Recruiting Veterans Can Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line—Here’s how to do it

LinkedIn
doing business

What are your company’s biggest goals right now—building out a core product, improving customer service, growing your client base? When looking at employers’ top priorities, it’s rare to find hiring more veterans among them.

But when you hear what National Director of Military Affairs at Power Home Remodeling Mike Hansen has to say, you just might change your mind.

After a decorated military career, Hansen at first struggled to find a civilian position in the midst of the Great Recession. But after coming across a sales opportunity at Power Home Remodeling, he quickly found his footing. Within 12 months, he had closed a million dollars in deals. And Hansen wasn’t alone—he found that other employees who had served in the military were, on average, significantly outperforming the general population.

This discovery prompted Hansen to reach out to leadership all the way up to the co-CEO, Asher Raphael, to lobby for a veteran hiring program. Fast-forward five years later, and running the program became his full-time job when it launched in the spring of 2016. But make no mistake—Hansen doesn’t see his job as an act of corporate charity.

“When you go back to aligning the program with business objectives, you create a department that not only pays for itself, but pays for itself times ten,” Hansen said.

Glassdoor’s Emily Moore caught up with Hansen to learn more about his unique military affairs program, advice for companies hoping to hire veterans and vision for the future of the company—here’s what he had to say.

Glassdoor: How did the opportunity with Power Home Remodeling come about?

Mike Hansen: It actually kind of fell in my lap. One of the Marines I served with a few years before I joined Power started working in our Philadelphia branch, so he referred me to the local one outside of DC. I figured I’d go in for the interview and see where it went. I had no intention of working in this industry—I never thought I would be with a company like this given what I wanted to do. I was completely clueless, but ended up finding success rather quickly within the organization.

Glassdoor: What made you start thinking about recruiting more veterans to Power Home Remodeling?

Hansen: I met a couple other vets across the business that were doing pretty well, and we found that most of us were doing not just well, but disproportionately well. I wrote a couple of white papers to the chain of command saying, “Hey, we should have a more defined military initiative.” Then in 2015, our organization won Fortune Magazine’s number one place to work for Millennials and camaraderie—that was a real jump-off point. At that point, I got to meet with our co-CEO Asher Raphael and found that he wanted to do a military program and just didn’t know how. We felt that on the heels of that award, it was a really good time to launch this initiative. We set up a military affairs council, and we put together some ideas and thoughts of what we could do and what our objectives would be, and we just started iterating from there. Very quickly after that, we realized that someone would have to manage this full-time, and that’s when our co-CEO Asher asked me to move up to the headquarters and build the program.

Glassdoor: You mentioned that you noticed veterans were not only successful at Power Home Remodeling, but disproportionately successful. Can you talk a little bit more about why that might be?

Hansen: A lot of companies are afraid to hire vets because of PTSD or other perceived issues that come from being in the military. But everybody who is hired, whether they’re right out of college or a 40-year executive, comes with baggage. The difference is the military population has a natural leadership background, a strong work ethic and an understanding of how to operate in chaos that most non-veterans can’t really relate to. The culture is very mission-driven in the military, and that can be applied to any work environment. The second that an organization is able to vocalize their mission, that military drive kicks in and veterans just naturally work towards the objective.

Glassdoor: How did Power’s veteran hiring program start, and how has it changed and grown along the way?

Hansen: We started out thinking we were just going to offer a bonus and do some military-focused hiring. The more we dove in, we saw how our program aligned with the business objectives, and we started iterating and kept evolving our processes. One of the things that’s so unique is we’re able to tie the metrics of our initiative to the actual business growth, which then creates a positive feedback loop. Now, we want to double-down on some of our investments. A big goal for me is leadership development, because it’s one thing to build this program and to successfully identify, attract and onboard new talent, but when we have more veterans in Director, VP or Senior Vice President roles, military talent and leadership becomes part of the genetic makeup of the organization. That creates that positive feedback loop that just runs itself.

We actually have this joke in the business, even our co-CEO got me a T-shirt at our company party in Mexico last year that said, “Get Hansen Fired.” The idea is that my job is complete when I’m no longer needed. We’re trying to continue to build this cycle of leadership development so that more of that group will continue to take the business into the future without needing a dedicated department.

Glassdoor: A lot of companies want to hire veterans, but have no idea where to start. What advice would you offer to them?

Hansen: Number one, I think every company that’s bigger than a hundred people has probably got a veteran or two working there, and a lot of times they just don’t know. I think the first step is looking internally at your own veteran population, and getting together to understand their stories. What you’ll find is usually that some of those military veterans and spouses will already be performing above average. Then you can tie that back to where the business is going and which objectives you’re trying to solve for.

I think that’s what is intrinsically unique about our philosophy—it was never just about hiring. It was about solving business objectives. One of those objectives was investing in human capital and making sure we had the right people and the leadership development we needed to grow and scale the organization. We were able to very quickly identify that some of the gaps in our organization could be filled by a military affairs program. We come at it from a different angle, whereas most organizations view it just in terms of hiring or as a philanthropic endeavor.

Glassdoor: Are there any benefits or perks that companies should offer to help entice candidates to work there?

Hansen: We offer a $3,000 sign-up bonus for vets and spouses, but I’m not necessarily advocating that everybody do that—it just aligns with our business model because that’s the way we’ve built the program. I think the best things you can offer veterans are a sense of purpose, tying what they do back to how it’s making an impact in the lives of the people or the customers that they serve, and a sense of community. In the military, your sense of identity, purpose and community are all so defined by your environment. When you leave the military, you lose those things almost immediately. Companies that can create that sense of purpose and community naturally for their employees help them shape and evolve their new identity.

Glassdoor: Beyond creating a veteran hiring program, what can employers do to sustain it long-term?

Hansen: There are so many different versions of military hiring programs at different companies. What I like to know is, what was the foundation or the philosophy that spurred them to start that program? When you look five years down the road, the programs that were founded on philanthropy alone tend to fizzle out, or their impact wasn’t very measurable on the company. When you go back to aligning the program with business objectives, you create a department that not only pays for itself, but pays for itself times ten and helps create new opportunities across the business.

Source: Glassdoor.com

9 Reasons Recognizing Companies and Employees is Important

LinkedIn
Diverse group of employees raising their hands in cheer

By Mona Lisa Faris

We all remember scientists Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner’s experiments famous for exploring the benefits of using rewards and positive associations to change both behavior and emotion. Lately, I’ve seen it to be true with companies as well.

Few corporate awards are as highly sought-after or revered as a prestigious Best of the Best title.

A company achieving recognition in this area values inclusion and has a hand on the heartbeat of diversity at all times. There are two ways to achieve this award, either by employee vote or by a third party strictly looking at numbers.

In my opinion, independent third-party HR auditing, such as filling out a survey, outweighs employee-based evaluations.

Nine reasons recognizing companies and employees is important:

  1. Demonstrate You’re Doing Something Right

Business awards are important badges of honor to companies. The Best of the Best list is an opportunity to demonstrate to clients, employees, investors, customers, and the general public that yes, you’re doing something right, according to a third party and an objective panel of judges.

Whether or not your company has had direct involvement with these awards, the results are an invaluable source of information. It gives you an edge above your competitors, too.

  1. Diversity Matters

A company that makes it on a Best of the Best list believes in diversity and understands the importance of salaries, benefits, leadership, personal growth, and wellbeing, ultimately revealing what employees really care about in the workplace. Organizational cultures built on inclusion drive engagement, which drives business and financial performance.

  1. Employee Retention

Recognizing a job well done affects employee retention. When employee morale receives a boost, employee retention is increased. When a company is rewarded, it’s encouraged to strive to stay on the Best of the Best list and do even better. It is not a good sign when a company makes it on the list for a year and then doesn’t make it the following year.

  1. Better Job Performance

Recognition keeps employees feeling proud and passionate about their work. When employees are recognized, they are encouraged to perform better, and consistent recognition—especially when they’ve gone beyond the call of duty—will enhance their job performance. According to Great Place to Work, “Employees who say they have a great place to work were four times more likely to say they’re willing to give extra to get the job done.”

  1. Attract Great Talent

Award-winning status can help you compete for great talent. Customers, prospective employees, and the community hold top workplaces in high regard. If you’re recognized as a Top Veteran-Friendly Company, for example, it encourages veterans to apply with less hesitation knowing you’re diverse and inclusive to the veteran community. You present the following message: “Welcome, veterans, we’re here to train you and support you.”

  1. Media Exposure

Recognition as a Best of the Best company will keep your diversity message and branding alive all year long. Companies on the Best of the Best list performed two to three times better than their counterparts. Being awarded is a great opportunity to brag and put out public notices of achievement, such as a press release. It’s a great recognition to put on a website or use the Best of the Best logo to brand and market across the nation. Some companies go as far as putting the logo on their advertisements, marketing material, and at events and job fairs.

  1. Compete by Advantage

With better performance comes stronger revenue. When you’re on that list, it means you’re diverse, which means you’re getting diverse perspectives, ultimately putting out the best product and service because of the different views you have within your company. With a recognition, you also have a wider consumer base, which gives you an advantage over non-diverse competitors. At the end of the day, every company wants to be recognized, but companies are also interested in what other companies in their industry are being recognized for.

  1. Increase Innovation

Diversity drives innovation. It’s helpful for managers to establish a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas, implement feedback, and give credit where credit is due. Employees who are given an environment to speak freely, no matter what the feedback is, are more likely to contribute their culture, ethnicity, gender, and work experience to drive innovation. Companies that foster and implement diverse groups for feedback, such as an ERG, help define culturally sensitive products, services, and demographics, and these diverse groups bring the greatest innovation.

  1. Increase Profits and Revenue

Recognition keeps employees satisfied, ultimately increasing revenue and profits. The bottom line is that we want our employees to be satisfied at work, because that is what influences company performance. Thus, diversity and inclusion are the keys to a company’s bottom line.

As a publisher of six-diversity focused magazines, I know it’s imperative to recognize companies for their achievements in diversity, and we do this through an independent survey. Any company award is a positive marketing strategy. Just as with any survey, do your research. My advice is to never participate in a “pay to play” investment because it’s not an investment. Our reports are never “pay to play.” By publishing these much-anticipated lists, my goal is to encourage those doing a good job to continue doing a great job, and for those who are not there yet, to entice them to join the bandwagon—to see what their competitors are doing and show the value. Companies that put diversity first, implement it in their policy, and practice it every day from the top down see the fruit of their labor and deserve praise.

Petty Officer Takes Marines to the Fight aboard U.S. Navy Warship

LinkedIn
Petty Officer Kevin Taylor aboard Navy warship

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Taylor, a native of La Habra, California, was inspired to join the Navy to follow in family members’ footsteps. “My dad, the majority of my uncles and my grandfather all served in the military,” Taylor said.

Now, three years later, Taylor serves aboard one of the Navy’s amphibious ships at Naval Base San Diego.

“For the most part it’s really nice,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to be able to rely on shipmates for help and to help them as well.”

Taylor, a 2016 graduate of La Habra High School, is a interior communications electrician aboard USS Essex, one of four Wasp-class amphibious assault ships in the Navy, homeported in San Diego.

“We do the electrical work for the alarms,” Taylor said. “We maintain all shipboard alarms, warning and indicating systems and certain flight systems.”

Taylor credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in La Habra.

“I learned that nothing comes easy,” said Taylor.

Essex is designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.

Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Essex. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked.

“Serving with the Marines gives you a different aspect of the military and seeing how different branches operate versus the Navy,” said Taylor.

Serving in the Navy means Taylor is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Taylor is most proud of being selected as Junior Sailor of the Quarter and being promoted to third class petty officer.

“It’s something that you have to work for, to study and learn and to always be accepting of constructive criticism,” said Taylor.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Taylor and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy is a sense of pride knowing that you’re doing something for the country and giving back to people,” said Taylor.

Source: Navy Office of Community Outreach

Find your new job: Retraining slots open for more than 2,700 airmen

LinkedIn
Little Rock Air Force Base

The Air Force this month has opened up retraining opportunities for as many as 2,773 active-duty airmen across its career fields in fiscal 2020.

According to retraining statistics provided by the Air Force Personnel Center, there are 1,708 slots available for first-term airmen to retrain into new jobs. There are also 797 retraining slots for staff sergeants, 258 slots for technical sergeants, and 10 slots available for master sergeants. In all, there are 111 career fields that need airmen.

That’s more than the 2,597 retraining opportunities the Air Force unveiled for fiscal 2019, which included 1,634 first-term airmen, 730 staff sergeants, 202 technical sergeants, and 31 master sergeants, and remains far higher than the retraining opportunities in the prior two years.

There are also 1,435 airmen in 63 career fields that are overmanned who need to retrain into other jobs. Only second-term airmen are eligible to retrain out.

In an Aug. 12 tweet announcing the opening of 2020 retraining, AFPC said that phase 1 of the non-commissioned officer retraining program, or NCORP, is open through Dec. 1.

If the Air Force does not get enough volunteers to retrain, it could move into a “mandatory retraining” phase.

AFPC said that these statistics, provided Aug. 19, are a snapshot in time that can fluctuate as needs change throughout the year.

The career field with the most retraining-in opportunities is 3P011 security forces, which has 312 vacancies among first-term airmen and staff sergeants. Education and training airmen in the 3F211 career field are short 140 first-term and staff sergeant airmen, and 4N011 aerospace medical service airmen have 231 vacancies in those categories.

There are also 120 first-term and staff sergeant vacancies among 1C111 air traffic controllers, as well as 112 1B411 cyber warfare operations vacancies and 100 1C311 command and control operations vacancies.

Continue on to the Air Force Times to read the complete article.

A Reel Hero—Bob Vincent Aims to Tell Veterans’ Stories

LinkedIn
Bob Vincent holding his Media Award

The president of Reel Heroes Media champions military heroes and organizations with his video productions.

Bob Vincent, pictured left, president of Reel Heroes Media, was recently awarded the Carlton Sherwood BAVF Media Award, saluting media members who are dedicated to the needs and concerns of American veterans.

As a child, Bob Vincent remembers taking eight suitcases full of shampoo, toilet paper and many other items we take for granted to his family, who was living in communist Hungary at the time. The experience gave this first generation Hungarian-American, successful video producer and president of Reel Heroes Media a true understanding of what it means to live in the home of the free.

“I wouldn’t be here today if not for all those heroes who took that oath and continue to do so,” he said.

After founding his video production company Video Pilot 360 in 2008 with its successful online video-marketing platform, Vincent renamed it Reel Heroes Media in 2015 with the goal of producing videos and marketing that support active military, veterans, their families and the organizations that champion them.

Vincent says he envisions his company—which handles everything from graphic design and video production to audio visual design and content creation—as a “veteran initiative agency of record.”

“When I attended my first military support event, I couldn’t believe all the amazing heroes I met, their stories and the many honorable organizations that provide assistance,” he said. “I saw that many of them didn’t have the resources to tell those stories to the public.

“From that point on, I made it my mission to use my God-given talents to produce the stories of these heroes and the organizations supporting them,” he added.

And Vincent’s skill for doing so is evident in the many accolades he’s received from corporate giants like Disney, American Airlines and MGM Resorts International, as well as from entertainers like Rascal Flatts, Gary Sinise, Lee Greenwood and Billy Ray Cyrus.

But it’s the compelling video productions he’s created as part of his military philanthropy work that has made Vincent most proud. His work is credited for helping motivate patriotic Americans to donate millions of dollars to military supportive organizations and events, such as The Airpower Foundation, Sky Ball, American Airlines Veterans Initiatives, Snowball Express, The American Fallen Soldiers Project and The Gary Sinise Foundation, among others.

One particular video Vincent was asked to produce to show the impact the iBOT mobility device has had for veterans across the country assisted the Independence Corp Foundation and inventor DEKA Corp. CEO Dean Kamen in resuming production on the device.

“He [Dean] told me the video I produced was their most valuable tool in getting the support they needed,” said Vincent, whose production assisted in the FDA reclassification of the device, as well as the manufacturing plans for the next generation iBOT with Toyota.

Vincent’s latest project involves The Life Chest, a beautiful handmade wood chest that gives the recipient a special place to keep treasured keepsakes.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Reel Heroes Media partnered with Mike Elliot, founder and president of All Veteran Group, Life Chest USA, The Airpower Foundation, and All-American Limo & Transportation for a “Life Chests of Legacy” tour to gift Life Chests to WWII veterans across the country.

Vincent says he hopes to create a national movement sharing the gifting and unveiling of each Life Chest that’s delivered to a veteran.

“As we get to hear the stories and legacies of our military heroes, we will continue to share them,” said Vincent.

While he speaks fluent Hungarian and is very proud of his Hungarian heritage, Vincent is equally proud of the brave men and women who provide the freedoms his family in Hungary didn’t have while he was growing up.

“We can never do enough to support those who defend our country, and especially for those who have been wounded or for the families of those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Vincent, adding a Calvin Coolidge quote that he first heard from his good pal, Gary Sinise, years ago:

“The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

Managing the Shift from Military to Business Culture

LinkedIn
Veteran dressed in a suit holding a flag

By Mike Olivier

By this time in your career you have probably come across the concept of tribal culture. Tribal culture is also military culture, civilian culture, high school culture, and business or workplace culture.

Culture—or the rules of acceptable behavior and how you engage people—is ever-changing. To be successful in any phase of your life, you need to be able to adapt and adjust through means of observation and reprogramming your actions and direction. Trading the military culture for a civilian one is one of these phases.

For the most part, military culture is a straightforward one in which the language is direct, and there is little room for interpretation. Roles, responsibilities, tasks, and reporting requirements are often a matter of fact, not interpretation. This is due in part to the fact that authority is direct, and in matters of life and death misunderstanding or misinterpretation often leads to disaster. In the civilian world these relationships and the chain of command are often blurred. There are circumstances when you report to more than one person, where there are conflicting duties and responsibilities, and no stated priority.

Nevertheless, in both business and military cultures, there are common elements. One is that change is constant. We know that at first most people resist change. To achieve change in both cultures, there is a need for consensus, which is the result of process not action. Successful leaders are the ones that drive change in any culture.

Perhaps through your military training, class work, or direct experience you have worked through the military decision making process. At its core is a very democratic and consensus driven process for developing courses of action, orders, and for making organizational change. It is a means to deal with the reality that in both business and military worlds there are fiefdoms. In business there is accounting, human relations, production, sales, etc. In the military there is intelligence, operations, logistics, etc. Each of these functional staffs are a world and culture unto themselves. The challenge is getting each of these groups—each with their separate list of goals, objectives, and measurements of success—to work together.

Getting these individual staffs to work together depends upon their participation in planning, developing courses of action and in the decision-making process. The leader’s responsibility is to get these disparate groups to visualize and achieve the strategic objective. Some leaders may not actually follow the process while still others will remain dictatorial, all while giving praise to the collaborative process. Nevertheless, successful change—even if accomplished in a clandestine manner—is through the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders.

As a veteran, and a member of perhaps the largest bureaucracy in the United States, you’ve for sure had some experience with this process. In the business world, though, the culture and vocabulary may be different, the bureaucracy is smaller but the process in how you approach problems remains the same. No matter what you do in terms of a civilian career, the challenge of managing change will always be there. Besides a technical fit, employers are often looking for those change agents that can assist the organization in moving forward. Being able to adapt and overcome are the hallmarks of military culture; add leadership and consensus planning experience to the mix and your entry into business culture will be that much more successful.

Sailor Spotlight! Operations Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Tran

LinkedIn
Anthony Tran standing in uniform with flags in the background

SAN DIEGO – A 2011 Rancho Alamitos High School graduate and Garden Grove, Calif., native is currently an instructor for the U.S. Navy training sailors in operating the technologically advanced Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Tran has been an instructor at the LCS Training Facility (LTF) since June 2018.

The LTF, the first surface warfare training facility to provide integrated bridge and combat systems tactical scenario training for sailors serving on board an LCS, is operated by the Center for Surface Combat Systems’ (CSCS) learning site Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FLEASWTRACEN) in San Diego.

Tran teaches a five-week LCS Capstone that focuses on basic Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) operations and tactical decision making in a combat environment.

“I am responsible for ensuring future LCS sailors receive the most up to date and advanced training,” explained Tran. “I mainly focus on teaching tactical decisions and tactical advantages that help deploy fully trained Sailors out to sea.”

Sailors serving in the LCS environment demand a higher quantity and quality of training.

“LCS class ships drive a new approach to individual, team, and unit-level training to accommodate the minimum manning and rotational crewing concepts,” explained Capt. Brandon Bryan, FLEASWTRACEN’s commanding officer. “This new approach drives the need for the shore-centric Train-to-Qualify (T2Q) and Train-to-Certify (T2C) concepts, which rely heavily on high-fidelity shore-based trainers. Our simulators integrate LCS command and control, propulsion control, and bridge control systems to support individual training in a team environment at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels.”

Tran enlisted in the Navy in May 2013.

“I joined the Navy to have a solid foundation because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life,” Tran said. “With this, came the opportunity to serve my country and travel and today, I proudly serve as a United States sailor.”

His first assignment was Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, where he served as green crown controller conducting tactical air control onboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) homeported in Sasebo, Japan.

“At the LTF, we prepare sailors to execute a wide variety of missions around the world,” Bryan said. “They leave our training facility ready to stand their watch and execute the Navy’s mission.”

Tran is the son of Khanh and Vanessa who reside in Garden Grove, Calif.

CSCS’ mission is to develop and deliver surface ship combat systems training to achieve surface warfare superiority. CSCS headquarters’ staff oversees 14 learning sites and detachments located throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, and Japan and manages and operates a Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) training division in Rota, Spain. CSCS provides over 538 courses, awards 114 different Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs), and trains over 38,000 sailors a year. CSCS delivers specialized training for officers and enlisted sailors required to tactically operate, maintain, and employ shipboard and shore-based weapons, sensors, and command and control systems utilized in today’s Navy.

For more information on CSCS, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/ or follow CSCS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Center-for-Surface-Combat-Systems/1480366868885239

Source: Navy Outreach

Inside the Specially Adapted Home Wayfair Furnished for a Veteran with a Disability and His Family

LinkedIn
Disabled veteran and family stand outside their new home

When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.

The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.

A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.

As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit organization that donates custom houses to veterans with disabilities, allowing them freedom in their homes as thanks for their service abroad. The organization teamed up with online furniture marketplace Wayfair to completely overhaul the Curtins’ home this past June, customizing it to both John’s accessibility needs and the pair’s personal style.

“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”

“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”

Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.

For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Make Your Next Job Fair Be Your Last

LinkedIn
veteran standing outside convention center wearing a suit carrying a briefcase

Job fairs are a great opportunity to network and be proactive in the employment process. In order to make the most of these opportunities, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve.

Prepare for the job fair like you would for an interview, have a plan for when you arrive, make a good impression with the recruiters, and be sure to follow up with any connections you make.

Here are some other ways to make the most of your next job fair:

•    Research: The week prior to a job fair, find out which companies are participating and learn more about them. What are some interesting things the company is currently working on? Does the company have new leadership or a new product? These tidbits can be used as conversation starters that will impress a recruiter and possibly open the door to a new opportunity for you.

•    Dress for an interview: Job fairs typically involve on-the-spot interviews, so present yourself as you would for any other kind of interview. A suit is most appropriate, even if you’re applying for a technical job. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

•    Prepare: For your top employment choices, consider preparing folders that include your resume, cover letter, recommendations and appropriate work samples.

•    Carry plenty of business cards: Give the business cards to recruiters and other job seekers you meet. They need not be expensive or fancy. A simple design will do. Make sure they contain your name and contact information: phone number, email and address.

•    Organize: You may want to carry a portfolio or clipboard to easily manage and collect information. Be sure to have a pen for taking notes.

•    Relax, breathe and smile: Do your best to make a strong first impression.

•    Walk around: Get the lay of the land, see where your top companies are located and plan your connection strategy.

•    Network: Talk to other job seekers and ask questions. Find out what types of positions they’re seeking, and tell them a little about yourself. You never know who they might know, or if you might be able to help them with an introduction. Don’t hesitate to exchange information if you make a connection.

•    Visit booths: You may want to start by practicing your personal pitch with recruiters who represent companies that may not be your top choice. Have a list of companies you really want to visit and check them off as you go. This will keep you from introducing yourself to the same recruiter twice by accident. Listen to the “interviews” in front of you to get an idea what to expect and develop questions based on what you hear.

Speaking to recruiters
•    Connect: Make eye contact, smile, state your name and shake her or his hand. Use a prepared elevator speech—a 10-second summary of your bio, your skills and your achievements. Make sure to rehearse the speech until it becomes comfortable.

•    Listen: Pay attention, respond to questions and ask for more information. When appropriate, hand your resume to the recruiter and pause for them to do a quick review. Be prepared for questions about specific examples of your experience.

•    Keep it brief: Recruiters are typically swamped, so be mindful that your conversation may be limited to a few minutes. If appropriate, ask questions about next steps, applicant qualifications or any suggestions they may have for you.

•    Get recruiter contact information: Request a business card, and if one is not available, ask the recruiter for their email address. Conclude the conversation by thanking them for their time.

•    Step aside: Make time to write conversation notes before you move on to the next recruiter. If the previous recruiter mentioned she went to Florida State, capture that information. If she told you the company will hire for your desired position soon, write it down. Summarize your job fair experiences immediately in order to take full advantage of the event.

•    Call or email: After a few days, call or send an email, thanking the recruiters for their time and the information they provided. If you send an email to the recruiter who mentioned she went to Florida State, it is appropriate to write, “I’m the administrative assistant at the job fair who discussed Florida State with you.” That reminder could help her recall the conversation. Just taking the time to follow up will separate you from many job fair attendees.

•    Stay in contact: If the recruiter responds back to you, stay in contact. Keep an eye open for articles about their organization or industry and don’t hesitate to forward them on with a note. If you see the perfect job for you in their organization, and you’re qualified, apply for the position and then email the recruiter and let him or her know you applied.

•    Build your network: If you connected with other job seekers and traded contact information, you should follow up with them as well. You never know when they might have a job prospect for you, or vice versa.

If you need information or personalized assistance with your employment search, or have questions about education opportunities, visit the Military OneSource SECO page, or call 800-342-9647 to talk with a career coach.

Daymond John — Turning Heroes into CEOs

LinkedIn
Daymond John speaking into microphone on stage

The Shark Tank’s Daymond John encourages veteran entrepreneurs to make waves in business.

By Lori Denman

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Daymond John has cast a pretty large net in the realm of business.

John, otherwise known as, “The People’s Shark,” is a busy man—leading his multi-million dollar FUBU clothing line and hosting the popular reality ABC hit, “Shark Tank,” that’s celebrating its 11th season.

But he never hesitates to take time to help a promising entrepreneur—particularly those who have served our country. “I’m working with veterans as much as I can,” he said.

John is in his third year of partnering with Bob Evans Farms to host an entrepreneurial contest called “Heroes to CEOs.” Finalists receive a free trip to New York City for a personalized, 45-minute session with John to help them perfect a pitch that could win them a $30,000 grant for their business.

John says the same traits that make veterans successful in combat—courage, teamwork, overcoming challenging obstacles, taking inventory of a situation—also apply in the boardroom. A veteran’s large network of supportive comrades is a further advantage, he added.

“I call it OPM, or other people’s manufacturing, mind power or marketing,” he said. “Meaning if you want to start up a business, make a list of friends and acquaintances who can assist in the mission. Soak up their knowledge and insight.”

Still, there’s a few personality traits characteristic of the military that may actually hinder a veteran entrepreneur, according to John in a recent interview for The Motley Fool.

Shark Tank panel seated together
Panel: (L-R) Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin OLeary, and Daymond John of Tribeca Talks: Ten Years of Shark Tank poses for a portrait. MATT DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES

“Vets were brought up to think about everybody else and stand in the line of fire. They don’t always put their needs first.”

There’s been more than a few veterans who have heeded John’s advice. Last month, Jonathan Norton, founder and CEO of Peak Safety Systems, was voted the winner of the third annual “Heroes to CEOs” program. A former Army Ranger, Norton invented the RopeSafe Edge protection system—life-saving equipment for military, first responders, and rope access professionals.

Norton says his company was born out of personal experience. ““I witnessed a student nearly fall to his death while he was repelling because the edge protector that we were using failed,” he said in a recent interview on cheddar.com.

“It was a scary moment and created a lot of fear, doubt and uncertainty. But it inspired me to find a solution. That was the impetus for developing the product.”

Although RopeSafe just launched, Norton has successfully sold to several areas throughout the U.S., including FDNY, NYPD, Dallas SWAT and more. Even a window washing company in Rochester, New York.

Daymond John books on display at book signing
Books on display during Daymond John book signing ” Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life”. JOHNNY LOUIS/GETTY IMAGES

When asked about entrepreneurial qualities he acquired during his time in the military, Norton says, “In spite of the hardships or the bumps in the road, it’s really about commitment to the mission and knowing I am serving a bigger purpose.”

John says he was blown away with Norton’s creativity, innovation and solid business plan. “He really rose to the top as an exceptional leader who is ready to take his business to the next level.

With several successful ventures under his belt over the last 30 years, John says he’s often asked what advice he gives veterans and others who wish to start their own business.

“I would say don’t mortgage your house for 100K,” he joked recently on Ladders.com, citing his own personal experience as John did indeed get his start by mortgaging his mother’s house.

After that, John started his successful clothing line but considers the risky move very lucky, adding, “It turned out for all the better, but knowing what I know now, I was very close to losing the house and everything we had.”

Daymond John standing wearing a gray suit
Photo: ADRIAN EDWARDS/GETTY IMAGES

His top 5 tips to veterans wanting to start a business as well as other entrepreneurs on Shark Tank:

  1. Set goals to know where you’re headed

By age 16, John had told himself he’d be a millionaire by age 30. But when he turned 22, he was broke and struggling to make a buck by buying and selling cars.

“I didn’t know how to properly execute goal-setting. It’s not just visualizing of a number or a certain age,” said John.

When the idea for FUBU came along, he decided to reshape the goal he set for himself. Instead of committing to making a million dollars by age 30, John instead made it his goal to outfit the hip-hop culture. Designing a clothing line became less about earning money and more about dedicating himself to a community — one that he thought would turn into future consumers.

“My goal became doing the best I can for the company I love,” John said.

  1. Homework — you still have to do it

After sneaking his way into a menswear conference in Las Vegas, John proudly showed off early prototypes of T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of his budding company, FUBU, an acronym that means “For Us, By Us.” He secured $300,000 worth of orders, and after his mother took out an equity line on their house in Queens, he took $100,000 to outfit a factory to get production going.

Just one problem: He hadn’t done any research on what it would cost to start a clothing line and get production going. In the process, he nearly lost his mom’s house and ended FUBU before it got off the ground.

Knowing what you need to launch a venture is something John stresses to the hopefuls who appear before him on Shark Tank. He has to see that an entrepreneur looking for funding has done their work to know what their market is and who their competitors are — and that they’ve used that knowledge to not only start driving sales but also improve on their track record.

  1. Adore what you do, and success will follow

A true entrepreneur must love what they’re doing—a seemingly trite lesson that John said is crucial for any successful entrepreneur. It’s passion for a project that will allow a person to push past failures and feeling burned out.

“Do what you love, and success will follow. Money may follow; but I can’t promise that it will,” he said. “But money’s more likely to follow when you’re doing something you love, because you’ll do it for 10 years or 20 years.”

  1. Remember, you — not just your business — are a brand

These days it’s easy to manufacture a personality using social media. But building a business is as much about how you carry yourself as it is about meeting quarterly sales figures or developing new products.

“Be very honest with yourself, especially today with social media. At any given time, your employees can see you,” John said. “So you have to know what the DNA of the brand is. It only takes your employees two weeks to treat your customers the same way they’re being treated.”

  1. Keep swimming, no matter what

John’s final point makes use of what he calls the power of positive thinking. Even as FUBU grew into a bigger company, he maintained a “healthy paranoia” about running a clothing company.

“I always said fashion brands are hot for five years and then they’re gone,” he said.

But keeping a persevering attitude spurred him to come up with solutions to problems instead of giving up. As John wrote in his book, The Power of Broke: “You have to be relentless, nimble, moving ever forward. No matter what.”

From The Army To Campbell Soup To Floor Coverings International

LinkedIn
Jennifer & Jose Elias stand in front of their Floor Coverings International vehicle

Jose and Jennifer Elias recently opened a Floor Coverings International franchise and now happily visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

The couple serves customers throughout Sacramento and the surrounding areas.

Jose and Jennifer met when they were working at Campbell Soup Company, after both earned bachelor’s degrees in Food Science; Jen from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Jose from Rutgers University in New Jersey, where his family moved after arriving from Ecuador when he was eight years old. At age 18, Jose joined the Army and served for three years.

When the couple decided to have children (Hudson, born in 2016, and Madeline, in 2018), Jennifer set aside her corporate career – where she gained a diverse array of experience from product development to operations – to be a stay-at-home mom. “My experience, both personally and professionally, has provided me a great foundation to really build this company,” she said.

“The relationship with Floor Coverings International grew naturally and it ended up being the perfect fit for us,” said Jose, who along with Jennifer, learned of the franchisor through a recruiter. “Running a small business as a husband and wife team has been fun. We absolutely love it so far.” That’s a far cry from where Jose found himself midway through 2018, six months after he thought all his hard work had paid off when he earned a “huge promotion” to lead and manage a food manufacturing facility with 500 employees and $5.2 million in monthly sales. “I had a realization. Working 15 hours a day, weekends included, and missing dinner with my wife and kids wasn’t worth it. It really wasn’t worth any amount of money” Jose said. “I realized I was sick of working that hard for someone else and just wanted out of the corporate world. Jen and I sat down and decided it was time we do something for ourselves and for our kids. We are both hard-working, smart individuals and decided to take the leap.”

In Floor Coverings International, the couple found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

“Floor Coverings International is not just a flooring company,” Jose said. “What drew us in most was how much they focus on the customer experience. Selling beautiful product was important to us, but really providing amazing customer service that is truly unmatched in the home improvement industry is what sealed the deal for us.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.