Transparency and the CEO

Everyone is freaking out about Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini and her recent interview with the New York Times. The article covers many things about her upbringing, her love of sports, and some of her interviewing tactics. She claims to text candidates on the weekends to test their response time. With this one little sound bite, HR and work/life balance gurus were thrown for a loop.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. The CEO of a sports site wants to make sure that candidates who cover sports are available on the weekends. Candidates who are passionate about sports that are mostly televised after 6pm during the week, and air at all hours of the weekend shouldn’t be expected to be available at those times? She wants them thinking about sports all the time. You want a job there? You’ll cover sports. Sports are played on nights and weekends. I love her tactics. Where do I apply?

I don’t know much about Barstool Sports or the culture and that’s not the point of this post. The article alludes to the “bro culture” and I’m sure that’s there. My favorite ex-punter and former Indianapolis Colt, Pat McAfee, launched Bartstool’s Midwest operation. He’s a funny guy and a Colt’s legend so that’s about all I know about their company. This is the media and entertainment industry and these jobs aren’t your conventional 9-5ers.

We talk about “candidate experience” all the time. We clamor for openness and transparency in the interview process. Here is a CEO being about as open and transparent about the types of people she’s looking for. Thank you, Erika. I now have a clear picture of what it’s like to work for her and I can make my decision as to whether I want that or not.

I spent 8 years working for one of the most influential people in the world. The employees worked an insane amount of hours during peak times. They worked nights and weekends and that was the norm. Every candidate knew about this upfront. They had a passion for the type of work we were doing and knew this was not a Monday through Friday job.

Last week, I talked about burnout and taking the time to rest and recover. And I still believe we all need this. I also realize there are jobs that are a little less conventional. Jobs that require work on the weekends, nights, and early in the mornings. If you’re passionate about the work and you want to pursue a certain industry or lifestyle, you need to understand what it takes to make it. Is that what you want to do? Awesome. Go for it.

In the interview, she also said she valued work ethic to the extent it matters “more than most anything,” and that young people new to their careers should get comfortable with discomfort. Don’t we love this? Every guru says we should get out of our comfort zone to grow. We should be loving every bit of her message, right? Book her for a SHRM keynote.

There are a lot of demanding jobs and demanding CEOs out there. Of her entire article, HR people chose to jump on the tiny part of her interview process and what she looks for. Hey, that sells papers. But we are missing the bigger picture. Barstool Sports is a niche site looking to hire a different kind of employee. Erika is looking for people as passionate about sports and work as she is. Sports happen at all hours of the day. Employees need to cover those sports. She can’t be more transparent than that.


3 thoughts on “Transparency and the CEO

  1. To me, the issue isn’t really the culture. The issue is the way this “selection” method may or may not be used. Do the applicants KNOW the text is a possibility? What if they’re on a plane? Do they know they’re on call? I find it lazy and one-note.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many unknown factors from the article. Does she interview every applicant? Are these just for her direct reports? If she’s like she says she is, I would think this passion for work would come out in an interview. As w/ any of these pieces, I’m sure there is more there. I hope? 🙂


  2. Based on her statement about not having the patience for interviews, I’m guessing the answer to the first question is “no.” I wish these articles would stop touting this as “revolutionary” when it just comes across as narcissistic. (Which is a horrible word to spell and I almost made up a different word for it.)

    Liked by 1 person

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