A Talent Strategy. With Zombies.

Warning: This post has everything to do with business and talent strategy, but it also has a lot to do with zombies and it does include some profanity. Reader discretion is advised.

An Apocalypse-Defying Talent Strategy 

You have just been delegated the critical duty of building a new business unit. If I have one piece of advice for you, it is to build a team that has the will and the skill to survive the zombie apocalypse.

While the occasional one-man army can wander the post-apocalyptic landscape and survive, most mortals survive by recruiting a diverse team. More often than not, the apocalypse (work) sticks you with a team. The weak or the weary (your default colleagues) might just drop one after the next (either voluntarily or by outplacement). Your best chance for survival is to build an elite team.

The key to surviving the zombie apocalypse – other than always, always aim for the head – is to build a well-rounded team with skill sets that complement one another. Each individual member of the team should bring something to the table that the other does not. So, without further ado, here are the seven essential components of an elite zombie apocalypse survival team.

The Leader

A successful leader is someone who takes charge and makes decisions; someone who can rally the troops, is skilled in the art of conflict resolution, and is equipped to deal with the stress of leadership (you know, heavy lies the crown). The leader must be strategic, but must still excel in the trenches (i.e., they can still mow down hoards of zombies) (i.e., they can step in and still perform the day-to-day duties of the team). They must have earned and not simply inherited the position. Above all else, the leader is respected by his or her peers, develops and serves the members of his or her team, and is looked to when action is needed and tough decisions need to be made.

The Soldier

The weak and the lazy (unskilled and unmotivated) won’t survive. If you want to survive, you will need a dash of crazy on your team. The soldier is someone who is more-than-slightly, but less-than-completely unhinged, someone who laughs in the face of the seemingly impossible and shouts, “Let’s do this shit!” as they crowd surf the legions of the undead. It is someone who lives to execute (whether tasks or flesh eaters) with a smile. And, because it is their reason for being, you probably won’t find anyone who can accomplish tasks more creatively (they are probably the only person in the world who has boot stomped a biter whilst bowing a fiddle).

The Maven

Given the waves of the undead and the volatility of the living (e.g., job duties, special assignments, internal and external stakeholders), you will need someone well-versed in weaponry, a true harbinger of death for any zombie or thug that has the great misfortune of crossing his or her path. You won’t survive long without someone who is damn near proficient with blades, pistols, rifles, and pipes (business acumen, industry knowledge, etc.).  Whatever weapon is at his or her disposal, the maven can use it. If they haven’t yet used it in the field, they master it with haste. The maven exudes stealth, is agile and adapts with ease. If your team is in danger, the maven can quickly and quietly execute until the team reaches safety and is able to recuperate.

The Medic

In a perfect post-apocalyptic world (emphasis on perfect), the only injuries your team would suffer would be at the jaws of the flesh-eating mob. But let’s be realistic, the post-apocalyptic world will be demanding as shit. Aside from zombie bites, your team might experience dehydration and exhaustion (burnout), face illness and disease (out sick, on short-term or long-term disability), endure pregnancy and even the common cold (boredom). Having a skilled medic (someone who can fill in the gaps when a team member is down) on your team might just be the reason for your survival.

The Brain

Brawn and badassery are all well and good, but you will need smarts to survive. Your team would be vulnerably incomplete without a bona fide strategist, someone who is skilled in logistics and can chart a safe route from the gun shop to the grocery store when shit goes awry (because shit will go awry) (because errors will be made, information will be incomplete, and due dates will be delayed). While not the most skilled fighter, the brain is resourceful and can serve as an advisor to the leader, someone who can help solve problems without posing a threat to authority. Who knows, the brain might even discover the cure to all of this hell and reverse the outbreak once and for all.

The Mascot

There has never been a post-apocalyptic world that was easy (there’s a reason they call it work). Surviving the zombie apocalypse requires you to scrounge for food, to seek shelter and supplies, and to fend off and slay zombie after zombie – people who might have been a neighbor, a close friend or a loved one. It’s enough to seriously hurt morale. Skilled mascots are uniquely able to defuse tension with laughter and even remind the team of what they are fighting for (or working towards) when the train goes off the rails. The zombie apocalypse can really get you down, but the right mascot can pick your team right back up.

The Sacrifice

This person seriously sucks (i.e., a bad hire). The sacrifice knows that they are dead weight and that they don’t bring much to the table. Maybe they offered up value in the past, but they have since thrown in the towel. They know the deal – the longer they stick around, the more likely the team will die. You feel bad for the sacrifice, but they offer your team something no one else will – their life. They call it quits (or more likely you fired them), but with his or her last breath, they show the team the value of life (having a job, a steady paycheck, a sense of purpose). The team might be burdened by the redistribution of duties, but believe it or not, their death (termination) will pull the team closer together.


In the apocalypse, one thing every member of your team must be capable of is holding onto their humanity. There will be times when you’re out of food, out of ammo, and out of luck. During those times, it will be all too easy to throw another member of the team to the masses. Don’t. Your team must fight that impulse with every last fiber of their being. Why? Because this is the fuckin’ apocalypse and you are only as strong as your team.

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