Don’t fall for smooth talk.
Early in his career, Robert W. Selander, who recently stepped down as CEO at MasterCard, learned about discerning style from substance.
He was living in Brazil at the time, working for Citibank. His job entailed traveling to Brazilian branches, speaking with branch managers. One manager sticks in his mind.
“As I was sitting there trying to discern and understand what this branch manager was saying to me, and he was struggling with his English,” Selander recalls, “the coin sort of dropped that this guy really knows what he’s talking about. He’s having a hard time getting it out.”
It would have been easy for Selander to dismiss the manager.
lesson: “It is too easy to let the person with great presentation or language skills buffalo you into thinking that they are better or more knowledgeable than someone else who might not necessarily have that particular set of skills.”
Don’t let style distract you from substance.
— Adapted from "The X Factor When Hiring? Call It 'Presence,'" Adam Bryant, The New York Times.