Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Want to Hire the Best Crew? Here’s Advice from Captain Malcolm Reynolds!

Generally speaking, hiring managers are one of few people in a good position when there’s a bad economy. With more people looking for jobs and motivated to keep them, there are higher numbers of overall applicants and more qualified applicants suffering from layoffs.

However, there’s a catch. Because the applicant pool is larger, you’ll have more people applying for jobs that are not qualified for or interested in doing. Model your hiring strategies after the man who put together one of the finest crews in the ‘verse: Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly and Serenity!

This article will help you keep an eye out for tip-offs during an interview or an employee’s probation period and do damage control after someone has already been permanently hired.

A person working onlyformoney will find a place that pays better.

More than 85% of US currency has trace amounts of cocaine.

Smelling cash with a coy smirk is also a good tip-off.

Mal: How come you didn’t turn on me, Jayne?
Jayne: Money wasn’t good enough.
Mal: What happens when it is?
Jayne: Well… that’ll be an interesting day.


That interesting day did indeed come, and Jayne sold out his crew for the chance to make quick cash. His defense? “The money was too good.” Although Jayne and the captain eventually made up (after Mal threatened to shoot him into space), it’s much better to avoid the situation altogether.

Of course, few people work in a job that makes them hate their own existence only because of a paycheck. However, plenty stay with a job they’re unsatisfied with because it brings home a bigger paycheck than one that fulfills them.

Tip Offs: Asking for detailed information about salary and bonuses, aggressive negotiation of benefits, pushing for overtime

Damage Control: Discover what your new hire values in the workplace. Is it personal expression? Allowing someone to put up pictures of friends and family or posters in their space could make them feel more at home. What about positive reinforcement? Additional praise will make a new hire feel appreciated – and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Office romances split loyalties.

Probably not just asking to borrow a stapler.

Can my pretty baby please email me that form, snugglebutt?

Mal: Shipboard romance complicates things… Aint’s against it as a rule. But in a situation such as ours, tends to cause problems. Splits loyalties.

War Stories

When the chips were down, Zoe did side with her husband by rescuing him instead of Mal when both were at the mercy of a psychotic torturer. Chances are you will not find yourself in a comparable situation (we hope), but the presence of dual relationships (e.g., spouses and coworkers) is still a potential obstacle to conflict resolution.

Although few employers experience situations as dangerous as the crew of Serenity, there is still a need to have a clear chain of command (and that’s not the chain your boss beats you with until you understand who’s in command). Some companies establish policies that do not allow married couples to work directly under their spouses (heh heh), and others require that relationships be registered with human resources.

Tip Offs: Referred by significant other, frequent socialization affecting productivity, requests to work with/near partner

Damage Control: Keeping job duties and managerial structure as separate as possible prevents romantic partners from becoming directly involved in office conflicts. When each partner’s job responsibilities are kept separate, a spouse is more likely to offer general emotional support rather than being in a position to undermine a higher-up’s directive.

How do you put together a crew? What obstacles have you run into when trying to find someone to hire? What red flags pop up for you in interviews? How do you deal with difficult situations when they come up? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!



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  1. cyberneticSAM

    1. Great Post! I have only watched a few episodes of Firefly (blasphemous I know) but before I realized it was show I had seen the movie. I definitely love your advice comparisons!

    2. Uh oh! Joe and I are in trouble as far office romances are concerned.

    3. Since said relationships are bad news, can I have the guy in the picture kissing the money to resolve point #2?

    P.S. “snugglebutt?”

    • Jana Quinn


      2) Since QLP is rarely in life-or-death situations and work in separate departments, I think you kids are gonna make it.

      3) As long as I get the guy in the office romance picture.

  2. Mandy K

    “(and that’s not the chain your boss beats you with until you understand who’s in command)”

    That made me laugh out loud in my cubicle.

    And I feel this is only the beginning of what we can learn from Captain Reynolds. I think his negotiation tactics would be a good study.

    • Jana Quinn

      I think I had “ruttin'” in there at one point, but I may have taken it out to let non-nerds enjoy the joke, too. 🙂

  3. Vern-Matic

    I remember the episode that showed how Mal put his team together, where he was told he had the best but in reality they were just full of themselves. All the while the people that were a better fit for the ship and crew that he was building weren’t seen as “the best”.

    • Jana Quinn

      ‘Out of Gas’ is one of the best episodes of anything ever.


  4. Joseph Giorgi

    Kick-@$$ post, Jana! Gotta love “Firefly,” though I believe you know my feelings toward “Serenity” (the movie). 😉

    Of the office romances that I’ve come across (in any job I’ve worked), I’ve never seen one cause conflict or impede workplace progress. The key, as you mentioned, is to keep a certain amount of separation between spouses or significant others throughout the workday—and most employers know this. It would be unwise for an employer to allow one romantic partner to work directly under the other, as preferential treatment would no doubt ensue.

    • Jana Quinn

      Work directly under the other. Heh.

      I think office romances become a problem only when partners are working in close proximity, where they’re competitive on the same level or there’s an imbalance of power in the relationship.

      The only other time I can see it being an issue is if one employee complains about his boss to his partner and it shows through in resentment toward the boss from that partner. Then again, coworkers (at places that are NOT QLP) do it all the time, so it’s a much lesser concern.

  5. Jill Tooley

    This post thrills me! Mal holds an infinite amount of wisdom on this subject and he’s not too shabby in other aspects, either.

    Here’s another example that comes to mind in the episode that Vern mentioned: Mal is damn good at spotting new talent. Jayne may not be perfect, but Mal honed in on his potential the first time they ever met. The same goes for Kaylee. Some captains may have dismissed her skills and sent her on her way, but not Mal. He recognized her spark and intelligence right away and knew that she was the perfect fit for his team (even though he already had a mechanic). This teaches us that perception is key and that we should always keep our eyes peeled for new employees.

    Now I want to go home and watch Firefly!

    • Jana Quinn

      What is that you said? You said, “Jana, here’s some inspiration. Please write another article on Firefly hiring practices.”

      You got it! 😉

  6. JPorretto

    I’ll use a sports analogy. Typically, the best TEAM is made up of people who work well together. That is not always the best players. Hence why the US lost in basketball during the olympics several years in a row. When you have the best players AND they work amazingly well together, you get the 95-96 Chicago Bulls =)

    I feel like on the whole, personality type is by far the most important factor for teamwork. You have to have the right mix of leaders and followers. Or else there’s heads clashing, or no direction.

    • Jana Quinn

      Well said, Jeff. Employees must fit together… almost like Tetris pieces. 🙂

  7. Amanda Sneed

    I have not even heard of either Serenity or Firefly. Sorry!

    But I do see what you’re saying about the economy and the hiring process. If someone is only working for the money, they will surely get bored and probably won’t do their best work.

    And well said Jeff! I can relate to your sports analogy here. Those Bulls sure were something, huh? My family actually enjoyed watching basketball back in those days…..I even collected the trading cards. =)

    Go go teamwork go!

    • Jana Quinn

      After you finish your comic book, you’re watching Firefly. FYI.

      With my and Mandy’s powers combined, we will drag you into it.

  8. Susanna Perkins

    Funny, I just finished watching Firefly and Serenity again for the umpteenth time. . . never gets old.

    I disagree about Zoe and the split loyalties, though, in War Stories. I think she made the logical, reasonable choice. She knew that Wash couldn’t withstand the torture, or make the most of an attempt to spring him from Niska’s evil clutches. She knew Mal could. . . so she saved the most vulnerable member of the team first. She could also count on Mal’s understanding that she was using the ransom visit for reconnaissance. . .

    And speaking of loyalty:

    Simon: But you don’t even like me.
    Mal: You’re on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?

    Or something like that without checking the script. . .

    • Jana Quinn

      I agree: Firefly and Serenity are infinitely rewatchable. I still cry at you-know-what-part EVERY TIME.

      I totally agree that Zoe made the right choice grabbing Wash. Her choice was logical and calculated. But I also would have approved if she had saved Wash for purely emotional reasons; she never could have continued to fly with Mal if she knew his survival had meant her husband’s death.

      The whole reason that Wash was there in the first place (and not Zoe) was that he had been upset Zoe hadn’t passed on a message from Mal to him. If they had not been married, I doubt Mal would have sent a message through her. Another worry in the workplace is that spouses serve as representatives for their partners for passing on messages or breaking bad news, so it can be difficult on the office couple’s side as well.

      I do love Mal’s line about Simon being on the crew. And I fully believe that if the show had run several seasons, Mal would have shot Simon while he was awake, facing him, and armed. But alas, we’ll never know. *sniff*

  9. Bret Bonnet

    Personality and a SOLID work ethic are worth their weight in gold.

    I agree, some, if not MOST people are money motivated, and don’ get me wrong, I LIKE money to, but at the end of the day, if you don’t LOVE what you do (which I do!), it’s NOT worth it in the end.

    Money is fleeting. Family, friends, and happiness last forever (or at least until you dutch oven them all on accident).

    I seriously see Mike, Anthony, myself, and several other QLPers chasing tail and crapping ourselves together in the same retirement home someday. It’s going to be rad.

    • Jana Quinn

      I would say everyone is money-motivated to some degree. After all, it’s something we need for basic survival. Just how miserable someone is willing to be for a paycheck is the factor here. Someone who’s miserable is ALWAYS going to be on the lookout for a new job with a better paycheck. After all, if they’re going to be miserable anyway, why not get paid more for it?

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