By: Liam Shannon on March 25th, 2021

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Whispering Talent - Part 2: How Freight Brokers Can Develop Hidden Potential

Agency Ownership | Business Advice | Logistics | Transportation | Best Practices | Freight Management | Freight Broker

Last week, we discussed freight brokering's potential to be a rewarding and lucrative career for a motivated self-starter. Identifying the characteristics of someone likely to succeed in this line of work might be the easy part. Understanding how some people exhibit their talent is more challenging. Not every high performer is successful from the outset, but they do seem to show high potential. In that post, we shared ways to identify high-performing, high potential people.

Be sure to check out our last post here!

In this post, we'll cover ways to nurture your talent. If it's you we're talking about, how can you transition away from being under-valued? Are there scenarios or environments that can tap your underlying higher potential? Or perhaps you are a small business owner who recently hired a new independent agent or employee. How can you help create an environment where you invest in success? 

Take Advantage of the Opportunity to Drive Success


In our last post, we established that high-performing, high potential people are likeunicorns – more of a rarity and almost fascinating in their rite. For others – even those with the highest potential – individuals left to their own devices are less likely to flourish. 

Recruited talent – especially younger, less experienced workers – is frequently under-valued because they aren't currently exhibiting high performance. It could be as simple as not yet having had the opportunity to do so. Investment does not end at employment. 

Rasmus-AnkersenAccording to Rasmus Ankersen, a Danish author, speaker, and expert on high performance, who we referenced in our previous post, the following steps are necessary for an employer to nurture the hidden but high-potential employee. Bear in mind, of course, that these "rules" were written from a sporting perspective – the area in which Ankersen focused much of his research – so while they parallel significance to the corporate world, they may also need some "edge" taken off to draw the most accurate imagery. For example:

Comfort environment vs. a performance environment. The highest productivity environments are designed for performance, not comfort. This does not imply making your office as uncomfortable as possible. Don't rush to turn off the heat or air conditioning. Instead, focus on ensuring that you're providing for the fundamental requirements to get the job done. The key is to accurately identify what is essential to driving performance.  


If you're just getting started in your new role, try to establish respect and trust with your employer or contractual partner. Spend more time learning the fundamentals of the business. In freight brokering, for example, the nuances of brokering are best taught by learning and adopting simple but effective processes. Many people try to make their mark by attempting to "reinvent the wheel" only to find out they end up "spinning their wheels" instead. Keep it simple. 

Amateurs Practice Until They Get It Right

Professionals practice until they don't get it wrong. Practice counts. Which means training counts. There's no point practicing or just "working" for endless hours, weeks, or months if you do things incorrectly. Efficient, deliberate training also referred to as "deep practice," was brought to mainstream consciousness through Malcolm Gladwell's work "Outliers." According to Gladwell, just 10 minutes of deep practice on any given subject will be more effective than 2 hours of "going through the motions." Businesses of all sizes can avoid "going through the motions" by prioritizing training and ongoing education. michelle-wie-pro-golfer

Consider this. You have two employees: one with 20 years of experience and one with four years of experience. The 20-year employee spent their first-year learning and improving, and the remaining 19 years doing the same routine. The four-year employee, however, has spent their shorter career finding ways to educate and develop themselves. The four-year employee does have four years of experience. The 20-year employee, however, has 1-year of experience, repeated 19 times. As an employer, it is essential to make sure all employees are constantly improving. 

Feedback is an integral part of any improvement plan. An annual review is not an effective measure for improving an employee's performance. And while a quarterly timeframe may be, for all practical considerations, a reasonable frequency for official reviews, constructive feedback should be given as often as possible. An effective mentor can be a valuable resource as you look to develop and nurture talent. 

Looking Good vs. Getting Better

Many successful organizations evaluate their priorities to ensure that employees excel in the environment and culture they've created. When businesses have a "failure is not an option" policy, it has the potential to subdue risk-taking. This might work well for some organizations, but avoidance of all risks is rarely a successful philosophy. 


There are many ways of keeping up appearances and "looking good," but is that really whatany company desires as their employees' prime motivation? Risk-taking is spurred by confidence, which is supported by a sense of freedom. Confidence and independence make people happy, and happy people tend to perform better. But risk-taking cannot occur without acknowledging that failures will happen and the decision that those failures are acceptable. For employees to improve, they must be permitted to fail. Remaining stagnant is a sure way for competitors to overtake you.  

The "Godfathers"

"Godfather" is the term Ankersen uses to describe the inevitable presence of a strong leader at the heart of a high-performance environment. More than just a "trainer," a Godfather is a nurturer, an inspirer, and a true talent-developer. There are countless views on what makes a good leader. In The Art of War, 4th-century Chinese general Sun Tzu stated: "The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness." (Chapter I, verse 9.) Those characteristics are an excellent place to start a book with such strong relevance to the business world.

A recent example of seemingly excellent Godfather-like leadership came from football coach Bruce Arians. In a very well-publicized interview from July 2019, Arians revealed that when speaking to his assistant coaches, he made it clear: "If you miss anything to do with your children, I'll fire you… Those years don't come back. There's plenty of time in this office to work." A leader that displays such compassion and insight is exactly the type of person for which people would like to work. And his methodology appears to be successful too. Arian's won Super Bowl LV nine months after the interview.  


If finding raw or "shouting" talent feels like you've come across a unicorn, you may be right. However, the real payoff comes when you're able to identify "whispering" talent in which you can invest. Training and promoting internally allows you to grow a talent pipeline and individual careers. The idea is to think of yourself or the person you're hiring several steps beyond entry-level and set goals to get there. 

Looking for a New Opportunity? 

If you are motivated, organized, and ready to take a chance on yourself, opening, a freight agency may be the perfect choice for you. It's possible to own your own business without having to spend a lot of money to get up and running. And, while we let you run your day-to-day operations, Armstrong gives you back-office support and access to industry leaders who know what it's like to be in your shoes. 

Recognized as a 2020 top 25 freight brokerage by Transport Topics, Armstrong has the credibility, established reputation, and financial stability your customers and carriers require. If you would like to find out more about Armstrong or our freight agent program, check out our agent video and connect with our recruiting team today.