Road Warrior

Attitude: A characteristic for success


Whether it is business, athletics, the classroom, or social interactions, attitude transcends society. Yes, as the road warrior, I am constantly engaging with people who provide services at hotels, airlines, rental car companies, restaurants, and also participants in my classes. The attitudes of those we encounter on a daily basis really stand out.

Dr. Charlie Farrell, an outstanding academic and consultant, conducted an exercise concerning attitude at a recent Farm Credit University agricultural lending class. Charlie laid out characteristics of successful people in the workforce, and three simple words: knowledge, skill, and attitude.

He then asked the lender participants to identify key words that describe successful people in the workforce. Examples flowed like a stream after a hard summer rain. Words such as passion, loyalty, honesty, credibility, work ethic, punctuality, trainability, follow through and problem solver flashed to the flipchart. Charlie then had the group match each of the key words to one of the three characteristics of successful individuals identified above: knowledge, skill or attitude. As many of you may have guessed, 80% of the key words had very little to do with knowledge and skill base. Many are directly related to attitude.

Charlie has a great quote you need to consider next time you interact with employees, managers, business partners, alliances or associates. Charlie says, “Hire for attitude; train for skills.” Too frequently people become enamored by someone’s academic degree or skill set, or they indicate that the person is “bright” or “a genius.” The emotional intelligence coefficient is often overlooked, but it frequently differentiates or sets a person apart from the others.

This concept can also be applied to athletics. It is fun to watch championship amateur or professional athletic teams. Media and others often overemphasize superstars. However, superstars need role players that may lack the skills or talent, but make up for it with an attitude that wins the championship. Jordan, Bird, Magic Johnson, the Manning brothers and old school teams and coaches realized this, and that is why they are in the Hall of Fame!

I have heard it said that aptitude plus attitude gives you altitude in life.


P.S. I just spoke to a group of youth visiting Virginia Tech for a conference. Half way thru my 30-minute talk, one young man put his head down on the table, but he was still awake. Of course, this drew my attention and prompted a quick discussion about the importance of attitude and non-verbal communication. After the talk, the young man came up to me and apologized concerning his behavior, and I accepted his gesture, which ensued in a long discussion about his future. Lesson learned!

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What's Road Warrior?

Dave Kohl is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He can be reached at

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