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Dave Sather's Money Matters: Aptitude testing a solid investment

By By Dave Sather
Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:03 a.m.


The best investment I have made was my education. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for your sacrifice.)

However, the cost of education continues to skyrocket. Furthermore, the average college student has little idea what major to choose. Each time they change majors, it costs money and time. The result is often massive student loans and a worthless degree that is ill-suited for happiness and productivity.

At age 18, I was no different.

Growing up, we discussed becoming doctors or lawyers. Even though we were always expected to work, we never discussed entrepreneurship or the business world. In high school, I took all the advanced science courses available and headed off to college as a pre-med biology major. It was a punishing first year.

I lived in the lab and studied seven days a week. I was barely pulling a B average and having zero fun. It was certainly not the stellar performance that would lead to medical school. I was tremendously frustrated because I felt incapable and lost. Like many kids, I went to college with the best of intentions but was clueless.

My mother had read about the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation - an aptitude testing firm. Although nationwide, the firm has testing offices in Houston and Dallas. I knew nothing about the place but was miserable and open to anything.

When I tell people about Johnson O'Connor they often remark, "Oh, I have already done aptitude testing - they're all the same."

Simply put, whether you have done the Myers-Briggs test, Strengths Finder or some other test, you have never done anything like the Johnson O'Connor program. As such, set aside preconceived notions that all aptitude tests are the same.

Johnson O'Connor was an industrial psychologist who theorized that everyone is born with a unique skill set. This skill set is usually etched in stone by age 16. O'Connor rationalized that if he could measure a person's unique skills and then match them to jobs requiring those skills that people would be more productive and happier in their careers. Nearly 100 years later, O'Connor's research and theories have been proven correct and immensely useful.

The testing process takes eight hours plus a review and recommendation session the next day. Unlike the preference and personality tests I took in high school, I could not "trick" these tests. Many tests were abstract in nature - I had no idea what they were testing for.

The evaluation process is not a matter of "pass" or "fail." The exams reveal what you are naturally best at as well as highlight weaknesses. When I was 19 years old, they told me I was really bad at paperwork and clerical organization. Twenty-seven years later, they continue to be quite right.

When all was completed, they smiled and said my lowest aptitudes lay in the sciences. Ugh! I devoted my young life to the thing I was worst at. Instead, they counseled me to go into business. Although quite hesitant, I changed my major. The results were miraculous.

I studied less, made much better grades and had a much better time in college. When I studied business, it came naturally to me. It motivated me, and the success came rapidly.

As my friends struggled with similar issues, they migrated to the Johnson O'Connor testing. Bruce had already graduated with a business degree. After his testing, they told him to be an engineer working on "cutting edge" applications. He went back to school, graduating with a civil engineering degree. Today, he is responsible for designing the landing system on our nation's next space vehicle. Peter first graduated from college with a degree in art. His Johnson O'Connor results revealed strengths in information technology. Today, he owns a technology solutions firm in Houston.

Peter, Bruce and I are not the only ones with these types of results. For the past 15 years, the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation testing has been a constant recommendation for our clients - whether going off to college or facing a career change. Our staff also goes through the testing to make sure I maximize their usefulness in our organization.

At a cost of $675, this test is about the cost of one semester's worth of books. However, it will most likely be one of the best investments you can ever make.

Dave Sather is a Victoria certified financial planner and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other week.

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