Charles Schwab CEO Says College Cleaning Lady Kept Him From Graduating With 4.0 GPA, Taught Him Compassion

The CEO of Charles Schwab recently discussed the banking giant’s hiring process and noted that he looks at a candidate’s heart as well as his head when hiring. Walt Bettinger, the Charles Schwab CEO, says that before hiring a new employee he always takes them to a breakfast interview. He says the interview is designed to showcase the applicant’s character as well as the ability for the potential employee to handle challenges. Bettinger says he asks the restaurant to purposefully mess up the applicants order in a bid to see how the potential employee reacts. Bettinger says he learned the hard way exactly how important it is to place value on others. The CEO says he learned this lesson by failing a college final offered by a professor attempting to grade the student’s heart, along with their head knowledge. The test came in the form of a college cleaning lady named Dottie in which Bettinger failed and received his first and only B of his college studies.

The Daily Mail reports that Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger places a high importance on the character of the individuals that are hired on to the banking firm. Bettinger says that he learned a highly valuable lesson in college that not only changed his perspective on life, but also ruined his perfect 4.0 GPA. Bettinger says he studied hard for a college final and had meticulously memorized and practiced a series of formulas for the exam. However, when he arrived at his desk to take the exam he was handed a blank sheet of paper and told by his professor that the students had learned everything they could from his class and that the only question that he really had left was “what is the name of the lady that cleans this building.”

“The professor said, ‘I’ve taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last 10 weeks.’ But the most important message, the most important question, is this: What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?”

@WaltBettinger So powerful. Had goosebumps reading it. Thanks for the perspective on what’s truly important-> people.

— Alan Arlt (@AlanArlt) February 8, 2016

Bettinger says that embarrassingly he did not know the woman’s name despite having seen her daily in the building. He said she was always in the building keeping everything in line, but he never took the time to get to know the lady working hard behind the scenes. He says that during his entire time in the building he never stopped to speak with the cleaning lady or to ask her name. Bettinger says that he failed the exam and that it was a pivotal moment in his life. He learned that the name of the cleaning lady was Dottie and claims that he has made it a point to always know the Dotties in his life.

“That had a powerful impact. Her name was Dottie, and I didn’t know Dottie. I’d seen her, but I’d never taken the time to ask her name. I’ve tried to know every Dottie I’ve worked with ever since. It was a great reminder of what really matters in life.”

Likewise, Bettinger wants people working for Charles Schwab that have a similar character and love for others. Bettinger says that the restaurant test is very telling of another individual’s character and that candidates may react frustrated, angry or they may react in an understanding manner not allow the mishap to ruin their breakfast or the interview. Bettinger says he also asks potential employees about their greatest failures in life to get a better understanding of their heart.

“What I’m looking for is whether their view of the world really revolves around others, or whether it revolves around them. And I’ll ask then about their greatest failures in their life and see whether they own them or whether they were somebody else’s fault.”

What do you think about the Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger’s story of Dottie the cleaning lady? Does it surprise you that the banking giant looks for positive character traits in their employees and for individuals with a mindset that the world revolves around others?

[Image via Paul Sakuma/AP Photo]