Recently I heard Jim Cramer of Mad Money fame give a short interview on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me. Among the things I learned is that his talents as a stock market investor appeared during his early life – to steal a Marcus Buckingham phrase these were “yearnings.” I’ll get back to Jim Cramer’s story in a minute.
Yearnings. I first read about Buckingham’s reference to “yearnings” in an article titled “The Traces of Talent” in Business Leadership. Yearnings are unique talents each of us have that often show themselves early in our lifetimes. These yearnings can provide us insight into our natural talents, which we can use to excel in our work.
Buckingham shared with us these examples, “At ten years of age, the actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, already close friends, would find a quiet spot in the school cafeteria and hold meetings to discuss their latest acting ‘projects.’ At 13, Picasso was already enrolled in adult art school. At age five, architect Frank Gehry made intricate models on the living room floor with wood scraps from his father’s hardware store. And Mozart had written his first symphony by the time he turned 12.”
In my own family I see many examples of early “yearnings.”
When I was six I picked-up discarded cigar boxes at the base exchange (a military store) and sold them door-to-door. Later, I organized and ran profitable kid’s movie festivals in high school, and in college I created a very successful refrigerator rental program. I have had a life-long interest in and innate understanding of business.
My wife, Patti, is a registered dietitian. When she was seven or eight she did organic gardening with her grandmother, a passion of hers to this day. Our son, Scott, is an industrial engineer. At four or five he was assembling Lego kits far above his age group. When he was only 11 or 12 I came home from work and he was playing on the computer – not with video games. He was using a computerized factory game that was assembling televisions and he was figuring-out inventory.
And, our daughter, Alyson, is an archaeologist in Virginia. When she was in seventh or eighth grade she came home and told us she was going to a special Girl Scout camp program in northern New Hampshire to learn how to dig-up historical artifacts. She was gone for a week and when we went to pick her up, she stood with great pride next to a three foot cubic hole that she had dug all week – not something her proud father could have done.
These are yearnings.
Jim Cramer’s Yearnings. Jim Cramer started his career as a crime journalist in Florida and California and admitted in his Wait, Wait interview that he lived in a van for a while. However, while he was in law school his professors noticed he was always reading the Wall Street Journal. He told them he had always had a flair for picking stocks. He started giving faculty stock tips and they were very successful. Then, and this is really cool, he started leaving daily stock tips on his home answering machine. Everyone who called him could take advantage of his advice. One person who did was Martin Peretz, the founder of New Republic. After making money on Cramer’s phone tips he gave him $500,000 to invest. Cramer earned him $150,000 in two years. After that Cramer launched a very successful hedge fund and the rest is history.
This was Jim Cramer’s yearnings.
Have you identified your yearnings? If you have children, pay close attention to their yearnings. And, finally, talk to your teams of people and learn their yearnings. It can be fun and you might just learn how to best apply their talents for the benefit of your mission.