Wolfram Alpha: How to Find the Best Managers

manager, wolfram alpha, leadership, qualities

In just a few weeks, I will be with my friends “across the pond” at TRU London and I am very excited! For those who don’t know, TRU London is an “unconference” and just in case that term is too trendy for you, here is a bit of verbiage from the website.

Wolfram Alpha: How to Find the Best Managers


An unconference is an event that has no fixed structure and only two rules, no power point and no presentations. The day is split in to sessions during which a series of “tracks” run on a theme with a track leader hosting the discussion, debate and learning. The discussion takes a life of its own with attendees bringing their own views, questions and opinions as well as debate. This takes many directions and concludes with real learning and opinion forming. The track leaders have been carefully chosen from their areas of experience and knowledge and the value they can bring to the “track” and have been drawn from across the globe giving a real global view.

Now the thought of walking into a room of people asking me questions that I am not wholly prepared for is a bit intimidating, gut wrenching and FUN! The uncertainty of it all (I must admit) is part of the thrill. What will these discussions take us? What bit of wisdom will I be able to shed light on? How many times will I be asked a question that I cannot answer? Well… hopefully, not too many. (Smile)

Of course, should it happen, I am preparing myself with canned responses designed to disguise my ignorance and nervousness. Here are a few items I have worked out already:

  • That is a very good question sir, if you would, please allow me a moment to reflect on the profundity of that statement before releasing the wisdom of a decade of experience in that very area.
  • Wow! Your comment have brought upon an epiphany that I am finding difficult to articulate. Allow me a moment to place this revelation into words.

Okay, so maybe my excuses need some work? Maybe instead of thinking how I might say something ridiculous, I should simply imagine that my every response would indeed be brilliant? Hm… How would that work?

“Hey Jim, you say, “How would you source a good manager?”

To which I would reply, “That is a very good question sir, if you would, please allow me…”

No, no, no… positive thinking. Let’s try that again.

“Umm… I think good is too subjective a term,” I say. “What one Hiring Manager considers good will be different from another. Be that as it may, I would make the argument that you can source good managers based on the amount of revenue the average employee makes for the company.”

(Okay, you stare at me blinking, so I expound a bit more.)

“Are you hip to Wolfram Alpha?” I ask.

Wolfram Alpha is like a searchengine, but not a searchengine at the same time. It does not search the web for keywords you enter, instead, it produces stats, facts and figures about your keyword; anything that can be computed. (Which is why it bills itself as a Computational Knowledge Engine.) For example, if you search on the term “Jim” you will find data on how popular the name is in the USA and the average age of the person bearing that name. (Interesting info for a trivia buff, but not all that useful.)

For giggles, let’s do a search on 4 large publicly traded companies: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple.Wolfram Alpha instantly compares the companies on a variety of factors, among them the amount of revenue (on average) each employee generates. Curious to see who manages the most productivity out of their employees? Here are the stats:

  • Google wins the race with $1,153,000.00 of revenue per employee
  • Apple was second with $992,900.oo of revenue per employee
  • Microsoft was third with $605,300.00 of revenue per employee
  • Yahoo was fourth was $480,500.00 of revenue per employee

I thought this was a cool tool, but I wondered if it produced the same data for private companies. I figured it would not, but checked anyway by looking up the top 4 private American companies and searching on them collectively in Wolfram Alpha and yup! I was right. Despite that fact, I found pretty good data I must say and very relevant unless of course you are looking for private companies who only employ left-handed Executives based in Tasmania. Hah! But what are the odds that someone will ask that specific question anyway?

“That’s great Jim,” you say, “but what if I want that same type of info from private companies who only employ left-handed Executives based in Tasmania?”

To which I reply, “Umm… ahh…. That’s a very good question! If you allow me a moment, I need to run out and ask myself that very question. Should I arrive before I get back, please keep me here until I return. Ta-ta!”

(Well, I would say either that or “I don’t know.” Probably the latter.)

See you at TRU London! (And feel free to ask me whatever sourcing question you like.)


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