That hard-to-define quality gets you hired

Nov 5, 2013 by Rob Gannon

I’d like to start my column this month by thanking all those who attended my seminar at the Triton Expo in October. We had a great discussion about emotional intelligence and how it is essential for working on a yacht.

This ability to manage ourselves and our relationships is truly an art and a science but it mostly comes into play after you are already hired. You may get to demonstrate a little emotional maturity in an interview but really it is tested on nearly a daily basis in the job.

This important skill may not get you hired, but what does?

Besides the certificates and the experience, what is that intangible thing that gets one person hired and another passed over? What do we call that? What is “it”?

There are some terms that come to mind in trying to categorize what that certain unique thing we all possess is. Words like presence, vibe, energy and aura come to mind, but sometimes we can’t even find a word for that “feeling” you get from someone. We just know we feel it and I believe it’s especially important in the yachting industry.

If I run a land-based business and I need a bookkeeper who will have their own office, the importance of their “presence” goes down, and at 5 o’clock we all go home.

Now I imagine there may be captains (or whoever is hiring crew) out there who may just look at credentials, but I would bet (if I were a betting man) that they are probably in the minority. If you’ve been in this game awhile, you know what I’m talking about here. Yes, the credentials need to be in order but once that bar is met, who you hire often comes down to something else, something more personal. It comes back to “it”.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about looks when I talk about “it”. What I’m talking about goes deeper than skin. Presence, attitude, vibe and energy all go beyond the surface. That light in the eye, an ease and quiet confidence goes beyond the surface.

This is what I looked for when I was hiring. I’ll admit I hired once for looks. She was stunning but she really didn’t have any game and didn’t last. On the other hand, when I hired because of the light, the sparkle in the eyes, the vibe and the great attitude, these were my star performers every time. These were the crew who shined.

On charter, it’s the little things that set you apart, and much of the time, it’s your crew. Guests return because of crew. It isn’t about their looks; it’s about that “it”. The interesting thing is that anyone becomes more attractive when “it” emanates from that authentic place deep in their being.

One of the things I love about my work as a life coach for captains and crew is I have interesting, meaningful conversations with the people in this industry. Two come to mind as I write this. Both were women looking for positions on yachts. One was concerned she didn’t have the right look and the other was concerned she wasn’t the right age.

As I spoke with them I couldn’t help but notice, regardless of the look and the age, that these two women glowed, radiating a special quality that was attractive and would put them in positions on yachts. I reassured them that the right opportunity was coming, not just to help them feel better but because I truly believed it.

So I hope those in position to hire recognize this beautiful gift — this “it” that many trying to break into the industry possess — as the valuable, desirable trait it is. To those who possess “it”, keep shining. The right situation will head your way.

Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments on this column are welcome at


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