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Recruit the Right Way: Use a Paper Bag

Aug 3, 2015 by Aaron Clay 0 Comments

Co-authored by Mark Banks

If there is one thing I’ve learned in an open-book business it’s that it takes the right attitude to succeed.

Recruiting the right players can make or break your team’s performance. Often times when we look to hire folks into our organization or promote from within, we simply look at their skill set, but I believe we must challenge ourselves to look at their attitude.

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Here’s what we practice:

Hire the attitude. Train the skill.

This mantra isn’t new, but it’s critical for open-book businesses to find the right people to play The Game.

If you apply for a job at Amy’s Ice Creams you won’t be given a standard application. You’ll be given a white paper bag and little instruction, “Use the bag creatively to show us who you are as a person.”

This activity puzzles most potential employees, but it also reveals a great deal about their attitude. Here’s the story behind the white paper bag.

The White Paper Bag Story

While Amy was away from the ice cream counter, a young girl popped in inquiring about a job. The scoop (employee) behind the counter looked for the standard application for the young girl to fill out but he came up empty handed. Thinking on his feet, he handed her a white paper bag and said, “Write your name and number down and Amy will give you a call later.” The young girl took the white paper bag and left. When the scoop realized that she left without leaving her name and number, he thought nothing of it.

The next day while Amy was working, the young girl entered the store with a helium balloon tied to a white paper bag that she made into a basket. She made a hot air balloon with her paper bag. Inside the basket, she had Girl Scout badges, a picture of her dog and other memorabilia. To Amy’s amazement, this girl proved that she had the attitude to join Amy’s team. Ever since then, Amy’s gives out white paper bags as the standard application, all the while looking for people who present a great attitude.

This story teaches us that you don’t need complicated and bureaucratic hiring practices. You need a simple and fast system to identify those individuals with the right attitude for your team. Once you have the right individuals, it’s time to train the skill and develop them into star players.

Any institution can have the power of a giant and the nimble-ness of an ant. To learn more about the one true attitude that defines a great team, join Mark Banks and me, Aaron M. Clay, at the annual Gathering of Games for our session The Ant in Every Giant Preconference Workshop.

We will cover in great detail and with a lot of fun, how to take you through the hiring and people development processes, then explore company development and, ultimately, building a company full of the entrepreneurial attitude that it takes to win.

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Topics: The Annual Gathering of Games

Aaron Clay
Written by Aaron Clay

Aaron M. Clay, Partner, and Coach for Amy's EDU, a cutting-edge training organization offering seminars building infectious company culture, world-class customer service, leadership mindset, speaking with confidence, and open book management. Aaron has been a member of the Amy’s Ice Creams Executive Leadership team for eight years. He has taken a pivotal role in the advancement of open-book management at Amy’s Ice Creams and has developed core curriculum for MBAmy's, an internal education program. As a gadget nerd, Aaron utilizes his passion for communications to connect the story behind the numbers to meaning and the meaning to action.

About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.