Are You a Leader?

Identifying and developing talent is a challenge all individuals and organizations face.

The first and biggest obstacle is to understand ourselves and identify our talents. Which will be closely related to our purpose.

If you don’t have a strong purpose you won’t be able to develop talents. Because every time challenges arise, and they will arise for sure, you will give up because of the lack of a WHY to help you power through the tough times.

If you don’t give value to having a strong purpose, then you shouldn’t read this.

Not because we don’t want you to, or because we don’t want to share value with you. We say don’t read this because it will probably won’t resonate with you, and we wouldn’t want you to waste your time.

If you do give value to having a strong purpose, but you haven’t figured out what yours is, that’s excellent. You’ve come to the right place. Matt and I give a lot of value to being purposeful and we want to help you find yours.

Also, if you would like to receive valuable resource to advance your career be sure to follow us on Faceboo by clicking the button below.

Using Filters to Find Talent


Alejandro will explain some identifiable filters for perceiving talent in others, yet there is a fundamental question you should ask yourself. Why should I look for talent in others in the first place?

I’m glad you asked :)

We know our audience, they are either people on their way to high levels of achievement or have already attained success and are looking to stretch themselves even more. Those people are called leaders. You have likely been a leader in the past, are currently one, or working toward a position of leadership.

Being a leader requires surrounding yourself with talent. The only way for you to reach your goals is to be pushed by those around you.

Talent can come in many forms: 

  • Intelligence 
  • Risk taking
  • Foresight
  • Positivity
  • Empathy
  • Achievement

We live in an amazing world where two people can have different skills, yet when combined, their talents mesh in a way that produces extraordinary results. Having talent around you and a positive culture will allow you to experience your goals. Don’t just take my word for it, a Harvard Business Review article goes into lengths to prove positive work cultures are more productive than negative environments.

The overall point is you want to be surrounded by talent and positivity. If you are the smartest person in the room, you need to find another room. Be around people who will push you, excite you, challenge you, disagree with you, and at the end of the day are the people you can count on to support you.


Talent is defined as a “natural aptitude or skill”.

Given this definition, then in order to find and develop talent, we must take action. The only way to know if we are good at something is to do it and then evaluate the results.

Society in general struggles with finding ways to identify talent. The education system is supposed to act as a filter of talent. But, can we trust that anyone with a degree is talented? Not necessarily. So then you add another filter, graduate school. Can we say that holding a master’s degree is an indication of talent? Not always.

On top of those filters then add other certifications (CFA, CPA, CFP, etc.) that will be used to filter the already filtered individuals. It’s like the movie Inception, but instead of dreams we have filters.

And then we have talented people who never went through these filters.

Is this whole filtering process efficient? Some people argue the educational system was useful to find and develop talent, but not so much anymore.

Don't get me wrong, there is value in education. What I want to point out is, there is an art and science to finding talent. Education can be thought of as the science part, with the structured processes, degrees, etc.

The same can be said for the standardized like the GMAT. That’s only part of the equation of talent.

Which are the other elements of that equation?

Here starts the art part, and our goal is to help you understand all those other elements of talent.

The Power of Reputation and Personal Brand


There are many things in life which are unfair.  Let’s be honest, we all know it is true, some people are treated better because of their looks, ethnicity, gender, family, or some other form of status.  A personal brand can be one of those things that allow for preferential treatment.

Yet, there is usually something much different between a personal brand and attributes we are born into. A personal brand takes years to foster and is normally built through dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. Is this true for everyone? No, yet from experience, many of the people I have met with a great reputation deserved the prestige.  They spent years working diligently to possess a powerful personal brand.

You want to be around these people and the individuals who will have a strong personal brand. One of the main reasons I enjoyed teaching as a college instructor was being around future leaders. It was amazing to see students think through problems with youthful ambition. Being around them challenged me as they viewed the world as malleable, something that could be altered for the better with the right idea and enough hard work.

Surround yourself with these people just as much as you are around established high-achievers. A balance of current and future leaders will give you insights and push you in different ways. Someone with a strong reputation can share their years of experience while future leaders will inspire you to try new things.

Alejandro is one of those people who has done well in the past, yet it is nothing compared to what he will do in the future. He has his viewpoint of how we began to work together below, and here is my side of the story.

Going into my last year of my MBA program I wanted to leave something behind. My program, at Bauer, had given me so much that I desired to give back, even if it was just some ideas. Assistant Dean Steve Koch and I met for pizza and discussed options. We settled on an independent study with a goal to tackle important issues to the MBA program. Yet, we didn’t want it to be a large class. Both of us came up with a few names of talented individuals and we pitched the idea, Alejandro was one of the students.

Some students said no, while others said yes, and we embarked on a semester with a team of five working on difficult questions.

I noticed Alejandro always had a strong presence while he was in class and the one thing which impressed me the most was his mentality of constantly improving. He would share books he was reading, websites he found, or new ways of doing things. It seemed like every week he was more talented than the past.

I knew he was destined for great things. His talent for getting better continues, every time we meet he has a new skill or resource to share. He is a current leader at Bauer and will continue to grow upon graduation.

Fortunately, we also work well together as we have similar mindsets, goals, read the same things, and push each other. These are the people you want to be around. Having coffee with a CEO can result in learning decades of wisdom; however, those people have such a strong personal brand you might only get 15 minutes with them a few times a year. Search for those meetings, yet do not neglect the future leaders around you as you will likely have more time to spend with them

At the end of the week, I am always grateful for the people I spend time with. Many times, I have told my wife I can envision my contacts, in ten years, running corporations, leading non-profit organizations, and building companies from nothing. When you surround yourself with these type of people, your personal brand will automatically rise.


Perception is reality!

And we all perceive the world according to the way we think, feel, and act.

The creation of a strong personal brand starts, as with most things, with a clear understanding of your purpose and your goals. Once you know that then you will be able to set a clear strategy of the actions you need to take consistently to create the brand.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be flawless. But initially, you have to be disciplined and committed, so you can create momentum for you and your brand.

Recently, I was late to a meeting (I hate to admit it!). And this could be seen as a non-consistent action in relation to my brand. Gladly, the reaction I got was, “It is great that you are late, it means you are human and not a robot!”.

This is possible because for many years I’ve consistently arrived at least 5-10 minutes earlier to every commitment or meeting that I have to. Now when that doesn’t happen, people know it is an exception, and there must be a really good reason for that.

But every time I enter a new environment, I have to be sure I build that reputation again with the new group of people. 

Once you have enough accumulated actions you will create momentum, and this momentum will allow you to be a bit more flexible.

Key Steps:

  • Identify your purpose, goals, and the talents you want to be known for
  • Understand the actions you need to take to consistently make a statement about your talents
  • Enjoy the flexibility of momentum, but use it to recharge and keep going, not to get comfortable

Something that can add to the momentum of a reputation or personal brand is the associations you make. A great example of this is the way Matt and I started working together.

During the last week of my first semester at Bauer, I received an email. It was from Matt, and he was inviting me to join him, Bauer’s Assistant Dean Steve Koch, and a small group of students, to participate in an independent research study. 

By this point, Matt didn’t have the Outstanding MBA Student award, and I didn’t know much about him other than he was the President of the MBA Consulting Club and he had a close relationship with the Assistant Dean because of the email.

Just his relationship with Steve signaled to me he was a talented individual. And at the moment I also didn’t know much from Steve other than his position and the information on his LinkedIn profile. Yet, I assessed them as talented individuals mostly because of title and their personal connection.

This doesn’t mean you should only spend time with people with important titles or with powerful networks. It means that it’s something that you have to pay attention to because it plays a role in your personal brand.

Which is why Matt constantly wants to spend time with me. So that he can learn how to become the #1 Monopoly player in his family, as I did in mine. That way he will also be known as a world-class Monopoly player (You are welcome Matt).


This is the beginning of a three-part series where we will examine surrounding yourself with talent. First, you should realize that having talent around you will allow you to grow. Finding talented people is not easy. Education and fancy degrees are not always the best measure of talent.

It takes time to find people who will teach and challenge you, yet it is worth it to be around them. These are the people who will help you reach shared goals and make real impacts in your professional and personal life.

Look for the people who already have strong personal brands, and don’t neglect future leaders. For young professionals, one of the best things you can do is find a support system that shares similar values and goals. They will inspire you to try new things and expand your professional self.

In the remainder of the series we will examine more in-depth ways on how to find talent, and then finish with something we should all do. Build talent in others.

This is a series of articles by Alejandro I. Sanoja and Matt Avery.