One of my favorite sports is Falconry. Once this was only available to ancient kings. But if you ever travel near the border of West Virginia and Virginia, you can participate as well. Two legendary resorts, The Greenbrier and The Homestead will teach you this 4,000 year old sport. They raise and fly birds of prey: Falcons, Hawks and Owls. Just being able to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures is a joy. And having one take off and land on your arm, in the intermediate lesson, is a thrill not easily replicated. With their long, pointed beaks and sharp talons sitting a few inches from your face, it is also very intimidating.

On a recent trip to the Homestead we met a wonderful, young Falconer. It was a quiet afternoon in the Falcon business so we were able to meet a number of her birds. After explaining that I had done this once before, at their sister facility, we were off to the woods with a Thresher Hawk on my gloved hand. As a student of both animals and people, I asked the Falconer how she decides if someone is able to handle, let alone fly, one of her impressive Birds of Prey.

Falconer: It is a judgement call for sure. You want people who respect the Birds and their power. They are not tame.

Brad: After all, that’s why they’re called Birds of Prey!

Falconer: Even after I warn people, some try to touch them. One lady tried to kiss one! It took a piece of her face.

Brad: I got it. This Bird is in charge, at least with me.

Falconer: But the real answer to your question about trusting people to handle my Birds is quite simple: My Birds decide.

Brad: How do the Birds decide?

Falconer: If one of my Birds will not go on a person’s arm,  there is something wrong about that person. Something the Bird sees or feels or understands that we cannot.  So, you see, in the end, my Birds decide.

Brad: If we used your Birds in organizations to interview and screen people we would save money on Human Resources. And how about at the airports instead of all those TSA teams. And maybe even in politics before we vote for people!

Falconer: OK, let’s focus on the woods ahead for now. My Birds don’t like a lot of talking. Flying, hunting and eating, they like. They get bored with too much talking.

Brad: Got it. (But I’m quietly thinking we have something here.)

Like many corporate people, I have had a love/hate relationship with Human Resources. I even have close friends in that field. But then I have close friends that are lawyers and, more bizarre yet, for my CFO background, bankers! All of these advisors and sometimes adversaries are discussed with detailed Rules and Tools to deal with them in my forthcoming book, The Business Zoo.