Podcast – Veterans Transitioning Back Into the Workforce

episode 6

Welcome to Episode Six of the LIONs DEN: Conversations around a 21st Century approach to management and talent. In the sixth episode, we speak with two veterans of the armed forces, who have recently had to transition back into the corporate workforce. In our conversation today, we discuss how organizations can make this process smoother and more beneficial for both sides.

Veterans transitioning back into the workforce

Discussion guide for today’s show with veterans Grady Brain and Sean Bode:

1. How big of an actual problem do veterans have in transitioning back into the workforce?

2. Sean and Grady walk through the different types of servicemen, from officers to enlisted, and the various paths they each take through the military and into the business world.

3. What are the basic challenges that veterans face when they transition into the workforce? Not speaking corporate business language, for one example. Second, veterans come from a life of service, and it’s hard when they transition into an organization that seems aimless and without a mission and purpose.

4. We discuss how organizations address issues like this…and we hear from our two veterans how they would advise organizations to integrate veterans. “A three-part transition…” [Sourcing, onboarding, culture]

5. When all of this is done the right way, retention is improved. A lot of veterans leave their first job too soon…

6. Sean mentioned onboarding, and we discuss if that process should be different with regards to veterans…

7. Are there any organizations that are doing it right that we can learn from?

8. Brady and Sean both share career advice to transitioning veterans to make this process easier (expand your network, stay positive, prepare better).

When most think of Big Data, they think of the monumental challenges that businesses and technologists face.  But there are others who see these very same challenges as new opportunities to provide break through solutions.  We asked three unique companies to share their solutions with our audience.  As you can see each solution solves a different challenge, in a different industry, but all of them use Big Data.  This only scratches the surface of new solutions yet to come.  At GSC we’re thrilled that we had were able to see three solutions on the cutting edge.

Here’s a quick summary of the three solutions discussed at the Golden Source Consultants LIONShare event.

Kunal AgarwalUnravel Data –  Unravel Data started as a Duke University research project 5 years ago, before Kunal and his cofounder branched out to take their solution to the market.  With his background in technology, Kunal recognized that there were many times where tracking down the problem in a data base cluster was hard to do.  You can increase that challenge exponentially in a Big Data solution.  Unravel Data helps in three ways: Simplify, Optimize, and Control.  Kunal likes to say that Unravel is “Big Data for Big Data”.

Marc PriceOpenet – Marc begins his talk by asking a very simple question.  If Google, Facebook, and Twitter each have billions of activities that happen every day, how does that data get to where it needs to go?  Networks.  This is where Openet comes in.  They help network carriers look at that information and make sense of it both inside the company and outside the company.  This data has always been sought after but previously there was no way for a business to economically store and process such a large amount of information.  Now we have the ability to store data and to begin to run predictive analytics using it like never before.  In his talk, Marc gives us some highlights how Openet helps operators scale to handle trillions of events a day.

Will McGinnisPredikto – Will is part of the Predikto team.  An Atlanta startup, that specializes in predicting when heavy transit systems are going to fail.  That means that Will and his team are the guys who keep your train running on time.  Will explains that in many of the transit networks, there are hundreds and thousands of sensors that provide data that can be used to predict failure.  While Big Data abounds, many in heavy transit are new to the Big Data world.  This means that the Predikto team helps clients make the transition to Big Data environments, analyze the data, and provide an output that can allow them to make decisions.

by Lundyn Carter

When it comes to managing Millennials (those born in the mid-70s to the early 2000s) most Baby-Boomer and Gen X managers are stumped.  It is most likely that your boss has a Millennial at home that calls them mom or dad.   Your boss may feel like they “know” you and how you should be managed because after all, they’ve raised someone from the same generation. This is not the case.

It only takes a quick Google search of the words Millennial and engage to find hundreds of articles, studies and blogs right before your eyes.  Unless you live under a rock, it’s common knowledge that 5 years from now, Millennials will make up roughly 75% of the world’s workforce.  This statistic tends to make some Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s want to cash in their 401-k’s and book the next flight to Key West. But for those of you who are still around, listen up! There’s only one option: Embrace us. Embrace our talents and unique ways of thinking.

So what now? What advice could a Millennial such as myself possibly give to my predecessors?  Is it even possible that a generation born with a cell phone in hand can provide valuable advice to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? Is it possible for a 47 year old Sr. Manager to have a genuine connection with a 24 year old Account Manager? The answer is simple: Absolutely! There’s no other option.  In order for a true connection to form, there MUST be a willingness to embrace the unfamiliar and become vulnerable in ways we may have not had to before.  That being said, here are a few ways to connect with your Millennial employees:

Make Room for Meaningful Relationships

The first factor that will engage Millennials in the workplace is as simple as it is essential: relationships. If you want your “twenty something” year old direct-report(s) to contribute in a substantial way, you must develop a connection with them.

“Let us into the conversation. If you don’t want to listen to what I have to say, I will find someone who will!”

Teach Cultural Discernment

Millennials need help learning how to apply their emotions and thoughts to today’s cultural realities in the workplace. Millennials need guidance on engaging with co-workers and leadership.  Companies spend millions in marketing and branding in an effort to highlight diversity and culture in the workplace.  But at the end of the day, if an employee does not feel directly impacted by those efforts, it is all a waste.

“If I feel valued and apart of the larger picture, then I will not only give 110%, I will tweet about it and tell all my friends how awesome of a place this is to work!”

Create Mentoring Opportunities

As a mentee myself, I have had the opportunity to champion stretch assignments and take on responsibilities that have stripped me from my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory.  By stepping out, and taking those chances, I was able to discover my own worth and take my career to the next level.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg

CHALLENGE US!

We want to be challenged. We thrive when we are challenged.  Millenials are confident, individualistic, and love feeling accomplished.  Sometimes we come off as arrogant and self-entitled (2 words that are tied to Millenials quite often) and this may make you feel “uncomfortable” around us.  That’s okay.  All we ask is for you to embrace those feelings and connect with us.  Step out of your comfort zone and find out the REAL story behind who we are.  Building a strong relationship with us, and making the effort to mentor, develop and teach is what it’s all about.

“We are your successors and even if it’s a blow to our egos to admit it, we DO NOT want to let you down!”

by Catherine Baird, PhD

Over the last decade, your society has literally grown up. Even the most environmentally incorrect is now busily forging some sort of alliances with those who more deeply protect your many fragile habitats…You need to use technology to create a proper habitat and not to destroy it. ~Sheldan Nidle, March 10, 2015.

#GSCLIONShare Big Data Conference an interesting question was posed: I’ll paraphrase it as “This Big Data stuff is very interesting, but also very technical. As a BBA major, how do I get involved?

One of the neatest things about Big Data is that it’s so interdisciplinary. It calls for such broad understandings—not just in computer technology or math and statistics (STEM is the common acronym now) or even business, marketing and finance—but all human thought inclusive of philosophy, language, arts and the humanities… holistically, globally.

Did you know that one of the most sought-after disciplines for Big Data recruiters is philosophy?

“First, strategic employers want well-rounded people for their big data initiatives. How’s your Nietzschean philosophy these days?”

“ Jeremy Howard, chief scientist at an Internet startup that runs data prediction competitions has a degree in philosophy. He believes that the key job requirements in data science is really curiosity, flexibility, and the willingness to learn, capabilities that can be found in a wide variety of studies and job backgrounds (Hall, 2012).”

This shift comes from the very nature of Big Data. It’s vast. As we say Big Data is all about the V’s — velocity, volume, variety… (I still argue the 4th V = validity remains an emerging capability!) … So people trained in conceptualizing the big picture and in visualizing and analyzing multiple, seemingly unrelated correlations are in high demand.

Finding those grains of sand on the beach requires we open ourselves to being aware of non-obvious connections, allow for anomalies, and jump into everything from the placement and etymology of words and numbers to location and timing of context. Discovery is definitely not linear. At minimum it’s 3 dimensional. Many Big Data problems (questions) seek 4D or even 5D resolution. The only rule I’ve found is, expect the unexpected!

(A thought for another time… if technology is just humans optimizing their experience with life– doing things faster, and perhaps more accurately than they’d do it by hand–and studies show organizations today are using ~ 10% of the data they have available, hence they’re adopting Big Data to help them use more than that 10% …Whoa! Wait! Doesn’t that sound familiar? How long have we been hearing that human beings are using only ~ 10% of their brain?)

But before I get distracted. This tie back to the humanities and non-technical, scientific training was fascinating for me, especially as I’m one of the anomalies in the field (a Ph.D. in History, B.Sc. in Zoology who somehow took the road less travelled to become a Cloud Computing evangelist and Big Data Architect?)

Recently, I converted my 1997 doctoral thesis into Revolution from Within, a narrative nonfiction covering the story of “The 160” (an elite group of Russian intellectuals exiled from the country by Lenin in 1922), and their interactions with a most unusual sponsor, the YMCA, culminating in the return of their ideas to Russia almost 70 years later with the fall of Communism. The book was released for publication in 2015. For more information, see www.catherinebairdbooks.com.

Thanks to that eclectic evolution, I’ve long been aware that computer programming is really nothing more than another language, a philosophical-logical system devised by humans. All computing is just logic (human’s made-up language). It’s truly all in our minds.

So if Big Data is to be the catalyst that brings people trained in ALL disciplines together once more, I can only welcome and embrace it. For far too long we’ve limited science and the technologies to a very limited, rational, sensationalist (meaning what we can perceive with our senses) perspective. And in the quest for immediate gratification, instant results, I must say that we’ve ignored some very important considerations to our peril. Questions other than “Can we?” or “How fast?” or “How much will it cost?”

Rather than focusing on what can we do now to help the people and the world around us today—safely, securely and responsibly—many Big Data initiatives founder on trying to boil the ocean (cheaply of course) or conquer the world.

It was so inspirational to hear the great story from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta about their “Frankendoop” project. Knowing Big Data could help solve pressing questions about better ways to treat children yet hands tied by non-existent budgets for new hardware, the team cobbled together a Hadoop cluster using PCs and laptops that were headed for the scrap heap.

Literally on a shoestring budget, they interconnected the end-of-life computers, installed Hadoop, and began collecting vital ICU monitoring data, then analyzing it to answer top debates being held between the doctors and nurses in the ward. One outcome was magnificent! Improved pain management leading to faster recovery and self-sufficiency in premature babies. You can read more about this heart-warming story here.

Just like the whole designed implementation of Big Data Ecosystems is holistic, heterogeneous, and unifying—supporting almost unlimited compute and storage paradigms on one cluster—so too are the talent and resource demands of this emerging field requiring people skilled in the full spectrum of disciplines and creative inquiry.

If Big Data is revolutionizing the way human beings work with digital information, it is also disrupting the way human beings work together: breaking down the walls and insisting “no more silos”.

by Justin Holiday

Free GOLD?!… As heard by no one ever in the history of EVER!

In fact, what we know of gold has come at a price of just about everything other than free.  Gold was the first metal widely known to our species.  Since its rumored discovery by a young child in a creek thousands of years ago, it has contributed to every human culture and society. Gold was once referred as “tears of the sun”; the sun being one of the most heralded entities in history.

Gold has been associated with wealth, deity, success, and the glorification of many of history’s most prominent figures. This metal has built, driven, and been at the center of entire countries.  So in essence, gold has transcended its humble discovery, its basic chemical foundation, to become representative of a lifestyle.

So, what is a “Golden” life?

In my humble opinion, I would offer that it is one of high value. It is a life that is fought over, a life that is not just chosen but motivates the chooser through its glimmer. A “Golden” life would transcend basic composition to be considered its own path. This life is not stubborn; it is flexible so under heat and pressure it takes a shape that makes it more valuable than it once was specifically to the consumer. The word Golden suggests that it is gold-like and this description means that regarding the possessor, the choice can be made what attribute is included or discarded.

Now as I mentioned before, I declared that this was my opinion and based on my experience I have been inspired to decide what is included or discarded.

I have a secret…

…I live a Golden life, one that I have been fortunate to be made a part by Golden Source Consultants. 

The life that I described is exactly what I have personally seen with this organization. Because of the work of GSC, companies have seen lasting value which increases the value of GSC. We have been sought out as a result of our branding; we glimmered. Golden Source Consultants has transcended what has been known as the basic composition of a consultant. GSC starts off with one goal, to exceed the needs of the client. A lot of those times require flexibility under high-pressure circumstances, yet in the end this proves Golden Source Consultants even more valuable to the client than what was once believed.

I don’t believe it was a mistake that Golden is in our name. Gold, beauty, and power have always gone together. Golden Source Consultants has the value of gold, production worthy to be declared beautiful, and more than anything we strive to give our clients the power to provide incomparable services.

So make your fuss over us; we won’t prove you wrong. Better yet, let us help you make your own Golden Life.

by Justin Holiday

GIVE. HAVE. LIVE.

LOVE.

In all you are, live LOVE.

The idea of LOVE is a simple one, yet it requires both HOPE and FAITH. In order to truly LOVE one but become so outside of themselves that they are able to, without fail, maintain expectation with confidence in something that is unproven and intangible.

Love is the absolute most powerful emotion and to be one of the shorter words in human language its power has caused wars, brought families together, and has been the impetus behind great sacrifices.

Love cannot be defined, it cannot be described; it can only be felt.

When I was a kid, busy watching television, as us millennial kids have become known for, there was a show with a young man considering the possibility of saying those “three little words” that people wait their whole lives for, “I love you.”  He went to the source of all relationship wisdom, Pop-Pop, his grandfather, and asked a simple question, “Pop, when you were dating grandma, how did you know she was ‘The One’?” Pop-pop, with eyes full of reflective joy, in sage wisdom he responded, “Son, I just knew. There was no great sign, I just knew that there was no one else that I could feel this way for, besides…”, as he laughs to himself,”… there’s no way your grandma would let me live otherwise.”

I just knew.

Pop-pop, wrapped himself in the beauty and wonder of his wife so much so that there was nothing more that he could be for her than LOVE. It ruled the way he operated, thought, spoke, in all things LOVE was he and he was LOVE.

So what Pop-pop could have said is, “While I once professed my love for your grandma, it has become so strong that for her, I have become LOVE. There is nothing else I can do or be when it comes to her and so for all the days I live, I will breathe the LOVE that I have for her.”

In all you are, live LOVE.

Live LOVE.

The beauty of LOVE is that we do not all experience nor do we become it in the same way, LOVE is constantly unique having only one commonality between us, the LOVE that God exemplifies for us. The one true standard for this subject and the only reason we can all be sure that it exists; simply by our existence.

What an amazing thing to know that no matter where your are or who you are, God is so encapsulated by His LOVE for you that despite how you are, if the young man were to ask God the same question, his answer would undoubtedly be, ”I just knew.” He would even go a step further in saying, “Similar to Pop-pop, I breathe Love too. The difference is that, when I breathe LOVE, new life is given.”

Imagine this LOVE in industry, and you would picture Golden Source Consultants. In every project, in every meeting, with every plan, we attempt to prove the unseen. It is a challenge that we welcome as we are so enveloped in the LOVE of the service we provide that we have become LOVE for each and every client, in each and every task.

In all you are, live LOVE.

There is a common saying, “If you LOVE what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” This statement speaks directly to the core of GSC, we do not provide quality in duty, this is unmistakably a LOVE-act; it is who we are, no matter the conditions, budget, not even who is watching. GSC is prepared to perform LOVE-acts, every day, without fail.

In all you are, live LOVE.

Over this series I have kept a secret, these are not separate entities, they are THREE in ONE. Consultants are not perfect, they are not without blemish, they make mistakes, they forget things, and they even become angry. However, when all of these things are embodied by the person of just one, they are able to influence outcomes through a positive perspective, which causes them to provide uncommon results at rare standards.

GSC is always HOPEFUL, while expecting with confidence that FAITH in the unproven, will eventually show itself as LOVE through the incredible results of unmatched quality

In all you do, give hope, that you may show your good faith, so your love may live beyond you.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.
Every event had standards—times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”
A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.
No one wanted a circus.
A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.
But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.
But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students-—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.
The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.
Life is filled with circuses.
You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
Circus1
Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, University of Texas, 2014 Commencement Address

There are plenty of books written about failure. How you should overcome it, how you can avoid it, how you can fail forward. The bottom line that Naval Admiral McRaven makes in this part of his speech is that you have a choice in the final outcome of each failure. Let’s take a moment to break down the “F” word and how you can respond like a SEAL.

Ring Master Responsibilities

McRaven reminds us that standards were important to his organization. Having standards means that people don’t always live up to those standards. There was no pat on the back, gold star, or ribbon for participation. You met the standard or you didn’t.

The SEAL Instructors were the one holding the trainees to the SEAL standards. They ran the circus, and made sure that for those who were asked to stay behind, they knew why they were there and what they needed to do in the future to meet expectations. The instructors had the demanding job of not only identifying who didn’t perform but for letting them know and correcting them.

In the work place I see two areas where this typically plays out. First is when a manager reviews work of a reporting employee. We’ve been coached that as leaders we need to be inspiring and encouraging. Telling someone their work didn’t measure up to the standards sounds contradictory. No one wants to be “that boss”. But feedback about failing to meet expectations doesn’t have to be incongruous with being inspiring and encouraging. Here are a few tips that can help managers feel more comfortable sharing feedback about failures:

Make an agreement with your team that because you care about the goals of the group and about them achieving big things, you will always provide feedback when things don’t measure up. Let the team know you will always be the first to tell them when something didn’t go right, but you will be the first person to defend them in battle.
Be open to hearing the reasons for failure, but don’t accept excuses. Make sure your team is ready to provide you with a reason, but more importantly, an action plan to make sure there is improvement.
Find the leaders on your team who will rally the troops and engage them in helping to in force the standards. Not every conversation has to be escalated. Sometimes your best reinforcement is the peer group.

Calisthenics

When are trying to achieve something we have never done before we have to start with small steps that allow us to achieve the mechanics. The SEALS were training to run an obstacle course, but eventually that would be a mission in enemy territory. The SEALS didn’t start with the mission, or even the obstacle course. They started with calisthenics.

Day in and day out, they repeated exercises that built the raw strength and mechanics they would need to succeed in a bigger task. The circuses allowed them to fine tune and continue to work on the skills they were falling short in. The repetition, over and over of these small exercises, while painful and tiring allowed each individual to improve their performance.

As you’re working with your team or even your own goals, what are the small exercises you can go through that will prepare you for the bigger task at hand. If you’re trying to cut expenses, how often are you reviewing your expense reports? If you’re trying to increase sales, how many times have you reached out to customers for feedback? Get yourself and your team in the habit of doing the things that allow you to complete the mission…even if it means a circus drill!

Inner Strength – Outer Resiliency

circus 2McRaven reminds us that despite all our preparation, failures will occur along our mission. The importance of the circus was not just to practice how to succeed, but practicing how to fail. Every time a SEAL was assigned to a circus they knew they had failed. The circus wasn’t fun. The circus was another two hours of pain that they didn’t want to go through. That pain reminded them they just didn’t measure up that day. They survived though.

Each time a SEAL completed a circus they learned that even in failure they were able to persevere. It wasn’t so much about being perfect. It was about making it through the circus to show up the next day and have a fresh start. This inner strength allows them to complete every mission, even when something inevitably goes wrong. These men are never phased because they know the drill continues and the next little action will allow them to move forward and change the outcome.

As we enter 2015, make a decision that you’re not going to count the number of circuses you qualified for, but the number of times you improved from the circuses you survived!

sugar cookie 3Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.

Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle—- it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would find “something” wrong.

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.

Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

It’s just the way life is sometimes.

Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, University of Texas, 2014 Commencement Address

Admiral McRaven’s comments in this post may seem defeatist. Who wants to accept the fact that their efforts were in vain? No one wants to feel underappreciated. As consultants, Golden Source Consultants always strives for 100% customer satisfaction. And yet, it can sometimes seem as though the hard work goes unnoticed. Sometimes our clients experience this from their management, as the results of the project may go unnoticed by the larger organization. In this post, we will review some of the best ways the GSC team has found to help each other and our clients through “sugar cookie” moments

Prepare For The Inspection

In work and in life, each of us is subject to inspection. The truth is, that while this inspection seems harsh or unfair, it’s ultimately for our own benefit. The inspection allows us to be held accountable to a higher standard. When we have our failings pointed out, this is an opportunity to find a way to improve.

For the Golden Source Consultants team we have a strict set of standards that our deliverables must meet. Each deliverable must go through review to ensure that everything from the way the document is formatted, the wording used, and the actual quantitative analysis is accurate. Sometimes GSC leadership asks for small changes, and sometimes not so small changes. These changes may inherently change the structure of the deliverable itself. If our team didn’t understand our mission of being committed to quality and delivery this might feel to be “nit-picky”. Knowing that each deliverable will ultimately be inspected by our client, this strict internal review process pushes our team to improve so that the final inspection is a reward not a punishment. Seen in this way, inspection becomes the vehicle by which our team improves and encourages them to be constantly prepared.

Inspection is also the way we help our clients improve. We hear frequently in our work with client PMOs or in implementing new processes that there is resistance to governance and review. To combat this be prepared to explain to stakeholders clearly what the standards are, and why they are critical to quality. When individuals understand why something is important, they are more likely to not only participate in feedback, but seek it. Also share with your team the victories that were won due to finding a change early in the inspection process. Often these small saves early can have big effects on long term profit.

Be A Willing and Grateful Participant
1st Phase Sugar Cookie
In life we may not be able to choose whether or not we are inspected. Despite our best preparation, we may be subject to feedback saying we did not meet the standard. What we can always choose, is our response to this feedback.

Feedback should always be seen as a positive, even if the tone and manner of delivery is not. When bad feedback happens, take a deep breath and be ready to willingly participate in the discussion. Ask questions to understand the feedback and how you or the deliverable might improve. Try to get specifics by asking for examples.

In doing so your goal is not to find a gotcha to refute the feedback, but to find a way to gratefully accept the feedback, valid or invalid, so that you may improve. If the feedback is valid, someone has provided you with a concrete area where you now know you need to improve. If the feedback is invalid, there is still an opportunity to understand what was miscommunicated or misunderstood so that in the future the inspection is successful.

Often times, this attitude of willingness and gratefulness allow you to pass a much greater test. Just as the SEALs were subject to inspection, their attitude could have been one of anger or ingratitude that they had been singled out for correction. Instead for the successful SEALs, they saw past this short term suffering and realized that the inspection, and even the experience of being a sugar cookie, allowed them to pursue excellence. This excellence in even the smallest things, allowed them to make it through the mentally and physically grueling SEAL training.

Be Your Own Champion

sugar cookie 2At the end of the day, there may be no one that says “Thank you.” Your work may go completely unappreciated. That’s a hard realization for anyone to come to, because no matter who we work for or what we do, each of us want to leave at the end of the day feeling like our work mattered.

So if it is not a Thank You from your employer or client, take the smile from a stranger as sign that someone is grateful that you acknowledge them. Take the feeling of accomplishment after an evening run or gym workout. Enjoy the dinner at home with your family cooked by your oldest child. You are the champion in each of these things, and in each of these know that somewhere out there, thanks to the work you did in any given moment, there is someone just like you enjoying their own small moments just because you were a sugar cookie today.

The University’s slogan is,
“What starts here changes the world.”
I have to admit—I kinda like it.
“What starts here changes the world.”
Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.
That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.
That’s a lot of folks.
But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people—just ten—then in five generations—125 years—the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
800 million people—think of it—over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.
If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people—change their lives forever—you’re wrong.
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.
In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn—were also saved. And their children’s children—were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.
So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is… what will the world look like after you change it?
Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.
And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.
It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.
Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.

mcraven

Naval Admiral William H. McRaven,University of Texas, 2014 Commencement Address

The Breakdown

“What starts here changes the world.”

In Austin, Texas 8,000 students learned that motto. They heard it often and for many it inspired their selection of the University of Texas as their school of choice. But each of these 8,000 students, upon graduating heard that same statement, not just as a motto, but as a call to action.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Starting is a big part of that statement. You see, it is not enough for the students to learn from their professors, their peers, and their mentors at UT. That is just the start. They have to leave and act on what they have learned. They have to act. They have to start. They have to take that first step that will be unknown and scary, but allow the momentum to begin to build.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Here. It starts, but where? Here. Right here. It’s not distant, it’s not somewhere you will be, might be, or could be. It’s here. You have an opportunity in the present. You have an opportunity to ACT in the present. Take it.

“What starts here changes the world.”

Changes. It doesn’t remain static, it doesn’t adjust slightly, it doesn’t evolve, it doesn’t morph. It changes. It fundamentally stops being one thing and starts being something completely new. So these students are learning that when they act, when they start doing something, the expected result is change. It is not to maintain the status quo. It is not to maintain anything. It is to change.

“What starts here changes the world.”

The world. The impact of the change is not meant to be localized. It’s not meant to only change the person acting. It’s not meant to only impact their family and friends. It’s not meant to only impact their communities, or their countries. It’s bigger. It’s the entire world.

Theory Applied

Dear reader, why did I take you through that painfully exhaustive list? You’re a consultant, a client, a talented professional who doesn’t need a college ra ra speech, and you certainly don’t need an interpreter. But dear reader, we often miss that our own work and projects should be fulfilled by this very statement. “What starts here changes the world.”

In our professional lives, no matter what our industry, each of us look at the challenges we face and often decide “That challenge is going to have to wait for another day. It’s too big to solve. It will take money, time, and talent that my department doesn’t have to solve this challenge.” Dear friends, you have been called to act. You have been called to start. That doesn’t mean tomorrow the challenge will be gone, but it means you have started.

We lose our momentum quickly though as we think about the future. When we as good Project Managers and Project Sponsors do our due diligence on the Stakeholder Analysis, we identify that the future goal is big. It’s far away, across many divisions, reaching all the way to even the most remote of our clients. But remember, your actions start here. They start right where you are, affecting the things that you work on and how you handle the challenge. Where you are is the perfect place to start. Right now, is the perfect time to start.

Dear reader, change is what you are starting in your organization. Your goal is not to simply check the box and punch the time card, it is to enact change to improve your organization. People’s feathers will be ruffled. You will encounter resistance. You are a “change champion”. Don’t settle for the status quo or “the way it has always been”. Start here, to make change that grows your business and helps your customers. Internal customers, external customers, domestic, international, private, non-profit, public….the world.

The Challenge

Naval Admiral William H. McRaven challenged the students graduating that day to change the lives of ten people in their life.

In your daily work, how many people do you interact with? Ten? Less than ten? More than ten? One. That is all you need to interact with. And if you don’t interact with anyone in your work, start with yourself. How can you help change the life of someone you work with?

I have another challenge for you. On your project, list out ten changes that your company, your team, and your customer will benefit from. How will your customer’s customer benefit from the change? How will the change you are making impact the world.

This sounds big, but if you can state this, if you can see this, you see and understand your strategy.

“What starts here changes the world.”