There is now a way for a square peg to fit into a round hole.
It comes by way of Idaho's Meth Project. Meth Project leaders pushed their organization through the roof by demonstrating courage in hiring.
The employee is Cyn Reneau of Boise. She recently shared her mind-boggling story. Reneau worked as a senior telecommunications specialist for the Idaho Department of Law Enforcement (reorganized in 1999 as the Idaho State Police). She later transitioned to the private sector as a field marketing manager. Wearing suits, traveling the state and pulling down a six-figure income, she reached her professional crest.
Then life landed a sucker punch. Reneau's life went from stellar to seller.
She developed a relationship with a new love interest, and he introduced her to meth. In 2006, after 100 days of using, Reneau was arrested for drug trafficking. She was later sentenced. Federal prosecutors indicted her in 2007. She served time under house arrest along with five years' probation.
Reneau's opportunities for a viable career path all but vanished. Jobs were beyond scarce. Going back to law enforcement was out of the question. Handling thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a company didn't seem likely.
At one point she lived in the basement of her ex-husband's home.
Reneau eventually landed a job in 2007. She also started volunteering for the Meth Project. Here is the lesson for many business owners: The Meth Project saw a fit. Instead of peering down their noses, passing judgment and talking about her behind her back, they looked at fit. They began by giving Reneau small amounts of responsibilities and building from there.
Leaders at the Meth Project, over time, saw that Reneau was able to speak the language of the meth user. She is able to share her story from a position others don't have. Today, as the project's education and development director, Reneau speaks to teens across the state. This quarter, she will speak to 20,000 teens from the metro area of Boise to the rural corners of Idaho.
Many times, students have tapped Reneau on the shoulder in public to thank her. One young man said she had ruined his partying days. Because of her talk at his school, he left a party because of the drugs being used.
The lesson here is to look for what your company needs, and then find the person to fulfill that need.
And take a cue from the Meth Project: If you have a round hole and a square peg, consider adjusting your radius.
Karleen Andresen, publisher of the Idaho Women's Journal, marketer and speaker. KarleenAndresen@gmail.com