I heard a saying a few years ago that stuck with me:

Play your free space.

The implication is that life, like Bingo, puts built-in advantages within reach. Capitalize on your “free space” and you’re not only more likely to win, but winning takes a little less work.

For years Whitepenny considered hiring someone to manage our business pipeline, letting my partner Scott and me focus on what we do best – creative and strategy. But we worried about disconnect. We’ve all seen it happen: someone who’s good at something hires someone else to sell it, and the business suffers. We knew we couldn’t justify someone who only focuses on sales. A prospective client’s first point-of-contact has to know branding through and through.

So, we played our free space instead.

Travis Coley spent most of his career in mergers and acquisitions, aiding growth and exits. That’s how we got to know him, actually: he’d call on Whitepenny to hone a company’s messaging post funding-round. Travis knows the power of branding and what it brings to the company. So, when we sat down to talk shop and heard he was looking to do something different, our ears perked up. We’d been searching for business development help, and Travis was a BD master, just in a different industry.

We asked ourselves, “How can prospective clients get a taste of Whitepenny from the second they meet us?” Our answer – our free space – seemed obvious: hire an extension of ourselves. Instead of a traditional salesperson, go with someone who’s been through it hundreds of times.

So Travis is our guy. Sometimes things have a way of working out, and, in this instance, it’s because we played to our free space.

Your people should reflect your brand. Maybe they’re not diehard consumers of what you sell, or the exact demographic you’re trying to reach. That’s okay. But at some level, your team members should serve your brand narrative so they can go before you and beyond you as ambassadors. They have to know you, and the value of you, as much as you do. Investing in human capital means resisting the urge to be myopic, hyper-focused on CVs and industry experience. By considering your brand narrative and asking how this hire can embody it, you get the best candidates. Hiring for capability is important. Hiring for capability and brand synchronicity can sustain your business for a long time to come.

Here’s to Travis and the years ahead.