Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Last week, I received an email from Arte Nathan that included a link to a TEDx talk he recently did at the University of Nevada. Nathan is always an engaging speaker. Passionate. Honest. Thought-provoking. On at least a couple of occasions, as CHRO at Wynn, he keynoted our HR in Hospitality Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas (being held this year April 28 through 30) — each time receiving a standing ovation.

About seven years have passed since Nathan left Wynn, having spent more than 23 years there. (Today, he’s a visiting professor at the University of Nevada College of Hotel Administration.) But it’s great to see he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to delivering a powerful speech. If you take the time to click on the play button below, you’ll hear Nathan (also the subject of an HRE cover story, “Roll of the Dice,” in 2005) recount three hiring experiences that demonstrate why a good deed is often its own reward.

Nathan recalls in his speech that, if he ever had the opportunity to help others through his work, he would take full advantage of it. And he certainly has had plenty of opportunities over the years. During his career as “Steve Wynn’s HR guy,” he managed recruiting programs that pulled in more than 3 million applications, and from them he “hired 125,000 great employees.” In his talk, Nathan shares several heartfelt stories on how, by giving applicants “a second chance,” he’s been able to make good on a promise he made to himself when he was just getting started in his career: to try, through his work, to make a difference in people’s lives.  In each instance, Nathan’s employers have reaped the rewards as well.

Near the end of his talk, Nathan notes that, along the way, he was able to learn that you “can’t judge a book by its cover and that giving people a second chance and an opportunity can change lives, and that good deeds really are their own rewards.”

“But maybe the most important thing I learned,” he says, “[is that] just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, but then there are other times that because you can, you absolutely should.”