Wikitalent from A-Z

A brief glossary to enlighten and entertain with some terms we encounter in our daily business – with no claim to completeness. For your inspiration and enjoyment.


Like a male deer, the alpha animal will not tolerate competition at the top. In the upper echelons of companies and in the boardroom, it feels the urge of always having to dominate. Unlike the buck deer, this behavior is not limited to the breeding season.


Legend has it that the most important mathematician of the ancient world shouted “Eureka!” (I’ve found it!) when he realized he had discovered the Archimedes principle subsequently named after him. He got so excited he stepped out of the public bath naked. Carl Friedrich Gauß used the same exclamation, and Eureka is also the official motto of California. At CAPITALENT, heuristics help us identify solutions.


A complex, multifaceted concept understood here as a sign of natural leadership charisma based on outstanding competence or how convincingly they put forward their arguments. Authority earns willing admiration, recognition and respect.

Become who you really are

This is intended as a rally cry to be true to yourself. To remain authentic on the way to the top, to maintain friendships with people you can expect honesty from. To discover what you really want despite the barbed hooks of a career, or even in harmony with them. To know who you are and what you want. Not so easy at all. Incidentally, this axiom goes back to the Greek poet Pindar and is also repeatedly cited by Friedrich Nietzsche, for example in Ecce homo, where he chose How to become who you are as a subtitle.

Best, the (Plural)

The target group CAPITALENT consultants focus on. They want to find and support “the best talents of our times”, regardless of age or hierarchy. They take their inspiration from the prologue to Schiller’s Wallenstein: “For those who have been the best of our time / They have lived for all time …”

Better, the

The famous aphorism by Voltaire “Better is the enemy of good” (Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien) is an important principle underlying our work at CAPITALENT. This means good is not good enough. We are not satisfied until we find the best solution.

Black Hawk Down

A cinematic masterpiece directed by British filmmaker Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down is about the trauma of lost invincibility, exemplified by an episode from the civil war in Somalia. For us today, it is also a synonym for a career derailment, emergency landing, being shot down. The executive crashes from a great height, though he or she had been feeling invincible. “Shot down” sounds trivial only to those who do not have to care for the casualties and remedy the wounds with the help of a small Band Aid called outplacement. Nowadays the rule of thumb increasingly is: the higher up the executive, the faster the crash. And the number is on the rise. To calm your nerves: At CAPITALENT, we have an effective search and rescue program for wounded executives.

Blade Runner

Like the protagonists in the film, many executives today seem to live in alternative realities. Which is in fact where they find themselves, especially if they have risen to a high position very quickly. Career stopovers are completed faster than moving companies can transport high flyer’s household belongings from one new city to the next. Assignments, colleagues, work locations rush past the executive at awe-inspiring speed. Overwhelmed by a desire for more and more as well as a dangerous and deceptive image of their own invincibility, spurred on by generous bonus packages, sycophants and uncritical supervisory boards, an explosive cocktail of lurking isolation and increasing separation from reality starts to brew. Broken personal relationships and early onset of health problems send unmistakable signals. A moment fraught with danger in the midst of success.


Blinders or blinkers are nothing new. However, arguments based on blinkered rationale are flawed because a limited field of vision clouds judgment. Blinders have found their modern equivalent in the idea of “tunnel vision.”


You have to have been in one, to know what it’s like. Understood here as a closed chamber where an illustrious committee meets to decide on things of utmost importance, where knives are out, but swords rarely drawn, where words are uttered, but another agenda is hidden beneath the surface, where only the syntax of the written word reveals power. For some decisions a few lines from Goethe’s Faust may help: “…Man errs, till he has ceased to strive…“ How true. For “… in essence, only humankind normally considers this small world of fools a cosmos in itself…“


The first half of our company name. A term with different meanings in the world of science and informal language. Originating from a rich word family – beginning with the Latin capitalis (“the head“ or “related to life”) up to caput or “head.” And indeed, heads are what we are about at CAPITALENT. But that is only one association, a play on words. For what is meant most of all is something else: A business outcome. The term goes back to the Italian word used since the 16th century: capitale – “asset.” In those days, it signified the head of cattle a person owned. The connotation of the word was therefore that something could be counted. And that is how it gradually came to form its meaning as a relevant business parameter.

Those are the kinds of metrics we are concerned with, too. Granted, normally it is no longer about how many head of cattle these days. Instead we focus on indicators affecting the balance sheet, profit and loss statement, EBITDA or other key performance indicators (KPIs). All of these are economic indicators achieved thanks to the effectiveness of the talents in a company. We provide a well-founded methodologically allowing robust prognosis of future success, embodied in existing and externally recruited talents.

Thus, the concept “capital” acquires its special meaning only when it is understood in connection with “talent.”


Young in spirit, a company with a long history which can look back on 80 years of quality and experience. The partners and qualified employees at CAPITALENT ensure quality performance in each specialization. Our team is committed to ongoing development of all processes and methods, and is able to think outside the box. We are honest about everything and everybody at CAPITALENT. Assignments, placements, consulting, expert assessments, studies and fees are always kept away from the influence of vested interests. The raison d’être of our company is not merely to focus on maximizing profits. Instead our abiding principle is “We really are interested in people.”

Capitalent, to

The question is: “How to CAPITALENT your organization?” Do you have the right people in the right places? Do you know the real status quo of your organization, where it stands, not just on paper, but potentially? And do you know how this state-of-affairs will impact the bottom line in the near future? Are you confident about your company’s potential to perform, and can you say with confidence that it will deliver similar performance in the future? If your answer to all these questions is “yes”, then come to one of our fireside chats and enjoy the inspiring atmosphere of the conversations held there. But if you have answered “no” at least once, you should call us.


Considered the cradle of personnel consulting. It all began there in 1942. George A. FRY, a partner in the Booz, Fry, Allen and Hamilton Group since early 1930s, founded his own company, George Fry & Associates, in Chicago. This consulting firm focused on marketing, organizational planning and personnel consulting, and is thus one of the oldest representatives in these areas. Later renamed FRY CONSULTANTS INC., this company was taken over by S.U.P (Society for Organizational Planning), where all the founding partners of CAPITALENT originally worked.

Chinese Walls

A concept from the United States which emerged after the stock market crash of 1929. The US government recognized the necessity of separating investment bankers from brokerage firms. A Chinese Wall is an important safeguard which needs to effectively separate and isolate two sides from each other. Even though history has shown that it is not possible to build a wall high enough to thwart the ingenuity of those up to no good, nevertheless, for the good of our clients, at CAPITALENT the Chinese wall principle is strictly applied between individual assignments.


A concept that we regard with a certain skepticism. We find that too much coaching spoils the seed. We like the concept of “career escort.” This means, we don’t make too big of a fuss, instead we give smart advice at just the right moment. Over the years, this has allowed us to provide support during the careers of many well-known executives. And to help navigate the shoals that come up here and there and show the correct path in the courting ritual for obtaining power. Are there great coaches in the business world, a Nestor for Agamemnon, an Aristotle for Alexander the Great? In general no – but career escorts, perhaps yes.

In Ancient Rome it was the custom to have a slave stand behind a victorious general during his triumphal return to the city – the slave would hold a laurel wreath above the head of the victorious commander and constantly warn: “Memento moriendum esse!” (Remember thou art mortal!). It is true that nowadays many coaches ride on the war chariots of management. However – genuinely good advisers are few and far between. The consultants at CAPITALENT are appropriately self-restrained and modest, giving out advice in small doses and only on carefully chosen occasions.


Taken very seriously at CAPITALENT. See also Hippocratic Oath. Gossip and chit-chat? Not our thing. Anything told us in confidence is in safe hands.

Critical Incidents

An ambiguous concept. Frequently used in connection with an interview technique for observing reactions shown by a person while they are being assessed. Originally introduced during World War II by the American Air Force as an assessment criterion for recruiting pilots. Used at CAPITALENT as a generic term for referring to decisive moments in a career, both positive and negative.


A popular project topic. Is occasionally used as a concept in connection with the topic of “women” or “equality of women.” Has its roots in the civil rights movement in the US, which fought against discrimination against blacks. US anti-discrimination laws which protect groups subject to discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability or religion were a result of the civil rights movement. At CAPITALENT we strictly observe the German General Law on Equal Treatment.

Empire State Building

An eye-catcher you can see from our office on Fifth Avenue in New York. Built in 1930, for a long time the 103-story Art Deco building was the world’s tallest building and is still one of the city’s most popular attractions today. However, reports that cross-Atlantic assignments are not being carried out by CAPITALENT because American colleagues are transfixed by the view of the Empire State Building are completely unfounded.

Essen, Germany

Probably the earliest evidence for the idea of diversity is the establishment of the Essen Abbey of secular canonesses in 852. The powerful princely abbesses ruled there until into the 19th century. The silver mines from the late Middle Ages were followed by the coal and steel industry, which is still clearly visible and a distinctive hallmark of the region. Manager Magazine once wrote that “hardly anywhere else in Germany is so much economic power concentrated in so few square meters.” CAPITALENT has always had close links to the sprawling Ruhr Valley megalopolis. We have had an office in Essen since 2014. In our new and at the same time old home city, we are never far from our clients. Candidates also appreciate having a local office in the heart of the Ruhr Valley.

Flat Iron Building

The unusual wedge-shaped skyscraper has become an iconic symbol of New York City. Visitors to our building on Fifth Avenue are captivated by the sight of the 87-meter tall building from our 20th floor office suite. The Flatiron Building was completed in 1902 at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street using steel-skeleton construction. Our friends and clients are delighted to see the Flatiron Building nearby at meetings with our American associates.

Frankfurt am Main

The imperial city, first documented in 794, is where CAPITALENT is based. The predecessor companies of CAPITALENT also hailed from here, going back to 1952. Always a key center of trade and cultural exchange, Frankfurt/Main has been one of Germany’s most significant urban centers since the Middle Ages. Today it is the capital of personnel consulting –with more firms offering these services in Frankfurt/Main than there are days in the year. In 2021, CAPITALENT moved into new premises on Speicherstr. 53, directly on the banks of the Main river.


To put it frankly, this is the actual pay earned by a CAPITALENT consultant. Not measured by the resplendence of coins. Instead, it cones from the good feeling of having achieved something.


Describes the art practiced by CAPITALENT consultants to arrive at good solutions while having only incomplete information and not enough time. Methodologically, an analytic procedure which, with the help of estimates, enables conclusions to be drawn about a situation regarding a candidate or his or her suitability based on a fixed number of precisely defined matching criteria. Even though “trial and error” or “exclusion diagnosis” do not come into question for the ambitious CAPITALENT consultant as the sole way of choosing a solution, these are nevertheless recognized and valid heuristics. Heuristic procedures are based on experience – and for this reason while pursuing a step-by-step approach, the trained CAPITALENT consultant utilizes intuitive, synaptic links with additional information.


Today this often has “flat” added to it. The term describes dominance and “authority” relationships. The Roman Catholic Church or military are examples of organizations based on strict hierarchy. Operational stability is achieved in clearly regulated forms, processes and rites through commands and obedience. But if the chain of command is broken, the process breaks down as well. One example of an alternative to hierarchy in the field of technology: Intelligent networked systems replaced mainframe computers which functioned as the center of a star configuration which communicated with unintelligent peripherals. CAPITALENT has adopted a participatory leadership model based on knowledge and competence.

Hippocratic Oath

Applied to our business activities, the Hippocratic Oath is reflected in the self-imposed obligation of CAPITALENT consultants: “All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread, I will keep secret and will never reveal.”


The basis of all consulting products. The foremost discipline. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. The key motivator is interest in the person, and the individuals current and prospective professional effectiveness. The initial interview is thus a stocktaking and career discussion all in one. While it may take place in the context of ongoing assignments, it is not conducted primarily with the intention of quickly determining how well suited a candidate is for a vacant position. Above all, it is an invitation to an encounter of a lasting nature. Only this way, the desired degree of professional trust can be established.

Mining and Energy

It is well known that mining made the Ruhr Valley great. Because large quantities of valuable energy were available, energy-intensive industries started out in the Ruhr region, especially iron and steel processing, followed by mechanical engineering and the chemicals industry. Until today, the major energy utilities and their industrial customers are characteristic of Essen and the Ruhr Valley. At CAPITALENT, the energy and raw materials sectors and the manufacturing sector are key parts of our portfolio.


A typical behavior pattern displayed by all consultants and advisers at CAPITALENT – true to the motto of asking little for yourself, always focused on the matter at hand and client. This is also referred to as prudence: the capacity to act intelligently and appropriately in specific situations, while taking into account all factors relevant to the situation. Corresponds with moderation, self-restraint.

Museumsufer Frankfurt

We recommend to guests visiting CAPITALENT that they set some extra time aside for their stay in Frankfurt. You won’t often get the chance to experience such a rich choice of cultural highlights so close at hand. Here, one world-famous museum is located next to the other, exquisite collections there, fascinating exhibitions here, and all waiting for you to discover them. The Museumsufer (or Museum Embankment) in Frankfurt/Main is one of the most important museum districts in Germany and Europe. There are 15 museums within walking distance of CAPITALENT alone along the banks of the Main. One of them is sure to be to your liking. Worth a visit.

Ne quid nimes

“Moderation in all things!” or “No excess in anything”. We identify with this inscription above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi recorded by Plato, not least because one of the truly great managers of the ancient world was guided by this motto, none less than Roman Emperor Augustus. Not to exaggerate anything, to exercise restraint, and conduct business with a sense of moderation are among the most important principles of CAPITALENT consultants. An exception is made only in achieving a solution for the customer. There we are satisfied only with nothing less than the best.

Newton, Sir Isaac

A genius. An eternally glowing beacon in natural science. Less well known is his impressive performance as a manager, largely ignored by historians. One can confidently call Newton the true father of business process reengineering. After completing projects such as his famous Principia, in 1696 he swapped the scholarly quiet of Cambridge for the loud clamor of London and accepted an appointment to head the Royal Mint. It was in dire need of renovation at the time. In rapid order, he succeeded in rescuing the English financial system threatened to collapse by radically overhauling processes in the mint, introducing new machines and increasing productivity several times over. A small marginal note: his is also an instructive case on handling power. We mention Newton here with particular pleasure; he is regarded as one of the first uttering the sentence: “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” Look for the corresponding entry under “S” to learn more.

Razor's Edge

Borrowed from the book thus titled by Somerset Maugham, this is a metaphor describing a very critical phase in a person’s career. Disruptive moments or difficult phases in an existing employment relationship are analyzed at junctures like this.


Wird sehr ernst genommen bei CAPITALENT. Siehe auch Eid des Hippokrates. Ratsch und Tratsch ist unsere Sache nicht. Was uns einmal anvertraut wurde, bleibt in sicheren Händen.

Shoulders of Giants

Despite our being a young company, at CAPITALENT our philosophy and the services we offer are founded on a decades-old school of thought. Newton’s saying “Standing on the shoulders of giants” captures the essence of our way of thinking best. From our quality assurance system up to our long-lasting, genuine interest in people, we rely on stable processes which have stood the test of time.

The historical background: In a letter to Robert Hooke on February 5, 1675 Isaac Newton wrote “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.”

In saying this, he was referring to the proverb of dwarves on the shoulders of giants first documented around 1120 by Bernhard von Chartres. This image was developed to express the idea that achievements of contemporary science are only possible by building on the achievements of earlier generations. The predecessors from past ages are depicted as giants and contemporary scientists as dwarves. Thus, the dwarves benefit from the pioneering achievements of the past. Progress builds on the existing body of knowledge and continues in the work of those working in the field now, who add their own modest contribution. (Only) in this way can dwarves rise above the giants.

Skyline, the Frankfurt

“We shouldn’t have late appointments anymore!” “Why not?” “People stay so long. They can’t get enough of watching the skyline at night!” Even though this exchange is made up, clients do linger at the end of the business day enjoying the nighttime view of the Frankfurt skyline from the CAPITALENT offices.

Spiral Of Death

We speak of a spiral of death when in the course of a few years positions frequently change hands, the titles of activities associated with them sound more and more impressive (just as the company cars grow larger and larger), but the company and its commercial activities move in opposite direction and gradually grow smaller. If the whole things comes to a sudden end, there is only one thing left to do: Get in line again at the back.

Success Fees

Are rejected by CAPITALENT as dishonest. Client and candidate benefit from the independence of CAPITALENT consultants.


The second part of our company name. The name CAPITALENT consists of the words “capital” and “talent.” It deliberately includes both meanings: The true value of a company lies in using its talents right. The talent (from Ancient Greek talanton “scale, balance”) was the largest money unit in the ancient world. It corresponded to about 26 kg, which could be weighed out in coins or the weight of a standard amphora filled with water. A typical Greek sailing vessel cost one talent. At the time of Jesus, Greek coins were a widely used currency in Palestine. In the parable of the talents, Jesus makes use of an image from the monetary system of the ancient world. He was saying that God gives people different gifts, which they ought to apply in a sensible manner. The use of the term “talent” in the parable is the origin of today’s word “talent” in the sense of “gift or skill.”


Offers the TalentOrange program to professionals around the world searching for holistic employment positions in the healthcare and social sector in Germany. Places healthcare staff and nursing professionals, midwives and surgical assistants for renowned German hospitals, as well as educational specialists for early childhood education for German educational institutions.


The tradition-rich Zollverein mine north of Essen was founded by the legendary industrialist Franz Haniel and for a long time was the largest coalmine in the Ruhr Valley. One of the CAPITALENT partners worked his first shifts underground there. After it was closed down, on the basis of a courageous decision by the City of Essen, the Zollverein was rebuilt into a cultural center and became an icon of transformation in the former industrial region. It was always regarded as the most beautiful mine in the world and is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites today.