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John Calipari’s Recruiting Secret, and Why Nobody Will Believe It

April 2, 2012 at 10:45 PM Jon Bischke

Calipari's Recruiting SecretIt's a sweet week for Kentucky Wildcats fans (or people who became fans when they married Wildcats) as they took home their 8th national championship. And a particularly sweet week for Kentucky coach John Calipari who won his first national championship. What are the secrets to Calipari's success? According to many, he's perhaps the best recruiter of the modern era and therein lies a lesson that companies everywhere should paid heed to.

There's a hint buried deep within a relatively obscure Henry Abbot TrueHoop blog post from back in 2010. Consider the following passage:

A common complaint about college coaches is that they lean hard on their best players to stay in school, even when it's not in the players' best interests. Think about the lengths college coaches go to in recruiting the best high-schoolers. Those players aren't nearly as helpful in raising a coach's profile as NBA-ready, NCAA-tested stars. It's hard to let those players go, and as a result, when players ask their coaches if they're ready for the NBA, it is distressingly common for them to be told "no."

I stumbled upon this in a Glenn Logan article entitled Kentucky Basketball: John Calipari's Recruiting Secret, and Why Nobody Will Believe It when I was doing a little research on Calipari around this time last year. It's profound wisdom and Logan says it best with this quote.

Calipari has developed, over the last eight or nine years, the reputation of being a man that players can trust to place their interests above his own, and by doing so, he serves his own interest. The classic and undeniable win-win.

7 recruiting strategies

Logan goes on to say:

Calipari's honesty with his players transcends his own ambition, and by doing so, he opens up a huge pipeline to other players with NBA aspirations. Players no longer need William Wesley to tell them that Coach Calipari will deal fairly with them. His reputation is already known, already understood.

We live in a world where too many people are looking out for their own best interests when recruiting. But what if the perspective shifted to placing the interests of those you are recruiting above your own? And what if that actually made you better able to recruit some of the best people in the world who want to join you precisely because they know that you are sincerely thinking about what's best for them, not just for the company they're about to join?

The best recruiters are already doing this (at least most of the time...everyone's human after all). Are you?

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