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Tag Archives: Career Development

20150110_172457_Richtone(HDR)We are making the same mistake with returning Vets as we made in Iraq the first time.  We failed to promote the better option.

No 22 push-ups for me, no challenges, just actual work.  All of the foundations do enough awareness and believe me, there are enough egos behind the initiatives.  The awareness, beyond fundraising, can be doing more harm than good if you ask some epidemiologists, as highlighted by Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point”.  Find a brief review of the concepts here in the New York Times.

We hear PTSD and suicide as if they are near synonymous… and I will say the word or claim of PTSD is over used and overly romanticized.  PTSD is not a disorder, it’s a natural human response to exposure of a reality that we hope most will never know.  Beyond that, the knowledge is a burden that must be carried.  It’s not treated; rather learned to live with.  But, I’m not focusing on PTSD.  I want to focus on romanticizing the suicide rate and victimizing.

Want to actually impact the suicide rate for Vets?  Give them something better to do, a better option.  Show them they haven’t lived through the best part of their life.  Give them expectations, not excuses.  Just like American Military Generals recognized, one of the primary mistakes made in Iraq was failure to build an infrastructure after taking Baghdad.  An Iraqi is less susceptible to be convinced to become a suicide bomber, or be bought as a soldier, or fear their family starving, if they have a sustainable way of life, an income, and a contributing role in their community.

Don’t give Vets hand-outs, sympathy and aimless “hugs”.  They all have a time and place, but are not the solutions alone or collectively.   Put the Vets to work and demonstrate their impact and purpose that is still ahead of them.  Sometimes that means giving them expectations.  Sometimes that means giving them the chance to fail.  All the time it means guiding them to understand how they are translating and demonstrating themselves to others, and most of the time that means equipping them with a meaningful career path.

There is no, single correct career path for any person, Veteran or otherwise.  But with Veterans, going from a role of indescribable purpose, to a role where you aren’t sure if you have a purpose anymore, or if you add value, or if you can provide for your loved ones… it’s tough.  Add the burden of knowing what it really means to have friends, to love, and to sacrifice.  They know what it means, and why it is so important to put others before self.

No good gripe or complaint is worth it without a suggestion.  What’s my suggestion?  Spend less time romanticizing the visible symptom and create a solution for the source.  How do I do that?  Well, I chose to be a part of Four Block; we work on career development for Veterans.  Not a two day, or two hour workshop where we forget about you after.  Not a once a month phone call or Skype.  But a comprehensive, content retaining, and impactful, LONG-TERM solution to promoting successful transitions of Military Veterans into productive members of society.

They say idle time is the devil.  Well, idle ambition is a death sentence.  Let’s focus less on romanticizing the excuses, focus on holding each other accountable for desired expectations and reminding us all that we have a purpose.  Change the narrative.

As is always the case with my articles here on LifebyDamien.com – views and thoughts are my own, and I welcome yours in the comments as well!

 

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2015 In Review

It got lengthy, so my review of 2015 is at the bottom – but let’s summarize to say, I effectively completed 3 of 5 goals with some caveats.  I also completed… NONE of my bucket list.  At least none of the planned bucket list items.  Of the 9 bucket list items, I may have loosely filled one.  My career and priorities took a shift in 2015, which did leave less time and focus for recreational bucket-list items (there goes that whole “Balance” convo).  As far as balance goes, I’ll side with NYC’s most connected CEO, Hank Greenberg.  Feel free to read through Four Block’s Twitter feed for reference.

Also – in an effort to ensure I am writing, and thoroughly thinking through my goals and bucket list for 2016, I am only going to review 2015 in this post.  I’ll be sure to follow up with a list of Goals and a Bucket List for 2016 to which you can hold me accountable.

Unplanned Accomplishments in 2015

Sunset AheadIt is important to make goals – even at the risk of setting goals you fail to accomplish.  It can only do two things.  First, it sets you up with a small dose of ambition & focus to accomplish something.  Second, after measuring what was/wasn’t accomplished you can take a look at how your ACTIONS have demonstrated your priorities and how well that lines up with what you verbalize (New managers should really take note and think about that last line – because your direct reports certainly will).

There are many goals and bucket list items that I did not accomplish in 2015.  I did find that my aspiration to obtain them had an impact on making other – unpredicted accomplishments.  Here are some of mine that I don’t reference in my review:

  • Built a Bar height Table using with reclaimed wood. It was fun, although I wouldn’t call it a “large wooden furniture piece”.  I did get to work with epoxy for the first time.
  • Bought Road Bike – Started cycling (lightly). I never thought I would, but cycling has been a great addition for me, and my family.  It allows me to burn a couple calories while ensuring my kids stay active.  It’s a personal development activity, and can also be a family activity.
  • Public Speaking events. It may not sound humble, but I get SUCH a thrill doing speaking events.
    • SVA NatCon 2015 – Lucky enough to be on the Campus Culture Panel with Michael Stack of the SVA and MOH recipient Kyle Carpenter, all while in front of 1200 amazing Veterans.
    • Tri-State National Diversity Council – it was an inaugural event, and I was able to speak as the keynote on Diversity and Veterans.
    • UCONN EBV – Networking for Veterans. This was similar to the role I fill now, but such a humbling experience to be asked to teach “Networking for Veterans” at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at the University of Connecticut.
  • Christmas Presents for Kids.  A misnomer, but a big deal.  Not a big deal to get them presents, but to actually know what they are interested in and if the presents would be enjoyed.  Learning how to be present as a Dad and Husband is something I have to actively work on.  When gift time comes, my wife sends me a list of ideas for herself (at my request) and she lets me know what “we” got the kids for Christmas.  This year, I was much more active in identifying appropriate gifts.  With 9 of our 11 years of marriage taking place while I was in the military, I wasn’t held accountable for being present.  So I guess that’s part of the transition process.

2015 Bucket List (in review):

I did not buy a small fishing boat – but that was a matter of priorities.  Instead, we spent the money on house renovations.  It increased the value of our home, and gave me something to do that required craftsmanship.  I’ve completed all of our home renovations, personally.

I also did not build a large wooden furniture item.  I did however, refinish our kitchen cabinets where I gained experience with more miter saw work and trim-detailing.

For the remaining list of my failed bucket list items – take a look at 2014’s Review and 2015 goals here.

2015 Goals:

Record & Complete One full Song (INCOMPLETE)  Well, that’s the short way to say it – I just didn’t get this done.  To be honest, I think I probably spent less than 20 hours TOTAL, in the entire year, working on any sort of musical production (unless singing while driving counts…?).  This was a goal that was carried over from 2015 as well… this may be a sign, that I have not actively made it a priority.  I won’t be carrying this goal into 2016.

Return to a Committed Philanthropic Role (with Transitioning Veterans) (COMPLETE) Well – I nailed this, and further out of the park than I could have imagined.  As of April 2015, I didn’t just return to a volunteer role – I left “Wall Street” and took on the role as Program Director for Four Block Foundation in New York City.  It’s a 501(c)3 organization that (if I may say so myself) is the premier organization changing the Veteran narrative and increasing the success of transitioning Veterans entering corporate America.  Make no mistake about it, Four Block is effecting the lives of many Veterans, and is influencing the future of our nation’s business leaders.

Run the Spartan Trifecta 2015, Tough Mudder 2015 x2 (INCOMPLETE)  Peaks and valleys, right?  I only ranTough Mudder Wall - Cropped one Spartan race, and that was a Sprint – no big challenge there.  I also only ran Tough Mudder once – compared to my “x2” goal.  With my move to Four Block I was able to make a fund-raising event of the Tough Mudder – and I will be looking forward to doing so again in 2016, so keep an eye out!

Confirm Education and Professional Value Building Plan (COMPLETE* with caveats). NYU Subway Well, my move to Four Block has done a lot.  It’s made me feel the most satisfaction with my career that I have had since taking off the uniform.  In a way, it’s what a friend and incredibly ambitious and inspiring fellow Veteran once coined as “getting my ‘give a damn’ back”.  Having a sense of purpose is like consuming the energy drink that Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster all wish they could develop.  It’s a surge of “get’r dun” that flows through you.  But to address the goal – I’ve began my MBA at NYU Stern, I’ve actively sought responsibility at Four Block that takes me OUT of my comfort zone as a professional- and I am seeing responsibility and empowerment to complete my role as a regional/city director that is far more encompassing than I had in my previous role (and I enjoyed my previous role – but it just doesn’t compare).

Get promoted and/or apply to AND Take on an advanced role (COMPLETE* with a twist).  Well, I’ll leave the nuances where they belong – but in order to see the promotion, growth, development and load of responsibilities that come with it – I moved externally.  As a career coach and advisor, sometimes that is the move to make.  We have ambitious goals at Four Block – which I fully intend to promote.  Looking at our stake-holders, they deserve nothing less.

 

Happy New Year – and Keep Achieving!

LinkedIn Sign

Every college graduate, and every transitioning Veteran (hopefully) face a million dollar question before finding their first job after college or the military:  “What kind of career do I want?”

It seems that many times instead of answering that question, time, demand, opportunity (or lack thereof), and pride result in the answering of a substitute question: “What job can I get that pays enough?”

Today, Four Block Veterans visited LinkedIn and heard from LinkedIn employees mixed of both Veterans and Non-Veterans.  The first theme – no brainer: They all loved working at LinkedIn.  I was happily surprised to hear two different, yet consistent and related themes.

The panel all discussed what they enjoyed about working at LinkedIn, and they all described the things they like by comparing it to the things they didn’t like at previous companies.  I should point out, that half or more, worked at rather big named companies previously – companies that many of our Vets, and college grads would hope to work at.  In making the comparison and exposing the contrasting company cultures – it was enlightening to see what came up.

All of the panelists described an empty feeling they had while at previous employers, that has been filled while at LinkedIn.  While there may be many reasons for why they feel, well, filled – it seems all agree it’s the culture of inclusion, creative thought, and ambitious greatness all tied together with enjoying the people they spend most of their waking hours with.  They all also noted – while I am confident they all make fair wages – that their initial concerns of wages upon finding their first job may have misled them to their first companies and ultimately the empty feelings they had before joining LinkedIn.

We heard a lot of great things from the panel, and are incredibly grateful for all of the panelists to take their time to share their experience with our Four Block students.

As the economy, or more importantly the labor market, begins to shift in favor of the employee, keep in mind that you should make no substitutions when answering your million-dollar career question:

What kind of career do I want and what do I need to get out of it?

It’s no secret that in today’s global economy, if you are not improving you are losing.  So if nothing else, you must be moving forward or in the general direction you aspire to go.

When guiding discussions about establishing “SMART” goals for students, transitioning Vets, or professionals I like to use the GPS analogy…  When using a gps, you must input the address in order to get directions to your destination.  With all the technology in the world, you still can’t arrive at your destination without identifying it.  Well, I’d like to add that – you don’t have the luxury of delaying your decision of where to go.  Actually, you HAVE to be driving… in some direction…At some speed until you can decide on a destination.

So… what happens when you are behind the wheel of a bus, that can’t slow down and you have no destination?  Well Sandra, stopping is not an option.  Thus, the title of this post… and what happens now?  What for those who have identified that you “don’t know what you want to be when you grow up” but have a career started?  You can’t stop the bus, but if you don’t identify your destination soon, you may be traveling in the opposite, or at least wrong, direction until you do.

Typically I like to propose a feasible solution or recommendation each time I highlight a conflict or hurdle.  This time, I don’t have one… or at least not a good one.  You might want to find your Keanu Reeves, a mentor, or an outside perspective that can help you get on course – before things blow up.

This week’s article is less of an article and more about a reflection.  As a part of my career development and transition into the “civilian” world after 9-years of Active Duty military service, I have been doing my best to review and evaluate the actions I have taken that provided the most assistance and value as a part of the transition process.

As some of you already know, I am passionate about marketing, about the constant problem solving it requires.  There is always something to be solved, inferred, and identified.  Always brainstorming, and always learning.  I love it. I feel more and more passionate about Marketing, Public Relations, and the psychology behind it all.  Marketing isn’t just knowing who to sell to…  it’s about knowing people, or persons, and specifically individual persons.  My continuous study in marketing and human behavior has led to a recent fascination in profiling.  Profiling itself is a subject for its own discussion, but the idea behind it is still so exciting.

Marketing isn’t just knowing how to make someone think they want what you have to offer… it’s actually offering what people really want while providing increasingly demanded value, and superior quality.

Below is an “Occupational Analysis” I wrote as I was graduating from CSU San Marcos with a B.S. in Business Administration.  I keep it, in printed copy with a binder I refer to as my, “Portfolio” which I completed, and others can do so as well, by following the Trek Tasks in Troy Nielson’s helpful and easy to follow career development book, “Career Trek: The Journey Begins“.  It sheds light into both objective analysis and personal, psychological benefits I find in the marketing profession, as well a some of my own personal insights on what Marketing means to me.

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