This brief glossary provides insight and comic relief. We have put together a number of brief glossary entries from the world of CAPITALENT – without any claim to completeness. It is a blend of the serious and lighthearted. These key terms are taken from our day-to-day practice with a few remarks and explanations. To inspire you, and to give you enjoyment.


Like an adult male deer, the alpha male will not tolerate male competition at the top. In the upper echelons of companies and in the boardroom, the alpha male experiences the compulsion 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 bearing his name him and got so excited he stepped naked out of the public bath. Carl Friedrich Gauß also used the exclamation, and Eureka is also the official motto of California. At CAPITALENT heuristics help us identify solutions.


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


This is intended as a rally cry to be true to yourself. Not to be distorted on the way to the top. To remain authentic, to maintain friendships with people from whom honest words can be expected. To discover what you really want outside the barbed hooks of a career, or also in harmony with work life. To know who you are and what you want. Not so easy after all. Incidentally, this axiom goes back to the Greek poet Pindar and is cited in various ways by Friedrich Nietzsche too, among other places in Ecce homo, for which he chose How to become what your are as its subtitle.


The target group focused on by Capitalent consultants. They want to find those who are “the best of our times” and provide them with our services 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 …”


The famous aphorism by Voltaire “The better is the enemy of the good” (Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien) is an important principle underlying our work at CAPITALENT. This means we do not settle for the good. Instead we are only satisfied with the best solution.


A cinematic masterpiece directed by British filmmaker Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down depicts the trauma of lost invincibility through the example of an episode from the civil war in Somalia. Today too: a synonym for a career derailment, emergency landing, being shot down. The executive crashes from a great height while he or she had been feeling invincible. “Shot down” sounds trivial in the language of those who do not have to care for the casualties and stick a small Band Aid on themselves by means of outplacement. Recently the rule of thumb has become: the higher up the executive, the more quickly a crash occurs. And the number of downings is on the rise. To calm your nerves: At CAPITALENT we have an effective search and rescue program for wounded executives.


Like the protagonists in the film of the same name, many executives today seem to live only in alternative realities. For that is in fact where they arrive, especially if they have risen to a high position in rapid order. The career stops are completed faster than the moving companies can transport the ever-growing household belongings of the high-flyers from one new city to another. 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 latent isolation and ever more separation from reality slowly starts to brew. Broken personal relationships and the 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 which rely on blinkered rationales are flawed because a limited field of vision clouds judgment. Blinders have found their modern equivalent in the idea of “tunnel vision.”


If you’ve never been in one, it’s not for you to judge. The meaning intended here is a chamber where a vaunted committee meets to decide on things of the utmost importance, where the knives are out but swords are 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 having different meanings in the world of science and informal language. Originating in a rich word family – beginning with the Latin capitalis (“the head“ or “related to life”) all the way to caput or “head.” And indeed, it is about heads with us at CAPITALENT. But that is only one factor, a play on words of sorts. For what is meant most of all is something else. And that is a business outcome. Thus, the term goes back to the word borrowed from Italian, used since the 16th century: capitale – “asset.” At that time it signified the head of cattle a person had. 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 day. Instead we focus on indicators affecting the balance sheet, the profit and loss statement, EBITDA or other key performance indicators (KPIs). All of these are economic indicators that are achieved thanks to the effectiveness of the talents in a company. We provide a methodologically well founded and robust prognosis of future success, embodied in existing and externally recruited talents.

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


Young in spirit, a company with a long history which can look back on over 70 years of quality and experience. The partners and qualified employees at CAPITALENT ensure quality performance in each specialization. Our team are committed to ongoing development of all processes and methods, and are 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.”


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 apparently 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 a performance of the same kind in the future too? 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.


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 and 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, don’t make too big a fuss, but give a clever tip 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 they had the custom of having 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 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.


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.


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 without foundation.


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.


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.


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 2013 CAPITALENT moved into new premises on Theodor-Stern-Kai, directly on the banks of the Main river.


To put it more directly, the actual pay earned by a CAPITALENT consultant. Is not measured by the resplendence of coins. Instead it emerges from the good feeling of having achieved something.


Describes the art practiced by CAPITALENT consultants to arrive at good solutions while starting with only partial information and not having 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 sol 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 stepwise 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 the military are examples of organizations based on a 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.


Applied to our business activities, the Hippocratic Oath already encapsulates 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 abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.”


The basis of all consulting products. The foremost discipline. This is where the chaff is separated from the grain. The key concern is interest in the person and with that person’s current and prospective professional effectiveness. The initial interview is thus a stocktaking and career discussion all in one. It takes place in the context of ongoing assignments, it is true, but is not conducted with the intention of quickly determining how well suited a candidate is for a vacant position. Most of all, it is an invitation to an encounter of a lasting nature. Only in this way can the desired degree of professional trust be established.


It is well known that mining made the Ruhr Valley great. Because large quantities of valuable energy were available, energy-intensive industries got their start in the Ruhr region, especially iron and steel processing, followed by mechanical engineering and the chemicals industry. Still 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 but always focused on the matter at hand and the client. This is also referred to as prudence: the capacity to act cleverly and appropriately in concrete situations, while taking account of all factors relevant to the situation. Corresponds with moderation, self-restraint.


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, 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.


“Moderation in all things!” or “Not anything in excess” We identify with this inscription over 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 restrain, and to 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 the best.


A genius. An eternally glowing beacon in the natural sciences. Less well known is his impressive performance as a manager, which is 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 which was threatened with collapse by radically overhauling processes in the mint, introducing new machines and increasing productivity several times over. A small marginal note in passing: his is also an instructive case on handling power. We mention Newton at this point with particular pleasure; he is regarded as one of the first users of the sentence: “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” Look for the corresponding entry under “S” to learn more.


Borrowed from the book of the same name 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.

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 to our interviewing technique, from our honest establishment of trust with friends and clients all the way to our lasting interest in people, we rely on stable processes which have passed 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 sholders 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 were 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 the dwarves rise above the giants.


“We shouldn’t have late appointments anymore!” “Why not?” “The 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 a bit at the end of the business day enjoying the nighttime view of the Frankfurt skyline from the CAPITALENT offices.


We speak of a spiral of death when in the course of a few years positions frequently change hands, the titles of the activities associated with them constantly sound more and more impressive (just as the company cars constantly grow 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, then there is only one thing left to do: Get in line at the back.


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.” The name 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 for professionals worldwide searching for holistic employment in the healthcare and social sector in Germany. Places healthcare staff and nursing professionals as well as midwives, surgical assistants for renowned German hospitals, and educational specialists of 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 could therefore become an icon of transformation in the former industrial region. It was always regarded as the most beautiful mine in the world and today is included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.