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Jeff Pottinger

Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Portsmouth, VA but traveled the country, first as a Navy brat, then later as a career Naval Officer.  I have lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, Alaska, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

What’s a short story around the biggest transition you’ve faced in life?
When I decided to retire from the Navy after 24 years, I really hadn’t thought deeply about the next phase in my life.  The Navy was all I knew for 46 years – 22 as a Navy dependent and 24 as an active duty Supply Corps Officer.  Despite everything I learned and experienced in the Navy, transitioning was a huge “unknown” and I lacked confidence.  During that transition (and four others since retiring), I’ve learned the immense power of my network and the knowledge that resides within it.  When transitioning, you are not alone – if you are willing to ask for help and use your network.  Every job I’ve had since retiring (5 now) were a result of my personal network.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a younger you?
Wow – so many pieces of advice to choose from!  But, I’d have to stick with the “networking” theme.  As you begin your military career, remember, it won’t be forever.  Begin laying the groundwork for your future the moment you begin serving.  Expand your network beyond the Navy – stay in touch with high school and college classmates; get involved in your local community; participate in LinkedIn and join organizations that match you interests and values.  The network you build today will be a huge support system throughout your career and especially so when you finally decide to transition.

Your Personal Why?
My mission is to live with integrity and compassion, “do the right things,” then do them right.  Anything is possible and each day creates opportunities to achieve the impossible.  I actively seek new opportunities, experiences, and relationships, to help others achieve what is possible for them.

How does your Why drive you to be a part of the THF Ecosystem?
The last sentence in my personal mission statement is, “I actively seek new opportunities, experiences, and relationships, to help others achieve what is possible for them.”  As these elite professionals begin their transition, they don’t know what is possible.  My experiences and my “Why” guide me to help them find possibilities and ways to achieve them. It’s my “blue flame” (from Never Eat Alone) that gets me up in the morning excited to attack the day!

Top 5 Strengths Finder Strengths and how they influence you?

I enjoy working with small groups, helping them to use their strengths to achieve what’s possible.  I don’t settle for just getting better, I want to transform things from good to great.  I understand this takes a team and that the combined knowledge of the team far exceeds that of any individual member.  I take ownership and commit to finding the right team and maximizing their potential.

Military Connection or Why do you respect Special Operators? 
My father retired as a Supply Corps Commander and I retired as a Supply Corps Captain – a total of 46 years either serving or as a dependent.  The Navy, and all communities within it are special to me.  In my previous job as a Senior Director of Executive Education at the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation, I was fortunate to design and deliver a 1-week course for Navy Special Warfare Support Activity TWO.  During the 3 courses we delivered, I got to know the participants well and my admiration for them as individuals grew tremendously.  Special Operations is a community made up of individuals and I had a chance to meet the individuals – and they are special.  They breathe courage, honor, commitment – quietly and expertly.

Favorite THF Value, and why?
Easy – “Make it 10x better.”  It’s a perfect fit with my personal mission (achieving what’s possible) and my number one strength, Maximizer – “Excellence, not average, is my measure.”  Never settle for the status quo, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.  Instead, always look for ways to make anything even better.  Instead, think – “if it ain’t broke, look harder!”