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Monday, April 25, 2016

20 Entrepreneurial and Leadership Skills I Learned in the Military for 23 Years (Part 1)

I could've entitled this 23 skills I learned from my actual 23 years but 20 is from me and I would like to hear the 3 from you. What have you learned in your previous career (not necessarily military) that you have learned or unlearned from those past life that you will continue to do or never do it again?  Here are 5 of the 20 enterprising skills and leadership abilities I learned and use now as owner of a growing small business company.

1. Resilience - As a 23 year Navy veteran, I was structured to do all my duties and finish them in short notice and be able to recover quickly even if there is a personal issue going on such as when I have to leave my 3 month old son with my wife who happens to care for my mom's fragile health as well. Although there is a limited family support group the military can provide, there is no excuse in accomplishing a mission - I have to recover quickly from difficulties.
In my two years as entrepreneur - toughness and difficulties dealing with deadline and customers is important in order to meet our return of investment.

2. Multi-Tasking. This is a double edged sword because I can be unfocused on one task from another but when things go south, we have to be ready to do more than one task. Apart from my main duty in the Navy as career counselor for squadrons from ships onboard USS Lincoln and USS Nimitz and Military Sealift Command I was also given a major task as supervisor for administration personnel, compartment and spaces of Air Wing spaces for 2,000 personnel, Equal Opportunity Manager, training and educational officer and even Drug and Alcohol and Sexual Assault programs.
I learned to managed my time wisely and seeking the help of my fellow Chiefs (these are my Navy colleagues on almost equal rank who passionately look out for each other) in order to move on and prioritize what is important and what needs to be done right away.

In business, it is important to be knowledgeable in many areas, for example, in case something happens in my website I will be able to tweak or monitor small errors or find the best one who can do the job. Also, I can still run multiple Facebook and Instagram pages while I am sending email to my clients or waiting for clients a coffee shop. I am also an independent certified Career Counselor that needs timely response.

3. Courage. Many have said that public speaking is the major fear (than snakes) because we don't know what is going to happen during those talk. But I believe it is the "going" into the unknown is the number one fear of everyone. In the Navy, we are all given a task to conduct training once a month on average - whatever your job is. Speaking to public, doing a task that I have no experience, being volunteered to go to a rescue mission in Indonesia, shooting an M-16 or Mortars, leaving your love ones - are just some of the fearful things I did that I learned to embrace while I was a First Class at VAW 116 and twice at the Seabee battalion Five and Forty.

As owner of Mvoss Creation LLC and multiple social media sites, I courageously (some would awkwardly say stupid) conduct public speaking, create untried marketing strategy and post a video of me lip-singing Seven Years on our Instagram page. These moments that I think outside the box or go against the "rule" gets me business and big contract deals in a month.

4. Bootstrapping. Cash is not just the lifeblood of every business but everybody. Loans or investment are critical in business but during the beginning of my business we use the most of what we have instead buying or borrowing. Lately, the Navy learned how to recycle but during deployment out to sea where access to all the convenience are very limited, we learn to use a dirty blanket to sweep the floor, use coffee filter to wipe sensitive equipment, use the smallest space into something very useful and other hacks or DIY (Do It Yourself).

When Mvoss Creation LLC (a small promotional branding company me and Myla created) just started with our first trade show, we have a very limited budget, we were able to use my son's flat screen TV, some thrift store picture frames to put our flat promotional products and dollar tree items like clips. We pulled it and had a sophisticated booth and gained few followers and new clients.

5. Lifetime Learning. All Navy personnel are required to have a monthly training on their field besides the six or ten annual General Military Training. I have completed some of my college and post-graduate studies using tuition assistance as well. These training not only keeps the Navy updated but helps us Sailors get promoted, minimize our job error but also transition well later in our career.
As an entrepreneur, risk is inevitable but it can be minimize by educating ourselves. I am still a student (completing my PhD in Human Services) and continuously taking courses through Linda (an online course through LinkedIn, it is free for the first 12 months for veterans), Udemy, Coursera and other opportunities learning HTML, graphic design and public speaking through Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie or even informal workshops in our local community or DIY social media sites.
Never stop learning and never stop sharing what you have learned.

I could keep all these five items as my trade secret for the past two years as a business owner but I chose to share it because I know that it will bring me back support and comments that I can learn too. I am sure there is more than twenty (depending on how open minded you are or your willingness to learn) that I have absorbed from the military and so on my next 15 skills, I would like to get your input and share your story on it as I talk my next 15 on my next blog. Here is a preview on the rest of the 15 enterprising and leadership skills I learned from the Navy:

6. Stay and Look Healthy or you're out
7. Be a Team Player but Lead
8. Copy and Paste but personalized it (Apple, Microsoft, Toyota - they all did)
9. Sponsor and Mentor someone
10. Don't Shortcut (or in the Navy, it's called Gundecking)
11. You are Late when You come in on Time (always be in your appointment 15 minutes early)
12. Wake up Early or Else (in the Navy ship, you miss the shower time, the donut, and the omelet)
13. Meeting is not always in a Boardroom (we do it in passageway every Monday)
14. Attention to Detail (From haircut to creases in your uniform)
15. Always respect your Boss and everyone else (Never disrespect your customers)
16. Use your power to Influence (Ranking has privileges to do good)
17. Don’t break the structure but always improvise
18. Use your leverage (hookup and mafia mentality)
19. Be patient to change and wait (change is constant on deployments and lots of waiting)
20. It’s an Adventure (enjoy your port calls while you’re in it)


On the other side, there are also habits and traits I gained from the military that I would never continue to do wherein I will be drafting next could be contentious or may touch some nerves of those who practice these not-so-recommended traits for more than 20 or worst 30 years in the military that does not work in the civilian and millennial community of where some of us continues to struggle, survive or succeed.  I will show you the preview in a photo below - not necessarily true but just for laughs.



Remember whether you are a veteran or not, everything you did  - fail or succeed in doing from mopping to leading becomes a value of you, learn from it and move on like Liam Neeson here:






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