Oct 03

I have no idea if this story is true or not but it’s a neat parable on the value of preparation:

A large top-tier law firm in New York was hiring a new attorney. They had taken hundreds of applications from recent law school graduates and had narrowed the search to three candidates, all of whom had first-rate GPA’s, achievements and LSAT’s. The firm flew the three candidates out over the weekend for an interview during which they were to present a mock brief to all the partners. The presentations would be the deciding factor of which candidate was selected.

The candidates arrived on Friday evening and were given a tour of the office. The next morning they returned and gathered in the conference room where all the firm’s partners had assembled to hear the presentations. One by one they gave their 30-minute talks. Each one had done thorough research on the subject matter and had prepared compelling powerpoint slides. The first two candidates demonstrated supreme lawyering skills and “Perry Mason-like” courtroom demeanor. When the third candidate took the podium and it was immediately clear that he lacked the charisma of the other two.

About halfway through his talk a gunshot rang out interrupting his presentation. Turns out it was actually the projector bulb on the conference table that had exploded. Given that it was the weekend there were no maintenance people on duty to replace the bulb. It seemed he would have to continue his presentation without slides. At this point however the candidate did something interesting – he calmly opened his briefcase and withdrew a spare projector bulb of the correct size and wattage. Within minutes he had replaced it and resumed his talk with his slides.

Apparently during the tour the previous evening he had surveyed the conference room, noted the projector model and gone out that night and purchased a spare bulb as a contingency plan.

All three presentations demonstrated thorough preparedness and while the third candidate lacked the superior speaking skills, his “meta-preparedness” sold the partners that he was someone who covered every base. The following week the third candidate received an offer to join the firm.

4 Responses to “Anecdote on the value of preparation”

  1. Name says:

    What a load of crap.

  2. Chris says:

    This story is exactly why I carry a spare wallet around with me. Just in case I get mugged. ;-)

  3. Name says:

    I don’t believe that this story is true!

  4. sean says:

    Wow you guys are missing the point. This is why I prefaced the whole thing with “I don’t know if this is true or not.” I heard it from someone else. It’s probably fabricated but interesting nonetheless because of the lesson in “meta preparation.” The guy didn’t just prepare the content of his talk- he prepared for the act of giving his talk which meant contingency planning for what might go wrong. There’s something to be said for not just thinking about a task atomically but rather how it will live in the context of the bigger picture.

    Think of it as a parable rather than a non-fiction account if you have to. jeesh.

Leave a Reply

preload preload preload