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It can happen to you…

Posted by Mark Bennett on May 21, 2010


There’s a story behind this week’s opening of “Shrek Forever After” that speaks to all of us in the Talent space.

It turns out that the guy whose regular job is to coordinate the writers and the animators on the “Shrek” franchise got the nod to be the voice for the central character of Rumpelstiltskin. How that happened and what he faced carries excellent lessons about Talent.

Walt Dohrn is the “head of story” and his job is to make sure that what the animators are doing lines up with the script so that the whole story holds together. He has to have the “big picture” in mind and convey it in practical terms to the folks who actually execute.

This role prepared him well for what came next. When the big name actors come in and read their lines, they do what they call, “scratch tracks” and Dohrn filled in for the part of Rumpelstiltskin. This “stretch assignment” of sorts gave Dohrn the opportunity to take what he had already built in his mind the Rumpelstiltskin character would be like, and he went for it. All out. They loved it and they gave him the job. Not some “big star”; they gave it to the “head of story” dude.

Of course, once they told him of his new job, his response was classic Talent Growth and Development:

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to really step outside my skill set and I have to step outside my dark little room and really put myself out there.”

So there you go, even if the skeptical feel it’s a bit too “Fairy tales can come true.” It still lays it all out for looking at our own internal talent which is so often passed over for the “big star”:

  • There are folks in various roles who have developed insights and vision for your business that are unique and valuable. Find them.
  • If you give them the chance, they might blow you away with what they have to offer. Listen to them.
  • Even when they do blow you away and you do change their role, they will often be quite anxious. Help them know that’s normal.

3 Responses to “It can happen to you…”

  1. Meg Bear said

    Thanks for pointing out the fear part Mark. When we are a little afraid we are growing. I always tell people when I put them in tough new roles that if they are afraid that’s normal, if it turns to panic to let me know so I can help. That seems to work well for me in stretching people.

    Of course, the other advice is to check in often to help provide coaching and reassurance or praise.

    -Meg

  2. [...] Bennett presents It can happen to you? posted at TalentedApps where he shares the story of how Dreamworks found talent in a surprising [...]

  3. Yes indeed! None of what we’re doing is rocket science – a lot comes down to passion and interest. So who says you need a big name for the big job?

    (Of course, once I am famous I will deny saying this… ;-)

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