It’s hiring day at the big city firm of Fenster, Brown, Bumstead & Tate as the remaining job candidates sit anxiously in the well-appointed lobby. The potential hires wait their turn to march into the leather- and mahogany-festooned Partners Drawing Room where they hope to impress the firm’s founders and secure the one vacant position.
Why, here comes one now…
"Afternoon," mumbles the venerable Fenster, "Take a seat and introduce yourself."
"Obama, Barack Obama," the young candidate replies confidently.
Searching through the stack of files on the table in front of him, Bumstead looks up, "I don’t seem to have your resume in front of me, Mr. Barack."
"Uh, it’s Mr. Obama… Barack is the first name, Obama the second… and I don’t have a resume."
"No resume?" asks Tate. "You do realize this is a job interview… resumes are somewhat traditional when applying for a job."
"Frankly," replies Obama, "I think resumes represent the old, worn-out way of applying for a job." He leans in toward the partners "…Resumes are the past; I’m the future."
"Ahh, the future," Bumstead says, sitting back in his stuffed wingback chair and studying the young candidate. "Out of curiosity, what experience do you have that qualifies you to work here?"
"Now, you see… that’s exactly what I’m talking about."
Obama stands up and starts pacing back and forth, working the room… "Focusing on experience is so old school, it’s the old-style way of doing things. You need to change the way you think… that old way of thinking will only lead to more of the same."
"What exactly does that mean?" interrupts Brown, "Isn’t experience a valid indicator of character, judgment and capabilities?"
"That’s not the point," says Obama, warming up to the discussion. "Don’t focus on what I’ve done or haven’t done in the past; focus on what I can do in the future."
"Which is?" asks Tate.
"There you go again nitpicking about specifics… you’re really not getting this, are you?"
Obama sits back down and looks sympathetically at the partners. "I’m talking about hope... hope and change. Change with a capital 'C.' And all you want to do is ask if I’m qualified for the job."
"Sooo… why should we hire you instead of that fellow who was just in here?" Fenster sifts through his files and picks up one, looking at the name through his spectacles. "McCain, that’s the name. He’s had a lot of experience and provided a resume with a lengthy track record."
"Well," Obama says as he leans forward, "far be it from me to point this out, but did you notice how old that guy is? You didn’t hear that from me, by the way."
"True," mutters Bumstead, "that would account for why he has so much experience to list on his resume."
Obama leans back, "Now you’re getting it… how can you possibly trust someone with that much experience?"
Fenster sits up. "I think I’m starting to see… you’re lack of experience actually makes you the more qualified candidate."
He looks at his colleagues and begins to explain… "You see, gentlemen, this young man isn’t tarnished by years of doing… he’s unencumbered by the experiences that you or I would normally look for in a new hire."
Obama jumps to his feet sensing a sea change… "Right you are, Fenster. I’m a clean slate… I’m not bringing any preconceived notions to the table… baggage-free, that’s me."
Bumstead, staring at Fenster… "But don’t we value experience?"
"Grow up, Bumstead… valuing experience? What a load of crap. Like this young man says, the only thing experience will get you is more of the same."
Fenster walks across the room to shakes hands. "Frankly, I’d like to welcome Barack to the firm."
Tate looks at the others… "Shouldn’t we vote on it?"
Obama and Fenster glance at each other, sharing a knowing grin and a shake of the head.
"Tate," Fenster says patiently, "voting is so old school… we need to redraw the rules and change the landscape."
Fenster wanders over to the windows and looks out over the city.
"The firm needs the lack of experience that this fine man can bring to the table if we ever hope to stop doing things the way we’ve done them in the past and get busy doing things differently in a new, changed way."
Bumstead looks around the room. "So, style over substance?"
"I don’t know, Fenster," Brown says, "…it sounds a bit like change for change sake. I thought we liked potential hires who showed up with lots of experience?"
"That was before," Fenster replies, "…it’s a new world, Brown, a dangerous world filled with troubles. The last thing we want to be doing is trying to use experience to deal with those troubles."
"He’s right, fellas," says Obama as he joins Fenster at the window. "You start hiring those old guys, not that I’m calling that McCain guy old, mind you, and you’ll be buying into the same tired argument about experience being a good thing."
"And, it’s not..." Tate ponders out loud.
"No, it’s not," Fenster says helpfully.
"Not at all," Obama adds reassuredly. The others slowly start nodding in agreement.
"That does it, then," Fenster announces with a clap of the hands, "I guess someone should let McCain know that his experience makes him totally unsuitable for the job."
Till next week, stay safe.
Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector, including most recently Prescience LLC, a global intelligence and strategy firm. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on such issues. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks" as well as major motion pictures and two new BBC drama series finishing production in the U.K.