Recipie for team-building: Mixing Mushers and Splitters

O.K. Here is another critical Virgil story:

Virgil believed that the deepest and most fundamental differences between people could be observed in their approaches to eating. And he based his hiring and his team-building on observations of how people dealt with breakfast.

I watched him do several job interviews. They took place in the kitchen at the lodge. He would be talking while he cooked. What he was cooking always contained an extremely eclectic collection of ingredients - animal vegatable mineral - he did not ask for your opinion or your food preferences - he was the cook, he was the boss, he made a meal and then he split it - you got half, he got half.

It always seemed to have some eggs and some chilis and some meat in it, but the refrigerator was usually half-full of gallon jars with diamond-back rattlers coiled up in them that had been put there by Richard Trojan, for safekeeping, before the festival began, so it seemed like the meat could as easily have been rattlesnake as cow or bacon. So you got a plate with piles of stuff like you might get in an Ethiopian restaurant. And then you sat down across a little table and continued the discussion, and he watched very carefully how you approached the meal. Because for Virgil, people were either "mushers" or "splitters" and that distincion was expressed in all aspects of their lives and he knew from long experience that you could not get good cooperation if you mixed mushers and splitters on a team. So how you mixed your food was as important as how you answered the questions.

And yes, after the people left, Richard always put the rattlers back, right where they had been captured.
©Joe Breskin September 2002
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