Veteran’s Day is this week, and people across the nation are taking the time to honor and remember our veterans and all they do for our country. The military teaches our veterans a unique set of skills, both technical and interpersonal, and for this reason, many veterans often find jobs in IT when they return home from service.
On this week’s episode of MSPradio, we chat with Hire Heroes USA, a non-profit organization that helps veterans find jobs after returning home from service. Kelly Dempsey, Director of Communications and Corporate Relations, and Brian Stann, CEO, will tell us a little about the organization and the valuable skill set that our veterans possess as a result of serving our country. Tune in now to this special, Veteran’s Day episode of MSPradio.
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Nate: Welcome back folks to another episode of MSP Radio. As always am your host Nate Teplow. And today we’re taking a step back a little bit from an MSP because we have Veterans Day quickly approaching. And it’s a cause that is very important to Continuum and I think should be something that we all take the time to recognize.
Before we get into it I would like to remind you to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, you can get these episodes straight to your iTunes account. We are also available via the Stitcher application for android users. Follow us on Twitter using the handle at follow Continuum and you can let us know what you think of the radio show with the #MSP Radio.
So as I mentioned we are going to be talking about veterans today. And more importantly recognizing Veterans Day that’s approaching. It’s a cause that I mentioned is very important to Continuum. A lot of our MSP partners, a lot of the owners are veterans and even our employees are veterans as well. We have a number of veterans who work here at Continuum so again it’s a cause very important to us and I think it is something we should recognize throughout the country.
So at Continuum we have the Continuum Veterans foundation and an organization that we work frequently with is the Hire Heroes USA organization. They are fantastic organization, they help veterans find jobs after returning home from service. And during Navigate 2014 I actually had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly Dempsey, she is the director of corporate relations and communications at Hire Heroes USA and we got to chat a little bit about Hire Heroes, what they are doing and a little bit about how you can get involved with the organization and some of the good that they do for our country’s veterans as they return home.
So I think it would be a really interesting interview to play for you here. Coming up later in the episode here today I’m going to play for you are recording from an interview I did with Brian Stann who is the CEO of Hire Heroes; that was done back in July for another episode we had. But he is a really interesting guy, he’s a veteran himself and he is going to tell you a little bit about his experience in the military and some of the lessons he learned. So we’ve got a great episode lined up for you here today on MSP Radio and with that I will go ahead and play the recording I did with Kelly Dempsey at Navigate 2014.
Nate: Hey folks its Nate Teplow here at Navigate 2014 Continuum’s inaugural user conference. And I’m sitting here with Kelly Dempsey, she is director of communications and marketing at Hire Heroes which is a fantastic nonprofit organization that Continuum works closely with. So Kelly, thanks for joining me here.
Kelly: Absolutely, thank you for having us.
Nate: Yeah so I wanted to talk about Hire Heroes, what you guys are doing. As I mentioned it is a great organization, we’ve done a lot with you and actually interviewed Brian Stann the CEO of Hire Heroes a few months ago on MSP Radio and he gave a great update then but we would love to get another update from you on just the organization, what you guys are doing and how it’s evolved over the past few months.
Kelly: Great, absolutely. So when first we want to thank Continuum and their support with $50,000 donation that the Continuum veteran’s foundation provided Hire Heroes USA last year. The goal was to hire 50 veterans with that $50,000 and 9 months into the one year agreement we have almost doubled that with 97 hires.
Kelly: Yes so we have seen a lot of great success with that and being a nonprofit we certainly really appreciate and respect the donor dollars whether it’s individual donors, corporate sponsors or foundations like the Continuum Veterans Foundation.
So we are always growing in terms of our efficiencies and effectiveness and so far in 2014 we’ve average 24 confirmed hires a week and certainly look to increase on that success. And one of the things we’re doing to increase that is actually grow a little bit. So we are in phase 1 of a three-year phase growth plan in which we’re looking to bring on additional staff. So we are an organization of 40, primarily of veteran transition specialist. Of our veteran transition specialists, about 80% are OEF or OAF veterans and we meet a very small need… Excuse me, very small… The demand is greater than we can meet is what I’m trying to say.
Kelly: And so to better meet the demand we are growing. And so of course we are really working to grow responsibly as a nonprofit but obviously with more veteran transition specialists that we bring on board the more veterans and spouses that we can work with.
Nate: Yeah. That’s great. And it just for the listeners who didn’t hear Brian’s episode with me, just remind us on what you guys do, just kind of the basic mission of Hire Heroes.
Kelly: Absolutely. So Hire Heroes USA based out of Alfredo Georgia, our focus is to really empower veterans and we do that by helping them successfully transition from their military service into the civilian workforce and really helping them identify the value of the experience they have gained in the military and how to effectively translate that to the civilian workforce or the HR managers or talent acquisition teams that they come into contact with.
So that’s done not only with resume writing and translating that military experience with one of our veteran transition specialists, but also preparing with mock interviews, so reaching out to our volunteer pool of business professionals in various sectors who prepare our veterans by doing practice interviews and giving them honest, friendly feedback at the end of those mock interviews on what to adjust and prepare for as they come face-to-face with real career opportunities.
And so Hire Heroes is really focused on our online and virtual support. So although we are located in 6 locations around the country, we have a national reach and so that’s wonderful because we can reach our garden reserve, or active duty transition in troops, our veterans and of course their spouses as well.
Nate: Mhm, definitely. And the IT channel is a big area or one of the major focuses that you guys focus on because it’s such… I think it’s very aligned from what I spoke about with Brian which is that a lot of the skills they learn in the military can be transitioned very well into IT jobs and jobs within the channel.
Kelly: Right, absolutely. The IT industry is among the top 3 in which our veterans are placed into the civilian workforce.
Nate: Yeah, that’s great, that’s great. So as an MSP, maybe someone who is not a veteran, what is something I can do to support this foundation?
Kelly: Great. Well certainly we would encourage folks to spread the word, we are a nonprofit that is very focused on our mission so we don’t spend a lot of dollars on marketing and communications but rather on actually delivering the services to our troops. And so folks can get involved as individual donors, they can visit our website in each of the 6 locations in which we are located. We are looking to get involved in the local Georgia gives or Seattle gives or North Texas gives, wherever we might have offices. So individual donors can get involved in those giving days or even donate on our website. And then of course we have some volunteer opportunities as well particularly if any of your listeners are interested in signing up to be mock interviewers to really help prepare our troops into that opportunity and that experience and really how to effectively articulate their value proposition to prospective employers.
Nate: Yeah, it’s an important skill to have and something you don’t necessarily learn in the military service is interview skills and conveying your value to a potential employee.
Kelly: Absolutely and one of the things we always work with our veterans with or what we hear is hard for them to change their mindset of “a team” and “we” in their communications which is what the military is about, that team, to more about their individual accomplishments so that is something we help coach them through.
Nate: Yeah and that’s great because I think so many people who have served have that team mentality ingrained in them and it’s something you get when you hire somebody… A veteran is that they are always focused on the team; it’s something that was trained to them in their service.
Nate: Yeah. So you’ve got a booth here at Navigate. I wanted to touch on the event. How has it been so far? What’s the feedback been like from the people you have spoken to?
Kelly: It’s been great. We’ve had a lot of people stop by the booth to inquire about Hire Heroes USA, little bit more about what they can do to hire veterans and so it’s been great to talk with some folks. And a couple of the companies have already purchased job board packages which is great.
Nate: That’s great.
Kelly: That’s one way in which prospective employers can get involved with Hire Heroes USA through our job board. And they are pretty nominal fees anywhere from $100 for 30 days to post on our job board but also it gives the respective employers access to our job ready veterans.
And so Hire Heroes USA there is many ways in which we are differentiated from others who might be in a similar space, is that any of our veterans on the job our job ready right? So they are not like other job boards where the resumes might be old or the folks may not be looking for jobs anymore. But also with any of our folks that we are working with, they send us a copy of their DD 214 before we start working with them. So we can also guarantee the employer’s that the folks that we are referring to them are indeed veterans.
And so one of the things we do with our employer partners as well is really develop relationships. So as we start to match or connect them with the respective veterans that they would be hiring, we take a look and really listen to the company about why the veteran is a good fit and why they were successful hire or why the veteran didn’t quite fit the bill for what they were looking for and then continued that open line of communication to better find matches for them in the future.
Nate: Yeah, that’s great so you are vetting these people as they come to making sure they are ready and that they are actively looking, it’s not an outdated database. And I mean something that MSPs struggle with frequently is finding technical help and finding technical talent and it sounds like it’s a great resource for them to turn to for that.
Kelly: Absolutely, absolutely. And a few folks were stopped by the booth at the conference stayed to really express an interest in veteran hiring but weren’t quite sure how to go about it or how to access veterans. So it’s been exciting to talk a little bit about Hire Heroes and some of the many strengths that veterans bring to this civilian workforce.
Nate: Yeah, absolutely. So what are some things I can do to get started. Just say I am interested, I am listening to the show right now, what are some things I can do to either check out the job board. Do I have to go through you? Do you vet the employers as well as the potential employees?
Kelly: Yes we vet all of our employers and unfortunately there are a lot of scams targeting the military. And so as employers reach out to Hire Heroes.org they can find information on our job board or they can also call our 866-915-4376 number in which of course we can have conversations and really identify if Hire Heroes USA is a good fit for them in terms of hiring veterans. And so that’s the initial step, checking out our website or giving us a call.
In terms of how we vet our employers, we have conversations of course with, as inquiries come in, but we also check out the websites, make sure that the phone numbers are valid, the emails are valid. So we are confident moving forward in connecting our veterans with these opportunities that they are legitimate opportunities and the companies are indeed interested in hiring veterans.
Nate: Yeah, that’s great. Well as I said it’s a great organization you guys do so much good and it’s so important to support our veterans after they come home from service, all of the sacrifice for us and our country and thank you for what you do for our country’s veterans.
Kelly: Great, thank you and thank you for all the support from Continuum, we appreciate it.
Nate: Yeah, it’s been great, they are great partner and I am so happy to have them here at Navigate 2014!
Kelly: All right, thank you Nate!
Nate: Thanks Kelly!
[End of recording]
Nate: All right so you just had my interview with Kelly Dempsey. Again she is the director of corporate relations and communications at Hire Heroes USA. We’re going to take a quick commercial break here on MSP Radio. Coming up next as I mentioned earlier we will be playing for you a segment from a previous MSP Radio episode where I interviewed Brian Stann, CEO of Hire Heroes and he will tell us a little bit about his experience as a veteran and some of the lessons he learned while serving. So again taking a quick commercial break and we will see you all in a few minutes.
Nate: Hey folks, welcome back from our commercial break. You are here on MSP Radio. I am your host Nate Teplow and today we’re talking about veterans mainly with Veterans Day quickly approaching, we’re dedicating this episode to our country’s veterans. It is a cause very important to Continuum, to our partners and to a number of our employees.
So we wanted to spend an episode focusing on it. You just heard from Kelly Dempsey who is director of corporate relations and communications at Hire Heroes. I just played for you an interview I did with her back at Navigate 2014.
I’m going to go ahead and play an interview, a previous actually MSP Radio segment I did with Brian Stann who is the CEO of Hire Heroes and he’s going to tell us a little bit about his experience in the military and some of the lessons he learned while serving. So here is my interview from back in July we did a July 4 special episode for this but here is my interview with Brian Stan, again CEO of Hire Heroes USA!
Nate: I wanted to shift more to kind of talking about veterans in general and you yourself are a veteran. Could you tell us… I know you touched on it but could you tell us where you served and for how long in the military?
Brian: Sure. I went to a Naval Academy from 1999 to 2003. I graduated and was commissioned the Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Became an infantry officer and was then assigned to serve time in second Marines, camp was here in North Carolina. And I did 2 tours in Iraq with them; one as a CAAT Platoon commander, the second one as an executive officer for a rifle company. And then I commanded headquarters and service company for 8th Marine Regiment and I got off that duty in 2008 before I took over Hire Heroes.
Nate: Wow, that’s amazing. And what are some of the lessons you learned from the military. I know we have talked about leadership overall but you personally, what are some things you have learned that I’ve enabled you to apply to your professional career?
Brian: Man, there are so many it is hard to list. You know really the big keys… You learn how to multitask and how to not to make a huge deal out of every problem that comes up because ultimately as a leader you have to always put yourself at the point of friction. So if there is a problem that’s where you need to be. You need to make a decision, make things better, move on to the next one. And part of that is knowing that there is not always a right decision, there’s not always a perfect decision where everything can turn out perfectly. And you as a leader have to realize that and sometimes things may not turn out the way you planned but you’ve got to have a short-term memory and you’ve got to continue to move on. And while you’re doing that you’ve always got to communicate to your employees the why behind things. If you make a decision, you have to always tell them why.
And if you always remember to incorporate their feedback and their ideas, then it’s not your policy as a leader, it’s not just you telling them and dictating, “This what we’re going to do,” it’s “we” because they had a say in this and now they have buy in. It’s also their idea, as a team you came up with that. Your job as a leader is not to come up with all the best ideas all the time. That’s for insecure leaders that are immature and young in a position field. Your job is to decide which ideas are the best and which ones to put your resource behind and follow through on and all the while making sure that you stay engaged with your employees and develop that.
Don’t be afraid to teach them the things you know so that 1, they feel like they are in an environment where they are getting better, they are gaining knowledge because for talent management, retaining top talent, they have to be at a place like that and then secondly, because that’s just going to make your organization better. When you all think alike and you are adding and you’re giving your experience to your employees, your making every wiser, everyone better and that’s a really important part of being a leader.
Nate: Yeah, it’s actually something we’ve talked about here on our marketing team. We did a case study, I am blanking on the name, I believe he was the admiral of a ship but he noticed that the people that he is commanding that he is a leader, he is the furthest away from the direct information and that when he empowers his employees and his subordinates that they were more efficient as a team because they were the closest people to the information, they could make decisions based off the information and he was the one who had to provide the vision and kind of just the overall direction of where they were going as a team.
Brian: That’s exactly right. Most people have had time unfortunately in an environment of micromanaging. And when you micromanage or when one person maybe they are not micromanaging but they are so much more talented than everybody else, everything has to go through that one focal point, that one person, you can never have tempo, you can never get momentum. Everything is slow, that business or that organization is not going to grow, and it’s not going to be efficient because again everything has to go through that one person. And no subordinates, no employee ever enjoys feeling like they are in that environment because if they do make any mistakes then they are always crushed because the micromanager is going to be so upset it wasn’t done their way.
All the best organizations and best units have decentralized execution where a leader will give a directive and how that directive is accomplished is up to those subordinate leaders. Ultimately knowing that, “Hey this is a mission that we’ve got to accomplish. However accomplish it is up to me. I’ve got the intent from my leader; it’s up to me and I am trusted in my position to go execute.”
And when you truly know your subordinate leaders and you’ve developed them like I talk about earlier, you can anticipate how they are going to get things done and you can lecture them saying, “You understand and they understand you and how they want things done and you’ve got to be a clear communicator but that’s the environment people want to be in because they are free to do things and be creative and use their skill sets and you can operate with tempo, you can become an organization of 10 people but you can have service delivery or you can produce or you can do whatever you are doing at a much greater capacity because you’re moving faster because you don’t have to stop every 2 seconds, turned back and asked this micromanager, “Hey, do you want me to go left, and you are to go right?”
Nate: Yeah, it’s a natural bottleneck just having everything run through one person. Another question for you, I know you speak a lot of companies and you work with these veterans after placing them and help them get acclimated to their new job situations. Do you find that a lot of organizations, do you have these micromanager’s and kind of have that same issue of too much of a top-down leadership style?
Brian: No, I don’t think so, not in your more mature organizations, I haven’t found that. Sometimes you will find that in your smaller business because they are young. You may have a maintenance company or a landscaping company or whatever it is and it’s only 4 or 5 years old and there is this one person who is really on the line. They put all their own personal capital behind it to start it and so they feel obligated like they have to so sometimes that happens.
But hiring veterans we would be able to take the pressure off them because here is someone they can trust to make decisions and make them well. So I can’t say that that’s been a real common denominator in some of the companies we’ve engaged but I definitely know it exists, I have certainly seen it in my own experience and in this [20:32 sphere] and like I said that just shows how experienced the organization of the military is.
You’ve got to remember, I went to a school that was basically a leadership factory. Yes I took all year really difficult college courses [20:50 inaudible] but what we all really major in his leadership. So we’ve had all of these lessons, all these case studies and all of this practice leading each other drilled into our heads before we are ever commissioned as officers and even at a higher level in the Marine Corps and the business world and the civilian world, they just can’t replicate that. You’re not going to go to a regular university and get that kind of leadership training. You are certainly not going to get it in your first job because they don’t have the institutions built in place to do so. But the military does and that’s always been this great talent pool for companies to pull from. And it’s why there are so many major CEOs out there that tend to have military service.
Nate: Yeah absolutely. So switching it back to just veterans a little bit and you as a veteran and I know we are doing this with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, what does the Fourth of July mean to you as a veteran of the US military?
Brian: You know, is one of those really prideful days. It’s all about the start of this country and what we stand for and while no country is perfect and because we are the best country in the world, we are obviously held to a different standard. We still are the greatest nation on earth and people who have traveled and been to a lot of different countries as I have, they understand. People who haven’t, they look if they can find ways to complain, “Well you know the governments got this, DC is broken,” all of these other complaints.
The bottom line is we live in a country where if you work really hard you can have a good life. The formula is not that complicated. They are countries that I have been to all over the world where that is not the case; where the corruption and the class system and the wealth gap is so grand that it makes it near impossible for a common person to find certain levels of success.
Nate: Yeah, I mean we get caught up in our world here and there is a lot we can complain about but there’s a lot we don’t see and it’s great to hear from someone like you who has been around the world and seen a lot more difficult places to live in than we see in our normal lives, to hear something like that because I think we do take for granted sometimes the freedoms and the liberties we have as a population.
Brian: Certainly; when you do a study of ownership, just buying your own home which is the foundation to any kind of personal wealth in America. When you do a study of that in other countries and what they process is to go through and buy a piece of land or own a piece of property, you would be astounded.
I mean there are countries out there like Venezuela where 27 distinct different steps through 6 or 7 different organizations to go through just to try and pull something and it makes it near impossible for them by design. And if you can’t own something like that where you are putting money in that’s not just going out the window like rent, it’s very difficult to ever better your family tree and get to a different position. And there is some really great literature out there that I recommend people read because it will enlighten you and that’s not to say that obviously we can’t improve this country and things can’t get better. I think with the rise of social media and the digital era where people get information so fast it’s going to cause people to be more accountable and I think we are en route to having a more accountable leadership system in this country and holding people more accountable.
But all that being said we are very fortunate to be able to live in the United States and there are thousands of people every day just trying to get inside our borders so that they can have a shot because they want to live here.
Nate: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Well Brian thank you very much for joining me here today on MSP Radio and more importantly thank you for your service to our country and thank you for all that you are doing for our veterans returning home and helping them acclimate back to the life here in the US.
If your listeners want to know more about your organization and how they can help, where can they go?
Brian: Yeah, they can go to our website at Hire Heroes USA.org. They can follow us on Twitter at Hire Heroes USA, they can follow me on twitter at Brian Stann and we appreciate the support. I appreciate you having me on and everybody out there, have a great Independence Day weekend.
[End of recording]
Nate: All right, so that was my previous radio segment with Brian Stann, again CEO of Hire Heroes USA. Hope you all enjoyed that, I think Brian is just a fantastic guy and he’s got a fantastic organization Hire Heroes USA, they really do some great work for our country’s veterans and helping them find work when they return home from there service. So I highly encourage you all to check them out at their website and definitely get involved if you are interested. I think the veterans have a lot they can offer to any company.
That’s all the time we have here on MSP Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. We are also available via the stitcher application. Follow us on Twitter using the handle at follow Continuum; let us know what you think of the show with the #MSP Radio and thanks for tuning in this week folks. We will see you next week on MSP Radio!