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JWT has to hire 2,600 people a year but the company refuses to take some of the most talented people it meets if they have this one awful personality trait

Matt Eastwood
Matt Eastwood

(Worldwide chief creative officer Matt Eastwood.JWT)

J. Walter Thompson has 13,000 employees globally, and the ad industry's annual employee attrition rate is about 20%, according to worldwide chief creative officer Matt Eastwood, so the agency potentially has to recruit maybe 2,600 new people a year.

Thousands of those new hires will go into JWT's creative departments. But there is one type of person that Eastwood absolutely will not hire, he told Business Insider at the Cannes Lions advertising festival: jerks.

Eastwood has a "no assholes" hiring rule. That rule can be a difficult one to apply in advertising because — notoriously — some of advertising's most talented creative people are also colossal jerks.

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Eastwood told us why he would rather walk away from the most talented people in the business rather than hire them if they're obnoxious. It turns out one particular jerk taught him a lesson:

"I remember making the mistake years ago."

"I specifically remember hiring a guy — I won't say where or who because that's illegal — but he was hugely awarded, still is hugely awarded, won everywhere and of course I wanted some of that for the agency. So I hired him. He was the rudest. I remember once hearing, and I apologize for the horrible words, I was sitting in the office, I heard from down the hallway 'get out my office you fucking c---!' And I'm like, really? At work? Is it worth it for me to have this guy in my office even though he wins awards? And I decided there and then. It's a horrible work environment and it's not worth the creative success to have that kind of disruption."

"The interesting thing about this guy in particular is you can sort of fool everyone for a while — he left me for another great job — but eventually that reputation caught up with him and he actually couldn't get a decent job anymore."

"We are friends, and I sat with him and I said: 'This is a real learning moment for you. You've got to change. No one wants that in their company.' So he had a real 'aha!' moment and thought: 'I have to temper my personality.' The deadlines are crazy, you're working crazy hours, you just want to be with good people."

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