What should I do with my life?
As existential questions go, this one's a biggie. Each of us, to varying extents, continually wrestles with answering it as we make our way in the world.
But tackling such a big question is really hard, and often overwhelming for most of us. How do we know where to start? How do we know what we truly enjoy? What we're truly good at? What truly fulfills us?
Having solid, science-based data points to help guide us in our our exploration and decision making would sure be useful. Especially with the big decisions, like what to study in school, what type of career path to choose, and how to play to our strengths in what we do.
The good news is: there are testing services out there designed to offer such help. As many of you know, I went through a fairly radical career transition when leaving my executive job at Yahoo! to partner up with Chris and co-found Peak Prosperity. The insights I learned from these testing services were instrumental in giving me the clarity and the confidence to take such a non-traditional jump.
And no test was more valuable to me than the aptitudes test offered by the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. Here's what I had to say about it in my book Finding Your Way To Your Authentic Career:
I have to spend a moment here discussing the Johnson O’Connor test. Yes, this test is significantly more expensive than the others. But in my experience, it was the single most useful test I took during my transition.
In the 1920s, Johnson O’Connor was commissioned by General Electric (GE) to develop an aptitude test that could match its employees with work for which they were innately fit. Back then, an employee often spent their entire career at the company, and GE leadership hoped to get better performance if employee talent was better matched to its nature.
The tests O’Connor created worked extremely well. Later, in the 1930s, he created the precursor to the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation (JOC), which has been administering and improving the tests ever since.
What I like about this approach is that it is extremely data-driven, and they have been iterating it for almost a century. Hundreds of thousands of subjects have gone through this process over the decades, enabling JOC to refine procedure to the point where the results are extremely predictive relative to competing methods.
The testing process consists of 6 hours of exercises designed to empirically score your natural ability across a number of specific skills. These exercises are wide-ranging; some are conceptual, some manual, some visual, some musical…some you have no clue at the time what they may be testing…
But after your 6 hours, you then have a 1.5 hour session with a specialist who synthesizes the output from your results. I found this extremely helpful, as have the people who initially put this test on my radar. While the JOC folks don’t promise you’ll have an ‘epiphany moment’, your odds are pretty good here. The goal of this exit consultation is to make sure you have a rock-solid understanding of the attributes that will most determine your career success and happiness. The researchers also do their best to help you identify potential professions or industries that are well-suited to your specific profile. So you leave the experience armed with bedrock insights about yourself, along with one or more paths to go explore.
There are JOC testing facilities in many major US cities. So if you decide you want to take the exam, you should be able to find a center within driving distance.
I've been long interested in conducting a deep-dive into the Johnson O'Connor approach for the Peak Prosperity audience, and am excited to finally be able to offer one now. I think the material here is especially worthwhile for parents of teens, college students, those considering making a career change, and folks approaching retirement.
Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Steve Greene of the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation (43m:18s):
Adam Taggart: Hello and welcome to the Resilient Life podcast. Resilient Life of part of PeakProsperity.com. It is where we focus on practical and actionable knowledge for building a better future. I am your host, Adam Taggart. At Peak Prosperity, we talk a lot about the dynamic of living two lives where many of us trudge through a work day characterized by dissatisfaction and unfulfillment. And only in the privacy of our personal lives after work is done and the kids are in bed, we attempt to squeeze a few minutes of time in focusing on the priorities that are personally meaningful for us. Does that sound like you? If so, you are not alone.
Study after study shows that well over 70 percent of workers are actively dissatisfied with their jobs and with the work that life had steered them into. But what if it did not have to be this way? What if the work you did on a daily basis was aligned with your values, your passions and your natural strengths? What if you looked forward to each new work day with a sense of excitement and gratitude? How much better would your life be from where it is today? If this sounds compelling to you, then listen on.
As many Peak Prosperity readers know, five years back I went through my own career transition from a successful yet unhappy role as a Silicon Valley executive to entrepreneur and proud co-founder of Peak Prosperity. My only regret about the transition is not making it sooner.
Out of the success of that experience, I wrote the book “Finding Your Way to Your Authentic Career” to serve as a guidebook for others wrestling with the desire to make such a large career move, but anxious about the risks. In that book, I emphasize the importance of beginning the process with self-understanding. All of your plans will be based off of your hopes, goals and capabilities.
The single greatest resource I encountered in developing an accurate self-understanding was the aptitudes testing offered by the Johnson O’Connor Foundation. And today, we are joined by Steve Greene, the Director of Public Relations of John O’Connor. In addition, he is also the director of the New York office. And he has been an employee of the foundation since 1987. I am excited to share the science behind the Johnson O’Connor testing process with our listeners. Steve, thank you so much for joining me today.
Steve Greene: Oh, it is a pleasure. I am delighted to be here. Thank you, Adam.
Adam Taggart: Well Steve, you heard my introduction there of what a big believer I am in the impact that the testing that Johnson O’Connor offers can have on people’s lives. A lot of the people I talk to about this do not realize that Johnson O’Connor was actually a real man. And maybe we could start with you giving just a little bit of background on how the Johnson O’Connor testing process came to be.
Steve Greene: Sure, absolutely. I think a common misconception is that Johnson and O’Connor are two different people and those are the last names. He was actually one person. His first name was Johnson. His last name was O’Connor. And he was our founder. He was a Harvard educated mathematician and philosopher. And after graduating from Harvard, he conducted research in astronomical mathematics with Percival Lowe who was in his time very influential and famous astronomer. And he then went on to work in electrical engineering at General Electric.
In 1922 at General Electric, he was asked by his supervisor, a man named S.T. Cox, to develop an in-house project which came to be known as the Human Engineering Lab. Its goal was to match employees up to work that suited your natural abilities so that you could run more efficiently. So this led O’Connor into the study of inborn aptitudes or natural abilities. So based on empirical research, he developed a number of classifications of specific human abilities, which came to be called things like structural visualization, conductive reasoning, ideaphoria and so on.
In 1939, O’Connor broke away from General Electric. Based on the success of his testing program, he realized it was much more important and maybe larger than something used just for industrial screening. And he formed the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, an establishment that is a not for profit scientific and educational research organization.
Today, we have grown to a national organization with 11 locations spread out throughout major cities. And we measure about 22 different aptitudes that combine like molecules to form chemical reactions. So what we are looking at is the combination of the low, average and high scores. We use that to guide people towards appropriate careers and educational paths. In addition to aptitudes, we measure English vocabulary, which is knowledge and therefore can be acquired. We believe vocabulary can be one of the best predictors of educational and occupational success.
In studies we conducted, we found that those who rose to high level in a variety of fields tended to possess superior vocabularies. So in addition to measuring people’s innate abilities, we also measured their vocabularies levels and educate them on effective ways to build vocabularies as well.
Adam Taggart: Great. One of the things that I really love about the genesis of all this was (and correct me if I am describing this the wrong way) GE was I think wise enough back in the 1920’s to realize look, we were – back then you would get hired by GE straight out of school. And you would pretty much work most of your career there, right, or all your career there.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: And their thought process was if we can figure out what a given worker is uncommonly good at, what he is better at than most other people and craft a path for him in his career here at the company, we are going to get the best work out of that person.
Steve Greene: Absolutely.
Adam Taggart: He is going to be playing to his strengths. And he is also probably going to be most fulfilled. So he is going to get the most out of it as well.
Steve Greene: That is right. It is also a good way to retain employees for a long period of time.
Adam Taggart: Right. That makes a lot of sense.
Steve Greene: Basically, that was a very visionary concept back then and it led to the genesis of what later on came to be called the field of positive psychology.
Adam Taggart: Well clearly, I think it makes a lot of intuitive sense. And from the science side of things what I love about it is it is extraordinarily data driven. And you talked about the empirical background that Johnson O’Connor had. But it is really all about testing, measurement and looking for correlation. And the fact that it has been running I mean now getting close to a full century….
Steve Greene: Yes.
Adam Taggart: I do not know if you have a sense of how many people have gone through the tests. But I imagine it has got to be at least in the hundreds of thousands.
Steve Greene: We believe it is close to one million.
Adam Taggart: Right.
Steven Greene: Over one-half million people have gone through the testing. We believe it is probably – we have not kept exact numbers. But we believe it is probably close to one million.
Adam Taggart: All right. So this was sort of a statistician’s fantasy, right. I mean you have got just a massive sample size.
Steve Greene: Yes. I think scientists really celibate over our database when they hear about the number of cases we have.
Adam Taggart: Right, which again I can understand. But what that means for the individual test taker, it means that the predictability or the predictive nature of their results, you can have an extremely high degree of competence in because the sample size is so high.
Steve Greene: Yes. One of the determining factors in whether a test becomes part of our battery is whether or not it has a high reliability. And reliability means that you are going to get an accurate score throughout your life. It is not going to change much over time. So the thing that is very helpful about knowing about one’s aptitude is that they remain relatively stable over time so people can refer back to this to help them make decisions in the future.
Adam Taggart: Yeah, we will talk a little bit more about this in the future in the podcast. But I have had that while Johnson O’Connor does not like people who have taken the test to come back at a later stage in life if they want to and take the test. They do not really stress it that much because the results tend to be so consistent over time.
Steve Greene: That is exactly right. What we do is we take the opportunity when clients come back for follow up sessions. People come back again sometimes 20 years – 30 years later to review their results. At that point, we are always updating test – re test reliability studies on a particular test. So we use that opportunity as a test – re test reliability study.
Adam Taggart: Great. All right. So just closing my summary here. The way I think of the Johnson O’Connor test, it is a way for people to get a very empirical data driven quantitative understanding of where they excel in their natural aptitudes versus the general population. And this plays into the whole play to your strengths type of strategy when it comes to a career.
Steve Greene: Yes. Yeah. That is a very good synopsis in what we do. Even the ancient Greeks believed in the concept of gnothi seauton, know thyself.
Adam Taggart: Know thyself, yeah.
Steve Greene: And we offer objective information about one’s natural talent that can just help us make wise choices about school work and hobbies.
Adam Taggart: Exactly. The way I describe it, it is one of those garbage in – garbage out equations. Meaning you are going to be making – we are talking here about the career side of things. Then we can talk in a bit about some of the benefits to other aspects of life. But if you are basically using data points to base decisions off of, if you have got bad or faulty data points, you get bad or faulty decisions. And what I think your testing does is gives people a very accurate, very high confidence points so that they can be making very accurate, very high confidence decisions.
Steve Greene: Yeah, absolutely. There is no such thing as a one hundred percent error free measurement. But our measurements are as measurements go, quite reliable and valid. And just for my experience here over the last almost 30 years, I found anecdotally this has helped people really change the direction of their lives or continue forward with enhanced confidence and motivation.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. And I mentioned in the introduction that it is very common out there for people to be frustrated about where they are in life career wise. And I mean a huge part of that is it is a fault I think of our education system. But we do not spend any time with people through the formal education process helping them zero in on these attributes and then mapping them to their interests, their passions and things like that. We just cram a bunch of learning in their head and hope the light bulb is going to go off at some point. They are going to have an epiphany. And that happens with a rare minority of people.
Steve Greene: Yes.
Adam Taggart: And so what happens is people get stuck in a job or whatever. Usually, they wake up in their 30’s or 40’s after they have been in it for a decade or two and think gosh, I really wish I were not here. It would not have been what I picked for myself now that I know myself a little bit better. But boy, I do not know what I would do next. Or I do not have the confidence that if I try something that I think might be better suited for me that it is going to work out. And while there are no guarantees in life, what I love about the Johnson O’Connor test is it really helps cut through that uncertainty, those big existential questions about what is my purpose? What should I do with my life? It really helps you understand. It does not necessarily give you the exact answer that you should do exactly this. But it says that the work you do or the things that you engage in need to have these elements in them for you to either be fulfilled or frankly be good at them.
Steve Greene: Yes.
Adam Taggart: And I think it is that ability to kind of cut through a lot of the uncertainty that I found so powerful. It gives answers that help people really focus their priorities and to begin to be able to make decisions. It certainly did for me. So it sounds like you agree with that general outlook on it. But a higher level, I mean what are the benefits that the test offers? When people are coming into your office, what are they looking for and what do you see as the right type of person to be looking to engage with the Johnson O’Connor test?
Steve Greene: Well that is a good question. As I mentioned before, just the concept of gnothi seauton means most people will benefit from enhanced knowledge of themselves. And we offer people objective information about their talents that can help them as early as age 14. That is the youngest that we test people. We feel that is kind of a safe age where aptitudes of gelled in. We can measure them with confidence. So about one-half of our clients are between the ages of 14 and 21. They are primarily students who are trying to figure out what college to go to, what to major in, what different courses, eventually what career path to head in to.
The other half of our clients are everyone older than that. And many of them are recent graduates. And there is something called the quarter life crisis where people in their mid-20’s realize that the career that they initially thought was going to be a fit for them is not a fit. And they are in a panic mode. And they come in for testing just to kind of get back on track. And then we have older working adults who are either trying to fine tune their career path or are very unhappy and want to do something completely different. And we even get people who are well on in their careers thinking about second careers or even retirement and how to plan out their retirement years. And some people just come in not necessarily to change their careers, but just to pursue satisfying avocations.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. And one of the things that I realized about the insights is even if you do not change your career or the things you are engaged in radically that better self-understanding is still extremely applicable to your current career or your current position. It is really sort of a catalyst I guess. So it can be a catalyst for excelling in the current vector you are on or it can be a good catalyst for change.
Steve Greene: Yes, yes, very well said. And some of the clients we have are not in a position where they are able to throw away the career path they have been on. They may have a mortgage and kids and college and financially they are wearing golden handcuffs. But it can also help them find ways to make what they are doing better, a better fit. Maybe they realize hey, they are really good at coming up with a rabbit full of ideas. They can start an in-house newsletter or train people in their division. Or maybe they will find satisfying avocations to use those. And then, of course, we have people do make huge career changes even later on in their careers.
I had one business executive who went back to medical school in his late 30’s. And then went on to a satisfying medical practice for about ten years and then changed again back to a medical corporation becoming the CEO. So there are lots of stories of people making huge changes. And there are lots of stories of people who came in and said this sounds like me. I am not surprised at all. And it gives them a new confidence and it empowers them to continue on.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. I think we might get into this a little bit further on in the podcast. But one of the things that it did for me that I think is worth emphasizing here is I went in definitely with the hopes of getting better self-understanding, which I definitely got. And at the time, I had cut the cord and sort of jumped deliberately without the safety net. So I knew I had to find something to move towards. And I really wanted it to be something that was much more authentic for me than what I have been doing.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: And I had a number of different options that I was looking at at the time. And what I found extremely helpful with the results, not only did it point me towards a specific direction and I was able to focus on the opportunities that were a good fit with the results that I was getting from the test, but it made it so much easier to say no to the other options that were on the table that were “good options” that are culturally whatever. I felt fortunate to have them. And up until taking the test, I had a lot of internal aches that oh my gosh, everybody says this is such a good job. It is a good company. Am I throwing my future away by not taking the opportunity? But when I was able to see what type of work I should be doing and then overlay that against the opportunities, there were a lot of “good” opportunities that I was looking at. But it was taking up a big chunk of my mental capacity that I could all the sudden put to the side and feel good about saying it is a good job. It is a good opportunity. Just not for someone who is composed like me. And I can feel good saying goodbye to that.
Steve Greene: Right. That is a really very important point because there is so many pressures that shape our choices, societal pressures, parental pressures, peer pressures, what we think is prestigious and sometimes what is left out of the puzzle. What are we innately good at doing? What would make us happy and engage us and fulfill us in our work? And there are some people who have a work ethic where that is not important. They say oh, you just have to work hard, earn money, pay your bills and that kind of thing. And, of course, those are not people who are in touch with our philosophy.
Adam Taggart: Right, right. Well and I think it really is the rare person who without outside data like this who really fully understands themselves well. I mean obviously we all have a decent self-understanding of ourselves to a certain degree. But there is also a lot that we are blind to or that we are anxious about. And what I love about this is it is all – it is very empirical. There is no emotion behind it. It is just what the data says. And it is interesting. There are strengths that come from the results whether the results are positive or negative meaning it validates opinions that you have about yourself. It is great because then you know okay, I can really lean hard on those parts of myself, right. If it says I am a good problem solver, great. I can feel confident jumping into an uncertain environment to solve problems. But at times too, it tells you that boy, some of these things that you thought you were good at or maybe hoped you were good at, you are just not naturally strong at versus the average person. It does not mean do not do it. It just means maybe do not quit your day job if you want to indulge in that part of yourself.
Steve Greene: That is exactly right. And I think that is a very important point because what we do not do is tell people what they can or cannot do. Because even a person who lacks in aptitude, if they are really motivated and hardworking, they may be able to succeed to some extent. But chances are they will not enjoy that work and find it fulfilling. We do not necessarily even tell people what they should or should not do. Basically what we tell people is these are the things that you are most likely to enjoy doing because they came natural to you. When people gravitate towards their strengths, they tend to, again, be very fulfilled and engaged by their work. There is a positive psychologist who calls that the flow space. You are engaging your natural talents and being properly challenged. It is a very positive state of mind.
Adam Taggart: Well let us use this then to segue into a description of what taking the test actually looks like. Because I think most people when they are thinking of a test here, they are thinking of probably something like the Myers-Briggs where you sit down for an hour and circle a lot of bubbles on the chart.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: Your test is much more kind of like a mental steeple chase. It is just a whole bunch of different things. A lot of them – half the time I did not really even know what you guys were testing at the time. And it is long. I think it is six hours of testing, right, followed by….
Steve Greene: Yeah. Well the tests themselves are more like puzzles or games. They were designed initially to be worked in conjunction with the psychology departments at the Illinois Institute of Technology, MIT, and Stevens Institute of Technology to develop what we call work samples. And they are more like hands on samples of work or puzzles or games that people perform that measure natural abilities. We are not asking people what they like to do or think they are good at. We are really getting at how are you hard wired. What are you naturally good at? So we are having people put together 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzles or move pins with tweezers, or listen to musical tones. And we try to keep paper and pencil activities to a minimum in this type of testing. Again, you think more like a puzzle or game than an actual school test.
The length of the test, there are three sessions. The first two are half days of testing, about three and one-half hours each. And those are split up into two approximately 90 minute sessions one of which is an individually administered test, the other which is audio-visually administered tests. And there are two sessions like that. And the third session is the explanation of the results that is called a summary session. And that lasts about an hour to an hour and one-half. And we send people home with a bar graph of all their scores, percentiles and written explanatory material and a book on understanding your aptitudes, which is chapters about each of the traits, a variety of handouts that focus on initial steps to take after the testing. And some of them focus on particular aptitudes.
In addition to that, we encourage our clients to record these sessions. Because going back and listening to it can be very valuable. So it is time consuming. So it is almost seven hours of testing and then an hour to an hour and one-half feedback. And those sessions can be done consecutively in a day and one-half or spread out over three days. Those days can be on different weeks or different months, whatever works best.
Adam Taggart: Great, but not on the same day, right?
Steve Greene: No. I mean some brave souls decide they are going to do a full day of testing and then come back the next morning to hear the results. And it is does not seem to have that much of an impact on their results. But it does seem to have an impact on their mood at the end of the day. It is a long day.
Adam Taggart: I believe that that is a long day. I think your brain is pretty fried near the end.
Steve Greene: Yeah. Well people have an hour for lunch. They can go out and get some coffee and refuel and come back and do it again. I guess the ones who do that are probably the pretty high energy people to begin with.
Adam Taggart: Yeah.
Steve Greene: Yeah, it is not as fun to do it that way. It is more relaxed to spread them out.
Adam Taggart: Yeah, and as someone who has taken it, I definitely advise at least breaking it into two days of testing.
Steve Greene: Yeah. And sometimes we have even had people break the session in two. They come in for an hour and one-half one day and an hour and one-half another day. It is just coming in more often.
Adam Taggart: Yeah, yeah. And then as you said, so it is the seven hours of the actual test. And then it is an hour to an hour and one-half where you sit down with somebody on staff, a researcher who basically comes in and says here is what the computer spit out. Let us talk through those results. But then let us talk about you, your interests, and your understanding of yourself and see how this really meshes with your own experience with your life.
Steve Greene: That is correct. I mean basically we could just give a person a list of examples of occupations based on how they scored. But the discussions tend to get much more in depth than that. We do like to know what people’s interest and values and hobbies and things like that are. That might shed some light on how they might best use these abilities.
Adam Taggart: Right.
Steve Greene: Because there is no set way that one person has to use their abilities. There are a variety of different ways they can use them.
Adam Taggart: Right, right. And for me, it has been hey, these are some careers that you should look at because they score high like the people with your profile.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: And interestingly, a couple of them just surprised me like crazy. I had never thought I might be interested in them. And, of course, upon further reflection, I can now actually see why those might be good fits.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: But for me, what was really important is I tell people that go to take the test, do not expect the clouds to part and a hand to come down for the heavens and say you should be a dentist, right.
Steve Greene: Yes.
Adam Taggart: Even though the computer will spit out a number of jobs to take a look at.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: But I did have my own epiphany moment and I think a lot of people do. And it was not around a specific profession like that. It was more the work you do has to fulfill these parts of you for it to be work for you to care about. And that was super helpful to me.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: In fact, I probably used that insight more than any to make the leap to do what I am doing now.
Steve Greene: Well that is a great story. Those are the kinds of stories I love to hear personally. And I hear a lot of them over the years because people do find those to be very helpful. And one of the things – the ways to think about aptitudes is when we look at – our philosophy is people come in with testing mentalities. They think it is good to score high and bad to score low. And the urge is to try to score high in everything. Most people score high in between 2 and 6 areas out of the 22 that we measure.
What we are interested in is how to combine with the average in the low scores. It is kind of like a chemical reaction. And when the high scores are not being used, it can instead become almost problematic in sources of restlessness and dissatisfaction. So we think of aptitudes not just as one’s natural abilities, but almost like needs that have to be met.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. I am glad to hear you say that because that is what my researcher said in the session that I had after doing the testing. And I found that it is very true. And it is certainly accurate in describing why the work I was doing before I went and took the test was so unfulfilling to me. Because when I looked at the things that the testing service said were the things that were really important to how I was wired, very few of them were actually getting fed by the work I was doing before.
Steve Greene: Okay. You were a good candidate for our service then.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. And like I said, for me, I had a pretty big ask of it, which is I am going to do a radical career transition. And I want the testing service to help me make sure I make the best decision possible. And again, I am happy to say it worked out for me. But as we talked about earlier, I think this test is relevant for just about anybody. And I really cannot think of a good reason for somebody not to take the test if they have the ability and the means to do so. Because that self-understanding will spill into so many other areas of your life.
Steve Greene: Well that is so true. I mean and it is funny because parents come in with their kids. They sit in the summary sessions. And they often say gee, I wonder how I would score. And I said well you do not have to wonder. You can come in and do the test. They say yeah, but I might find out that I have been doing the wrong thing for all these years and that is scary. But I mean it is – like I said, it is good to know.
Adam Taggart: It is good to know. And even if you do not want to change what you are doing, it just helps you do what you are doing better. Just customize it even more to your personal tastes and needs.
Steve Greene: Yeah. You might discover, for instance, that you scored very low on our measure of clerical speed. And maybe 50 percent of your work is clerical in nature and it is time consuming infused. But maybe you find a way to minimize that.
Adam Taggart: Right.
Steve Greene: Delegate that. And that in and of itself can elevate your job satisfaction.
Adam Taggart: Right, right. Well you mentioned that 50 percent of the people that take your test are between the ages of 14 and 21.
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: And I think -- and I am a father and I have got two daughters who once I took this test I said my kids are definitely going to take it. My older daughter just turned 14. I am going to give her a little bit more time, at least a couple more months to let her brain mature a little bit. But I feel like as a parent, really one of the absolute best gifts I can give them is enough of a self-understanding of what makes them tick and what they may want out of life. So as they begin to make those really big life decisions that are going to determine the trajectory they go on in life. Do they go to college? If so, where do they go to college? If so, what do they study? And to have those – when I sort of defined the outputs of the testing service is I tell people it gives you compass points that you can navigate by confidently.
Steve Greene: That is a great analogy. I like that.
Adam Taggart: Thanks. Feel free to steal it.
Steve Greene: I will.
Adam Taggart: But I mean I think back to when I was at that age. And I actually was fairly successful. I graduated top of my class, went to an Ivy League school and what not. And I will say I struggled and stumbled through a lot of my early 20’s and what not because I really did not know what I wanted to do in life. And sometimes even if you are a high achiever it can work against you. You can open a lot of doors. But deciding which door to go through and what to do with your energy is really tough. So having not had those compass points when I was young and having the opportunity to potentially give them to my children. I encourage anybody listening to this who has kids to seriously consider having their kids go through this testing service.
Steve Greene: Well not only is that a great endorsement, but I agree with you one hundred percent. I am a father too. And, of course, I have two daughters. And they grew up hearing about aptitude testing their whole lives. So when my daughter was 12, my older daughter, she insisted on coming in for testing. And I said well that is a little too young. You do not have any norms until age 14. She said oh, but I am smart, motivated and I want to do it. And I said well we cannot. She said okay. I will make you a deal. If you promise me to test me on my 14th birthday I will stop bugging you. So we did. We came in here the day after her 14th birthday. Now that is not necessarily the right age for everybody. For some students, it might even be better to wait until junior year in high school when they are starting to contemplate colleges, majors and so forth. But for interested and motivated students who are mature and interested, 14 is not a bad age.
Adam Taggart: All right. Well parents who are listening, take note here. Of course, the flip side as well is I think the three people that would benefit most from this and again I want to repeat. I think that almost anybody should consider doing this just as a life enhancer. But it is the person that really wants to make a big change. We talked about them. It is younger people who are about to explode on to the world. And then I think it is people that are approaching retirement and really trying to figure out what they want to do with the next act of their life. Do you get a lot of retirees coming in or soon to be retirees?
Steve Greene: Not a lot, but we do get some. Because a lot of people are under the impression that oh, it is too late for me. But we do get a number of retirees. Just in the last couple months I tested people in their 60’s who were contemplating retirement.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. I would think for that type of person this would be a great test to consider. You literally have the chance to completely wipe the slate clean and do something very different with your time. And why not make sure that it is really custom tailored to what is of value.
Steve Greene: Right. I think one other thing that is worth noting is we just recently – one of our researchers did an interesting study of students. And the most notable result was that 60 percent of – about 60 percent of students who tested with Johnson O’Connor continued their declared major while they were at college. The comparison group in the study who had not tested with JOC changed their major 50 percent of the time. And changing majors can be a huge undertaking in terms of expense, time and things like that.
So just for parents thinking well what – we do charge for our service. We are a not for profit organization. But the fee for testing is 750 dollars in New York and 675 in the other labs. But how does that translate into an investment? Well one college course is much more than that.
Adam Taggart: Right.
Steve Greene: So if a person does two years of engineering and realizes it was a huge mistake and then switches over into the liberal arts school that is a big undertaking.
Adam Taggart: Right. And I am glad you mentioned two things there. Just to clarify what you said, you are saying that kids who took the Johnson O’Connor test before they went to college changed their majors much less frequently, correct?
Steve Greene: Right.
Adam Taggart: Right. So they were much more likely to pick a course, stick with it and hopefully that is because the course was much more aligned with their innate aptitudes and interests.
Steve Greene: Yeah. I mean often people, after they leave here, will realize hey, this is a good major for me. Because they say now I have some objective criteria to base it on.
Adam Taggart: Right. And then secondly, you mentioned the price of the exam. It is a pricier test than say the Myers-Briggs or a lot of the personality/strength finder tests out there.
Steve Greene: That is correct.
Adam Taggart: And I will again continue to give my endorsement here, which is I think when you amortize the value of the results versus that cost across the rest of your life, I think it is an absolutely screaming deal. It is a complete slam dunk investment.
Steve Greene: Thank you for the endorsement. And just in terms of the statistics, if you are changing your major or taking one additional class, it pays for itself.
Adam Taggart: Right. It has already paid itself right back.
Steve Greene: Exactly.
Adam Taggart: And it is the kind of thing – there is only so much you can get, I think, by taking those tests where you are filling in the bubbles. What I really like about Johnson O’Connor’s methodology is it is very active as you have mentioned. I mean they are like games. But I mean you are literally – if it is a spatial test, you are assembling blocks together. If it is a dexterity test, a manual dexterity test, you are doing that in real time. And by the way, I got to stop for one second and say I was pretty convinced I moved those pins faster with my tweezers than any person alive and I scored below the median. I could not believe that.
Steve Greene: Yes. Lots of people feel the same way. I myself felt that way. I said hey, I got all these pins in. I think I probably scored pretty high. And I was in like the tenth percentile.
Adam Taggart: I was shocked, yeah. God.
Steve Greene: So the thing is sometimes you do not have an accurate self-perception. You think hey, I am doing this pretty well. But what comes out is how did you compare to everyone else in your age group who did the exact same thing?
Adam Taggart: Right, right.
Steve Greene: Under the same circumstances. That is where it puts it into perspective.
Adam Taggart: Well and when I talked about blind spots earlier that is exactly right. There are just – I mean a blind spot is a blind spot because we are blind to it. We just do not see it. And that was a great example where I did not think I was maybe the world’s best pin mover. But I would have been on myself on a race versus the average person. And clearly, I would have lost.
Steve Greene: See, we saved you a lot of money there...
Adam Taggart: Yeah, I appreciate that.
Steve Greene: ...on the wager you would have made.
Adam Taggart: Exactly. So we have talked about the methodology. We have talked about how the test runs. We have talked about who should take it. Is there anything else you would like to say in terms of once somebody has got the results and they then go back out into the world whether it is in their own careers or their own lives? How are people really using this information? What is the application you most commonly see?
Steve Greene: Well many people, as I said, will make fine-tuned adjustments to their career paths. The question I ask after the end of the discussion session where we go over the results is are you surprised. And most people say no, I am not surprised by any of this. But they would not have necessarily been able to put it into words. So it gives them labels to attach. It gives them more concrete evidence that they are actually hard wired and talented in certain things. And it helps them go out and then changes the confidence. I think you are a great example to somebody who this emboldened you to make a huge career change. So some people use it that way. Other people are not in a position where they are able to make those changes from the field they are. And sometimes they again find satisfying hobbies or avocations. And then sometimes people go full speed ahead and end up really excelling on the path that they have been on with renewed vigor and confidence. So it can be empowering for those people.
Adam Taggart: Great. Well for someone who is listening who was hearing you describe those benefits and thinking boy this sounds like something I would really love to do or at least learn more about it, where should they go?
Steve Greene: Well they can start off with our websites. We have a newly designed website. It is www.jocrf as in foundation dot org. And they can also feel free to contact me in the New York office. My telephone number is (212) 269-0550.
Adam Taggart: Oh, you are very kind and brave to share your phone number there. But I appreciate you doing it. And there are Johnson O’Connor offices in a lot of major cities in the United States, correct?
Steve Greene: That is correct, yes. We have one in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Adam Taggart: Great. So for the vast majority of people, there is a center within a day’s drive more or less.
Steve Greene: Yes, yes.
Adam Taggart: Great. And do you have any international as well?
Steve Greene: We do not. We are only in the continental United States.
Adam Taggart: All right. Are there any plans at any point? Probably 25 percent of our listeners are international.
Steve Greene: No. At one point we had a charter for a center in Toronto and we had one in Mexico. But those have run out. And we have no plans to extend beyond United States borders at this point. We are looking to expand internally first.
Adam Taggart: Okay.
Steve Greene: Maybe in the future.
Adam Taggart: Well for our international listeners….
Steve Greene: We do get lots of requests.
Adam Taggart: I bet you do.
Steve Greene: From other countries. Oh, can you please open up a center in Australia and Singapore. At this plans we do not have any plans. Unfortunately, people outside the United States will have to travel to one of our locations. And again, these are not tests that can be done remotely. They are individually administered.
Adam Taggart: Right, right. All right. So for our international listeners, sorry for the bad news. But if you come over to the states, this might be a fun thing that thing that they can do a trip out here.
Steve Greene: A lot of people do that. They combine this with a trip to New York to go and see Broadway plays and the sites of New York.
Adam Taggart: Yeah. And frankly, I think that is a great way to make sure you come home from your trip having had some fun, but also taking real value home for you that is going to last a lifetime really. All right. In closing, Steve, first I want to say thanks so much for really breaking all this down for us.
Steve Greene: Sure.
Adam Taggart: And I really do hope that anybody listening to this who has been wrestling with life decisions where these types of insights may be useful definitely go check out the website that Steve mentioned and pick up the phone and talk to a researcher at a center that is near you if you think you might want to learn more and talk about potentially scheduling a session there. In closing, I will just say when I talk about why take the test with people, Steve.
Steve Greene: Yes.
Adam Taggart: What I say at the end of the day is what the test results help people find is purpose. And there are other components to finding purpose in life. But really understanding what are the things that intrinsically motivate you and that you are just wired for is a huge component of that. And as I said, there are other tests out there that can contribute to an understanding of that. But if you could only do one, I would say do this test. Does that resonate with you as well the whole purpose angle?
Steve Greene: Absolutely, absolutely. First of all, thank you for such a great endorsement. But people do hopefully leave our office with a sense of what kind of work will be most meaningful and fulfilling based on how I am hard wired in my natural talents. You also can direct people just on basic things like what is the work approach that best suits you? Are you really wired for teamwork or are you more individual and specialized in your scope? So yeah, I think that you gave a very accurate description of what people can expect.
Adam Taggart: Well thanks. And I appreciate you thanking me for my endorsement. But really, I guess I should be thanking Johnson O’Connor the man himself were he still alive. Again, it made such a big difference in my life. And if anybody is curious who is listening, we do not have any sort of business relationship with Johnson O’Connor. This is just really coming from me personally with the value I found in my experience there. But with that, Steve, I am going to thank you again for giving us so much of your time. And we will post the links to the website and some of the resources you mentioned along here with the podcast. But if anybody has questions on the test itself further, please ask them in the comment section and we will make sure they get answered for you. And with that, Steve, thank you so much.
Steve Greene: Okay. Thank you, Adam.