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Archive for the ‘military’ Category

Memorial Day

yours truly, in a previous career – circa 1993.

From Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

For me at least, Memorial Day is about much more than just cookouts: Without the courage of young American men who came to Europe to fight the Nazis, I would have been born in a German-speaking France. Or perhaps not at all.

Though I was born in 1971, I grew up in the shadow of WWII: My grandfather was a Cavalry Officer in both WWI and WWII. A hefty chunk of my family on my Mother’s side was killed by the Nazis. I grew up in France, surrounded by memorials, military cemeteries and the pockmarked landscapes of Normandie, Ypres and the Ardennes. Think old bunkers, craters and fields of white crosses like the photo below. My mother, who was 11 when Allied troops finally landed and remembers the war all too well, still – to this day – keeps an emergency supply of sugar and butter… just in case, I don’t know, the Germans decide to give it another go.

I grew up with the paratroopers’ prayer framed over my bed, and the annual ritual of having my father let me hold my grandfather’s medals. (The Legion d’Honeur and the Croix de Guerre.) I grew up with countless stories of sacrifice and courage and bravery. I grew up with a profound love for all things American, simply because long ago, decades before I was born, thousands of them crossed the Atlantic to come save us… and died on our beaches and in our fields.

What does this have to do with branding? Very little… but it’s Memorial Day and I never let it go by without thinking about the daily sacrifices made by men and women in uniform. To those who can’t be with their loved ones today, and to the families of the fallen, I say thank you.

And Thank You to all who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces – not just on this day, but every day.

Je me souviens.

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I have to admit it, my latest guilty pleasure is watching HBO’s “Generation Kill” (the story of the 1st Marine Recon Batallion in the first few weeks of the 2003 invasion of Iraq) on Sunday nights. The 7-part miniseries is currently on episode 3, and so far so good. Think “The Wire” meets “3 Kings” with a “Band of Brothers” vibe. 

In terms of pure entertainment, it’s mostly a guy thing I guess, so it may miss the mark with broad audiences. But in terms of painting a pretty complex web of interactions between layers of hierarchy, leadership styles and gradients of professionalism, the show is pure gold. MBA students should be required to watch the show just to see what great leadership and bad leadership look like, and perhaps more importantly how they can work together hand in hand within a single, complex, diverse organization. Sure, the vernacular is more akin to military units and sports teams than the board room, but the principles of applied leadership are exactly the same.

Management Lessons from Generation Kill so far:

  1. As a leader, being competent matters.
  2. As a leader, being competent doesn’t always matter.
  3. Leaders who cultivate cults of personality don’t have to explain themselves as much.
  4. Expectations don’t have to be realistic. Instead, they should always be just shy of impossibly high and unwavering. (Shatter your people’s comfort zone early and consistently.)
  5. Clarity of purpose is key.
  6. Clarity of execution is key.
  7. Use a map or a diagram. Point at something and tell your team where they are, where you want them to go, how you expect them to get there, how fast, etc..
  8. If a process doesn’t exist, create one.
  9. If a process needs to be improved, improve it.
  10. Excuses have an effective range of exactly zero meters.
  11. Train harder and more often than any reasonable person would, then train some more.
  12. The mission is the mission. 99% completion = failure. 100% completion = success.
  13. Success is the only currency you have when it comes to securing a better place on the food chain.
  14. Not everyone in your organization is an A-lister. Too bad. Welcome to the real world. You still need to get the job done. (See #10)
  15. Mistakes may happen, but there will be no screwups.
  16. Every organization needs a ball buster somewhere towards the top of the hierarchy to keep everyone in line.
  17. The grooming standard must be maintained. It is the foundation upon which everything else either clicks like a well oiled .50 cal or falters like a one-eyed, three legged dog.
  18. Be the first to get the thing done. People don’t always notice the best, but they always notice the first.
  19. Do what the other guys are too afraid to do.
  20. Never let the enemy dictate the pace of your movements.
  21. Keep the violence of initiative on your side.
  22. Understand the rules of engagement.
  23. Communicate the rules of engagement to your team in real time.
  24. Let whatever you fear the most be the thing that drives you the most.
  25. Do not dwell on mistakes. Learn from them quickly and move on.
  26. Personal opinions are always irrelevant and unwelcome.
  27. Respect for authority doesn’t have to come from the heart, but it has to come anyway.
  28. Orders are orders. If they were optional, they would be called something else.
  29. Your job description is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Accept this and move on.
  30. If you want routine, you are in the wrong job.
  31. Following the same road as everyone else is no way to get in the game.
  32. How you phrase/present your report matters at least as much as what the report is actually about.
  33. Look after your people but never hold their hand.
  34. Hold your people to the highest standards.
  35. Get the job done. Every time. Faster than anyone else. Be that guy.
  36. Know how to sell your successes.
  37. Action wins. Hesitation loses.
  38. The shortest way between two points is exactly that: The shortest way. (See #18 and #35).
  39. The shortest way is rarely the easiest way.
  40. The easiest way is almost never the right way.
  41. Once failure stops being an option, it effectively cease to exist as a potential outcome.
  42. Nothing you do will ever work the way you expected it to. Embrace the elegant predictability of Murphy’s Law and get the job done anyway.
  43. Blind ambition and gross incompetence often get you there just as well as the other option.
  44. Know your place along the chain of command.
  45. Treat others with respect.
  46. Do not confuse treating people with respect with being polite.
  47. Your environment does not dictate the success of your mission. You do.
  48. Nobody cares about why something didn’t get done. They only care that it didn’t get done.
  49. If you don’t get it done, you probably don’t belong here.
  50. Your job isn’t to be cool or fun or popular. Your job is to kick ass.

And we’re only on the third episode. This is definitely a to be continued post.

 

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Je me souviens.


From Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

This photo is of an American cemetery in northern France. Without the courage of young American men, I would have been born in a German-speaking France. Or not at all.

For me at least, Memorial Day is about much more than cookouts.

Thank you to all who serve.

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Yep, our friend Roby is back in the States looking all healthy and whatnot. His war isn’t over yet, but he is back for a little while, which is pretty damn cool. It seems that only yesterday, we were waving goodbye and wondering if he’d make it back in one piece. (Not that we ever doubted he would. This isn’t his first time doing the military thing after all.)

If you’re going to be at the Clemson Triathlon this weekend, you might even score a Roby sighting. (Word on the street is he’ll be the runner in a team relay. Hmmm. The plot thickens!)

Anyway, welcome back Roby! Good to have you back.

I’m sure Roby will start lining up graphic design and photography projects in a few weeks, so if you want to get to the front of the line, go to http://www.f360photo.com and follow the links to his very own section of the site (his contact info will be there).

PS: I hear there will be a war photography book in the works very soon. More info on that in a few weeks. If you’re thinking “autographed coffee table book,” we’re on the same page.

Now stop wasting time reading this blog post and go kick ass on the project you SHOULD be working on right now. Go on! Shoo!

😉

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While we’re all going about our daily business – driving to work, shopping at Target or Whole Foods or Starbucks, watching John Adams on HBO, and doing whatever it is we do, tens of thousands of men and women are serving overseas in areas that aren’t exactly… um… safe. F360’s Roby (photo above) is still one of them – although he should be heading home pretty soon. (Keeping our fingers crossed.)

Just to bring home Roby’s current lifestyle, here are some of his combat photographer images from Afghanistan (while his unit trains the locals to kick the Taliban in the teeth without US help):


Good stuff.

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The latest images from Roby’s world:








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Roby’s week “en images,” as they would say in the old country:


Read all about his latest adventures here.

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