By Jim Owen, Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer, Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership
When you’ve got a message you want to share with the world, it’s always great to get reinforcement from thoughtful and knowledgeable people. So I was gratified to read theWall Street Journal’s recent interview with Bob Funk, founder of the fifth largest employment agency in America..
In recent weeks I’ve been out on the road, talking with audiences about what it takes to succeed in America today. And on that score, Bob Funk and I are of like mind. He believes that “anyone who really wants a job in this country can have one” if they meet three conditions. First, he says, you need integrity. That happens to be my first secret to success as well. But that raises another question—namely, what does integrity mean to you? Definitions vary, but to me, integrity means living by a code – the values and principles that matter most to you –and striving to make your words and actions line up with those beliefs. (This is what our Standing Tall workshops are all about.)
Mr. Funk lists “a strong work ethic” as the number-two requisite for getting a job. And once again, that squares nicely with what cowboys call “Try”—that is, bringing a can-do attitude and 110% effort to the tasks or challenges at hand. I’m such a believer in Try that I wrote a book and produced a documentary film about it. His third requirement for being employable is that you need to be able to pass a drug test – which, I agree, is a given.
Notice that nowhere in the interview does he mention grades, diplomas, or SAT scores. Evidently Mr. Funk believes, as I do, that employers care as much or more about character as they do about credentials. You can teach someone job skills, but you can’t teach someone to have integrity or take pride in their work. Those are qualities we each have to develop and strengthen on our own.
It’s a measure of Mr. Funk’s own integrity that in the interview, he gives his reasons for opposing ObamaCare even though its passage would likely boost his own business. Without getting into a debate over the health care law, I want to applaud any business leader who speaks out for what he sees as the good of the country—and I hope his example will inspire others to do the same.