Artful Talent Acquisition and Interpretive Dance

A few weeks ago I discovered that a company called Next Media Animation is behind those Far East animated US news stories that you sometimes see making the rounds on the internet. Next Media Animation is a Taiwanese company, and according to a 2011 Guardian article, they may be the only one of their sort. I must admit that even now that I know the company I still don’t really get it, but I can only assume that there is demand somewhere in Taiwan or China for animation that explains current events via animation. But one thing I do know now about the company is that they have unwittingly, with the help of a former employee, provided an excellent example of artful talent acquisition that I have been writing about of late.

The former employee in question is Marina Shifrin, and in the early morning hours of Saturday September 28, 2013 she resigned from Next Media Animation in spectacular fashion.

At the time of this writing, Ms Shifrin’s interpretive dance resignation has garnered over nine million views. This is over three million more views than Next Media Animation’s most popular video currently available on its YouTube channel.

More importantly than the success of the video, is the reason behind Ms. Shifrin’s resignation. On the Youtube listing for the video, she states:

I work for an awesome company that makes news videos. I have put my entire life into this job, but my boss only cares about quantity, how fast we write and how many views each video gets. I believe it's more important to focus on the quality of the content. When you learn to improve this, the views will come. Here is a little video I made explaining my feelings. (Emphasis added)

I don’t know Ms. Shifrin, and cannot assume her intent, but I think it a fair reading of this statement to suggest that she cares about the artistic quality of what her talent allows her to produce.

There are two lessons to be learned here where talent acquisition and personal professional development is concerned.

Regarding the latter, what Ms. Shifrin has exemplified is appropriate initiative to do two things. First, to make a decision that her current professional environment was not well aligned to her career aspirations, and secondly to take responsibility for demonstrating her talent in a manner that will demonstrate her abilities as well as her professional passions. More importantly, she has done so in what one could argue would be a selfless manner. She not only does not undermine her boss or her former employer but praises it as ‘an awesome company.’ She does make a statement about her boss’s attention to volume and views, but this is not a negative by any means. Next Media Animation proudly states that it produces more than 30 animated news stories daily. And her boss, Michael Logan, is quoted as follows in the Guardian article.

"Next Media Animation has 300 animators, we produce close to three hours of finished content per week. We have 14 production slots each day, and within each production slot we can do four stories – so that's 50-odd stories, and most of that production is for our own media outlets in Hong Kong and Taiwan."

Whether intended or not, Ms. Shifrin has actually helped Mr. Logan appear as if he is a very well aligned leader appropriately focused on the objectives of his employer. The resignation is a value-add to Next Media Animation, its culture and its focus. Moreover, her video catapulted the company into the spotlight here in the United States.

The talent acquisition lesson learned here can be found in the Next Media Animation response to Ms. Shifrin’s resignation:

This video has gained nearly nine hundred thousand views as of this writing. Making it the 7th most popular video on Next Media Animation’s YouTube channel.

Next Media Animation in no way disparages Ms. Shifrin, instead they flatter her in what has been called the sincerest form of flattery, imitation. The response clearly demonstrates the Next Media Animation culture and demonstrates that while speed and volume matter the team seems to have acknowledged the fact that there are always alternative methods to executing their work in a way that will advance their objectives. In the response they demonstrate their talent, their willingness to nurture talent, and their graciousness in indirectly helping their alumni advance their career aspirations.

Talent acquisition, especially in today’s age, must be artful and generous in nature. Whether intended or not Marina Shifrin and former employee Next Media Animation have successfully produced a well documented how-to.

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