Episode 174 Don Gleason Military Transition Roundtable
This transcript is from episode 174 with guest Don Gleason.
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. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Don Gleason. Don is a 27-year Air Force veteran who attained the rank of Colonel and led units of over 1600 people, and was responsible for projects as large as the $12.8 billion Iraq reconstruction program. After getting out of the military, he’s had a successful civilian career and has since started a nonprofit, which helps military members who are in transition into civilian life. Welcome to the show, Donald, glad to have you on.
Don Gleason 00:00:58 Well, thanks, Scott. I really appreciate it. I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I always love talking about what I do and how we’re helping people. I think that’s the key thing. Leaders help people. We’re always focused on people and that’s what I love doing. And it’s my passion at this point in life.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:13 I’m sure we’re going to get more into what it is that you’re doing and how you’re helping people. But, it definitely does seem like that is your passion. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background? I know I touched on a few things there, but I’m sure you have a lot more to fill in the blanks there with a little bit of who you are.
Don Gleason 00:01:34 I’ll try to keep it short because you know 27 years plus nine, I think I’m almost 40 years out of college now. One thing I always focus on is people as I’m getting them to think about transition. I do that on the civilian side with my for-profit and the military side with the not-for-profit, thinking about what you really want to do. My story goes all the way back to fifth grade, I was in Wisconsin the first earth day in 1970 Gaylord Nelson was the Senator from Wisconsin. He advocated for and got approved for Earth Day. I remember sitting there in fifth grade thinking I want to work in the environment and that drove me all the way through high school in college. I got my environmental engineering degree and I graduated in 1982.
Don Gleason 00:02:20 Unfortunately I call it the Reagan recession. It was the recession during his first term unemployment for a lot of people was 12 to 15% for college. It was 20, 25% out of my graduating class. I was in the 85% that did not have a job after four months after graduation. I looked around, I did not want to go back to grad school. I said, what things can I do now? I had 454. Thank you. But no thank you. Letters from companies. My wife had to hand type. We’d just been married three months. At that point. She had hand typed every one of those letters, probably more than once, probably five times to make sure we got them right. Because there were no computers back then in 1982. I was a big stack at my graduation party. I joined the service and I said four years, four years max, no more.
Don Gleason 00:03:09 I just want to get some experience, but I gotta do some really neat things in the military. I got into my first assignment. I was doing some of the initial documentation of old hazardous waste, hazardous materials, dumping on the base, call it the installation restoration program, kind of the civilian version or the military version of Superfund. That was pretty neat. Then we found that trichloroethylene spilled in the groundwater under the base. I got to work with the United States geological survey to find it. We are drilling, monitoring wells, and doing sampling. Even into my second base, I got to develop hazardous material, hazardous waste staff assistance, and visit programs. I went around the base to the different shops, helping them manage the amount of hazardous materials they had reduced so that we weren’t generating so much waste.
Don Gleason 00:03:59 I kind of won a number of awards for that strategic air command at the time environmental engineer, and then Thomas D. White environmental quality awards. So that was pretty neat. It started to separate myself from the peers and then the career just kind of took off from there. I stayed in because I love the comradery, to be able to talk to the group, to feel like the team, to beat together, to solve problems together, to party together. You always work hard, play hard. I just really enjoyed the environment. I resonated with the core values and the culture of the military and the Air Force. I just kept on going and pretty soon packed. I commanded three civil engineer squadrons, and then a mission support group. If you’re not familiar with the mission support group, it’s like a brigade in the army.
Don Gleason 00:04:49 It’s the old six command. In the Air Force, you have an operations group taking care of the planes, the maintenance fixing the planes, medical, fixing the people and mission support group. I did everything else, communications, dining facilities, gyms, civil engineering, contracting, supply, transportation, all of that. It’s a huge responsibility when you said in the intro of 1,650 people, seven squadrons, but, it really gave you a feel for leading people delegating and trusting. I really enjoyed it. It was really a lot of fun. Then, I finished my career at the Pentagon in charge of civil engineering readiness. We did some really neat stuff. We had our two star general come in and we were facing some budget shortages across the Air Force. His field peanut butter spread is a lack of leadership. We are not going to come in and cut every program 10%.
Don Gleason 00:05:41 We’re going to figure out how to do business differently. He looked at me and he looked at my team and said, I challenge you guys to find some ways. We did. We streamlined some things. How we change risk management and the fire department and fire protection services. We did some emergency management. I kind of think of it. Athens Air Force, incident management system. Are we now directly related to the civilian in the same language, same structure, same organization titles. We did a number of things that really helped streamline the operations. We didn’t have to do peanut butter spread cuts. I thought that was really ingenious and I’ve learned a lot from him, but it really challenged me in my team to do some unique things. When I was in Germany, before I went to the Pentagon, before I was in group command, I got to go to Baghdad.
Don Gleason 00:06:28 You said the $12.8 billion reconstruction program. They frocked me on the way down, which means I was a Colonel select, but I hadn’t pinned on yet. It’s fairly common in the other services that the Air Force does it very rarely, but they wanted me to be a Colonel in the position. Literally I’m on my way to the airport. I stopped at the headquarters and they did a ceremony and pin the Colonel on me. I took off down the plane and flew down to Baghdad. So that was a huge challenge. We may come back to that because working some of the challenges there were just immense. The three-star boss about my first weekend, he says, Don, I’ve been here two weeks longer than you have. We need to bench line the program.
Don Gleason 00:07:10 I want you to go figure out our costs where they’re at in the $12 billion program. Some ideas that we can come up with are streamlined. He says, you got five days. I’m like a $12 billion program in five days and I’m brand new. I got a team of people around me and we found them about $1.2 billion in efficiency. He had to go back and brief the secretary of the army on day eight, and then Congress undated nine of us starting that effort. It gave us a direction, him a direction for his time there to streamline operations. I’d really enjoyed the challenges that the military gave me and the teamwork that I got to work with folks on. ended up leaving the military at nine. It started with Booz Allen Hamilton. Actually we got to do them $3 billion of cost savings on a $20 billion nuclear plant. I can say nuclear facility, maintenance contract facility, operations contract, or was it two different sites? We would lose out on a run in the cost efficiencies and I got to lead that as well. Some really neat things, it’s hard to start, to cut them all down. I cut out a lot of stuff in my notes here, cause I just don’t want to take forever. We could talk the whole time here, but just some of the excitement of things I got to do.
Scott DeLuzio 00:08:27 It sounds like you had quite an interesting career in terms of the different projects that you were in charge of, and having to sort of probably think on your feet. Coming up with solutions to problems that you maybe didn’t wake up that morning thinking, Hey, I’m going to have to have a solution to this problem, short in the next few, few days or by the end of the week or whatever hours.
Scott DeLuzio 00:08:56 Or hours in some cases probably. I have to imagine that that prepared you fairly well for your transition out of the military. Because there may have even been some unexpected things that came up and required you to think on your feet in terms of your own transition out of the military. I can only imagine that all of these experiences have helped you in helping others, getting their feet wet and when they’re getting out of the military and getting into the civilian world. I want to jump into that a little bit and talk about what you’re doing, with the Military Transition Roundtable, your organization there that helps The non-profit that helps the veterans in transition or the military members who were in transition to the civilian world. Where’d you get this idea for it, and how is it helping veterans that are out there as they’re making their transition out?
Don Gleason 00:10:04 Yeah, great question. Where it came from. My partner and I match here. We formed it and came up with the idea in December of 2019, just two or three months before COVID. What was neat is we had been working together doing some different things, and we’d been working independently for a couple of years, supporting the military, and neither of us were really happy. I find if you can follow the energy inside of yourself. Are you excited when you’re doing this or not? I was doing some different things. In fact, I joined one nonprofit and her CEO had me briefing how to write a resume. I don’t wanna write resumes. That’s not my excitement. that’s not the real value I bring. We’re sitting at another event and the CEO of the nonprofit that was running it, we were just there helping us coaches.
Don Gleason 00:10:53 She said, don’t transition alone. What she meant was there’s plenty of resources and people out here to help you. My partner and I looked at each other and said, there’s no organization that brings a team of people together to work together consistently over time. I think I probably was completing the third run-through of the book Think and Grow Rich. If you’re not familiar with thinking and Growing Rich, Andrew Carnegie commissioned Napoleon Hill and a professor at the university of Chicago to interview 20,000 people over 20 years, 500 being the most successful people. Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Albert Einstein, no Thomas Edison, excuse me. Andrew Carnegie, himself, Henry Ford, Charles Schwab, all these guys. and he found 13 success principles. One of them was the mastermind masterminds, nothing more than like-minded people coming together for a common purpose back then it was CEOs coming together.
Don Gleason 00:11:50 Because they couldn’t always talk in their company. They wanted to think about things in a broader perspective; take advantage of everybody’s skills and abilities and knowledge and experience. That’s what we do with the military. We started out running six cohorts. Each cohort, eight to 10 people. We meet every other week for six months and we just bring issues forward to the group to take advantage of knowledge, experience whatever to bring, to thinking partners, to bring advice, to help overcome issues. Imposter syndrome is a big issue. We’re coming out of the military and it’s like, I’ve never done that job before. How do I rack up with that? You start to doubt yourself. Heck, just look at what I did in the military. Can I do that same thing in the civilian sector? You bet I can, but we start to doubt ourselves because it’s a different environment.
Don Gleason 00:12:43 We help people walk through that and realize how bad they are, what they’ve done. The challenges that they’ve taken on and we’ve achieved some incredible success. Once I go into one metric, I want to talk about what we’ve had in the two years, just finishing two years, we’ve had 53 folks graduate, meaning they went through the program and they got the job they were looking for. Now, Syracuse University veterans center did a study and said 45% of military leave their first post-military job within 12 months, almost half. The people will be looking for a job. Then 12 months our group so far out of the, as we were looking through that about the 24 people, only 12% of people that have been in at least a job at least 12 months, only 12% of them, four times less. Then leaving that job because we focus on values and culture and leadership and what things fulfill you in that job.
Don Gleason 00:13:39 You’re looking at that through the interview process. You don’t just take a job to get a job, take a job because it’s going to fulfill you and excite you. I think we’re finding that we’re having some success there. We need much more data, but that’s really what we’re doing in the military transition, round tables, we’re leveraging the round table or the mastermind to help people walk through that process together. Then once you find out that I’m not the only one who’s having trouble with this, it kind of gives you some camaraderie. It gives you some warmth that I’m not in this alone,
Scott DeLuzio 00:14:13 I know the benefit of the mastermind in my business. I’m not currently in the mastermind, but in the past, I’ve been in a couple of masterminds where other business owners would come together and we’d meet whatever it was weekly every other week, whatever the time period was. We get together and we talk about issues that we’re having in our business and how other business owners would handle the problem. We just try to help each other out and give ideas. We’re not necessarily direct competitors with each other but some of the issues that we have are issues that any business could have. It’s nice to just be able to bounce some ideas off of people. I think with transitioning out of the military, I mean how many people are transitioning out of the military on an annual basis? So many people.
Don Gleason 00:15:20 Would you believe in the numbers 200,000 per year?
Scott DeLuzio 00:15:24 Wow. 200,000. I didn’t even have a grasp on how big of a number that is, but that’s a huge number.l those people are going through something similar now, or many of them are going through the exact same thing where maybe the military was their only job from the time they turned 18. 10, 20 years later, they’re getting out of the military. They’ve never written a resume. They’ve never gone on a job interview. They don’t know how to do the interview process or apply for the jobs or what to even put in a resume. They may have heard the word bouncing around, but they don’t know what to put in there. Then even translating your military service into what does that mean to a civilian employer?
Scott DeLuzio 00:16:13 You’re not gonna load up military acronyms in your resume because that’s just going to be way over their head. They’re not even gonna read that. Having a group of like-minded people who are going through something similar at the same time, maybe they have gone through it. Maybe one of the people is a little bit further ahead in the process and somebody else and they can help each other out. Honestly, with the military, I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of people that is more willing to help other people in that same community, that same group of people than I have with the military. you ha you have, I’ve seen on social media, there’s a veteran who’s inOmaha or somewhere.
Scott DeLuzio 00:17:03 They reach out to their battle buddies who were in Florida or something. It’s like, Hey, I need some help with something. They put out this search for help. All of a sudden you got like 10 veterans sitting at this guy’s door and they’re like willing to help out with whatever, because it’s just, that’s just how it works. This mastermind coming together and helping each other out, I can’t think of a better group of people to get together.
Don Gleason 00:17:36 Here’s an important piece of this, That feeling of being alone., I’ve been doing a lot of research on different studies and they show that I can’t remember it exactly, but it’s like half of the ideations for suicide come up during transition. it’s that feeling of being alone. Since we joined bootcamp or basic training or officer training school academy, we always did it together as a team. Then all of a sudden, when you decide to transition, if there’s not somebody right around you, you’re transitioning alone.You go to these programs and you get this stack of books and all this material, and you’re trying to sort it out and you’ve never done it before. Like you said, it’s overwhelming. There’s a story of a gentleman here in town, San Antonio, Ray Domingo, and his wife had to pull him out of his office.
Don Gleason 00:18:29 At one point he was falling into depression. He wouldn’t come out of his office. He was just so depressed that he wasn’t achieving things. And he was the spray and pray method of resumes. He just wrote one and he’d just shoot it out to 10 or 15 a day, not targeting it to companies. He wasn’t getting any success. That’s an unsuccessful method. So his wife had to pull him out and now he leads LinkedIn Mill City here. It was a big networking event. He leads the KEY. He’s really engaged. He’s a recruiter for various companies as is his wife. They’re really engaged in helping the military. He’s taken advantage of that frustration. That’s what we’re trying to do is how do we, how do we help those military members and spouses. We work with spouses too, who are frustrated in the process to the point of depression, to the point of suicide. It was 22 veterans committing suicide a day is a real number. I heard somebody say, that’s all we can validate. There’s probably more. That’s an incredible number, and we’ve got to stop that. This is our way, Matt JIRA and I, this is our way to make an impact on that.
Scott DeLuzio 00:19:40 I think any efforts that are working towards chipping that number down closer to zero is definitely worth celebrating and worth talking about. And this is one of them, because like you said, if you’re going through this alone, first off, you’re not alone there, you just said 200,000, people are transitioning out of the military every single year. You’re definitely not alone. Probably there were maybe even a few thousand people, the day that you got out who were getting out. It’s just crazy to think that you should just struggle and suffer through it alone. The other thing too, with that transition is that loss of identity, you were, you were an airman, you were a soldier, you’re a Marine, a sailor, whatever you were for all these years.
Scott DeLuzio 00:20:37 All of a sudden you take off that uniform for the last time. Now what are you now? You have no identity. but you do have an identity. It’s just a matter of picking up those pieces and figuring out where that next piece is going to come in. We talked about a few of these difficulties, this going it alone, and that self doubt, and all that kind of stuff. What are major difficulties that people have when they’re transitioning out of the military things that are really holding them up when they get out?
Don Gleason 00:21:18 I want to touch on what you just said. I think about identity, I’ve been really trying to think about that, because of that forty-five percent number, and some people say 65% of military leave their first post-military job in 12 months. That number just, it gets me. It’s like, what’s the cause of that? I love what you just said, we’re they identify. We’re the rank or the service, we’re the job title. Many of us tie our self-worth to those items and the military has created us that way. I can keep thinking sometime I want to get out and start talking to the leadership of the military, being a Colonel. Maybe I can get in there and get away with it, we need to think about the implications of our training. I get why we do it to make us the best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coast guard, men, and public health in uniform that we can be.
Don Gleason 00:22:08 I get it, but it has ramifications later on once we leave. It’s that ego, it’s the identity. In fact, there’s even a second word I want to touch on, which is loyalty. Why do the military not start their transition until there are some times, three months out, people say it takes you two years. It does because you have to think about what do I want to do next? You got to go talk to people and network and do informational interviews and really understand is that really what I want to do. Then you start researching the position descriptions, and then you start writing your resume and your LinkedIn profile about 12, 10 months before. That is six months before you can start doing interviews and getting ready, and it takes a while to work through the process.
Don Gleason 00:22:55 But because of the loyalty, we feel disloyal. If we start thinking about a civilian job before we’re almost to the end and even in those last months or so, the pressure from the boss to keep finishing strong.. I get the mission has got to be done and we don’t have enough people. We don’t have enough money. I get that. But it also means that we’re sacrificing that time that is going to happen, whether it happens when they’re on mil, on the military duty or afterwards. If we don’t start it until the end, that means they’re unemployed for X amount of time. Dave, Dave Ramsey, the statistics he uses are right. I think they are what most people have never said at age 50, I’ve never saved more than $50,000 a half. The population doesn’t even have $50,000 for retirement at age 50, way behind the power curve. That has a big implication: people start taking jobs not to downgrade Walmart or something like that, but they start taking whatever job they can find at Walmart or Starbucks or whatever, just to get checks coming in. Maybe that’s part of the 45% cause they hadn’t thought about planning. Two key words, identity and loyalty that I think are important to talk about.
Scott DeLuzio 00:24:13 That loyalty the way you were describing, it made this image pop in my head and I wanted to say this and get it out there. The military is not like the mafia if you are thinking about getting out of the mafia. You’re going to end up with concrete boots and you’re swimming with the fishes.. We understand that it’s part of the whole process. People are going to leave the military at some point in time, but you’re in it now. It’s not a lifetime thing for most people, most people are going to get out. There has to be that next step. It’s not a lifetime commitment, like the mafia or whatever..
Don Gleason 00:25:01 In fact, there’s a figure there. You said most, most get out, this is kind of a crazy question, but what’s the percentage of people that get out of the military 100%.
Scott DeLuzio 00:25:11 The people who I’m referring to are the people who maybe they were killed in action or, those are the people who, they’re not getting out. They stayed in and they’re there until the last day. But for the most part, most people are getting out at, at one point or another and you really have to plan for that.
Don Gleason 00:25:41 It’s interesting. How many people, even at 25, 30 years, they’re thinking, I’m surprised I’m leaving. I didn’t think I would leave the service. I thought I would stay in for a while longer. I thought I had more time to plan. It goes back to that loyalty piece again. But it also goes into kind of an unreal expectation. If you don’t die on active duty. Or an in guard reserve, you’re going to get out at some point. We need to be thinking about that. I always say that I started planning 24 years in advance. Why? Because when I was coming up on captain, I didn’t plan on this family alone. It’ll be on the captain. I went to the military officers association of America, MOA their career, transitional workshop. I started building my resume. I was doing all those things.
Don Gleason 00:26:29 I was starting to do networking. I got involved in this group over here, the society of American Military Engineers. Everybody finds a professional association. In fact, the most successful transition, even better than mine, is a guy named John Knots. What a shout out to him, 10 years using Air Force manpower. He figured out what he wanted to do, what his mission and purpose was 10 years before getting out. He started associating with different organizations and learning the civilian language and meeting people. And when he got out, there was a job waiting for him and he’s always been able to rely on that. So I don’t think he did any less work, less dedication to his work in the military, but he was thinking about himself and his future. I think planning is important.
Don Gleason 00:27:16 Planning is important for how we approach our life. But I used to, before we start talking, I used the quote from Carl Young. 2% of the people think 3% of the people think they think 95% would rather die than think. All he’s saying is 95% of the time where we’re existing in habits, we drive to work without thinking about it. We drove home, we walked down the hallway, we went into the kitchen during a commercial break. All these things just happen because they’re habits where we really stop and put the conscious part of our mind into action and thinking, and coming up with new concepts and new ideas, that’s that 5% we’re really engaging the brain. We just don’t do it that often. It needs to be an intentional process. I think that’s why it’s uncomfortable because we’ve never done it. I was blessed.
Don Gleason 00:28:06 I didn’t think I was blessed at the time. I was blessed when I was coming through because I had to write a resume for my op chief of operations as a major position. My two, three squadron commander positions. In fact, I remember my third squadron commander position. Secretary popped your head around and said, I was heading to the Pentagon. She turned around, I was on the squadron commander list. She came around the doorway and said, Colonel Egan Malmstrom is on the phone and wants to interview for the space, civil engineer, squadron commander job. I got 10 seconds to prepare, but I had my resume. I’d been working on star bullets. I had prepped through all of that, knowing what I wanted at the time. They did a really good interview. He says, Hey, Don, when can you get me the resume?
Don Gleason 00:28:54 The cover letter? I can show it to the wing commander. I really like what you’re presenting to me. While we were talking, I had already been typing a few things to change my head. I changed the headline on my resume. I changed the cover letter and I said, sir, it’s on its way to you. In the background, I hear this beep and he looks down and he goes, there it is. Just having things ready and easily accessible and planning is so important. I think we need to do the same thing as we’re transitioning out. We just need to be thinking about what we want and not the last 30 days, 90 days.
Scott DeLuzio 00:29:32 When you were talking about that, 2% of people think 3% think they think and 95% don’t would rather dive in. It just brings me to, just everyday situations, with my kids, I have three young kids and every once in a while, they’ll do something that they don’t have an explanation for. It’s like, why did you do that? The answer, I don’t know. I don’t know why I did it. I feel like that falls into that 95% category. They just weren’t thinking. They’re smart kids. I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but just sometimes they just have that brain fart. You’re not right. I think that a lot of us probably go through life, just kind of coasting, not really thinking about what it is that we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to accomplish our goals and things like that. I mentioned this before we started recording the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If you’re not happy with where you’re at with your career, with your finances, with whatever it is that you’re, you’re not happy with, and you’re just doing the same thing over and over again, it’s not going to change. You’re going to end up with the same result over and over again.
Don Gleason 00:30:55 I Want to touch this painting right over my eyes, that is my left shoulder, it was neat. When I was talking about before we started the Military Transition Roundtable. I was involved in another group. Part of that two and a half day workshop was like painting with a twist. We brought in a painter with a company and they put a painting up front and they walked us through step-by-step. This one’s really cool because the American flag is not meant to be clear, precise lines. It’s meant to be kind of blurry with the flag. Then there’s a tree. Then there’s some ground shrubs I was doing really, really well until I got to the ground. I just sat there and looked at it. I was like, I don’t know how to do it.
Don Gleason 00:31:40 I was trying to paint the shrub from the top down. It’s very narrow and wide. I was trying to imagine how you do that with a breast. I could not figure it out. I walked up to the instructor and I stood there and looked at his painting and I talked to him. I said, I don’t get it. I don’t know how to do that. What should I do? He goes, can you just do this? It was interesting. He was using the brush stroke and I was like, I’m not following this. I walked around the room and I’m looking at other people doing it. I don’t get it. I sat back down. I stared at my painting. I mean, this is like a 15 minute timeframe. I was just stuck. All of a sudden, I say, well, yo, I really like my painting at this point.
Don Gleason 00:32:20 I can always do another one. If I ruin it, let’s just do it. I took the breaststroke from the bottom up. The important part is that I did it. I was like, I did it. I did it. I started doing it again and again and again and again, and again, pretty soon I was had too many shrubs, but it really signified to me being stuck and too many of us, since we’ve never written a resume, you sit down and it’s like, I don’t know what to write. You get on your LinkedIn profile. I don’t know what to write. Go back to that important question. What do you do next? I don’t know. You get really stuck and you don’t know where to go next. The power of that mastermind is thinking into it and we have my partner and I, we also do one-on-one coaching with them.
Don Gleason 00:33:05 I really focus on the next piece and take them back through their life. What did you really enjoy? What brought you energy and what things didn’t you enjoy? What things were just agony to do that. Then we dig into those things and you use it. I never tell them what to do. I let the results of their thinking come back and say, I see what you’re doing. I think what I really enjoy is this. I said, so tell me a little bit about that. What’s what’s behind that? The power of the, what question now, the why question, why questions make them defend it? What question makes them think about it? Tell me what’s behind that. Pretty soon they’re thinking more and more into all the energy excitement, and you can see it on their face. So we were talking to a guy last night four blocks away, and he talked about this job. Who’s getting a dub offer with Amazon. He just lit up every time he talked about it, it was like, it’s pretty obvious. That’s the job for you.
Don Gleason 00:34:00 I wanted to mention that painting because it’s so important in the process to recognize and not, and not be afraid of it, not hide it, but when you find yourself stuck, get some help. That’s why you need people around you.
Scott DeLuzio 00:34:16 I think when you get stuck, first off, having those people around you who can help you get unstuck is really important. Because what happened to you? You’re walking around the room, trying to see how other people are doing it. You’re trying to get some, some ideas, even though you may not necessarily have been tapping everyone on the shoulder and saying, Hey, what are you doing here? How did you make it look like that? You were just going around, you’re observing you, you’re taking a look at it.You’re absorbing some of that information and you may have not even realized it, but you may have seen somebody else in the room going from the bottom up and then just subconsciously you sat back down at, at, at your painting.
Scott DeLuzio 00:34:59 You’re like, oh, well, let me just give this a try and boom, there it is. There it is. Then it worked right. Having those people around is really important. but I also think there’s a saying when, when you get so stuck on something, you get this analysis paralysis where, where you just are just stuck on something. Sometimes it’s helpful to just do something. If you’re stuck writing a resume, write something, just put something down because you can improve on that. If you’re doing it in Microsoft Word or something like that, that’s not like you’re etching it in a tablet, in a, in a stone tablet. You can go back and delete stuff and put new stuff in, and fix it. You can always improve upon it. So start something.
Scott DeLuzio 00:35:56 I mean, what I’ve told people with, with a lot of things. Such as artwork, , like you were saying, if you want to see if artwork would be helpful for you in terms of a therapy kind of thing, we’ll pick up a paint brush and start painting something. Or if you want to write something you want to write your memoir or a book or something. I don’t know where to start. Well, just start, just write something and you can always expand on it from there. Maybe what you’re starting with is the middle of the book, but it doesn’t matter, just start something. And then you can, you can move on from there. But I think the same thing with the resume with other things that you might be doing, just start something, and then you at least have something, and you can go to somebody else who might be a little bit more advanced in the resume writing process than you are. You can say, okay, help me with this. Because if you come to them with a blank piece of paper, it’s going to be a whole lot different conversation.
Don Gleason 00:36:58 I was just looking for something in some notes, I was just going to the John Maxwell conference.. I’m right on the right page. He has a five step process for this test, fail, learn, improve, reenter. And if we just, like you just said, just test it, just try something. Once you’ve tried it, you’re going to fail. Every one of us fails. First time John Maxwell spoke, he’s the nominee, he’s the highest paid non-celebrity non entertainment speaker. I mean, we’re talking like $120,000 an hour. How incredible. But he said he wasn’t comfortable until he spoke 5,000 times. He’s written 86 books. He says the first 10 or 15 are junk compared to comparatively, but he just had to get started. So no test fails and knowing that failure is not final, learn from it.
Don Gleason 00:37:51 He talks in here about there’s good misses and bad misses, good misses are when you miss. You learn from it. You didn’t reenter in the process, the bad misses when you start making excuses and you blame everybody else and you don’t learn. therefore you can’t re enter. Silver and tests fail, learn, improve, try it, and then reenter. So I had to pull that out because I thought that was so important to what you were just saying is just take action and have that mental process. He’s writing a book called Return on Failure. That was part of his discussion when we were at the conferences. It’s neat when we’re there, because I don’t think we’ve said yet. I’m a John Maxwell team member now Maxwell leadership, certified member, executive director of that group. When we went to the conference and that was my 12th, we got to hear him talk about the things he’s thinking about that he’s writing in his books before he publishes it. It’s amazing stuff, unless I start using it thinking this. Awesome.
Scott DeLuzio 00:38:47 That’s a good way of thinking of it too, because you’re right. We do fail at pretty much everything that we’ve started, unless you get lucky. That first time that you were trying something, you didn’t do it perfectly. He didn’t execute it perfectly. That’s why, when you’re young, there’s driver’s ed classes, so you can learn how to, how to drive the car. That’s why your parents were holding the bicycle as you’re writing it, without the training wheels so that you can learn how to do that because inevitably you’re gonna fall. You’re gonna fail. But you learn from that, it’s okay. You don’t lean too much to that side because you’re gonna fall. You learn, and then you get back on the bike and then you do it over again and you succeed and eventually you’re able to do it. That becomes a lifelong skill. That you just don’t even think about later on in life. It’s just something you do.
Scott DeLuzio 00:39:51 One question I had for you. A lot of jobs in the military have parallels in the civilian world. There there’s a lot of things which make it easy for people who enjoyed what they did in the military to think about what they want to do next. There’s also some jobs. I was an infantry man, for example. I’ll use that as my example, but they don’t exactly have a direct correlation to a civilian job. But if there’s not a whole lot of infantry jobs available for the civilian sector. Unless you’re a mercenary of some sort and that’s, that’s a whole nother conversation, but, but other service members may not have even enjoyed what they did, even if there is a direct correlation to their job, they may, may just not have enjoyed it. They may not want to do anything like that. What advice do you have for those people who are struggling to determine what they want to do next, what those next steps are for them?
Don Gleason 00:40:49 That’s a great point. I love the way you used the word, not a direct job on the outside. But I think a lot of the skills indirectly help.Which ones do have direct, an engineer like myself, a lawyer, a doctor, all those that transitions pretty quickly, but infantry tank,even a C 30 pilot,, you can, you can fly, but it’s a different type.15 pilot. There’s no jets on them on the outside necessarily, unless you’re like a Learjet, but you’re not doing combat. But you take those skills. Here’s an example, my story, and I think what we need to do is idea is to break down the skills that you used and see how it translates. look at the job you’ve done and the job you wanted to do and break them down into lower level skills and see how they relate and then build it back up again.
Don Gleason 00:41:47 My example is I joined Booz Allen Hamilton as my first job in my only corporate job. I stayed there for nine years. I’m going to go back to what I said before I understood the culture and the values and the leadership style I work best with. I found a match. I found a really good match but it took some time and effort. On my first day, when I got to Booz Allen, the boss said, I don’t have a project to put you on right now, but we are doing this. We do the assessments of all the people, 25% every quarter. For the next three days, I want you to sit in the back of the room and observe the process. Cause you’re going to be deep into the process next time sitting at the head table.
Don Gleason 00:42:30 I said, great. It didn’t take me about an hour or two. I figured out the process, for each person, five minutes to two minutes, looking backwards at the last year, three minutes, looking forward to how we can develop that person. When are they ready for promotion? When are they ready for the next job? When are they, what things do they need to do to close that gap of where they’re at, to where they need to be. I started looking at myself and they said, Hmm, let me look here. So during my Air Force, 27 years, I was a pretty good communicator. I went through three professional military education schools and did a lot of speaking to one of my last jobs. I was speaking in front of 2000 people at a conference. I was in charge of the conference. I got over that fear of speaking.
Don Gleason 00:43:09 You were a pretty good speaker, pretty good writer, pretty good leader. I want to do a lot of that stuff, but I said, what I don’t know is, do you have these other things? I don’t know how Booz Allen does business development. I don’t know how they write proposals. I don’t know how they manage risk. I don’t know how they manage finances. I started coming up with a plan and I went and found people to help me through that. I think if we take that same approach and we start looking at what skills do I have? Which one am I good at? Which am I not good at? What are the requirements over here? I’m probably pretty good at those. Maybe not be so good at those and then start building it back up again. That can be part of the process of planning to figure out what you want to do.
Don Gleason 00:43:59 I always put in the DISC behavior analysis or personality indicator report, and if you’re familiar with disc, but real quick, these are demanding. Eyes are influencing. ECERS are steady, stable, and C’s are compliant. DS loves to be in charge. They love results. They’re high level thinkers. Don’t give them a lot of detail. I’s love to talk. They’re influencers. They’re usually the life of the party. They’re in the center of attention. They like to be recognized, S’s, very teamwork, collaborative. They don’t like change. They’re slow to change. They just need to understand the process of what’s going on and see me in compliance. They love regulations. They love analysis. They’re usually right when they make a recommendation, because they’ve done all the work with Ds. A lot of times they do it off their gut. If you understand a little bit more about the personality of the individual ourselves, that tends to lead us into certain jobs that we’re really good for.
Don Gleason 00:44:58 Then we look at the behavior and the energy and see, okay, I’ve been in that job or something like that. Did I enjoy it? I was using that skill. Did I enjoy it? Did I mind thinking,so it’s kind of a puzzle that you put together when we think about figuring out what it is people want to do. and usually if we can come up with something and it turns, it has a pretty good stick to it. So if that makes sense, in terms of, I went around some things there, but it’s not just looking at the direct, but looking at the indirect piece of how it relates.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:30 I intentionally use that word with direct correlation, because I know that there are a lot of skills that the military gives you that can relate to other civilian jobs and even someone who was infantry or artillery or something along those lines that there’s not really a direct civilian correlation there. There are some things that will correlate in some leadership skills and some of other skills that you have picked up and acquired along the way throughout your career that will help you get into these jobs. One thing I think that a lot of service members shortchange themselves with is their ability to learn new things. So when you want to get out of the military and transition into something different, maybe, maybe you didn’t enjoy the career that you’ve had in the military, the job that you had, and you want to do something different.
Scott DeLuzio 00:46:45 We all went into the military for the most part. I would imagine not necessarily knowing our military job, but we all learned it along the way. We have that ability to learn things. Maybe you’re not going to be completely happy with doing that same thing when you get out of the military, but you can always figure out a way to learn some new skills, some new, new trade, a new job, a new whatever. Some places have that on the job training where, where you can learn it as you’re going along, or, or you can go back to school. A Lot of people have the ability to use the GI bill and use that to further their education and learn new skills and things like that. But we all have that ability where we did it at one point, so we can do it again.
Don Gleason 00:47:44 I was just sitting here thinking about the number of jobs I’ve had 22 different jobs, if I’m right in that area during my 27 years, 10 locations, but 22 different jobs. You had to learn every time, a different responsibility. Most people don’t get to do that. That’s a skill in itself of being able to take advantage of what you learn now, learn the new skills, apply and continue to develop. But sometimes, again, we’ll be talking to the John Maxwell team. Sometimes you have to learn and unlearn to relearn. Nope. Because what you’ve, what you knew five years ago and how you did that job, doesn’t serve you in the next job. You have to unlearn it and relearn it. Those are important skills. I think you’re exactly right. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’re just an infantryman. I don’t know if the word just, if you’re an infantry man or a tank driver or pilot, is that it doesn’t have a direct, there are ways to take those skills and then look at what you can do.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:44 Absolutely.
Don Gleason 00:48:44 They’re all valuable, great points.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:47 As far as networking, I know the Military Roundtable that’s kinda part of the deal is, if you’re working together in this kind of collaborative effort. For people who want to get into a specific industry, maybe before they’ve even gotten out of the military, I think you’re mentioning some professional organizations and other things like that. What’s the best way to start getting involved with some of these organizations, or even getting to know some of the people who are involved in these industries that you might want to get involved with? I know I’m talking in kind of general terms because I’m not talking about any one particular industry, because there’s a whole slew of industries that are out there, but, what’s the best way for people to start getting involved with that kind of stuff?
Don Gleason 00:49:40 Let me jump into where it fits. If we jump, as soon as we decide to transition, if we start writing the resume, people struggle with it. I don’t know what to put on their resume. I don’t know what to put in my profile. Well, you’re right, because you don’t know what you want to do. You go back and figure out what you want to do. I think we’ve touched on that a little bit. I figured that out, and then you can start figuring out who you need to network with. If I want to be, just pick me, somewhere in the architect, engineer, construction, community, doing something in that area, design, construction, whatever it is, there’s an organization that’s right over my shoulder here, society of American Military Engineers. It’s a cooperative between the civilian community corporations and the military to make sure that we’re giving the best construction services to the military, across all kinds of projects.
Don Gleason 00:50:30 It works really well. There’s almost every area, whether it’s human resources, it’s society, society of human resources management, the Sherm. If you’re a project manager, project management Institute as I’ve talked to different people, I do more and more research. We were talking about Intel groups. We’ve talked about a communications group, there’s the Air Force, armed forces, communications, electronics association.. There’s tons of professional organizations getting out there and learning like John Knots did, the language, the structure of the organization I got to do. At one point, I was in charge of the European conference for the society of American military engineers. I remember working with different vice presidents of the different companies. I was a Lieutenant Colonel and I was the vice president of the Kaiserslautern post, but I was hosting the big event and why I got to learn so much.
Don Gleason 00:51:27 Because we’d sit down and have a beer at the end of the day or at the end of the conference. We talk. I’m a curious kind of guy. I would ask questions. Tell me about what your day’s like. Tell me what kind of struggles you have. Tell me how you’re organized. Tell me you’ll just, I would ask various questions and I got so much information that when I decided to transition, I didn’t fear that I didn’t know anything. I talked to other people who’ve never been in touch with the association and they just don’t know how the civilian organizations are structured, how they operate, how to do different pieces. I got to lead at one point a sort of source selection, evaluation team for a $50 million contract acquisition. It was the highest level of advisory and assistance services for the organization I was in.
Don Gleason 00:52:11 What that taught me a lot. I took advantage of that and then talked to contractors, et cetera. Obviously, I had to be careful on the solicitation, but I got to interact with a lot of people and it’s just getting out and getting to meet people. In fact, we’re in four blocks last night, we talked about walking into a room and you look around and you say, who can help me? There’s no tag on anybody’s head that says, I’m the guy. Come talk to me.I’m going to give you the secret to success. You got to go talk to people. Get out and just introduce yourself. You’ll be bold. Step outside your comfort zone. Hey, I’m Don Gleason. I am thinking of transitioning in a year or two, I’m thinking about getting into the project management field. I would love to have a conversation with you about what you do.
Don Gleason 00:52:55 Can we do that? If you quickly find that they’re not going to be helpful, helpful, go find another person and another person. But if you don’t step out and try it, like we said, like on the painting, you just gotta try it and you’re going to fail and you’re gonna learn. And, but your goal is to just to get to know some people and see what they can tell you so that when you get down to that job, I can put the right things in the resume. LinkedIn they’ve answered the questions that the hiring manager and recruiters want to see. I can get that job. And then hopefully even, maybe I have a connection to the company I’m looking to get into. That was probably my saving grace with Booz Allen Hamilton. When we were captains, a young lady, Susan Morris, who is now a senior associate, became principal within Booz Allen. We knew each other. She was working in the Pentagon. I was a director in the Pentagon’s same office. I walked over to her one day and said, Hey, Susan, good to talk to you. Can we have a conversation over lunch? Sometimes I’m thinking about getting out and I’d love to figure out what Booz Allen has to offer. She looked at me, he said, we’ve been waiting for you.
Don Gleason 00:54:00 They had made a promise to the two-star. They weren’t going to pinch the staff, but poach the staff. But soon as I brought it up, we had a great conversation and boom, the rest is history. I stayed there for nine years.
Scott DeLuzio 00:54:11 I think one of the things that I found in my career is that going to different industry events, whether they’re conferences or, or whatever they are, where there are other people who work in that industry, getting to know those people. It’s going to be more than possibly more than a one or two time kind of thing. You might have to go and get in front of these people several times, for your name to stick for themselves. I remember this person from, from this, this time that we met and I remember we went out for drinks after, after this conference and we had a good time or whatever. Then you start to know some of the people. Like you said, then you’ll start to know the people who work for certain companies, then they can help you get your foot in the door when you’re looking to transition, get out, find that new job when you, when you get out of the military..
Don Gleason 00:55:15 That’s right. We just can’t, we just can’t be afraid. Military people don’t like to network in the civilian community, but when I talk to them and they ask, so how did you get to be whatever rank in the military?. Senior NCO, senior officer, he goes, well, I networked around the base. I found the people, and I was able to link it. I have another story where I talk about my group commander. One time calls me up and he had forgotten to assign anybody for the combined federal campaign. The United Way. He calls me up and he’s kind of joking with me a little bit. He finally just says, look, we forgot to sign somebody. Can you take this on? I need 50% contact by next week. I was like, yes, sir. I’ll do that.
Don Gleason 00:55:53 Because he knew that I had connections around the base. I was part of the company, Officer’s council and stuff like that. He knew who could make that happen. I started again, separating myself because I took that on. This was the day before computers. This was the day before cell phones. This was a phone book. All you had was office and was, you have names, you didn’t have a global on the computer, you could look up. You had to know where people were, and figure out the number and call, and try to track people down. It was different, but, but I got it more than 50%, but in the next week,
Scott DeLuzio 00:56:28 There you go. That’s just knowing the right people, they knew you as being the right person to be able to reach out and get in front of all these, these other people. It’s networking is huge. I think that that can’t be undervalued, I think preparation, like you said before, is huge. Stepping outside of that comfort zone, it’s not, you’re not going to walk right into another military organization. You’re when you’re getting out. It’s going to be different. Just know that going into it. It’s going to be different.
Scott DeLuzio 00:57:13 Different kinds of good and just be okay with that, just say, okay, it’s gonna not be the same. I’m not going into my military job, the way I did for the last X number of years, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be different because it’s not what you were doing before, and that’s how you progress. Like I said before, if you keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, you’re kind of insane. I think all of this is really great informationI’m sure we can keep talking about this for quite some time. I think we should, we should probably, put a pin in it here. I want to give you the chance to let people know where, where people can get in touch with you and find out more about the Military Transition Roundtable. If they’re looking for help in their transition.
Don Gleason 00:58:09 Just think about that. If you are afraid of being alone, as you transition, and you would love to have somebody that you can work with a team of people to get to know them they’d be vulnerable to you, you’d be vulnerable to them cause you formed a relationship. You help each other through it and you love to be held accountable. We didn’t talk about the accountability piece, but we tag everybody every week. What are you going to do in the next two weeks? Then we come back to, what did you do? If not, if you didn’t do it, what happened? Then we get people to think again, if that would relate to you or other people, we would love a referral. We’d love for you to contact us. On LinkedIn, I’m a big presence on LinkedIn.
Don Gleason 00:58:51 In fact, I was looking at my social selling number today and I’m making the top 1%, just be very active. Don the middle initial L in Gleason. My partner has written several books on LinkedIn, LinkedIn for the military. There’s a lot of Don Gleason’s, Donald Gleason’s, all kinds. I couldn’t believe it was 30 or 40. Putting the middle initial in there, I’m the only one. It really helps people find me quickly. Don L Gleason, and we also have an open page on LinkedIn Military Transition Roundtable, three words, and we have over a thousand members and would love to join that follow that I try to post on there almost every day, probably do at least every two, three days and just different topics about transition and get people to think and ask questions. I had a post about four or five weeks ago.
Don Gleason 00:59:42 It went to 30,000 people, viewed it. I was like, wow, that’s by far my best, but it was just an interesting house and it just spun. Don L Gleason on LinkedIn Military Transition Roundtable on the, on the open page, www.militarytransitionroundtable.com get more information about us and you can even find us on YouTube. That again, the Military Transition Roundtable, there’s some videos there, but it’s all about having a conversation, connect with us. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s talk about your transition journey. We don’t, we’re not heard of this. Isn’t it just, if, if we talk and we invite you to a meeting and you decide this isn’t for you, Hey, that’s fine. Transition is a time management issue. You’ve got a job, you’ve got a family, you’ve got transition. That’s what I try to focus on. As clearly as we kind of know what we want to do next. I think I’ve said that now seven or eight times. Because it streamlines your whole process. It allows time management to help you by being focused. You can still exist in those other two. We just want to have a conversation with you to see if that works for you and we’ll go from there.
Scott DeLuzio 01:00:49 That sounds great. I think that that’s definitely a needed service in the military and the veteran community, to help people in that transition too, to help them do it successfully. They don’t fall into that category of people who are moving onto the next job within 12 months of starting that first job.
Don Gleason 01:01:12 We link, we link people to other folks that we know to go and do informational interviews to, to connect with. We interview them with companies and American corporate partners. I do veteran mentoring. We linked to a lot of different people. We’re not afraid of the other resources out there. We want you to take advantage of it, but we just want you to think about what I really need and not try to do everything, do the things you need and focus from there.
Scott DeLuzio 01:01:39 All that you can ask for is just getting people out there and helping them as best as you can. Thanks again, Don, for coming on. I really appreciate you sharing what you do and your story. It’s really been a pleasure speaking with you. I really appreciate it.
Don Gleason 01:01:59 It’s been a pleasure speaking with you, Scott. I really appreciate it first. Thank you for your service and thank you for your focus to give back by doing these podcasts interviews and thinking about what people are doing to help and appreciate us being one of those members that we are able to talk about it. We just appreciate you. Thanks for the opportunity.
Scott DeLuzio 01:02:17 Thanks a lot. 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 DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.
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