Episode 168 Joe Bogdan Pushing Outside Your Comfort Zone Transcript

This transcript is from episode 168 with guest Joe Bogdan.

Scott DeLuzio   00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Joe Bogdan. Joe is a co-founder of Llama Leadership, and he’s the host of the Llama Lounge Podcast. He’s also currently serving in the US Air Force and he’s agreed to come on the show and share some of his experiences and chat about his time in the Air Force, and everything that he’s learned along the way. Welcome to the show, Joe. Glad to have you.  

Joe Bogdan   00:00:51    Oh man. It’s great to be here, Scott. I’m really grateful that you gave me the opportunity to come on and just share a little bit and have a great conversation with you.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:00:59    Yeah, absolutely. I’m really, really pleased that you’re on the show. I’ve listened to a few episodes that you’ve done on your podcast and also on some other shows where you’ve talked about your background and to me, it’s really interesting to learn about the path that you’ve taken- going from your childhood into the military and what you’ve learned along the way.  I wanna try to get some of that out today in this episode and go from there. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Who Joe is, and where did he come from? 

Joe Bogdan   00:01:46    All right, cool. So,  yeah, I appreciate the opportunity. I’m Joe Bogdan and I am currently an Air force chief master Sergeant stationed at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea.  I’ve been serving for about 21 years. I just hit my 21-year mark about a week ago. It’s been fantastic. I’m married. My wife is also on active duty. She’s a dental hygienist in the air force, a Master Sergeant, and we’re out here together and we’re just really enjoying Korea. Interestingly enough, I was actually, this is my third tour here in Osan. I was born outside of the gates at Osan Air Base in wartime. Back in 1981. I don’t remember a lot from that time. I Moved to the states as an infant, but I was the only child of a single mom.  

Joe Bogdan    00:02:43   I didn’t know my biological father.  But my mom met a staff Sergeant that was a public affairs NCO here at Osan.  They got married and we moved to the states. That was, when I moved to the states when I was an infant, and don’t remember a lot about that time. I lived over at McGuire air force base in Jersey, and that was my first exposure to the states. I didn’t speak a lick of English. I started going to school. My mom wanted to send me to preschool immediately. I’m in preschool. I’m not understanding anything that people are saying.  I was pretty much the only person that looked like me at school at the time. Growing up, I got into a lot of fights because I didn’t know what people were saying to me, but I could tell it was derogatory.  

Joe Bogdan    00:03:28    My mom told me, man, I remember one thing is you stayed home. You came home one day after a bunch of fights and said, I’m not going to go back to not, I’m not going back to school until I learn English. I sat there and met my first hero, which was Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers taught me English by sitting there just watching. It was an interesting childhood.  My mother and my stepfather at the time got divorced soon after they didn’t stay married, too long, bounced around the east coast.  My mother didn’t speak very good English and was an unskilled labor immigrant. I moved to New York City where she could find some work.  I was pretty much a latchkey child at that time.  

Joe Bogdan     00:04:10     I learned a lot to be independent. Then my mom ended up meeting a construction worker and then we moved over to Washington State because construction was just booming in the nineties. That’s when I really felt like I was at home. That was the first time I felt at home, in the great Pacific Northwest, a very progressive area. I felt like I saw people that looked like me a lot more in that area. I just really appreciated that place. I went to high school there. Then I realized that I needed to do something new in my life. I joined the delayed entry program for the army at 17, right out of high school. I decided that I didn’t want to do that because I found out what a combat engineer actually does.  

Joe Bogdan    00:04:55     I decided that’s probably not for me. I don’t see a lot of transferable skills and I was planning on just doing four or six years and then get out and go back to the civilian community. I got out of that contract and joined the Air Force. I became an electrical power production guy, a hybrid generator, electrical mechanic, and, still plan on four to six years and ended up 21 years later, still here, loving my life, loving the career, and just enjoying it, traveled all over the world, been over in USAFI and  Europe and been in Pacific air forces over in Korea, in Japan, quite a bit of my career. And then, did some career-broadening and in social services for a little while too. It’s four years of that, where I kind of rounded out and became a more well-rounded leader, learned some critical skills that I just didn’t have, like empathy, kindness, and generosity until I started working there. I’m just living life and loving it.  I’m just grateful for these opportunities to talk to amazing people. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:05:58    Hey, that’s great.  I appreciate you sharing a little bit about your background. I think that that sometimes helps kinda shape the conversation. People understand who you are, where you’re coming from, especially with a childhood like the one that you had, where you were an immigrant, you came into this country, not knowing how to speak English. That’s a challenge in and of itself, which you had to overcome. Figuring out this whole new culture, this whole new way of life and the culture within the United States for people like yourself, who’ve, who’ve lived in different parts of the country is totally different from one place to another. But the Northeast is different from the Southeast, from the Northwest to the central, like there’s just so many different cultures throughout the country.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:06:46    We have one shared culture too, but, we’re a lot of things you have certain holidays and stuff, it’s all shared. Just the way people interact with each other and everything is different from one place to another. That’s probably difficult as a young kid coming into this whole new world and trying to wrap your head around all that stuff. It’s kind of interesting to see that. You said that you were in the delayed entry program with the army, but kind of wanted to switch out of that. What made you go into the Air Force, and how did you come to that conclusion?  

Joe Bogdan    00:07:24    Interesting and kind of backtracking a little bit on that story. I’m 17 years old.  I’m thinking, man, I’m a young kid. I want to be a badass. I joined the Army. I joined the delayed entry program. I’m working at Wendy’s at the time or something,  I’m like, all right, let’s go do this. I do that.  I realized like I said, there were actually a lot of veterans that worked at Wendy’s with me, and a lot of them were in the Army and they’re telling me like, what does that do?  I was like, well, I thought, it was cool. It’d be engineering stuff in a combat environment. I think that’s pretty cool. They’re like, well, you’re really just going to be like blowing stuff up a lot and being in the field nonstop.  

Joe Bogdan     00:08:02     I was like, wait, what? I got out of that program, and the recruiter, the army recruiter, told me, he was like, well, if you do that, you’re not going to be able to join any other service for two years. I was like, I don’t care. I’m fine.  I get out, about a year later, the same recruiting office calls me and says, Hey, are you wondering if you changed your mind? And I was like, well, why would I, why would you call me to ask me if I could change my mind? If you said I can’t join any service for two years, that doesn’t make any sense. At that point, my life was just kind of like, my mother had a lot of relationship issues and they had gambling issues and money, all kinds of just stuff.

Joe Bogdan     00:08:44    We were just living check to check and I was being the sole provider at that point.  Fast forward a little bit into this year later. We were getting evicted from the house and I was hanging out around a lot of great people, but also some people that probably weren’t great influences. I just saw bad things happening. I was like, man, well, this person just called me and asked me a question that made me feel like the doors were open. Maybe he wasn’t being fully honest about me not being able to join any service for two years. I talked to my uncle who was a retired Chief Master Sergeant. He said, why did you ever think about joining the Army anyway? Why don’t you join the Air Force? That’s our family business. So I want the Air Force recruiter to ask them, Hey, this guy told me I can’t join any service for two years. Because I got out of the delayed entry program. Is that true? He said I don’t think so. Let me look that up. They went to policies that no, that’s completely BS. You can join, you have your DD 214, you can join the Air Force.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:09:43     Wait a recruiter lied to you. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.  

Joe Bogdan     00:09:48   I don’t mean,  I don’t want to bash on recruiters. I have a lot of friends that do some great work in that. But yeah, that was definitely my first engagement with the recruiter. The guy was very slick and yeah, so that’s kind of the story. I told them this time, the Air Force recruiter, I said, Hey, get me a job that I can leave ASAP because if I sit here and have time to think about it, what happens when you’re a young teenager? Like, oh, I got a new girlfriend. I have no reasons to stay here.  I was like,, anything you get me out in the next couple of weeks. He told me about this job in the civil engineering career field, working on backup power systems. It sounds good. Send it. Next thing, I’m getting yelled at in basic training.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:10:30    That’s probably another culture shock for you to where, where you’re just in a matter of, whatever that was 18 years or so from, from you coming to the United States, going into the military and everything. You’re going from one culture to another, and then, but now here you are in boot camp going through getting yelled at and getting probably trash cans thrown at you and all that kind of stuff that the people put in there.

Joe Bogdan     00:11:06    Funny enough though it should have been a whole new world, but growing up in my household that wasn’t like getting yelled at, it was pretty common. Just kind of growing up. My mom was the product of what she grew up with. It was a very, very loud household. Some of that stuff was actually able to adjust to. But what I found funny is what you said about how the country is so different, right. Different areas. My first assignment was Robins Air Force Base, in Robbins, Georgia, middle Georgia. I had never been to the south before, man. I grew up a little bit on the east coast, from New Jersey to New York City in Jackson Heights, Queens. I moved all the way over to the Pacific Northwest. Love it. Then I moved to Georgia and I felt like that was my first assignment. I felt like I should have just gone overseas. It was so different from anything I have experienced.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:12:00    That’s what I meant with the different cultures throughout the country. I mean, the south is its own different animal, and it has its own environment down there.  I can imagine that being exactly like what you said, feeling like you might as well have been in another country, just really different there. When we talked a couple of weeks ago, before this recording, I was on your podcast a couple of weeks ago. Then before that, we had chatted a little bit too, but you had mentioned a little bit about your upbringing and you just mentioned it now. It was pretty strict and a lot of yelling and all that kind of stuff in your family. You had mentioned something about how your upbringing sort of prevented you from pushing outside of your own comfort zone. What was that for you? What was that? Were there some self-limiting beliefs or what was going on with that and how did that impact you in your military career? 

Joe Bogdan   00:13:20    When I was growing up, there were a lot of great things that I learned growing up from my household and essentially my mother.  There was a lot of stuff. I gained weight when I was a latchkey child. She was at work a lot. I learned how to be very independent. I had to grow up really quick. My mother didn’t speak very good English, so I would have to dodge the bill collectors as an eight-year-old. On the phone, I’m learning how to try to navigate through these situations. It wasn’t quite like showing shamelessness, but there were a lot of times. We had to figure things out to get to the next paycheck or whatever that might be. 

Joe Bogdan     00:13:59    I was a kid who went home and had microwave meals, basically, that was shopping for the week. We went to get microwave meals because even though I was home alone all the time, I was only allowed to use the microwave, never the stove in case it caught the place on fire while she was at work. This is kind of the environment that I lived in, and it was in New York City and it wasn’t the nicest area. There’s a lot of just staying home, don’t go out, and playing because it’s dangerous out there. Those were kind of the environment.  I remember my mother being a first-generation immigrant as well. A lot of Asian households I know there’s a lot of other households and cultures that are similar to this, but this is what I know.  

Joe Bogdan     00:14:40   A lot of my friends that are Asian and experience something similar is that you kind of get held to the standard, like when you bring home a 97, the question is where’s, the other three is, it’s not a good job. What happened to the other 3%? That’s the way I was kind of brought up is like, you got to get perfect. You gotta be perfect all the time. It went really well, it was really rough. conversations would be had, you’d be even grounded at times,  like just all kinds of altercations that could happen. There was a lot of pressure and area, I think that and I didn’t realize at the time, but I reflected back years later.  

Joe Bogdan     00:15:24    I thought about myself as a young airman and I’m growing up and I really thought about it. That environment created this, this place within me, that I didn’t ever want to step outside my comfort zone. I’d never wanted to do anything that I knew. I wasn’t going to get a perfect on, because what happens is when you bring on 97 and they always ask, what are the 3% is now. I don’t want to take an advanced placement course because man if I take a course that I know that it’s going to be very challenging and I’m not sure if I’m going to succeed and get a hundred on it, it’s going to be bad conversations at home. Now I’m only gonna pick stuff that I know I’m going to do well at. There was a positive part of it, like, I always want to do well there’s a drive, but then there’s another part of it is, oh my goodness.  

Joe Bogdan     00:16:08    I don’t want to step out and possibly fail. I realized that actually bled into my military career too because I was only putting myself in situations that I was going to succeed in. I only put my hand up on things that I knew I was going to do well at. Luckily I was talented in a lot of things, but it still limited me. What even made it worse was that I was being reinforced. That behavior was being reinforced because I was winning awards. I was getting promoted pretty quickly because I was doing so well at those things, but I never stepped outside my comfort zone. I didn’t realize how limited I was until I started working at the social service center because it just totally broadened my horizons and gave me a lot of resiliency skills.  

Joe Bogdan    00:16:55    That’s when it gave me the time to reflect. I looked back and when I was an airman, I wasn’t angry a lot. A lot of my teammates and friends would probably remember me as kind of being a jerk and, looking self-centered and arrogant and never able to be wrong. I think that a lot of that came from this feeling that I always have to be right.  I need to win. I have to win it. Even if I’m wrong, I got to figure out how to be. Maybe that gave me some good debate skills, but it didn’t help me build relationships. I looked back at that and I feel a little bit shameful about the behavior that I had when I was young.  

Joe Bogdan    00:17:34     I think it really did. Having that reflection now helps me look back at that and grow from it. When the light turned on, I just started putting myself in situations that I had no idea if I was going to succeed in, and now I embraced that. I love it. The world is totally different now, I get to do things that stretch me. I get to learn more and it’s just so much more fulfilling, and I think that you will never find your purpose and meaning if you stay, sit in that box in that, in that comfort zone, you have to stretch beyond that for, to really understand and be able to walk in that purpose.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:18:13    Yeah, absolutely. What was the tipping point for you? Where did you come to that conclusion ?  I’m kinda weighing myself down here and not allowing myself to achieve all the things that I am capable of achieving, because of this. So what was that?  

Joe Bogdan    00:18:36    I think it progressed from step one to step two, step one was having someone that believed in me and saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And that was a mentor who pushed me to step outside and go work in social services. I did not want to work at the airman and family readiness center, and each branch has their own version of it.  ACS, you got the Naval Fleet Services. Air Force, we call it the airman and family readiness center.  I had a mentor call me and a previous first Sergeant called me who was working there and said, Hey, do you want to come work over here? I think you’d be great at this job. I didn’t even know military work there, you work there, like, well, that’s weird.

Joe Bogdan     00:19:15, I think you’d be great for this job.  I like social services, like working with families and stuff. I was like, I don’t think that’s a good fit at all, but, out of respect for him, I was like, do you mind if I think about it for a little bit. I was like, yeah. In my mind, I’ve already shut down this op I’m just like, no, this is not for me. I had another mentor tell me, I was just telling her about it. It’s just like, this is almost kind of blowing it off. He actually thought I’d be good at that.  Let’s go over there and take a look. Let’s go over there and see what you’d be doing.  

Joe Bogdan   00:19:51    So she grabbed me up and we went over there. She knew all the right questions to ask, just like a good mentor would. So she walked me through asking the right questions. Then at the end, I was like, yeah. So see, this isn’t really for me. She said, no, this is a hundred percent for you. You need to do this. You step out of your comfort zone and try to do something different.  I was not convinced, but because I had faith in her and I didn’t want to let her down because clearly, she had seen something in me that I didn’t see.  I took the job and that was like that first step into stepping completely out of my comfort zone, but I had to get pushed, somebody had to push me when I was in that job, I think just the work ethic is something I always had. Maybe I didn’t have the best people skills, but I always had work ethic.  

Joe Bogdan     00:20:37    I wanted to do the best at that job.  I had to learn, I had to study, and I did put in the due diligence to figure out how to do this, but at some point, the timing just worked out perfect. And this new program called master resilience training was going on. The comprehensive soldier fitness army was pushing out this huge program and sending hundreds of soldiers at a time to the University of Pennsylvania to learn about grit and mental toughness. And it was all in efforts to try to figure out the issues with PTSD and soldier suicides. That was on the rise in the mid to late 2000, 2007 ish, 2008. This program started really launching. In the Air Force, we got a couple of opportunities to go do that.  

Joe Bogdan     00:21:24    They, the Army shot through a couple of bones at us. I got to be one of those very few. You’d have 200 soldiers and maybe eight airmen in that class. I got to go do that and spend some time with the Army and get some great training on perspectives, cognitive behavioral therapy, like just understanding self-awareness. I will still say to this day changed my life. I got to learn from the lessons of Dr. Marty Seligman and Dr. Karen Reivich. These are just some of the pioneers of positive psychology. I gained a lot of skills there, and I remember coming back from that course feeling like, how do I apply these things?  The first thing I came back that I really remember, it was a challenge I was trying to clip out of.  Basically do a college test out of a course.  

Joe Bogdan    00:22:17    It was on human relations. I was like, HR. Yeah. We’re supervisors in the military HR masters. Because we can’t fire anybody. We got to figure out how to do progressive discipline. We’ve got to figure out what motivates you. Like it’s non-stop and it’s 24 hours a day. You don’t get an opportunity to just send somebody home. You have to worry about them. You have to think about whether or not they’re healthy. If they’re stinky, when they come to work, you gotta figure out why they’re stinky? Do they not have money to buy laundry? You got to go through all of those things. So like when it comes to just being a great supervisor and a human relations person, I think military members, we get a crash course in that.  

Joe Bogdan    00:22:56, I’ll go clip this. I can test out this class.  The first 10 questions on that test were about overseas union agreements. I was like, I don’t know anything about this stuff. Oh, man. Or even before that class, I would’ve got out after a question eight that I had no, no, nothing about just got up. But that resiliency class, I started thinking, I was like, no, wait, let’s do one. Some of the lessons I learned, I was like, okay, one frame at a time, one question at a time, let’s just do our best and forget the first eight let’s live in the now and just do our best. I got through that test and I barely passed it,

Joe Bogdan     00:23:38    I thought about it. I was like, this is not something I would have done before. If there’s like a light moment, it was a class. That acknowledged the affirmation of what I learned in that class, through that test, it’s a small thing, but I remember that. After that, I just applied all those skills to everything. I’m not perfect at it until even this day, but relationships are better, stretching out of my comfort zones now. Recently I even signed up at my church and needed some audiovisual support. I know nothing about that stuff.  I was like, well, shoot, if you could train me, I’ll do it.  I’m always looking for new things to do, to keep myself inspired as a leader because if you’re not inspired, we’ve all worked for uninspired leaders at some point in our career. I think that just finding ways to continuously grow keeps you inspired and prevents you from putting the lid on the inspiration of your people,  and the growth of your people. These are just the kind of things that I’ve kind of grown from. In a long answer to your question, I think it was a couple of things, but being forced out and then getting some lessons and then applying them, I think it all happened between probably a year, 10 to 12 of my career, honestly. 

Scott DeLuzio  00:24:56    Yeah. I like how you’re saying, how someone kind of pushed you outside of your comfort zone and that helped you kind of realize that you were capable of the things that you weren’t necessarily comfortable with, but you still can do it. I’ve experienced the same kind of thing in my life. What I do now has to do with websites,  programming, and things like that. When I was in college, my dad was starting a company and he needed a website. I asked him, is there anything I could do to help you? He’s starting this business. What can I do to help you? He says, well, I need a website. Build me a website.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:25:42    I was like, oh, I don’t know how to build a website. I’ve never done that before. He goes, well, go buy a book and figure it out. This is like early two thousands when it was like, before all the YouTube videos and everything was online at that. It wasn’t all online at that point. I went out and I bought a book, to figure out how to do that. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I had never done any sort of coding or anything before. I found out that I actually enjoyed it and, the process itself sucked, like, but because I kept doing things and failing and failing and failing and failing, but then eventually once I figured things out, I was like, okay, this is actually not that hard.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:26:25     I can do this now. Now I have this other tool in my tool belt that I can use going forward. I’ve turned it into a career now. 20 plus years later, I’m still doing it. It’s very satisfying to be able to look back and see the path that you’ve taken, the struggles that you’ve gone through, and see the success that comes from that and everything.  I can sort of relate to where you’re coming from there, where you kind of get pushed outside of that comfort zone. But then, then you can look back and see that it wasn’t so bad. Something that you can be proud of afterward, right?  

Joe Bogdan    00:27:05    Yeah, absolutely. I think that your story is very similar in many ways. I think it’s really kind of getting back to that point where I didn’t really elaborate on so much that I think you tend to find your amazing or whatever it is that you get to embrace the amazing that is you when you step outside because it’s not going to be in that comfort zone. And this is just my thoughts on it. A lot of times, you find your purpose and meaning outside of your comfort zone, it’s not going to be sitting there. I get we all have our strengths, but we don’t know what all of our strengths are until we step out. We get exposed to different things. I didn’t realize that I would get into such things like resiliency and teaching and all these things.  

Joe Bogdan     00:27:50    I discovered that when I was outside of my comfort zone, and I don’t think I can only imagine if I never did, what potential I’m leaving out there, I’m leaving on the table and we talk about like, you’re at the pearly gates and then like Goggins talks about it and you see a list of things. I didn’t do any of that. What else am I supposed to do? What else am I supposed to learn about?  I think it’s just brought so much more fulfillment and like, you stepped out, you got pushed out and now it’s like, what you love to do. I think that happens very often for people.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:28:34    Just like you said, you’re built to do certain things. Certain people have an eye for design like maybe interior design or decorating and all that kind of stuff or other people have an eye for, they’re better with people skills and stuff like that. But you don’t know necessarily what those skills are that you’re good at and that you enjoy doing and in what your purpose and what your passion is going to be until you put yourself in those positions, where you’re trying to do some of these things. You may try some of these things and you may find out that’s totally not for you. It’s not the thing that you want to do. So you don’t waste your time going down that path of this, whatever this thing is that, that you’re not meant to be doing, that frees you up now to go pursue other things that you’re going to be more passionate about. Just internally you’re just going to be better at it because that’s just how you’re built.

Joe Bogdan     00:29:50    I don’t find that you tend to find some of those things that we talk about what your passions are and what you really are great at while you’re sitting in the cage of your own mind. These self-limiting beliefs that you’re talking about. If I’m just sitting on the occasion, I’m not willing to go outside. And I got the key in my hand, I’m just not willing to unlock the door and walk out as myself. I’m just not gonna be able to see what potential is out there. You will have to run into things that you don’t like, and you’re not happy with,  and that you don’t like doing, and they’re not good at maybe.  Those are even opportunities to show character. I say this often, I was like people that put in great effort and enjoy, and just only want to do the things that they’re good at, or that they want to do. That’s called normal. Doesn’t know who, who doesn’t.. But, like the people who are willing to put in that same effort into things that they, that they don’t want to do, or that they don’t necessarily know that they’re going to be good at, that’s called character. developing character is also outside of that comfort zone as well.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:30:52    Yeah, absolutely. I mean, anything that you do that’s a little bit scary. Pushing you in directions that you wouldn’t typically go in is going to help you grow. Even if that thing that you try ends up in, let’s just call it a failure.  I don’t really think of it as a failure, but if it turns out that it’s not the thing that you find yourself passionate about, or that something that you’ve tried, didn’t succeed. For example,  if you went to that family readiness center and you started working there and you just were blowing it and you just weren’t getting it and you weren’t doing a good job there, or whatever, at least you’ve tried. Well, this type of work is not really for me.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:31:44    This is not the type of thing that I need to be doing, but you tried it, you did it and you succeeded and that helped you advance in your career. I think either way, whatever the outcome is, it’s going to be helpful in terms of pushing you in the right direction. It may push you away from certain things because you try something and you’re like, okay, that’s, that’s not for me. It could also push you towards certain things because it’s going to just help you figure out what, what is or is not the path that you want to take.  

Joe Bogdan     00:32:21    It’s all feedback and I think that in life, we always think that somebody is supposed to sit down with us and give us all this feedback. And no, and I even said this to my team the other day, when I was welcoming some new engineers to my unit, and I’m saying not everybody deserves feedback, Then they kind of look at you like what, this is completely against a bumper sticker that the only employees, not everybody deserves feedback if you’re not, willing to, receive feedback with an open mind, open heart and without excuses and externalizing, all the reasons why you can’t or whatever, right? You don’t deserve feedback. Who wants to keep giving feedback to somebody who’s always making excuses and not willing to try new things, these and in life.  

Joe Bogdan     00:33:03    I was alluding to the fact that we should also be seeking feedback in ways that it’s not just necessarily a formal feedback session. Life has given you feedback every day.. There’s stuff happening in my knee that hurts in the morning. There’s some feedback, what I mean? I’m getting feedback throughout. I eat something that doesn’t work out well for my stomach. That’s feedback. What’s not said that’s feedback, in conversations. I think that we need to be able to all become students of human behavior, especially as leaders to identify where that feedback’s coming from and what we can take from it. The more you expose yourself outside of your comfort zone and things like that, the more feedback you’re going to be able to receive and hone and understand that this is for me, this is not for me. This is something I want to do, but I’m not great at, and maybe I can still, keep trying and gain more from that, but you have to be able to expose yourself to some more feedback or you’ll never get there,

Scott DeLuzio   00:34:03    Yeah.  I think I may have the number wrong this year, so don’t quote me on this percentage. But I think as far as communication goes,  I think it’s somewhere around like 70 or 80% of communication is non-verbal communication. It’s your body language. It’s how people react to things. You’re talking about feedback, right? If you’re interacting with someone and they’re\they’re giving you this look like, who is this guy? That’s some feedback for you, or if they’re looking at you, like in awe, like, oh my gosh, this is so amazing. It was, oh, that’s more feedback. Okay. You’re doing something right there. it’s important to pay attention to all the feedback,  like you were saying before, you might have a pain in your body or, something else, there’s just feedback all around us. It’s really just opening up our eyes and our ears, all of our senses, really, to receive that feedback and understand what it is that is going on around us.  

Joe Bogdan    00:35:09     I think that, and you bring up a good point. Be willing to kind of be in that stillness and do some inner work.  I think that’s what happens a lot. We get angry, and then we don’t really do the time to think about what’s an indicator of What’s going on here? Why am I angry about that thing? Or and we just kinda roll with it. We just let feelings dictate, how are we going to behave? I think understanding that internal feedback as well,  the world is full of feedback. When somebody says I don’t ever get feedback, I’m like, well, you’re just not paying attention, man. It’s just not paying attention.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:35:53    Yeah, exactly. The feedback is all around us. I want to switch gears just a little bit here real quick if we could. When we chatted a few weeks ago, we also talked about your return from your deployment to Iraq,  and how difficult it was for you to find people who you could talk to that understood what you went through. You came back as a single airman.  You were, basically in the barracks, just kind of hanging out on your own, on your own for a little while. What was that deployment like and kind of what went on there and what were some of the difficulties that you faced after getting back from that deployment?  

Joe Bogdan    00:36:44    Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you. Let me share that. That was on my first deployment that we were talking about. I was a young airman,  deployed out to Iraq, in 2003. If everybody remembers, that was the invasion time. It was about March  2003. I remember we were sitting in watching, some of the bombings, and then we moved in immediately, right after that to basically repair that’s what engineers do. We go blow up stuff. We go back in there to fix it, to make it ours now. So where we go into this deployment, and it was bare base and that’s what a lot of engineers do. We have to go into an environment that’s very contested potentially and not very secure and we’re setting up everything from scratch.  

Joe Bogdan    00:37:33    We were pooping into ditches and then burning it ourselves.  We were eating MRAs for 90 days. I don’t know if there’s anybody listening that won’t know what an MRE is, but they’re very nutritious, but they’re not always yummy. They’ve gotten better over the years, but back in 2003, they were still not the best.90 days of that really starts to wear you out, And then we started getting the army, came in with the kitchen, and we had the TRX, which is basically just a bigger MRA that’s put on a plate and put in a microwave and given to you, so that wasn’t that much better.  

Joe Bogdan    00:38:22    You had to walk to go get those. We just stuck with that. MREs. We’re popping malaria pills nonstop. I remember, walking around the base wasn’t very secure. It looked like something from a Vietnam movie. The guys are out there taking quick showers, but water bottles, shaving with water bottles. I saw a kid walking on the base with a goat and I’m like, is that kid supposed to be here? We don’t have enough security to keep up the perimeter right now. 

Joe Bogdan    00:38:50    It was just amazing. We were armed when they got there. Then, there were no lights because one,  we were trying to keep the light,  just our footprint a little bit more quiet, but at the same time, we didn’t have a lot of power on the base yet. Because we blew it up, so that’s what we were there to power it back up. I’m really grateful. That was my first deployment. I mean, some people there’s different types of deployments. Some people will go to places that are very set up, almost like a home station except over in a deployed environment. This one was to me a great first deployment because it made me really feel gratitude and appreciate some of the things that, not take for granted.  

Joe Bogdan    00:39:34    Some of the things we do, like taking a shower in a warm shower and being able to go to the bathroom in the same building that you’re in.  These are the things that I learned from that. It was a rough deployment.  A lot of small arms fire. This was before the rocket started coming in a lot, but a lot of small arms fire I’d look up at the skies and see trace around all night. It looked like fireworks. It was just wild. Pretty much worked seven days a week. One day we tried to sleep in, but you felt bad because then the guy who was coming off shift, he’s had to stay on for the next couple of hours. We tried to be really considerate of each other, slept where we worked and worked, where we slept.  

Joe Bogdan    00:40:12    But we got really close during that time.  We got really, really close. We didn’t have anything. We didn’t watch MTV. We would play a lot of cards in our downtime. One guy had a guitar and we’d all just kind of sit around and sing and stuff. It was really cool. Sounds probably pointing to most people in this world of technology we have, but I felt we were at peace, deployments over, we start and I realized that deployment was about over and it was time for us to go home when the new people came in and we built this place from scratch, but they thought, man, this place is trash. We’re all feeling offended. We’ve just built this up from nothing and y’all are judging this

Joe Bogdan   00:40:51    It was time for us to leave. We went back home and I was at Robbins in Georgia once again. We were really close. We were really tight and then everybody just splits up and goes back to their normal lives. A lot of people got picked up from that by their spouses, or their family. They had a big sign that said welcome home and all that stuff. Then, single airman, Joe gets home and there’s none of that for me, there’s none of that. That just go home and everybody else is at work and I’m sitting at home and, we get RNR time and that’s like, Hey, you could use RNR time or you can use your leave and go home, but, and you’ll like, negate your RNR time, dust-free time off.  

Joe Bogdan    00:41:36    I was like, well, I’m not going to do that. I’m sitting around for two weeks. I did all my processing, got my medical checkups, which is not much back then. We’re doing a lot better at that now.  I sat there for like two weeks, all my friends were at work. All the people that I was engaged with were deployed, they all spent time with their families, and stuff.  I didn’t really have anybody to talk to. I’d call home to home, home, and back in Seattle. I talked to some people, including my family, but they didn’t understand what I went through. I could bring it up and they’re trying to empathize, but it’s hard to connect it. Then eventually I was like, what’s the point of sharing this with people if they don’t really grasp it. I’m not really getting a lot from this besides their kid, they’re hearing cool stuff.  

Joe Bogdan    00:42:22    Maybe I’m stroking my ego by saying about the cool things I did, but I’m not really feeling connected to anybody. I just felt really lonely. You feel kind of dark if I get in a dark place. An Airman or a soldier or anybody came up to me now and told me about,  the feelings that they’re having, if they were similar to the ones I had when I was a young airman in that situation, I would tell them they need to go get help, but I didn’t even think about going to go talk to somebody. I went to the bottle. I was drinking every day, just waiting for this free time off before I could go home and connect with my family.  

Joe Bogdan     00:42:59    It was a lot of day drinking going on. I think that helps shape me. I never had a thought of hurting myself, but I definitely felt empty inside and disconnected and back in a world that I felt wasn’t really didn’t really have anything for me at the moment. I think back to that moment, I know, and I have my team, my young engineers go out and come back. I always think about that single Airman that has to go back to that empty barracks or, I wonder,  how are they going to be taken care of a lot of them?” They don’t want you to be engaged with them. They just kind of want to be on their own, but how healthy is that? Because it wasn’t healthy for me.  I think just the fact that I was so independent growing up and being myself a lot, probably helped me feel comfortable being by myself. But a lot of people aren’t like that. You grow up in a family, you have a lot of people around you. You go deploy, come back and you’re in an empty room with nobody there. I can imagine some of those dark thoughts that could come across. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:44:00    That’s why I wanted to bring this up is because when I deployed, I was married. I didn’t really think too much about this. Did I have some soldiers who were under me who weren’t married? I didn’t really think too much about who they were coming home to?  We were National Guard. We weren’t like stationed on a base anywhere, like where they were going to the barracks. They were going back home to whatever their life was. They may have just been living alone and it’s just kinda something I never really thought too much about. Then you brought that up a couple of weeks ago and it’s sort of making me think like, okay, he’s not the only single Airman or soldier or whatever in the military. People probably have gone through something very similar where they’re just hanging out for a couple of weeks. Like you said, just drinking the time away. Just doing that as opposed to maybe something constructive or, getting help if they needed it. They’re just sitting there alone in their own thoughts maybe. That’s a difficult place to be in.  

Joe Bogdan   00:45:21    Yeah, I think that it took a while for me to understand what was going on there too. Because I think that a lot of times when you’re young or even not young, this is the first time you experienced something like that.  You come back and then you’re just like, why am I feeling this? I should be happy. There’s a disconnect between I’m happy, I’m home versus why did it feel like I kind of want to be back over there? I kind of started understanding that even throughout my later years in the military I kind of went through this experience because I’ve been what I would consider a single airman most of my career. I read the book tribe by Sebastian Younger. And that’s when I started connecting the dots.  

Joe Bogdan     00:46:06    They talk about how there’s people who were getting bombed in like in a country like Serbia or something. They were with their family though, but it was a dangerous environment, but they were with their family. People that they loved and they were connected with. Then sometimes the parents would send their kids someplace else because it’s not safe there, but they couldn’t leave themselves. They send their kids and the kid would be in a safe environment, but away from their family and completely depressed and feel more connected and happier in an environment where their life is in jeopardy every day., And, when I read that book, I was like, my goodness, this is describing exactly what me and many service members go through.  

Joe Bogdan   00:46:56    Even if you come home to your family, to Scott, I think you’ve probably,, you’ve experienced it too. You still don’t feel like you’re connected because they don’t understand what you went through and you can try to explain it, but they never will. Then eventually, sometimes we quit trying to explain it. Now we’re by ourselves, in a house full of people. I think that’s just a reality of the human condition and some of the unnatural things that we’re putting our service members through because we all volunteer for it, but it’s something that we need to acknowledge.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:47:31    As you were mentioning that, it just reminded me of another experience I had. When I was coming back from Afghanistan, this was right after my brother was killed in action. I was on my way home. I was not with anyone from my unit. I was traveling basically by myself. I was with other service members who were on their way home, but a lot of them were on their way home for their leave or end of the deployment. They were all excited to be going home. They had something that they’re looking forward to like, okay, I’m going on RNR. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m dreading this.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:48:16     I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to face what’s waiting for me at home. All the realities of what had just taken place.  I had nobody to share that with. I had nobody to talk to, even though I wasn’t by myself, it was very lonely. It was just a strange situation. I had never felt so alone in a room full of so many people. It was strange. I wanted to bring that up because I feel like, that’s something that’s important especially for senior leadership in the military to understand about the people who they’re in charge of, because like you said, we deal with all sorts of these HR things right. In the military. That’s just part of what we do and you have to pay attention, even those types of things to after everyone’s home and everyone’s safe, you did your job, you got everyone home.  Everyone is accounted for. But even afterward, you need to follow up with them and make sure that they’re doing okay. Even when they’re sitting at home by themselves,

Joe Bogdan     00:49:39    Yeah. I think that is something you brought up because we talked about how, like, we’re basically human relation monsters, because we do so much of that. We’re also really good at compartmentalizing and avoiding. I was thinking about it on many occasions. We’re really good at just compartmentalizing in situations like, okay, I gotta take care of the mission. I can’t worry about that. But I think that somehow bleeds into this, I don’t feel like dealing with that. Let me just go ahead and avoid that at all costs by compartmentalizing more and being more focused over here and that. I’ve seen it many times, that ends up with relationship issues at home and just being disconnected and stuff like that.  I think it kind of piles on, just these issues that we have with our service members.  

Joe Bogdan    00:50:25    I remember coming back from a professional military education course for so many weeks and a lot of people are looking forward to going home and I’m like having, at that time, a lot of marital issues and I’m just trying to avoid the whole situation. I’m like, no, I want to stay here forever, man. Don’t send me home. I get to be in this hotel and work out all the time and yeah. It was fantastic, for me in that situation, but it wasn’t solving anything. It was just prolonging and procrastinating and not dealing with the issue.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:50:57    Yeah, exactly. And you’re right. We do it to compartmentalize a lot of things and it makes it, sometimes it makes it harder to deal with things because we end up just putting it off and not dealing with it. Head-on before we wrap this up, I wanted to give you some time here to tell us about,  I mentioned earlier the Lama Leadership and Lama Lounge Podcast and what they’re all about and where people can go to find everything that you’re doing, everything that you’re putting out there.  

Joe Bogdan    00:51:29    Yeah, absolutely. The Llamas, there’s five of us there, we started off with four and we were all in the Air Force. We’re all from very different career fields.  But we all had this connection that we wanted to help people grow leaders, grow ourselves. That master resilience training was what connected us. I became the person that was the expert on my base. I had to start teaching others to become instructors as well and started advocating for people that really, not just for aspiration,  but also the aptitude to be able to do this well. I’ve got connected with some guys and they were just fantastic and we just became friends and we started always supporting things.  

Joe Bogdan     00:52:19    We had a special needs event come and cause I’m sharing this because people always ask why you guys called llamas, Lama Lounge, what is the Llama Leadership about, those, those are random Llama at his autism event that we’re supporting. And somebody asked, why is there a Llama over there? It wasn’t a petting zoo. It was just one Llama just randomly in the field.  I think I just answered like, well, why wouldn’t there be a Llama here? And next thing,, we just kinda took it as our mascot. We were friends, kept in touch with this goal and idea of one day, creating a consultant company, basically like to help with leadership and growth and resiliency. Years later, I was on a treadmill in Spangdahlem Germany, listening to Tim Ferriss and thought, man, we should do something with this.  

Joe Bogdan    00:53:08    Finally, we’ve always been friends or we should do something. Three active duty and one retired, we’re all together. We decided to create distinct Llama leadership, which we started off with blogs, which we still have plenty of blogs on our website at llamaleadership.com. Then we started podcasting. We wanted to start interviewing awesome people like you and talk to people about perspectives on all things, life learning, and leadership.  we’re in the hundreds of episodes, 130 something, 140 something episodes now, and we’ve, we’ve interviewed and just had just meaningful discussions with people of all backgrounds.  We had, we’ve had FBI behavioral analysts on, service members, leaders from different branches,, everything from generals to chiefs to airmen, like just different conversations, all things, life learning, and leadership.  

Joe Bogdan     00:54:05    It’s just been a great experience. You can find the podcast Llama Lounge on all platforms. you know whether it’s Amazon or audible or Spotify, you can find it in all the, all the podcast platforms and Llama leadership.com. We find we try to put out references and resources to people that they can utilize.  and you can check out our blogs. We also put quick two, three-minute inspirational motivational thoughts a week. Plus we had the full long-form conversations. Then we’ve also recently started doing short clips that if you don’t have enough time to listen to the whole episode, but you have maybe 20 minutes, he can listen to a good, part of the episode that we think will just bring a lot of value on its own,  a lot of stuff we’re pushing out there and we’re part of the Lima Charlie network, which is a group of podcasters that have some affiliation to the military, but we all provide different types of content. it’s just been a wonderful ride and check us out at llamaleadership.com and you can also find us on all social media platforms under llama leadership.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:55:13    Yeah. I’ll have links to all of that in the show notes too. Anyone who wants to check out Llama leadership in the Llama Lounge Podcast. You can find that all in the show notes, so we’ll make it nice and easy for you to grab that there.  Joe, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today. Some of your experiences, and how you’ve grown throughout your career and your time, not only just in the military, in this country, after coming here and how you’ve grown and progressed and everything awesome to see the progression that people take and, certain challenges push them into, where they are today and help them grow into better leaders, better people.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:56:00    I’m glad that you’re able to share that because it’s encouraging that, someone who faced challenges, didn’t really know where their purpose or their direction in life was going to take them ended up finding their purpose.  The inspiring part about that is that I don’t think that the story is completely unique because I think other people can do the same thing if they give things a try and try to find their purpose. That’s the thing that’s inspiring to me is that there’s hope for those people out there who maybe are kind of wandering around and not really knowing what their purpose is in life and your story showed that it is possible.  I think you gave some good steps in how people can get that in their own life.  

Joe Bogdan    00:57:05   I really appreciate it. what this conversation. This constant quote’s been going in my head, Dr. Victor Frankl quote. He talks about how we detect our meaning in life. We detect it, we don’t, we don’t invent it, we detect it. And I think like we talked about, you have to expose yourself for as many opportunities to detect it as possible for you to be able to truly not just find it, but embrace it.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:57:32    Yeah, exactly. That’s a great quote, too. It’s totally true. I’m glad you shared that. Thanks again, for coming on and sharing your story. Again, for everyone listening, Llama Leadership, and the Llama Lounge Podcast, I’ll have links to those in the show notes. You can, you can check that out there and, definitely do check out the podcast and subscribe to that. Listen to it. He said, Joe, is that a lot of great guests on that podcast, a lot of great insights and inspiration coming out of there too. Definitely check that out. Thank you again, Joe. I’m glad, glad you were able to come on and join. Join us today.  

Joe Bogdan    00:58:13    Thank you.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:58:15    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website Drive On Podcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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