The “It” Quality

In the business world investors are looking for TheGuy, according to Randall Stross:

The guy. No special emphasis on either the or guy, but no intervening pause, either. TheGuy. That’s the person needed to head a start-up once it has grown beyond a seed. To wit, a stud, ideally, a big honkin’ stud or a total fuckin’ stud. He (or yes, she) will not lack for balls, at least in one sense, but in another will work his nuts off, or his ass off. A high-hustle guy. A total can-do guy. A winner. Smart. Someone with integrity off the charts. Scrappy. A kick-ass dude, a nail-eatin’, nut-crushin’ decision maker, a competitor with killer instincts. Someone who attracts and hires A’s, unafraid to hire above himself. A player. A hitter.

You can abbreviate it: They’re looking for an entrepreneur who has “it.”

When businesspeople don’t have “it,” you can tell. From the Vanity Fair profile of Arthur Sulzberger:

Here, in a nutshell, in the words of a veteran Times staffer, is what is supposedly wrong with Arthur: “He has no rays”—rays, as in the lines cartoonists draw around a character to suggest radiance, or power. In the comics trade these lines are called “emanata.” The emanata deficit is a standard insider lament about Arthur, although most Times people need a few more words to make the point.

“It” means more than “very smart.” Besides suffering from word inflation, “smart” doesn’t capture energy, zest for life, incredible get-shit-done capabilities, and general radiance that seem to accompany these people. It’s the total package.

In the sports world, elite athletes who always take care of business often earn the “it” label. I once watched a football game and heard the announcers say the quarterback has “it.” They went on to say, He is a baller, He is a player, He is a competitor, He is hyper talented. But none of these things seemed sufficient. At a loss, they said again, “He just has ‘it.'”

Finally, the “it” quality lives large in the world of beauty. Supermodels seem just normally beautiful at first. Why do the cameras never tire of them, then? Supermodel beauty involves, among other things, “uncanny symmetry and harmony to their features so that once you start looking at them it becomes difficult to stop.” It’s regular high ranking beauty plus this other harder-to-describe stuff (“harmony to their features”?) that make it work.

You know it when you see it.

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