We learned to “BOLO” (Be On the Look Out) for rockstars. The right people do not always appear when you need them. It is exceedingly important to practice recruiting, interviewing, engaging, inspiring, and managing people. We are now trained to seek out and expect excellence and to reassign mediocre performers, even if they are an unpaid intern or volunteer. As a result, we now have an exceptionally high performing team that not only includes staff and interns but also university partners, contractors, and funders.

That’s from Ashoka U’s Marina Kim and Erin Krampetz on working with Jane Leu, an Ashoka fellow. I’ve always really enjoyed identifying talent in every relationship. It’s mostly an unconscious habit, but if I had to describe it is essentially the process of asking myself, “Who would this person really love to work with?” Another formulation is “What’s something that really deserves to get done, but that no one is doing yet?” In practice, this is mostly born out in terms of identifying talent for nonprofit board or committee service, and also on specific projects both for-profit and nonprofit.

I’m sure some would categorize this simply as the practice of networking, but I’ve never found that term to be specific. I prefer to think about which talents we seem to exude and how those talents can be useful to new people or in other contexts.