So, I guess the big question is: How will this turn out? When I read the press release from the Transition to Veterans Program Office announcing changes to the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program, I was left shaking my head. My initial reaction was negative - very negative. They just don't get it. I saw several posts on LinkedIn from veterans and veteran advocates asking for thoughts and opinions about the forthcoming changes, and a part of me felt the urge to regress into angry email mode. I thought better of it. Because I didn't want my emotions to bias the argument, I stepped away from the keyboard. I took some time to craft a more thoughtful response to the changes, and well, here goes . . .Read More
I know what that feels like to look up from the bottom of the hill. I've been there.
Both times that I left the military, I approached the process of searching for a job as an insurmountable climb. It wasn't just about a job. It was about acceptance. It was about proving my worth. Any success in the military wasn't enough. I was striving to meet the standard of 'good enough' in order to get a chance to step out as a leader in the civilian world. My price of admission into that world was my resume - or so I thought. It was the symbol of my hard work, achievement, and sacrifice. Because my perspective was from the bottom looking up, I wasn't showcasing my potential. I certainly wasn't leading. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was screaming to anyone who could hear me that I was simply not good enough.Read More
Organizations are a lot like people. They are born out of passion. They embody a hope for the future. They start out small with great energy and innocence. Unlike people, organizations are manifested from an idea. That idea attracts others. A leader provides the energy that inspires followers. People connect with the idea or mission because it honors their values and calling to make a difference. As it matures, the organization may have the opportunity to grow. It becomes more sophisticated, refined, and complex in order to reach even more people. In an effort to ensure conformity, quality, and standards throughout the organization, we create systems, rules, and procedures. The idea becomes hard-wired into a machine. That machine has a name, and its name is bureaucracy.Read More
People follow a leader because they want to - not because they have to. Leadership is a human phenomenon - not a management construct. The two indispensable characteristics of the leader follower dyad are trust and inspiration. Think about it: If someone ordered you to trust them, would you? Of course not - it doesn't work that way. Trust is something given freely to a leader. Inspiration is a feeling. Leaders move you to action. They provide the intrinsic, emotive energy for movement along a path toward an objective. Consequently, leadership is more about what's in the heart than what comes from the head.
As Part 2 of a 5 part series on finding your new tribe after military service, I'll explore how these qualities influence the culture of an organization and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
The state of the all volunteer force is not well. In 2018, the army failed to meet recruiting objectives for the first time in 13 years. So, when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent to serve in the Armed Forces, we need to start looking for creative solutions in unsuspecting places. Instead of scrutinizing the quality of the military recruit, it might be time to showcase the quality of our veterans. Maybe we need to stop paying so much attention to how people come into the service and start paying more attention to their success after they leave.Read More
Let's be honest. The reasons for hiring veterans has become . . . cliche. You've read the same article or listened to the same pitch before. The usual justifications typically involve some combination of the words leadership, teamwork, performance under pressure, integrity, accountability, adaptability . . . and the list goes on. It's time to change the dynamics of post-military employment and veteran utilization across the corporate landscape.Read More
When men and women decide to separate or retire from the military, we begin a countdown - the countdown to transition from the military. The obvious temptation is to mistaken separation or retirement as the final goal, but it is not the end. Depending on which game you are playing, it is only the halfway point. If you view military transition as the end of the game, then you accept that your best days are behind you. But, if you view your military experience as just one part of a broader journey - a Hero's Journey - to achieve lifelong goals with a broader impact of service to society, then you still have half a lifetime to go.Read More
I know you've asked yourself this question at least once during your journey through the military. You might have asked it each time that you received orders for a new duty assignment. Maybe you are asking yourself this question now as you consider uprooting your family for either an unattractive duty location or the prospect of another deployment. So, how do you know when the time is right to remove your body armor, unlace your boots, and remove the uniform that shaped your identity for the last decade or so?Read More
The Commander's Intent facilitates disciplined initiative and decentralized execution for complex operations under evolving conditions. Stated another way - Intent provides focus when everything else goes to hell. The more dangerous the mission or uncertain the environment, the more important it is to understand and communicate intent. The final set of orders you receive from the military are the ones that separate you from the service. For you and your family, you have the more ambitious objective of achieving a successful reintegration back into society. So, in the tradition of everything you did while wearing the uniform: What is YOUR Commander's Intent for life beyond the military?Read More
Thank you for your service. You've had an impressive career . . . but you're not what we're looking for.
Sound familiar? I've heard that before, and if you're a senior leader, perhaps you've heard it too. Interestingly enough, I didn't hear it when I left the army as a junior captain. I remember attending only one hiring conference about three months before my separation date. From that one event, I had eleven follow-up interviews that landed six job offers! Three of the six offers had compensation packages that exceeded what I was making in the army. Finding a job as a junior officer was easy. But this was not the case when I left the army for a second time after more than 20 years of service. So why does this happen?Read More
Do you remember the first time you saw yourself as a leader? Maybe it was through sports or a similar activity from high school. Maybe you assumed a leadership role in your family or community. Perhaps it happened before you were even a teenager. You hardly noticed it because it didn’t really require you to do much of anything. You were just being yourself. Others were drawn to your energy. People were inclined to follow you. Through your leadership, you discovered a genuine passion to serve others. You believed that you could make a difference, so you did.Read More
When I went to my first career conference as a junior officer, I had 11 one-on-one interviews that resulted in 6 job offers. I crushed it! Some of the offers included starting salaries that exceeded what I was making as a captain at the time. My luck changed when I attended my second career conference as a retiring battalion commander. I didn't have any offers. I had three times the education, more than twice the leadership experience, and a resume crafted by one of the top business schools in the country, and yet I didn't have a single interview. Not one.Read More
Make It Matter. To be honest, those aren't my words. Those are the words of Retired General Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a former member of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, I used to work for him. By "work for him," I mean to say that I was one among the herd of lieutenant colonels who spoke with him in ten-minute intervals as he was being ushered to his next meeting with someone of much greater importance. Like every officer on the Joint Staff, I had heard the story behind the words of his personal mantra and I was reminded of that story this past weekend.Read More
This question - or versions of this question - represents the number one thing I am asked by military leaders in the transition process. I think am asked this question so often because I demonstrated what not to do. I am that guy - I had 8 jobs over the course of 3 years. Future veterans don't want to repeat my mistakes, but I'll have you know that I am not alone!Read More
I remember what it felt like to get that last stamp on my clearing papers. After more than two decades of service, the subtlety of that final act seemed somewhat anticlimactic, but I was finished! The day that seemed so elusive for so long had finally arrived. I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia. Like you, I had my fair share of difficult days, but I was grateful for the fond memories and the wonderful people I met through the military. I couldn't contain my smile as I walked proudly out of the personnel processing center for the last time.Read More
I have a unique perspective on military transition. I did twice. I also did it poorly, twice. The first time I left the military as a junior captain. I put my faith in a junior officer recruiting company to find the best job opportunity. By "best" I meant the option with the most prestigious title and highest paying salary. They did. Unfortunately, it was the wrong job for me, and within a year of my separation, I was miserable. To make matters worse, I was laid off when the tech bubble burst. It was a total disaster. My second transition was my retirement after 21 years of military service. Once again, I ended up in the wrong job. Once again, I was unemployed. Once again, I was miserable.Read More
This message is for the generation that identifies with the Valley Girls, the Lost Boys, Bo and Luke Duke, Micky and, of course, Jack and Diane. To the rest of the preppies, jocks, stoners, poindexters, punkers, rockers, hicks, drama jocks, superstars, homebodies, farmers, new wavers and soc's, your voice as the new generation is rapidly approaching middle age. Ferris was right. Life moves pretty fast. I need just a moment of your time because our nation needs us now more than ever.Read More