Fifteen years ago, a non-English-speaking man applied to work at GT's Living Foods. In Spanish, he told the hiring manager, "I am willing to do anything." He got the job.
Originally, his job was to sweep and mop the floors. He moved up to housekeeping, and later was promoted to work on the bottling line.
"Every month, every quarter, every year he grew, and his attitude got better," says GT Dave, founder and CEO of GT's Living Foods. "He promised he would do anything, and he did. He had zero ego, zero pride, and the best attitude I've ever seen."
Dave even goes so far as to say that this hire is better at his job than any other employee--even those with more education and industry experience. Unlike many people, who are specifically good at only one or two tasks, this employee has an affinity for quickly learning how to do many different things. And now he's an executive at GT's Living Foods. His job is to develop kombucha flavors and to run production lines. He's also a general problem solver for the company.
In a company like GT's Living Foods, Dave says, he needs people who are scrappy, flexible, and quick to jump on problems that need solving. "We're very, very lean. We're very, very agile. We're much more artistic than we are corporate," Dave says. "It's a hard environment for your typical executive to exist in."
As such, Ivy League degrees and decades of experience don't necessarily count for much. Dave says résumés don't matter to him: He looks for the same can-do attitude in every applicant who walks in the door. And, once he hires someone, that person has to keep proving she's worthy of the job.
"I want to see what you can do here, and now. That's my litmus test for talent," says Dave.