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: November, 2017
Nov 29, 2017

Why to Listen: 

In over 13 interviews, I've heard a lot about great resources available for veterans, as well as how difficult it is to be aware of all of the free resources available to Veterans. That's why, in this interview I go through 15 of the resources I've interviewed people about on the show, or have heard about from other veterans. While this list is by no means exhaustive, my intention with the new Directory section of the Beyond the Uniform website is to make it easier for veterans to identify and utilize quality programs aimed at veterans.

If you know of other great resources - or would like to weigh in on the ones that I mention here - please feel free to add them in the Comments section of the show notes, or in the Directory section of the website.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 





Nov 27, 2017

"Really what the civilian sector is needing and looking for are leadership skills. And the leadership skills that [veterans] have learned by getting a tremendous amount of responsibility early careers, or dealing with VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) - that's the life we lived in the military. The civilian sector is looking for people who can deal with and handle and make great decisions within the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. That's the skill set that is transferrable, regardless of your warfare specialty."
- Harry Schmidt 

I was introduced to Harry by Washington University in St. Louis. WashU’s Executive MBA (EMBA), a 20-month program where students meet on campus for 3 days per month, has helped many veterans like Harry transition to their civilian careers.

Harry Schmidt is the President & CEO of Passavant Area Hospital, an 130 bed acute care hospital serving over 3,700 inpatient and 40,000 outpatient visits annually with an operating budget of $120 million, 960 employees and 90 physicians, located in Jacksonville, IL. He started out at the Naval Academy, and served as a pilot for over 20 years, including time as a Top Gun instructor. After his military service, he went into the health services industry at the Memorial Health Systems - starting as a Medical & Affiliate Systems Analyst and working his way up to a Vice President of Facilities Management, before his current role as CEO at Passavant Area Hospital.

Why to Listen: 

  • 20 years but didn't' go into airlines (time away from family)
  • health services - got into it because of neighbor
  • Identity - viewed as pilot... overlooks CS degree, overlooks preventative maintenance.
  • Safety net - from extra income from retirement
  • Leaders
  • 20 years of service and transition to a VERY different role - adjusitn gto lower seniority & pain
  • initiative in a new space (and humlity) trying somethign enw
  • 5:43 - ability to say no...still overhwelmed
  • 27:20 - director level, from department head... humility, one step back
  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources: 

  • Jimmy Sopko BTU #6 - I reference this interview as a great example of a veteran who took a step back in their career to make a big transition.
  • Message to Garcia - we talk about this as a GREAT example of approaching your new civilian career with initiative
  • Cal Newport BTU #86 - I reference this as an example of what has helped Harry grow and develop into his role as CEO
  • Elite Meet- making connections with special forces and pilots and connections to business executives to make informed decisions about where they want to go
  • Washington University Olin School of Business - they have a great veterans group, and they've got an exceptional business school program
  • Emily Cherniack BTU#70 - New Politics is a great organization that helps veterans run for political office (on either side of the aisle in terms of political affiliation)

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

You served 20 years in the Navy as a pilot prior to making your transition. When you were on active duty, how did you start to prepare for your transition? (6:50)


It’s a great question because there’s a ton of uncertainty and ambiguity regardless if you’re leaving after one tour or after a full career. I started the process late, probably about six months before retiring which is not a lot of time. I was very fortunate that I had a neighbor who was able to help me through the process. This ultimately ended up being the tie that got me into healthcare.



As a pilot you can imagine that the logical conclusion would be going to fly for the airlines. My wife and I considered it but I didn’t want to be away from home so much after 20 years in the military. So then I started thinking about what skill set I had and what could be transferrable. We’re always talking in acronyms in the military and a lot of times when people transition, they don’t translate accurately or effectively who they are and what skill set they have.



When a service member is transitioning, I think it’s important to set boundaries and parameters for what kind of a job or career you want afterwards. Otherwise, you could end up chasing something that’s someone else’s dream. It could be a fit for someone else but not for you. My family and I wanted to come back to the mid-west. That was the fit for us. You have to know what your fit is as you start to pursue your transition.



The ability to say “no” is also important in the transition process. There is so much  information out there and there’s so many  opportunities. There’s so many people that are looking to help veterans in their transition but you can really get lost in the myriad of opportunities .



What he civilian sector is looking for is leadership skills. The leadership skills we have learned through getting a lot of responsibility early in our careers, dealing with VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). That’s the world we’ve lived in during our time in the service. People in the civilian sector are looking for people that can handle these situations and make great decisions within volatility and uncertainty, That’s the skillset that’s transferrable regardless of your warfare specialty.


What lead you to Memorial Health Systems? (13:50)


My family was living near Springfield, Illinois. The population is around 150,000 people - a relatively small community. Not a lot of big industry, only certain things in the area. We had built great relationships with our neighbors, one of whom was a physician. He said, “Hey, let me float your resume at the hospital and see if there’s anything they would be interested in.” I didn’t think they would want anything to do with a former pilot. But when the human resources department saw my resume, they saw that I had a Computer Science degree and wondered if I would be willing to work in IT. And that started the chain. Fortunately there was another veteran working in IT who was willing to hire me because he knew that I would do whatever he asked me to do. He saw that I had the technical ability and also the initiative and drive to succeed. He was  a former Marine so he recognized those characteristics in me as a fellow veteran.



I think one of the key takeaways for anyone listening to your podcast is that at least 80% of all jobs (manager and above jobs) are earned through networking. People aren't going to hire a piece of paper. They hire a person that they believe they can teach the necessary skills to in order to succeed in a position. The piece of paper doesn’t say anything about work ethic, integrity, or commitment. Leadership is all about influence. If I hire someone that doesn’t have the ability to lead and influence others around them, that isn’t helpful to me. I didn’t fully understand this when I was transitioning in 2007 but I appreciate it more now. I can’t emphasize enough how important networking is - just getting to know other people and letting them get to know you.


Veterans are sometimes surprised by the step back they need to take when moving into their first civilian position. After 20 years of service, what was your first transition like in terms of seniority and pay adjustments? (19:30)


I was able to handle this in a different fashion because my new job had a title that was so far removed from what I was doing before. One thing I’m very grateful for is that I started out in a lower pressure job where I had the opportunity to learn about the culture and about the industry. I didn’t have a leadership role where I had to stand up in front of people and promote the company culture before I even had the opportunity to learn it.



Once I was in my role, no one knew I had run a maintenance squadron with 120 people in it. I had had some really significant leadership roles previously. But I wanted to learn the new culture from the ground up. When various opportunities would come up, I would be one of the first people to volunteer because to me it was an opportunity to learn about the culture and the environment. And next thing you know, just by taking opportunities and learning new things, a managerial position became vacant and I had the opportunity to step into the role. That’s how I’ve been able to move through the health industry. It’s not because I said, “One day I want to be the CEO of a hospital.” I’ve just tried to contribute and learn about whatever role I’ve been in. That’s also why I elected to pursue my MBA. I saw that that’s what I needed to make the next step in my career.


I love that you were willing to take on your new role with humility and a willingness to take risk and try new things. You really took a “Message to Garcia” approach. (24:00)


If you’re a veteran listening and don’t know what “A Message to Garcia” is, I encourage you to go look it up. I think the message of humility is really tremendous.



The competitive advantage a lot of veterans have is that we’ve existed in that VUCA world. We’re willing to step in and figure out a way to accomplish the operation.



I’ve been in my new role as CEO for about 10.5 months now and there’s been decisions along the way that I’ve had to make that might not have been the most popular. When I took a step back and reflected on the decision, I thought to myself, “I will not likely get fired making an error of commission. If I choose to do something and it’s not quite right, I can always modify. But I will get fired if I make an error of omission.”



As military members, we are biased toward action. A competitive advantage. People working in a VUCA world can often reach paralysis by analysis. Veterans look at the same situation and take action.


Could you share a little bit more about your first few roles at the Memorial Health Systems and how you progressed? (28:17)


The most important thing that I learned is that so much of the healthcare industry is regulated, from corrosion inspections to operational readiness inspections. You can always go back to the regulatory requirements and use that to build a new program or to run your operations around.



Healthcare IT is highly regulated in terms of information management. The military world is also highly regulated so you can see a correlation between the two. The same skillset can be applied to both worlds. That critical skill set that allowed me to succeed during military inspections also allowed my to be successful in facilities management. Facilities management is all about building safety codes and how buildings are compliant with regulations. You’re preserving the lives of staff and patients. I remember when we were preparing for inspections, my boss didn’t understand how I knew these things since I had been a pilot. But then I started to explain to him more about preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance inside the military. In healthcare, it’s those same procedures that are used.



I think the problem a lot of veterans run into is that they think because they were a Department Head, Section Chief, etc., that they should immediately be a director when transitioning out of the military. But there’s a lot of learning that you need to do so that you know exactly what the roles and responsibilities are of a position you want to move into. If you’re willing to take a step back to start out, you can ultimately move ahead much quicker.


At what point did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA at Washington University? (34:45)


It’s been one of the pivotal points in my short civilian career, and I don’t think I would have this role as CEO of a hospital without that education. As veterans, we learn a lot just through on-the-job experience. We learn about finance and budgeting through the money our team or department is allocated each year. But in a lot of ways, we miss out on the revenue side of the operating statement. Taxpayers are giving us our revenue when we’re in the military so it’s a little different.



When I was in facilities management role, I knew that I wasn’t going to be doing that for the rest of my career. I talked to my boss about different opportunities for continued growth. He suggested going to business school and learning about different dimensions of business that I hadn’t been exposed to. Regardless of your specialty in the military, the MBA can be a good way to round out your skillset and learn about terminology.



I initially looked at a school and started a traditional MBA program, taking classes at night. But it was a little bit disjointed. I didn’t feel like I was being challenged in a way that I wanted to be. So I started looking at different opportunities and found the Washington University EMBA program. In the Executive MBA format, we met once a month for 2-3 days and then worked on projects together in between those meetings. The format set me towards what I wanted to do. I moved through the 20-month program with the same group of people in a cohort fashion. We were able to challenge each other because we had similar levels of experience.



I would also add that sometimes people think it’s just about the letters behind your name. But that mentality will only get you so far. More than the degree itself, I want to know where the person got that degree from. I want to know that they had meaningful conversations about business with others in the program, that they had negotiations and debate. Work gets done in business through relationships so I want to know that a person developed these skills during their degree program.


When did you make the transition to your current role? (42:10)

I graduated from my MBA program in 2015. I was still in the role of Vice President of Facilities Management at the time. I was transparent with my boss about it - that I wasn’t dissatisfied with my role but that I didn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. As the organization was growing and developing, a role opened up at Passavant, which is one of seven affiliates within the Memorial Health Systems umbrella. I was one of the qualified candidates. My goal was never to be the CEO of a hospital but I always seeked increased responsibility and leadership opportunities.



In my role as CEO, I probably spend about 60% of my time on people issues. Whether you’re trying to establish relationships, understand stakeholder positions, get buy-in from teams of people...I enjoy this kind of work. In my role in Facilities Management, I think the most important part of that experience was building relationships with contractors and team members. In my role now, I’m able to continue to build and develop this relationship building skill set.



As a transitioning veteran, you can start to figure out what skill sets are important in a particular position and during an interview, you can give examples of times when you have used those skill sets to create success. So that just goes back to using your story and your skillset in a way that will easily translate  to the civilian world. When I got my first job in IT after leaving the  military, people said, “What do you know about IT, you’re a pilot?” And then when I transitioned to the Facilities Management position, people said, “What do you know about Facilities Management, you’re an IT guy?” And now people say, “What do you know about being a CEO, you’re a facilities guy.” It’s interesting that people will put a label on you but you need to make sure that you can shed that label and that it doesn’t define you. You are more than any one label and can transfer your skillsets to any position.


What advice would you give to a transitioning military member that feels intimidated by the thought of “starting over” in the civilian sector? (48:33)


When I transitioned, I was 41 or 42 years old. Fortunately after retiring, there is some sort of financial assistance which helps in allowing you to put yourself in a learning position while your income is augmented by your retirement check. If you get out at 10 or so years, it’s more difficult because you don’t have that benefit. Still it’s worth it to have the willingness to take a step back in terms of pay and responsibility and take the time to really learn whatever industry it is that you’ve decided to go into. That ultimately is going to allow you to succeed.



Be a life-long learner. Don’t be afraid to learn something new or take advantage of a new opportunity. Most people would be happy to sit down with you if you wanted to learn more about their industry or what they are doing. Use LinkedIn, make a meaningful connection. I would also recommend various veterans networks. I’m working right now with a group called Elite Meet. It’s a group that looks to connect former special forces and fighter pilots with private sector opportunities. There was also a really strong veterans network at Washington University. I’m sure this is the same at many other schools as well. There’s so many people out there that are willing to help and want you to be successful.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners? (52:50)


I was asked to give some comments at a Veterans Day event last weekend which was very humbling. As I reflected on that, one of the things I boiled it all down to was that America in general is about leadership. Ever since I made the transition out of the military, I’ve seen a desperate need for strong leadership in the civilian sector. Do the best job you can in the role you’re in right  now and always look for the next opportunity where you can continue to contribute and lead.


Nov 20, 2017

"I was trying to put myself in a position to meet as many people as I could that I could learn from to help with [my transition from active duty]. And while you're making those connections, you're also - in parallel - refining your own story, so that you're finding ways to tell your story in a way that resonates."
- Francis Ebong

Francis is the Director, Global Operations & Partnerships at Facebook. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a Supply Corps Officer in the Navy for six years, while also earning his MBA at the George Washington School of Business. After his transition to a civilian career, Francis worked at Deloitte as a Management Consultant, at Apple as part of their Global Business Operations team, and the startup Postmates as their Director of Business.

Why to Listen:

Francis went directly from the Navy to consulting at Deloitte, and has worked at Apple, in startups, and now at Facebook. He talks about each of these career paths, why veterans may love operations, and advice to help in interviews and finding your ideal career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Show Notes [typed hastily while interviewing... please apologies misspellings or grammatical errors]

  • As someone on Active Duty thinks of transitioning to a civilian career, what advice would you have for them about the interview process?
    • There's a lot of publicly available info - blogs, publications like Bloomeberg, businessweek, NYT and Business Week), as well as using your network. The Naval Academy was a great resource, as was the broader military community. It really helps to see other vets and hear their stories. I try to make myself open to sharing my experience as well.
    • It can be a scary transition. A lot of the time we spent at the Naval Academy during the summers learning about leadership, our peers have been working in the corporate sector. There's a completely new world - understanding how to interview, where to get information, the best resource can often be another veteran
    • One of the best resources out there is LinkedIn.  It's a great research tool and understanding different paths to a career. You see people working in industries and try to understand how someone went from the military to one of these jobs. Just understanding those pathways can help you understand how to make different ways to get there.
    • There's also a tool called ISABER for those who have gone to a Service Academy. You can share your skills and experiences with people looking to connect in different markets.
  • How to explain a military background to a hiring manager
    • this is the biggest challenge - how to explain your military experience to a layman.
    • Our unfair competitive advantage is the life and work experience we have. You are placed in situations that cannot compare to  civilian workforce in terms of intensity. Many people shy away from talking about their impact in their military experience.
    • Really trying to find a way to articulate your experience without a lot of acronyms and military terms. the biggest challenge you have is explaining your background. Watching CNBC to learn these terms through osmosis.
  • What advice would you have for someone on Active Duty as they try to figure out what they would like to do in their civilians career?
  • What led you initially to Deloitte, and why might this career be of interest to a veteran?
    • My last two years in the military I was at business school, trying to meet as many people as possible to learn from for the transition. I went to every networking event I could find, and tapped into every network I could think of. Heard experiences of their transition and continued to make these connections. This helped me refine my own story - find a way to tell it in a way that resonates.
    • At one of these events I met Ed Vanburen, who was a Naval Academy graduate at Deloitte. And this led me to Deloitte, where I worked for 2.5 years for public and private sector clients. we helped them think about doing a digital transformation in Oil & Gas and different industries.
    • I always endorse consulting for veterans. For me it gave me to exposure across a bunch of different verticals and see typical prblems that companies see. It helped me to learn as quickly as possible from as many people and companies as possible.
    • With Deloitte you pick up a lot of structured training that helps you learn very
    • It's actually ver similar to an military environemtn - you're working with a small group of people in a tight time frame to accomplish something. You're exposed to so many different challenges that require different skill sets for each problem you face
  • What led you to Apple?
    • With consulting you get a lot of exposure to different companies. YOu also have time to think about what you want to do next and to train for it. I was General Science at the Naval Academy and was always interested in the intersection of technology and business. I wanted to get that on-the-ground operational experience.
    • So I looked at companies, and Apple was at the top of the list. It was an opportunity to join their BD and Operations team at Apple. they were focused on developing and launcing displays for all Apple products. we would work with suppliers and engineers.
    • Apple is a large company but it's run like a startup in terms of working with different teams
  • How would you explain Global Business Operations to someone on Active Duty?
    • Operations & Business operations means something VERY different at each company - it's different at Apple, Facebook, Postmates, etc. It at Apple was about negotiations, supply, and bringing things to market.
    • This may be appealing to veterans:
      • you work with teams outside of your function, just like you did in th emlitary. It's all about relationships. The lead up to a product launch and hte stressful situatiohns that lead up to this are similiar to my ilfe in the military. We had to set our goals, communicate them, and execute against those goals. It may be a different industry or technology, but the guiding principles are all the same
    • What led you to Postmates, and how would you explain this startup to someone on Active Duty?
      • I was at Apple for a little over 3 years. It was a very intens time of launching iPHone 4, 5 and 6. I was in Asia for a lot of that time, and I learned a lot very quickly. I was looking at cojmpanies at the center of technology and supplies and logistics, and Postmates was near the top of that list.
      • Postmates is an on-demand delivery and logistics platform. you can order from any business and it'll be delivered within an hour. It's the Uber for delivery. It was an experience in helping them grow - joining as employee #75
      • Operations was launching new markets, growth marketing, the supply side of the marketplace, and our strategic partnerships. You have to be an "Athlete" - come in and do anything. No task is too small. you're leading a team and also doing data analysis and everythign you can possibly think of
      • It was such a good and intense experience. that intensity really drives a lot of rapid learning
      • There is nothing that is another person's problem - they are run lean (there are not a lot of people) but there are a lot of problems. It can be very stressful and you'll have to build a lot of things from scratch with very few resources. But you always find a way to win. This makes veterans well suited for startups.
    • What led you to Facebook?
      • Postmates is still doing really well and is still growing. The Facebook opportunity was a great personal opportunity for me. they were looking for someone to lead operations for some of their new products across: New Media Products, Marketplace, Workplace, Messenger, and AI for Messenger. Across these there are new products that each require a new operational approaches.
    • How would you explain your current position at Facebook?
      • The team I started with was 150 people and focused across each of the five verticals. We were helping each one grow and each of them were at a different size of growth and development. We focused on translating the consumer experience back to our engineers so they could build better products.
      • For the Artificial Intelligence product we launched for Messneger, we had a team of 90 people who worked with the product and eningeering teams, and also focuwed on the consumer behabior and how the platform connected people with businesses. So we looked at the data to see what people were doing, how often they were doing and the opportunities there.
      • Now I work more with partners - people building on our platform to connect with businesses. Every day is different - size of team, type of team, sometimes working with a global team.
      • Two months ago I traveled for one week to Singapore and then London.
      • The key is to be flexible
    • What resources - books, programs, websites, etc - have been helpful to you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
      • I work with a lot of resources that help veterans
      • Breakline has a structured program to help veterans transition through case studies, office visits, and different techniques they need to learn. this is really helpful.
      • I also advise the Commit group - they help veterans transition to the private sector.
      • Blogs & podcasts where you can hear about people's experience - no one's path will be the same as yours; a
    • What was one of the most difficult parts of your own transition to a civilian career?
      • The entire process is a challenge. Every conversation you have is an interview
      • 32:02
      • There's a lot of doors that will be shut in your face; you'll say something you regret in an interview. Its the process that will get you where you need to be, but it can be very discouraging. Understanding that in the end you will make it.
      • Even if 50 people say no, one will say yes. A veterans advantage is their grit - the challenge is more of a technical piece. Learning to go through the gauntlet of understanding how to interview. How to do research. how to speak the lingo.
        35:15 You are hunting for your next meal evert day; there is no net. You really are out there on your own.
      • Relationships, relationships, relationships - it's how you'll find and get those opportunities. ERvery discussion you have is an interview - do the research before the meeting.
      • It is tough but with high risk comes high reward. You'll learn something new to take on the next opportunity. As you build up these new industries you'l l
    • Final words of wisdom?
      • We are more powerful than we think.  You have this insecurity starting out; you don't know that your skills will relate to the civilian sector and are intimidated by the competition. Once you realize the strength of your experiences and the relationships you've built - that's when you really become powerful. There will be failure and disappointment - you will get SO MANY no's but you only need one person to say yes. It's going to be tough but it does end up in the right p
Nov 15, 2017

"There are 3-4k brands in America that franchise, and there's hundreds of new brands every year. Which is wonderful, but it's also a little bit dangerous because a lot of those new brands really don't know franchising. You may have a great concept - a pizza shop, a coffee shop, a shoe shine stand - I don't care what it is, you can franchise a lot of things. But once you do that you're in a different business - you're no longer in the haircutting business, you're in the franchising business and it happens to be haircutting."

- John W. Francis


John W Francis runs Next Level Franchise​, Inc in Minnesota​, where he helps franchisors, franchisees and supplier companies with their business issues by offering perspective, experience, advice and connections to help move them forward. He started back in 19​80​'s​ helping in his family business, Barber’s Inc, which ​was​ the franchis​or of Cost Cutters, City Looks, and We Care Hair Salon. Over the next ​15+ years he ​helped to grow ​the business internationally, eventually selling to the Regis Corporation in 1999. Since then he has directly worked with franchises, as well as served as an advisor, board member, consultant, and speaker to ​many people and companies in the franchise world. He is known as “Johnny Franchise” and is a Franchise Expert.

Why to Listen:

A while back I had Matt Miller on the show, and in episode BTU #60 he talked about his experience starting the franchise School Spirit Vending. In episode BTU #115 Ray & Sam Allen talked about Direct Marketing and how it is business with some training and assisting to help people like veterans.

Both of these got me thinking about franchises, and how this is really well suited to veterans who want to start a business and have drive, determination, and discipline, but may not have a killer business idea or a background in business.

So, I took to Google and it did not take me long to find at the top of the list when it comes to franchises, my guest today, John W. Francis. John is not a veteran, but he has an immense amount of experience with and knowledge of franchises, and has graciously offered to come on the show to help me - and all our BTU listeners - better understand franchises and why this may be an appealing entrepreneurial vehicle to veterans

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • Let’s start with the basics - if you were taking to someone who is in the military, and they don’t have traditional business experience, how would you explain what a franchise is?
    • It's an opportunity - it can take on a number of different dimensions. You've got a model or a brand that you want to operate - McDonalds and Burger King are well known. But there is franchising all around in the US because it works well.
    • When you purhcase a franchise a lot is included in it - do your homework and take your time. YOu don't want to make a decision ilke this in a hurry.
    • Usually a franchise is a brand (name) that has some value and a series of systems. A system of operating and marketing and training in that business. Often times, there is vendor benefits and relationships with suppliers and otehr companies to reduce your cost since you're buying on a group scale.
    • It leverages people motivation and ability - if everyone does their part, it creates mutual success. Franchising wins at all levels when done properly.
  • What goes wrong in franchises?
    • It happens at different times in the growth of the franchise.
    • Oftentimes people convince themselves to buy something that doesn't fit
    • I used to sell hair salon franchises - it's a great business - it's been the same for 5,000 years. It's consistent. You wont' get your hair cut at Amazon. Resistant to technology obsolesce.
    • If you run a hair salon, there's regulations, licenses, etc. But as an owner if you don't understand the business you're in and what makes it work, you get in trouble.
    • There's a lot of things you need to operate well, and it requires different skill sets.
    • First - can you afford it? Cash, equity in your house, lending, etc
    • Part was the personality fit - will you be successful selling in this environment; they may not have the skills so it may be more difficult for you.
    • 8:25 - thousands of franchises, but also dangerous, you may have a great concept
    • Is this a good system? It boils down to relationships - do they have integrity and a plan and know how to be successful? It is economic Darwinism - the stronger and faster and the ones who adapt and take care of their people.
    • It gives you a great platform for success - people pick the wrong one or for the wrong reason
  • You have worked with thousands of individuals who work in a franchise - are there any characteristics you’ve found in the people who succeed as a franchise owner?
    • The ability to work hard - when you're the owner, you have a different attitude about things. You can't just work there. Ownership is a lot of responsibility and opportunity and liability. When you have others investing in your deal and you have employees, it raises the bar. You have to have a lot of commitment to never give up.
    • The other trait that is often underutilized is the connectivity. In a franchise brand, you can connect with the Franchisor. They've got marketing, training, leadership, etc. You can connect with these people - you're part of the family, part of the network. There are people running this company all over the country and you want ot do what they're doing in a way that makes it successful. Asking for input on what to change - a different attitude and approach.
    • Worst mistake is when someone wants to change something - they want to change the part of the brand. We don't sell tires at the hair salon. You don't change the model. When a franchisee starts to adjust things or they say "my market is different" - that's a red flag. You need to talk to people at this point - share hte idea and talk about it before you start doing this. You have to do all of it - not just parts.
    • The third thing is hiring people. You need to make sure you get people, it always comes down to people. Often times franchisees have never hired or trained.
  • How much capital is typically required to own a franchise?
    • Franchises - there ar ebig ones and small ones; they come in all shapes and sizes. There are ones that are $50,000 or less, which is where most brands begin. That would be a total investment - a onetime franchise fee, legal costs, training, travel, contracts to sign, setting up a corporation. If it's a $50,000 investment, many times you can finance the equipment, and for a lot of franchises that are veteran friendly there are discounts on those fees. VetFran is organized through the International Franchise Association. You usually pay the fees in cash and the rest are in financing.
    • Good advice is to have half of what you borrow - otherwise you're just working for the bank. Try not to borrow more than 50% of the investment. So you'll need some cash - savings, earnings, sold something else, or people go to friends and families and ask for investments or a loan. A loan is easier than an investment, but you need to make sure you write it down. you can borrow from a friend or family member, and when you pay it off that goes away. but an investor, they get equity and they get a say in what decisions you make and may feel entitled to participate at a level you didn't expect.
    • Vending machines are common. People will do it for a year or two and then sell it and buy a franchise. You can start with a single vending machine, and it's a lot of hard work but it's a starting point. Then you can sell it and buy and franchise where you're managing employees.
    • The ideal is to eventually hire someone who can do the day-to-day activities, but at first you'll likely be doing all of it. You can eventually own the place and not work there.
    • Many times starting a franchise can be like buying a job - it takes a lot of work and feels like just a giant obligation. But if you can grow it you can be the owner and hire a manager, and then your job is to own the place. Do the advertising, maybe some sales, manage cash flow, and maybe even start a second or third franchise. But they usually start somewhere much smaller.
    • Because veterans are used to systems and checklists this is a great fit for franchises. If you have the right attitude and it's a fit - there's a lot of examples of success with veterans in franchises.
    • A lot of franchisees get stuck thinking they have to do everything - that is the beginning of the end. When companies cut back advertising because cashflow is tight, it's the worst you can do. When things are tight financially - who doesn't get paid is a tough decision. This is when a franchisee needs to call the corporate office or another franchisee to see where to go from there.
    • "If it doesn't make dollars it doesn't make sense." This is such great advice. You have to know hwat you're spendign and what you get for it and if it's the right trhing to spend on. Ideally you can pay yourself sooner or later, and you have to be careful about continiung to invest all your moeny in the business indefinitely. Some people will use a franchise as an inheritence vehicle - the parent can make the investment nd the child does the work and over time the child buys the franchise from the parent, or the parent gifts shares to the child.
    • Find something you're passionate about, and something you can get excited about. If you don't like people, you shouldn't get into a hair salon. But other business I work with have different skill sets. The good news is there are lots of franchises out there, but you hae to know yourself and what you would be interested in.
  • If someone is interested in opening a franchise what resources - books, movies, etc - would you recommend they check out?
    • Franchising is a big area today. There are over a million franchise outlets and over 3,000 franchises. There are groups who work as a match maker (a broker or agent) just like a real estate agent sells houses. There are companies that sell franchise this way. They don't charge the franchisee - the franchisor pays a referal fee to the person who brings the deal in.
    • Fran-choice is good
    • Fran-net is great too - their consultants are all over the country
    • Entrepreneur Source has been around for a long time
    • There are 5-10 more who are like this. Their speciality is to get to know you as the buyer and line you up with brands they know and trust and think will be a good fit. They help you understand what you have and educate you on why it is a good fit and you'll hvae to decide.
    • They'll turn you onto three concept and then sell you the franchise. THey prepare you and if you buy they get a referral fee- it's a fair deal and a good value.
    • It does take time and takes a committment and the consultants only really know a handful of brands. They are afmiliar with 20-30 - how many can you really know? So there may be others out there that would be a better fit but you may never hear about them.
    • The risk is manageable because it's a helpful way to see what's out there, find their strenghts and weaknesses. Just be very careful and make a good choice - do your homework on the brand. You want to validate the idea - check it out and make sure the franchise works the way it is supposed to.
    • Before you write a check - go spend a day with someone running the unit and shadow them for the dya and make sure you're co
  • Final words
    • There are a lot of great people and great opportunities. Find a good brand with good people and a business you really, truly enjoy. You're willing to work harder for somethign you believe in and people you like. Get to know the business and really take the time to know what it will take to be successful.
    • My blog has all sorts of things on it
    • There are books and magazines - the Franchise Times, Franchise World - all sorts of Expos and shows and seminars. Take as much time as you can. It's a great way to go - ifyou get into a good one follow the model, ask for help, pay attention, and follow the system. Engage fully in the brand.
    • Franchise Adviory council - get involved in it. If they host a workshop go to it, never miss an annual convention. Most brands have a big conference for all the owners to come togeterh every year - you need to be there. Make that investment in yo8urself andyour business.
    • Fully immerse yourself and follow the good ones. Meet the people who are successful - find the last Franchisee of the Year for the last 5 years and go talk to them. You want ot be the enxt one. SUccess comes in a lot of differnet ways.
  • Father's Eve
    • This is my giveback project. I'm a dad of two girls and I'm lucky that I can do my fatherhood the way I'd like. THis started as an accident - I got together with other fathers the night of father's day. Then we turned it into a charity event and raise a lot of money. Then we licensed it - everything is a franchise to me - we did it in 12 cities last year. This year we expanded and we did it in 42 cities. We had sponosrs and raised more money for charities.
    • Next year we're trying to turn this into a celebration for dads. Father's day is for dads and their families -we don't want to change this. Father's eve is just for the dads the night before, a dad night out. We do a countdown - we can't stay up tll midnight, so at 8pm we do a local toast to the dads.
    • Some places we do charity funcitons and auctions, and bag tosses, or poker or golf. One person did an archery event. It's hosted all over the county
    • It started in my garage and there are people who do it in their garage
    • Connecting dads to each other to celebrate being a dad and connecting them and learn how to be a better father is so important.


Nov 13, 2017

In this episode, I go through a framework for looking at the needs that are met for most veterans by serving in the military, and the needs that they will most likely miss immediately upon their transition from Active Duty to a civilian career. This is a different take on Skills #1 – Empathy & Non-violent communication (NVC) that may be easier to apply in you civilian and military career.

If you haven't yet had a chance to leave a positive review in iTunes, please take a minute to do so here

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources:

Nov 8, 2017

"I really thought that a cornerstone of my business development plan was to take advantage of my ability to retire from my final duty station - to look around my community - and find ways to build relationships over time that I could then build upon when I started [my business]."
-  Forrest Baumhover

Special thanks to Ryan Guina at Cash Money Life and  The Military Wallet, episode #61, for introducing me to Forrest.

Forrest Baumhover recently retired from 24 years in the Navy, first as a hospital corpsman, then as a Supply Corps Officer. While on Active Duty he became a certified Financial Planner and started a fee-only financial planning practice, Westchase Financial Planning. He also runs the site, Military in Transition.

Why to Listen:

Forrest anticipated his transition very early on and prepared for starting his own company in a very proactive way. This is also my first interview with a financial planner, and may be an interesting career path for other veterans.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • You have taken a very proactive approach to planning for your transition - can you tell us more about when that started and how you’ve gone about it?
  • What drew you to financial planning?
  • Could you share more about what you do at Westchase Financial Planning?
  • What was your experience like at the College for Financial Planning?
  • How do you balance Active Duty with preparing to transition?
  • What advice do you have for listeners about their personal finances and preparing for the transition?
  • Good resources for finances
Nov 6, 2017

In this episode I share advice from the Beyond the Uniform community about how Veterans can best prepare for and excel at a civilian interview. 

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Selected Resources:

Show Notes:

  • Jon Anderson - network!
  • Meg Potter: Two things: actually wear your interview outfit to ensure fit/comfort and work with a friend to rehearse/drill possible interview questions. Oh and actually familiarize yourself with the company and position.
  • Mark Mitchell: Read PCS to corporate America
  • Aaron Burch 
    • Learn how to interview: Watch sample interviews on YouTube. Learn the STAR method. Look up lists of behavioral interview questions. Prepare a mental list of 10-15 examples from your past experience that can be tailored to answer most of the behavioral questions you can find, and memorize those examples. Practice interviewing with someone, and record yourself, then watch with them and someone else and ask for feedback. Repeat this. 
    • Learn about the company: Google the company, their competitors, suppliers, and customers. If they are publically traded, read their annual report and listen to their latest earnings call. Research common interview questions and scenarios used at the company. 
    • Learn about your interviewer: Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. Find out how long they've been with the company and their previous roles. Find them on Twitter or other social media and look for anything relatable. 
    • Learn about the position: Read and re-read the position description, noting key skills and experiences, then think of ways you fit the bill, either directly or indirectly. Look up the position on GlassDoor, TransparentCareer, etc. Try to find a loose connection with someone at the company who has or previously had the job you're interviewing for, and talk to them. 
    • Make yourself memorable: Depending on your skillset and the position type, make a "leave behind" to give your interviewer. Maybe it's an infographic. Maybe it's a book of previous projects. Ideally, it has some parallels to the types of work products you might expect to produce in the position. 
    • Execute: During the interview and where appropriate, sprinkle in anecdotes you uncovered during your preparation. Maybe it's a commonality you share with the interviewer. Maybe it's an idea for a new service. Demonstrate that you're already thinking of real ways to cut expenses or grow revenue, before you even have the job. Show genuine interest in the industry, company, and position. If you can't find genuine interest after all of this preparation, it's probably not a good fit for you. 
    • Follow Up: Depending on the size of the company and the industry, send an email or handwritten thank you card within 24 hours of your interview, thanking the interviewer for his/her time and expressing your continued excitement. 
    • AAR: Doing everything above isn't reasonable for every interview. Take what you learned, having done it all, and tailor your approach next time to what seemed like the most value added activities.
  • Richard Herron 
    • WRT the interview, be yourself. 
    • Think more about what career you want to interview for. A big help for me was finding a mentor to chat about options. Most people we dealt with were also on AD and hadn't seen the other side. Go on LinkedIn and cold email people that have the career you're considering. 
    • Thanks for BTU. I wish this existed when I was transitioning.
  • Jared Wymer 
    • In military terms, treat each interview as a mission. Just as you tailor your resume for a role, you should also tailor the way that you talk about your experience, the role, and the company. For instance (and get used to using the phrases "for instance", "for example", and "and by that I mean"), the same work that an active duty service member put into writing the resume that got them the interview (ex: SCOUR the company website so you understand [1] culture [2] business objectives [3] how you fit into the mix [4] how you add value [note: this is much easier with public companies who are required to disclose certain information]; look on websites like Glassdoor, O*Net, etc. to make sure you understand the breadth of what you can bring to the table; make sure you can speak to every line of the job description in a PAR or STAR format. I could frankly provide a whole layperson class/presentation on this, but these are some of the key actions.
  • Lee Haney: What we learned in the military still applies: nothing beats a Leader's Recon before a tactical movement! In this case, that means learning everything you can about the company and the role before the interview, including informational interviews with people who already work at the company with which you are interviewing.
  • Michael Beard: find veterans in the civilian industry you are targeting, and spend time with them in an informational interview. ask for blunt feedback on your resume and interview skills. use them to get the debriefing and feedback that most civilians are too cautious to give. An HR person will not tell you that you are coming across too stiff, or using too many acronyms, or not smiling enough.
  • Charlie Mello: Discuss how your skillset will provide and drive value to the company. It doesn't matter as much what you have already matters more what you are willing to do to help the company grow
  • Brian Henry: I actually have 2 of Orion Talent's podcasts I'd steer them to that we did to address this question. Episode #5 addresses beginning the preparation process and Episode #7 hits a few of the most important questions to be prepared for and how to answer them.
Nov 1, 2017

"At the end of the day no one is ever going to come to you as a veteran [with a job offer] - they're going to thank you for your service, but they're not going to make a job for you. Nor do you want them to make a job for you. The trick is getting in as many people's rolodexes as possible. And I kind of did that - unwittingly - while I was at West Point."
- Nicholas Loudon

Nick Loudon is the Chief of Staff for Eastern Air Lines. He started out at West Point, served in the Army as an Infantry Officer for 8 years before going to the Teachers College at Columbia University to earn his MA in Organizational Psychology and Leadership. He’s worked at the E-learning company, Rowan Technologies, as both a Program Manager and COO, and joined Eastern Air Lines about a year and a half ago.

Why to Listen:

In this interview we discuss a variety of topics relevant to veterans in any industry. Nick has great advice for veterans about checking one's ego at the door, rolling up one's sleeves and doing whatever it takes to improve whatever task you're given. He shows how a willingness to learn has allowed him to transition - and be successful in - wildly different industries. And how a mindset of happiness, learning and humility can make all the difference.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • 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

Show Notes

  • How did you approach the decision to leave the Army?
  • How did you decide to go to TC?
  • What led you to Rowan Technologies?
  • How would you describe what Rowan Technologies does?
  • What was your role like as a Program Manager?
  • How did your work change when you were promoted to COO?
  • What led you to Eastern Air Lines?
  • How would you describe what Eastern Air Lines does?
  • What do you do as Chief of Staff?
  • What resources - books, programs, podcasts - have helped you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
  • Final words of wisdom