My favourite bit of art work in our office is a picture of Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay as he was at the time of the picture being taken. The picture was famously used by Life magazine when young Cassius was just 19 years old and just about to turn professional.
The idea of the picture was only pitched to Life magazine after the industry leading magazine, Sports Illustrated, turned the idea away as they thought it was too tacky. It went on to become the greatest heavy weight of all time’s most iconic picture – a bad day at the office for someone at Sports Illustrated! As it transpired the picture and back story were both a complete red herring and an attempt to raise the young fighter’s profile and whilst also getting into the mind of his opponent for the upcoming fight. Even the photographer, Flip Schulke, did not know the full story and only found out it was a hoax 3 years after the fight. Shulke explained “We were looking through a scrapbook, and when he came across my underwater pictures he winked at me. I realized he had taken me. I learned later he and his trainer had come up with the whole story on their own. He didn’t even know how to swim…. he fooled everybody – and it made fantastic pictures.”
As sportsmen go, Muhammad Ali was the first, and in my eyes the best, at marketing. Others that have followed since – Michael Jordan with his famous 23, Cristiano Ronaldo and his CR7 brand and David Beckham with all of his ventures – have only had this opportunity because of the Louisville Lip (as he was known at the time) due to his flamboyant ways and boundless self confidence.
So, what has this post got to do with recruitment? I have the picture up in the office for two reasons.
Firstly, it captures perfectly that not all is always at it seems and that nothing is 100% straight forward in what we do. You cannot know everything about everything – there will always be things that you don’t know and there is always scope to learn more. You live and you learn.
Secondly, we should not be afraid to be confident enough to try things. Ali was perceived as being the most self confident and upbeat personality of his generation, the self proclaimed ‘Greatest of all time’ who shook up the world in beating the famously barbaric, intimidating and previously unbeaten Sonny Liston. In reality no one can be as confident as Ali made out that he was 24/7 – it is an impossible facade to keep up. That said having belief in yourself and knowing how to pick yourself up on bad days in a huge asset and one that Ali had in abundance.
In summary, for me, the picture inspires you to try things but also to believe in yourself when others may not. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the hand can’t hit what the eye can’t see!