The CEO of a $US34 billion company explains why he doesn't hire people who are 'too happy'

Being happy is a good thing. Being too happy, on the other hand, might cost you a job at Marsh & McLennan Companies, a professional services firm with a market cap of over $34 billion.

The New York Times’ Adam Bryant recently asked Daniel S. Glaser, the CEO of the Marsh & McLennan Companies, how he hires.

Glaser said he tends to ask job candidates “really open-ended questions” like: “What are the kinds of things that make you happy?” “Are you easily satisfied as a person?” and “Do you feel content?”

“I want a sense that they know themselves. I’m trying to figure out, is this person somebody I really want to spend a lot of time with for the next decade? Are they an interesting person?”

What he doesn’t want to hear is that they are too happy.

“I have a general disdain for people who are too happy and content,” Glaser said.

“My feeling is that companies that do well for long stretches of time have a tendency to become either complacent or arrogant, and both of those are bad paths. So how do you prevent that? To me, you do that by trying to create this striving, challenging, questioning culture, where there’s always a smarter way of doing something, and you feel a permanent dissatisfaction with obtained results. Not with a scowl. You can smile about it, but we can do everything better.”

He told Bryant that’s why he looks for people who, in life, “are sort of in the same boat — they’re kind of impatient, there’s an urgency about them, even a little edginess.” He likes candidates who are good people, but have got “some quirks about what makes them such a driver, and when you ask them questions about happiness, the answer tends to be in the future a little bit. They’re trying for more.”

Glaser concluded: “I really think that, in some ways, the best leaders always have this sense of future.”

Read the full New York Times interview here.

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