Category Archives: Transitions

How to Be More Influential with Civilians

Have You Transitioned from a Military to Civilian Communication Style?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Pinchas – Numbers 25:10-30:1

Confronting a problem head-on seems to provide the fastest solution. In a military staff meeting, a candid airing of views appears to ensure the best ideas get presented. But as infantrymen know, a frontal assault often leads to defeat. Have you ever had the same thing happen outside of combat? You have the facts and logic on your side. You bang away, head-on. Yet in the end, you lose…

How to Be More Influential with Civilians

Style and Substance When Influencing People

We come from an environment where collar devices communicate the pecking order. But have you been at a command where the civilian secretary wields enormous authority by having been there so long? In the civilian world, you have titles. But they can be deceiving. Often you don't know who holds the power. Until you pinpoint the sources of authority, you’ll lose the argument.

As well, sometimes a meeting only formalizes decisions reach during the preceding days or weeks. To gain your objective, spend time socializing your ideas beforehand. Seek agreement on smaller points even if the person won't consent to advocate your idea. Do this a few times and you’ll figure out who has power.

Figuring out the best way to exert influence has bedeviled humanity for millennia. Contrast rebel Korach with Zelophehad’s daughters in Parshas Pinchas:

Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? (Numbers/Bamidbar 27:4)

Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah had no brother. As such, under the current laws of inheritance, they would not receive a portion of the Land of Israel. This seemed to fly in the face of what they knew about G-d: He loves men and women equally. Yet, they saw the failure of Korach’s frontal assault on Moses’s and Aaron’s leadership role. (See this post for more about Korach and his allies.)

Zelophehad’s daughters needed a more sophisticated approach to winning their point. They had clarity about their goal – inherit the land their father would have received if he had lived. But, they couldn't claim to be innocents. Their father had died because of a serious sin. They knew it could mean the forfeiture of rights to the land.

So, they began by acknowledging their father’s sin. Next, they noted he was not a conspirator along with Korach. Rather, he committed an individual sin. This implied that since everyone sins, his treatment shouldn’t differ. Then, they chose not to decry their fate. Instead, they asked a question that compelled Moses to realize the injustice of the current plan. They ended by making their appeal.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

How can you use this process in private sector organizations?

6 Steps to Greater Influence in Civilian Life

Let’s examine the six aspects of Zelophehad’s daughters’ process:

  1. Have a clear objective. Know what you want to accomplish and why.
  2. Uncover the merits and deficiencies of your case. The benefits may be clear. But people who oppose you will focus on the negatives. Better to figure them out in advance.
  3. Acknowledge the weak points. Disarm your opponents with preemptive action. No objective has only good points. You make a stronger case when you admit its weaknesses.
  4. Give a rationale for discounting them. Make the case for ignoring the weak points of your case. If you can’t dismiss them, at least diminish their impact.
  5. Use questions that guide people to agree with you. When you help people discover, on their own, the merits of your idea they're more likely to agree with you. Lead with questions that help them reach your conclusions.
  6. State your objective. Having laid the ground for agreement, disclose your goal. If the person rejects it, go back to steps 4 and 5. Work back through why they should ignore the cons and how they embraced the pros.

The blunt style of military decision-making won't fly in most private sector organizations. Use this process. It will help get your ideas excepted, giving you greater success in civilian life.

What prevents you from having work you’ll enjoy?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


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!

How to Get Job Security by Improving One Skill

Four Abilities that Make You Always Employable

4 minutes to read

Technology is wonderful. Communication choices have increased. We can source purchases from around the globe. Tools such as GPS mean we’re never lost. Fishermen can track where fish hide. Cars and airplanes can drive and fly themselves. But, these same benefits have caused job skills to become outdated. Everybody is on an endless treadmill of retooling their abilities to stay competitive in the job market. Do you pine for the good old days when hard work and reasonable skills meant lifetime employment?

How to Get Job Security by Improving One Skill

Technology Targets Mid-Level Earners for Unemployment

When we returned to civilian life, my wife decided to get back into nursing. Little did she know how much the field had changed in six years. Hospitals had implemented new electronic charting programs. She had to learn about new medications, procedures, and regulations. She had to earn a masters degree to get into management.

Farming, manufacturing, service businesses, no industry is immune from technology’s impact. The pace seems only to quicken. I wrote a few weeks ago about how unmanned aerial vehicles could destroy many jobs for pilots. Think about what self-driving cars would do to taxi and Uber drivers.

What do you do to protect yourself from becoming obsolete?

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

As wages for an occupation rise, the incentive to replace people with machines goes up too. Low wage jobs aren't worth the investment necessary to replace them with technology. High-paying jobs entail skills that machines can't replicate. Those in the middle, roughly $50,000 to $90,000 per year are most vulnerable. Hence, you see an enlarging gap between low and high-income earners.

Yet, for all the talk about artificial intelligence, a computer or robot can't replace every skill.

At first glance, you may think none of them relate to military work. Take a second look. Most service members used at least one of them on a regular basis. By applying it to a private sector field and improving it, you can take yourself out of the technology line of fire.

Skills that Don't Lose Their Value

You don't need to excel in all four of these skills to get a high-paying job. Master one and you are well on your way to a secure six-figure income. Stand out in two and your employment worries are over.

Innovate. All organizations must innovate to stay alive. Even nonprofits have to find new and better ways to fundraise and deliver services. Contrary to popular belief, no one is born with an innovation gene. You learn this skill. Did you create new policies or procedures while in the military? The young aircraft maintainers I worked with did so all the time. Limited resources stimulated creativity.

Start with learning everything you can about your chosen private sector field. Identify the problems it faces. Crate an inventive solution to one of them. Now here’s where your military experience gives you the edge. Lots of people can come up with an idea. Your military training will help you work out an implementation plan. Stuck on how to get more ideas? Jack Foster’s outstanding book, How to Get Ideas, will stimulate your mind.

Negotiate. In a world where machines control humans, I suppose they’ll settle our disputes. Until then, we’ll have to resolve our own clashes. If you held a leadership role in the military, you negotiated conflicts. If you were in supply or contracting you negotiated with vendors. Does your resume list the hundreds of thousand or millions of dollars you negotiated?

No surprise most private sector organizations need this skill. Is dealmaking a part of your chosen field? Getting people to agree to a business arrangement takes the same abilities as mediating conflict. Start by learning all you can about previous deals in your industry. What made them work? What motivated the parties to come together? Oren Klaff’s Pitch Anything will give you're a primer in private sector dealmaking.

Interrelate. Technology can facilitate communication. But it can't create relationships. You’ve heard it a million times. It’s not what you know but whom you know. It’s half true today. Most organizations don't keep dead weight around. So unless your job is to develop relationships, you’ll need other skills that benefit the company. But without relationships, you won't get the chance to use them. That’s why its one of the 5 Steps You Need to Take to Get a High-Paying Job.

In the military, getting a peer or senior to help you with a task took relationship-building skills. Did you attract the notice of your commanding officer? If not, do you know someone who did? Think about the actions he took. How did he make the initial connection? How did he groom the relationship over time? In How to Be a Power Connector, Judy Robinett explains the steps you need to take.

Sell. If no one buys a company’s goods or services it won't stay in business. Whether it sells them face-to-face, through retail outlets, or online, people drive the process. Technology can aid it. But human communication and ideas close the transaction. Even nonprofits need people who can sell their message and raise money.

You may not perceive it this way, but to advance in the military you marketed yourself. Since you believe in yourself, it was an easy sale. If you were a recruiter, you did some of the toughest selling out there. In the private sector, high pressure, sleazy used-car-type selling doesn't fly today. Companies need people adept at helping clients determine the benefits of their products and services. Polish your sales skills using Tonya Reiman’s The Yes Factor.

Most veterans don't realize they have these valuable, evergreen skills. Review your career and find accomplishments that highlight them. Put them in your resume. Now get to work improving them.

Which of these skills do you have? How are you improving it?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

How to Enjoy Your Job-Hunt and Career

Do You Want Passion in a Career?

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Balak – Numbers 22:2-25:9

Most job-hunting tasks aren’t fun. And, many private sector careers don't provide the enjoyment that we found in the military. So when employment experts talk about finding your passion in a civilian career, I see lots of veterans’ eyes glaze over.

How to Enjoy Your Job-Hunt and Career

Many of our parents taught us to believe work has nothing to do with fun. For them, work meant survival. Enjoyment was beside the point. Today, we see two powerful forces colliding. Most of us still have to work to afford to live. In this respect, nothing has changed.

But the rapidity at which industries and jobs evolve has surged in the last decade. Keeping a job requires constant upgrading of your knowledge and skills. Maintaining your motivation to stay abreast of new developments presents a challenge. All the same, you’ll have to meet it or lose your income.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

Twenty years ago, people used time after work for leisure. Now, they use it to stay competitive in their jobs. If you don't like what you do, how will you stay motivated?

The Difference Between Passion and Lust

In his superb book, No Fears, No Excuses, Larry Smith makes an irresistible case for passion being an essential part of the work you choose to do. He doesn’t define what passion means, so let’s unpack it ourselves. No surprise, it has ancient roots.

Pharaoh had passion for Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Such lust seems to be the image that comes to mind at the word passion. But this type is too easily sated to have relevance to a lifelong career.

We see another kind of passion in the story of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of his son, Isaac. He rises early in the morning to saddle his donkey. Then he rouses Isaac and his two young men. The four leave on their fateful journey. This story counterpoints another tale of passion in this week’s parsha, Balak:

And Balaam arose early in the morning and saddled his she-donkey… (Numbers/Bamidbar 22:21)

Balaam was a great prophet. The Moabite king, Balak, wanted him to curse the Israelites so he could defeat them in battle. But G-d refused to let Balaam go. Finally, seeing Balaam’s yearning to help Balak, the Almighty relents. Balaam wants to get an early start. So he doesn't bother to call a servant to saddle his she-donkey.

Balak knew of Balaam’s deep passion for wealth and honor. He catered to it by sending ever-higher officials to plead with Balaam. Though he pooh-poohed the huge sums of money offered him, Balaam’s desire for it almost leads him to his death. His passion for wealth and honor evinces lifelong self-interest.

Abraham also has a lifelong passion. His legendary hospitality to family, friends, and strangers shows he sought meaning from serving others. On this path, he never wavered. He lived for the next opportunity to take care of the Almighty’s children.

How to Find What You’ll Enjoy

Two men’s passions motivated them to rise early and saddle their donkeys. Both had many servants who could have done this work. Balaam had passion for self-aggrandizement. Abraham had passion for service.

Follow Abraham’s model. You’ve already started along this path in the military. You defended the Constitution, and hence your fellow citizens, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Build on this legacy in civilian life. Consider these questions:

  1. How can your leadership ability better help people meet life’s challenges?
  2. What team building skills do you have that can help an organization meet its mission?
  3. Where can you bring the unifying spirit of the military to bridge divides in our society?
  4. How can you use the idea of mission command to help a private sector company operate better?
  5. What organization can benefit from your ability to inculcate a sense of purpose in its people, the way your service branch did for you?

These represent a few ways to find passion in your civilian work. Too often, I see veterans grab at the first opportunity. Later, they regret it only to take other, passionless jobs. Not motivated to go the extra mile to develop themselves, their civilian prospects get dimmer each year.

Take the time to find a field of rich interest. Ponder the questions above. Come up with others that help you probe what you'll enjoy. Talk to veterans who found passion in their work. How did they do it? Make the investment in finding a field that captures your interest. It will pay huge dividends over the coming decades.

What prevents you from having work you’ll enjoy?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


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!

How to Direct Your Marketing Fire for the Job & Pay You Want

Why Intel Collection Is the Most Important Skill You Need from the Military

2-½ minutes to read

Do you want:

  • Your first post-military job,
  • A better job,
  • A higher salary and/or better position at your current organization?

Our nation begins with a national defense strategy. Combatant commanders develop operational objectives. To meet these objectives, we execute tactical missions. You can follow the same process to achieve your civilian life goals.

How to Direct Your Marketing Fire for the Job & Pay You Want

Make Sure Your Message Is on Target

The headline of a post in a LinkedIn veterans’ group says, “Why is getting hired so complicated?” The writer says he tailors each resume and cover letter. Sometimes, he’ll apply for openings that don't fit his qualifications. He’s working on another certification and will lower his expectations. Sounds like he’s committed to finding a job, right?

You’re a hiring manager. How do you see him? Willing to follow the pack? Desperate? Unqualified? It may sound harsh, but his lack of success isn't surprising. His self-marketing screams, DON'T HIRE ME!”

Most organizations want people who:

  • Go the extra mile.
  • Have confidence in their ability to deliver value
  • Strive to go beyond mere qualifications and find the competitive edge.

Asking a company “to give you a chance” means you want it to gamble. Why should it do that when it can hire someone who has taken the time to fill in all four of the diagram’s boxes? That candidate presents little risk. Rather than appealing for a chance, go out and create opportunity.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

Most candidates won't take the time to do this research and analysis. Set yourself apart from the masses. Gather and apply this intelligence.

How to Build Your Strategy and Tactics Based on Intel 

Until you can fill in each of the four boxes, you’re flying in the dark without instruments. Build your strategy as follows:

How you see yourself – Most private sector organizations want to hire veterans. But they need you to operate in the civilian workplace. This requires revising your identity. Military command and control won't work. Imagine adapting. How can you alter your military persona to better mesh with civilians? Write down your new purpose.

How the company sees you – In the military, people often based their perceptions on your ribbon rack. At higher levels, your reputation preceded you. Neither may have matched your self-perception. When a civilian organization considers hiring you, it assesses your ability to deliver value. In the absence of self-marketing, where will the hiring manager get accurate information? Plan what you’ll say and do during phone calls, meetings, and in written communications.

How the company sees itself – Like people, organizations have self-images. One may see itself as being forward thinking. Another identifies as being military friendly. By understanding how a company sees itself, you have crucial intelligence for presenting how you'll deliver value. Research the organization’s culture. Determine how you align with and enhance its mission. Do you sound like someone the organization wants to hire? Now, look at your resume and cover letter. Re-calibrate your self-marketing with the company’s perspective in mind. Make the company feel compelled to hire or promote you.

How you see the company – How an organization sees itself and how you perceive it may differ. Your job satisfaction will rest on how well you’ll fit it. Having researched the organization’s culture, assess whether it's a place you can thrive. If there’s a match, create a self-marketing plan that highlights connection points. Move on if you don't fit in. Spend your valuable time targeting a better prospect.

Stop treating your professional prospects like roulette. Separate yourself from the pack. Get clarity on you and the company. Use it to prove your value. You’ll get the job or promotion.

What will prevent you from following this process?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

How to Rally Your Spirits When Job-Hunting

Will You Burn a Cow to Get a High-Paying Job?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chukas – Numbers 19:1-22:1

Veteran reintegration mystifies people, even big supporters of the military. Last week, a civilian told me PTSD is the biggest reason we struggle to find a job. He didn’t know that PTSD affects 11% to 20% of OIF and OEF veterans each year. That’s double the rate for civilians. But it doesn't represent a majority of veterans who find transitioning difficult.

How to Rally Your Spirits When Job-Hunting

Another told me it’s a simple matter of setting up a website that matches a veteran’s skills to an employer’s needs. But such job boards have existed for years. If it were that easy, veteran unemployment would never have risen above the civilian rate.

The real problem is less obvious and more complex to solve. Not having engaged in a civilian job-hunt before, a lot of veterans don’t know what to do. TAP instructors say write a resume and network. But veterans don't know how.

Borrow a Page from the Military Playbook

Civilians also find the military’s culture of risk avoidance surprising. Many don't realize the penalties for mistakes can be huge. The military reduces the passivity this might create through training. No such process exists for veterans transitioning to civilian life. You have to learn to job-hunt by doing it.

Meet fear of making mistakes with faith that you will overcome obstacles. But how do you proceed with confidence when the process remains a mystery? The Israelites in Parshas Chukas faced the same dilemma:

The one who gathered the ash of the cow will immerse his clothing and remain spiritually contaminated until morning. (Numbers/Bamidbar 19:10)

A kohen (priest) burns a completely red calf with cedarwood, hyssop, and a crimson thread. The ash that remains will purify the spirit of someone who touches a human corpse. That being the case, why does the kohen who gathers the ash become spiritually impure? The parsha's name, Chukas, explains. A chuk is a rule beyond human comprehension. G-d wants the Israelites to follow the process despite not understanding how it works. He intends that it be mysterious.

The transition process shouldn't be mysterious. But the military doesn’t have the knowledge base to train civilian job-hunting skills. You have to handle the vagaries of civilian job-hunting on your own. Take two actions:

Action 1: Get training from somewhere other than the military. This will help. But you’ll still need to put it into practice

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

Action 2: Use faith to move forward with your job-hunt.

Inaction Is Riskier than Initiative

Like military training, quality civilian job-hunting training will give you procedures to follow. You’ll gain the tools to create contingencies for when your plan goes awry. Having drilled in these new skills, you can proceed with confidence.

No matter how good the training, you’ll suffer setbacks. Some hiring managers are jerks. A few may dislike veterans. Even so, they can’t stop you from getting a high-paying job doing meaningful work. But you can. Let your faith slip and you’ll stop taking action. Once you give up your hunt, the game’s over.

So keep trying new methods. If one tactic doesn't work, figure out another. Try it. If that one bombs too, go on to the next one. No matter what, don't do what most job-hunters do: hunt for an hour a day and watch television the rest of the time.

If you feel your faith start to waiver, try something outlandish. What have you got to loose? Cleanse your spirit with the ashes of a cow burnt with some fragrant wood, herbs, and red string. (Metaphorically of course) Who cares that there’s no logical reason it will work? Use it to replenish your faith. Then move forward once more.

Have you lost faith that you’ll find a high-paying job doing meaningful work?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


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!

Get More Ideas Like These for Firing Up Your Life and a FREE Bonus!


  • The wisdom of Scripture
  • Battle-tested ideas from the military
  • Profitable business concepts

to design a better life for you and your family!

Plus, you'll get a FREE bonus, my 49 Day Challenge to Refine Your Character!