Imagine Kenny Diack, an Isle of Man native, fresh home from grad school where he finished among the top in the UK. He’s smart. He’s ambitious. He’s talented.
He’s working at a bar.
It’s called the Artisan, and it’s one of the Manx watering holes here in Douglas.
“A bar is a very fun and lively place to work,” Diack said yesterday when I met him here on the Isle of Man. “You get to meet lots of people.”
This was important for Diack. He’s a good talker. Whoever came up with the word “effusive” was thinking of this guy.
People who looked at Diack in the bar were looking at a man who had already been around a bit. He studied finance in college, got a job in a bank, won a poker tournament, took some time off, and then went off to grad school.
It wasn’t so much that Diack was restless. Even though he’d already turned 30, he was still looking for not just a “job” but the right job. And because he hadn’t found it, he was going to go back to grad school.
“I was kind of waiting for that adventure to appear, and I guess I was sort of believing it would appear,” he said.
Like a scene from a movie, we turn back to the Artisan and Barman Kenny, patiently waiting for the next adventure.
“I started off pulling pints, mopping floors,” he remembered with a smile.
One Saturday night last summer, after Diack had been moved up to the front of the house (remember, he’s a good talker), a big group of people walked in the front door. They were, as Diack put it, “very merry.”
He seated them, took their orders, and then started talking. He asked them about their week, heard they’d been busy, and figured out they worked for PokerStars. It wasn’t any big surprise. Apart from the Isle of Man government and some banks, PokerStars is one of the biggest employers on the island. Oh, and it just so happened that among that group of people was PokerStars’ CFO.
Now, at this point, if you were a smart guy, you would probably take an opportunity to slip your C.V. on the table and ask for an interview. That’s how it’s done, right?
Diack took a decidedly different approach.
“Actually, I just started laying into them,” he said.
That’s right. Diack looked right in the PokerStars’ head honcho’s face and said, “I think I can do a job that’s better than what you’re currently doing.”
He didn’t say it to be offensive. If there was a polite way to say it, you can be sure that’s how it said it. Regardless, it was in a word, bold.
“What’s the worst that’s going to happen? He could have just told me to go away or not tip me,” Diack said.
The table of PokerStars people laughed, but Diack kept talking. He told them what he thought could be fixed. He told them what he thought could be better. The night finished off. Diack got an email address. And then this happened.
“We’ll see you in two days,” said the PokerStars executive.
Diack had two days to prepare a presentation for a group of PokerStars’ brass. He did it, and it turned into a two-week internship.
“I always planned to go back to university, so I only agreed to do it for two weeks,” he said. “That was 14 months ago, and I’m still here.”
Now, I should point this out: PokerStars and the Rational Group have a careers page, and that’s how a lot of people get their jobs. Further, not just anybody can pull off the Kenny Diack Double Back Flip Employment Trick. In other words, do not try this at home. Still, it worked for the man who now works in Business Intelligence at PokerStars’ HQ.
“I guess I just am full of confidence and believe I can do better,” Diack said. “I do believe in life you have to take that chance. If you don’t take the opportunity in life, it can slip by.”
So, now we look back at the beginning of last summer when Diack was just biding his time in a bar until his next grad school class. That guy is now one of the go-to people in the PokerStars office. Instead of taking credit for hold bold he was, he tips his hat to the people who hired him.
“The ability to reach out and employ someone on those terms shows they are looking for people no matter where you are,” he said. “If you can show you’re good enough, they will listen to you. I don’t know many other companies that would employ someone they met in a bar.”
Kenny Diack was looking for the right job. He was looking for adventure. He was looking for the right thing to come around the corner.
“It did when the PokerStars CFO walked through those doors,” he said.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging