Why Listen: Those of you who smoke cigars have probably heard the phrase “knuckle burner.” Well, this is a “knuckle burner” of an interview - I found myself trying to use every last second to get Liz’s insight, and Liz and I cover a lot of ground in this interview. We talk about Liz’s unexpected departure from the military due to an injury, and the importance of being prepared for one’s transition to a civilian career. We talk about her experience in grad school admissions consulting: the importance of telling a story, translating one’s experience, and emphasizing one’s strengths. And we do a deep dive on the Healthcare industry, including DaVita, graduate school, a healthcare startup, healthcare consulting, working at an academic hospital… so many facets. And we also talk about having a side hustle, and how to best utilize headhunters.
About Liz: Liz Callahan is a Healthcare Consultant at Callahan Partners. She started out at West Point, after which she served as a MedEvac Blackhawk pilot in the Army for nearly five years. After her military service, she worked at Davita as a Program Manager, she earned her MBA from UC Berkeley, she served as the Chief Operating Officer at Advon Healthcare, and she worked at the Stanford Health Care system as both a Program Manager and a Director of Transition Strategy.
Why Listen: If you’re aspiring to enter the High Tech Industry, Tech Qualled is designed to help you get there… for free. They offer a 7-week program that teaches you the skills you need to succeed in your first job, and they pair you with employers at the end of your training. Nick talks about his experience starting Tech Qualled, which is also a great perspective for listeners who aspire to start their own company. We talk about training, about the scars of entrepreneurship, about sales and how important this is to entrepreneurship, about education and the tradeoffs a degree entails, and much more.
About Nick: Nick Breedlove is a co-founder and the CEO of Tech Qualled, the nation's first enterprise dedicated exclusively to training Veterans and Early in Career individuals for customer-facing roles in the High Tech sector. Through a competitive, immersive and intense training program, Tech Qualled helps motivated Veterans achieve new levels professional potential in the Tech sector. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a helicopter pilot in the Navy for ten years, achieving the rank of Commander while serving as an Instructor Pilot for a Navy Boeing 737 squadron. After his military service he got his Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, prior to starting Tech Qualled.
I found my conversation with Mike inspiring; 15-minutes into our interview, I donated to IRONBOUND Boxing. Mike is a great example of an entrepreneur - his passion, determination, and resilience come through in everything he says. His company is also a fantastic example of a hybrid organization that is both for-profit and socially driven. If you are considering entrepreneurship, or just want to hear about an incredible Military Veteran who is doing good in the world after his military service, this is the interview for you. If you are interested in supporting IRONBOUND Boxing, you can donate to their organization, or support them through introductions to companies (Prudential in particular) or by providing technical assistance.
About Mike: Mike is the Founder of IRONBOUND Boxing, which helps employees get fit, have fun, and support a great cause. They provide on-site boxing classes to corporations of all sizes in order to improve participants' self-confidence, morale, and health. IRONBOUND Boxing is also a fundraising tool for the IRONBOUND Boxing Academy, our nonprofit boxing gym which provides free recreation to Newark youth & young adults. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a Marine Corps Officer for five years. He is in the process of earning his MA from Rutgers University, and graduated from the Stanford Ignite program.
Why Listen: Michael is a great example of someone who - after 27 years of military service - goes on to a fulfilling and very different civilian career. His company - My Military Loans - has funded over 81 military Veteran companies. He shares more about My Military Loans, as well as advice for aspiring Veteran entrepreneurs. Many of the businesses he helps fund are franchises, so be sure to check out the show notes, which features over 5 other episodes related to franchises and entrepreneurship.
About Michael: Michael Fuller is the founder & CEO of My Military Loans which provides working and startup capital for veterans to launch and grow businesses with a focus on fighting back against predatory lenders taking advantage of veterans. LTC Fuller retired on April 30, 2017 from the United States Army after completing over 27 years of service. LTC Fuller entered the United States Army on December 5, 1988 as a Private First Class, serving for over 10 years as an enlisted soldier promoted to the rank of Sergeant. LTC Fuller was commissioned in March 1999 as a First Lieutenant and subsequently rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Why Listen: Elliot has a long history in startups and operations. In this interview, we talk about the hiring process on how to play competing offers off of each other in order to get the best outcome possible. We talk about a variety of ways to get a job. We talk about Elliot’s experience in the General Manager position, a role that may be appealing to many Veterans. We talk about changing one’s job title from a big to a small company and how to approach this. And we talk about operations - operations in a tech startup, as well as operations in the cost-driven physical products world.
About Elliot: Elliot Wilson is the Vice President of Operations at ZipRecruiter, which is the smartest way to hire and get hired. He started out at the Air Force Academy, after which he served in the Air Force for nearly three years. He has worked as a Senior Product Manager at Pictage, General Manager overseeing 250 employees at Lovejoy, and Area Director of Distribution at Sherman-Williams. He holds both an MS and MBA from Loyola Marymount University.
Why Listen: Patriot’s Path is an exceptional, and free, resource to help military Veterans in their transition to a fulfilling civilian career. In addition to discussing more info about Patriot’s Path, we delve into a whole host of helpful topics: How to craft your personal pitch, both a 10 second version as well as a 2-minute version; how the typical person needs to hear your message seven times to remember you, and the importance of crafting an aligned message; how to market yourself and get comfortable marketing yourself; things that Veterans are good at that they often forget to bring up in an interview, and more.
About Nick: Noël McCall is the Executive Director of Patriots Path, a non-profit that works with transitioning Service Members including those serving in the Guard and Reserves to help define their career goals, map out a job search strategy, identify opportunities, create their personal marketing approach and connect them within the community to peers, mentors and coaches for continued networking and support. Noël successfully started a graphic arts and printing company, which she sold after running for 15 years. She has worked in higher education as the Director of Placement in higher education before contributing as a Partner and Consultant with an international executive search and leadership development firm headquartered in Charlotte. She supported Northeastern University-Charlotte’s expansion as Vice President, Corporate & Clinical Partnerships as well as their regional military liaison.
Why Listen: The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is a fantastic organization that supports the military community. If you would benefit, or if you know of someone you served with who would - please share this episode with them. Jeff and I discuss the purpose and resources of the DAV. We also talk about volunteering, and about meeting a Veterans need for both purpose and connection after one’s military service. We talk about understanding your pension and military benefits, as well as the DAV’s new program around employment, which helps vets and their family secure meaningful employment.
About Jeff: Jeff Hall is the National Employment Director at DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a nonprofit that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families. Every year, the DAV helps more than 1 million veterans by helping them access benefits they earned, like healthcare, education and disability, and connecting them to meaningful employment opportunities. Jeff started out in the Army, where he served in the Infantry and is a Combat Wounded Veteran. He has worked at the DAV since 1993.
Why Listen: Mike had an incredible military career of 22 years, where he received the Purple Heart and where is exploits were chronicled in the movie, Black Hawk Down. His Civilian career has been equally impressive. He is the author of the book, In the Company of Heroes, which details the story after Black Hawk Down’s credits roll. He worked for six years and then started his own company, Pinnacle Solutions, which has nearly 400 employees and over $70M in revenue. This is a great interview for aspiring military Veteran entrepreneurs, as well as those who are interested in the Government Contracting industry.
About Mike: Mike is President & CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, which provides a wide variety of products and services to NASA, the Department of Defense and industry partners including aircraft and weapon system Original Equipment Manufacturers. In ten years, Pinnacle has grown from a home office-based startup to over 375 employees and more than 70 subcontractor personnel operating in fourteen U.S. and international locations, with over $70M in revenue.
He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a Blackhawk helicopter Flight Lead and Instructor Pilot. He retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 Master Aviator after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Gothic Serpent, during which he was shot down and held prisoner in 1993 after a raid in Somalia, which was chronicled in the movie, Blackhawk Down. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device and the Purple Heart. He was inducted into the Army Aviation Association of America Hall of Fame in 2008.
Why Listen: John has had an incredible career both in and out of the military, including his work as a White House Fellow and the creator of the color coded alert system. He is a published author as well of three books. We talk about failure, resilience, telling your story, and more.
About John: John Fenzel is a senior Army Special Forces officer who has served on our nation’s battlefields throughout Europe and the Middle East for over 30 years. He has served as a military assistant on the personal staff of the Secretary of Defense, as a Special Assistant to the Vice President, and as a White House Fellow during the Clinton and Bush administrations. He is the author of three books: The Fifth Column, The Sterling Forest, and The Lazarus Covenant. John is a graduate of the Naval War College and the National War College. Born in Iowa and raised outside Chicago, John lives with his wife and three children in Annapolis, MD.
Ben Faw is the Co-Founder and COO of BestReviews, a technology startup that has helped over 180M users by simplifying their purchasing decisions. BestReviews was recently acquired by tronc (formerly known as Tribune Publishing) for $110M. He started out at West Point, and served in the US Army for 4.5 years as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, and Aide-De-Camp. After his military service he got his MBA from Harvard Business School and worked at LinkedIn as a Marketing Solutions Account Executive.
Why Listen: Ben has been incredibly successful as an entrepreneur, having sold his first startup for $110M. He talks about his previous experience at business school and LinkedIn, and advice for other Veterans thinking of starting their own company.
Alejandro Villanueva is a Left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He started out at West Point, where he played left tackle, defensive lineman, and wide receiver. He was voted to be team captain his final year at West Point, and a feature story in the Army football program read, "Already touted as the tallest football player in the country, Villanueva completed the transformation from being an offensive lineman for the past two years, to running routes on the field with the starting offense last Saturday night.” He served as a Captain in the Army, as an Army Ranger and was decorated with a Bronze Star for valor, having served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. After his military service he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, and later after by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why Listen: Alejandro went directly from Active Duty to the NFL, a feat that few have accomplished. His story is one of determination, perspective, and family-first values.
Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, who specializes in the theory of distributed algorithms. He previously earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age as a professor, Cal also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.He is the author of the recent book Deep Work, which I am reading next. The book we’ll discuss mostly today, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice. Inc Magazine listed it as one of the best business books of the year, and Cal’s related Oped in the NYT was one of their most emailed articles for the entire site.
Mark Horstmann is the Co-Founder of Manager Tools, a management consulting and training firm that regularly consults to and trains managers in Fortune 1000 companies around the world. His podcast - Manager Tools - has over 800 ratings on iTunes, and focuses on specific skills to improve management performance. He started out at West Point and served as an Officer in the US Army for five years. He and his Co-Founder, also a West Point graduate, have run Manager Tools for nearly 14 years. His podcast is listened to over 2M times per month in every country in the world except for North Korea. He is also the author of the book, The Effective Manager.
Why Listen: Mark is a wealth of knowledge of tactical advice for managers, having coached two Presidents of the United States. His advice is listened to by over 2M people per month and shares insights about how Veterans can lead in the civilian workforce, tips for interviewing, and more.
Donnie works at ConsenSys in the Office of the Founder. ConsenSys is a blockchain venture production studio. Our global team is building an ecosystem of consumer-centric products and enterprise solutions using blockchain technologies, primarily based on Ethereum. [Software Industry, Founded in 2014, Almost 1000 EE on LinkedIn]. Donnie started out at West Point, served as an Army Intelligence Officer for 5 years, attended Harvard Business School, and has worked at Google, Qualtrics, and Future Finance.
Why Listen: This is the first time I've had a guest on for two episodes. In my previous conversation with Donnie, he offered to come back on the show to provide a primer about blockchain, crypto currency, and etherium. In this episode we dive into this, as well as why the space may appeal to mission and purpose-driven Veterans.
Robertois a Client Executive for Healthcare and Life Sciences at NTT. He is a social media influencer, with over 315k followers on Instagram, where he goes by Rjportales, where he talk about technology, fitness, travel, lifestyle, meal preparation and more. He started out at West Point, after which he served for five years as a Counterintelligence Officer.
Why Listen: As a side project, Roberto has grown his Instagram audience to over 315,000 followers. This has afforded him not only a creative outlet, but has led him to star in commercials, be sponsored by companies, as well as meet a lot of great people. In this interview we talk about the world of social media influencers, and what every Veteran can learn from Roberto's experience.
Bob Wiedower is the Vice President, Sales Development and Military Programs at Combined Insurance, a Chubb Company. Combined Insurance is a leading provider of supplemental accident, health and life insurance products in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Combined Insurance Company of America is committed to helping people find the coverage they need at a price they can afford. Bob served as an Officer in the Marine Corps for over 22 years, and worked as an Executive Director at USAA for 15 years prior to joining Combined Insurance.
Why Listen: Bob made his transition to the civilian workforce after 22 years of military service with the US Marine Corps. His current employer, Combined Insurance, actively recruits military Veterans and actually guarantees military Veterans and their spouses an interview. We cover a lot of ground in this episode, including why Veterans should consider sales, larger companies, and companies that target military Veterans.
Tim Kennedy is a former UFC middleweight contender who competed in the Octagon while also serving in the US Army as a Green Beret sniper. He started his military career in the Army in 2004 and has served tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq, earning a Bronze Star Medal with V device, which was awarded for valor under fire. He works with Ranger Up, a military-themed clothing line, and also leads Sheepdog Response, an organization that trains civilians in self-defense and counter-terrorism skills. He has been featured on television shows including the Spike TV series Deadliest Warrior, Hunting Hitler on the History Channel, and in the 2016 indie film Range 15. He is currently involved in an upcoming Discovery Channel show called Hard to Kill. In April of 2017 Tim re-enlisted and is currently a member of the Special Forces wing of the Texas National Guard. He is a three-time winner of the Modern Army Combatives tournament, a grueling three-day event that tests mixed martial arts skills among other things.
Why Listen: Tim not only competed in the UFC while on Active Duty, but he is the host of Discovery Channel's Hard to Kill. In this motivational interview, he shares tips about fear, balance, and pushing yourself to reach your full potential.
Jimmy Sopko is a Manager of Growth Sales at Pinterest. Jimmy got his start at Pinterest by rolling up his sleeves and taking a job at Pinterest as part of their Community Operations team. While this was a step back in terms of pay and seniority, it got his foot in the door and he was able to quickly work his way up within Pinterest... a company that has already tripled in growth since he joined. Jimmy is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, and former Surface Warfare Officer. He's also an avid rower, having earned a Silver Medal in the 2009 World Rowing Championships.
Brian is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Orion Talent, where he has worked in various capacities for 20 years. He started out at Penn State University, after which he served in the Marine Corps as a Infantry Officer for over 11 years.
There are two reasons to listen to this episode. First of all, Orion Talent (and recruiters in general) are an excellent resource that members of the military should consider as they approach their career transition. Second, Brian has over 20 years of experience in the recruiting space. He talks about a range of topics like changes in the hiring landscape, how to prepare for interviews, and other topics that would benefit any Veteran.
Meredith is a Senior Management Associate at Bridgewater Associates, where she works as part of the Core Management team working to enable excellent, principled management throughout Bridgewater. She is the author of the upcoming book Indispensable: How to Succeed at Your First Job and Beyond. She is also an Executive Coach and Facilitator with the International Coach Federation. Previously, she worked for Bain & Company for fifteen years. She holds a BA from Yale University and an MBA from the Stanford GSB. While Meredith herself is not a Veteran, her wife is a West Point graduate and former Army Officer and MedEvac Blackhawk Pilot.
Meredith, while not a Veteran, went through a similar career transition in her own life. This caused her - over the course of 10 years - to write her first book, Indispensable. This book covers many topics relevant to career transition: preparing for interviews, evaluating your options, identifying your professional and personal values, and more.
Dr. Glover is the author of the book, No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Proven Plan For Getting What You Want in Love, Sex and Life. The New York Times has called him a “psychology guru”. In his 30+ year career he has worked with me in one-on-one therapy, group environments, online course, podcasts, and more. Dr. Glover has helped change the lives of countless men and women around the world. As a result of his work, Dr. Glover has helped thousands of Nice Guys transform from being passive, resentful victims to empowered, integrated males. Along with these personal changes have come similar transformations in these men's professional careers and intimate relationships.
Many of the Veterans I have interviewed on the show talk about the transition they face in their civilian career of having to put their needs first and shift their priorities. This often comes at odds to their previous training of putting their team, unit, and country far ahead of their personal needs. While this is an adjustment, it is crucial for Veterans to be able to identify their personal values and look out for their own needs. Dr. Glover is a leading expert in what he calls "the Nice Guy syndrome" and people who have similar problems to this.
Donnie works at ConsenSys in the Office of the Founder. ConsenSys is a blockchain venture production studio. Our global team is building an ecosystem of consumer-centric products and enterprise solutions using blockchain technologies, primarily based on Ethereum. Donnie started out at West Point, served as an Army Intelligence Officer for 5 years, attended Harvard Business School, and has worked at Google, Qualtrics, and Future Finance.
Donnie works at the largest, pure blockchain company in the world. Not only is this an exceptional overview of the blockchain and cyrpto currency space, but Donnie covers a lot of ground related to pay post-military, work-life-harmony, the importance of sales, explaining your role to a civilian hiring manager and more.
Stephen Huber is the President of Home Care Providers, a premier integrated home healthcare services company in Southern California. Headquartered in Orange County, Home Care Providers provides world class private duty home care services to seniors throughout the Southern California region. By providing these services they create a viable alternative to traditional institutionalized care, allowing clients to remain safely in the comfort of their own home.
Stephen started out at the Naval Academy, served as a helicopter pilot for 11 years - 9 years on active duty and 2 years in the Reserves. He has worked as a sales representative, consultant, and contractor. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Hector Rosekrans is the Director of Policy and Operations at Messari, which is building an open data library to enhance transparency for the cryptoasset industry. Prior to joining Messari, Hector worked at JP Morgan in capital markets operations and technology, where he researched tokenized securities for the Broker Dealer and Custodian. He developed a proof of concept smart contract for asset management on an Ethereum-based enterprise platform. Hector served as an Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy, and has worldwide operational experience. He holds an MPP from UC Berkeley, where he studied cybersecurity and strategic deterrence, and a BSc from the US Naval Academy.
This is the second interview I've done about Blockchain and Crypto currency. It's a great primer on this technology as well as operations and startups. Hector is great at explaining each of these, as well as how he got his first job through Twitter! He also talks about why Veterans may have an unfair advantage in the emerging blockchain space.
On May 27, 2018, Service to School hosted a free weekend conference for the military community. I joined on two different panels, the second of which is presented here. The audio quality is not great, but the content is exceptional. This panel covers a variety of support services available to Veterans.
Killjan Anderson is the Executive Director at the Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization that unites and empowers remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. He started his career in the United States Air Force, where he served for over 21 years, retiring as a Command Chief Master Sergeant. He holds an MBA from the Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, and a B.S. in Management from the University of Maryland University College.
Kill not only has an incredible story of his own transition from the Air Force, but he is also the Managing Director of one of the preeminent Veteran support organizations - the Pat Tillman Foundation. We discuss his advice on career, passion, approaching a transition as a process rather than an event, the Pat Tillman Foundation and much, much more.
On May 27, 2018, Service to School hosted a free weekend conference for the military community. I joined on two different panels, the first of which is presented here. The audio quality is not great, but the content is exceptional. The panel was with a variety of Veterans with MBAs to discuss whether or not they would recommend other Veterans to pursue an MBA. Here's who was on the panel:
Andy Chan works at Wake Forest as Vice President for Innovation and Career Development. He oversees The Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) which is creating a supportive university-wide career community designed to empower and equip students to successfully navigate their path from college to career. Previously, he was the assistant dean and director of the MBA Career Management Center at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Before joining Stanford, he served as president and CEO of eProNet, an online recruiting and career network based on exclusive relationships with university alumni associations. Earlier, he was president and CEO of MindSteps, a corporate education software start-up. He has extensive executive leadership and career coaching experience as well as business experience in venture-backed start-ups, The Learning Company, The Clorox Company and Bain & Company. He earned his BA and MBA from Stanford University.
This episode is a quick update on some upcoming episodes, as well as a BIG thank you to all of you for help Beyond the Uniform reach two major milestones: we flew past 80,000 podcast listens at the start of this month, and we also are now the #1 Rated iTunes podcast for military career transition advice. Thanks for your help getting here!
Nic Gray is the founder of Graypoint Ventures, a Franchise Development Group bringing fresh, innovative and demand-driven concepts to the marketplace. He started his career working for franchise development groups when he was 19 and then served in the Army, where he served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in Platoon Communications for 4 years. Since then he has founded four different companies.