This blog was written by Evan Anderson, a Global SOF Foundation Member who is sharing his experiences and lessons learned as he separates from the U.S. Army. See Evan’s previous blog here.
I talk with anyone that will listen about how CRITICAL it is to have mentors while transitioning out of the military. It is fairly easy to find mentorship while we are in service, because it is usually provided to us. We can surround ourselves with people who have the experience and knowledge to help us progress technically, tactically, and mentally. Even though we are in small communities, the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our mentors can help us reach unmatched levels of expertise.
During our transition, we have to take it upon ourselves to find mentorship.
I recently saw a picture pop up on LinkedIn about how we should diversify our hobbies. The photo shows that we need multiple hobbies, serving different purposes. One to make you money, one to keep you creative, one to keep you in shape, one to build knowledge, and one to evolve your mindset.
It made me think of my current hobbies (or lack thereof, really), but that is for a different blog!
Mentorship is no different. Through Veterati, American Corporate Partnerships, and LinkedIn, I have been fortunate to amass an “army” of mentors.
The beauty of this diversity is that each of them provides me a different set of experiences, outlooks, solutions, and ways forward. Much like finding different hobbies to accomplish different types of growth, we have to find different mentors to do the same.
Top 3 Mentors You Need
Although there isn’t a limit on how many mentors a person should have, and I have more than 10, I think we should all have at least 3.
- One with experience completely different than yours. When I connected with American Corporate Partnerships (ACP), I had the option to connect with a Veteran who now works in the corporate world. I decided to connect instead with a mentor who has no affiliation with the military, beyond his devout support. I met with Dan Walsh, of Pernod Ricard, and we instantly clicked.
Dan’s experience opened my eyes to an entirely new career path. Although he is not a marketer by trade, his work with data helps drive entire campaigns. He has been able to show me how he visualizes and uses data to drive decision making at the highest level. Dan has also connected me other leaders with passion for data, and CPG, and helped me to consider lots of career opportunities.
- One with experience similar to yours. I reached out to Rob Rens by chance, and our friendship was immediate. We were in Wilmington together just a few days later, talking about how I could help him start his company. Rob is a Marine Veteran, Honor Foundation coach, and business owner. His experience in corporate and as an entrepreneur gives him a truly unique perspective. He has unmatched positivity and work ethic, and the type of personality that anyone in a customer-facing role should emulate. I am so fortunate to be a part of Signal Fire Media.
Together with Matt Mylott, Rob and I are grinding away at this startup, creating something truly unique. Rob has helped me more than he knows with my transition.
- One to really push you. I also met Bill Kieffer by chance, and he has changed my entire outlook on career transition. Bill is my coach as well as mentor, and the person who knows how to best light a fire under me. Bill is an Army veteran and Honor Foundation coach whose expertise ranges from the military to the corporate world. He is a brilliant speaker that transforms experience into lessons.
Working with Bill has transformed my mindset and helped me to realize my true strengths, as well as potential shortcomings. He has helped me focus on what I want from my transition, and discover career paths that meet my needs, from financial to social. I am truly grateful for his guidance and leadership.
Whether we realize it or not, most of us have had mentors all throughout our military careers.
It could have been the Team Sergeant who just shook his head while you fumbled through something the first time, only to show you a more efficient way. It could have been the “old guy” on your team who had seen and done it all. No matter if you have one mentor, or a dozen, it is a non-negotiable part of your transition.
If it is to help you set goals, fine-tune your resume, create connections, or even just share a laugh, we all need somebody to count on.