Category Archives: Transitions

How the Military Prepared You for Entrepreneurship

6 Essential Qualities for Military & Business Success

2-½ minutes to read

Over the last decade, the number of veterans in business has declined. Despite many programs supporting veteran entrepreneurship, not much has changed. While not every military person will start a business, I bet you have the six essential qualities of entrepreneurial success…

How the Military Prepared You for Entrepreneurship

The Qualities You Can’t Hire

Out of the 16 skills a business needs to prosper, you’ll have to have six. You can hire people with the other ten. With how many of these do you excel?

Self-Motivated. I’ve never met a successful business owner whose drive came from someone else. Counting on a desire for wealth or fame for motivation sets you up for failure. You need to want business success for its own sake.

Inner Moral Compass. You’ll have lots of temptations when you have your own business. People will give you rationalizations for doing shady or outright unethical things. If you succumb, you’ve put your company on a shaky foundation. A strong sense of right and wrong will protect you.

Curious. No matter how sound your idea and plan, things will go wrong. And you won't have all the knowledge and ideas necessary to succeed. Learning from others allows you to avoid common mistakes and unseen pitfalls.

Tenacious. Giving up can't be an option for a business owner. Failure has to be the stimulus to try again. Tie tenacity to curiosity. Then you’ll have a new option to try when the previous one didn't work.

Team Player. Most small businesses start with the owner as the only employee. But you’ll still need to create a team. Unpaid advisors will fill in gaps in your knowledge. And you’ll have to have an accountant and lawyer. From that perspective, you're a team captain. Evaluate their advice and adapt your plan.

Competitive Spirit. You have to like to win. Many prospective entrepreneurs look for an area without competitors. They think having the market to themselves means an easier road to success. But lack of rivals may also mean your idea isn't viable. Where successful businesses already operate, opportunity is present. Continual, incremental innovation gives you the competitive advantage.

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You have these qualities. But before embracing entrepreneurship, assess how strong they are in your character.

Entrepreneurship: The Essence of a Military Life

Despite a few high-profile successes, wealth is not the primary reward of business ownership. Having your own business is a lifestyle decision. You’ll need to balance advantages like control over your schedule with your potential income.

The typical business owner works 40-49 per week. Eighty-one percent work nights and 89% work weekends. That may be because they can make more money working after hours. Many owners work a regular job while they start their business. Also, they may take kids to school and attend their sporting events during the weekday.

Sixty percent of business owners pay themselves $50,000 or less per year. Thirty percent make nothing. Ten percent make $75,000 or more. Another way of looking at your salary as an entrepreneur is:

Entry level (0-5 years) - $50,000 - $60,000 per year

Mid-career (5-20 years) – $70,000 per year

Experienced (20+ years) - $100,000 per year

Most people think business success hinges on having a great idea. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Your success will come because you have the necessary traits. And it matches your desired lifestyle. Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship requires serious thought. Now you know what to consider…

Have you thought about starting a business?

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These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

Are You Wasting Your Time Getting Certifications?

2-½ minutes to read

Certifications top most veterans’ list of important job qualifications. But recall you didn't have any when entered the military. Success came from your attitude. Recruits who absorbed the military ethos and gained expertise succeeded. Those who didn't washed out…

These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

The Pivotal Factor for Reintegration

Two types of sailors come through WTP Sembach. You might think the divide follows one of these lines:

  • Active vs. reserve component
  • Enlisted vs. officer
  • Single vs. married

These divisions define the challenges they’ll face reintegrating. But none of them indicates whether a sailor makes a successful transition.

The Officer-in-Charge and I considered young vs. old as being the relevant distinction. But many redeployers in their mid-40s to early 50s soak up all we have to teach them. They report overcoming significant hurdles in the few days they spend with us.

The crusty old senior chief sitting in the back of the room didn’t seem to be paying attention. But when I asked him about his experience with sailors in grief his posture changed. For the rest of the workshop he sat up, his body tilted forward, engaged.

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That’s when the answer struck me. The actual division is open vs. closed. Sailors’ age, rate/rank, and marital status don't matter. Their openness to learning and growing is all that counts.

To Get Certifications or Not

Another conversation exposed a different barrier. The person indicated only certain licenses and degrees confer expertise. Otherwise, no matter how much experience someone has in a field, a smart person’s thoughts are as valuable.

In America, many people consider claiming expertise to be egotistical or undemocratic. Tom Nichols wrote about this issue in The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. But if you have greater knowledge and experience in a field, saying so is a matter of fact. Having such expertise doesn't make you better than other people. It makes you more qualified to engage or lead in a field.

There aren’t certifications for most of what you learned and did in the military. If you don't recognize expertise without certifications backing it up, you have nothing to sell but your labor. As a commodity, labor is worth no more than about $45,000 a year. These days, for positions with the most income and growth potential, companies want demonstrated leadership ability and problem-solving expertise. Degrees don’t matter.

Companies don't fire older workers because they’re old. They get rid of them because younger workers can do the same job for less money. Older workers who throughout their careers increased their expertise and leadership ability have become more valuable to the company. Younger people can’t replace them because they haven't had enough time to achieve a similar level. Such older workers not only get retained, they continue to advance.

The military works the same way. At the E5/E6 level, technical knowledge growth has peaked. Going forward, the ability to train, mentor, and lead is what counts. Service members who don't move beyond technical mastery face high-year tenure.

Do you believe you can succeed in civilian life even as you resist change? Do you think only certifications prove expertise? These two beliefs will prevent you're getting a high-paying job you’ll love.

Change them, and your ideal job awaits you…

In what area does your knowledge exceed most people’s?

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How to Read God’s Clues for Improving Your Life

Do You Feel Like You’re Being Punished by Your Problems?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Va’eira – Exodus 6:2-9:35

When things go wrong, why do they hit our most vulnerable spots? Wouldn't it be nice if once in a while life threw a softball? We never have too much time to transition. Nor do we get to choose between two private sector jobs with higher than expected salaries. It’s like we’re getting punished…

How to Read G-d’s Clues for Improving Your Life

G-d Doesn't Punish People

Reintegrating to civilian life is chaotic. Many people want to help but don't know how. Others couldn't care less about you. After a while, it seems you're beset by plagues. Now, you're no Pharaoh. But the way G-d dealt with him in Parshas Va’eira will clue you into what’s going on:

“…behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the waters that are in the river, and they will change to blood.” (Shemos/Exodus 7:17)

Pharaoh failed to heed Moses's message to let the Children of Israel leave Egypt. So the Almighty brought plagues to get him to change his mind. And so they went: Blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, and hail.

Each looks like a harsh punishment of Pharaoh and his people. Living through them must have been torture. But despite their appearance, G-d sent the plagues so the Egyptians would take certain lessons to heart.

In the first plague, the Almighty turned all the water in Egypt to blood. Pharaoh had proclaimed himself a god. But a deity doesn’t need to perform bodily functions. To keep his people from finding out he was human, he waded into the Nile River to relieve himself.

When the river turned to blood, Pharaoh could no longer hide. He should have learned humility when his people realized he wasn’t a god. But he didn’t.

The first plague also sent the people a message. The Nile was the key to Egypt’s economic life. When it turned to blood, they couldn’t water their crops. Their king-god had no power to prevent their financial ruin.

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If they had learned this lesson, they would have lost some money. But they would have avoided a great deal of suffering from future plagues.

Make Sure You're Solving the Right Problem

Because they enslaved the Israelites, the Egyptians deserved punishment. G-d could have justified destroying them. Instead, He sent the plagues so they would examine specific aspects of their behavior. Had the Egyptians learned mercy and humility, the Almighty wouldn’t have sent more plagues.

The things that go wrong in your life or transition are messages from G-d. He wants you to focus your attention on an issue or behavior. Before solving a problem, consider:

1. Why. What is the reason this particular thing happened? You may come up with several reasons. Chose the one that relates to your weakest spot.

2. Clues. What signs has the Almighty given you about how he wants you to handle the challenge? They may not be obvious. But G-d never gives you a problem you’re not equipped to handle.

3. Solve. Choose a course of action that aligns with the reason you received the challenge. If you’re struggling to find a job, the solution may have nothing to do with finding work. Changing job-hunt tactics (especially if you're using my 5 Steps to a High-Paying Job) won't solve your problem. That’s why the first two steps are crucial to moving forward in a productive way.

You're not deserving of punishment like Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But their downfall can help you. When bad things happen, search for G-d’s message about how you need to change.

What problem have you had trouble figuring out?

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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. It is named after 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 Ensure You Connect with Your Spouse

Do You Think Your Marriage has a Communication Problem?

2 minutes to read

Having been away from their spouse for up to a year, most of the sailors coming through WTP recognize the challenge posed by reconnecting. Even with tools like Facetime and Skype, distance develops. Wives and husbands at home take on new roles. Deployers’ lives gain new dimensions. Often they can’t talk about how they came about. Bridging this gap taxes everyone’s patience…

How to Ensure You Connect with Your Spouse

Communication Isn't the Issue

Many of the sailors I work with are having trouble coping with their spouses. They’re not home yet. But some are already locked in a power struggle. An issue has become contentious. Now they’re trying to convince their spouse they’re correct.

Whatever connection they had begins to deteriorate or is lost. They assume communication is the problem. They want advice or tips to better deal with this issue. But in many cases, they’re communicating well.

The real issues are commitment and perception. Having been apart for so long, each spouse feels like an individual rather than half of a marriage. As well, they don’t have the visual clues and shared experiences that support understanding. Such deterioration is inevitable. And because it happens over time, you won't notice the change.

Words get filtered through perceptions. You can say something five different ways. But that may not change how your spouse perceives it. Until you both recalibrate perspectives, understanding will remain elusive.

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Research shows that communication skills do not predict marriage satisfaction. (Think about all the counselors who get divorced.) When reconnecting, start by revitalizing your commitment. Then reset your perceptions.

3 Steps to Reconnecting with Your Spouse

"We-ness” best predicts a satisfying marriage. Couples who view their marriage as a joint endeavor solve issues better. They also enjoy time together more. Use this process for reconnecting:

1. Prepare. Listen to how you refer to you and your spouse. Do say “you and me”? Changing the pronoun to “we” will make a big difference in your reunion.

2. Renew. Commitment forms the foundation of your marriage. With your spouse, plan a tangible way to reaffirm your bond. It needn’t be a second honeymoon or expensive event. Go somewhere special where you can be alone. Send the kids to a friend's house and spend time at home just the two of you. Don’t plan on sex. If the mood’s right it will happen.

3. Rebuild. Talk about each other’s experiences while you were gone. Strive to understand what your spouse has been through. Ask questions about how your spouse felt during an event. There may be things you can't tell your partner. Is it a matter of OPSEC or do they make you feel too vulnerable? Rebuild the touch points of accurate perceptions.

If you follow this process communication should take care of itself.

Before discussing solutions, understand the why behind what your spouse is saying and doing.

Separation makes the heart grow fonder. But it strains commitment and perceptions. Rebuild them and you’ll regain your marriage.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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How to Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Have You Reached the Moment of Truth?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shemos – Exodus 1:1-6:1

Back on active duty, I get those annoying emails. The training officer sends reminders of some online course that we have to complete. Again. The Navy means well. It wants us to know how to handle an active shooter and records with PII. But having done the exact same training for years makes it just a check in the box. You can tell what counts with the Navy because it has the rigor that leads to change…

How to Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Make an Affirmative Decision to Confront Change

During Officer Indoctrination School we crawled through sand with broken glass in it. Rubbing sand in cuts thoroughly drives a lesson home. I hope I never have to scrabble on the ground while someone is shooting at me. But I’ll remember to keep my backside down. Parshas Shemos describes a bigger lesson in change:

“Moses said, ‘I will turn from my course and see this great sight - why does the bush not burn?’” (Shemos/Exodus 3:3)

Moses encountered a bush that was on fire but didn't burn up. He knew from the moment he spotted the bush that something supernatural was at work. He had two choices: engage with the phenomenon or move on. If he got involved with the bush he knew his life would never be the same. G-d saw Moses’s deep conflict. He could stay the course and continue a life of ease. Stopping meant committing to the struggle leading to change.

The Almighty found tremendous merit in Moses’s desire to change. So He called out, “Moses, Moses.” And Moses began his rise to leadership of the Israelites.

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Moses chose to stop and confront his fear of the unknown. G-d understood Moses’s gut-wrenching choice to live a demanding life. Such courage made him worthy to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery.

Your Real Transition Begins with a Moment of Truth

Under any circumstances, change is a daunting process. It's hardest when you don't expect it. As right as my decision was to leave active duty, I felt unsettled. Even though I had prepared, I knew hard times were ahead. I wasn’t disappointed. But the struggle was worth it.

More preparation time helps. Servicemembers who start their transition 18 to 24 months before leaving active duty have the smoothest time.

But there will come the moment when you’ll feel a lump in your throat. At that moment, your faith can compel you to begin the journey despite your apprehension. You may not yet see the miracle that will forge a better you. G-d may not show you a burning bush. But He will find great merit in your willingness to confront new challenges.

Let the rigor of adjusting to civilian life help you make the necessary changes.

Do you regret leaving the military or think you might regret it?

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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. It is named after 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!

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