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“Freedom Is Not Free” - Three Lessons I Learned From Veterans.

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

As we take a moment to celebrate Veterans day and say thanks for the service of millions of men and women in uniform who fought to keep our countries safe and free, I wanted to reflect about everything I have learned as an ally and from my direct work with them in the corporate space. I have long decided to be a leader in permanent Beta and confess that veterans have been the ones who have influenced the most my leadership style and attitude during the past  years. Here’s why:

They can be your best drivers of innovation in the workspace.  If this one is a surprise to you let’s deconstruct innovation for a moment. You need human exponentially to transform the business and it will then lead to new ways of doing things or even completely new products and services.  One of the biggest challenges we face in leadership is to guide organizations through change, so vital to foster innovation — and veterans bring in their DNA an adaptability to the “new” that is above the norm given their their military training and preparation. If you want to innovate quickly and disrupt the status-quo faster, hire a veteran.

Their productivity and bias for action are monumental. I thought I knew what high performance was until I hired a veteran. From them I learned the day has 1440 minutes and the way you choose to spend those precious moments is vital to generate a better throughput at work and life in general. They focus on the mission  and not on obstacles — when you ask them to complete a job you do not need to ask twice — and it makes them thrive and climb higher. Do not get me wrong. People do not need to be in the military to become a high performer. Point to be taken is: If you believe in diversity and inclusion and open doors to veterans, the chemistry that boosts a team’s energy and productivity will sky rocket. Veterans also love to be challenged and get surrounded by people who are top performers. If you hire a veteran you not only will get more action in the system but also raise the bar of your entire division. If you are lacking high performance, hire a veteran.

Camaraderie and loyalty to the team. I have to admit I still hear several people saying: “People from the military are tough”, “they won’t adapt and transition well into the corporate space”. These are biased opinions based on anecdotal facts  that unfortunately still permeate the job market. Any person can fail when pursuing a career shift, like any person can also succeed when doing so. The fact you are veteran, black, white, a member of the LGBT does not matter. What matters the most is hiring managers who will be opened to understand what strengths one can bring to work, and a strong belief that talent is the only criteria a company must look for first place.  I have been honored to lead one of the most diverse teams in my company. Today we honor several veterans who not only groomed me as leader and person, but also deeply taught me the power of human relationships at work. In times of peace and war the buddy next you in combat or at work could save your life, help you survive and shine brighter. This is the meaning of loyalty and why camaraderie matters a lot in the military and how veterans  influence it the most at work.

Veterans: today we say thanks for your service but I also proudly say also thanks for helping us understand  better of high performance really means. Thanks for showing the walls between the military and corporate space are not real for those willing to climb and work hard. Actually there are no walls when companies care about talent first and not people’s origins, color of skin, gender choices...etc. As we say thanks for your service, let’s remind ourselves about the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Today and tomorrow we need to write and talk about you, not only recognizing the hard work you have done to keep us safe and free, but to give us a chance to retribute part of it, by creating a job environment you can thrive and most importantly recognizes how great you are.

Thanks for your service!

What have you learned from veterans?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vinicius David is a tech executive, a passionate for talent development and fanatic to drive innovation.

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Vinicius David
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