Thought Leadership…A Key to Veterans’ Transitions

Career transitions can be times of great excitement and enthusiasm.  New possibilities and beginnings.  The chance to start anew, to explore previously unexplored options, meet new challenges head on, and apply skills and experiences in a new direction.  But they can also be frustrating, anxiety-ridden, disappointing processes that leave one uninspired, demotivated, and dejected.  For transitioning military veterans, far too frequently, early attempts at finding work in the civilian world are marked by the latter.  Quite simply, it’s not a fun or successful process for most.

IRAQI FREEDOMWhy is this the case?  Well, for starters, applying for jobs (for anyone) typically sucks.  It often involves trying to fit a square peg into a defined circular hole, where one trolls the job boards and company websites looking not for a specific and well-defined opportunity, but rather attempting to find “something I might like.”  And unfortunately, the perfect match rarely presents itself.  And yet, we get close enough and decide to apply. “Well, I could do that,” is typically the launching point for many a job application.  But it’s a decision point that typically leads to the frustration mentioned above.

But the bigger issue is not really the likely lack of specific focus for veterans.  Like their civilian counterparts, the really problem lies in the “apply to posted positions” practice.  The fact is, throwing your resume out to 50 or 100 jobs posted on job boards is rarely the best way to land a job.  Trust me, for every job listed, you are likely throwing yourself pretty much anonymously into the mix with dozens, if not hundreds of others.  More than anything, it’s because when faced with dozens of applications for a single posted position, HR professionals aren’t looking for a good fit, they are looking for the perfect (or nearly perfect) fit.  And they can afford to do that, because they have an overabundance of applicants.  Chances are that of all the applicants, could you do the job?  Probably so, because you have the work ethic, the background, and the motivation that all comes from your military service.  But are you the perfect fit?  Probably not…It’s often a simple numbers game.

1_X6JvfBgEe9VKTQW2y1WA2g (1)So, what can you do to get a better look within organizations?  One of the most overlooked aspects of career transitions (by anyone, but certainly for veterans) is the establishment of yourself as a “thought leader” within a community.  Don’t be a walking resume, your job titles, accomplishments, and years of experience the only thing for organizations and leaders to assess.  Don’t think your military experience, as impressive and relevant as you believe it to be (and it truly may be), speak for itself.  Why?  Because chances are, you won’t get the job.  Military experience is, at best, a bonus to employers, not a primary factor in hiring decisions.

But if you begin to exert yourself as a thoughtful, insights-driven (and producing) leader in your field, you start to stand out above the myriad resumes that land on that HR recruiter’s virtual desk.  You begin to translate your military jargon and experiences into language and application more closely suited for the civilian workplace (or a organization’s culture).

So, take advantage of the tools at your disposal.  Stop viewing LinkedIn as merely an online resume receptacle.  It’s a community, and the sooner you immerse yourself in the community aspects of it (and in a strategic way, i.e., not like your Facebook, Instagram, or other more socially focused sites), the quicker you’ll start to be a real contributor in your chosen (or desired) field.  The sooner recruiters will, when they inevitably pull up your profile, start to recognize that you are more than simply typical, that you bring to the table something more than their usual suspects.

military-and-civilianGet involved in industry discussions.  Join groups (beyond just the veterans groups, which unfortunately, tend to breed a lot of complaining, venting, and frustrations….all valid, but hardly helpful when one is trying to build a new personal brand that will attract civilian employers).  Start interacting with other professionals in your new or desired field(s), interjecting your own thoughts, perspectives, and experiences into the on-going discussions.  Ask thoughtful and thought-provoking questions of others.  Identify some leaders and contributors in your desired industry and geographic region and ask to meet up for coffee or over Skype for a 15-minute conversation.  Inquire about their backgrounds, their paths to their roles, and trends in the industry.  Ask about upcoming jobs they might know about, either with their organization or others.  Don’t wait for the jobs to be posted to find out about them!

If you as a veteran leader, not merely a “job-seeker,” establish yourself as an active member of a community (professionally and personally), you’ll begin to make connections with other thought leaders, with business leaders and hiring managers.  You’ll identify (and learn to apply) the civilian language need to demonstrate your hard-earned experience and its applicability outside of the military.  You’ll become one of those who stand out amidst the sea of applicants when you apply for posted positions.  And most importantly, you’ll be identified as a leading candidate before jobs get posted.  Combine that with the work ethic, team strengths, and agility that you developed serving your country, and then you’ll truly have a leg up on the competition.

So, stop acting like the masses of job applicants out there.  You’ve made a military career out of doing what others would not, going the extra mile, and excelling in your field.  But don’t rest on your laurels, choosing instead to apply these same attributes to making yourself stand out not merely as a veteran, but more importantly as a thought leader who also happens to have the bonus of being a veteran.  Improvise, adapt, and overcome.  That’s the name of the game, right?


Dr. Trevor Nagle is an Executive Coach & Consultant with Stewart Leadership.  A 14-year veteran of both the U. S. Army and Navy, he writes and researches veterans issues, and regularly speaks about veterans’ transitions and workplace effectiveness. Visit to learn more and follow him on LinkedIn and twitter @IOPsychDoc.

2018 – Your Year of Adventure!

15000818_10154543724721421_6088189116310851973_oAs many of you know, I love adventure. Whether donning a wingsuit and soaring over the Utah canyons, scuba diving in search of sharks, eels, and shipwrecks, taking a month to solo backpack across multiple national parks, or whitewater canoeing the lakes and wild rivers of Northern Saskatchewan, I’m down for it!

It’s not about the adrenalin (although sometimes that’s there). It’s not about the danger (although I won’t try convincing you that everything I try is 100% safe). No, it’s simply about trying new things and experiencing new sensations. It’s about testing myself, pushing myself, challenging myself.

What many may not know about me is my tremendous fear of heights, my irrational and nearly paralyzing fear of sharks, and my discomfort at being totally reliant on just myself. It’s true, my bucket list has been filled and checked off and filled again with facing phobias, pushing myself, testing my limits (physically, emotionally, and mentally). And in many cases, I’ve found my limits, and I’m not even going to try and convince you that my limits are beyond your own. I’m sure some are…and some are not. It doesn’t matter. They’re my limits.

14370231_10154383326756421_7200316442218959764_nAs we have moved into the New Year, several of my colleagues confided in my that instead of resolutions, they were focusing their year around one term, one concept that would drive their actions, decisions, and reactions. And so, in 2018, my word is “Adventure.” But it’s not what you’re probably thinking…So, let me explain.

When I mention adventure, to many images of epic voyages come to mind. “You mean climbing Mount Everest sorts of things?” Could be…but it’s broader than that. For others, the term evokes thoughts of extreme thrill-seeking. Again, it could be…but it’s quite a bit more expansive than that. And still others view this as the unfocused realm of 20-somethings, with endless energy, reckless abandon, and a not yet fully developed sense of personal responsibility. I can assure you that is not what I mean by it.

But defining it isn’t always so easy. You see, what’s adventurous to some may be routine to others. Where as some might find a summit of Himalayan peaks to be the ultimate adventure, for others, their personalities might prefer a nice hike, cooking a new recipe, or even just journaling to be far more adventure than they’re used to undertaking, at least not at this stage in their life.

19621277_10155290501406421_5929012580143129259_oSo, when I use the term “adventure,” I’m really simply talking about learning to be a better, stronger, more effective person (a leader) by identifying one’s own boundaries, one’s own comfort zone, and then taking deliberate steps to push those boundaries a bit further than you’ve previously done. Because when we challenge ourselves, whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, or intellectually, that’s where growth happens. Combine that with personal and deliberate practiced reflection, and real development as a leader is not only possible, but it’s unavoidable.

So, my challenge to you over the next several weeks is to look inward, explore those nooks and corners of your life where you’ve nestled in comfortably with your previously established boundaries and limitations. And begin formulating a plan to expand your horizon, to push those boundaries even just a tad beyond where they are today. There’s another word for what I’m asking you to do…I’m asking you to consciously and deliberately grow in the next year. Conceptualize what that will mean for you in 2018,  how you’ll get there, and who you’ll enlist to help you and keep you accountable for continuing on when first the unexpected happens, but also when the expected happens. And figure out how you’ll measure that growth, as that’s just as important in evaluating just how far you’ve come.

21743793_10155516997981421_2461189876473360540_oIf you’re not a reader (or no longer a reader), perhaps your adventure for the year will be engaging in a commitment to read one book a month (Cosmopolitan and Sport Illustrated don’t count). If you’re a tv-dinner kind of diner, perhaps taking an evening cooking class or just picking up a new cookbook and resolving to try every recipe by the end of the year. Perhaps your adventure is simply to do more reflective contemplation than you’ve done in the past, or trying yoga for the first time. And maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be the year you’ll join me in the sky for your first skydive, or under the sea for your first foray into scuba. Perhaps it’s tagging along on an overnight camping trip along the Pacific coastline, sleeping under the stars for the very first time…I’m happy to show you that kind of adventure, as well!

The point is, adventure to me and adventure to you can be very different things. But let this calendar year be one in which your own sense of adventure, your own desire to grow as an individual, a partner, a team member, and a leader, allows you to face your limitations and expand your boundaries. For if you do, I can promise you that you’ll look back on this year as a great one…And what an adventure it will be!


Trevor Nagle is an executive coach and consultant with Stewart Leadership, an international leadership, teaming, talent development, and change management consulting, coaching, and training company, which has been building leaders for over 35 years.

Visit to learn more and follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter @IOPsychDoc


Bring on the New Year!!


It’s that time of the year again.  Christmas is behind us, with only a day left before the raucous New Year’s celebration (at my house, that typically means a glass of bubbly at 10:00 p.m. and then reading for an hour or so until I fall asleep long before any ball drops on Time Square…but I digress).  My oldest daughter already headed back to the frozen north, a solid week of adventures with her filling our memories (skydiving, wine-tasting, hiking, movies, etc).  I’m ready….Let’s get on with this thing called the New Year!

As usual, I try to spend some time each year at this time to reflect on the past trip around the sun, its ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments.  I think of those goals I achieved and which may become fuel for next year’s adventures.  And I think of all those who made my year such a memorable one.  For quite honestly, it’s their contributions that make each year what it was.

helpFor me, 2017 was another year of transition.  We felt pretty settled into our new life on the West Coast, which was itself a fantastic new start for JoDee and me.  And it gave me the opportunity to think about what the next chapter of my professional life would hold.  Nearly 6 years of full-time academic focus, teaching and running a graduate program, had been incredibly fulfilling and unexpectedly enriching, but my heart itched to return to the practice of I/O psychology.  And so, as the school year progressed, I began evaluating the path I’d take.  When I met the incredible team at Stewart Leadership, the choice was obvious.  The talent there, the approach they take to executive coaching and consulting, as well as their vibrant, positive, and authentic personalities, made the choice to join their team an easy one.  And I couldn’t be happier, particularly as I look forward to 2018 and beyond.  So, thank you to the entire team at Stewart Leadership, in particular Daniel, Peter, John, Taura, and Heather.  You all are amazing, and I’m thrilled to be along for this collaborative adventure!

My teaching also stands out as a highlight for me professionally in 2017.  The bright, eager, and dedicated students at Edgewood College and Walden University continued to challenge and stimulate me intellectually.  And my colleagues with some of the most talented and collaborative educators I have ever met (anywhere) cannot go unmentioned.  All of you (students and teachers) inspired me to be a better, more engaged, and more positively critical (in a good way) educator, coach, mentor, and leader.  You influenced my teaching, my research, and my development as a formal leader.  And I could not be more proud of the work we did and the possibilities for our future together.  Specifically, the impacts of Annette Mondry, Daniel Schroeder, Lori Lacivita, and numerous others made 2017’s academic impact incredible!

exploringLast but not least on the professional front, my time serving in the United States Navy came to a close in 2017.  In total, my thirteen years of military service were both incredibly valuable to me personally and were experiences of constant learning and development.  As a young infantry scout, I learned incredible leadership lessons from the best leaders I’ve ever had, but I also learned about teamwork, perseverance in the face of adversity, endurance, and the value of dedicated followership.  When I transitioned to the Navy in the mid-90s, my years as a Russian linguist were marked by a discovery of the joys of continuous learning, camaraderie (particularly with the aircrews with whom I flew over Korea and off the Russian Far East), cultural awareness (living abroad in Japan and Russia was invaluable in that regard), and the balancing of work-life demands (particularly as a new parent).  And finally, as a Human Resources Officer in the Reserves, I was inspired by the top-notch talents and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good that my fellow Navy officers demonstrated at every turn.  I learned a ton about the Navy’s Expeditionary community, an aspect of the military that I’d never really known before, but that is incredible in its capabilities, mission, and talent.

In the end, however, the transitions in my professional and personal lives in 2017 led me to the realization that I was bordering on stretching myself too thin and needing to simplify.  So, this fall, I made the difficult decision to close the military door for good.  I’m thrilled with the decision, and forever grateful to all those who made my years of service so invaluable.  Most recently, this included Commanders Holtan, Rommel, and Hall, as well as the incredible Senior Chief Fanning, who took this Junior Officer under his leadership wing with his constant patience, dedication, and mentoring.

So, there was a lot in my professional life that stand out in 2017, but that’s just half the picture, and in the spirit of work-life balance, I must draw attention to several defining aspects of my personal life as well…


What a wonderful, surreal, and yet challenging year 2017 has been!  My dad’s diagnosis with brain cancer certainly stands up as the most difficult and heart-wrenching aspect of the year, but it’s had its rewards, too.  Following along with his battle has reinforced for me the true fragility of life, the importance of family, and the courage it takes simply to face life sometimes (and how much we often take that for granted for years or decades).  Our always close family has grown closer as a result of the events of this past year.  We’ve spent more time together, and we share far more about our lives and emotions than ever previously.  We’ve battles yet to fight, to be sure, but despite the ups and downs on this front in 2017, we’re as strong as ever.

My role as an empty-nester father of two incredible daughters has also evolved over the past year.  I can’t begin to describe how challenging, yet fantastic, it is to have two daughters charting their own very different paths in the adult world.  Whereas many of my similarly empty-nest friends have expressed struggles adjusting to this new parental phase, I can say unequivocally that I love having adult kids as we develop more of a friendship dynamic than ever before.  It’s exciting, and I can’t wait to see where 2018 will take both of my girls!

22218467_10155562570956421_6120698062733740959_oMy own continued pursuit of personal adventures remained a fire in need of stoking this year.  The skydiving highlights included nearly 100 total jumps (sigh…down from 2015 & 2016, but fun nonetheless), including10 wingsuit flights (another first!) and fantastic opportunities to dive into the canyons and red rocks of Moab, Utah.  In August, I took advantage of a Navy trip to Guam to add scuba open water certification to my adventure repertoire, and that led to more incredible dives late in the year in the blue waters off Maui!  In addition, JoDee and I continued seeking out many great hikes in the hills, valleys, and along the coastline of gorgeous Sonoma County.  So, adventure…..Check! (And many more to come in 2018!)

Yet, not all was rosy in 2017, with the tragedies of the October firestorms here in Sonoma and Napa Counties ensuring that we all kept things in perspective.  So many friends lost much in the fires that occupied our every moment for nearly two weeks, but we’ve watched our communities bind together in inspirational ways that only reinforce our love for this area.  From disaster sprung resounding love and dedication between all people, and in this day and age (particularly in this country), that’s seemingly in short supply.  So, again, we’re grateful!

And I cannot forget to mention the new adventure that was borne out of 2017 for JoDee and me, as we became engaged and began planning our June 2018 wedding.  I couldn’t be more excited for our future together and all that it brings.  A true partner, our complementary interests (even those that are very different seem to complement each other) enriching both our individual and joint journey into the future!  Stay tuned on that front, as well!


So, as I turn toward the New Year, it is with a healthy blend of hope, fear, excitement, and apprehension for all that is to come.  I look forward to sharing my adventures, my passion, and my expertise with many of you.  I am equally eager to learn from all of you who continue to strengthen my resolve, capacity, and competence in all that I do.  I am excited for a year full of coaching, writing, teaching, consulting, parenting, and socializing (not always in that order).  If you and I haven’t connected in some time, know that I’ll be reaching out to reconnect in a meaningful way.  And please reach out to me, as well!  Let’s share some adventures….get stronger as individuals, as partners, as leaders in our organizations, communities, and society.  Goodness knows we need that in this trying time in our nation’s history!

Bring on 2018!  Let’s make this collectively a year we can all look back upon with a great sense of triumph, growth, and opportunity.  My pledge to you is to help make your year precisely that…so, let me know where I can best be of service to you.  Adventurers in spirit and in reality…Let’s do this!


Trevor Nagle is an executive coach and consultant for Stewart Leadership, an international leadership, teaming, talent, and change management consulting, coaching, and training company, which has been building leaders for over 35 years.

Visit to learn more and follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter @IOPsychDoc