What Hiring This Millennial Taught Me.

On Being Great at What You Do, Setting Your Rules and Being Relatable.

I own a jewelry brand Lucid New York. Every year I open retail popup locations in NYC and hire a sales team. Last year one day my employee Jess came in on time and said that she deserved a cookie. A random customer heard it and scolded her.

Yes, this was Jess — rules didn’t apply to her, she would sometimes come in late or not at all, she always felt entitled and wanted rewards. But Jess was also sharp, efficient and exceeded my expectations. She worked in sales and she did exactly what she was hired to do but adding her excellence — she was closing sales, upselling and providing excellent customer service. She was outperforming everyone on the team, me included. That’s of course when she would show up.

Jess had a special way of dealing with people. Watching her sell, I noticed she was constantly relating to newly met customers, creating connections on many levels and often exclaiming “me too!”. Jess, just like one customer’s daughter also went to Penn State University and like someone else had her birthday in February and she also had a younger sister, which made her relate to yet another person. Jess had a cat that made a huge mess unrolling toilet paper after she left him at home alone for a while — she shared this with a cat owner who told her a story of her pet making a mass. Jess too just broke up with her boyfriend, which made her relate to a customer who came in and was going through a breakup.

Within an instant Jess was becoming everyone’s friend showing understanding and being very genuine. She was touching shoulders, giving pats on the back, laughing, giggling, tearing up, she was concerned, listened as if nothing else mattered, always adding her “me too!” That “me too”, depending on the conversation, was said with regrets, excitement, understanding or sadness. And at the same time, Jess was closing sales — in a subtle and as a matter of fact way. Jess was always suggesting additional items and because of the connections she created, her advice was important and customers listened to her.

However; even though she charmed me for a long time and I was accepting a lot, I had to let her go. Unfortunately she had a negative impact on other employees, who seeing her terrible work ethics started behaving similarly. But not performing at the level Jess was.

They were demotivated and didn’t feel the need to arrive on time. Jess did make a big impact on me making me realize the importance of connections and relating to others. Also, I did put up with a lot of her bad work ethics because she was that good. When you’re great at what you do, you can set the rules. Well, most of them.

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