Tag Archives: executive

Step Up for America – Apply Military Veteran Skill Sets To American Challenges

step up for America veteran

This Content Provided Courtesy of USAA.

A Pew Research Center report on post 9/11 veterans in America detailed both the pride and the problems that have faced the most recent generation of America’s veterans.  Despite a period of sacrifice that has gone on longer than the Vietnam War, the overwhelming majority of veterans are proud of their service and believe the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have made them better people.  Veterans have given a lot to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time that veterans revive the sacrifice they gave overseas and help solve the greatest challenges facing America.

America’s problems are enormous.  The challenges of unemployment, education, housing, innovation, government, economic revitalization, and business growth are not too big to be solved, but they are too big to continue to be disregarded.  Military veterans are the solution to be the vanguard to lead America through these challenges.

Why Veterans?  Veterans possess an intense ethical focus, they live leadership-by-example, and they have skills that immediately translate for use in a wide variety of industries.  Military veteran skill sets reside in planning, post completion problem analysis, the use of rehearsals, competitive analysis, team leadership, coaching, risk management, back up plans, war-gaming, and decision making.  These skill sets are desperately needed everywhere.

Here is how veterans can start to help:

Elected Office.  If you are feed up with government, then do something at the local and state level.  The local and state challenges of matching budgets with needs are an enormous challenge and require capable leaders.  You may not know it yet, but your PTA, city council, and state legislature needs your help.

Entrepreneurship.  All of the great business ideas are not already out there.  Businesses form around a group of people that have a way to satisfy an unmet customer need in a profitable fashion.  Do not worry about starting big.  Get a great idea, satisfy customers, be profitable, hire, and grow.  Believe in yourself and your ideas.

Healthcare, Education & Government.  Industries that help people such as Education, Government, Healthcare, and other services need great people.  Many of these industries have a 50+ average age and will see the start of a massive retirement book in 4-5 years.  Get in at the ground floor and help people that really need your skills.  Veterans know how to build teams, create a plan, lead, follow orders, and exercise initiative.

Higher Education.  The Post 9/11 GI Bill was the most positive piece of veteran focused legislation in decades.  Veterans in education need to focus on two things while using their GI Bill.  First, complete your education and help others do so.  Veterans not attaining their post-military education goals remain too high – help others stay in school and complete their degrees.  Second, focus your education on skills in technology, education, health care, business, science, engineering, and mathematics that will create a competitive edge for your future and the future of America.

Veteran Unemployment and Underemployment.  Veteran under employment remains shockingly high and no government program will have a significant and lasting impact on its reduction.  Even with high unemployment, businesses still hire people that show how they can grow revenue, solve operational problems, and reduce costs.  The military skills veterans have will help a company succeed.  Business needs to focus on how to translate and apply military skills to business in the areas of leadership, planning, competitive analysis, and safety.

Volunteer.  There continues to be an intense and ongoing need for after school programs, tutoring, food banks, homeless shelters, and job fairs to name only a few.  If you have time, volunteer to help others and help veterans succeed in their career transition.  The thanks of a child as you help them master a new book will be rewarded.

It Starts Today.  The country is extremely grateful for the service of veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also the previous generation of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Gulf War I, Bosnia, and Kosovo.  However, in these dire times, the country needs its veterans again.  There is not going to be any better day than today to start making the country better – it is up to veterans to start.  Veterans, you are the cavalry, now get going for America!

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

How A Bachelor Degree Can Improve Your Job Prospects

bachelor degree

This Content Provided Courtesy of USAA

The Bachelor degree is the starting point for succeeding in higher education and it is one of the most important steps that a person can take for a variety of important careers.

People With Bachelor Degrees Have Lower Unemployment. According to the US Department of Labor, a person with a Bachelor degree makes approximately twice as much as a high school graduate. Again according to the US Department of Labor, in 2016 and 2017 YTD, a high school graduate averages an unemployment rate a little over 5% and a bachelor degree graduate has a 2.5% unemployment rate. There are exceptions, but most workers with a Bachelor degree make twice as much as a person with a high school degree and have a drastically lower rate of unemployment.

Most Companies View A Bachelor Degree As A Requirement To Enter Management. The vast majority of both public and private companies and businesses see a bachelor degree as a minimum requirement to enter into the ranks of management. Naturally, industry experience, leadership skills, project management, and financial acumen are all a requirement to be a manager. A bachelor degree allows workers with the industry and company experience to enter the ranks of management.

A Bachelor Degree Creates A Professional Foundation To Learn New Concepts. One of the greatest benefits of any Bachelor degree from any field of study is that it creates a person that learns how to learn, one of the most critical skills to be successful in any field from business to healthcare to technology. The rate of change in the professional world is so fast today that the ability to understand that you do not understand everything, to conduct your own research and learning, and then to apply what you have learned is critical. A Bachelor degree significantly helps this ability to learn new concepts.

The Top Emerging Professions In The United States Require Bachelor Degrees. According to the US Department Of Labor, these are the top positions and the projected growth in jobs between 2014 to 2024.

They include: Registered Nurses, General and Operational Managers, Accountants and Auditors. Check out the list here: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t06.htm

The Post 9/11 GI Bill and Military Tuition Assistance Reduces the Financial Barriers to Higher Education. For active military and military veterans, the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance (TA) programs offer the ability to complete a degree with only a minimum or no student debt. These programs are incredible resources to obtain a Bachelor degree. Students who have access to these programs should ensure that they chose the best higher education institution in terms of retention rates, graduation rates, high student loan payback rates, and low tuition. Don’t pick your school based on how easy it is to access or what your friends say. Chose a school on what it will deliver to you and prove it with numbers, not the word of an enrollment counselor.

A Bachelor Degree Is Not The Only Way To Succeed. If you decide that a degree is not for you for whatever reason – fine. Look for growing, stable, and highly paid professions either as part of a labor union, construction, technology, or other entrepreneurial endeavors where you can have a high impact, personal reward, and a good paycheck.

A bachelor degree is one indicator of success. Obtaining your bachelor degree from an academic institution with strong academic outcomes, high graduation rates, and low student debt will ensure that you have the degree, passion, and purpose to drive your career to the next level.

Share Some Of Your Recommendations How a Degree Helped Your Career Goals.

Other Articles of Interest:

  1. How to Help a Young Person Choose a College
  2. How To Make Good Choices In Higher Education For Military Affiliated Students
  3. Six Tips for Finding a Value College to Complete Your College Degree

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

1.    5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT

2.    After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg

3.    Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB

4.    USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF

5.    USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x

6.    USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu

7.    USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS

8.    USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2RGp5

9.    USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

How Military Veterans Have Successful Job Interviews

How Military Veterans Have Successful Job InterviewsSponsored Content Courtesy of USAA

Planning for an effective military to civilian transition is one of the most vital things to do for an effective career, family, and financial transition.  Interviewing for a job can be a nerve wracking experience, if you are unprepared.  When prepared, interviews are the opportunity for you to show all that you have to offer a company and your potential colleagues.

Follow these tips to prepare for and have a successful interview.

  1. Practice Interviewing At Home & Record Yourself. Some of the best interview preparation that you can do is to use your phone to record your answers.  When you play back the recording, take notes to ensure that your responses are clear, you have a confident tone, and your body language is open, relaxed, and confident.  Recording and improving your interview responses is one of the best ways to improve interview skills.
  1. Dress for The Job You Want. Plan to attend an interview in professional and conservative business attire – a jacket, tie, dress shoes, and dress slacks.  Both men and women should wear professional and conservative business attire.  It is tempting to wear your uniform, but a professional employer wants to be able to see you in their organization, not as a soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen.  Ensure that the fit of your clothes is comfortable and you can breathe and move well.  Impeccable personal dress is a way to standout.
  1. Arrive Early, Hydrated, and Fed. Be at the interview location no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled time.  Arriving too early can make is awkward for the interviewers if they are interviewing separate candidates.  Ensure that you eat, hydrate with water, and have some (not too much) caffeine.  Then go to the bathroom 15 minutes before your interview starts.
  1. Know Where You Are Going & Where To Park. In the day of Waze and Google Maps it is much easier to get to where you need to be.  The best situation is to drive to your interview, learn where you need to park, and learn any special procedures to enter the building.  If you can’t do this ahead of time, then leave 30 minutes early to allow extra time to find everything.  Finally, use the WAZE app to route you around any accidents or construction.
  1. Have a Portfolio. Have extra copies of your resume, personal cards, a note pad, and several pens.  If you feel a work portfolio or work samples are essential, then bring copies, but hand them out after the interview is concluded.
  1. Be Prepared to Interview When Ever You Are At a Company or Career Fair. Be ready and able to have a 30-60-minute interview with a company.  If you make a great first impression, the company may want to interview right on the spot.
  1. Use The STARS Format To Answer Interview Questions.
  • Situation, Task, Action, Result, Skills (STARS)
  • Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.
  • Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.
  • Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.
  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.
  • Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).
  • Create 6-10 sentence answers to frequent questions on leadership, improvements, cost savings, and how you learned a new skill.
  1. Have Ten Common Interview Questions Memorized in Advance. Having ten great answers to standard interview questions is a terrific way to have an outstanding interview even if you are nervous.  The ten standard interview answers will reinforce other skill sets listed on your resume.  Remember, use the STARS format to create answers for all these questions.
  1. How does your background make you the ideal candidate for this position?
  2. Provide an example of how you lead a team to success on a project?
  3. Provide an example of how you taught a group a new skill? How did you measure the outcome?
  4. Describe an instance where your first project plan was not successful? What did you do to change the outcome?
  5. Give a detailed description of how you created an innovation and how did you convince others it was a promising idea? Why was it innovative?
  6. Describe an instance where you saved money or reduced cost for an organization. How did you go about implementing the change?
  7. How have you dealt with an unhappy customer? What did you do to make that customer happy and retain their business?
  8. Illustrate an instance where you had to deliver unwelcome news to your boss. How did you do it, what was the outcome, and what did you learn?
  9. Provide an example of how your military training will make you successful in this position. How do your military skills help make you an ideal candidate?
  10. What are three things that you would tell a candidate interested in this company about our products? How do our products make us superior to our competitors?

Having a powerful base of pre-prepared answers using the STARS format is the way to interview success.  Have a great interview!

Share some of your tips and interview preparation techniques.

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

How Disney World Took Lessons From The US Military

disney

The New York Times ran a detailed story on a new attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.  The new Disney Operational Command Center is everything that it sounds like.  A state-of-the-art, technology driven command center in a central, protected location that supervises everything in Disney World to ensure that theme parks guests, employee, and services run smoothly, effectively, and on time.  To a veteran, this news story about an Operations Center (OPCEN) seems like a “easy decision.”  An OPCEN?  There are probably several hundred military OPCEN’s operating globally, 24-7, and under combat conditions.  Why, when Walt Disney does it, this becomes a news story?

The Walt Disney Operational Command Center is news precisely because the adaptation of military concepts to civilian organizations is a vast and great unknown.  Today, Gulf War II veterans (primarily Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans) are less than 0.5% of the US population.  The US public knows very little of what the day-to-day military does; let alone how to adapt military skills and methods to their organizations.  The lack of public knowledge concerning the benefit military methods can and do bring to Disney and countless other organizations are a great advantage point for veterans in their career search and career advancement.

The essential point for a veteran is that they must weave the application of military skills into the organization’s culture and work processes.  The Walt Disney culture is all about teamwork, positive customer experience, authenticity of performers (workers) to their roles, safety, and efficiency in the face of growing crowds.  Knowing this, the Disney Operational Command Center was not seen as a top down command and control center.  Rather, it was a place to monitor ride line length, safe operating conditions, and to mitigate other potential effects of customer dissatisfaction.  The Disney OPCEN supported the company culture and existing work practices.  In this way, the weaving of a military process, the OPCEN, in support of Disney culture of customer satisfaction and customer experience was perfect.

nabyAs you look at potential employer’s and your career progression, understand the problems your company experiences, the culture of how your company operates, and how the military skill set will be a solution to the organization.

Here are three ideas how military skills add value to organizations:

  1. Leverage Your Military Experience to Your Company and Job. Veterans need to translate their military skills to their businesses and organizations in a fashion that supports the culture and work practices of their company.  First, sit down and describe one accomplishment that you performed in the military, the problem that it solved, and why it was successful.  Second, list the skills that you used to accomplish the military task successfully.  Third, list problems within the company that could be solved by using some or these skills.  For example, maybe you started a regular meeting of tribal elder’s or shopkeepers in your AO in Afghanistan to discuss problems and look for solutions.  These meetings produced military skills sets of coordination, negotiation, planning, and leadership.  Could you set up a series of meetings with your company’s customers to generate ideas and discussion on what your company could provide in the future?
  1. Start a Veteran’s Network in Your Organization. You do not have to have all the great ideas.  Get a group of veterans’ together, brainstorm, and plan how to implement military skills to solve your organization’s problems.  Military Veteran Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) serve a variety of roles to help companies employ more veterans, keep veterans on as employees, serve as a resource base for deployed employees, and help veterans translate military skills into improving the company’s business.  No matter your organization’s size, a military veteran ERG is a great idea.

field)

  1. “A Desk Is a Dangerous Place from Which to View the World,” – John le Carre. In the military, inspections, field visits, and “walking the line” were an implicit responsibility for leaders at all levels.  In business, conducting field visits with customers, manufacturing locations, and the like can make a dramatic difference in your career, allow you to understand the business, and establish a special relationship with your customers.  If you do not know what to do, get out and look at the problem from your customer’s perspective.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

 

 

Translating Military Skill Sets For Better Customer Service

Military Skills Make For Great Customer ServiceThe ferocious, barking drill sergeant that R. Lee Ermey so masterfully played in “Full Metal Jacket” standing across the counter helping pick out bananas is not what we have it mind when combining military skill sets and customer service.  Rather, military methods seek to improve employee engagement, discover new ways to do old tasks, ensure safety, and ensure that employees equally fulfill the goals and desires of customers and store owners.

The challenge for retail and customer facing positions is how do we engage teams, serve customers, and bring about a customer experience that makes the customers want to return.  These six military techniques help make this customer value a reality.

Military to Customer Service Technique #1 – Connect the Team to the Ultimate Mission.  In every organization, it is very, very easy for the junior members to lose sight and understanding of what the company is trying to achieve.  In some cases, there can be over ten levels of leadership (or more) from the CEO to the lowest level of worker.  In all these instances, a great business leader works hard every day to constantly and consistently connects the team’s activities, performance, and successes to the company’s mission and strategy.  Everyone works harder and works better when they know how their actions directly contribute to the company’s goals.  Be sure to identify the “why” behind even the most mundane tasks and activities – it helps everyone work harder when they understand.

Military to Customer Service Technique #2 – Great Training and Rehearsals Make a Successful Team.  Training and challenging rehearsals will make a truly successful holiday season.  In the military, individual Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are all rigorously trained so that they know how to do their job, but also how fulfill the critical responsibilities of their comrades.  More importantly, military formations of large groups of different specialties rehearse day and night, so vital functions of resupply, vehicle repair and casualty evacuation could be accomplished together flawlessly.  The business lesson is that training and rehearsals that show how business can do things safer, more cost effective, and with high levels of customer satisfaction will make the business great.

cust serviceMilitary to Customer Service Technique #3 – The Importance of Coaching and Teaching.  Leaders think of themselves as responsible for setting strategy or making decisions, but they seldom think of themselves as coaches and teachers.  If you’ve ever been to a military marksmanship range, you’ve seen this leader coaching in action.  At a military range, the senior military personnel work the hardest coaching, teaching, and setting higher standards for junior personnel how to shoot correctly.  I remember at one of my last military drills before I retired helping coach a Private how to shoot correctly – there was literally over 20 years of experience between us, and I was the one dusty and dirty from crawling on the ground.  Every interaction between a leader and their team is a time to coach, teach, and train to higher standards of performance.

Military to Customer Service Technique #4 – The After Action Review.  The purpose of the After Action Review (AAR) is to have an organization discover how to maintain what they did well and how to discover ways to improve what did not go well.  The AAR is used after every major and minor training and operational activity at all levels.  Additionally, all leaders are trained how to conduct an AAR.  In the AAR, the unit allows every member to participate regardless of rank and the team discusses: (1) What happened, (2) What went well, (3) What did not go well, and (4) What is the plan to fix what did not go well.  The AAR is a universal, all encompassing team improvement process to identify areas that need to be improved and how to improve them.

Military to Customer Service Technique #5 – Acting Safely and Preventing Accidents is Part of Everyone’s Job.  When the US Army start their daily missions, whether it is a ground convoy or a shooting range, the day begins with a safety briefing, medical evacuation procedures, and a rehearsal of the day’s most dangerous activities.  Anyone, from the newest Private to the seasoned Sergeant, can call a safety halt if they fell there is a danger to anyone.  This adoption of safety as integral to everyone’s job is vital.  When everyone has a role in safety, then everyone is looking to create a safe environment – no one is sitting on the side lines.

1000w_q95bMilitary to Customer Service Technique #6 – Always Lead by Example at Every Level.  Leadership by Example is one of the central tenants of military leadership.  Leadership by example means that the leader sets a strong and undisputed personal example for every activity, no matter how small, that the organization does.  From dealing with an angry customer to restocking shelves, a leadership style that embraces leadership by example always sets the correct standard for the organization.  Additionally, this style must also embrace personal passion, humility, and courage to guide the organization.  Finally, leadership by example must set and enforce high levels of organizational performance.

Adapting these military techniques to customer service will make stores, employees, and the customer’s experience better for a service interaction that will make the customer want to return.  Remember to:

  1. Connect employees to the mission.
  2. Ensure effective training and rehearsals to meet standards.
  3. Teach and coach employees to higher performance levels.
  4. Hold After Action Review’s to identify problems & improve performance.
  5. Enforce safety and accident prevention as part of everyone’s job.
  6. Lead by example in all tasks, even the most mundane.

Military skills work for retail, customer facing, and customer service positions because they value customer experience, employees, and improving the customer experience as an activity that must be accomplished consistently and credibly.