Don’t “Support” Veteran hiring….

Actually Hire Veterans!  

Okay, the headline was meant to get you to read more.  Sometimes I hate those teasers, especially when it’s on FB or Twitter.  They usually lead to some lame reference to what’s actually in the article or it’s so chock full of ads that I go home, so I get it.  Bear with me…

I spent 24 years of my life in uniform and I’ve spent the better part of the past 15 years helping my family in uniform transition successfully from the military.  Not that they need my (or yours for that matter) charity, but they sure could use “The Gouge”.

For those not from a military background, gouge is the key information that will get you from point A to point B with the minimal amount of hassle, trouble etc, without all the BS.

In this instance, the “gouge” is focused on how to get past the BS and understand how these highly motivated, disciplined and trained warriors can translate their experience and build their new career… or just get a job…. They just want to know the rules…

Yes, it is a far cry from Vietnam when most of America shunned, ignored or spit on returning Veterans, let alone wanted to hire them.  That also led to a decade of innovation, new discoveries as those returning Heroes integrated into the mainstream.  Today however, there is an overabundance of companies that are “Veteran Friendly“, yet in many instances they are only trying to take advantage of the available public perception, social media and other PR available by claiming, but not actually doing, any hiring of Veterans.  Equally confusing, equally ineffective.

There ARE some great companies (Start Up to Fortune 100) that have committed the time, money and resources to leverage this valuable asset.

What They Did:

  • They took the time to evaluate what talent they needed to be successful in the next 10 years.
  • They  evaluated what branches/pay grades/military specialties might fit.
  • They focused on the critical skills that are difficult to teach, leadership, discipline, courage.
  • They committed resources to align their greatest talent needs with the appropriate Enlisted and Officer job categories.
  • They educated their managers, their staff.
  • They focused on what they needed and could leverage
  • They communicated to those Veterans.
  • And they found success because they HIRED VETERANS!

See the business truth in it all is that there IS a $ value in hiring a Veteran.  They will typically save 50% on training costs (they learn FAST),  they will understand that sometimes there is 80% grunt work and 20% glory (Employee Engagement).

Bottom Line:  Turnover will be less, your operations will improve and you will gain more profit.

That said, not all the MOS, NEC, or Officer Occupational Codes are going to align perfectly with your business.

If you are a highly focused company in a particular industry and you’ve done your research, and there’s not a fit, then don’t claim that your are looking for Veterans.   Just put a US flag on your website, donate to Operation Restored Warrior or some other avenue that supports Veterans and feel good about it.  It will result in a heckuva alot more sales than “playing the game” and creating a steeper, darker climb for Veterans….

Keep an open mind, your business will change, grow, need different skills.  Maybe those of someone coming out of the military.

Don’t “Support” Veteran Hiring…….

Support Veterans….


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Why You Should Always Be Interviewing….

As A Company of One, you owe it to yourself (and your stakeholders) to be on the look out for opportunities to advance your career, expand your industry or professional knowledge or create awareness for yourself and your professional brand.

If you wait until your current employer (primary customer) is no longer satisfied with your results, needs to reduce costs or goes out of business, you are way too late.   Regardless of whether you are currently employed or not, you should evaluate every opportunity you come across until either you decide to move forward or decline an offer.

I’ve talked with hundreds of people who tell me that they are frustrated at work or feel like their career has taken a turn for the mundane.   I’ll ask them if they are looking around, or if they have a list of companies they are targeting for their next “great job”.   After the crickets stop chirping, they’ll hem and haw, mumble something about “things are going okay”, or “needing to be more proactive and network” (ugh… see my blog on NetLearning).  Sometimes they’ll tell me that they  get calls from recruiters and that some of the companies or positions sound interesting but they don’t pursue them because they don’t know anything about the company or they are afraid their boss might find out.

How do you know if a company is as “cool” as it’s brand, has real potential for long term growth or offers career growth opportunities if you don’t interview?

What they don’t realize is that if they are a consistently productive and engaged team member and their employers discover they are “prospecting”,  their employers will be more interested in discovering ways they can keep them.   You owe it to yourself and your career to consistently evaluate the competitive landscape, identify potential employers (customers) and engage with them to see if there is long term opportunity for you.

When a corporate or agency recruiter is calling you about a position, there’s a reason!  They either have a job order to fill and need qualified and interested candidates, or they are building their network of potential candidates for future job orders.

Either way, whether you are happy in your current role or not.  Instead of hiding out in your office,  do what every successful sales person does, even when they are on target to reach their goals.

  • TAKE THE CALL…. Just like a first date, the initial call is just to get to know each other, you don’t have to go straight to the church!  Even if the company the recruiter is pitching you on isn’t on your current short list, how do you know if they shouldn’t be?  It’s just a phone call.  Let them tell you about the company and the opportunity.  Tell them about your experience, what you are working on, why you might be interested in a new gig.  Ask them pointed (but professional) questions about their growth, culture etc…
  • EXPLORE…. If the opportunity isn’t right, or you just aren’t interested in the company, thank them for considering you.  If you know of someone that might be interested, tell them.  But, if they think you might be a good fit and it seems interesting to you, then you owe it to yourself to agree to a confidential interview.
  • QUALIFY… Either side of the table can decide it’s not a good fit at any point, for whatever reason… It’s not failure, you both are just exploring potential.  You may discover that they are working on a new innovation in your industry, they may find out you have a skill set that’s not on your resume.   If so, keep dancing.
  • BE PREPARED TO SAY NO…(professionally).  Just because you go to an interview doesn’t mean you have to pack your bags.  Before you go, you should do as much research as possible and be prepared to ask thoughtful, but direct questions about the company, interviewer, position, growth, culture, potential issues etc.
  • MAYBE LATER….You may find out that the company is in trouble, it’s a sweat shop and the culture kills or that the position is a dead end…. If so, tell them, but let them know you appreciated the opportunity to learn more.  Who knows if you may dance again…

OK, so I’m not saying you should be asking for time off every week to go show your wares to every one who whistles.  But your Company of One can stagnate and die, or it can continue to stretch and grow.

Know what your next great position looks like. When someone asks, take the call.  Explore and Learn.  Demonstrate your ability, but qualify them. Be prepared to say no (or yes).

Whether you decide to stay where you are or accept a new opportunity,  you can best understand your potential market and position your Company of One for success by being flexible and prepared to always be interviewing.


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Climbing a Mountain….

Sawnee Mountain

Not sure why I needed to come here today, only know that I did. Perhaps I needed to get away, get above the crazy, busy world and just be… So i climbed. Its really not that far of a walk, but the mountain seemed tall, the top far away. A little like life I guess. We all want to be at the top of the mountain don’t we? See the view, experience the peace, wonder in the majestic beauty, be closer to God.

We see them, maybe even climbed a few, know the feeling of being at the top…. We know the trail can be rough, maybe there’s no path and we’d have to make one, and it can seem like our progress is slow….

So sometimes, we don’t climb, we play it safe… But the mountains still call to us, to each of us…with the vision and the song of all that we can be…

I came today because I wanted to talk to God about the mountain I wanted to climb. As I climbed I thought about all that was weighing on my heart, clouding my soul… I climbed, thinking about what I would say. I couldn’t wait to get there, I could see the top the whole way….

And then there I was, at the top of this mountain… the world laid out before me…and I was speechless.

I listened, I sang, I laughed and I cried. I came to talk, but I could only hear Him…

I wanted to climb my mountain, He told me to climb His…


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Maybe I’ve got it wrong

I believe we are here for a purpose. Something more than just existing, more than just day to day. Maybe I’ve got it wrong.

Maybe we want it to be more, to find somehow the world, is a bit better because we passed through, that it wasn’t just about what we achieved, where we went to school, how much money we made. But we get lost in others vision of success, and see it through their eyes…

Maybe though, we find that God has other plans, that the job you were given to do, the impact you make is in the day to day mundane. So we fight back and try to make it all align. Chase dreams we know are unfulfilling deny the gifts to reap in valued rewards.

Big, little , small or huge, the impact, the impact is not who you are, but what you do.

Listen to your heart, don’t deny it’s longings. If you are a high powered executive but spend your free time writing music… Let go of the trappings of success and be successful at being you and let the world hear the rhythm of your heart.

I guess I’ve learned ( or have I?) that you can fight who you are and you can do what you want to do, until you wake up one day and realize it’s time to do what you were meant to do…

A friend once told me, you can get fired from jobs, but you can’t get fired from the job God called you to do… But maybe I’m wrong….


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Insanity in Job Search

Continuing to do the same things and expecting to get different results.

In my discussions with people in transition, I usually start with asking how their search is going. Most times the answer is “I’m sending out lots of resumes but not getting any responses.” I’ll usually dig a little deeper and ask about the jobs applied to, the companies etc. More often than not, they don’t know anything about the company or the job, just that it was online and they applied.

Ask any career coach and they will (well, they should) say that a targeted approach may take more effort, but it will produce the best results. So why do we continue to do the same things in our job search over and over again that go nowhere and expect to get different results? Insanity….

Activity vs action
While sending out hundreds of resumes to job postings provides instant gratification, and we sense we are “doing something” every time we hit send on our computer, Wouldn’t it be better to “get something done”?

Decide first what companies you are targeting, what positions you qualify for and that you can truly add value to and take action to get there instead of spending your time on “activities” that merely give you the sense of accomplishment instead of producing results.

1. Decide Who your target companies are.
2. Determine if they hire people with your particular set of skills and experience
3. NetLearn- find people you know who know about the company and try to discover more about what they need in a particular role or if it really is a company you want to work for
4. Follow up – don’t wait for them to call you, if you do you’ll wait forever.
5. Every day ask yourself “What’s the one action you can take today that will get you closer to your dream job?”

You can fill your day with easy activity or make one focused move toward your next great career move and “Stop the Insanity”


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I’m the Best I Can Be

Wow, has it really been 2 years since I wrote here?  I can’t believe it and yet it seems appropriate… Over the past 2 years, I’ve experienced an enormous amount of growth, personally, professionally, emotionally and perhaps most importantly spiritually.  But nothing compares to the lessons I learned in my first few years in the Navy.

Early in my life, I was just another somebody, from somewhere.  Nothing really special, just a regular guy.  I had my own share of issues as we all do.  I was always the shortest one in my class, often picked last for pickup games of baseball, challenged to try harder, run faster, just never quite making the cut.  I did okay though cause at the end of the day, I was a cut up, and the few friends I had liked me because I made people laugh.  I performed in the choir, acted on the stage but I wasn’t the lead singer or actor…. Reality was I didn’t want to work that hard. Do I regret it?  Hmm.  Maybe a different post.  But I did seem to regularly find myself wherever the action was.  Truth is, I wanted to be the best, but I didn’t want to pay the price.  I wanted to be famous, to be liked, to discover some magical formula that would launch me from my very humble beginnings to a place where I was the star.

I graduated at the exact middle of my class of over 600…. average as they come.  Nothing spectacular, nothing hideous, just average.  I got accepted to a school that at the time was one of the most respected theater schools in the country.  Should have been the launching pad for what my heart yearned to do, entertain.  And yet, there I sat in my mom’s house, 1 month from school starting, with a $500 scholarship from the county sheriff’s department (yet another post), wondering how I was going to pay for school knowing I never applied for financial aid, scholarships, grants or even loans…..

Then the phone rang.  “Hey dude, I just joined the Navy”.  And the light went off.  Now I had an out.  My dad always talked about how much he loved the Navy, had a great time seeing the world, cavorting in foreign ports, climbing strange mountain peaks, getting chased by Italian girls fathers.  I said “Hmmm, maybe that’s my ticket, how hard could it be?”

So the next day I headed down to the Navy recruiters office.  I can still hear the jingle of the bell when I opened the door, like out of some old movie.  “Whaddya want?” barked the salty old 2nd class behind the desk.  I want to join the Navy!  I tried to sound sure of myself, tried not to sound like the scared shitless 17 year old that I was.  I had no other options at the time (so I thought), I just wanted out of every small town I had lived in.  “When can you leave” he asked.  “Today!” I said.

Well it turned out that it would take a couple of weeks of paperwork and then off to the central recruiting station for physicals, testing and all that poking and prodding that the military likes to do.  I remember sitting at the detailers desk trying to pick the job I would have, flipping one page at a time, looking at the jobs….. mechanics, boatswains mates, aircraft electricians.  This wasn’t going to be easy.  I asked if I could call my Dad.  They said sure.  So I called him long distance on their phone (this was pre iphone, cellphone or even internet).  We sat there for an hour and a half, talking about what each job did.  As my Dad got excited about some specific job, I’d counter with “But I have to wait, I want to go NOW!”.  One in particular kept coming up…. “What about the Antisubmarine Warfare (AW) one where you get to jump out of helicopters?”.  “Dad, it’s July and I can’t leave for boot camp then until April…, what if I take this thing called Aviation Apprentice?  The recruiter says once I go through that and get to my ship I can apply to go to the AW school.  Truly the pause must have been an hour at least (or a few seconds).  “Son, you do what you want, but if you don’t get an A school before you go to boot camp, don’t come home”.   WTF?

So fortunately, given my test scores (I always did well on standardized tests) and my physical exam, I was all set to go to boot camp in April 1983.  That was just yesterday wasn’t it?

I still had that scholarship, so I spent a not so illustrious semester at the University of Northern Iowa, getting involved in as much theater as I could muster, managed to work my way into the chorus of “The Mikado” and as I remember it pissed off the Director of the department after a dramatic performance when I told him I was leaving in the spring to join the Navy.

You see, even then, even though I was your run of the mill teenager, with little direction or focus, things seem to always work out for me.  Even though there were few things that could hold my attention for very long, sooner or later I’d find some other new “dream” to follow, some new path to explore and off I went.

So April came and off to boot camp I went.  I remember distinctly pulling up to the big processing station in downtown Chicago with my dad, and as weird as this may sound, I remember that the curb was really high.  (why that matters who knows).  But I’ll never forget what my dad said to me. “The Adventure Begins”.  I didn’t think much of it then, and truthfully probably not for a really long time, but later, and of course now, it means the world to me.

Through the onboarding process and off to boot camp.  Everything, and I mean everything was a test. Marching, folding clothes, waking up, getting here, going there… everything had to be done just a certain way.  Push ups, sit ups, pull-ups, swimming, running you name it.  Well I found theater in high school because at 5’4″ and 95 lbs dripping wet, so I wasn’t your over the top athlete.  But what I had was a lifetime of being the little guy who was told he couldn’t.  Couldn’t make the team, I was too small, too slow, too thin you name it, I was probably not the guy.  But as the weeks wore on, I decided somewhere in all those tests that I was going to show them all, show myself that I COULD be that guy.

I passed all my tests….physical, mental, psychological you name it.  Except one.  It turns out I couldn’t pass the color vision test, at least not consistently.  So off to the flight surgeon I went.  Test after test after test.  And finally they sent me to Glenview Naval Air Station for one more chance.  Fail and I go home with my tail between my legs, flunking out of the Navy.  The Doc gave me a few of the same tests I had taken with the same result, some I passed, some I failed.  I could tell he was getting as frustrated as I was.  Finally he said, “Ok son, this is it”.  “This test is definitive, if you pass you’re in, if not your out”.  I had to place 10 little circles of various colors in order of changing shade”.  I was sweating, and I was praying.  When I was finished, he looked up and said, “Well, you are definitely color deficient, but that’s good enough for the government and it’s good enough for me”

I MADE IT!  Or so I thought.  After graduation, I went off to Aircrew School in Pensacola for Aircrew training.  If you have seen “An Officer and a Gentleman” it’s a lot like that.  Everyone of the instructors main goal in life is to make yours miserable, to make you quit, make YOU decide that you really didn’t want it bad enough.  Somewhere along that grinder, or on a long run on the beach, I found something within myself that decided that I was not going to quit, that no matter what they did to me, I was going to keep going, keep pushing, no matter how hard, I was going to make it.  And I did.

Once I graduated, I thought I finally made it only to find that AW technical school was the other end of the spectrum, stretching my mental ability to understand oceanography, submarine acoustic characteristics, memorize russian submarines.  I’m no rock but I barely could push myself to graduate high school much above a C average let alone learn to track submarines!  My God, how much more could there be?  But I persevered, I studied harder than I ever had, because by God I would not quit.

Then, like many of my classmates, I got selected for Search and Rescue (SAR) school in a far away land called Coronado California.  I wanted to go jets, cause that seemed cooler, (and easier), but God wouldn’t have it.  So despite my grumblings, I shipped off to North Island and checked into HC-1 SAR School and what would be the defining period of my career.

You see, i was still one of the smallest guys in my group, I wasn’t a former high school athlete, wasn’t endowed with spectacular physical ability, but I guess now I realize that through all the trials I faced through the training so far, I had developed something more important, the desire to be the best I can be and and understanding that I could take a lot more than ANYONE could dish out.

When I checked in to SAR School, I remember the instructors filing in for indoc, the last being Master Chief Navy SEAL Mark Kauber.  To a little guy like me, he seemed like a giant.  For the next 6 weeks, they all pushed us harder, farther and faster than any of us had every gone before.  I hurt, everywhere, in places I can’t even remember, and there were times when I thought this is BS, but I stayed, I pushed and pushed, one step, one more pool evolution closer to graduating and thought I was almost there.  Then came the 1500 meter swim.  The day before the test, the heater went out in the pool (or didi it?).  Either way there we were standing in our soaking wet uniforms, freezing our N**s off and once we jumped in and started swimming it seemed like there was no way I was going to finish.   I swam with all I had, and with only a few laps to go, all of of a sudden I couldn’t feel my arms, my legs, my head.  I stopped at the shallow end and Doc Oldham came over and said “CMON!, keep going, only  a few more laps to go!”  So I made one more lap and then they pulled me out.  Holy Shit what now!   Well I got to go again and managed to pass.  Only to face “Hell Day” and final multiple rescue simulations.  Through all of it, every set of pushups, situps, pullups and dips, every set of what seemed like miles of swimming, I just kept thinking, “not me, I’m not quitting”, I want to be the best.  When those few of us who were left graduated, I remembered feeling like I had finally accomplished something, something I did, that no one, NOONE could ever take away, I learned that no matter how hard something seems, no how many times I might fail in others eyes, I would never ever quit on me.

That first year of my Navy career was the toughest and most rewarding time I’ve EVER had in my life.  There were more tests throughout my Navy career, and of course more to come in my civilian career, but none ever compared to those schools that asked me one question over and over and over, every day….. “Do you want to be the best, are you willing to pay the price, or do you want to take the easy way and just wish you had tried just a little harder?”

Being a SAR swimmer doesn’t make me a better man than others, doesn’t take away from the trials that others faced in their own lives and careers to make it where they are at whatever level.  But what it did make me sure of.  I won’t quit.  I may fail, but I won’t quit.   You may tell me I’m not as good, strong, fast, smart or successful as someone else, but you cannot tell me that I’m not the best I can be at any given moment.  I will work harder (and I’ve learned to work smarter) than any other guy, but most importantly, I found out that all of us, have one more ounce of effort to give.  We all have the ability, when faced with failure, to learn from our mistakes, to dig a little deeper, find something that drives us and moves one more step forward.

Today, I’m just a retired old salt, plenty of sea stories, some you’d believe and others I can’t share.  I’ve been fortunate to have a full career in the Navy, to make friends that are more like brothers and yes, I have seen the world.

After the Navy, I built a successful career in sales and marketing (without a degree), went to school at night and got a degree and now have built a very successful career in talent acquisition and HR (recruiting).

When I speak to groups about overcoming adversity, how I “reinvented” myself over and over again, I get asked how I did it, how I was able to overcome the odds.  I sometimes don’t even know what to say.  But after thinking about it, I remember that little guy on the playground who always seemed to get picked last, that skinny little guy, not nearly 100 lbs dripping wet, who found a way to be able to pull a guy twice his size through the water to safety and I just shrug my shoulders and say….. “I wanted to be the best I could be, so I decided that I wouldn’t quit”.

I’ve faced plenty of failures in my life and career and I’m certain I will face them again at times. And I’ll do then what I’ve learned to do, step back reassess and go again.  But I won’t quit.

I didn’t then, and I won’t ever……

So no matter what you want to be, no matter what you dream of doing, remember that what matters is not whether you fail, but whether or not you get back up, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward, whether you choose to quit or maybe, just maybe find that place in your heart that says “I’m not measured by what others do, or what they think, but I AM measured by what I think, no… I am measured only by that deep place in my heart that tells me, I have given it my all, everything…. and I’m the best I can be….


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Why Rocky Balboa is the Greatest Philosopher of our time….

Recently, I was watching the last installment of the Rocky series of movies, “Rocky Balboa” and after watching it I realized that “Rocko” (as Paulie called him) is probably one of the greatest philosophers of our time.  A simple guy, who sees things for the way they really are.  I’ve been surprised that more people aren’t aware of the great  lessons from the movie.

In our careers, early on we are full of dreams, we look for opportunity and we fight.  We face adversity and we overcome and find success. And then somehow, we lose sight of what got us to the top of our profession, we get complacent and stop fighting for the dream.  When we finally realize it, whether on our own or because the rest of the world seemed to pass us by, we find ourselves back where we started, and only then do we realize as Rocky says, that we “still have some stuff in the basement”, that we are not ready to just fade away.   We are ready to fight, ready to get back in the ring of life.   The desire to do more, be more than what our circumstances may indicate.

There is a very touching scene, when Rocky realizes that even though his circumstances may not be what he envisioned, that he still has some more stuff in the basement.

Sometimes in our careers, we feel just like Rocky, or even Paulie, where we realize we’ve been in one place so long that we forget about the “stuff”, the fire that drove us.  And even after we realize it and we are willing to fight to get it back that other people may not be ready for us to come back and want to limit what we can do…..

What is in your “basement”?  Has your Company of 1 grown complacent?  Have you realized that you may have let opportunities pass you by, that you had been living off of past glory and found yourself downsized, kicked to the side of your career market?

And now that you realize that you still have some fire left that you still have a mark you want to leave, more to achieve, more to contribute, does it seem like people around you are putting roadblocks in your way?

Rocky realized it, and in his simple way, sought to give himself the gift that noone else can give, and no one else can take away, the knowledge that if you have an idea, a dream a desire, you have to be willing to fight to make it come true.   It’s how he got to the top, and It’s not what others say, it’s not what others believe, it’s what you believe, and if you want what your worth then go get what your worth….

And yet, when so many tell us that it’s impossible, that we have to be realistic, we start believing it.  Then someone comes along and tells us what we already know, that we are who are, the gifts we have are things to be shared…

Whether you are a fighter, a carpenter, or an executive who finds themselves all of a sudden on the outside looking in on what used to be the career or the life you dreamed of, then go forward and be who you are, know your value and be willing to stand toe to toe with life, take the hits and believe you can….

If this is something you want to do, if this is something you got to do, then you do it…. fighters fight….

So what “stuff” is in your basement?  What fire still burns, however quietly, that is just waiting for you to stand toe to toe with life and fight?   Perhaps you’ve listened so long to others who have told you to be realistic, to face facts, that you are too old, too inexperienced, too anything that you stopped believing…..

“Let me tell you something you already know, life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  No one is going to hit you as hard as life….. but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep movin’ forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forward, THAT’S HOW WINNING IS DONE…” R. Balboa


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