Characters with Character

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Many moons ago, in the darkest corner of the interview chambers of Indiana University, there was a bright, young interview candidate sitting across from a man with a stoic expression who held a stack of documents listing every aspect of said candidate’s candidature. The GPA looked right, past experiences checked out, the bullet-points on the resume indicative of heavy thesaurus usage, the font spacing easy on the eyes – he was the perfect candidate on paper. “Tell me about a time when you worked successfully in a collaborative environment,” the interviewer asked, leaning in for that dramatic interviewer effect (the look that only interviewers seem to be able to pull off).

The candidate looked up, a little to the side, pretending to think of the answer (the look only interview candidates seem to be able to pull off) but was secretly ready to jump to his prepped ‘teamwork’ answer. But he held back. He couldn’t say it. Not because he was nervous. He had had a long day of dull and uneventful interviews. He had answered a hundred questions about his life, his experiences, his strengths and his weaknesses (which were actually his hidden strengths). He had answered all of these questions by the book, like he had been taught, polished and perfected through constant practice and preparation. But he was done. He sat there wearing his ill-fitting, broke-college-student suit and he looked back at the stoic face blankly, disillusioned with corporate America. "No more pretense," he thought, defiantly.

“I’ve had plenty of opportunities to collaborate with others but the one that comes to mind is the time I was in a multi-player gaming clan with three teenagers from South Korea. We played for hours after I came back from work. We had nothing in common and could barely pronounce each other’s names, but we invented a code language for in-game tactical communication and employed it using team-speak. We played as a team for over six months and also reached the semifinals of a global gaming competition. That was the most fulfilling collaborative environment I have worked in.” The interviewer looked back at the candidate, incredulously. “I’m sorry. I’m a… nerd,” was the only explanation that was offered. And then there was silence.

After what seemed like hours, the silence was finally broken by the sound of laughter, first from the interviewer, then the candidate. “That’s the worst answer I’ve ever heard to this question!” the interviewer said, wiping tears from his eyes, “Welcome to Kalypso, Aakarsh!”

Characters with character! The most loved of all Kalypso values! What does it mean? To me, it means being true to who you are at all times. We talk about being trusted advisors to our clients and one of the key ingredients in the recipe of trust is honesty. Characters with character means not hiding under false layers of pretense. It means being comfortable with your quirks and passions in front of clients and colleagues alike. As consultants, we spend more time with each other than we do with our families. As Kalypsonians, we learn very quickly that it’s not only ok to be your true self, but that this is actually what differentiates us from other suit-wearing, textbook-quoting, by-the-book consultants. I’m a gaming nerd, a comic book nerd, a technology nerd, and above all else, a consulting nerd. What you see is what you get. I’m a character with character!

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About the Author

Aakarsh Kishore

Aakarsh Kishore

Aakarsh feels that growth in next generation of organizations will be driven not by system or process optimization, but by 'human optimization'. Currently, he is trying to learn more about millennial characteristics and work habits, the focus of his research and thoughtware.
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