001 Leadership and Retirement - Randy Purham
Jason: This is our first episode with Randy Purham. I am glad to have Randy on with us today. He's a 22 year plus Army veteran and AMU graduate, one of my fellow alumni and a CBRNE army expert. He's going to talk to us a little bit today about his military career, his college path and some of the things he's done to help with mentorship. He has an e-book and an online TV show called The New You. He's going to talk about all that and preparing for retirement since he is coming up on that time. Before we get to the interview let me remind you to sign up for our newsletter on the website leadershiploading.com also you can join our Facebook Page "Leadership Loading Podcast" and give us feedback on those two platforms or on iTunes where we can spread the word of the podcast. So, with all that let's get the download on leadership and the Army and all that stuff with Randy Purham. Joining me today from Italy is Randy Purham, Randy welcome to Leadership Loading please tell everyone a little bit about yourself!
Randy: My name is Randy Purham born February 28 1980, not quite a leap year baby I was close, born and raised in Chicago Illinois and graduated from Hillcrest High School out in Country Club Hills in '98 joined the military shortly thereafter. I joined in '97 but it had to delay the delayed Entry Program so I went to Fort McClellan for basic training in advanced individual training in 1998, June of 98 and then bouncing around ever since married, have a blended family of six kids and currently I live in Naples Italy and been serving in the military for 22 years and some change now, on that brink of retirement here in a few months and yeah go from there.
Jason: All right well you talked about your delayed entry and all that stuff and when you joined the military but what led you to actually join, what was our calling there?
Randy: Well it was kind of a two-prong approach; the first one was I was engaged in high school so I was like I need to I need to do something with my life here because I'm about to be married and potentially have kids and everything. I started into the military option because I did have some other friends that were serving currently serving at that time, so they were trying to even get me to join the Navy. I was like yeah me and water do not get along like that. I love showers and baths but not being on boats, and I had watched Pearl Harbor so that was number one. The second reason was I wanted to pursue the opportunity to be able to travel and just meet people from all walks of life and everything so that was the two main reasons why I joined the military and ever since then it's been awesome.
Jason: What is it, I know the Army calls it an MOS, I'm an Air Force guy. I guess you can tell all the Army guys what your MOS is and then tell all the other people what your duties are and what your job is and what you do.
Randy: My MOS military code military Job Description is called chemical operations specialist or CBRN chemical biological radiological nuclear specialists. It's not what it sounds like, have you ever seen the movie "The Rock" with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage? That's how my recruiter got me, he was like you're going to be doing that same thing, I haven't seen any of that crap yet! Currently what I do on a day-to-day basis, currently right now, I work in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allied Joint Force Command in Naples here and so I do policy reviews, doctrine review, and assist the other officers with meetings, and I attend meetings and stuff like that so that's kind of my job consist of now. Previously I was more into the decontamination (DECON), biological surveillance field so that's what the in MOS consists of, or the job.
Jason: That's pretty like what I do now on the Emergency Management side. Interesting, interesting stuff. Did you use any of that to get into college? I know you and I met through our University; American military University. I always say that college is important, and I've got some other guests that are going to try to talk to me about what they're doing and why it's not. Can you tell us if that's led to any reason why you got your college, or why you dove into college?
Randy: Yes and no. To get promoted you must have some education so I couldn't sit around stagnant with a couple babies running around the house and everything. That was kind of the motivation there, to stay focused anyways. I was already taking classes here and there and stuff, but I decided to stick with it because I enjoy school. I enjoy learning both the subject and from others, their perspectives, and everything else. Me getting into the education it wasn't directly linked per-se to my MOS, to my job because for the Army side they send you to school specifically for your job so it was it was just more a personal goal, personal gratification, and so I have my Associates in Applied Technologies through Central Texas College and I have my Bachelor's in Business Administration through AMU and I'm currently in my Political Science Master's Program at AMU also.
Jason: Good stepping stones there, like I said you and I met at college we were involved in some of the same activities together. I know some of your volunteer stuff, you've done a lot of volunteer stuff, with all that can you tell us about some of those and why participating in those college volunteer opportunities outside the classroom is important?
Randy: Yes absolutely, some of the things that I'm currently doing right now and I am involved in, AMU, those that don't know and I'll give that a little bit of background American Military University is an online school. They have an online campus and all the clubs, and chapters, or social programs are all online based. I'm a member of about eight different clubs right now and I thoroughly enjoy it. Currently I am most active with Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Political Science Club, that's what I am most active with but I'm part of a bunch of different ones also. I would say it's important to be a part of those things because number one, you get to meet your fellow students, your fellow classmates both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Just like you and I, how we met I believe we were taking a class together and in one of the courses you know-
Jason: I think we're in SVA (Student Veterans of America) at the same time.
Randy: -yeah, yeah at the same time and so it kind of transitioned from there and here we are what ten, almost ten years later! I think it's a huge benefit to that. The other organizations I'm involved with I'm also involved with the Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW. I serve as the both the Post Commander here in Naples and I'm also the District Commander for the Department of Europe, District One and so I have nine post that I command over here in Europe and France, one post in France, Paris then I have two in Italy, and the other six on the western side of Germany. I also host an internet-based TV show on the Exceptional Conservative Network and the show is called The New You Now Equipped with Wisdom. There's a lot of busy work but I love it. The other thing I also do for my job at work I'm the Vice Chairman for the Other Ranks Association it's basically an (NCO) Non-Commissioned Officer Club. I serve as the Vice Chairman for them, so we put together professional development series like we have guest speakers come in, we did a TED talk a few weeks ago at work just solely for that audience, we do a lot of a lot of great things around here. I thoroughly enjoy it because leading into all of that, it gives you the opportunity to get out and talk to people forcefully actually because if you are a hermit, or a recluse, you're not going to make it. I thoroughly enjoy getting a chance and having an opportunity to just meet all sorts of people from all walks of life, different countries, backgrounds, and everything else.
Jason: You hit a couple things there, like getting out, there's a lot of people that get out of the military and then they go into that hermit mode because they miss that brotherhood, they miss that camaraderie. I did that a little bit, but that also can affect you when you're going out looking for jobs when you get out, and that's what this podcasts all about, getting out of the military and transitioning and also general leadership for those that aren't in the military. Like getting in these clubs and getting into these organizations like American Legion, and that sort of thing allows you to network, not only with those that have maybe been where you're going, but also that have been through what you've been through, that's always important. You mentioned your TV show, where can we find the TV show at?
Randy: You can go to TheExceptionalConservativeShow.com and you can browse through there. We are part of a network so it's a series of different shows with my other Co-Network partners. We all have different shows, mine runs on Mondays and Fridays 7:05 p.m. Central European Time / 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It's crazy dealing with these time zones. We also have a Facebook page called "TECN TV", that is our parent page and our personal page is called "The New with Randy and April".
Jason: Then you have a eBook that has a similar title right or is the same title
Randy: Yeah, same title it is just in eBook format "The New You: Now Equipped with Wisdom". It talks about, it actually has a two-pronged approach for those coming out of high school and looking to either join the military or come out of high school and have a career in the civilian sector so I kind of cover a lot of things covering both of those paths and it kind of ends in the retirement mode. I think I wrote it for myself back in 2014. Every now and then I crack it open to see what I said.
Jason: Right, so what are the main leadership skills you've learned that relates to your business skills?
Randy: That's a tough one. I always harp on being a teacher, a mentor, and a coach, but also know when you need it. That's a big thing among the leaders, especially senior leaders they forget when they need that mentoring themselves. They're so busy trying to harp on teaching and setting a path for other people that they forget that they need that same thing themselves not only to sharpen their own sword but to stay current on the trends that are changing and everything else. I would say that's probably one of the biggest things there and it ties in to being patient and understanding. A lot of leaders especially in the business domain, they're short-fused, especially military leaders that have come out of the military and they're going into the business sector, especially in that in that close gap of transitioning, they think that they can transfer or transplant that military leadership into the civilian sector and it doesn't always work that way. You have to you have to learn to start cultivating patience within yourself and understanding, you can be candid and firm, but at the same time you want to be committed to growing the team together and learning from each other, and saying hey, okay, I gather you screwed up but here's how we fix it, not here's how you're going to fix it, here's how we fix it. I think that's one of the things that's super important from a leadership aspect from the military to the civilian side of the house.
Jason: Yeah and I think that goes back to servant leadership, and after I got in the military I did have leaders that came out of the military and were my supervisor and we didn't get along because of that, because I'd already made that assimilation to the civilian side and they were trying to push that command presence on me. I kind of reverted back to my junior enlisted days [and didn't perform well]. We talked about your military experience and all your entrepreneurial efforts, any tips for fellow veterans that are trying to either start their own business grow business or that don't want to do the general career thing?
Randy: Yeah, I would say it's important to know what your passion is everybody has their hobby but it's not necessarily their passion and so I would say know your niche. You've got to identify a market or a need in the marketplace in your community or in the business sector but is that your passion? Just because there's an opportunity to fill a need, is that a need that you're going to want to fill every single day for possibly for the rest of your life? Live everything goes will you feed that same passion to it as if you were doing something else that you really wanted to do? I would say know what your passion is before you decide to jump into an endeavor that you're not going to be happy with because you're not going to be as productive and you're not going to be as enthusiastic about it and subsequently that business is going to fail and you're going to fail. Then you're going to say "what went wrong?" Well you didn't like what you're doing in the first place. That's how all those that come in the military, we come in just loving it at first then after a while we start becoming disgruntled and you're like okay I'm done with this mess. That is that is your exit point because you no longer have a passion for it and it goes the same with running a business as a veteran entrepreneur you know what your passion is. Also, build a team whether that's a team of fellow veterans, or a mixture, I always go with the mixture. There's two books that I highly recommend "Team of Rivals" and "Team of Teams" because those two different mindsets in the business world will help you ultimately be successful. When you bring on people that you know can't stand your guts but they're willing to work with you and they go against everything that you're saying in that meeting it's to make you a better leader. You don't want somebody that's going to say "oh yes boss, yes boss, that that sounds great, that sounds great" when you know in the back your mind is actually a dumb idea. You want somebody's going to challenge you every day to make you better, not to challenge you to set you up for failure. I would say build a team of rivals but also build a team of teams who's going to go out there and help you cultivate and be successful as a team, not so much as individual, but as a team so those are my tips to veteran entrepreneurs.
Jason: Yeah, I think you do always need those "devil's advocates" in your team and if you've read any entrepreneurial book or anything like that they always talk about your tribe and building a tribe. I think that's important on having people in that tribe that are different than you and then that like you said are a mix of your background and other backgrounds otherwise you don't get that "think tank" mentality where you're typically generally just brainstorming and that's what makes businesses grow and succeed. I think that's some great skills there and tips. You mentioned earlier about retirement, is that your next career mover you got anything else up your sleeve?
Randy: Well, yes, I'm getting ready to retire here in a few months. It's kind of surreal because I've been doing this for so long it's like now, like okay, I get it I got to start getting rid of stuff. I'm looking forward to it and like I said, retirement comes in the summer here. I'm planning on taking off a few months and just kind of recalibrate the brain and sleep in a little bit, get a little fatter, grow beard out so I can so I can blend into society a little better. Then I plan on running for Congress for the US House of Representatives out of Alaska so be looking for me in the 2022 cycle. Until then I'm gonna take off and get you myself calibrated again and then I start launching my campaign and out of Alaska everything from there and if that fails, it fails, I'll find something else to do.
Jason: So Alaska are you from Alaska or you just want to go back there because you liked it?
Randy: I love Alaska. I always said I want to go somewhere that had that mixture of remoteness but also kind of like a city like atmosphere and it has all of that. I can be in Anchorage around the city life and drive in just 10 minutes and I'm out in the wilderness. I love that, love it there. I'm from Chicago originally it is not really much of home there anymore, my family is still there and everything and I was just back there a few months ago for my sister's wedding but just being there I was like yeah I don't see myself coming back here, not to live anyway. I own a home in Texas but I really don't plan on staying there either. I might do a snowbird thing and off season or whatever else if I get elected and go down to Texas or hang out for a little bit but that's the projection right now.
Jason: I guess I didn't know you're from Texas are you have connections to Texas
Randy: Not so many connections. I own a house there and I was stationed there with so many years off and on I was caught up in that Fort Hood cycle, so I had been stationed there and then PCS'd somewhere else to another assignment then come right back. I got a lot of friends there but once again Alaska outweighs it all so that's what I am looking forward to getting back to.
Jason: Yeah, I don't know if you know I'm from Alaska so I'm always about going back as much as I can. So yeah and Fort Hood, I'm going to I guess that's a big base we know but I've already got another guest lined up that spent some time there so I'm sure you all rotate through there a lot. Anything else for the listeners?
Randy: Just stay focused, stay motivated, like I said earlier find what your passion is and just stick to it, people will be naysayers, they're going to try to drag you down and everything else or try to sabotage you, to include family. You just gotta stay focused and do your thing, do what you're calling is.
Jason: Well thanks Randy, thanks for coming on, it's always a pleasure to talk to you and pick your brain on things.
Randy: Yes, take care. Good talking to you again, thanks for having me on.
Jason: That's all for today's episode of Leadership Loading. Thanks for listening and thank you to Randy Purham for joining me today. Join us again next time when we continue our discussions on veteran transformation, leadership in the workplace, and make sure you subscribe to all of our episodes on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. Plus if you haven't joined our email list at leadershiploading.com go over there because we will have giveaways with our future guests so this is Jason McClaren signing off.
References from the Show
American Military University https://infl.tv/gsbf
The New You: Equipped with Wisdom eBook - https://amzn.to/2vbbBG7
The NEW TV show w/ Randy and April https://theexceptionalconservativesho...
Team of Rivals - https://amzn.to/32nd5cm
Team of Teams - https://amzn.to/2vZoG5y