By Maj. Tony MayneDecember 6, 2016
For the fifth time in the last 15 months, Master Sgt. Ret. Jesse Yandell was in front of active duty Rangers. Talking with Rangers is nothing new for Yandell, a recently retired veteran of 18 years in the 75th Ranger Regiment. On Nov. 17-18, Yandell brought the American Dream U team to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to introduce the 2d Battalion Rangers to a totally new concept -- lifelong career development.
"The effort of the Army's Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program is right on the mark only if the Soldiers are receptive to the program well before they begin their transition," Yandell said.
Yandell is a successful organizational management and leadership consultant and serves as a senior military advisor to American Dream U. ADU is a veteran empowerment organization that focuses on service member education of the employment marketplace.
"What we are seeing is that success in transition is linked to leader involvement throughout a service member's career," Yandell stated. "Organizational culture has been and will continue to be the impetus to a successful transition."
And that is what brought Yandell and his ADU team of entrepreneurs to Joint-Base Lewis-McChord again.
The ADU presenters included Ranger veteran Matt Griffin, co-founder of Combat Flip Flops, who was recently featured on the NBC hit series "Shark Tank"; Kevin Kearmes, founder of Career Attraction; and ADU founder Phil Randazzo.
The two-day career development workshop provided the Rangers a crash course in practical preparation for lifelong success, not just transition.
First, the ADU team stressed the importance of continued service in the Army.
"You are in an organization that pays you for professional education in your field, that provides college education opportunities, and provides a predictable schedule for promotions," Yandell said. "Sure, the deployments are tough and it takes a toll, but how many days do you think the panel you have heard from spend at home -- it is pretty comparable."
Second, the ADU presenters told the Rangers to be wary of forgetting the Army's culture once a decision was made to look for civilian employment and education opportunities.
"Your service in special operations may get you a foot in the door, an interview or two perhaps or a better chance at getting in a top tier school, but with that opportunity is the expectation that you bring the same level personal discipline, commitment to teamwork to your new employer or school," Yandell continued.
Third, each of the ADU presenters spoke of the importance of their personal and professional networks.
"You are the sum of who you surround yourself with, so if you think you have a passion for a career or you want to go to an Ivy League school go get to know those people," Yandell stated. "You establish and grow your network through your desire to be better today than you were yesterday; if you do that then you will make that call, make that connection that will positively impact your life."
The overwhelming response of the Rangers in attendance was positive. The Rangers echoed appreciation of the unfiltered advice that placed the responsibility of career development on squarely on their shoulders.
"This has been the best workshop I have ever attended," one Ranger said. "I really liked that we received real life advice that shapes the way we look at our careers, not just college or work after we leave the Army."
The most satisfying comment received by the ADU team was from a senior Ranger leader, "This was the call to action that we all needed to hear."
Disclaimer: This article is not an official endorsement of the Department of Defense or the 75th Ranger Regiment endorsement of American Dream U or its selected speakers.