Skip to content

Tag Archives: alumni

Pints for Patriots

Patriotic craft breweries across the nation are banding together during this November to salute our Veterans and support the mission of The Honor Foundation.

If you would like to learn more about how you can participate in this campaign as a brewery or an individual, contact Renee Booth at renee@honor.org.

Matching opportunities are welcome!
Wrightsville Beach Brewery
Campaign Founders

Spotlight on Dataminr

We’re excited to introduce another valued Employer Partner of The Honor Foundation and an Alumni who is now part of their family.

These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community. 

 

 

Q1:  What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition?

Joe Levy (JL):  Whatever you jump into next likely won’t be the last job you take ––take a risk. It’s okay if your post-transition career five years from now looks very different from what you imagine today. That is just the next step in your journey!

Josh Morgan (JM):  Networking with people who have gone through the transition can provide helpful insights as you figure out what you want your next step to look like. Once you figure out what that step is and which voices to listen to, I recommend investing in those specific relationships. Oftentimes, you will find yourself with an exhaustive list of individuals that you want to speak with, but will start getting conflicting opinions that may cloud your judgment. So be mindful of who you talk to, and make sure those individuals are just as invested in your growth.

Christopher Blake (CB) Spend some time thinking about what you want to optimize for before you get into the interviewing process. Do you care most about making money? Having flexibility with your schedule? Loving who you work with? Loving what you do? No matter your answer, take a hard look at the organization’s culture, actions, and values and make sure there’s strong alignment between the organization and you. Ask questions about the company during your interview process – remember that interviewing is a two-way conversation! You’ll spend most of your waking hours on the job––make sure that the fit feels right for you.

Andrew Salonen (AS):  Start early. Apply the 3 L’s. Challenge Yourself.

Don’t wait until the last 3-6 months to figure out what your life will be like outside of the service. 12-18 months is what I gave myself, and I used every bit of that to evaluate priorities, set goals, explore opportunities, and take action.

Additionally, when evaluating your priorities, you must consider the “3 L’s”: 1. Love where you are 2. Love who you are 3. Love what you do. This simple concept was brought to my attention by Chris Gannon, Founder & CEO of Bolay Restaurant. I applied it throughout my transition as I filtered through the job market.

Lastly, don’t limit yourself by only exploring options within your comfort zone. Challenge yourself and go after opportunities that require you to learn new things. There is no limit to what you can achieve when combining your military experience, a thirst for knowledge, and a positive mental attitude!

Andrew Tiner (AT):  Network. I have talked to so many Vets who had transitioned without THF, and their approach to getting a job was to spam 1000 resumes to 1000 different jobs. While this may work in the end, what THF taught me is that there is a better way to find a job. Build your network, talk to people, and then use what you have built to strategically step your way into a job. I ended up in the interview pipeline with Dataminr based on only a few conversations I had with people in my network who were able to put me on a fast track to employment. The other aspect to networking is knowledge acquisition. I had hundreds if not thousands of conversations. Most of those did not and were never meant to necessarily turn into a job. I really enjoyed getting to know people, learning their unique professional experiences, and getting their feedback and advice on my personal employment journey. It helped me define what I wanted to do, and even more importantly what I didn’t want to do. Have conversations. Don’t just angle for jobs. You never know where that conversation might lead or what doors it will open. Maybe you’ll just make a friend, and those are good to have too.

Build a backup plan. Then build another. This is something that I struggled with a lot, but thanks to THF I was able to overcome. I would get a hot job lead and focus all my energy on it, putting all my eggs in that one basket. This left me high and dry a few times when the job opportunity fell through, and I had to start over from scratch. Always assume a job opportunity can fall through right up until they give you an offer. With that, having multiple leads to work on can help keep you moving through the dead space, whether that’s waiting for the next interview, waiting to hear what next steps are, or waiting to actually get the offer. Just having people who are happy to talk to you can greatly help your mental state while you are searching for your job. When it comes time to talk offers, having even just two to choose from will help empower your decision, and keep you from being desperate. The key really is to not get desperate. But if you do get in a bind, and here I speak from deep personal experience, fall back to point one: your network. On at least two occasions during my transition journey, I made the conscious choice to walk away from job offers I felt were not a good fit for me, even though that would mean staying unemployed. I had to trust that by working with my network I would be able to find the right job for me. Fortunately, thanks to THF, I had learned to build a network to be able to fall back on, and was able to pivot and begin new conversations and find new leads. Ultimately, this paid off when I found, interviewed, and was accepted for my new job with Dataminr. I am really happy I waited, even if at the time it was an extremely difficult decision.

Get a coach. I was assigned a coach through THF, and she has become a close friend, advisor, and mentor. It is very hard to go on this journey alone, and you need as many people on your side as you can get. Having a coach who isn’t a pre-existing friend, who has a wealth of professional knowledge, and who’s only skin in the game is your success is a powerful thing. It’s a fresh perspective and wealth of knowledge to help cut through your baggage, help you define your goals, and get you to ask the questions you didn’t know needed to be answered.

 

Q2:  What experience shaped who you are?

CB:  My experience with THF helped me to realize that I’m at my best when I’m helping others achieve something meaningful, especially when it involves turning insight into action. It’s what I loved about my time in Naval Intelligence and the SOF community, and it’s what steered me to Dataminr (that, and the incredible people here!). I know that the work I do here on Dataminr’s Public Sector team enables others in critically-important leadership positions to make better decisions and save lives, time, and money.

AS:  There are three experiences in my military career that shaped me professionally. The first was failing Navy SEAL training at 18 years of age. The second was failing Navy SEAL training at 21 years of age. The third was graduating at the top of my class in Navy SWCC school at 26. All three experiences drastically impacted how I matured, approached adversity, and led teams. Everything in between these three experiences was affected by the lessons I learned from them.

AT:  There are two primary experiences that have shaped me and my life over the past five years, and the first was becoming a father. Every parent you ever talk to says having kids changes how you think about everything, and until I had kids of my own, I always kind of wrote them off. But of course, they were right. Once we had our son, my entire perspective on life trajectory changed. I started asking hard questions about who I was, who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to be in 10 years. Ultimately, asking and answering these questions led to the decision to part ways with the Navy. I was grateful for the experiences, the perspectives, and the much needed structure that was key to my growth from teenager to manhood. At the same time, I was confident that the best path forward for me and my family lay in the freedom to chart my own course and balance my own priorities. Now, on the other side of this particular transition and starting my new career with Dataminr, I am still confident in my decision.

The second experience was serving in support of SOF. Starting off in the intel community, I was fairly isolated within the walls of my classified office spaces. After I screened and came to support SOF, I had the opportunity to engage with people from all across the DOD, IC, and government at large. I worked harder than I ever had before. I deployed several times to overseas locations. I met, worked with, and learned from some of the hardest working and highest caliber people on this planet. The experiences, perspectives, and insights I gained over these past almost five years could not be acquired anywhere else. I truly value these experiences, and know that who I am today—my goals, my perspective, and my drive, are a direct result of my time spent supporting the SOF community.

Q3:  What is your favorite interview question?

CB: ‘Tell me about a time when you failed, what you did to recover from it, and what you learned in the process.’

This question is my favorite because I think the way a person handles adversity is a great indicator of the type of teammate and contributor they will be.

AS:  My favorite interview question is “Why should we hire a Navy veteran for an Army focused position?”

AT:  “What is something that you are good at, that you never want to do again?” I think it’s important to be reflective, to understand where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Just because you’ve spent a lot of time doing something doesn’t mean it’s who you are or who you have to be. This is one of the key areas of my transition success that I owe a great deal to THF. THF was instrumental in helping me reevaluate my assumptions about what I wanted to do in the civilian sector, what my motivators were, and what possible opportunities I should explore. I began my career looking for analytic jobs, since that was officially what I’d done in one shape or another for ten years. THF helped me realize that what really drove me was helping people solve hard problems, and this led me to start looking at more people focused jobs. I eventually decided that a customer success or client engagement style role would be the best initial fit for me, leading me to engage with and eventually be hired at Dataminr into their customer success team.

 

Q4:  THF Alumni: What similarities did you find between your role at Dataminr and your previous experience in the SOF community?

CB:  Above all else, the most impactful similarities are the dedication to mission and the focus on team success above individual accomplishments. The service-centric culture here at Dataminr is really motivating, and having such purpose-driven colleagues has made Dataminr an incredible place to land after transitioning out of the Navy.

AS:  Culture, focus and the service are a few of the standout similarities between the SOF community and Dataminr. Much like the SOF community, Dataminr is a large organization that operates as a small team. There is a family-like atmosphere that I quickly recognized and felt at home with the minute I came aboard.

In terms of focus, Dataminr is dedicated to their mission and, like a SOF element, communicates extremely well both internally and externally. At Dataminr, we share feedback and learn from each other in order to constantly improve our product and deliver excellent customer support. Everyone on the team is passionate about supporting our public sector customers which includes first responders. In many ways, for us veterans, our service to this country continues every day as employees of Dataminr.

AT:  The mutual trust between people. Everyone has each others’ backs, are willing to help out at a moment’s notice, and place mission and team above personal accolades. This was one of my primary criteria as I searched for a civilian job, and one of the primary reasons for choosing Dataminr. I have always preferred pulling as a team rather than alone and I am very happy to have joined a team that feels the same. The organization is also fairly flat with good working relationships and comradery across all levels. This is also a welcome, familiar dynamic.

Q5:  What makes the culture at your company special?

JL:  Dataminr is the first place I’ve worked where everyone genuinely wants to help each other. We are all marching in the same direction, and are bought into the mission we’re working towards.

JM:  The mission, our core values, and the people are what makes Dataminr’s culture standout.

CB:  There’s so much to love about Dataminr’s culture, but the singular focus on helping customers to ‘Know First and Act Faster’ really makes this place special. Everyone approaches their job with a sense of purpose and urgency, all with a focus on making the product and customer experience as good as it can be. Being a part of a purpose-focused, tech-centric, growing company is really exciting!

AS:  Dataminr places a premium on its people! Dataminr promotes a very positive working environment and encourages collaboration across all verticals. Employees are motivated to support each other to meet our goals from the company level down to the individual.

AT:  While I have only been on board a month, the biggest thing that stands out to me about Dataminr’s culture is the diversity of experience united behind a common cause. There is a large veteran community at Dataminr, and the ability to have immediate connection and common ground with my fellow vets has been fantastic especially as a new guy just starting off with the company. That being said, I have equally enjoyed engaging with all the people who do NOT come from a military background. It is so refreshing to work with people (for the first time in ten years) who have a completely different set of life experiences and perspectives from my own. And the fact that everyone works so well together united in their common motivation to support our customer as well as represent and advocate for our awesome product, is truly motivating. I am very happy to be a part of this team and to be able to lend my own experiences, skills, and perspectives to their fight.

 

 

Q6:  What question are you asked more than any other?

CB:  “How did you know about ‘fill-in-the-blank transition resource’???”

Military transition is a team sport, and it’s impossible for any one transitioning veteran to keep track of the tens of thousands of support programs and opportunities that are out there. During my time as a THF Fellow, I learned first-hand the value of keeping an open mind, sharing information and opportunities freely with others, and asking for help. Over the last 18+ months of transition preparation, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to benefit from and learn about a ton of transition resources out there – and I’m always glad to help others find a way to benefit from them all.

AS:  I’m still relatively new to Dataminr; however, one thing I’m frequently asked from my Dataminr colleagues is “How am I doing with the new position, and is there anything they can do to help set me up for success?”

AT:  In my case it’s more a question type rather than a specific question. I am constantly asked “in your experience…”, looking for my unique perspective gained through my time in the military. This is a new experience for me as I enter an entirely new field of work, being asked to weigh in based on a perspective not necessarily shared by my coworkers. It’s an asset that you, as a vet and a THF grad, bring to the table that you should absolutely lean into. One of the benefits of attending a THF cohort is that you learn how to articulate and express this as a value add to your new civilian company. You DO have a unique skill, that you spent years working on and developing. Don’t be afraid to maximize it.

Q7:  What drives you every day?

CB:  Having a sense of purpose beyond self and a team to share the experience with is what drives me. What I do and how I do it needs to be bigger than me for it to mean something, and I’m grateful that I have found that here at Dataminr.

AS:  I am driven each day by the dedication and positivity of my team!

AT:  Family first. I got out of the Navy because it was the right decision for my family and I’m happy that I have found a role with Dataminr that enables me to be home more with my family. I’m able to strike a better work/life balance and I have more emotional availability at the end of every day.

 

Q8:  What book do you find most valuable?

CB:  This is THE HARDEST question for me to answer because I read non-stop! I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one ‘most valuable’ of all time, so instead I’ll share one that’s been really valuable to me as I find my way as a leader and manager in the private sector: ‘What You Do Is Who You Are,’ by Ben Horowitz. Ben’s other book, ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ is a VERY close second!

AS:  In terms of preparing for life outside the military, I found the book “Who: The A Method for Hiring” to be helpful. It helped me understand what companies are looking for in a new hire and how best to communicate that I was the team player that they were looking for.

AT:  This is a tough call but looking specifically at my transition journey, the book that had the single biggest impact on my mindset is, “Every Tool’s a Hammer” by Adam Savage. This may seem an odd choice but the book focuses on finding your creative passion, being true to yourself, and investing in the things that matter most and give you joy in life. As I weighed the security and familiarity of continuing to serve in the Navy versus moving into the unknown, prioritizing family and my own happiness, this book gave me an important push toward the latter. Whether it’s this book, or another that communicates this message to you, it’s important to know that there is more available to you than what you have been, or what you have done. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself and work towards a future you actually want.

Q9:  What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

CB:  That I can do anything, but I can’t do everything. The excitement I have for all of the incredible opportunities out there for transitioning veterans led me to take on too much at once at times during my transition, which created stress rather than alleviating it. I learned that time spent focused on setting priorities and objectives trumps frantic effort invested in a ton of different things all at once. Don’t lose the ‘default yes’ mentality, but be prudent.

AS:  Preparation is paramount for any interview. The “fake it until you make it” technique is ill advised.

AT:  You may have to take an alternate route to achieve your goals. Don’t be too rigid in how you define “success.” When I began my transition journey, I had well-articulated ideas and plans for what success on the other side would look like. I had plans and back up plans. But for a long list of complicated and unrelated reasons, they all fell apart one after the other and I ended up out of the Navy and without work. I had to take a hard pause, start from the ground up, re-engage my network and THF, and most importantly, take a good hard look at what my goals were. Even though my big picture goals of getting out of the Navy and starting a new chapter in my life hadn’t changed, and at that point I was out of the Navy and therefore to a degree successful, I had to challenge many of my expectations about the type of job I was looking for or could actually land. Out of that pause and reassessment rose the opportunity with Dataminr and to this day I’m still a bit taken aback at what a good fit both the company culture and job description are for me. Even though I had used the product for a few years, it hadn’t been a company I had originally considered when I began my journey and I wasn’t sure the first phone call I had would lead anywhere. But only a few months later, I was onboarding and I couldn’t be happier. In short, always have a plan, but don’t be so locked on that you don’t hear opportunity when it knocks.

 

 

Q10:  What defines a leader?

JL:  A leader is someone who inspires others to dream more, do more, and be more.

JM:  A good leader does not require an advanced degree or an incredible amount of experience –– they require a people first mentality. A great leader is someone who has not only expertly adopted this mentality, but is also a master communicator. They are able to listen, process, and ask questions to drive meaningful conversations and limitless potential.

CB:  A leader is someone who drives action with clear intention, together with others, in support of a higher purpose.

AS:  I prescribe to the servant leadership mentality. I believe there must be a foundation of genuine trust within your team in order to be productive long term. A leader is an excellent listener, empathetic, and maintains an acute awareness of the internal and external factors that impact their team. A leader must also be persuasive but does so from a place of credibility and respect.

AT:  Honesty. Being honest with your people, calling a spade a spade, and not overindulging in the company kool-aid. Be passionate about what you do but also be real about your limitations, or the limitations of your organization. It’s easy to lead when the goings good, but it’s the tough times where good leaders truly shine. Towing the line of, “Yes, this sucks, but it’s what we have to do and we’re in this together” goes a lot further than trying to sugar-coat failed policy or bad direction.

The other side of this coin is trust. Trust your people and have their backs, even when they make mistakes or are in the wrong. This doesn’t mean to not be accountable or to not hold your people accountable. This means knowing that there will always be a crowd of people standing by to absolutely crush a person (in this case, your person) at the first misstep or screw up. It’s up to you to determine whether your person will have an ally in that crowd. It’s truly amazing what people will do for you, your team, and themselves if they know you have their back.

Q11:  What is your favorite quote?

JL:  ​​“Some men see things as they are and say, ‘why’; I dream things that never were and say, ‘why not’.” – J.F.K. (adopted from a character in a George Bernard Shaw play).

JM:  “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – Gen Patton

CB:  “If you don’t know what you want, there’s no chance that you will get it.” Ben Horowitz, ‘What You Do Is Who You Are’

AS:  “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt

AT:  It’s hard to pick just one, and I think my favorite quote changes as I move between phases of life. The one that’s motivated me in important ways lately has been, “That which cannot last, will end.” There’s two distinct ways that I approach this quote. The first is motivating myself through difficult and challenging times. Knowing that any transient, temporary problem or situation is not the “end” helps focus my energy, even if just to endure in the short run. Very little is forever and most things can change or end if need be. The second approach is to focus on investment. Viewing my life through the lens of what is permanent and what is not. The question, “What do I WANT to be permanent in my life?” helps focus my goals, determination, and investment. Choosing happiness over security, or family over material acquisition. My entire transition has been framed within this context. Making the decision to re-prioritize my life direction and then navigating the months or even years of work, change, and uncertainty that follow. It has been difficult, but so far it has been worth it.

 

Spotlight on National Speed

We’re excited to introduce another valued Employer Partner of The Honor Foundation and an Alumni who is now part of their family.

These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community. 

 

 

Q1 What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition?

Will Martin (WM): First and foremost, be PATIENT with yourself throughout the transition process – easier said than done, I know. Think about things you ARE and ARE NOT looking for in terms of “fit” in your next company/organization (Do you want to lead or be led? Are you seeking a Team or singleton organization? Do you want pre-existing structure or do you want more autonomy and the opportunity to build from scratch? Where do you want to live? Do you want to travel? Are you seeking variety in daily schedule and problem-sets, or do you want predictability?). Thinking through these questions helped to bring clarity to the unknowns and ambiguity of the transition process. If the compensation structure/salary is in the ballpark to support you and your family, I would focus on your “WHY” and growth potential in prospective companies. With that said, you need to make sure that you aren’t looking past the role for which you are interviewing.

Separately, my biggest takeaway from the interview process is that it will ultimately fall on YOU to connect the dots between the prospective company’s challenges/needs. Nine times out of ten, the person interviewing you will not have the common background or experiences to bridge the private sector and military worlds. Think hard about and come prepared to articulate how your past experiences and skill sets make you a qualified candidate and a valuable addition to the prospective company. Do your research beforehand and ask questions during the interview process to understand how you can best help that company succeed. For example, most interviewers are not going to be able to extrapolate the parallels between managing difficult Partner Force leadership/personalities and dealing with dissatisfied Customers in a retail environment. I think it is a great approach at the end of an interview to ask the Interviewer, what concerns they have about you as a candidate and/or what they see will be your biggest challenge with stepping into that position. What that gives you, is a last window of opportunity 1) to illustrate how you have dealt with a similar situation, quelling their remaining concerns or 2) to own your professional/technical gaps (that is perfectly OK), while providing them with past scenarios where you have been thrown into and had to navigate unfamiliar situations/tasks. This affords you the opening to demonstrate your ability to adapt, problem-solve, and overcome to successfully meet a defined end-state. You have all the tools; you just need to understand how to translate them to illustrate your true value.

Jason Hadaway (JH): Be humble, be professional at all times, be PATIENT, and be genuine. The workforce is starving for people with the soft skills that are beaten into us as service members. Bringing those skills to the table puts you ahead of your competition from the start of the interview process. EVERYONE is learning when they are starting a new position or even the same position, but with a new company. These people have to learn new systems, new processes, and new people. So, RELAX when thinking your skills do not apply to a new industry or career choice. Most importantly do not get discouraged when you fail to acquire the role or exact company you hope for. The right opportunity and Team will present themselves and it will feel natural. The most important characteristic of the right “fit” was the connections I was making during the process.

 

 

Q2 What experience shaped who you are?

WM: While my collective military experiences influenced much of who I am today, there was one major inflection point that sticks out and is what ultimately led me to pursue a career in the military. Following a High-School football game in Alexandria, VA on November 3rd, 2001, I visited the Pentagon with my parents to see firsthand the crash site of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77. Speechless and overlooking the destruction from September 11th, 2001 from the west side hill, that moment served as the catalyst that propelled me to a career of military service in the SEAL Teams, for which I am forever grateful. I took away from that experience and my time in service the importance and power of PURPOSE and PERSPECTIVE. My biggest concern with making the transition was finding a comparable sense of purpose outside of the military, but I made that one of priorities in navigating the job search process. Consequently, I’m happy to say that it’s served me well.

JH: As a Veteran and prior Marine Raider, the many experiences that shaped me were all probably similar experiences to the audience. Exposure to strong leaders and timeless mentors. Shared struggles and successes with my peers, and losses that are still difficult to justify have shaped my understanding of people and the importance of my investment to our Team. Since transition, my exposure to excellent mentors continues to increase as I strive to surround myself and learn from those with new ideas and differing perspectives. The civilian workforce is diverse and unique from the military due to a higher risk of failure, but also higher risk for reward. Should you fail, you look for a new team and work elsewhere. Should you work hard and apply the skills and experiences you have shared in the military, you will experience more growth and promotions at a rate your company chooses. Time in grade has no value on the outside!

Q3 What is your favorite interview question?

WM: “What concerns or qualification gaps do you think you would have with stepping into this position?” This gives me insight into the candidate’s understanding of the position and their level of self-awareness. Hiring Managers are often fine with qualification gaps (I had a handful of my own when I was interviewing), but more importantly, they are looking at whether the candidate has the humility and grit to autonomously self-assess and self-correct. You are both thinking it, so own it! Use that opportunity to illustrate other scenarios where you’ve volunteered or been required to step into uncharted territory (outside of your comfort zone) and how you addressed perceived capability gaps to achieve success.

JH: My favorite interview question to ask aspiring National Speed team members completely revolves around their ability to work well with others. “Do you think you will fit in with our team, and how do you plan to ensure that happens?” I care 100x more about a person’s ability to work closely and under stress with the rest of the Team than I do about their skill level in comparison with each individual on the Team. I want to know if the individual can take a difficult situation on the chin and continue to be optimistic and think clearly. When working on close Teams, the same rules apply as in the military. Your demeanor and professionalism impact everyone around you and their ability to have a joyful and productive day.

 

 

Q4 What similarities did you find between your role at National Speed and your previous experience in the SOF community?

WM: The core tenets that I’ve found transcend and drive success across both experiences are cross-organizational communication, accountability, adaptability, divergent thinking, and collaborative problem-solving. Much of my deployment experience was in leadership positions in underdeveloped areas of operational responsibility and resource constrained environments. While the severity of consequences and jargon may be different in a private sector startup/small business, there are more similarities than differences between the two worlds. As a SEAL Platoon Commander, I often applied organization, structure, course of action analysis and development, and decisive action to bring calm to chaos. My role as National Speed’s VP of Operations is no different, as I’m heavily focused on driving solutions and improvements pertaining to People, Processes, Systems, Planning, and Execution. SOF personnel are well postured to pursue post-military careers in startups and smaller companies like National Speed, because where others see obstacles, we see opportunity. We love the challenge of complex problems, we seek to understand the tactical and strategic implications of potential solutions, and we tackle it head-on to make things better for the mission and our teammates.

JH: Soft skills matter. Every interaction holds weight. You are being considered and judged for your ability for promotion and future responsibilities of the company. Your network and those who you continue to surround yourself with in a workspace is vital to your personal growth and success in a career.

Q5 What makes the culture at your company special?

WM: Like many other organizations, our culture is founded around a set of Core Values and is ultimately our “true north” that we lean on to screen, select, and measure performance of National Speed teammates – Believer, Driven, Professional, Trustworthy, and Winner. To change the automotive performance industry for the better, National Speed is focused on addressing many of the stigmas that have historically plagued the industry. Consequently, National Speed has fostered a culture founded on PROFESSIONAL and transparent communication amongst our team and with our customers, uncompromising integrity (TRUSTWORTHY) – doing the right thing no matter what, and a genuine care for our team members and customers inside and outside of work. We BELIEVE that every problem has a solution, and we seek innovation across our entire organization because there is always a better way. Our Team is comprised of professionals who are DRIVEN by the opportunity to solve problems that others deem insurmountable. Our leadership makes it a point to frequently engage with our team members on the front lines to gain a ground-truth perspective on the daily challenges that they face, so we can make tomorrow better than yesterday. We make a concerted effort to ensure every team member has a voice to provide constructive feedback and drive innovation across the entire organization. When we miss the mark, we own it, and aggressively address the issue to make it right. In summary, what makes our culture special is that we maintain an offensive posture to self-assess and drive improvements to make work and life better for our people – teammates and customers alike.

 

 

JH: Communication is also a vital characteristic in a well running firm. As Leaders, our ability to communicate up and down, while also keeping the Team communicating clearly and professionally on a daily basis is an enduring task that requires constant effort. Doing this effectively allows our employees to understand their working environment, and give them confidence that their leadership and supporting assets are delivering on their tasks. It forms a bond between all stakeholders that produces an environment of trust and confidence. At National speed we focus on delivering a clear mission and end state, a thorough understanding of the lateral limitations, and a deep rooted “why”..An equal focus which is the primary driver in any successful Team culture are the people. Taking care of your team members by focusing on their ability to not only do their job well, but to actually ENJOY their job and everyday life. When people are happy, they work harder PERIOD. National Speed continues to push a focus on all key areas of the company by taking direct feedback and putting new plans in place that will help solve issues faster and create the least amount of stress possible on our employees. A company’s success will never be felt unless it is felt by every member of the Team.

Q6 What question are you asked more than any other?

WM: “How did you end up at National Speed?” Networking is what opened the door to the opportunity but making the decision to pursue the VP of Operations position for National Speed was driven by my priorities – location, team culture, variety of problem-sets and daily schedule (fear of “The Groundhog Day” effect), leadership scope of responsibilities, and autonomy. It took about 30 minutes in National Speed’s Wilmington, NC Shop for me to feel confident that I found the Team and professional opportunity that was the right “fit.”

JH: The question I hear most often from Veterans transitioning into the civilian market is “How did you decide which role and industry you would seek after getting out of the military?” I learned two very important things during my active-duty service. Enjoying what I am doing and who I am doing it with are more important than any of the other characteristics of a job such as “working from home.” I spend more time with my work Team than I do with my own children. So, it is highly important I find what I am doing as interesting. Being in an environment that is conducive for personal growth is also a key factor in fending off complacency after being with a company long term. A company that doesn’t conduct performance reviews to give you credible feedback should be a key indicator that they main focus is your job being done well, and less about creating an individual who will not only perform their job well but grow into a person who will impact future innovation and growth within the company.

 

 

Q7 What drives you every day?

WM: The excitement and challenge of doing something in an industry that’s never been done before – making the automotive performance experience accessible to all. My goal every day is to make my teammates’ jobs more enjoyable and easier to execute, while improving the service, product, and experience that we strive to deliver to our customers. The level of autonomy, creativity, and ability to affect meaningful change has instilled within me a sense of purpose that I was concerned I’d have trouble finding outside of the military.

JH: The success of everyone around me. Not only my wife and children, but the Team I work with every day. Seeing those around me grow professionally and create more opportunities for themselves and their families keeps my striving to provide them my maximum effort each and every day. Being looked to for guidance and assistance from my tribe keeps me hungry to grow myself and provide value to them. Being successful at positively influencing those around you and leaving people remembering you as positive force will consequently result in a successful career for yourself.

Q8 What book do you find most valuable?

WM: I love “Legacy” by James Kerr and have had all my assigned team members and new hires read it. It does an incredible job articulating how the fundamentals of healthy team culture and leadership principles transcend industries and organizations. In support of our Core Values, I’ve tried to develop a foundation, specifically within the Operations Department, that promotes humility, work ethic, professionalism, innovation, and care for each other.

JH: As I get older, I find myself more and more susceptible to forming bad habits that impede my ability to achieve my goals. Therefore, I always fall back on one book I continue to reference for myself and recommend to others for the impact it has had on me. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg breaks down the biological and psychological nature of decision making and habit forming. It scientifically explains why habits are formed and how we can change them. The book will give you a fresh understanding of human nature and how we can trick ourselves into forming habits that will positively influence our everyday lives. As I continue to grow as a father, professional, and a friend, I find that it is the finer details of my day that can be tweaked in order to optimize my performance. Whether its waking up at a certain time, making it to the gym, or remembering to have a positive attitude throughout the day. This book helps with getting you there.

Q9 What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

WM: Within my first 3 weeks of working at National Speed, I had a stern conversation with one of my Direct Reports, which ended up not being as productive as intended and resulted in him in tears. I’m not going to go into the details, but my takeaway from that experience was that the transition continues well after you accept a job outside of the military. I’ve had some adjustments to make on my end regarding how I communicated with and managed team members that aren’t Navy SEALs. Personal and professional growth is perpetual.

JH: We are a product of our environment. We form habits and ideas from our exposure to different people and places. Therefore, to continue to grow and be successful it is vitally important that I continue to work hard, surround myself with people that genuinely care for my well-being, and to value my families and my own happiness. Above all else. In short, love what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, and the rest will fall into place!

 

 

Q10 What defines a leader?

WM: Your Team’s morale, drive, and success in the face of adversity is what ultimately defines your efficacy as a Leader. Furthermore, I firmly believe that it is critical for a leader to actively seek feedback and opportunities to clear the brush for their teammates to make the job easier and more enjoyable, while fostering a healthy work life balance for all – simplified, sustainable, predictable, and easy replicate operations. People don’t know you care, until you show you care.

JH: A Leader is someone who can effectively communicate a task or mission to other people and instill confidence that there is an effective way to accomplish said task, while also convincing those of the value in succeeding. A great Leader is someone that can effectively perform that function and personally guide their Team through the entire process. This is done by focusing on each individual within the Team. Also having a thorough understanding of the necessary knowledge and processes, and having a real passion for delivering a product or service that will strengthen your Team or companies’ reputation.

 

 

Q11 What is your favorite quote?

WM: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” -Andy Dufresne

JH: My favorite quote is something my grandmother has said to me throughout every difficult task I have taken on in life. When I used to complain about schoolwork in college, her response “This to shall pass” always irritated me in its simplistic and obvious nature. When I spoke with her during basic infantry training and told her of my blistered feet, she again told me “This to shall pass.” I was able to hear my Grandmother repeat this during ITC when becoming a Marine Raider, during long deployments where only coming home was my greatest desire, and lastly when I was transitioning out of the military and experiencing the crippling stress and anxiety of figuring out my “why” and what adventure I would take next. Ever greater achievement the more weight those words continue to have for me. She passed on last year, and her words will continue to resonate for me during each difficult thing I choose to pursue next.

Q12 National Speed, what unanticipated skills, talent, and/or competencies did you gain for employing Special Operators at your organization?

National Speed: Brilliance in the basics. Never feeling overconfident that I have everything right, or fully understand everything. These characteristics keep me humble and always looking to grow. As a Leader, I have others that rely on me to guide them when things are tough. To drive clear communication and help come up with new ideas to solve fresh problems. So, my most important lesson from all the of successes and many failures as a Special Operator; Never think you have it all figured out. Continue to prepare and plan for as many unknowns as possible, and always put your best efforts into anything you choose to pursue.

 

The Honor Journal: Summer 2021

The first half of our 2021 has been off to a strong start! We’re growing our team, launching a new campus, creating new partnerships, planning fun events and collaborating more than ever before. Read what we’ve been up to in our THF June 2021 summer newsletter!

THF Summer Newsletter 2021_Digital

Event Recap: The Next Course – Tampa

PRESS RELEASE

25 March 2021

The Honor Foundation, along with the Global SOF Foundation, Gathered Tampa Bay Business Leaders and U.S. Special Operators for Unique Networking Event 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021Tampa Bay, FL — The Honor Foundation (THF), a unique transition institute that serves the U.S. Special Operations community, hosted an exclusive networking event, The Next Course, with Event Sponsor Metis Solutions – A PAE Company, to connect members of the U.S. Special Operations community with business executives in Tampa. The event, held on St. Patrick’s Day at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, wrapped up the Global SOF Symposium and offered an opportunity for attendees to mingle over food and wine pairings and a silent auction in support of a good cause. 

The event kicked off numerous appetizer and cocktail stations, live music from Kaitlyn + Zach Duo, and a welcome from THF CEO Matt Stevens who introduced the special guest of the evening, RADM Mitch Bradley, Commanding Officer at Special Operations Command Central. 

Touching on how critical the Special Operations Forces is to the country, RADM Bradley spoke about leadership, the balance of risk to force versus risk to mission, and how the business and military communities symbiotically support the economic engine of our great nation.

“The SOF community provides a unique proving ground that tests the character and competency of its members; those with the strongest character and the highest competency rise through the ranks to become SOF leaders. Standing before many of you today who have made that journey is at the same time an honor and humbling. I wish you all the success and happiness that is your new mission as you pursue new challenges in the private sector. For all the reasons I described today, I know that this group is uniquely equipped to realize those goals. In short, it is good business for the business folks in the room to hire transitioning members of the SOF community.”

Rhett Jeppson, Director of External Military and Veterans Affairs at JP Morgan Chase & Co, followed with words of encouragement to the transitioning individuals in attendance and emphasized why The Honor Foundation is a veteran program of choice for JP Morgan to prepare transitioning military for success in the private sector.

The Next Course welcomed attendees of the GSOF Symposium as well as Tampa businesses and military supporters for an evening of networking and discussing career transition. Several THF Alumni were in attendance to share their experience of the program with potential future Fellows who are planning for their end of service. A silent auction with items including a limited edition bottle of Horse Soldier bourbon, a signed Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, and a custom, one-of-kind Blast Box from Valhalla’s Forge. 

Proceeds from the event benefited The Honor Foundation’s program to help veterans transition out of uniform and apply their skills, work ethic, and leadership to the private sector. 

###

For more information about this press release, please contact Kathy Leming at kathy@honor.org

About The Honor Foundation

The Honor Foundation (THF) has developed a world-class transition institute for the U.S. Special Operations Forces community that, through a three-month program, provides tailored executive education, one-on-one coaching, and access to a nationwide professional network. This program was built by the desire to serve others with honor for life so that their next mission is always clear and continues to impact the world. We do this by providing the tools that maximize our fellows’ potential and prepares them to succeed on their own. The Honor Foundation has campuses in San Diego, CA, Virginia Beach, VA, Camp Lejeune, NC (serving the Marine Raider community), and a virtual campus. The Navy SEAL Foundation is a Founding Partner of The Honor Foundation.

 

Spotlight On STIHL

We’re excited to introduce another valued Employer Partner of The Honor Foundation and an Alumni who is now part of their family.

These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community. 

 

 

Q1 What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition?

Nate Chundrlek: Pursue what you are passionate about and do not allow doors to close on you. If doors are closed, breach them with the tools THF gives you throughout the process.

Ted Handler: Focus on introspection and commit to the time that it takes to figure out what really makes you tick – what makes you happy. Why did you enjoy working with the people you did? The mission? The culture? The people? Once you know this – your why – you can then seek out opportunities that are complimentary to your values, interests and strengths and then work doesn’t even seem like work! Additionally – don’t expect offers to appear when you are six months out from retirement…we are used to that in the military. Offers will come, but they come much closer to when you are getting out than will be comfortable. Finally, have confidence in your experiences and know you will not see any leadership challenges in the civilian or corporate world that you cannot draw an analogous example from your military experience. The situation is likely different but the leadership skills to navigate the challenge are certainly in your tool kit.

Q2 What experience shaped who you are?

NC:  Dig deeply into your soul and be honest as to what makes you happy. Embrace the cups of coffee with those outside your comfort zone and discover new things. Try to determine what you do not want to do and then narrow down on those things you would like to do.

TH: I think all our collective experiences shape who we are, but obviously some more than others. Ice hockey has always been a big part of my life and a number of coaches, teams, experiences in that realm definitely shaped me. Same is true for surfing and snowboarding and outdoor activities. Obviously, the military shaped who I am today as well, different leaders I worked both for and with, (both good and bad) as well as teammates. In particular, there were a number of teachers that shaped me as well. One in particular had a tremendous impact on my life and he just recently passed away. Never forget to let those that shaped you know about the positive impact they had on you. Take the time to just say thank you and let them know.

 

 

Q3 What is your favorite interview question?

NC:  What are the most important things you would like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, 90, 365 days on the job. This lays out the expectations to you, on what you can expect to be doing during the on onboarding process. It will allow you to make goals to yourself and determine if you and the company are on the same page.

TH:  What do you think makes you qualified for this position? This question is actually much more complex than first glance. It opens the door to not only just talk about professional qualification, but you have an opportunity to talk about your own personal leadership philosophy and how you would apply it to the position and demonstrate a good fit for the organization such as common values etc.

Q4 What similarities did you find between your role at STIHL and your previous experience in the SOF community?

NC:  #1 thing is team work from the bottom up everyone is focused on the same goal

TH: People and places change but leadership challenges are everywhere, even in the greatest of organizations, but with the good ones, the desire to continuously improve exists. I find that to exist here at STIHL and in the SOF community. Better every day.

Q5 What makes the culture at your company special?

NC:  STIHL is the global leader in the Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) market, and this brings a great sense of pride to every employee. We are also a privately held company, and this brings a sense closeness throughout the organization.

TH:  Long term outlook. People have the freedom to experiment, analyze, dialogue and deliberate about work because we are not concerned about “next quarters earnings numbers”. We are more focused on how can we best position ourselves to remain the market leader for the next ten, twenty, fifty years. The attitude improves and people have fun at work as a result.

 

Q6 What question are you asked more than any other?

NC: Can you help me get a job at STIHL? This is where Networking plays a big role in the civilian life. Getting to know people from various organizations who might be able to recommend you for an open position.

TH:  I had to think about that a bit – but because I work on a particular long-term project that will change the way in which we conduct many of our daily activities, I am frequently being asked “when”.

Q7 What drives you every day?

NC:  To be a part of a global organization with a humble beginning, which almost 100 years later is still growing. The pride in knowing we have the best brand of OPE in the world makes it enjoyable to say I am a part of it.

TH:  To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield in my quest to serve. Long story there…it’s my “why” developed while I was in THF cohort 12…hit me up for a cup of coffee and find out more…lol

Q8 What book do you find most valuable?

NC:  History books are my favorite. I think it is important to know where we came from. The good as well as the bad, so that we can remember the impactful things we did as well as the mistakes, so that they are not repeated. When we analyze the past, we can better understand where we are going.

TH:  Neuro-Ledarskap co-authored by my THF Coach, now friend and mentor Stefan Falk.

 

 

Q9 What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

NC:  Sometimes it’s best to keep quiet and listen to the surrounding conversation before injecting an opinion.

TH:  Some battles aren’t worth fighting. Lot’s to unpack there and again – to the THF fellows…hit me up for a cup of coffee – LOL.

Q10 What defines a leader?

NC:  A leader is only defined by the people who work for them.

TH:  Wow. There’s volumes on that one…but for me it comes down mostly to having a solid base of values and then the courage and discipline to stick to them – the exercise of being the example for the practice of integrity.

Q11 What is your favorite quote?

NC:  “Never tell people how do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity” – General George Patton.

TH:  I have a lot of favorite quotations, but based on having just thought about your last question, this one comes to mind: “Leadership is not about being in charge, Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” (Simon Sinek)

 

 

Q12 *STIHL specific: What unanticipated skills, talent, and/or competencies did you gain for employing Special Operators at your organization?
SOF Operators bring a confident can do attitude, critical thinking/questioning and an inquisitive, innovative, objective approach to solving business problems the same way they achieved mission success in the military.

 

THF + Q4 Raider Patch: “Transition: The Next Ridgeline”

The Honor Foundation is part of a quarterly series in the Raider Patch titled, Transition:  The Next Ridgeline, sharing takeaways and advice from the THF Alumni in the Raider community.

Our second feature in the Q4 2020 issue focused on “The Networking Power of LinkedIn ” with John Logan. Flip to page 17 to read his full article.

Thank you to the Marine Raider Association, one of our valued Community Partners, for this great opportunity to contribute to your publication each quarter.

 

Patch 4thQ20 print

THF Participates in Harvard Business School Case

This November, Harvard Business School published “The Honor Foundation: Accessing Special Operations Talent,” an extensive case study focusing on the THF organization and highlighting the unique skill sets of individuals from the Special Operations Forces community. Though not readily available to the public, it was reflective on the significance of integrating men and women from SOF into the workforce and the value they bring to the private sector, especially in times of crises.

“Amid a pandemic, executives are finally realizing the importance of bringing outsiders who are comfortable dealing with the unexpected onto their teams. As these crises wear on, the singular and eminently portable skills of our country’s highest-trained servicepeople are becoming more and more valuable…”

Read the summary article from Harvard Business Review, “Lessons on Leading Through Chaos from U.S. Special Operations,” for insights from several THF Alumni on how their knowledge gained from their SOF training and experiences greatly play a role in their career outside of the Teams.

 

RECAP: THF “A Toast to Veterans” Virtual Live Stream Event

PRESS RELEASE

12 November 2020

The Honor Foundation Gathered Senior Military Leaders, Medal of Honor Recipients, Simon Sinek, for Nationwide Tribute to Veterans

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – The Honor Foundation (THF), a unique transition institute that serves the U.S. Special Operations community, hosted a nationwide live virtual event, A Toast to Veterans, with Presenting Sponsor Morgan Stanley, in celebration of all U.S. Veterans on Veterans Day. The event offered an opportunity for our country to unite in patriotism and in appreciation of the service of all Veterans.

The event kicked off with a special rendition of “Old Glory” by Evangelo Morris and featured a range of senior military officials, Medal of Honor recipients, a bestselling author, THF leadership and alumni to provide remarks to our nation’s veterans. Distinguished speakers included ADM William McRaven (USN, RET), LTG Mike Nagata (USA, RET), Lt Gen Tom Trask (USAF, RET), MajGen Frank Donovan (USMC), Simon Sinek, Optimist and bestselling author, Medal of Honor recipients Britt Slabinski and Florent Groberg, The Honor Foundation CEO, Matt Stevens, and Navy SEAL Foundation CEO, Robin King.

The virtual live stream celebrated the extraordinary men and women who have given and continue to give their lives in service of our country. It was an evening filled with patriotism, inspiration and heartfelt remarks. Speakers described a warrior’s path from joining the military, to active duty experiences, transitioning out of the military and the value of veterans to our country and society post-uniform. The program closed with notable groups such as the LAPD and Boston Bruins paying tribute to all veterans across the country.

Vince Lumia, Head of Field Management for Morgan Stanley, the Presenting Sponsor of the virtual event, shared his tribute during the program.

“We proudly recognize the service of our military veterans, reservists and those on active duty,” said Lumia. “It’s been a privilege to partner with The Honor Foundation which put together a phenomenal program featuring leaders from our military branches to discuss their careers, the lives of veterans, their importance to our society, and the challenges faced while transitioning to a civilian life and potential solutions.”

Matt Stevens, CEO of The Honor Foundation, added: “As a Veteran led organization and a Veteran myself, The Honor Foundation wanted to pay tribute to our nation’s service members with this unique virtual event featuring esteemed speakers, guests and our Alumni. With the support of our Presenting Sponsor, Morgan Stanley, all the supporting sponsors and everyone who had purchased tickets and donated, we are  proud of its inaugural event and look forward to another one next year.

The mission of THF is to help transitioning members of the Special Operations Forces community prepare for their next career after service. We are grateful for the partnerships and continued support of the Navy SEAL foundation, our Founding Partner, PayPal, Wounded Warrior Project, Carrington Charitable Foundation, our donors and all THF Tribes who provide us the opportunity to continue impacting the lives of our nation’s veterans.”

Proceeds from the event benefitted The Honor Foundation’s program to help veterans transition out of uniform and apply their skills, work ethic and leadership to the private sector.

###

For more information about this press release, please contact Kathy Leming at kathy@honor.org.

 

 

About The Honor Foundation

The Honor Foundation (THF) has developed a world-class transition institute for the U.S. Special Operations Forces community that, through a three-month program, provides tailored executive education, one-on-one coaching, and access to a nationwide professional network. This program was built by the desire to serve others with honor for life so that their next mission is always clear and continues to impact the world. We do this by providing the tools that maximize our fellows’ potential and prepares them to succeed on their own. The Honor Foundation has campuses in San Diego, CA, Virginia Beach, VA, Camp Lejeune, NC (serving the Marine Raider community), and a virtual campus. The Navy SEAL Foundation is a Founding Fartner of The Honor Foundation.

###

THF + Q3 Raider Patch: “Transition: The Next Ridgeline”

The Honor Foundation is excited to be part of a quarterly series in the Raider Patch titled, Transition:  The Next Ridgeline, sharing takeaways and advice from the THF Alumni in the Raider community. The first feature in the Q3 issue focused on “Networking Virtually” with Jason Hadaway. Flip to page 22 to read his full article.

Another THF Alumni, Garret Harrell, is also profiled in this issue. Turn to page 29 to learn more about his transition experience, resources that he found useful, advice to future transitioning Raiders, and what he does today.

Thank you to the Marine Raider Association, one of our valued Community Partners, for this great opportunity to contribute to your publication each quarter.

Patch 3rdQ20 148

THF on High Performance Pathways Podcast

Listen to a podcast interview with Court Whitman, and his featured guest, THF CEO Matt Stevens. 

“High Performance Pathways is a purpose-built and specially selected collection of someone’s experience as they discuss how they understand, chase & discover high performance in their life. This content is collected during a One-on-One interview and then shared with you. Why? Because I believe everyone has a different pathway to high performance. And hearing about the paths that other professional’s have journeyed along is informative and inspiring.”

Visit the link to listen to the full interview and be sure to follow Court and the podcast for more insightful and inspirational stories.

Spotlight on nCino

We’re excited to introduce another valued Employer Partner of The Honor Foundation and an Alumni who is now part of their family.

These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community. 

 

Q1  What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition?

Mark George: This will be foreign, but as much as you can, take time to focus on yourself. Do nothing for a little while and get reacquainted with your family. When you can tell you are getting on your spouse/significant other’s nerves, then it is time to get back after it. Also, plan plenty of time for the VA. I am four months out and still trying to get everything straight. Be sure to grow and cultivate your network – when people tell you they will help (to make introductions), take them up on it.

nCino: We understand that those transitioning from military to civilian life are juggling many priorities, and we encourage those transitioning to be open and honest with their managers. It is important that they feel empowered to verbalize if they need time off or a more flexible work schedule as they adjust. We also encourage our veterans to stay connected, finding a coworker or group of coworkers who have a similar background and experience transitioning to the civilian work/life. Camaraderie is important. 

Q2  What is your favorite interview question?

MG: What sales experience do you have?

nCino: nCino’s culture is built on six core values, one of which is to “Always bring Your A-Game”.  In interviews, we love to hear how potential employees brought their A-game to a situation, or “Made someone’s Day” – another value that’s really important to our company culture. 

Q3  What similarities did you find between your role at nCino and your previous experience in the SOF community?

MG: Definitely still leading, but just in a different way.  My FID training/deployed experiences have been invaluable, especially in sales.  The ability to build rapport, cultivate relationships, and navigate the human terrain are essential skills and can’t be faked.  

Q4  What makes the culture at your company special?

MG: From my first day, everyone has bent over backwards to assist and ensure my success. The success of the individual means the success of the team and everyone bands together to make it happen.  From the top down there is a tremendous amount of transparency and communication.  In the military we talk often of “big boy/girl rules” and autonomy — nCino truly offers that.  Additionally, nCino is very philanthropically-driven, giving back non-profits and to the local community.  Each employee is encouraged use two paid days per year to volunteer and support a charity or organization of their choosing. 

nCino: We have an incredible culture at nCino, and that’s because we have incredible people who are committed to preserving it. We hire people who embody and add to our core values and who can bring something unique to the team. Our employees support and trust each other and because of that, everyone has the confidence to do their best work. 

Q5  What question are you asked more than any other?

MG: The question I get most often is “Do you miss the Marine Corps?” “Why sales?” is a close second.

Q6  What drives you everyday?

MG: I am hypercompetitive, so I try to bring my “A-game” and help the team.  This sounds cliché, but I really enjoy helping others. Particularly, those trying to help themselves – the hand-up versus the handout!

Q7  What unanticipated skills, talent, and/or competencies did you gain for employing Special Operators at your organization?

nCino: Each veteran hired to work at nCino brings a special skill set to our company. Many are outstanding leaders, they know how to manage complicated projects, can motivate other employees and have a competitive mindset that encourages their fellow coworkers to bring their A-game every day. 

Q8  What book do you find most valuable?

MG: Candide by Voltaire

Q9  What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

MG: Listen and think before you speak.

Q10  What defines a leader?

MG: One who knows who he/she is leading and tailors that leadership to the individual.  One in charge who learns individuals’ strengths and assesses the best way to maximize those strengths, task accordingly, and achieve the greatest results. 

Q11  What is your favorite quote?

MG: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”  — Abraham Lincoln 

Spotlight on BD

We’re excited to introduce a new  feature to showcase our valued Employer Partners and the Alumni who are now part of their family.

These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community. 

Q1 What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition? 

RF:  The fear of the unknown was the hardest part of transition me. Once I mastered this fear and replaced it with excitement, I began to enjoy this time in my life. I began to look forward to what might be possible.

NB:  Start your transition at least 2 years from separating.  Utilize the DOD Skillbridge program to gain experience in whatever industry you are planning to work in.  That short stint of industry experience will make you a lot more competitive for Management level positions.  At the same time ensure you attend as many transitioning courses/programs (like THF) as possible. Start building your professional network early. Build relationships with professionals from every industry and every type of position you can think of, and always remember to be grateful and appreciative of everyone’s time and willingness to help you.  Meeting people is easy, but establishing and sustaining relationships is hard work.

Q2 What experience shaped who you are?

RF:  I spent 23 years of my life serving in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, US Navy SEAL Teams. I have had countless positive and negative experiences that have contributed to who I am today. The most influential experience by far is building lifelong friendships in a purpose driven community of likeminded warriors. My transition into corporate America has in large part been so successful because of my continued friendships and connections within the SOF community.  In turn have found myself looking for ways to help fellow veterans find similar success in their transitions.

NB:  My 20 years in the military, and more specifically my 16 years in Naval Special Warfare (NSW), where I deployed 7 times.  During that time I learned what adversity means, witnessed amazing (and not so amazing) leadership, and how critical effective communication is.

Q3 What is your favorite interview question?

RF:  How do you handle colleagues/teammates who are under performing or not meeting timelines? I reframe this question to ask, how can I lead my teammates in a way that brings out their best and helps them see the larger objective? I have found that most people are not under performing rather they are over tasked by multiple competing objectives. I work in a highly matrixed environment and I have found that my teammates are often balancing multiple competing demands for their time. It is my job to see the big picture and understand what is driving my teammate’s performance.  I then work to de-conflict competing objectives while doing my best to understand their functional, operational, and personal demands.

NB:  Tell me a time where you failed or did not deliver as expected?  I love this question because everyone has a ton of these experiences (although you never hear about them) which initially sounds bad because failing is never the plan.  But, lessons you learned from those failures are invaluable, how you handled the situation is critical, and how you recovered from the failure is very important. These questions showcase vulnerability, accountability, and persistence.

Q4 What are similarities did you find between your role at BD and your previous experience in the SOF community?

RF:  In my last SOF role I was the Current Operations Officer for all of the West Coast SEAL Teams. What we call operations in the SEAL Teams is similar to projects and programs at BD. In both roles I have been tasked with deploying mission-essential equipment and people to multiple global positions. In both roles I have spent weeks planning and preparing for projects that often face delays and unsurmountable obstacles but somehow still get accomplished.  In both roles I work in a highly matrixed environment. In both roles I am responsible for leading cross functional teams tasked to do more with less.

NB:  I found that communication, leadership, mentorship, people and time management are very similar.

  • Communication: In some aspects BD has better communication, and in others the military has better communication. Specifically, all the various electronic tools available at BD (Outlook, Skype messaging, Skype calls, internal social media, intranets, etc.) makes delivering information electronically easier.  The military is much better with face-to-face communication and messaging tasks, goals, and objectives in a more clear and direct way. Both face-to-face and electronic communication are important and I feel my communication abilities have increased because I now utilize both in my day to day work and communication with co-workers.
  • Leadership/ Mentorship: My co-workers at BD are very intelligent and motivated.  They are quick to identify improvement opportunities and create plans and processes to address those opportunities.  Where I feel improvements can be made, and what veterans can bring to the table is organizing available resources, clarifying objectives, prioritizing tasks, and finishing projects.  For the most part, we (veterans) are quick to step up and ensure everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.  I tribute these abilities to the leadership experience we gain through the military. BD and the military both have very similar career development tools, employee evaluations, and mentor type of programs. ·
  • Management: Managing people, time, and resources at BD is very similar as in the military.

Q5 What makes the culture at your company special? 

RF:  I have found that BD associates reflect the BD core values: we are humble, sincere, transparent, and explicit in our intentions. At the end of the day the work we do at BD is advancing the world of health. It is easy to remember that those patients are often beloved family members.

NB:  The part of BD’s culture that stands out most to me is the emphasis on the patient.  It is easy to get wrapped around productivity, cost savings, and revenue in a large company, but BD consistently reminds us that there is a patient at the end of every device we manufacture.  Our veterans program (VETS ARG), which has been re-launched within the last year has gained a lot of momentum and is really putting emphasis on giving back to our Veterans internally within our company, and externally within the community.

Q6 What question are you asked more than any other?

RF:  How do you lead people with more industry experience than you? My answer is always be humble, ask lots of questions and complement often.

NB:  Was the transition from the military to the corporate world hard? Specifically “how do you go from an operational SEAL to a corporate employee?” My response is “I purposely found a role in the Healthcare space because although I am not the one creating medical devices or in a lab developing cures for diseases, what I am doing is contributing to saving lives and helping people.” I also respond that “The leadership and communication experience we gained through the military can be applied anywhere, especially in corporate America.”

Q7 What drives you everyday? 

RF:  I am responsible for deploying cutting edge medication management solutions to over 100 global Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs). I am driven every day to provide the military exceptional management solutions that decrease pharmacy medication cost, decrease medication diversion, and greatly improve patient safety.  Ultimately, I am proud to be able to help positively impact the health care conditions of active duty and retired members of the military, along with their dependents.

NB:  Leading and helping teams that are making an impact, and empowering those teams with a clear path to crush their objectives.  I love communicating and removing roadblocks, and knowing the team trusts me to provide top cover for them.

Q8 What book do you find most valuable? 

NB:  I find myself reviewing the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) pretty often, on a personal level I like reviewing Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.”  I love the concept of identifying your “Why” statement and having that guide your journey for meaningful employment. Thank you to The Honor Foundation for introducing me to this book and TED Talk.

Q9 What is a lesson you learned the hard way?

RF:  I regret not taking my health as seriously as I should have, during my transition to corporate America.  I took my health for granted by allowing work and family to take higher priority. About a year ago I hit a low point in my health that scared me into change. I have since made major improvement to my health by guarding my sleep, managing nutrition and exercising daily. This should go without saying but you have to make you a priority.

NB:  I’ve learned that over the last 18 months that Corporate America places a heavy emphasis on industry and technical experience, in some cases more so than leadership, management and communication experience.  Once someone has a “foot in the door” their leadership and communication experience can then quickly be used to identify them as a high potential, high performing associate, but even so, managers can still be hesitant to give veterans management opportunities without extensive functional experience performing the job duties of the role.

Q10 What defines a leader? 

RF:  A leader listens first, asks questions often and brings out the best in people. A leader’s optimism is contagious even in the worst situations.

NB:  A leader is someone who puts their people first.  They communicate expectations, goals, and objectives clearly.  They inspire people through accountability, empowerment, trust, and their own actions.

Q11 What is your favorite quote? 

RF:  “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Vince Lombardi

NB:  Be a good dude (Nick Bellenbaum)

The Honor Journal: Winter 2019

We’re excited to publish our second issue of The Honor Journal! In this issue, learn about the THF online store; updates from our program and Fellows; recent Treks around the U.S.; new partnerships and team members; and special features from members of our Tribe.

THF_Dec 2019_Newsletter

THF Featured in Military.com

Organization Finds New ‘Tribe’ for Special Operators After the Military

As featured in Military.com

26 Mar 2019Military.com | By Richard Sisk

Matt Stevens cites himself as an example of why The Honor Foundation performs a crucial role in serving the unique needs of troops departing the tightly knit active-duty special operators community.

“The toughest thing to figure out is what is your next purpose,” said Stevens, a 26-year Navy SEAL who retired as a captain.

Much like many of his peers in special operations, Stevens said he was searching for “what I wanted to do, where I could apply my skills and still feel like I was doing something important” when he left the military.

In 2017, Stevens went through what was then a 15-week course offered by the foundation and found a job with a Boston firm. He returned to the organization last month as its chief executive officer.

Unlike the employment programs for veterans run by other organizations, the foundation’s course does not focus on training particular skills such as marketing, sales or cyber security.

“We’re not a job placement program, but we do try to connect to the right opportunity,” Stevens said.

Instead, the foundation’s course, offered free of charge to special operators from all the service branches, concentrates on the individual, and the skills and motivation they already possess.

It’s a matter of translation of those abilities to the private sector, Stevens said.

“In our community, what’s driven into the guys from day one is team before self. It’s team and then self in the pecking order of what’s important,” he said.

The special operator, in a sense, is part of a “tribe,” Stevens said, and the foundation focuses on “the time you leave one tribe and have to find another tribe” while in transition.

“Those units are very tight and close-knit” in special ops, he said, “so when you leave that, it’s tough to find a like-minded tribe, one that is all about the team sharing the same common purpose.”

The foundation’s literature states that one of the goals of what is now a 12-week course is to make those going through it feel “uncomfortable before you can get comfortable.”

What that means, Stevens said, is “trying to help the guys understand that when you transition to the private sector, you have to think about yourself first, you have to sell yourself, and that is probably the most uncomfortable thing that guys do. They don’t like putting themselves on a pedestal and showing off — that’s what they think it is.”

“What we instill in them is, hey, tell some stories, and that in itself will tell the potential employer about who you are,” he added.

The foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit and partner of the Navy SEAL Foundation, began offering the courses in 2012 and now has campuses in San Diego; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The 12-week course teaches resume writing and networking, but the main focus is to help the special ops students develop the ability to present effectively on how the leadership, planning and teamwork skills they honed in the service can apply to businesses’ bottom lines.

“I got so much more out of it than I thought I could,” Stevens said of going through the courses himself.

The courses begin with what he called the “pre-assessment stage” with extensive interviews of a prospective student. Three main phases follow, he said.

“The first [phase] is about you, the person; dig into what makes them tick,” he said. Then comes what he called “tactical-level stuff” — resume writing, working up LinkedIn profiles and studying interview techniques.

Finally, there’s the “pre-employment workup” in which participants do interview rehearsals, make visits to local area companies, and discuss small business opportunities and entrepreneurship.

Then, Stevens said, “we take [participants] on a trek” to another city where they can make connections and network.

When it’s over, “we don’t just cut them loose; we stay connected to [them] and try to help,” he said.

The program has graduated 429 students thus far, and Stevens said he expects the number to exceed 500 by the end of this summer. There is a faculty of 44, plus 90 volunteer mentors from various business sectors and nine executive “coaches,” he said, adding that the foundation is preparing to offer the courses online.

Some of the graduates decide to remain in the service, “which I think is great and noble,” Stevens said.

“Some decide to go into higher education, [and] some want to do sabbaticals, but most go into the workforce,” he added.

The decisions are up to the graduates.

“We don’t tell them what to do. We try to provide opportunities,” Stevens said.

THF Featured in the Virginian-Pilot

From battlefields to boardrooms: New CEO of foundation to help Navy SEALs eyes expansion

As seen in the Virginian-Pilot

By Brock Vergakis 
Staff writer

Mar 20, 2019 Updated Mar 20, 2019

It was just a few years ago that a San Diego-based foundation designed to help Navy SEALs transition into the civilian workforce started offering classes in Virginia Beach.

Now the entire foundation is led by someone here.

The Honor Foundation tapped a former Virginia Beach-based SEAL last month to be its CEO, the first change in leadership since the organization was founded in 2012.

Matt Stevens, who was a SEAL for 26 years, said his goal is to bring the unique three-month program that teaches resume writing, networking, self-assessment skills and more to special operators in every branch of service. A major focus of the program is helping special operators show how their leadership, planning and teamwork apply to the business world.

The program offers executive-level education from faculty at top-tier schools like the University of Virginia, mentorships from local business leaders and a nationwide professional network. The students — who can still be in the Navy or recently discharged — go through mock interviews, give presentations on company strengths and weaknesses, and gain an appreciation for entrepreneurship challenges. 

When Stevens left the Navy, he was selected for The Honor Foundation’s inaugural East Coast class in 2016, which helped lead to a job with a company in Boston that made drones. He said his experience with the foundation was invaluable, and he volunteered to serve as an adviser to give back. He said he hopes his new role will allow him to spend more time with his family in Virginia Beach after traveling to Boston about once a month for his old job.

“My family had voted. We weren’t going to move,” he said.

Since its launch, the foundation has opened campuses in Virginia Beach at Tidewater Community College and near Camp Lejeune, N.C.  It’s also offering an online program for special operators around the world. The foundation has more than 400 graduates so far. 

“We want to be able to provide the opportunity for every person within the special operations community to attend the course. There’s 70,000-ish in the SOF community,” Stevens said. “We have to do it in a very methodical way.”

To expand, the foundation will need to rely on financial donations and volunteers from the corporate world. Stevens invites business leaders to come see for themselves the faculty and the students, who come to class in business attire. 

“Spend some time here. Seeing is believing. Become a mentor or coach,” he said in an interview at TCC. “But also hire the talent, because a lot of guys have grown roots here and want to stay in the Hampton Roads community. … I think the natural inclination is to look elsewhere. But I think it’s really important for us to keep talented individuals here.”

And they’re not all SEALs. 

Ted Handler was one of the first Marines to be chosen for that service’s recently created special operations force, the Marine Raiders. After working in joint special operations in Africa and elsewhere, he was ultimately assigned to work with Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck, where he spent the last five years of his 22-year military career. 

But once he got out, he and his wife didn’t want to leave Virginia Beach. The feeling of community and genuine friendliness they experienced here was unlike anywhere else in the world they had been.

“The Virginia Beach community hit home with us like, ‘Wow,  this is what friendly people are like. They actually aren’t looking to get something out of it,’ ” Handler said. “They just know what we’ve been through because it really is a military town to some degree.”  

The only problem: That limited where he could job hunt.

“It was immensely stressful,” he said. “As you’re older you have responsibilities, different expectations. You’re not as flexible.”

But the Honor Foundation helped connect Handler with local business leaders. He’s now a senior manager at Stihl, Inc. in charge of overall business process improvement.  He  reports directly to company president Bjoern Fischer.

Even though Handler had prior business experience — after he graduated from college and again after his first four-year tour of duty — he said the experience he gained at The Honor Foundation was vital. The first time he left the military, he said, he was “wildly unprepared.” He didn’t know how to find meaning in his work and ultimately rejoined the Marines on active duty after 9/11, when he lost friends at the World Trade Center and nearly lost family members, too. 

When he left the Marines this time, he said, he was ready.

“It was a phenomenal program. It hands down prepared me for the challenges of the civilian community,” Handler said. “I haven’t seen anything else like it. And I think if the military was really smart they would be doing it this way for everybody.”