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Beyond the Uniform

Beyond the Uniform is a show to help military veterans navigate their civilian career. Each week, I meet with different veterans to learn more about their civilian career, how they got there, and what advice they'd give to other military personnel.
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Now displaying: July, 2017
Jul 26, 2017

"To find meaning in what you do - that can be in anything. That could be in what you do for a living, or running a podcast to help veterans, that can be volunteering somewhere. For me, for so long in the Army that was my identity and who I was. And once I was out of that, I didn't know who I was anymore. To do what you love and do what you believe in, as a living is a great gift."
- Garrett Cathcart

Garrett Cathcart is the Southeast Regional Director at Team Red, White & Blue - an organization that enriches the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activities. He is also the Chief Community Engagement Officer at VETLANTA. He started out at West Point, after which he served in the Army for 8.5 years, with two years in Baghdad as a Recon Scout Platoon Leader and then as an Aide-de-Camp to Commanding General. After his transition from the Army he worked at NuVasive as an Associate Spine Representative before joining team RWB.

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • Podcasts & Websites
    • 80,000 hours - it was started by an Oxford philosophy professor who lives on $35,000 per year. 80k hours is about how many hours you work in your lifetime. It's about what you should do for a living and what will make you happy
    • NPR - How I Built this podcast
    • Tim Ferris podcast
  • Books
    • Colin Powell - it worked for me

Show Notes

  • What would you want listeners to know about Team RWB?
    • We enriches the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activities.
    • They work in 43 cities, and 213 nationally. In any given week there are local events. Anyone can participate - yoga, crossfit, ruck, hike, pub trivia, bowling, etc.
    • When people get out of the military they miss hanging out with good people; they miss that camaraderie. They want to build authentic and genuine relationships
    • Leadership development program and community service projects
    • Veterans are leaders - get out there and lead and the community is better for it
  • Leadership Development Program
    • One of the best leadership development directors in the world
    • They are building their own content - some form the military and some outside of the military
    • 125,000 members and all are volunteers
    • The way they reward people is by developing them as a leader
    • Giving people the tools to make RWB better and their community better
    • Nike donates shirts, and each Team RWB member gets them - it's a great sign up community
    • Building the airplane while they're flying it - some of the content is created, some is not yet
    • It will be at EagleLeader.com
    • Sign up at TeamRWB and you'll get access
    • Will send to seminars as well
    • This is open-soured leadership - wanting to serve veterans, enrich their lives, and make communities better
  • What’s the origin story on Team RWB?
    • Mike Erwin was an Active Duty Army Major in 2012. He saw a need and wanted to help wounded veterans. There were initially athletes and advocates.
    • Ran the Twin Cities marathon and started running money as a non-profit
    • As they grew they noticed that EVERYONE was signing up to be a mentor and advocate. Very few people wanted to be an athlete. Everyone wanted to serve and give back
    • So they reevaluated their model - what if we had a model where civilians could be part as well, and help close the civilian divide and no one is a helper or someone who needs the team... everyone is on the same page
    • There's a sea of red shirts with the eagle on it at events now
    • Started growing into different cities
  • Based on your work with Team RWB, what would you want listeners to know about their transition to a civilian life?
    • You will miss the military; you tend to remember the great things and forget the bad stuff
    • 11:00
    • It's important to have a network when you leave - you're going to need people who have understood what youv'e done an where you've been
    • It helps you get your legs underneath you
    • There's a lot of ways to serve once you get out
  • How to get involved
    • It costs nothing - just your time
    • They have great partners in the corporate side to make sure this is free for everyone
    • Activities range from anything and everything, just getting people together
    • Go to TeamRwb.com and click on Join the team
  • How would you describe your role at Team RWB to someone on Active Duty?
    • He's in command - everythign that happens in a region good or bad is on me
    • A lot of folks make it happen, I adminster the budget, oversee the leadership and devel;pment program, speak on panels, engage with corproate sponsors and VA
    • The VA sends a lot of folks to them because TEam RWB is consistent - find other people who understand yuo
    • Relationship building - a little bit of a budget
    • They're a 5 year old startup that is 120k people
    • The Volunteer leaders really run everything - they recognize them and help develop them and support
  • How did you make the decisions to leave the Army?
    • Always thought would be 5 years and out
    • Almost resigned from West Point to enlist after 9/11
    • Joined insurgency at its height and itwas a tough year - lost four of his guys and his commander, as well as his best friend from West Point
    • Non-stop trainign at home and then back at Baghdad
    • Took over advisign the infantry batallion and he really enjoyed the operations side
    • At the end was going to get out and join the State Department, mainly becuase he was tired from the op tempo. Turned in his resignation paperwork and 3 months later called into his commander's office. He convinced him to stay in and mentored him. Gave him control of ALpha Troop, and move to Fort Collins in Colorado Springs time, and told him he'd be the first mechanized group to command in Afghanistan.
    • He took the post and went back to Afghanistan
    • Finally decided he needed to build a family and turned in his resignation letter again
    • There was a new 2-star and he was put up to be an aide
    • He couldn't find a clean uniform top, and could only find a small one (which he doesn't wear) - it was skin tight like a wetsuit
    • The General said, do you work out?
    • They had a lot in common and he said he didn't want the job
    • The General called him and told him he had the job
    • Learned more in one year about Leadership from General Joe Anderson - he was an amazing leader and Garrett still applies lessons he learned from that one year
  • What was your first job search like and what lead you to NuVasive?
    • Met a gal in Beverly Hills
    • Didn't care what he was doing as long as he was making money
    • Contacted a JMO recruitig firm - first two hung up since he had bummed around for a few months post-transition
    • Third JMO recruiting firm said he should do medical devices
    • He knew nothing about sales or medicine, but he was done for it
    • They flew him to Memphis - went to some concerts, slept a few hours and went to interviews
    • Went down to the lobby and everyone was way more prepared than him - copies of their resumes, black binders, pressed suits
    • He quickly printed out his resume
    • He had 5 separate one hour interviews
    • his first one was the person he asked to print out his resume!
    • He gave him 0 points for preparation and 100 points for innovation
    • he had lots of stories to share
    • he got an offer and the an 2nd offer, and one was in LA so he took it
  • What was your role at NuVasive like?
    • He was in operating rooms with surgeons, and he was so uncomfortable
    • He had no clue what he was doing
    • He was with the top surgeon at the hospital and he asked Garrett's opinion... he didn't even understand the words the doctor was saying
    • He took doctors to dinner told about products and got their business
    • he didn't like it - lacked a sense of purpose
  • What lead you to Team RWB?
    • The girl and State Department job didn't work out and he didn't have a plan
    • Out of the blue a friend from Afghanistan called him (Joe Quinn) - he had gone to Harvard after the Army
    • They hit things off - hadn't talked in two or three years adn he pitched him on working at a non-profit
    • Didn't want to do this because thought he would be poor
    • He went to the website and checked it out and went to an event
    • Didn't want anything to do with other veterans at the time
    • He got there and experienced it and was working out and felt a tension lifted
    • Without realizing it saw what he was missing
    • Two years have been incredible for me
  • Advice for non-profits
    • He had a short stint in the corporate side
    • Find meaning in what you do
    • 10:17 - could be what you do in your job, volunteering... anything
    • For so long in the Army this was his identity - a Cavalary officer who had been to Iraq and Afghanistan. Afterwards he didn't know what to do
    • To love what you do is a great gift (30:52). It's different every day and Im still passionate about it
    • You can make a good living and learn a lot
  • Any resources - books, podcasts, articles, etc - you’d recommend to veteran listeners to help them in their civilian career?
    • 80,000 hours - it was started by an Oxford philosophy professor who lives on $35,000 per year. 80k hours is about how many hours you work in your lifetime. It's about what you should do for a living and what will make you happy
    • At a certain point - the more money you make it doesn't make you happy... maybe $50k or $75k.
    • There are great books and podcasts here and resources to see what you want to do
    • NPR - How I Built this podcast
    • Tim Ferris podcast
    • Colin Powell - it worked for me
  • Final words of wisdom?
    • I don't have anything fogured out
    • I was lucky in finding a job I love
    • I have a twin brother who was in the Army and got out
    • He got to go to Harvard & Dartmouth and is now a big consultant
    • Someitmes I get jealous of the paycheck
    • He tells me I have the greatest job in the world
    • I make my won schedule, have a big impact
    • Enjoy where you are - don't always be thinking ahead and what the next step is
Jul 19, 2017

"I told my wife: we're going to do this when we get out of the military. That was a tough pill for her to swallow. And you can't really blame her. If you ever tell your wife that you're going to get out of the service and sell bottle openers, she might think that you've been around too many explosions and she might think that you're crazy."
- Elijah Crane

Elijah Crane (Eli) is the Founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher, a company that creates hand crafted 50 caliber bottle openers made by Military Veterans. As President of Bottle Breacher, Eli has grown Bottle Breacher’s annual revenue to over $5 million in 2015, applied for and received 7 patents, and Negotiated a partnership with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. Eli started out in the Navy, where he served as a SEAL for over 15 years. He started Bottle Breacher while on active duty and has run the company for nearly five years now.

The top 2 reasons to listen to this episode is:

  1. Starting a company while on active duty: Eli was making over $22k per month while still on active duty, and had plenty of traction by the time he transitioned to his civilian career
  2. Growth of an empire: He talks about how he grew from $350 / month to over $1 million a year... all before even appearing on ABC's show, Shark Tank
  3. Shark Tank: Eli shares what his experience was getting to Shark Tank, and how he scored a deal with Mark Cuban & Kevin O'Leary
  4. Persistence & Scrappiness: Eli talks about how he earned a PhD in failure starting his own company

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • Check out Eli on ABC's Shark Tank here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHTlFtRtkG8
  • Books
    • Rich Dad Poor Dad
    • Mark Cuban's book

Show Notes

  • 2:44 - Eli's background
  • 4:00 How did you make the decision to leave the Navy?
  • 4:45 - Did you work at the Acumen Performance Group while on Active duty? What did you learn there?
  • 5:45 - What was the genesis of Bottle Breacher?
  • 7:30 - What tipped you over to thinking of doing this full time
  • 12:25 - What was it like starting a company while on active duty, and what advice do you have for veterans looking to do the same?
  • 16:05 - What was the application process like for getting on Shark Tank and what advice do you have for other veterans looking to do this?
  • 29:30 - How have Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary helped the company so far?
  • 32:15 - What has been the most challenging aspect of running a company?
  • 36:18 - What skills have you had to develop since leaving the military and any advice for resources (books, courses, conferences, etc) that you would recommend to veterans?
  • 38:40 - What advice do you have for someone on active duty wanting to start their own company?
  • 41:41 - Final words of wisdom?
Jul 12, 2017

“You know sometimes - for example, even over this holiday weekend - people will ask if I had to work on a certain day. This is my life! This is what I do. It's always funny because what your life looks like is - for me - this is what I want to make my life's work. It's what I'm passionate about and what I enjoy doing."
- Alex Stone

Alex Stone is the Founder & CEO of Athletes of Valor, who’s mission is to help veterans transition from service to career by leveraging the power of collegiate sports. He started out as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, after which he worked as a Product Manager at Wellpower Sports Co, and then at Under Armour as both a Development Manager and then Product Line Manager.

The top 2 reasons to listen to this episode is:

  1. Sports Industry: Alex worked his way up in the sports industry to work at his dream job at Under Armour. He talks about this route, and why it might appeal to other veterans
  2. Starting a company: Alex is doing his life's work and has built Athletes of Valour from the ground up. Any veteran interested in starting their own company would benefit from this
  3. Collegiate Athletics: This is a great route for veterans, and one that boosts their engagement and fulfillment at school. Alex's organization helps veterans get into collegiate sports and has a lot to say about this

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0817919341/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=transparentte-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0817919341&linkId=cff433522a1e724fcc9dcd7c91e4149c

Show Notes

Note: I've typed these notes during my interview, so they may not completely represent a verbatim version of our conversation, and likely contain spelling and grammar errors. My intention is to provide veterans with a quick reference to see the gist of our conversation, along with timestamps to hear the interviewees actual advice in their own words within the interview.

  • 2:44 - Alex's background
  • 3:20 - How would you describe Athletes of Valor?
    • Comes from his experience of being a high school athlete, and no clear path to be a collegaite athelte when leaving the miltary
    • Allows active duty service members to create a profile of themselves as a potential student athlete. coaches come in, evaluate the veteran applicants
    • Most veterans have a great athletic ability and they just connect the dots
    • Answers questions for coaches - PTSD, eligibility etc
  • 5:27 - What does the process look like
    • 100% free
    • Sign-up on website
    • Basic questions - separation date, atheltic background, educational background, military background
    • can upload old highligh films or any videos
    • Everything is housed online in one place
  • 6:30 - What to do to prepare now if on active duty
    • Never too early to start researching programs
    • If you think you have 2 years before separation, the deadlines come up quickly. May need to take an SAT, ACT program
    • Start gathering that info, but you can house it all online with them
    • The sooner you're online the sooner you can be found - can be picked up 18-24 months
  • 7:50 - What have you found in working with veterans over the last year?
    • There's a lot to this - it's a full time job and takes a lot of work and effort
    • Most people think they'll just put their name in and be done with it - it's your life and education, the magic opportunity won't just fall into your lap
    • 9:15 - magic opportunity
  • 9:08 - Success stories
    • 16 football players playing this fall
    • Over 1k athletes on their platform
    • They want to use team sports as a structure for integration back into the college life
    • Gives people a purpose of working towards a common goal; they're going to earn education, play sports and be more employable after college
    • The more work you put in the more likely you are to find a good opportunity
  • 13:30 - What lead you to leave the Marine Corps?
    • Enlisted right out of high school, served 4 years active duty
    • After second deployment overseas knew that he wanted to do something different
    • After 2.5 years of active duty knew he wanted to move on
  • 14:26 - What was your first job search like and how did you end up at Wellpower Sports?
    • It was really tough
    • He had just got back 4 months prior to his separation
    • It was challenging to get call backs after just sending resumes and applying to specific jobs
    • Trying to translate experience and get in front of the right people
    • His old high school football coach, who he had reached out to, worked with Wellpower Sports (overseas manufacturer for sports equipment) and he offered to introduce him
    • He started taking local courses at community college and started working as a paid intern
  • 16:35 - How would you describe your work at Wellpower Sports?
    • He did product line management and had deep exposure to the inner workings of a company
    • Projects from developing new types of equipment to laying out a product line for a new sports medicine line to present to a customer. Figure out pricing, product management, manufacturing, do research on what's in the market, what are current athletes doing and wearing, what are trends?
    • You use all these products over the years and then get the chance to influence it
  • 18:58 - What lead you to Under Armour?
    • He used to go there for business opportunities, since Wellpower Sports worked with UA.
    • When you walk in you really feel the culture on the campus - very smart people, very forward thinking on innovation on how to make athletes better through creating incredible products
    • It was always a great learning experience to see a massive brand and massive company rather than his sales office experience
    • He realized he wanted to be in this industry long-term
  • 20:20 - How would you describe the work that you did at UA?
    • The person he was meeting with at UA ended up becoming his boss. They were growing their sporting line and team and asked if he'd be interested in this
    • So he moved to Baltimore, Maryland.
    • Started in product develppment, managing everyting from protective equipment to gloves and workign on advanced projects on the side (new potential protective pieces of equipment)
    • After two yaers moved over to the product line manager. This was less travel, and more on the business model and building product lines, working with the sales teams, understanding the trends, managaing more of the business and licensing
    • In any manufacturing business you need to understand how decisions are made; how long things take. Spending trip after trip in Asia, seeing how to create a product with a particular margin and ahve multiple price points and understand what consumers are looking for
  • 23:09 - What advice do you have for veterans seeking to work at UA?
    • They are very veteran friendly; he worked with a lot of great vets there
    • It's Network, Network, Network
    • You can apply online and they're responsive. But get involved somehow in someway with the sports industry - with UA, or one of their partners
    • Build a network, get to know people; most positions are filled from referrals
    • It's a small industry and once people get to know who you are it's
  • 24;25 - What was the genesis of Athletes of Valor?
    • Built off personal expeirence transitioning
    • at UA it was a dream career at a dream company
    • It was difficult to leave
    • Worked with a lot of high schools and top recruits across the coutnry
    • He used to joke - why don't we do this on a military base? They could go play college football, college baseball after their service. It piqued a lot of interest
    • Spent about a year at night trying to see who had been successful in doing this, and how impactful it was in their transition
    • This started to put the pieces together in bridigng the gaps and talking to people who went to college sports after active duty - what were the pain points
    • Coaches wanted to find more people liek thsi, but a lot of the athletes thought they had gotten lucky. He htought there has got to be a better way. There are lots of platforms for high schoolers
    • If I coudl do it again i would do it longer - work at UA an work on lunch breaks
  • 29:53 - At what point did you decide to leave UA?
    • The timing perspective it was difficult to do both Under Armour and Athletes of Valor
    • his desire and want was to continuously build Athletes of Valor, not just at night but all the time. He fell in love with the mission
    • Life timing as well - had just gotten married, no kids yet, and knew he would have additional responsibilities soon
    • Secured a few investors who invested so they could build the software
  • 31:50 - What does life look like right now?
    • He jokes that on holidays - this is his life ,this is all he does. This is what he wants to make his lifes work and what he enjoys doing
    • He's not going to be doing 120 hours a week but this is what he does - gets up in the morning, late at night talking to coaches, it doesn't seem like work but engulfs his life around it
    • From a small team dynamic - fundraiinsg, sales, product development - it's constant. If it's not somethign your'e passionate about it'll be hard
    • He spends most days running all over the place -talking to coaches, team members, atheltes
    • Best thing he does is he just keeps going - as much as I can fit in one day, a little further today than tomorrow,
  • 34:16 - How do you get paid?
    • Annual partnership fees with schools they partner with
    • Also have corporate sponsors for events to make sure they can cover the costs
    • Building a career platform that will be ready at the end of the year - corproate partners who want to highlight internships and job opportunities (job board & third party recruiting) to fill specific roles for those who have played college sports and are veterans
  • 35;36 - What advice do you have for other veterans seeking to start their own organization?
    • it's going to be a lot harder than you think and take longer than you think
    • Be prepared because there are a lot of ups and downs
    • Goign to have good days and bad days - biggest thing you can do is keep going
    • Miltiary teaches you this - embrace the siuck and stay the course
    • you'll have a million people tell you what won't work - you're the only one who can really keep it all together and know what it will take to get yuor startup to the next level
    • Be preapred for tht - going to be discouraging - stay the course, keep working towards the goal
  • 37:15 - What resources - books, conferences, programs - have you found helpful that you would recommend to other veterans?
    • Whatever your industry is, you need to immerse yourself into that industry. Make sure you have all the answer to all the quesitons you'll ever get. If you don't have that answer need to find it so you have a good answer next time
    • In the sporting goods industry he didn't know about materials or the brands out there
    • Immersed himself - YouTube videos, how to make certain products, different types of screen printing
    • Next time in the meeting was able to speak to it intelligently
    • When he started Atheltes of Valor it was a space he hadn't been in and creating a new market
    • Books, articles, speaking with people around the sapce - need to immerse self in all aspects of it. You need ot be the subject matter expert in a field
  • 40:22 - Final words of wisdom?
    • There's a lot of transitional programs out there; lots geared toward veterans. Do your research. Reach out to a lot of them, ask quesitons and make sure they'll give you the right level of support
    • People reach out for job search, career training, resumes support, etc. The reality is nothign is more valuable than networking and doing thigns yourself. It won't fall into your lap; your job won't magically come to you. Make sure these are resources available to transition veterans. It's a lot of work and up to you and put the time in, get out of comfort zone. Use a certain tool - to find people who could make an introduction s
Jul 5, 2017

“If you don't have a narrow vision of what you want so that you can focus, if you're open to everything - which is the infamous line we get from most of the people we work with: 'I'll move anywhere and do anything' - they think that makes it easier to help them find a job, whereas it's actually the exact opposite. What we need is for you to narrow down and focus. Align with mentors, align with organizations like [Hire Heroes USA], and together we can overcome this structural divide between an all-volunteer force and society that less and less knows what the all-volunteer force goes through."
- Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is the Chief Operating Officer at Hire Heroes USA - which provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses each week, and over 16k veterans and spouses since 2007. He started out at the Virginia Military Institute, after which he served in the Marine Corps for seven years as an Infantry Officer. After his transition from the Marine Corps, he started at Hire Heroes USA as a Deputy Director, and was subsequently promoted to Executive Director and then most recently, Chief Operating Officer

The top 2 reasons to listen to this episode is:

  1. Great Resource for All Veterans: Hire Heroes USA is a free organization for veterans and their families. They pair you with a mentor and work with you until you find what you're looking for. He has great thoughts on using volunteering as a way to gain momentum and connection as you may your transition
  2. Operations & non-profits: both of these are great fields for veterans. Non-profits seem to provide the camaraderie, small community, and purpose-driven organization that appeals to veterans. Operation is also highly suited to most veterans. Nathan talks about his experience as Chief Operations Officer, as well as non-profits, and why veterans may love each of these.

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0817919341/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=transparentte-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0817919341&linkId=cff433522a1e724fcc9dcd7c91e4149c

Show Notes

Note: I've typed these notes during my interview, so they may not completely represent a verbatim version of our conversation, and likely contain spelling and grammar errors. My intention is to provide veterans with a quick reference to see the gist of our conversation, along with timestamps to hear the interviewees actual advice in their own words within the interview.

  • 3:20 - Nathan's bio
  • Hire Heroes
    • 4:26 - What would you want listeners to know about Hire Heroes USA?
      • This is a best in class organization in the country, working with transition veterans and families. There are bigger organizations but none better. They individually assign people who come to them to a transition specialist; they are with them until they have a great outcome - education, fulltime job, etc.
    • 5:28 - If someone listening is on active duty, how would they get involved with Hire Heroes?
      • 90% of what they do is virtual - it's the most cost efficient and effective way to help people. So they can help people in ANY geographic location. As a result, the main way that people come to the program is through their website. If you click on the Services tab and sign up online, you'll start in the queue to get involved with a transition process. There are also workshops throughout the US (50-60 per year) on or near military bases.
    • 6:54 - If someone listening is a few years out of active duty, how could they get involved?
      • Whether it's pre-separation or post-separation; looking to help other veterans or get advice, there's a LOT of resources - interview skills, resume help. They have over 600 volunteers as well who are mentors for their clients, so there is a way to get involved here.
    • 8:20 - What are some common challenges you see veterans face in their transition?
      • The #1 challenge across all services is a lack of knowledge. No active duty member has made the transition before so there's a lot of fear and anxiety about this. The military does a great job of teaching people to operate in a dangerous environment and trains them in a step-by-step way with accountability, professional development, and knowledgable workers alongside them. But this isn't the case in the civilian sector. So many veterans don't understand what is out there and how to tell their story on the outside.
    • 10:25 - What are some common misconceptions you see veterans have when they approach their transition?
      • Veterans are more heavily represented in the government than any demographic in the United States. Disable veterans are even more represented than other veterans in the government. Often this is because these organizations recruit from the military and it is a familiar path for veterans. But this might not be the best fit for each veteran.
      • A lot of veterans also go into contract jobs, and there's a lot of recruitment around this. There are great opportunities here. however, if you're going to be offered $100k+ to do security in Afghanistan, you need to consider why the pay is 3X higher than when you were in the military, often due to increased risk. Large $ doesn't always translate into great job opportunities.
      • Do you need to take a step down for income and responsibility when you leave? It depends. It's situationally dependent. There are many people who transition out and are far better off than when in the military. There are also an equal number who had to take a significant step back when they transitioned out. It depends on what your personal financial situation is- you may not be able to take that step back or step down. Or you may not have an earning opportunity that meets your financial requirements - you'll need to live lean and make the most of things in the meantime.
      • Unlike the military, that has antiquated personnel stations and promotions systems, most civillian environments are not this way. Positions open up and you'll likely find more flexibility.
      • Formal education with a degree at the end of it tends to be a great option for most people. He encourages people not to use the GI bill to delay a career decision - it helps you figure out things, but most people benefit from making a decision soon. Many career paths do require a degree. To be competitive you'll need this so it's good to plan - talk to people on the outside, talk to Hire Heroes people and they can help with these sorts
      • Hire Heroes demographics resembles the US Militaries - they are over represented in the federal government. Healthcare and IT are always in the top 5 for people they work with; security is also up there, but they also find that veterans go into client facing or customer service facing roles in any type of job (not just service industries) since they get along with a lot of people.
      • Another area to consider is teaching and non-profits. It's an alternative to working in government that is mission driven and a way of given back and very value driven. There are often veterans who are coaches, teachers, and non-profit executives. It can be very rewarding and very flexible, but you also get exposure into other sections of the US that you might not get in Oil&Gas for instance.
    • 21:37 - This is from a friend of mine, but if there is a veteran in our life who is facing challenges in their career (let’s say over a year of unemployment), what are ways that their friends can be most helpful?
      • It's a big challenge - this is his full-time job is to help other veterans. What people don't need is a lot of "do this" and "don't do this" they need faith, coaching and someone on their side. But they're also advocates of tough love. They love to hire veterans because they understand the situation of other veterans. There's a big role to coaching, and an understanding that there are things going on beyond just the professional situation. There are almost certainly other factors if someone is long-term unemployed. To get some early wins you could suggest volunteer opprotutnies - rather than the pressure of finding the right job, think of what the person enjoys and try to find that in a volunteer capacity. coaching and helping at high schools; volunteer in way that gets them engaged, builds their confidence and gets them past the momentary lapse.
      • As a reminder, Hire Heroes is completely free, no charge whatsoever. They're not in receipt of government funding - they are funded through donations and foundations who believe in the value of what they are doing.
  • Nathan
    • 27:02 - How would you describe what you do as COO to someone on active duty?
      • He allocates scarce resources to accomplish goals
      • A lot of what he does is bread and butter leadership - he enjoys it and learned it in the Marine Corps. He has other managers reporting to him, and half of a given day is working with a manager to solve personnel issues, discuss ideas for a new program, figuring out adjustments to make and problems to solve. IT's being done in conjunction with other highly capable individuals. It's a neat environment of collaboratively environment. Always focused on the clients.
      • Other parts are related to developing products, reviewing marketing material, reviewing the budget, formalizing job descriptions. One thing nice about working about a company with less than 100 people is that the COO is involved in everything.
    • 31:09 - How did you make the decision to leave the Marine Corps?
      • There were a number of factors. he did his initial four years, and was coming off a difficult deployment in Iraq in the summer of 2006-2007; there was one casualty per week on average. Fortunately things changed on the cusp of the surge, but it was a very difficult experience. At the time, he felt like he was not going to do a full career. But he also knew he didn't have anything setup to do next. So he signed up to do three more years doing security in the Seattle area. It was great to continue service and also have time - he didn't find a wife or a career, but he DID stay in contact with the president of Hire Heroes. Nathan asked him - what should I look to do, and that's when he found out about Hire Heroes and the opportunity there.
    • 33:30 - What was your first job search like, and how did you end up at Hire Heroes USA?
      • It was a very stressful year - even though I intended to get out at the end of 3 years and had a set date, I didn't plan well and focused on my current role. Some was fear based, and some was not knowing what to do. He waited for something to come up and it was an ineffective way to move towards a transition. He lost about 10 lbs in his last year in the Marine Corps and realized it was all due to stress.
      • So he started reaching out to friends and fellow Marines, shared his resume and got direct (though harsh) feedback. And this is how he found his current role. He had another offer of working on base, and he went with the one he knew and trusted and was inspired by the mission.
    • 36:30 - What are some signs that a veteran may like working at a non-profit, and that they may like a COO role?
      • He was fortunate to do both. There are plenty of operational roles outside of non-profits, and operational roles outside of COO. If you're going to a large company, they won't hire a COO straight out of the military. you need to know your skills and where it fits in. For him it was a perfect fit - joining a 7 person non-profit, and grow it to over 90 full time employees over 7 years. He was able to grow alongside the organization.
      • That said, most NCOs and officers will have the leadership experience - you just have to marry it with some skill sets. Budgeting, quickbooks, salesforce CRM or something like that... these are good and important technical skills.
      • It was appealing to me to be able ot be nimble like a startup and constantly improve but also be on the non-profit side. We work with scarce resources and solve tough problems for people,.
    • 39:45 - What resources - books, programs, conferences, etc - have you found helpful in your civilian career that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
      • he was fortunate leaving the Marine Corps that the University Of Georgia had a great program of a Master's of Public Adminitration as a 3 year program (instead of 2) while working full time. It was mutaully beneficial between employement and educaiton. What he learned on the job he shared with classmates; what he learned in school he used to help the non profit. This helped a lot with non-prfit budgeting and grant writing. You can read books on this but he was more comforable being taught it.
      • The second was learning from people who are doing. He put his head down for Quickbooks and bugeting and having people beteter than him around him. He realized none of it is complex - there are things that are very complex, but most non-profits you need to be able to learn and the himilty to know you don't know everything.
    • 43:17 - Final words of wisdom?
      • He would recommend a book that is co-authored by General Mattis - Warriors and Citizens. Is there a gap between the miltiary and teh civiilan sector. There are structural challenges related to transition -it's not jsut that companies don't appreciate the military. There are a lot more structural elements taht won't be solved by governement transition programs or even non-profits. There are plenty of resources out ther eand people on your side, but ifyou don't have a narrow vision of what you want so you can focus - if you're open to everything - you need to be focused to find what you want.
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