Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Is Islamophobia a Reality in the U.S.?

Published on Nov 19, 2015

Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says she doesn't buy into the major worries about Islamophobia. Ali's latest book is "Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now" (


In the United States of America, I see that Muslims as individuals, as organizations, as a community are present everywhere. If anything there's more listening to them than less of listening to them. I want to juxtapose that with the plight of Christians and Jews and Atheists and ex-Muslims and gays in the Muslim world. I'm not talking about the war-torn places; I'm talking about the places where there is order and the way Muslim societies respond to that. And if I were a vocal Muslim individual or a vocal Muslim organization, I would use my energy to highlight what we as Muslims, those of us who were brought within Islam in our own countries are doing to Christians and various sects of women and Jews and all that. So, I have to be quite honest with you, I don't buy much of this whole victim thing...

...Then there's another metric. In places where people are oppressed and persecuted, people don't go there. Christians are fleeing Muslim countries. Muslims are flocking to originally Christian countries. I'm not a Christian. I'm not religious in the least. I'm an atheist. But it's a mere observation. So I think in a way these organizations are playing not only non-Muslim Americans, but they're also playing the Muslim communities that they target to make them feel that they're victims of some illusion, some form of persecution that they are not in order to band them together and then manipulate them. And it's up to us to investigate these things...

...I think we need to have this sort of honest conversation with them instead of indulging that I am a victim of. But obviously they're hiding and this is what we're seeing in our own society that all kinds of segments of people in our society feel that they are a victim of this or a victim of that in the freest society in the world. If you're victimized in America, goodness me, how would you have survived the rest of the world?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What makes a hero?

Published on Dec 4, 2012

View full lesson:

What trials unite not only Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins but many of literature's most interesting heroes? And what do ordinary people have in common with these literary heroes? Matthew Winkler takes us step-by-step through the crucial events that make or break a hero.

Lesson by Matthew Winkler, animation by Kirill Yeretsky.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dakotafire - Empowering Youth

Hot of the presses!

Arlington Builds on its Relationships

Look for the print copy in your mail or postal box tomorrow! 

Digital copies and more info can be found at .

Stop by the office to get a sneak peek....

Monday, November 9, 2015

#MyVetBiz - About Office of Veterans Business Development

The Office of Veterans Business Development’s (OVBD) mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their dependents or survivors. OVBD is SBA’s liaison with the veterans business community; provides policy analysis and reporting; and is as an Ombudsman for veteran entrepreneurs. OVBD has a number of programs and services to assist aspiring and existing veteran entrepreneurs such as training, counseling and mentorship, and oversight of Federal procurement programs for Veteran-Owned and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.

SOUTH DAKOTA's #MyVetBiz Officer:

Chuck Hughes
2329 North Career Avenue, Suite 105
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Tel: (605) 330-4243 EXT. 31
Fax: (605) 330-4215

Office of Veterans Business Development

17 Things Real Leaders Never Say

Avoid using these sayings when addressing your teammates in any work environment.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey listens to a III Corps senior leader speak during a town hall forum held at Palmer Theater on Fort Hood, June 19, 2015.
When poor leaders make it into the general and flag officer ranks, it can really be destructive to the military profession and unit effectiveness. It’s no different in the civilian world where people are even less likely to point out that the emperor has no clothes for fear of losing their job. Below are 17 sayings from senior leaders demonstrating poor leadership that I overheard as an aide-de-camp for three well-known successful generals. People who habitually say these things or act in this manner can send organizations hurtling in the wrong direction unless there was a very strong team of soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and junior officers to keep the unit on track despite their failing commander.

1. “The last guy really sucked.”

Some people have turned blaming “the last guy” for their organization’s failures into a modus operandi for their entire career. The last guy may have been horrible. The last boss might even tell the new leader just how horrible. But real leaders never, ever, waste their time badmouthing the last guy. This is probably the number one sign of a poor leader who is trying to distract people from their inability to solve problems. It’s such a common defect that naïve people consider it a great excuse to use to get out of solving a tough issue. If you are in charge, then own the problems no matter who created them. It’s likely the problems existed before “the last guy” too. Your primary task as a leader is to own the problems, develop solutions, and then carry out your team’s plan.

2. “I don’t like any of these plans; I will figure it out myself.”

Some bosses make people feel like they are wasting their breath when they give an opinion (one the boss asked for). They feel they have learned all there is to know and seen everything in life. These are extremely dangerous people because they somehow suspend reality, thinking that nothing new is going to ever happen. To avoid this habit, you should close your mouth and listen actively to your teammates. Avoid asking for ideas from your team if you aren’t willing to listen to them.

3. “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

There is always the chest-beating, loud-mouth tough guy in war movies, but in reality, it’s a boss few want to follow. These types of leaders are usually making up for their lack of competence by overtalking their abilities. Great leaders are often quiet professionals like the special operations operator character at the end of “Black Hawk Down” running out of the city with the Rangers or the two other operators who volunteered to stay with the wounded pilots. In the movie, they are based on several quiet and humble guys who people did and do follow because they recognize real warrior-leaders. One of my most humbling days in the Army was having the son of one of those fallen operators serve in my unit. Let your actions speak for you instead of your resume and ego. Your people can see right through you if you can only talk a good game, and they don’t want to be like you.

4. “I guess you all are smarter than me now?”

Some people lose their mind when they receive criticism. They take everything personally. These are tough superiors to serve because it keeps everyone on pins and needles and silences great ideas. Good ideas and decisions are not just for leaders. If your people are trying to tell you that a decision was not wise or is hurting the organization, you might want to re-examine it. You may be right, but getting a second opinion is not a sign of weakness.

5. “Why are you working on that? I need you to finish this now!”

For these people, everything is a rush job and every day the to-do list changes. When leaders change priorities every day with no rhyme or reason, teams get confused and question the boss’s ability to think strategically or follow a plan. If your priorities change because your boss has directed it, then let your people know that the mission has changed. Then lead that change beside your people instead of trying to yell from behind.

6. “Damn it, let me show you how to do that!”

Every leader falls victim to this at some point even when they know better. You can realize that you are getting too involved in the details by reading your people’s body language and watching a decrease in their initiative. Give your people a clear task and let them do it. It might not be exactly how you would do it, but they can’t grow if you don’t let them try, fail, and improve. If it’s a critical task, then tell people that up front. If you are the only expert at the task, lead the team, and learn how to do it correctly together.

7. “I’m leaving now; don’t burn this place down before I get back.”

The person who assigns lots of work and expects other people to work 12-hour days while they regularly work eight is easy to spot. They usually complain when employees ask for time off. You can expect people on your team to take turns having a long day now and then. If you stay overtime with each of them every day, you will burn out. So don’t assign everyone a 12-hour day every day if you aren’t sticking around. As a way to avoid appearing “checked out,” pick some critical tasks every week that you will stay late or come in early to take part in. Your people will see you are just as willing as they are to work hard when needed.

8. “I am holding this place together, despite the hand I was dealt.”

The boss who always touts his own great record even though he had to do all the work is a real jerk. Always give credit to your team and let others take care of your applause, if it’s warranted. Never seek credit for something your team did just because you were leading that team. Your bosses will know if you are a good leader based on numerous factors. Telling them how great you are isn’t one of them.

9. “Don’t interrupt me, unless it’s really important.”

If people don’t like to talk to the boss, it might be because they make people feel like crap every time they approach. Leaders get interrupted a lot because important things keep occurring. Accept it and stop what you are doing, turn away from your computer, and really listen to your people. You will teach them what good leadership looks like. This is similar to the leader who won’t talk to people they consider beneath them from other teams. Don’t send someone’s goodwill ambassador to talk to your junior woodchuck until you know what they want. It might be a decision only you can make.

10. “How many people do I have to fire to get some good help?”

Some bosses email angry, burn bridges on roads they must drive daily, or get rid of people too quickly. Sometimes the guy you think is the worst person will turn out to be exactly the person you need in your most dire hour as a leader. There are some that need to be fired, but take your time and try to help them improve unless there is an ethical issue.

11. “You guys are making me look bad.”

There is always the person who the boss thinks is a great leader, but they are hated by their teammates. Don’t be that guy. Support your boss’s mission by setting the conditions for your team that allow them to excel. Never beat your people down to build yourself up.

12. “It’s good to be the king.”

Don’t wave your job perks in front of your team because you think you’re special. A better approach is to take turns bringing one of your people with you when you are about to enjoy something fun or exciting that comes along with the position you are holding. Use your benefits to inspire others to rise and not to show them that rank has its privileges.

13. “Are you questioning my authority/intelligence?”

Some people suck at taking questions. If your most common reflex is to attack the questioner, then you might not be making very good decisions. Ask someone you admire for advice if this keeps happening to you. Don’t get paranoid and start thinking everyone is trying to box you into a decision you don’t want to make.

14. “Our boss is an idiot, but we can succeed despite him.”

This is another classic leadership failure that poor performers use. You don’t inspire your organization by telling them senior leadership sucks, but you can save the day. Even if your boss is an idiot, just don’t do it. You might think it, but don’t say it because it will ruin the larger team.

15. “Didn’t anyone see me walk in?”

The best leaders always ensure that they aren’t interrupting the team’s work when they stop by. The worst leaders expect a “dog and pony show” every time they pop their head in to “see how the boys are doing.” Just be a quiet observer and you can measure progress. If your people have to stop, clean up, dress up, or otherwise deviate from their important work, you are the problem. Have a light footprint.

16. “So there I was…”

Some leaders actually ask their close staff to ensure they get badges or awards for valor or combat for “not-so daring” feats on the battlefield. If you read the excerpts of some World War II paratrooper and armor generals’ citations for valor, you will see that they were literally up front engaged in direct fire with the enemy. Today’s senior leadersdon’t often find themselves in that position. Your job as a leader is to ensure your teammates are rewarded for their hard work. Don’t worry about your personal awards because rewarding the true warriors on the front lines is your highest honor.

17. “We can make up that lost time.”

There is always the “miracle worker” who thinks they can create more time. If you wait around for a flawless plan before starting to solve a problem, you will never start. Know when you have an 85% solution that you can start immediately and refine along the way. You can never recover lost time.

Some leaders are just unprepared to lead because they haven’t been properly trained. Nobody is born understanding the intricacies of leadership. Others are confident they can lead well because they know they are great. This is the most dangerous type of “leader” as they live in a bubble that keeps them from taking a close look at themselves or their teams. Yet others just can’t pull off leadership at the high level because they have reached their full potential or have so many character flaws that no amount of training can save them.

Luckily few leaders will end up saying all of these things, though surely some have tried. But, every one of us can be guilty of some of these because leading people is difficult and circumstances are ever-changing. Do your best and constantly look at yourself through the eyes of your peers, bosses, and teammates. If you keep an eye on yourself and ask someone you trust to honestly tell you when you are slipping, you can improve as a leader. If you cannot improve as a leader, then at every level you move up, you will damage another organization.

Jason Criss Howk
Jason Howk is a retired South Asia Foreign Area Officer who specializes in Afghanistan, leadership/mentorship/coaching, strategy, Islam, U.S. foreign policy and various Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy topics. He also served in the Army as an enlisted Infantry Paratrooper and Engineer officer from 1991-2015. Follow Jason Criss Howk on Twitter @jason_c_howk

Friday, November 6, 2015

Building Mental And Physical Strength: My Day Training With the Army Reserve

November 5, 2015
Krista Stryker Army training

This post is sponsored by the U.S. Army Reserve

When I think of the U.S. Army Reserve, I think of some of the fittest people on earth.

Striving to be the world’s best and most versatile team, the Army Reserve Soldiers train incrediblyhard both mentally and physically and are continuously learning and adapting to an always changing world. Bringing together their diverse skills and backgrounds, they rely on teamwork, courage, and strong leadership skills to be able to rise to any challenge at any time.

So I was more than a little curious (and intimidated) when I was invited recently to train with the Army Reserve as part of their partnership with Tough Mudder.

If you’ve never heard of it before, Tough Mudder is an obstacle course designed to test your physical and mental strength with infamous challenges like the Ring of Fire (where you literally have to jump through a ring of fire) and the Dead Ringer (where the goal is to sideways climb along a series of ascending and descending pegs while high up in the air). Yet unlike most races, Tough Mudder is a team-oriented course focused on the premise that individuals are stronger both mentally and physically as a team—which is exactly why it’s such an awesome matchup with the Army Reserve.

So in partnership with the Army Reserve, I’m excited to bring you a play-by-play of my day training at the Army Physical Fitness School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Here is a super honest breakdown of my experience, including my shortcomings as well as successes:

Part 1: Tactical Athlete Assessment Part #1

Read the complete article at:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#MyVetBiz - Veterans Day discounts

 Veterans Day discounts
The following discounts have been confirmed by for 2015, through either a press release or direct communication with the company. Visit the most up-to-date list here.

Keep in mind that most businesses require proof of military service, which can include a VA Universal Access Card, military ID, DD-214, VSO card (groups like the VFW, DAV, AmVets, MOAA, FRA and The American Legion); some businesses will accept a picture of the veteran in uniform.

Note: Not all franchise locations participate in their national chain's Veterans Day programs – be sure to contact your nearest establishment, via phone or Web, to make sure they are participating.

2015 Veterans Day Restaurant Offerings:

Applebee’s – Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a limited menu on Nov. 11.

Bar Louie – Nov. 10-11, veterans and active military personnel get a free meal up to a $12 value.

Bob Evans – Veterans and active military personnel receive a free breakfast from a select menu on Nov. 11.

Bonanza Steakhouses – Active-duty and retired military get a free buffet on Nov. 11, 4 p.m. to close.

Cattlemens – Active, inactive and retired military personnel get a free small sirloin steak dinner on Nov. 11.

Cheeseburger in Paradise – Active and retired military personnel receive a complimentary burger with fries on Nov. 11.

Chili’s – Veterans and active military servicemembers get a free entrée from a limited menu on Nov. 11.

Denny’s – Active, inactive and retired military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on Nov. 11 from 5 a.m. to noon at participating locations.

Friendly’s – Veterans and active military get a free breakfast, lunch or dinner from a limited menu on Nov. 11.

Golden Corral – Golden Corral Restaurants' Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on Nov. 11 from 5-9 p.m. Military retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard and reserves are all welcome.

IHOP – Participating IHOP restaurants offer veterans and active-duty military free Red, White and Blue pancakes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 11

Krystal – Active and retired military receive a free Krystal chicken or sausage biscuit from 6-11 a.m. on Nov. 11.

Little Caesars – Veterans and active military members receive a free $5 Lunch Combo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants – On Nov. 8, participating McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants will offer a complimentary entrée to veterans from a special menu.

Max & Erma's – On Nov. 11, participating Max & Erma’s locations are offering veterans and active military personnel a free Best Cheeseburger in America Combo meal.

Menchie's – All active and retired military personnel will receive a free 6-ounce frozen yogurt on Nov. 11.

Mission BBQ – Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich and a slice of cake on Nov. 11.

On the Border – Veterans and active-duty military can enjoy a free meal from the “Create Your Own Combo” menu on Nov. 11.

Orange Leaf – Veterans and active-duty military get a free cup of froyo on Nov. 11.

Pondrosa Steakhouse – Active-duty and retired military get a free buffet on Nov. 11, 4 p.m. to close.

Red Hot & Blue – Veterans receive a free entrée with the purchase of a second entrée Nov. 9-11. Coupon required.

Rock and Brews – Veterans and active military personnel receive a complimentary pulled pork sandwich with a side choice throughout the day on Nov. 11.

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill – Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill is offering a choice between complimentary hummus served with grilled herb flatbread or garlic cheese bread on Nov. 11.

Shoney's – Shoney's will offer a free All-American Burger to veterans and active-duty servicemembers on Nov. 11.

Spaghetti Warehouse – From Nov. 9-11, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required.

Texas Roadhouse – Locations nationwide will offer veterans a free lunch on Nov. 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Offer is good for active-duty, retired or former U.S. military.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill – Veterans and active military get a free entrée or individual pizza with an entrée or pizza purchase of equal or greater value on Nov. 11.

Village Inn – Veterans and active military personnel receive a free breakfast on Nov. 11 from a select menu at participating locations. Village Inn is also providing a “Thank you For Your Service” card valid for 20 percent off on the next visit.

Wienerschnitzel – Veterans and active-duty military receive a free chili dog and a small Pepsi on Nov. 11.

2015 Veterans Day Travel and Recreation Discounts:

9/11 Memorial and Museum – Veterans will receive free museum admission from Nov. 7-11.

Army Corp of Engineers Recreation Areas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will waive day-use fees for veterans, active and reserve-component servicemembers, and their families at USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on Nov. 11.

Colonial Williamsburg – Active-duty military, reservists, retirees, veterans and their direct dependents receive free Colonial Williamsburg admission for Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 6–11).

Harley-Davidson Museum – The Harley-Davidson Museum is offering free admission to active military, veterans and their families on Nov. 7, 8 and 11 in honor of Veterans Day.

Killington Resort – Active-duty, retired and honorably discharged members of the military receive a complimentary lift ticket on Nov. 11.

Knott’s Berry Farm – Knott's Berry Farm is offering free admission for veterans and active-duty military personnel and one guest, as well as six additional tickets for a discounted price, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 20.

Mariners’ Museum – Military members receive a special $5 admission price on Nov. 11.

Meineke Car Care Centers – On Nov. 11, veterans are encouraged to visit participating Meineke locations for a free basic oil change.

National Parks – On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, veterans will have access to over 100 national parks requiring entrance fees for free.

National Veterans Day Run – The National Veterans Day Run on Nov. 11 offers veterans and active-duty military a reduced-rate entry into the race, as well as discounted rates to their spouses and children between 13 and 18.

Westgate Resorts – Starting Nov. 11, the first 2,500 eligible servicemembers who complete an online military appreciation form will receive a complimentary three-day, two-night vacation. Veterans who don’t qualify are eligible for a 25 percent discount. Visit for the survey.

UFC GYM – Veterans and active-duty military, as well as their families, get free total gym access from Nov. 11-15 at participating UFC GYMs. UFC GYM is also offering a special basic training-themed Daily Ultimate Training class on Nov. 14.

World of Coca-Cola – Active-duty, reserves and retirees get free admission year-round, and Nov. 5-15, members of the armed forces may also purchase up to four half-price general admission tickets for their friends and family.

2015 Veterans Day Retailer Offerings:

Alfred Angelo – Military brides get a free wedding gown on Veterans Day. An appointment to the store must be made for Nov. 11 to qualify.

Alimond Studio – Veterans and active-duty servicemembers get a free headshot at Alimond Studio on Saturday, Nov. 7. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Leesburg, Va.

Bellhops – The moving company is offering free moving labor for veterans from Nov. 13 to Dec. 15. Veterans must call on Veterans Day to schedule an appointment.

Brides Across America – Brides Across America holds a wedding gown giveaway in partnership with bridal salons across the country in November to honor Veterans Day. Qualifying brides register to attend the event at a participating bridal salon by completing the registration form and paying a $20 fee. Once verified, you will be assisted in finding a gown from the selection.

Cardiac Life – For the month of November, Cardiac Life is offering veterans $15 CPR courses.

Carhartt’s – Active-duty and retired military servicemembers who present a military ID at one of Carhartt’s 21 company-owned stores will receive a complimentary exclusive hat, while supplies last.

Enterprise Car Sales – Active U.S. military members, veterans and their dependents get a Firestone Prepaid Maintenance Package with the purchase of any Enterprise vehicle during the month of November.

Firestone Complete Auto Care – Nov. 8-15, veterans and active-duty personnel receive an additional 10 percent off the lowest advertised price of any automotive service.

Grace for Vets – Car washes from around the world who join this program offer free car washes to veterans and servicemembers on Nov. 11.

Great Clips – On Nov. 11, customers who come in for a service can get a free haircut card to give to their favorite veteran. Veterans can also receive a free haircut or get the free haircut card. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.

Home Depot – Home Depot offers a 10 percent discount to all veterans on Nov. 11. Home Depot offers the 10 percent discount year-round to active-duty and retirees.

Little Bra Company – Save 15 percent during the month of November on all regular-priced merchandise at the Little Bra Company when you shop online.

Lowe's – All veterans receive a 10 percent discount on Nov. 11. The offer is available in stores only.

Rack Room Shoes – Military personnel and their dependents get a 10 percent discount off entire purchase on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Sleep Number– From now until Nov. 15, active and veteran military members will receive exclusive discounts on Sleep Number products. Save up to $700 on select Sleep Number mattress sets.

Steve Madden – Steve Madden offers everyone 20 percent off the entire purchase, and servicemembers receive an additional 10 percent off on Nov. 11.

Tires Plus – Between Nov. 8-15, veterans and active-duty personnel receive an additional 10 percent off the lowest advertised price of any automotive service.

Wheel Works – Between Nov. 8-15, veterans and active-duty personnel receive an additional 10 percent off the lowest advertised price of any automotive service.

- See more at:

Thank you for your military service — now here are 9 reasons why I won't hire you

army soldiers veterans formation

So, you’ve decided to hang up the uniform after years of distinguished service to our great nation. You’ve attended a few transition classes and have your interview suit and shiny new resume as you make the leap into the civilian world.

You feel confident, because you’ve seen your colleagues leave the uniform on Friday and come to work the following Monday in a suit and tie making twice as much salary. You storm the job boards and job fairs. Never mind that although you’ve drafted a plan of action and milestones (POA&M) for every significant evolution of your military career, some of you have invested the least amount of time and effort into your own transition POA&M.

Those of us in the hiring and recruiting business know firsthand that not all veterans are created equal, and, sometimes, it’s a great business decision to hire a military professional into our companies. Often, though, many don’t. Why? Because you’re just not the right fit. A more impressive candidate captured our attention, or maybe, through no fault of your own, we found someone internally or received a referral from one of our own employees.

The irony is that many veterans and servicemembers have the skills and experience to make the cut, or even get the second interview, but blow it. As a military candidate recruiter, I see consistent themes in why military professionals don’t get the job. Many may blame the new Transition GPS, their branch of service’s career center or even the employers themselves, but here are the top real reasons why you’ll never get hired:

1. You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over

Let’s suppose that immediately after graduating from college or high school, I went to work for one of the well-known defense contractors. During the course of my 20+ year career at that company, I was very successful and promoted to the position of Program Manager, frequently working with the military. However, I’m now at that point in my career where there isn’t any opportunity for further advancement, or I’m simply weary of the industry.

I’m now in my late 30s or early 40s and decide it’s time to leave the company to pursue a different career. I’ve worked with the military my entire adult life, so I decide I want to join its ranks. Because of my previous experience with managing multimillion dollar budgets and hundreds of personnel, I feel I’m the equivalent of a Commanding Officer or Senior Enlisted Leader. When I talk to a recruiter about my level of entry, what would they tell me?

The cold dose of reality is that despite all of my experience, I’d have no idea what the organizational culture is like in the military. I’d be set up for failure if someone allowed me to don the collar devices and step into a command position. On day one, something as basic as sending an email to a flag officer could go very sour very quickly. This is because even though I may have transferable skill sets, I lack the knowledge of industry norms and protocol experience to succeed.

A senior military professional transitioning into the private sector faces the same dynamic. The transition is a bit easier within the Department of Defense and Federal arenas, but you’re starting anew. It’s imperative that you understand this. As a result, you should seek ways to learn the organizational structures of potential employers many months before you’ll be entering the job market.

Just as I would have been far better informed had I spoken to a military recruiter before I left my civilian job, so should you be similarly informed before entering your last year of service. Use recruiters, headhunters, employment counselors, hiring managers, etc. to gain intelligence and information so you can be pragmatic in your expectations and planning. Also, getting a mentor who has successfully navigated into the private or government sector and is also a veteran will provide invaluable insight from a perspective you’ll be able to relate to.

2. You Believe You’re Unique (Just Like Every Other Transitioning Person That Day)

Each and every day, 200 to 300 service members exit the military. This number will only increase as the nation’s wars come to an end and forces continue to draw down. In 2012, an average of 470,000 resumes were posted on Monster each week. Essentially, for every job opening in the U.S., there are roughly 187 qualified and unqualified job applicants.

This is the challenge you face in relying on job boards as your sole method of getting a job. I suggest you think of hitting the “apply” button as being similar to walking down to the local convenience store and buying a lottery ticket, then deciding to not do anything else (or continue buying lottery tickets) until they call your number.

Are job boards still relevant? Yes. However, it’s best to post your resume to a niche job board that aligns with your background or industry — and make sure your resume is targeted specifically for the jobs you apply to.

3. Your Resume Is Longer Than the CEO of Our Company’s (or Shorter Than a Recent College Graduate’s)

A long resume doesn’t impress me at all. Even worse, a resume that has neither definition nor clarity is guaranteed to be placed in the trash. I’m probably going to look at it for six seconds, tops.

Your resume should be a windshield document. That is, it should reflect the positions you’re going towards. (Click here to tweet this thought.) It shouldn’t be a rearview mirror which simply lists all of the duties you performed. It should contain keywords, which websites such as Wordle and TagCrowd can help you identify in both job announcements and your resume. This is because your resume will most likely be filtered by Applicant Tracking Software before it even gets to a human resources screener.

And, while I appreciate that you volunteered to clean up a highway or had some collateral duties in addition to your main assignments, I’m looking for candidates who have years of matching relevant experience, the right job titles and are in the same industry. Most importantly, I’m not looking for a “jack of all trades”; if I were, the job posting would have said so.

How do you craft a resume that’s forward-looking? Find about 15 to 20 job announcements that match up with your ideal target job title. Incorporate their language into your resume and make it contextual by inserting your metrics. Review each bullet point you’ve chosen to use by asking yourself if it demonstrates a problem you solved or action you took and the results that were accomplished. The actual length of your resume? It depends on your audience. Seek out current or former employees at the companies you’ve identified in your target list and ask them what their company’s preference is.

4. You Didn’t Proofread Your Resume

I would be a millionaire if I got 10 bucks for every time I come across a candidate who’s an “experienced manger.” There isn’t any substitute for attention to detail here. Don’t trust spellcheck, and don’t rely solely on your own review. Have your resume reviewed and critiqued free of charge by as many eyes as possible. The trained professionals at your Fleet and Family Support Centers, Army ACAP, and Airman & Family Readiness Centers are the best resource to catch those mistakes before I do.

After getting your resume reviewed for spelling and substance, take it to the local university’s English department and have it critiqued for proper grammar. Seem a bit excessive? Well, if I see misspellings and poor grammar on your resume, what will I expect from you if I need you to communicate with my clients?

5. You Don’t Have a LinkedIn Profile (Or, Even Worse, It’s Not Complete)

In a 2012 Jobvite survey, 89% of hiring decision-makers and recruiters reported using social media sites such as LinkedIn to find their candidates. If this is the case, shouldn’t you have a profile already?

Your knowledge of managing your online presence lets me know how proficient you are in using technology to communicate. It also allows me to see your skills, even if they’re nascent. If you have an incomplete profile, it may communicate that you might also expect me to complete your work for you.

Take the time and get your LinkedIn profile set up right. There are lots of places and resources available online to get help at no cost, so there isn’t any excuse for not having one. Additionally, a complete LinkedIn profile allows you to take advantage of LinkedIn Labs’ Resume Builder to automatically generate 11 different resume styles based on your LinkedIn profile. Talk about a time saver!

6. You Think Social Media Is For Kids or Sharing War Stories

If you think social media is a huge waste of time and doesn’t offer real value, watch this video.

The reality is that two out of three job seekers will get their next job using social media. What does that mean to you? It translates to lesser-qualified people using technology to their advantage to get hired. They know how to use each of the social networking sites to the maximum extent in their transition action plans. If you think Twitter is of little use to a job seeker or professional, your competition will be happy to land the job you want because they’re using it and you aren’t.

7. You Didn’t Prepare For The Interview

During the course of your military career, you’ve conducted countless boards and interviews. It seems to make sense that you should have no problem interviewing. After all, you did pretty well in your transition class mock interviews, didn’t you?

Wrong approach. I’ve seen instances where the most junior servicemembers outperformed a much more seasoned military leader because of one simple strategy: practice, practice, practice. Practice with someone who regularly hires or who has hired people at your level recently.

Why do you need to practice? Because you need to be able to be conversational, convey energy and yet let me know you’re aware of what my business is, who my competitors are and even who I am. Did you go to the company’s website to see if we have a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page? Did we make the news recently? Google News is a great way to find this out.

I want you to distinguish yourself from the regular job seeker. I want to know you’re as passionate about my company and what we do as I am, not just out to get a paycheck and benefits. Make sure you have a set of questions that I haven’t heard before, and when we’re about to finish the interview, ask for the job. Don’t worry; I’m not going to be offended, because I want to see that fire in your belly. Just don’t overdo it by saying something presumptuous such as, “So… when do I start?”

8. You Wrote a Thank You Note (But Only to Say Thank You)

Sending a thank you note is something that sets you apart from the competitors also vying for this position. And while it’s appreciated and infinitely better than sending nothing at all, don’t just send the note to say thank you; use it to tell me how much passion you have for my company and the job. Remind me of those things that excited you during our interview and, if there were any areas you looked vulnerable in, ease my concerns.

9. You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

When asked what you want to do, the worst possible answer you can give is, “I don’t know” or “anything.” You have to be able say specifically what types of positions you’re interested in and how you can add value to them. If you don’t, you’re essentially saying, “Invest lots of time and money in me, and maybe it will help me figure out if I want to do something else.”

If you have no clue where to start, start by looking at colleagues with backgrounds similar to yours who have recently transitioned. Which industries are they in? What companies are they working for? Where are they living? What job titles do they have now? The LinkedIn Labs Veterans App is a great tool to help with this. Be sure to check it out. Start volunteering to gain professional experience and seek out internships long before you sign your DD214.

Employers want to feel secure in knowing that you’ll last and that they can depend on you in your new work environment. Doing an internship or volunteering will help both the employer and you determine if a position is a good fit. Additionally, due to the flood of resumes that come in for each job posting, applicants who have volunteered or performed internships will stand out well ahead of the others.

Military professionals, especially senior ones, have a lot to offer our country when they hang up the uniform. The President and American companies are working hard to ensure that servicemembers and veterans have well-paying jobs with opportunities to advance. However, no one is ever guaranteed a job, and the more senior you are, the more challenging the transition can be in terms of education, credentials, certification and relevant industry experience required. Having a powerful network is essential and can open doors for you. That said, your comrades, friends and family can generally get you to the door, but it remains up to you to be fully prepared when the door is opened.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#MyVetBiz - What is V-WISE?

V-WISE is committed to women Veterans by providing them the tools to become successful entrepreneurs.

Our goal is to integrate their leadership, integrity, focus
and drive into a premier educational training program taught by accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the United States.

V-WISE enables women Veterans to find their passion and to learn the business-savvy skills to turn their ideas or businesses into a growth ventures. V-WISE recognizes entrepreneurship an important part of economic growth across the country and this program is the key for women Veterans to truly pursue their dreams and to make them a reality

About V-WISE

V-WISE is a three-phase program

PHASE 1: What’s first?
A 15-day online learning experience designed to teach participants the "language of business," how to understand opportunity recognition as it relates to growing a sustainable venture, and present actionable strategies related to new venture creation.

PHASE 2: Ready, Set, Goal!
The conference phase of the V-WISE experience, is a three-day training offered to cohorts of 200 women at locations across the country. The conference includes more than 20 distinct modules of training, designed for both new business owners and to support the needs of existing ventures. Delegates are exposed to successful entrepreneurs, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and leaders in government. Upon completion of this phase participants will receive 2.7 continuing education units (documentation required).

PHASE 3: Keep Moving…
Following the conference, graduates are connected to ongoing support and community-building opportunities focused on small business creation and growth. This resource network includes both SBA-provided supportive services (Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women's Business Centers (WBCs), Veterans' Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) offices) as well as services provided by the IVMF and other IVMF partners to include American Corporate Partners (ACP), BoeFly, and Kiva Zip.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#MyVetBiz - Boots to Business Reboot

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 8:30am

Pierre American Legion
Pierre, SD 57501
United States
See map: Google Maps

About Boots to Business Reboot

Boots to Business Reboot is a two-step entrepreneurship training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration through a public private partnership with the Institute of Veterans and Military Families, the Marcus Foundation and First Data Corporation. This course is open to Veterans of all eras (Servicemembers, including members of the National Guard and Reserves) and their spouses. The curriculum provides assistance to those interested in exploring business ownership or other self-employment opportunities by leading them through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and providing foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan. In addition, participants are introduced to SBA resources available to access start-up capital, technical assistance and contracting opportunities.

A Two Step Program

The Introduction to Entrepreneurship Course- Step one is the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course for those interested in learning more about the opportunities and challenges of business ownership. This course is instructed by the SBA and its partners who are skilled business advisors. Participants learn business basics and techniques for evaluating the feasibility of their business concepts.

Foundations of Entrepreneurship Eight-Week Course- Step two is the eight-week online Foundations of Entrepreneurship course instructed by a consortium of professors and practitioners led by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. By dedicating a minimum of 10 hours per week to connected and independent study, participants work through the fundamentals of developing an actionable business plan.

Innovative Delivery & Partnership

To deliver Boots to Business Reboot and support Veterans and military spouses, SBA collaborates with its resource partners (Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers and SCORE). SBA also partners with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University on program curriculum development, course material and instruction. Beyond Boots to Business Reboot, SBA's network of partners offer continued training and technical assistance, with an emphasis on access to capital and federal contracting opportunities.

SBA and its partners ensure that every Veteran and military spouse has the resources they need in their local communities to start and operate small businesses, achieve post-service career success, and strengthen the Nation's economy.
Boots to Business Reboot Resources
Boots to Business Reboot Fact Sheet

Monday, November 2, 2015

Veterans Small Business Week November 2-6, 2015
SBA Initiatives

SBA empowers veterans, active duty service members, Guard and Reserve members and military spouses through entrepreneurial training and education programs, business technical assistance counseling, special access to capital programs and federal procurement  training and access to opportunities.
Join the conversation at #MyVetBiz to share veteran stories, encourage community members to highlight local veteran-owned businesses in their community, and show gratitude and support to veterans and their families.
Entrepreneurial Training and Education:
Business Technical Assistance:
Access to Capital
Federal Procurement