About the Book: Boots to Loafers, Finding your New True North

From the first day you set foot into boot camp, no matter what service you have been in, until the final days of pre-deployment training exercises or redeployment , you have been taught to always pay attention to every every situation.  Our military knows how to turn you on and get you fired up for a mission. Your next mission will require the same focus on details and certainly the energy to get fired up for your next mission – finding a job.

Every service member will experience three phases as he moves from a military career to a life outside the gate – Transition, Transformation, and Integration. The foundation of Boots is built upon these three concepts. They provide the structure for the advice and guidelines I want to convey to you.

The differing degrees of these experiences will depend upon ones wishes, circumstances, goals, and surrounding environments. These three stages will vary from individual to individual and they will be shaped by his or her attitude and inner strength as well as their ability to manage the hurdles of life. The dictionary Merriam- Webster defines the three stages as follows:

Tran-si-tion: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another

Trans-for-ma-tion: a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, or being

In-te-gra-tion: to make (a person or group) part of a larger group or organization.

Each word embraces ideas such as “passing from one state to another,” “evolving from one form to another,” and “to make part.”  Boots considers the changes that occur in a service member’s life as he leaves the service. In reality, the three stages outlined in the book are three unique processes that encompass the journey in transitioning from the military to the private section or what I like to call “outside the gate.”  Processes by definition are a series of steps or actions taken to reach a goal and are often continuous until that goal is achieved.    Another aspect of these three processes is that they overlap each other.  There is no clean break between each of the processes.  Breaking down the three processes in the simplest terms; at some point you decided it is time to leave the military – the Transition process. Leaving the service of your country requires soldiers to reinvent or rebrand in many ways – the Transformation process.  Lastly, you’ve got to assimilate back into the civilian world, the private sector – the Integration process. The processes do not magically begin on the day that a soldier leaves the military.  They begin sometime prior to leaving the service as you prepare for life outside the gate. Ideally, at least a year of preparation is recommended to consider all the appropriate next steps. You will learn why through the pages ahead.  It has been my experience that these processes never end.  You will find yourself continuing to transition and transform you grow your career in the private sector. Every new opportunity in your career, every change in your personal life may require you to reboot these processes in order to reach a new goal. Speaking from experience, this especially holds true with veterans who have retired after a long military career.  Do yourself a favor and accept the fact that you have to change as the world around continues to change.

Boots was written primarily for two distinct groups; those still on active duty and will leave the military through discharge or retirement; veterans who are actively pursuing employment and need some structure in their job search. To help me compile all of the necessary content in Boots that is more in line with the Human Resources (HR) aspects of what you will need to do as part of your transition and integration, I have enlisted Paul Falcone, a HR executive  in Los Angeles and has held senior-level positions with Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and Time Warner. He is the author of nine books, four of which were ranked on SHRM’s prestigious “Great 8 of 2011” and “Great 8 of 2012” bestseller listings. A long-term contributor to HR Magazine, Paul is an instructor in the UCLA Extension School of Business and Management as well as a top-rated presenter at the SHRM national conference. Throughout the Boots, Paul will walk you through a variety of preparation work you will need to complete, speak to you about resume building, interviewing techniques, and one of the more important portions of the book…benefits.  Although Paul never served in the military, he brings a level of knowledge and expertise that will better prepare you when the times comes to interview, get an offer, and then wade your way through the list of benefits that more than likely are very foreign to you. Throughout the book there will be a combination of Paul and myself weighing in and providing you with all the tools you will need to be better prepared for this next mission. To settle your anxiety a bit, let me level with you. All the training, the deployments, and the difficult days when life just “sucked” at God knows where you were deployed in the world will all pay dividends when you use this fairly simple approach to transition, transform and integrate into your next phase of life after the military. Most of you reading Boots have dealt with more complex and life-threatening crises, whether in training or under hostile fire, than you will encounter in the next phase of your life outside the gate. Many times in my civilian career I have come across a crisis, or what others perceived as a crisis, that did not compare to the catastrophes I experienced while in uniform. I suspect that would not change for anyone else.  For example, no one has yelled at me, shot at me, or tried to blow me up since living the military. Instead, someone has simply spent too much money and is over budget, or someone has not served the kind of soup expected in the company cafeteria and that turns into an instant crisis for some in the private sector. In the private sector, veterans will learn to take in stride these perceived “crises” and often offer a solution to mitigate a situation long before it truly becomes anything more than an inconvenience.  The same training and experience that helped you to thrive in the military world of ambiguity will bring success outside the gate. This book provides the support you need to rise to the occasion and leverage what you’ve learned in uniform. Remember, you know more than you think you do.

Boots is largely based on my experiences in a multinational consumer-goods company.  My company certainly did not select and hire me because of my vast experience and skills as a Field Artillery Officer, but rather as a result of my knowledge, skills, and ability to help grow the profits of their company as a Financial Controller. All the projectiles my units sent downrange, the number of deployments I made, the number of ribbons and medals on my chest, or the rank I attained were not the focus nor the determining factor in for landing a job.  A prospective employer will hire a veteran based on the competencies he “brings to the dance” which contribute to the success of the company. It is that simple.  If the veteran job seeker makes it to an interview, he is qualified and has beaten the odds.  After landing a job, the benefits of previous military experiences will soon surface. Often, the veteran’s superior will ask him to tackle problems that will directly relate to experiences similar to those encountered while he was in uniform. In a previous job, I encountered an issue regarding obsolete and low-demand spare/repair parts in our manufacturing plants, and the question of how the company should solve the problem arose. Lo and behold, twenty-five years ago, I had been a Field Artillery Battalion Motor Officer and had dealt with the very same issue.  As a finance guy, I had not thought about this problem for years, and suddenly, it landed on my desk. You never know when a challenge will present itself, wrapped in a bit different scenario but requiring the same skills you needed in Boots!

While reading Boots, reflect on your days in uniform and remember how you used experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities to manage many jobs you were never trained to do; but you successfully completed them. What the military does best is to bring people together with diverse backgrounds and talents and meld them into one unit through effective leadership. Be proud of that trait as it is a rare accomplishment in the private sector.

Once in the civilian job, you must continue to take care of those who “bust their butts” for you in the same way you took care of fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines. Never forget where you came from.  Proudly, you should remember that you are part of the “other” 1% who raised their right hands and have sworn to defend this great country. In my opinion, you are the real 1%. You were willing to take a bullet for your previous employer…the military; this quality makes you a rare breed, a minority in the private sector. Consequently, you should be proud and always choose “the hard right,” as my father used to tell me.  The hard right is defined as making the choice to maybe take the harder, less traveled road instead of the easy way.  One of the best philosophies I have found that explains the harder right is from Jason Falla of REDBACK ONE Combat Training Systems:

Remember that there are two paths in life. One leads to mediocrity and the other to excellence.

The path to mediocrity is flat and straight. The road is smooth, tasks are easy and effortless and you will meet mediocrity with time to spare.

The path to excellence is steep and arduous, inordinately lengthy, forcing pilgrims to stumble and fall on every length of the journey.

Which path will you take?

— Redback One Training Philosophy


Always remember, you know more than you think you do.  Happy hunting.  HOOAH!!


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