Five ways to attract brilliant minds

Businesses that invest time and resources in their company culture will see large returns in productivity, innovation and quality work.

Effective talent management is especially important because every year in Malaysia there is a brain drain: 1% of the population leaves for more lucrative opportunities in places like Singapore, London or the US.

For many years we have studied what makes company culture and human minds work, so that we could attract the best employees and help them work at their best. We have studied the top practices, invented our own, experimented with different policies and designed beautiful work spaces.

We have employees from over 40 countries (including the UK, Russia, Brazil, the US and Portugal), and they are working at their highest level of performance. So, how did we create a company culture that attracts international talent from around the world? And how do we get them to stay in Malaysia and harness their productive power? We used a framework with five major points:


Think in terms of possibilities. I started Mindvalley with US$700 (RM3,003), and ended up building a US$40 million company without any venture capital, loans or investments. We accomplished this not by focusing on reality, but by focusing on possibilities.

Many people would have said that building the world’s greatest workplace in Kuala Lumpur was unreasonable, but successful people do not think in terms of what is; successful people think in terms of what could be.

Therefore, it is very important that you go beyond the logical direction of your company culture. You should have a big goal that inspires your employees to achieve that shared dream.

Hire for attitude, train for skill. There is a story about Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s best salesmen, who went to a company and asked executives to name every attribute of the perfect employee. Out of a list of 114 attributes, 107 were attitudes.

Executives described the perfect employee as “motivated, creative, happy and engaged”. That is why you must hire for attitude and train for skill. Putting more weight on the interview than the resume ensures that your hires will contribute to your overall company culture.

Build leaders, not workers. Every company should have high expectations of its employees. We ask our employees, no matter what their role is in the company, to go beyond their job descriptions. We ask them to think like innovators and act like leaders. When you are building up your company culture, it is important to recognise that the goal of leaders is to create other leaders.

By giving access to educational tools like books and courses and allowing teams to manage time off from the office to organise team-learning initiatives, you are giving them the opportunity to invest in themselves and offer you more value in their roles.


Happiness is the new productivity. A 2008 Gallup Consulting study concluded that employee engagement is the main force that drives business outcomes, and that engaged employees are more productive, profitable and customer-focused. When you make happiness and caring part of your company culture, you create an environment that supports productivity and engagement.


Go beyond monetary compensation. Like many other companies, when we have big successes we celebrate through raises and bonuses. Profit-sharing can definitely help motivate employees, but we also recognise that money is not always the main motivational factor. More than ever before, people are prioritising benefits over salary.

All generations now want flexibility, whether that is in how many hours they work, when they work, or where they are able to work from. At Mindvalley, we allow people to work from home and exchange public holidays for leave, which gives people the flexibility to visit their families. Through flexible, human- focused policies, you will be able to attract international talent.


Understand that people flourish with praise. Richard Branson once said, “Like flowers blossom on water, people flourish on praise.” We consciously practise appreciation and celebration as both a personal habit and company-wide policy. We have a system, “1Up Emporium”, where our employees send virtual awards and complimentary notes to each other. There are many different websites and apps that can help you apply this system to your workplace. Because praise is incredibly easy to give, sometimes we forget how much it means to the other person and how much it can improve our company culture.

Do not complain, innovate. Constructive criticism is necessary to grow and improve as a company. We deal with mistakes and the negative not by complaining, but by trying to suggest new courses of action. Focusing on a solution not only makes the company run smoother, it also improves employees’ problem- thinking skills


Inspire your employees to care about bigger problems. Most people are not happy because their problems are not big enough: People who are uninspired and disengaged from life tend to have small problems, like family discord or relationship issues. But when we focus on bigger problems, such as solving world hunger or global warming, we stay motivated and committed towards bringing positive change. This strategy works whether you are a personal growth company or a hotel chain, a smaller company or a large company.

  • Extracted from Asian Link (Issue 26, 2017) published by the Asian Institute of Finance. Vishen Lakhiani is the CEO of MindValley, and the author of ‘The Code of the Extraordinary Mind’.