rebel talent

Episode 38: Rebel Talent

In these turbulent times, business as usual is a recipe for failure. In our work—and in our lives more broadly—we need to challenge the status quo and find new ways to overcome obstacles and capitalize on unexpected opportunities.

Our guest in this episode is our Harvard Business School colleague, Francesca Gino. She’s the author of Rebel Talent: Why it pays to break the rules at work and in life.

As you’ll hear, Fran is something of a rebel herself—and we say that with great respect and admiration. That nature is clear in her research and it’s the cornerstone of her teaching, as well. But when Fran speaks of rebels, however, she’s not talking about troublemakers, people who are arrogant or hostile.

Rather, Fran is fascinated by inventive thinkers who are deeply curious about how things work, while harboring the thought that they could make them work better. They’re the ones that can look at apparent problem, see it from a new perspective, and transform it into a success.

She tells a great story about how the owner of the number-one rated restaurant in the world witnessed one of his staff drop a dessert and make an utter mess on the kitchen floor. Rather than berate the poor guy, though, the owner saw how the disaster could be turned into one of the most popular items on his menu. The lesson? Organizations need to develop and support a culture that nurtures creative rebelliousness.

Fran says that leaders can spot them in an interview. Someone who answers the “what’s one of your weaknesses” question with “I’m too much of a perfectionist” probably isn’t the real deal. Instead, she says “if people are genuinely talking about something that they are not perfect on, that is a challenge for them, that’s a great sign for authenticity.” Fran points to research that shows that people who try to cater to the interviewer’s interests, they’re likely to get the job. “Being authentic is a much better approach.” 

Take a listen and discover how you can nurture your own, authentic rebellious spirit!

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