, information and decisions kind of happen by osmosis. Everyone knows what’s happening, it’s no secret.

When you get to 50 or 75 employees, people who are used to more structured environments are constantly caught off guard by, wait I worked for this person yesterday and now they’re in a completely different job. So, you have to evolve and do a good job of communicating that.

In terms of picking people, we pick people who want to be on the bus, regardless of role. That’s really the primary criteria. And then, we make decisions really quick about whether or not they’re going to fit there.

“Pick people who want to be on the bus, regardless of role.”

The other thing I would say we look for, definitively the strongest thing about our business, is that we look for people who are intellectually curious.

Definitively the strongest thing about our business is that we look for people who are intellectually curious.

If you look top to bottom, we have people who have been in their careers for 40 years, who haven’t stopped learning or asking questions. We also have people who are just starting out in their career, who are also intellectually curious. And those are the ones who thrive in my organization. They’re committed to the mission and they’re intellectually curious.”

Gary Vaynerchuck, Investor, Best-Selling Author and Serial Entrepreneur, on firing the best performers if they’re driving down your culture

Let’s talk a little bit about the culture and what to do about people who are driving down the culture of the business.

“What most businesses are doing is, if you’ve got somebody who’s driving top-line revenue and she or he is crushing their numbers, they’re looking at surface level. They think, “well if we fire Carol we’re going to lose those three accounts because she’s so wired in there.”

What they don’t realize is the hidden lost revenue that’s happening with “Carol” or “Harold,” destroying the culture and completely messing up the continuity and speed of the macro.

Most businesses don’t realize the hidden lost revenue that’s happening when you keep (a negative employee) as they’re destroying the culture and completely messing up the continuity and speed of the macro.”

It’s remarkable what happens when you make the decision to fire them. The buy-in from the rest of the crew that you knew. Because most employees think that the big boss, that she or he has no idea what’s actually going on. That they’re looking the other way because of money, that they live in an ivory tower.

You have to fire the best performers that are destroying your culture.

So when you deliver on culture, the buy-in from the macro is remarkable. And what it does for the business is extraordinary. I’m a pot-committed buyer of this thesis that you have to fire the best performers that are destroying your culture.”

Brad Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of XPO Logistics, on creating a culture that accentuates the human value and embraces change

“We work really hard at the culture. You can’t underestimate that. We work really hard at the human value of the organization and you can do it with 100,000 people. You can do that. There’s no law of nature that says with 10 people or 100 people or 1000 people you can get really everyone’s head in the game but once you get to 20,000 or 100,000 you can’t do that anymore. That’s not written anywhere, there’s no law of physics that says that.

We work really hard in making people feel cared for. Making people feel that they’re part of a family and not just a company. That they’re part of an organization that’s interested in their development and their future. And, has values and sticks to those values. Doesn’t just have values on a page but really believes in honesty, helpfulness, collegiality and safety. And, they see the genuineness and it’s that word of mouth that kind of mushrooms on its own.”

“Change is inevitable. If we resist change, fear change, if we’re worried about change, if we’re trying to hold onto the present or trying to hold onto the past, we’re going to be miserable. Not only are we going to be miserable and our mental health is going to be poor but we’re not going to be prepared. We’re not going to be prepared for what’s next.

So,  the most important element of being prepared for what’s next in mind is going back to culture. Have a culture that embraces change, that likes change, that enjoys change and knows how to do change management.

“Have a culture that embraces change, that likes change, that enjoys change and knows how to do change management.”

That’s how you prepare for change, it’s changing the collective mindset of your organization to like change and not hate change.

The answer in my mind is just to work really hard to have change and be acceptable of change. Not only begrudgingly accepting of change but really warmly hugging it, wanting it and looking forward to change. And seeing how exciting that is and how enthusiastic that can be and all the benefits of what we can be in the future. Dreaming imaging and fantasizing. Getting everyone excited and riled up. “

Values matter, listen and adapt, don’t settle

While every organization is unique, the struggle to acquire and retain game-changing talent was felt throughout the conference. Presenters who have grown incredible teams stressed the importance of hiring for values, not skills. If you hire people who believe what you believe, everything else can be taught.

In a world that is continually evolving, people who are driven, curious and quick to adapt will be the ones prepared to take on any new challenge that comes your way.

Need help finding team members like that? Give the team at Talent Solvers a shout and we’ll walk you through how we’ve helped other companies hire top talent who “want to be on the bus.”