He Dropped Itching Powder From the Ceiling at The Auction

Why should you hire someone with a sense of humor?

Well, let me tell you a story.

Recently, I was interviewing a gentleman who had made some outlandish claims on his resume. His last job was working at an Auction House and he claimed he was able to increase the company’s revenue by over 5000% in one-year. This seemed a little questionable, so I challenged him on this notation on his resume. I started by leaving him an “out” and asked him if this was a typo – and if he meant to say 5%, 50% or was it 500%. He acted appalled that I didn’t believe the 5000% gains in revenue figure. He told me;

“Well, it was 5000% and may even have been higher!”

At this point I had to hear his secret. He said;

“It was simple, during each auctioning session, he’d sneak up in the rafters and sprinkle ‘itching powder’ very lightly on the crowd below. Those bidding couldn’t help themselves and kept itching their hair, head and shoulders. – and each time they did that bumped the price up because those were seen as gestures to bid higher.”

Well, that’s a creative solution indeed, but was it real? And, how did he quantify this? He explained the numbers and increases and yes, it was somewhere near 5000%. A 4960% increase in fact when I did the math. I never found out if he really did that or not, but he was the most interesting person I’d ever interviewed and I was hiring for a position in the R&D department, the title being Director of Innovation, in charge of all the innovation team leaders.

He delivered his statement with such a straight face, that I still wonder if it was true. If he made it up, that’s just hilarious and should be a cartoon in Barron’s or the Wall Street Journal. If it’s real – “Wow, that’s quite a business story.”

It’s good to have fun people in your company’s innovation center – having interesting people who think outside the box is also a very good thing. Sometimes as human resource professionals we take ourselves too seriously. We don’t treat people like people. We fail to see the human side, and how certain personality traits can be far more important than base knowledge, University degrees, or years in an industry.

Unique people are valuable to an organization – but if you disagree, well, maybe you should just hire a bunch of robots and call it Robotic Resources instead of Human Resources. Oh and while you are at it, why not save your company some money and hire a robot to replace you too? Who needs a dull and boring human in human resources – we have enough of them already. That’s probably why we have the problems in this sector that we do today! Think on this human.