Why You Need to Hire Nicer People

Winkreative and Monocle founder Tyler Brûlé explains the importance of a humanitarian workforce.

Written by Kristene Quan

Photo: Rex Features/CP

Most people would have a hard time accomplishing all the tasks required of the owner of a business. Tyler Brûlé runs two: the founder and chairman of the Winkreative Branding Agency is also editor-in-chief of the global affairs magazine Monocle.

The Canadian made his name in the U.K, as a reporter for the BBC and a bureau chief for Fox News in London. After being shot during a stint as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, Brûlé decided to go solo. It turns out Brûlé has quite the talent for business—Winkreative’s client list includes massive business names like American Express, Cathay Pacific and Lexus, as well as hometown heroes BlackBerry and Porter Airlines. The agency also operates a chain of retail outlets, including one in downtown Toronto.

Here’s what Brûlé’s has to say about his hiring process and how he juggles his numerous roles:

PROFITguide.com: What do you look for when you’re hiring new people to your team?

Tyler Brûlé: I always hire based on potential, not necessarily on what people have done. They need to have a decent track record, but I always try to think ahead and ask, “Even though they might not be classically trained, do they have the ambition to do it? Do they have the personality to do it?” I think that’s incredibly important.

I always look at the future potential of the person. Even if they come from a very different background, do I feel like I can channel them and help them grow into a different type of role?

With a senior person, I always ask, “Could I fly for eight hours with this person, and would I still like them as a colleague at the end of that flight?” I believe in hiring talented people, but I also look for them to be good and nice people as well. We’ve become so conditioned to look for excellence, but there’s also excellent assholes in the world. People don’t want to work with assholes.

I firmly believe that you have to have people who are wonderful individuals. They may be great salespeople or journalists, but it also helps if they can also be the life of the party, if they have a good humanitarian streak, and so on.

I’ve learned to not always look for the very best CV. I would prefer a really interesting and engaged, humorous person with a decent CV as opposed to someone who is absolutely on the top of their game but is a complete idiot to be around.

PG: Have you ever made a mistake when hiring someone new?

TB: There have definitely been cases when people have come into the mix who just haven’t been right. They just haven’t been the right cultural fit. I think cultures are important.  There have been times in our growth where we were looking for a super-talented individual who could answer all the questions, but who ended up being too set in their ways.

I want people around me who also have the ambition to be entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a journalist, graphic designer, or a project manager—you need to be entrepreneurial. You have to want to see the business grow and to help your colleagues push the business in that direction. We’re a family company, and I think that’s very important in a family business.

PG: You have a lot of different roles, and always seem to be working on a lot of different projects at once—do you delegate?

TB: Absolutely. I think that goes back to the people I surround myself with. There are two or three principal people at the agency, probably four principal people running the magazine, and one dedicated COO—and that’s pretty much it. That’s my team, and of course they’ve got their own teams below them. So there are seven or eight senior people who report to me, and I think I’m pretty good at delegating.

I’m really hands on, there’s no question about that. I read every word that’s in the magazine, and I see every presentation that goes out the door for the agency. But I’m not in every story meeting—I’ll see the story list, and if I don’t like the story list, then of course everyone’s going to hear about it. I’m not someone who will let the program go out and then tell people about it afterwards. I’m going to intervene before that.

We live in an era where people assume they can do everything before they can actually do anything—people want to come in and sort of be CEO right away, and they think they’ve got every answer. It’s important to have general knowledge, not just be able to go onto Google. The people who I delegate to have to be sharp and fast thinkers, and untethered to electronic devices.

Read what Tyler Brûlê’s learned during his transformation from journalist to media mogul here.


Is a pleasant personality something you look for when hiring? Why, or why not? Let us know using the comments section below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com