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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: 2017
Jan 23, 2017

“There is the expectation - at least at the places where I've been fortunate to work - that growth and advancement come from a series of thoughtful mistakes. I've had to really learn in my career: being open and transparent when you make a mistake, being willing to talk about it and embrace it,  as a leader can be very hard.  I think early in my career there was this expectation that if people were looking to me to lead, that talking about any sort of mistake or misstep was a sign of weakness. When in fact I think that the best way to build trust is in fact  - with your team and with people you work with - to be open and transparent and create an environment where other people feel comfortable as well."
– Don Faul

Don is the CEO at Athos, a company that offers a wearable technology that is fully integrated in workout clothing, and can track your muscle groups, heart rate, breathing level and more. They have raised over $50M in funding since their founding 4 years ago. Don started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served for five years as an Marine Corps as part of the Force Recon. After his transition out of the Marines, he went to Stanford Business School, after which he joined Google in 206 as a Manager of Online Sales and Operations. Two years later, he joined Facebook as the VP of Online Operations, and four years after that Pinterest as the Head of Operations. He serves on the Board of Nuru international, which listeners may remember from Episode #68 with Nuru’s founder, Jake Harriman.

Many people I’ve interviewed on the show have recommended I interview Don. Brad Bonney from episode #4 and Jimmy Sopko from episode #6 both credit Don as being an enormous help in their careers at AriBnB & Pinterest respectively. Don not only has an incredible background at the most famous companies in Silicon Valley, but he’s also a constant advocate for veterans and frequent mentor for those going through career transitions.

This episode is shorter than normal but it is chalked full of great advice not just for those of you thinking about a career in tech, but any veteran seeking to get the most out of their career.

 

Selected Links

  • 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

Show Notes

  • 1:08 - Don's background
  • 2:31 - How Don decided to leave the Marine Corps and how he decided to go to the Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • 3:50 - How Don used grit and determination to get his first role at Google, and how a veteran at Google ultimately made the difference in getting Don's resume through the door and coaching him through the interview process
  • 6:15 - Don's advice on how veterans can better tell the story of their military background, and how important (and rare it is) for a candidate to be exceptionally well prepared for an interview. He talks about anticipating what an interviewer might not know about your military background or misconceptions they may have about it, and how to address this. He also talks about how veterans can come across better by being the MOST prepared person for the interview, and by having some well crafted and practiced stories to tell in the interview.
  • 10:25 - Don's risky move from Google to Facebook, and how it was based on following a mentor, Sheryl Sandberg. He left Google much earlier than he had expected, but was excited by the team and learning opportunity
  •  13:45 - How Don followed a similar path when he left Facebook for Pinterest
  • 15:18 - After Pinterest, Don took a break before starting at Athos. After having moved from one company to another for so long, Don reflects on wanting to have taken more time in between each company to reflect. 
  • 17:05 - One of the biggest mistakes that Don made since leaving the Marine Corps and what he learned from it. He talks about how he loves tech because there is the expectation that growth and advancement will come through a series of thoughtful mistakes.
  • 20:20 - Having mentored so many veterans, a few of the more common mistakes Don sees veterans make. First, vets assume that roles are off the table and not possible. The second is that veterans commonly underrepresent the skills that they bring to the table, namely leadership and responsibility. He has great advice for combatting both of these two misconceptions. Don't take anything off the table and recognize how impressive your background is. 
  • 23:50 - Don's current role as CEO and how he found his way into the wearable technology space (even though he ended his time away from work sooner than he had expected). In finding Athos, Don followed advice he often gives to veterans to start their career search. He made a list of the companies who's products or services resonated with him personally. He used popular tech blogs and conversations with friends (especially with investors) to add to and help build that list. What stood out for him with Athos was the mission "to build better athletes" and help everyone get the most out of their training. It sat at the intersection of his love of technology and his love of fitness and sports. Being an early adopter of gadgets and in particular health gadgets, he found himself getting really excited each day thinking about this. The second was the mixture of 50% familiarity with a role and 50% the challenge of something new and unexpected.
Jan 20, 2017

“I think many of us served because we love this country and love what it stands for. I think - like many people - I'm frustrated that our representatives are not as good as the country they represent. They've allowed the American Dream to fade; they've allowed money to become the dominant influence over politics; they've failed to address some of the defining issues of our time like climate change. And I think that our democracy is our inheritance as citizens and that as citizens we deserve better. And I think that veterans have that love of country that can motivate us to run into the breach and I think we have a lot to offer."
– Sean Barney

Sean Barney is a public defender. He started out at Swarthmore College, after which he served for five years as a Machine Gunner in the 25th Marine Regiment, where he was awarded the Purple Heart. Since transitioning from the Marines, Sean has worked at the Think Tank, Third Way. He has also been extremely active in politics - one of the main things we’ll talk about today - his experience here is extensive but a few highlights are serving as both the Campaign Manager and then Policy Director for Governor Jack Markell  and a Candidate for Congress. Sean holds a Master of Arts from Columbia University, a Masters of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of government, and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  1. Purple Heart: Sean shares the story of his life threatening injury in Iraq, and how this shaped his thoughts on career and life
  2. Public Service: Sean recently ran in an extremely close race for Congress in Delaware. His motivation for seeking office is inspirational and one that would benefit any listener
  3. Openness: Sean was one of the first veterans - if not the first veteran - to openly discuss his experience with PTSD while he was on the campaign trail. He talks about how this was motivated out of an obligation to help others and set an example.

 

Selected Links

  • New Politics - the organization that helped Sean (and other veterans) run his campaign for office.
  • Vote Vets - continues to focus on matters including, but not limited to, foreign policy, energy security, veterans’ unemployment, and opening military service to life-long Americans born to undocumented immigrants, as well as continued investment in care for veterans.
  • Team Rubicon - Disaster Response Veterans Service Organization on Team Rubicon.

Show Notes

  • 1:40 - Sean’s background
  • 2:30 - The story behind Sean’s Purple Heart
  • 6:10 - How Sean’s brush with death affected his view of life and career
  • 8:44 - How Sean’s life-threatening injury lead to one year of recovery and an unexpected departure from the Marines
  • 11:00 - Sean’s advice for other veterans who may face a career transition earlier than they expected
  • 13:45 - A look at Sean’s recent, hard-fought democratic congressional race in Delaware, and how he first decided to run for office
  • 16:37 - An overview of New Politics, and how they helped Sean prepare for his campaign
  • 20:00 - What life looks like on the campaign trail
  • 23:30 - What it was like having to raise money as part of a campaign, and how much time this takes
  • 28:30 - How Sean was amongst the first (if not the first) veterans to talk about his personal experience with PTSD on the campaign trail
  • 32:20 - What it was like to come forward very publicly with something that - until that moment - had been a private matter
  • 33:53 - What day-to-day life is like on the campaign trail and how Sean managed his campaign
  • 37:11 - The most difficult moment in Sean’s 10 months of campaigning
  • 39:35 - How this influenced Sean and how it would affect a future campaign
  • 43:17 - Resources Sean would recommend to veterans considering a career in public service
  • 45:02 - How much money Sean raised during his campaign
  • 47:15 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 19, 2017

“He said, 'This is where you see what you're made of. This is either where you fold up and die, or you push through and figure [stuff] out and make it happen.' And so luckily I was able to keep working through it and keep pushing things forward incrementally, and then recognize that there were some strategic things that we needed to do to fix it. That's what created Next Oncology, which transitioned a $3 Million a year revenue business to a $7-8 million a year business."
– Mark Frank

Mark Frank is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sondermind, a startup that is focused on making mental health services more accessible and accepted for everyone. He started out West Point and served as an Logistics Officer in the Army for five years. After the Army, Mark earned both his MBA and Masters of Engineering Management at Northwestern University. After grad school, he an Associate Investment Banker at Morgan Stanley for two years before serving as Founder & CEO at Next Oncology. After six years at Next Oncology, he sold the company in a deal that brought a 12X return to investors. In addition to founding Sondermind and Next Oncology, Mark has also started SafeImageMD and TermScout, as well as served as the Managing Director of the investment company, Goldwing Capital.

The top two reasons to list to this interview are:

  1. Originality: Mark took a relatively non-traditional route to entrepreneurship. He first went into finance at Morgan Stanley, before starting his first company. He talks about how this path helped him on his entrepreneurial journey.
  2. Serial Entrepreneurship: Mark has helped start four companies and sold two of them. He's got tons of great advice on how to go about starting - and growing - your 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 Links

Show Notes

  • 1:40 - Mark's background
  • 3:20 - At what point Mark knew he would leave the Army, and how he approached this decision
  • 4:45 - How Mark decided to go directly to graduate school rather than to industry
  • 7:25 - How Mark got his MBA and MS in three years at Northwestern, and why he would recommend this route
  • 10:19 - What lead Mark to Morgan Stanley for his first job out of graduate school, rather than consulting (as he had originally intended)
  • 14:50 - what family life was like while at Morgan Stanley, while working 100 hours per week, and how this compared to Mark's time in the military
  • 16:30 - Given Mark's history in startups, how he views his time in the world finance and would he recommend this route to other veterans
  • 19:40 - The starting point of Mark's first company, Next Oncology
  • 26:40 - How Mark overcame the security and safety of a great job at Morgan Stanley to jump into the uncertainty of startups
  • 29:14 - The worst moment at Next Oncology and what Mark learned from this experience
  • 33:23 - Mark's proudest moment at Next Oncology
  • 35:20 - What it was like selling Mark's first company, Next Oncology for over a 12X return
  • 38:56 - How Mark started SafeImageMD, TermScout and Sondermind while still at Next Oncology
  • 51:26 - Mark's advice for veterans thinking of starting their own company
  • 54:10 - Resources Mark would recommend to veterans to help in their civilian career
  • 58:00 Mark's final words of wisdom for veterans
Jan 18, 2017

“I'll never forget my fiance and I at the time were going to visit some relatives, and I pulled over before we got the house and said, 'Hey I'm about to spend a bunch of money on an idea to start this drink called Kill Cliff  and I might not get anything out of it, but at least I can say that I tried and I did it.' And you told me, 'You're going to be great - you're going to do awesome. You'll make more money if we lose the money.' Having her support me at that moment in time was incredible, and so I moved forward with it."
– Todd Ehrlich

Todd is the Founder of Kill Cliff, maker of the recovery drink with the same name. Kill Cliff has about 40 employees and makes continuous donations to the Navy SEAL Foundation. Todd also serves as the CEO at BAM Worldwide, the leading provider of cash management technology for small to medium transportation companies. He is also the Founder & Chairman of Triserv Appraisal Management Solutions, a real estate appraisal management company. Todd started out in the Navy, where he served as a SEAL for four years. After his transition from the military, he held a variety of positions at Kroll Associates, United Rentals, and Jacobs Private Equity.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • Having started multiple companies, a look at whether or not Todd's other employment experiences were necessary in starting his company
  • How Todd started the 301st fastest growing company in America, Kill Cliff
  •  Given that Todd's companies are so different, how passion is the most important element in creating a company
  • How Todd keeps his focus on the 1st 1000 days of a company, rather than running a company indefinitely
  • And much, much more…

 

Selected Links

Show Notes

  • 2:09 - Todd's background
  • 2:45 - Todd's decision to leave the Navy SEALs for a civilian career
  • 5:02 - The point at which Todd decided to start Kill Cliff
  • 8:40 - Having started multiple companies, a look at whether or not Todd's other employment experiences were necessary in starting his company
  • 12:40 - Given that Todd's companies are so different, how passion is the most important element in creating a company
  • 15:40 - What Todd's day-to-day life looks like
  • 21:00 - How Todd keeps his focus on the 1st 1000 days of a company, rather than running a company indefinitely
  • 24:57 - Steps that a veteran can take TODAY to move towards starting their own company
  • 28:42 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 17, 2017

“There's a lot of weird stress things that come from all of this attention. But being able to take my wife to the Oscars... and being able to take my interpreter and give her somethign like that. That's one of the most unadultered good feelings I've ever had."
– Hank Hughes

Henry Hughes is an Oscar nominated writer and director who spent five years as a paratrooper in the 173rd Airborne, conducting two combat tours in Afghanistan. His unit was featured in The Outpost by Jake Tapper. Henry was featured in ABC News’ Standing Up For Heroes with Bob Woodruff where he was paired with George Lucas as a part of American Corporate Partner’s National Mentoring Program. He earned a MFA in Directing at the American Film Institute, where he received the Gary Winick Scholarship. His work has played at Telluride, AFI Fest, Mill Valley, and Cannes among others. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Hank kept his dream to be a film maker alive during his time in the Army
  • How Hank discovered - and refined and rediscovered - his voice as a film maker
  • How Hank was paired with George Lucas for two years as a mentor
  • What it's like to be a veteran in the film industry
  • The process of putting together Hanks' film, Day One
  • What it was like to be at the Oscars with his wife and his interpreter
  • And much, much more…

 

Selected Links

Show Notes

  • 1:21 Hank's Background
  • 3:12 - Hank's decision to leave the Army
  • 6:30 - Hanks dream to be a film maker since in high school, and how he kept this alive in High School
  • 8:46 - What it was like applying to the American Film Institute
  • 10:50 - How Hank discovered - and refined and rediscovered - his voice as a film maker
  • 12:00 When Hank left the Army, how he passed time before the American Film Institute and the challenges he faced
  • 13:35 - Hank's advice for veterans about their initial time directly after getting out of the military
  • 15:50 - How Hank was paired with George Lucas for two years as a mentor
  • 21:36 - How Hank decided if he was making movies for an audience rather than other film makers
  • 24:25 - What it's like to be a veteran in the film industry
  • 26:08 - The genesis of Hank's film, Day One
  • 30:50- The process of putting together Hanks' film, Day One
  • 32:28 - The worst moment in the film making process
  • 35:15 - Where Hank was when he found out he had been nominated for an Academy Award
  • 37:07 - What life was like between being nominated for an Academy Award, and the Oscars
  • 39:38 - What it was like to be at the Oscars with his wife and his interpreter
  • 42:23 - What it's like after the Academy Awards
  • 47:00 - Other resources Hank would recommend to veterans interested in the film industry
  • 52:50 - Final Words of Wisdom
Jan 16, 2017

“I didn’t start it with being a company in mind. I knew it was possible to make money but I didn’t know how or how much. My goal was to make my $125 back. My goal beyond that was to have date money - maybe $100 a month to take my wife out to a nice dinner. And it took seven months to make my first $100… and then after that it just took off. And I’d say that within two years I had replicated by day job income."
– Ryan Guina

Ryan is the Founder of Cash Money Life & The Military Wallet - two websites that focus on helping people better manage their finances by offering informational articles, tips, tutorials, and product and service reviews. He has run these sites for over nine years and been featured on publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and LifeHacker. He started out in the Air Force, where he served for six and a half years as an Electrical-Environmental Specialist. After transitioning from the military, he worked at BearingPoint as a Management Analyst and then at the Computer Sciences Corporation as a Business Process Modeler. In addition to running his websites, Ryan currently serves in the Illinois Air National Guard.

Todd is the Founder of Kill Cliff, maker of the recovery drink with the same name. Kill Cliff has about 40 employees and makes continuous donations to the Navy SEAL Foundation. Todd also serves as the CEO at BAM Worldwide, the leading provider of cash management technology for small to medium transportation companies. He is also the Founder & Chairman of Triserv Appraisal Management Solutions, a real estate appraisal management company. Todd started out in the Navy, where he served as a SEAL for four years. After his transition from the military, he held a variety of positions at Kroll Associates, United Rentals, and Jacobs Private Equity.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Ryan doubled his income in just two years by doing something he loved
  • Financial advice every veteran should hear
  • The emotional struggle of looking for a new job and identity
  • Resources to help veterans start their first company and advice on how to make it happen
  • And much, much more…

Selected Links

  • Ryan's sites:
    • Cash Money Life -  a personal finance and career journal with tips about money management, career topics, small business, increasing credit scores and more
    • The Military Wallet - Personal finance for military, veterans, and their families. Updates for GI Bill, VA Loans, veterans benefits, military discounts and more.
  • Wordpress - An essential component for creating your website
  • Books
    • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - this was one of my recommendations but I think it's really essential reading for creative, artist, or entrepreneur. The audiobook version is really fantastic.
  • Conferences
    • FinCon - financial media conference
  • Podcasts
    • Pat Flynn- smart passive income - anything digital marketing, apps
    • Entrepreneur On Fire - JLD, very top level but doesn’t dive as deep, good for inspiration
    • Tim Ferriss - what makes people tick and tricks they’ve used to be successful
  • Other

Show Notes

  • 2:00 Ryan’s background
  • 2:47 - Ryan’s decision to leave the Air Force and how he approached this decision
  • 4:31 - How Cash Money Life & The Military Wallet were born
  • 5:47 - How Ryan has kept his company running for over seven years
  • 8:25 - What it was like to maintain a full-time job while also growing his business on the side
  • 9:40 - Ryan’s initial job search that landed him at Bearing Point, and advice on how to approach this
  • 13:20 - When Ryan made the decision to jump in and work full time on his own company
  • 16:30 - An overview of Ryan’s sites, Cash Money Life and The Military Wallet
  • 18:13 - How Ryan knows the topics to write about each week, and how he breaks down his time
  • 19:16 - If Ryan’s time were a pie chart, how he divides his time each week
  • 21:30 - Ryan’s advice to other veterans considering starting their own company
  • 24:04 - Ryan’s advice around growing your audience once you have started a company
  • 26:00- Integrity, and the importance of maintaining this in your relationship with your customers and community
  • 27:05 - One of the most challenging moments in Ryan’s 10 years of running his own company and what he learned from this
  • 29:30 - The concerns that come with starting your own company and Ryan approached this
  • 30:45 - How Ryan’s work at Computer Sciences Corporation and Bearing Point helped him in starting his own company, and advice on whether or not to dive directly into your own company
  • 33:58 - How Ryan continues to learn as he is growing his own company and recommended resources for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs
  • 35:45 - Books and Resources Ryan would recommend to veterans
  • 37:15 - Ryan’s advice about finances and what he has learned with working with veterans and their finances for over 7 years
  • 40:30 - An overview of the concept of a “Master Mind Group” and how Ryan went about creating his group
  • 44:00 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 13, 2017

“I thought the corporate world was going to be the answer, and what I found out was yeah the corporation didn't control me as much as Uncle Sam did when I was in uniform. But the reality was that the rules changed all the time and they never changed in my favor in the corporate world. In the military, at least you knew what to expect with Uncle Sam. So I started to do some stuff on the side, because I wanted to have more control over our future. A buddy of mine from church mentioned one Sunday that his daughters and he had a gum ball business, and they were doing things together as a family and making money. And so initially I started out just selling gum balls."
– Matt Miller

Matt Miller is the President and Founder of School Spirit Vending, a Hassle-Free, Year-Round Fundraising company for Schools that he started over nine years ago. He is also the Host of the School Zone Podcast, a podcast resource for educators, school volunteers and the fundraising companies that serve them and their schools. And he is also the Owner of Sticker Swarm Media, a publishing company for children’s books. And also the President & Co-Founder of School News Guru - a newsletter program. He started out at the Air Force Academy, after which he served as a pilot in the Air Force for nearly nine years. After the Air Force he served in a variety of sales roles, first at the Hospital & Health Care industry with Abbott, and then with the Marketing & Advertising space with Valassis.

The top three reasons to listen to today’s episode

  1. Empire - Matt went from being turned town for a payday loan, to working nights and weekends on a side project, to running an empire of franchises. And he’s done it completely solo for the first eight of the last nine years. He provides tactical advice on how you can do the same.
  2. Personal growth - Matt has some great advice about allocating 10% of your budget for personal growth and development and provides TONS of very specific recommendations on things to take advantage of with this budget. The Show notes are chalked full of links to things I plan to check out and would encourage you to as well.
  3. Creating the life you want - Matt burned his ships. He turned down opportunities necessary for promotion in the air force in order to have the time to devote to developing his own company. He talks about how he has constructed the life he wants for him and his family. And it is very, very cool.

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 3:10 - How Matt first started School Spirit Vending
  •  5:55 - How Matt continued to work full time while starting his company, and used his nights and weekends to get started
  • 8:13 - How Matt runs multiple organizations, all of which feed into each other
  • 9:48 - How Matt built a company that benefits him, his family, his franchisees, the community's children and their schools
  • 12:20 - What Matt's typical day-to-day life looks like
  • 13:46 - Where Matt goes today to learn, and what he would recommend to other veterans
  • 17:30 - How Matt's initial work in sales has helped him in his entrepreneurial journey
  • 19:40 - What skills Matt needed to acquire prior to starting his own company
  • 21:40 - Matt's advice to veterans thinking of starting their own company
  • 24:50 - One action that a veteran could take TODAY to start their own company
  • 27:55 - Matt's final words of wisdom
Jan 12, 2017

“It was literally something that we started over our garage, and over the course of a few years grew to a few different offices.  It was one of those situations where it became - to some degree - all consuming. My wife and I have two children and it was a situation where we always felt like we had this third child - our business, Wedgewood Group. And it probably came to every dinner conversation and every car ride and Wedgewood was just there. I think the point where I realized, 'Oh my gosh, this thing is really real' is when our payroll hit $100k every two weeks, I realized, 'what did I get myself into!'"
– Patrick Leddin, Ph.D.

Dr. Patrick Leddin is a Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Managerial Studies Program, where he teaches both Corporate Strategy and Principles of Marketing. He started out in the Army, where he served for over six years with the 82nd Airborne Division as a Platoon Leader, Staff Officer, and Company Commander. After transitioning from the Army, he worked as a Senior Consultant at KPMG. He then started his own consulting firm, the Wedgewood Consulting Group, and served as Managing Director. In 2011 Inc Magazine named Wedgwood one of the fastest growing private companies in America, and they were acquired in 2012. Patrick holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Kentucky, and has also worked as a Director & Senior Consultant at Franklin Covey for nearly 16 years.

The top four reasons to listen to todays show are:

  1. Growing company - after 2 years in consulting at KPMG, Patrick left to start his own consulting firm. 10 years later, Inc Magazine recognized them as one of the fastest growing companies in America, and they were acquired one year later. Patrick shares the details of this exhilarating ride.
  2. Marriage - Patrick started his consulting company with his wife, and has advice and thoughts about starting a company with your significant other.
  3. Puzzle - In looking at Patricks career and life he’s done a really effective job of integrating his professional life in a way in which there is diversity in a way that adds more fulfillment to his life. He currently is a professor at Vanderbilt, consults with franklin Covery, and is an author. I find him a fantastic role model for building fulfillment into ones professional life
  4. Life’s Circle - At the very end Patrick talks about evaluating all the components of your life as a circle and evaluating how you’re performing in each area. And he talks about the incremental effort in making them better. It’s some of the best advice I’ve had on the show

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 2:11 - Patrick's background
  • 3:03 - Patricks decision to leave the Army and how he approached that decision
  • 5:05 - Patricks' first job search out of the Army, and how he first landed at KPMG
  • 9:25 - How, after two years at KPMG, Patrick decided to start his own consulting company
  • 11:45 - How Patrick would advise another veteran to start their own consulting firm today
  • 15:58 - What it was like to found and grow his own consulting firm, and a look at the day-to-day operations
  • 17:41 - Advice to veterans who might be considering starting a company with a significant other
  • 21:43 - The moment in Patrick's eleven year journey when things started to become easier
  • 24:32 - The worst moment in Patrick's entrepreneurial journey
  • 27:12 - What it was like to go through an acquisition process, and advice to other veterans going through a similar process
  • 31:55 - What it was like to pursue a Ph.D. while running a company
  • 34:04 - An overview of Patrick's work teaching at Vanderbilt
  • 35:15 - How Patrick has constructed a life that energizes him in multiple ways
  • 38:37 - The habits Patrick developed in the military that helped him be successful, and the habits he needed to break to succeed as a civilian
  • 44:04 - Advice to veterans who want to enter academia, and the trade-offs between going to industry first or entering directly into academia.
  • 46:24 - Books and resources that Patrick would recommend to veterans
  • 48:15 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 11, 2017

“There is still maybe a stigma in the community. There's an idea that veterans are viewed in one of three ways. They're either a victim, this broken winged bird that needs to be nursed back to life. Or they're a villain, they're this crazy combat vet who is about to explode at any moment. Or they're seen as some sort of mythic hero. And none of those are true. No veteran I've ever known wants to be treated like a victim. Being labeled a villain could make them more aggressive. and most will resist being called a hero. And so there are these archetypes that the community sees, but in reality we're really a combination of all of them."
– Duane France

Duane France serves as the Program Director for the Colorado Veteran Health and Wellness Agency, as well as the Director of Veteran Services for the Family Care Center, and also as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. He started out as a Noncommissioned officer in the Army, where he served for 22 years with five combat and operational deployments. Since leaving the Army he has established himself as a Veteran Mental Health Thought Leader, being listed by LinkedIn as one of the top five most influential veterans on LinkedIn. You can find him online at his website www.veteranmentalhealth.com and on Twitter as ThCounselingVet

The top two reasons to listen to today’s episode

  1. Responsibility - Duane has devoted his career to helping veterans and established himself as a Veteran Mental Health Thought Leader. In this episode he talks about the main problems addressing the veteran community. You may think this doesn’t apply to you, but if not it definitely affects some of the people you served with. Duane has great advice that would be helpful to anyone who served in the military
  2. Counselor - Duane retired in the military and then approached his second career as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. If you’re interested in this industry, he’s a great role model to follow.

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 2:00 - Duane's background
  • 2:56 - Duane's decision to leave the Army
  • 5:46 - What drew Duane to the mental health profession
  • 9:05 - The different capacities in which Duane currently serves
  • 10:46 - The day-to-day life of Duane's work in the mental health industry
  • 13:40 - The most helpful way that Duane prepared for his career, and advice to other veterans looking to enter the mental health profession
  • 17:24 - A story from Duane's life of the "paradox of the veteran's story"
  • 22:17 - Advice for veterans in becoming more comfortable talking about their experience in the military
  • 23:50 - What stands in the way of realizing that one single thing poses the majority of problems in the veteran community
  • 26:33 - Some of the biggest challenges facing veterans today
  • 45:13 - Advice on how veterans may uncover a new purpose after their military service
  • 49:50 - Resources that Duane would recommend to any veteran listening
  • 56:25 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 10, 2017

“One [aspect of startups] is the uncertainty. I mean that in the macro level in the sense that at any moment the company could die. And I mean that at a more micro level in that you don't always know what to do. You don't know, should I spend the next 15 minutes calling back a customer, or should I spend it talking to a developer about the next product release, or should I spend it strategizing the next investor fundraising meeting. And there's almost never an obvious answer. And so to say that you're in a world of uncertainty is probably an understatement."
– Alex Pedersen

Alex Pedersen is the COO of POLCO - an early stage startup that is a political participation platform for local governments. He started out at the Air Force Academy, after which he received his Masters of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He served for seven years as an Air Force Officer, before transitioning directly to Google where he worked on Strategy, Planning & Analysis.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • What it's like to be employee #5 at an early-stage company, and how this compares to Google
  • What it's like to work as part of a distrubted team, where each team member is in a different location
  • An overview on the different types of ways you can raise funding for an early stage startup
  • And much, much more…

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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 Links

Show Notes

  • 1:33 - Alex's background
  • 2:00 - The moment Alex decided to leave the Air Force and how he approached that decision
  • 3:05 - How Alex approached his first job search after the military and how he found his way to Google
  • 6:06 - How Alex identified the companies at which he would like to work
  • 6:58 - How Alex applied on Google's website and what the interview process was like
  • 7:32 - An overview of Alex's first role at Google
  • 8:57 - A typical day at Google for Alex
  • 10:41 - Advice for other veterans seeking to apply at Google
  • 12:00 - Why Alex chose to not pursue another advanced degree after he left the military and before he entered into industry
  • 13:36 - How long it took Alex to land his first job after the military
  • 14:50 - How Alex made the decision to leave the certainty of Google to join a startup
  • 16:03 - How Alex met the Founders of his startup, POLCO
  • 16:50 - An overview of POLCO, Alex's startup
  • 18:05 - What POLCO was like when Alex first joined
  • 18:56 - Advice to veterans about how to vet and evaluate an early stage startup
  • 21:43 - The contrast of going from Google to an employee with five employees
  • 23:23 - An overview of Alex's role as COO at an early stage startup
  • 24:38 - What Alex's day-to-day life looks like at an early stage startup
  • 25:45 - What it's like to work as part of a distributed team, and how he stays in contact with his teammates
  • 27:23 - What Alex's salary is like at an early stage startup
  • 28:35 - Alex's experience raising funding for a startup and advice he'd give to other veterans considering raising funding
  • 31:57 - Indications that you may like life at an early stage startup, and indications that you may not like it
  • 34:52 - Advice on how to maintain balance in the midst of a chaotic, early stage startup
  • 36:50 - Advice on where to go to learn skills that will help you in an early stage startup
  • 38:20 - What lead Alex to pursue a role in operations as COO
  • 39:12 - What skills are necessary to be successful in operations
  • 41:28 - The most surprising aspect of Alex's transition to civilian life
  • 43:00 - Habits that Alex had to break when he left the military
  • 45:12 - In what ways Alex felt ahead of his civilian counterparts, and the ways in which he needed to catch up
  • 48:17 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 9, 2017

“Frankly it was never anticipated, I certainly never expected to be the head of PepsiCo. That was not my aspiration. I say that because i think that it's important for people to take positions and work in places that they really enjoy what they're doing, not that they're doing something in order to just be prepared for the big job somewhere down the road. The problem with that is: first of all you won't enjoy it. And second of all, if you're not happy in doing it, likely the people around you won't be happy with you doing it either. And therefore you'll probably never get to that top position."
– Steve Reinemund

Steve Reinemund was CEO of PepsiCo from 2001 to 2006, during which time:

  • Revenues grew by $9 billion
  • Net income rose 70%
  • Earnings per share were up 80%
  • PepsiCo’s market cap exceeded $100 billion.

Steve started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served for 5 years as an officer in the Marine Corps. After the military, Steven joined IBM as a Sales Rep, and then earning his MBA at the Darden School of Business. After Business School, Steven joined the Marriott, Roy Rogers division, before moving on to PepsiCo’s Pizza Hut division, where after two years he became President & CEO of Pizza Hut. During his time as CEO, he introduced home-delivery as a distribution method, overtaking market share of rival Domino's Pizza within 2 years. Steve then moved to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division as President & CEO, and then promoted to PepsiCo president and COO before being named to CEO two years later. After his tenure at Pepsi as CEO, Steven served as the Dean of the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy and Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University for six years. Steven has served on multiple boards, including:

  • The Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Marriott International
  • Walmart
  • American Express
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • American Express Company
  • Chick-fil-A
  • The United States Naval Academy Foundation
  • The Salvation Army.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Steve approached his career path to CEO of a Fortune 100 company
  • One of the most career defining and harrowing moments of Steve's career
  • How Steve sought mentorship and feedback when he was CEO of PepsiCo
  • How the General Management landscape has changed and advice for veterans pursuing this career path
  • Advice on maintaining a marriage that will last over 42 years
  • And much, much more…

 

Our Sponsor

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Selected Links

  • Steve's "Last Lecture" at Wake Forrest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_j8-oag5qc
    • Minute 34 onwards is particularly worthwhile. It's about finding your "fire" and what you want to do, and determining who you are
  • Bloomberg article on Steve and how he got to be CEO of PepsiCo: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-03-12/how-i-got-here-steven-reinemund
  • BizJournals article on Steve's career: http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/bank_notes/2015/12/former-pepsico-ceo-steve-reinemund-talks.html

Show Notes

  • 1:05 - Steve's background
  • 3:00 - Steve's decision to leave the Marine Corps and how he approached this decision
  • 4:00 - Steve's journey to IBM for his first job and how he ended up there
  • 5:40 - Some of the more common career paths for veterans when Steve left the Marine Corps
  • 7:00 - Steve's decision to pursue a career in General Management over a more specific functional expertise
  • 12:00 - Did Steve always know he wanted to be CEO, or was it a gradual progression?
  • 16:38 - One of the most defining moments of Steve's career
  • 27:22 - How Steve's job changed from Pizza Hut to Frito Lay, and then from Frito Lay to PepsiCo, and how Steve adapted to the changing challenges
  • 34:24 - How Steve sought mentorship and feedback when he was CEO of PepsiCo
  • 39:17 - Leadership - the traits Steve tried to maintain in the civilian world, the traits he tried to unlearn, and the traits he learned after the military
  • 44:40 - How the landscape has changed since Steve first set out (and how Steve might approach his career differently today than when he first started out)
  • 47:00 - Advice on maintaining a marriage that will last over 42 years
  • 51:07 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 6, 2017

“Even getting my foot in the door at Google, once I had my foot in the door I had so many opportunities open. I was able to network, meet other veterans and learn about what they're doing. And that's why after one year I was in a role that I liked. It wasn't a perfect match - I was able to get into a role that I really like and it feels like a role I can do for the next five years."
– Ashley Snyder

Ashley Snyder is the Global Process Manager, Finance Operations at Google. She started out at the US Air Force Academy, where she studied Operations Research and was a Distinguished Grad. After the Air Force Academy she went on to MIT, where she earned her Masters in Operations Research, while also serving at Draper Laboratories as a Operations Research Analyst. She then served for five years in the Air Force in a variety of capacities as part of the Medical Services corps, including positions as

  • A Manager of TriCare Operations
  • Budget, Manpower, and Resources Program Manager
  • Business Plan Consultant working directly for the hospitals executive group
  • And eventually the Executive Assistant for Pacific Air Forces Surgeon General

She went directly from the Air Force to Google, starting out as an Operations Manager in the Global Sales Operations group.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Ashley used career fairs to find her way from the Air Force directly to Google
  • Advice Ashley has for other veterans about getting in to Google and finding your ideal job once you're inside
  • An overview of career paths for someone in operations inside and outside of Google
  • And much, much more…QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 1:40 - Ashely's background
  • 2:53 - An overview of Ashley's role at Google
  • 3:38 - A day in the life of Ashley at Google
  • 5:02 - An overview of Ashley's first role at Google as an Operations Manager and how she got her job at Google
  • 8:22 - How Ashely faced an unexpected transition from the Air Force
  • 10:22 - How Google initially found her way to Google through a NUPOC conference
  • 13:50 - An overview of the Google application process and advice to other veterans seeking to work at Google
  • 15:50 - Additional resources Ashley would recommend to prepare for your career transition
  • 17:40 - Why Ashley decided against getting another advanced degree prior to going to industry at Google
  • 23:00 - Ashley's focus on operations and how it relates to finance
  • 25:20 - Habits that Ashely has tried to keep from the Air Force and habits she's tried to change
  • 30:30 - How leadership at Google has differed from leadership in the military
  • 33:00 - The most challenging aspect of working at Google
  • 34:46 - In general, a few possible career paths for someone in operations at Google
  • 37:40 - Indications that you may enjoy operations at Google and indications that it may not be the best fit for you
  • 39:30 - One of the biggest surprises about Ashley's transition from the military to the civilian workforce
  • 42:45 - Advice that Ashley would give to herself prior to leaving the military
  • 44:04 - For someone on active duty, a few resources Ashley would recommend
  • 47:36 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 5, 2017

“I think that the biggest thing is don't sell yourself short. I see too many people getting out - on both the officer and enlisted side - that look at these really simple programs. They’re great programs that may have transition assistance to get you into certain career fields, or take that first available job, or do something - if you’re working in logistics - to go right back into logistics. But all too often people do it because it’s convenient, rather than because it’s what they want to do. And I think that by really realizing that you’re capable of looking at a lot of different things, and that you’re capable of working at a lot of different places - figure out what you want to do rather than what’s easily available."
– Ben Vickery

Ben Vickery works at Google as a Finance Associate. He is also pursuing his MBA at Berkeley while full time at Google. He started out as Sergeant in the Marine Corps and served for nearly five years, including time as an Afghan Pashto Cryptologic Linguist at 1st Radio Battalion. After the Marines, he went to Columbia University and then on to Google. He also works as an Associate Instructor at Four Block, an organization that equips high potential veterans to achieve great careers at our nation’s top companies.

The top reason to listen to today’s episode is:

  1. Rockstar - Ben was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. Since transitioning out of the military he went to Columbia University, and landed a job at Google as a Finance Associate directly out of Columbia. As if that weren’t enough, he’s pursuing an MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business WHILE at Google. He has a great story of how he got there and what he learned along the way.

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 1:37 - Ben's background
  • 2:13 - Ben's decision to transition from the Marine Corps to the civilian world
  • 2:53 - How Ben decided to go to college vs. directly to industry
  • 3:38 - Resources and advice that were helpful for Ben in applying to Columbia
  • 4:31 - The internships Ben pursued while at Columbia, and how this helped him narrow in on what he didn't want to do
  • 8:02 - How Ben decided to apply to Google
  • 10:56 - Advice for veterans thinking of applying to Google
  • 12:04 - How Ben prepared for his interview at Google
  • 12:51 - An overview of Ben's role as a Finance Associate at Google
  • 13:40 - What Ben's life at Google looks like on a day-to-day basis
  • 14:55 - Common advice Ben gives to veterans who reach out to him about Google
  • 18:33 - Habits Ben has tried to maintain - and break - from the military
  • 21:12 - Indications that a veteran may like life as a Finance Associate at Google, and indications that it may not be a good fit for you
  • 22:58 - Advice Ben would give to himself when he first left the Marine Corps
  • 23:54 - The ways in which Ben has felt ahead and behind his civilian counterparts
  • 27:18 - How Ben thought about the Reserves
  • 27:50 - Advice to those on active duty about what they can do right now to prepare for their civilian career
  • 30:40 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 4, 2017

“From the process of going through West Point and then being an officer and then deciding where you're going to next, one of the first things that is told to you is that you can go do whatever you want; you can write your own path. I think I took that to heart. If I can do whatever I want, this is what I want to do. It was a thing where I picked up a camera and started photographing a few things, and really, really enjoyed it. It was very intuitive and I liked that. It was the closest thing I had found to playing sports, where I was building muscle memory and then let that instinctive ability take over and get lost in the flow of what's going on. And I really wanted to keep doing that - if I got to choose what I would do, that's what I wanted to do. Then just dove neck deep in it and tried to figure it out."
– Chris Pestel

Chris Pestel is the Founder of Pestel Photography, and has worked as a freelance photographer for ESPN for nearly 9 years now. He started out at West Point after which he served as an Army Officer for five years. After his transition he started out as a photographer at Carolina Sports, before moving on to Playboy Enterprises as a Junior Designer & Photo Editor. He’s also served as the Director of Public Relations for his high school alma matter, Montini Catholic. Chris has run his company - Pestel Photography - for over 9 years, making him on the verge of the 4% of entrepreneurs who keep their company running for 10 years.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Chris got his start with photography
  • How Chris found his first job in photography with Carolina Sports
  • What Chris' day-to-day life looked like at his first job with Carolina Sports
  • How Chris trained and improved himself as a photographer
  • What day-to-day life was like at Playboy
  • How Chris founded his own company, Pestel Photography
  • How Chris got started with ESPN
  • And much, much more…

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 Links

Show Notes

  • 2:45 - Chris' background
  • 3:28 - Chris' decision to leave the Army
  • 4:35 - How Chris got his start with photography
  • 6:20 - How Chris decided to start a career in photography
  • 8:10 - How Chris found his first job in photography with Carolina Sports
  • 10:57 - What Chris' day-to-day life looked like at his first job with Carolina Sports
  • 13:30 - How Chris trained and improved himself as a photographer
  • 14:58 - Specific resources Chris would recommend to other aspiring photographers
  • 19:32 - How Chris transitioned from Carolina Sports to Playboy
  • 27:39 - What day-to-day life was like at Playboy
  • 30:00 - How Chris approached the opportunity at Playboy
  • 32:50 - How Chris' approaches mentors and role models as an artist
  • 37:12 - How Chris founded his own company, Pestel Photography
  • 40:31 - How Chris got started with ESPN
  • 43:24 - In what ways Chris' military service has helped him and in what ways he's had to break habits
  • 49:34 - If Chris could give advice to himself when he separated from the military, the one piece of advice he'd give to himself
  • 53:39 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 3, 2017

“I've been retired for 6.5 years now and some of the things that I've learned are that it's different after you leave active duty; the people are different and your motivations are different. One of the things you need to figure out how to do is relax, because most things just aren't as important as they were when you were wearing a uniform. And that's ok. It's ok to relax."
– Robert Underwood

Robert Underwood served as an Officer in the Marine Corps for 25 years, retiring as a Colonel and works as a Business Development Manager in the Electronic Manufacturing Industry at Eaton.

The top two reasons to listen to today’s episode:

  1. Start with why - Bob has some incredible advice about figuring out what you want to do with your career, and how this is a process that occurs every 3-5 years for most people. He talks about finding the why that makes sense to you right now - not the one that made sense in the past, and provides a specific example of how this got him a job at Amazon
  2. Interview prep - Bob has some exceptional advice about preparing for interviews. Rather than using books like “200 questions to prepare for an interview” he provides practical and tactical steps to get ready now
  3. Perspective - Bob left the military and returned shortly after as active reservist through his retirement. He talks about the perspective this has given him and the the advantages of retiring
  4. Business Development - at very end, describes job at Eaton in BD, which is a great overview.

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

Show Notes

Show Notes

  • 1:55 - Bob's background
  • 4:11 - How Bob approached his decision to leave the military
  • 5:21 - How do you know whether or not leaving the military is the right decision for you?
  • 6:21 - How to consider leaving the military when you're uncertain of whether to disclose this process to those around you
  • 8:55 - How Bob approach his first job search
  • 10:20 - How Bob hired a PhD to help him figure out his ideal career
  • 11:40 - What Bob's 30 minute coaching sessions looked like
  • 13:06 - How Bob's coach - after he understood Bob's motivations - helped him explore job possibilities
  • 20:33 - How Bob revisits his "why" frequently as he evaluates new job possibilities
  • 32:00 - How Bob found his way to Amazon
  • 33:04 - Advice on how to best prepare for an interview
  • 35:20 - Advice on how to find a coach
  • 39:30 - Other resources Bob would recommend
  • 44:01 - An overview of Eaton and the role of Business Development
  • 47:57 - Final words of wisdom
Jan 2, 2017

“I know that sounds really broad, but that's what people in academia are doing - it's knowledge production. It's not just sitting around sitting on a beach chair reading and thinking 'I love foreign policy' it's actually reading some of the dry stuff, engaging with others, writing, thinking and seeing whether or not you agree with the way we see things now and if you don't, do you know ways to change the way we look at things."
 – Aileen Teague

Aileen Teague is a Ph.D. Candidate at Vanderbilt University, where she studies, U.S. and Latin American History. She will finish her doctoral studies next summer and move toward her ambition of being a history professor. She teaches history at both Vanderbilt University and Nashville State Community College. She serves as an assistant coach on the marksmanship teach of the Nashville all boy's school Montgomery Bell Academy.

She started out at Boston University where she studied History and participated in the NROTC program. After this she served for 4 years active duty and then 4 years as a reservist as an officer in the US Marine Corps. After leaving the Marine Corps, she earned a Masters of Arts in History at Vanderbilt, and received a Fulbright Scholarship that took her to Mexico City to conduct research on Mexico's experience with the U.S. war on drugs over the course of 10 months. Since returning from Mexico Aileen has published various opinion pieces on her research and continues to write her dissertation, which focuses on the effects of U.S. drug control policies in 1970s Mexico.
In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • An overview of life as a PhD student
  • Having so much unstructured time, how Aileen structures her day
  • How to prepare financially to give yourself time to find what you want to do
  • Some typical career paths post-PhD
  • An overview of the Fulbright Scholarship
  • And much, much more…

 

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

 

Show Notes

  • 2:16 - Aileen's background
  • 3:53 - An overview of life as a PhD student
  • 5:12 - Having so much unstructured time, how Aileen structures her day
  • 7:07 - How long a PhD process takes
  • 10:25 - How Aileen knew she wanted to pursue a PhD
  • 14:16 - How to prepare financially to give yourself time to find what you want to do
  • 16:06 - Side jobs that come to mind as ways to generate side income
  • 20:06 - What the PhD application process looks like
  • 23:15 - What Aileen plans to do after her PhD
  • 25:27 - Some typical career paths post-PhD
  • 29:03 - Indications that you may love life as a PhD... and indications that you may not like it
  • 31:58 - The hardest part of pursuing a PhD
  • 35:05 - Advice for veterans pursuing a PhD
  • 36:46 - How Aileen decided to leave the Marine Corps
  • 37:47 - An overview of the Fulbright Scholarship
  • 45:57 - Advice to any veteran considering applying for a Fulbright Scholarship
  • 48:00 - The more surprising aspects of Aileen's transition to civilian life
  • 50:44 - Final words of wisdom
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