How to Attract and Retain Top Talent: Content vs. Context


I recently delivered a keynote speech to a very successful high-tech company. Their senior leadership was meeting for a two-day planning session which allowed them to also spend time together bonding and building deeper team relationships.

One reoccurring challenge I often hear from elite organizations is their never-ending struggle to make the right decision to help them attract and retain top talent. And this business was no different.

Here is one keynote takeaway that I shared in my speech that shows how to make better decisions and improve your ability to attract and retain top talent: Hire from context versus content.

Here is what hiring from content looks like. Post the same-old boring job title with an uninteresting, poking-me-in-the-eye job description and a fantastically impersonal process for submitting uncreative and overly inflated job applications. Or pay gobs of money to an executive recruiter/headhunter to do this for you.

When you and your team decide to hire from context, the entire process is completely different. Its fun and your level of motivation is off the charts. Start by filling in the blanks to these three statements below. But, you can only use a concrete metric (such as revenue, percentage increase/decrease, etc.) in the first statement. The other two statements require much more creativity:

  1. When we hire our new teammate, we will create (insert a VERY specific & measurable goal).
  2. That will also produce (insert a VERY creative answer that will inspire & motivate the new teammate).
  3. Which in turn will make possible (insert an EVEN MORE creative answer in alignment with your company vision statement).

Using Disney and their vision statement: “To make people happy.” as an example, here is how the three statements may look for a new sales manager/director/VP: “When we hire our new teammate, we will create an additional $10 million in quarterly gross revenue. That will also produce an unprecedented level of freedom, flexibility, and financial security to lead the Asia-Pacific sales division. Which in turn will make possible an abundance of joy, happiness, and euphoria to over 400 million kids, parents, and families.”

Get Into Action: Armed with this new information, go about creating, interviewing, and hiring the new teammate from CONTEXT. Come up with a new, fun, inspiring job title in alignment with your answers. Stay away from listing the “day to day” responsibilities because they won’t matter if you find the right person for the position. More importantly, focus on someone who WANTS freedom, flexibility and financial security as a sales manager/director/VP. Where would you go to find candidates who are passionate about making kids, parents, and families euphoric?

If you’re having a tough time hiring the right person and need help generating answers to the statements above, post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri and I’ll be sure to get back to you. And for more ideas on how to make better decisions to attract and retain top talent while growing as a responsible leader, please visit my website at