Category Archives: Transitions

How to Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

An Easy Way to Continue Your Legacy of Service

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tetzaveh - Exodus 27:20-30:10

Recently I flew on Alaska Airlines. It’s military friendly. You don’t pay baggage fees. Sometimes you can board with the first class passengers. And, you get the obligatory thanks for your service. The gate agent didn’t sound sincere. But, Parsha Tetzaveh explains why I accepted his thanks anyway:

“And you will command the Children of Israel and they will take for you olive oil, clear, crushed for illumination; to light a lamp continually.” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

This Sabbath’s parsha begins by explaining the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid, the lamp that must always stay lit. Then it describes how to make and use the garments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim. Next, it goes over the mitzvah of the korban tamid or continual offering. It ends with how to build and use the incense altar, the Holy of Holies.

G-d Let’s Us Pay Our Debt

G-d groups the Ner Tamid with other offerings. So the Almighty must intend it as an offering of light to Him. But why does the Creator need light, even at night?

In fact, G-d doesn’t need light. But think about a sighted person who helps a blind person get home. Even though the blind person doesn’t need light, the sighted person asks him to light a lamp. He says, “Please do this so you won’t have to feel indebted to me for what I have done for you. Now you have done me a favor.” The Creator gave us light. He could have let us feel indebted every minute of daylight. Instead, He asked us to provide eternal light for Him.

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Unfortunately, sometimes people resent your doing something nice for them. They feel indebted or guilty. True kindness entails giving and receiving with no ulterior motive or expectation of anything in return. But rather than risk bad feelings, it’s better to let people “pay” you back.

Think Connect When a Civilian Thanks You

Some of the veterans I speak with resent civilians who thanks them for their service. They feel such words are insincere. They’d prefer people said nothing.

You may not have joined the military solely to serve. Educational or other benefits may have motivated you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Congress, on behalf of the American people, made them part of our compensation. Still, many of our fellow citizens feel a personal obligation toward veterans.

They know you did things they did not or could not do. Receiving a person’s gratitude allows him to discharge that debt. His words may not sound genuine to you. It would be better if a civilian said thanks in a way that sounded sincere. Even so, kindness requires accepting his appreciation.

Ideally, civilians should be content to let you serve for your personal reasons. They shouldn’t burden you with expressions of gratitude that don’t ring true. Allowing your fellow citizens to get rid of feeling indebted or guilty may make your transition harder. As a service member, you went the extra mile. Do it again. Connect with people in civilian life by accepting their thanks.

Question – Does it bother you when people thank you for your service?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

How to Change from a Military to Civilian Mindset

2 minutes to read

The unexamined life is not worth living ∞ Socrates

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Come on, don’t roll your eyes. The image staring back stands between you and everything you want in life. Is it professional success, a stronger marriage, closer relationships with your kids? You can have them all when your purpose includes being the preeminent professional, a devoted spouse, and an engaged parent.

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

Migrate Your Purpose from Military to Civilian

Each service branch creates an image of the people who serve in it. The Marine Corps has been especially effective doing this. You’ve heard of “The Few, The Proud.”

You may not have realized it at the time. But basic training aligned your purpose with that of your service branch. A lot of the ongoing training you received reinforced this purpose. Indeed, many veterans never alter their military mindset.

Have you chosen to keep your military identity without any changes? If so, you’ve made reintegrating into civilian life harder. Many private sector organizations indoctrinate their employees with a purpose. If you join such a company, you’ll have a choice:

  • Conform to its purpose.
  • Underperform in the eyes of the people you work with.

You may think leaving your purpose open gives you a better chance of finding a job. Actually, doing so forces you to be a chameleon trying to fit the image of each potential employer. But your words won’t ring true. So you’ll get rejected for the job anyway. If by chance you do get hired, you won’t be happy because you’ll have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

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You’ll be better off finding your purpose first. Then identify organizations where you’ll fit in.

Purpose Leads to Professional Success

Are you a Marine, an Eagle Scout, or a Christian? If so, you’ve already set part of your purpose. Each carries a set of values and a way to behave. Now consider whether you need to add to your purpose or modify it.

If you don’t have a pre-existing purpose, you’ll have to start from scratch. Though it sounds morbid, how do you want people to eulogize you at your funeral? Write it down. Convert it into the roles you need to fill and the qualities you must develop.

Without a clear purpose, you have no basis for personal development. Your life will stagnate. Yet you need to grow to meet the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. When a company defines who you are, professional success will elude you.

So define your purpose. Then cultivate the traits necessary to better harmonize with this self-image. For example, do you see yourself as a successful entrepreneur? Build a mindset of perseverance.

No matter how clear your purpose is in your mind, you must encapsulate it in one coherent sentence. Then read this sentence every morning. That way you indoctrinate yourself. Now you won’t waver in the face of temptation from an organization or job where you’ll be miserable.

Do you have a mindset that will lead to civilian professional success?

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How to Put an Amazing Job in Your Destiny

Unlock Your Edge with This Proven Breakthrough Quality

2 minutes to read

When you meet with a hiring manager, do you KNOW you’re the best candidate for the job? Think about it. How would you feel when choosing a surgeon? If the doctor didn’t show the self-confidence that comes from being the best, would you want him operating on you? Of course not. The stakes are too high. Employers think the same way. A company will only risk choosing a lesser candidate if it can underpay him.

How to Put an Amazing Job in Your Destiny

Why Self-Confidence Matters

RABS! How can you suggest such vanity?! Good question. But if you’re the best candidate it’s not conceited to say so. When the message is true, modesty comes from the way you send it.

The most admirable athletes combine two qualities:

  • An obsessive desire to excel.
  • Humility about their accomplishments.

Look at the 10 greatest basketball players of all time. All fit this model. None are braggarts. Even when Lebron James declared himself the best player in the world, he conveyed no bravado.

Right now say out loud, “I’m the best candidate for this job.” Do you sound as certain and matter-of-fact as Lebron James? Anything less and you send the message, “Choose somebody else.” If you don’t have the self-knowledge and confidence, where will the hiring manager get it?

You want stability. What would you think if a company told you, “We don’t know if our business is competitive in the marketplace. There may be other companies that make a better product than we do.” You’d hesitate about going to work there. After all, if they think the competition can clobber them, what kind of job security would you have? You shouldn’t have to convince them they’re great.

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Companies want security and stability too. They want an employee who will deliver value. Someone they can rely on. You need to convince them you will deliver these by being self-confident.

Self-Confidence Produces Your Destiny

You can boost your self-confidence in two ways:

Clarity. Begin by knowing your purpose and mission. Ensure your goals align with them. Be crystal clear on your Unique Value Proposition. Have a simple yet powerful way of explaining it to an employer. When you have this level of clarity, you sound, in fact are, self-confident.

Preparation. Thoroughly research the company. Know its market, future plans, and challenges. Identify any gaps so you can get the additional information you need. Know nothings and know-it-alls look the same, insecure. Actually, the know-it-all is worse. He appears to be compensating for a weakness. To sound confident, express thoughts without hesitating and ask questions without embarrassment.

Know the questions you need to ask during the meeting. Have a written list. Practice saying them so you can do so while looking at the other person. Know how to get to the company. Check in advance where to park. Video yourself practicing what you’ll say so you can identify and correct weaknesses.

You and the organization want the same thing – security and stability. So when a company presents an uncertain future, you become wary. And when you look insecure, you give another candidate the edge. Get clarity and obsess about preparation. An amazing job will be in your destiny.

What makes you less than self-confident about meeting to discuss a job?

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How to Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

7 Connections Between Your Happiness & Company Culture

3 minutes to read

I love the stories my father told me about his time in the navy during the 1950s. One of my favorites is about when he and his shipmates walked into a bar and found some Marines there. They exchanged taunts. The Marines called them swabbies. They called the Marines jarheads. A fight broke out. But in the midst of the brawl some soldiers came into the bar. All of a sudden the swabbies and jarheads joined forces against the army.

How to Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

Reintegration is a Cultural Transition

This story sums up so much about military culture of the 50s. Post World War II, men were primed to fight like their fathers or brothers had. Marines thought the navy was filled with wimps who dropped them off on the shore of an island held by a hostile enemy to do the real fighting. Sailors who had engaged in ship-to-ship combat saw the risk of being sunk and drowned as far more dangerous than land-based combat. Each service branch’s culture defined them.

Like the military, private sector industries and companies have distinct cultures. After World War II, millions of service members returned to civilian life. They made organizational culture in the private sector more like the military than it ever had been before. Over the decades, the similarity has decreased. Besides defense contracting, you won’t find an industry that feels like the military.

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Part of deciding where to focus your job-hunt involves understanding the kind of culture where you’ll fit in. Then you’ll need to find an industry and companies that, as well as possible, match your vision.

Culture Determines If You’ll Love Your Job

Aside from general comfort, culture affects:

  • The length of your workday and week. In general, and especially working up to deployment, you worked until the job got done. But your pay stayed the same regardless. Civilian life has formed different expectations about task completion and compensation.
  • After hours time you’ll have to spend handling work matters and socializing with co-workers. Hours can be long in the private sector. With smart phones, everyone has a “crack-berry.” Going out after work with colleagues and your boss may be the only way to advance your career.
  • Your work environment, employee interaction, and competition among colleagues. Remember mandatory fun days? Some companies make fun an integral part of their culture. At such a place you may wonder why they don’t get to work so they can finish and go home.
  • Interaction with other employees, managers, and senior executives. Regulations and customs dictated dealings with your colleagues and leadership. Though they aren't in writing, most companies have strict protocols. Yet they may require a casual approach that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • The kind of workspace you’ll get and what kind of personal items you may have there. Custom and protocol dictate these issues in the military too. In the private sector, you may have to negotiate them. Surprisingly, getting the wrong office may hamper your advancement in the company.
  • Perks offered by the organization. Break rooms, gyms, and childcare facilities were standard in the military. Not so in the private sector.
  • The training and personal development you’ll get. For the most part, you knew what training benchmarks you had to meet to advance your military career. The matter is much more open in civilian life

You can see that company culture impacts every aspect of you work life. So you’ll need to examine it at three points in your job-hunt:

  1. When deciding which industry and organizations to target.
  2. Before you go to a meeting to discuss a job. (Never go on a job interview.)
  3. Prior to accepting an offer.

If you want to love your job, culture is central. You should practice the four ways of figuring it out:

  1. Research – On and Offline.
  2. Onsite observation.
  3. Talking with people who work in an industry or at a company.
  4. Asking questions during a meeting to discuss a job.

If nothing else, at some point in every meeting the person will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" This is your invitation to learn as much as possible about a company’s culture.

What do you need to know so you can research company culture more effectively?

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How to Blow a Job Interview on the First Question

What You Can Do to Avoid This Trap

2 minutes to read

You finally got a meeting to discuss a job. Congratulations! Maybe your job-board spamming finally paid off. More likely you connected with someone at the company who got you the meeting. Notice I didn’t call it a job interview. I’ve explained why in a previous post. This is your big chance to get the job you want. You both sit down. The person asks the first question. After you respond, you notice a cooling in his attitude. You don’t know how. But you know you’ve blown it already.

How to Blow a Job Interview on the First Question

The First Question Sets the Tone

During the first 30 to 120 seconds, the person you’re meeting with will check out:

  • Your personal appearance – even breath and tattoos (even on Skype – okay not your breath)
  • How nervous you appear
  • Any signs you lack self-confidence
  • How much consideration you show other people
  • Your values

Many people don’t realize they’re doing it. You do the same thing. Everyone quickly sizes up new people. But most don’t draw conclusions until the talking begins.

You get your first question. The MOST frequent one is: “Tell me about yourself.”

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Wanting to keep things light or appear humble, you smile and answer: “What would you like to know?”


You Fell Into a Trap

Most people get nervous when meeting someone new. That goes for you AND the person you’re meeting with. He’s not trying to set you up. “Tell me about yourself” is his way of politely giving you the floor. You have about two minutes to make yourself stand out from the other people he’ll meet with.

Given the time limit, he doesn’t want your life story. What he wants to know, but isn’t asking outright is:

  • Why are you here? Why my organization and not another one.
  • What can you do for us? Connect your skills to what know about my organization.
  • What makes you unique? Distinguish yourself from the other candidates.
  • What kind of person are you? Explain how you will fit into the culture here.
  • Can I afford you? Address this when you’re offered the job.

Now you can’t answer all of these in two minutes. Respond to one question in a way that he’ll remember you.

Use your Unique Value Proposition. If you don’t know what this is, download my 5-Steps Checklist and check out Step #2. Having done the self-examination and research to develop your UVP, you can come up with at least one powerful response to: “So tell me about yourself.”

Proper preparation will prevent your blowing the meeting on the first question. It will also improve your first impression. You won’t feel nervous, or at least as nervous. You’ll appear self-confident. Both of these will allow you to focus better on other people.

Avoid the first question trap. Set the tone for a productive meeting between two professionals so you can get the job you want.

How will you answer: “So tell me about yourself?”

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