Success breeds more success

Have you heard the old joke, the best words to put on a Columbus resume are former Buckeye? This month’s cover story with Jim Merkel, CEO and president of Rockbridge, led me to think of it in a slightly different light.

Merkel spoke about how the firm was able to get through the challenging circumstances of the global financial crisis because of the strong base of employees it had in place.

Rockbridge hires people who are successful. It doesn’t matter as much what they did previously, just that they’ve been successful at it.

“If we, as an organization, are good and have a good environment and a good culture that trains successful people effectively, we’re going to have a great team,” Merkel says.

Wrap your mind around the abstract

It’s an interesting lens to shine on the hiring process.

I speak with many business leaders who seek the right cultural fit, personality traits and work ethic with their potential job candidates. Often, they consider these factors more important than traditional job skills. But these concepts are sometimes hard to actually pin down into concrete and measurable factors.

Sure, you can give personality tests, and have an extensive interview and job hiring process, but how do you really know?

The challenge of making sure every hire is the right hire is so critical to the way business operates in the post-recession world, with narrower margins and less room for mistakes.

Rockbridge’s philosophy of hiring successful people is how they start to hone in on the right cultural fit. Successful people are going to share certain characteristics — drive, self-reliance, discipline, passion, etc. — and many of those qualities are exactly what they are looking for.

It helps define an abstract idea, which is why it makes so much sense to me.

Having success on the field, and off

OK, so what does this have to do with our beloved Ohio institution — The Ohio State University football team?

I’ve always laughed about how playing OSU football 10 years ago could make someone more valuable in a completely different career now. But maybe there’s something to this.

Following Rockbridge’s concept of success moving across industries, it’s not a stretch to think that a former football player who has drive, self-reliance, discipline, passion and more could take those same qualities and apply them to another field.

If someone worked hard enough throughout elementary school, middle school and high school to make the Buckeyes team, he probably is an employee who could make a difference at any organization.

Just think back to the College Football Playoff National Championship just a short time ago. That’s a team that has persevered through adversity, and found success. I’d think that those players learned a few lessons along the way that might be useful later in life — and in their careers.

This leads me to the conclusion that if you hire A athletes — whether they are actual athletes or more metaphorical ones like me — who have been successful in the past, you might be one step ahead of the competition.

Also be sure to check out this month’s Uniquely Columbus, which examines how Dublin, Ohio, celebrates Irish heritage all year — not just in March.