Am I the last person to have heard about purple squirrels? Where has that concept been all my life?

If you’re as ignorant as I am, and you google purple squirrel, and you get past the silly sightings of real violet-colored animals who might have gotten into the color copiers….or who are victims of hydraulic fracking….or are related to something truly disgusting about the GI tracts of heroin users….

You will see at least two definitions, which are sort in the same family. But not really. Nuance is everything.

One defines a very rare job candidate — someone whose background is unexpected, out of the box, yet peculiarly suited to a complex job or organization. Oddly and uniquely qualified, one might way. Ready to stretch to do something new. Let’s call that definition the glass half full.

The other is a well-qualified candidate who is rejected for a position by a persnickety client who doesn’t know what’s good for her company. That’s the glass half empty definition. It is a metaphor used by recruiters to explain why their absolutely perfect choice didn’t make the cut. Feh on that one.

Now I have a new tool to describe my fondness for working for people and around people who like purple squirrels — or who are are themselves PURPLE SQUIRRELS.


  1. Aleksandr Z. says:

    Dear Ann,

    Thank you for a great post! Purple seems to be the color of choice for an entire ecosystem of species and organizations that could no longer stand to live by the prevailing requirement to fit nicely into a series of clearly marked round holes. Try to fit a proudly blossoming purple cactus into one of those! Know thyself, be thyself, go purple! 😉

    Kind regards,
    P.S. you might enjoy Seth Godin’s Purple Cow.