October 5, 2023
American football fans are currently assisting the human resource departments of their favorite professional clubs in evaluating potential employees. Millions of eyes are tuning in to a dedicated cable television channel as hundreds of young men are put through drills that may or may not reflect their ability to play the game. Off the field, the candidates will be poked and prodded by physicians and trainers before completing psychological tests and personal interviews. This comes after scouts and team executives have viewed thousands of hours of game tape and decided these particular young men are worth inviting to the NFL Combine. Cynics will gladly point out that most of these players will be seeking non-football jobs within the year. But first, they will help the league sell lots of advertising on that dedicated cable channel. Compare this effort to that which your firm makes to find new teammates. Survey after survey indicates that “finding good people” is the top concern of gear industry executives. Where is our gear trade “combine?” Football “experts” are always evaluating players against the attributes of current and previous superstars. Lord help you if you are a sub-six-foot-tall quarterback with small hands! You might have dominated college football but, in the eyes of the scouts, you have not actually played a game until you learn their “system.” The 40-yard dash has no place in track and field competitions and is seldom run during a game, yet millions of dollars are riding on the times recorded at the combine. If we were to adopt the same strategy for selecting our new teammates, what would our 40-yard dash be? Would we be worried about hand size or Wonderlic score? One of the goals of our “Origin Story” series last year was to show that top performers can come from widely different places. It has been awhile since we got any new stories, so I am putting out a renewed call to people with interesting tales to tell. My own journey began as an undersized “walk-on” back in March 1971. My 50th year in gears will be a bit quieter than most, and I no longer compete in the 40-yard dash to the airport check-in counter. How did you get started in this fascinating field and what advice would you give to our rookies? Why not write a 300-to-600 word account that we can share with our worldwide audience? And keep in mind that you don’t have to be a greybeard in the industry to tell your tale. We think short-timers’ stories are of equal value.