About this podcast episode

🎖️Military veterans’ unique skills make them well-suited as 🎯 agilists ⤵️

We are excited to have Mike Whitaker as a guest on today’s podcast.

Mike shares his experience moving from the military to the private corporate sector. He shares relatable stories to help any veteran better understand corporate agility.

Mike also shares how corporations can better understand the value veterans can bring to their teams.

In this podcast, you will learn the following:

✅ Why military veterans uniquely qualified to be agilists

✅ The mindset shift from the military to the private sector

✅ How veterans can translate military lingo and experience into relatable civilian terms

✅ How companies unfamiliar with the military can get the most out of an interview with a veteran

🎉 How to learn and use agile for career development


(transcripts are auto-generated, so please excuse the brevity)

Intro clip

Bill Raymond: Maybe you could just give your personal perspective on agility.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So, for me, agility, I love it.

Mike Whitaker: It allowed me to see the results a lot quicker. ItI did something a few months before, and six months later ended up in the presidential review.

Mike Whitaker: I’m like, I did that six months ago. Wow, can we get some, you know, some feedback a little more early and often? So that was huge for me. And being able to have that and then to adjust quickly to things that come up.So . Finding agile and my perspective on it, man, it really was eye-opening to come from such a waterfall organization no matter where you went.

Mike Whitaker: You know. It’s amazing.


Speaker: Welcome to the Agile in Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Bill will explore how business disruptors are adopting agile techniques to gain a competitive advantage in this fast-paced technology driven market.

Introducing Mike Whitaker

Bill Raymond: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today, I’m joined by Mike Whitaker, coach, associate consultant and SPC at Applied Frameworks.

Bill Raymond: Hi Mike. How are you today?

Mike Whitaker: Wonderful, wonderful. How are you?

Bill Raymond: I’m doing great, thank you. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

The veteran, natural agilist you are looking for

Bill Raymond: We’re going to talk about how veterans can be the natural agilist that you’re looking for. Before we get started, could you share a little bit about yourself?

Mike Whitaker: Sure, sure. First, I’d like to say thank you for this opportunity. I enjoy your podcast, enjoy this platform, learned a lot from it. But yeah, so a little bit about me. I am a military veteran, served in the Army for over 14 yearsin military intelligence field and cybersecurity. Um, I was a Warrant Officer, so technically a specialist in my field.

Mike Whitaker: And really enjoyed my time and learned a lot there. Moved over to the contracting side of the government and worked in that space for a little while, for a few years. Taught some courses for cybersecurity, cyber planning along the way, which was really, really awesome.

Mike Whitaker: And then moved into the agile space. And man, I’ve loved it and enjoying the opportunity to be able to do that. So it’s a little bit about me. Again, work with the Applied Frameworks, our leaders Luke and Jason, they’re amazing for giving us this opportunity to even to be in this space.

Bill Raymond: Oh, cyber, so you probably have so many great stories you can never share.

Mike Whitaker: Exactly, a whole lot. Yeah, for sure.

Bill Raymond: Well, we want to talk about how veterans can be a natural agilist that you’re looking for, but I think if we’re going to talk about that, we should talk a little bit about kind of the mindset or mentality that you might have if you’re working in the military. Could you give a little bit of a background on that?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, sure. So, being in the military is probably one of the, I would say it was greatest experiences I had work-wise. One, because you get the opportunity to work with so many different people, ages, creeds, backgrounds, ethnicity, from so many diverse experiences all at the same time, right?

Mike Whitaker: So it’s, your mindset has to be ready to shift into their way of doing things. Because the military is very rigid in how they’re doing things. you’re going to have to do it their way or it’s just not going to work. So be prepared to follow their system and fall into order.

Mike Whitaker: It’s really, really effective because they have set it up in a way that everybody can succeed, right? So, as long as you’re willing to follow those things, right? So being very disciplined, understanding that everybody on the team is important no matter what your job is, right?

Mike Whitaker: We’re all there to help each other succeed. It’s set up that way, and be very open to receiving feedback about what you’re doing, right? The things that work and the things that don’t work, it’s going to come across. And not trying to change the mode or change how we do things too drastically because it’s that way for a reason.

Mike Whitaker: So that’s the kind of mindset that you have to have. There’s a whole lot of training opportunities, you’re going to get so many opportunities to be successful, to learn your job, to learn your trade, to be in a space where you get to apply what you’re learnig, right away, immediately.

Mike Whitaker: And not have to go, you know, we spend some jobs training wise, you can spend up to a year and a half, almost two years, but you’re going to be able to apply those things immediately when you get into the workforce. So that’s the really cool part about being in the military, actually learning a specialty and getting that experience.

Bill Raymond: Yeah. That’s great. You shared a lot with me when we met beforehand about the amount of training that you do receive. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, right? But I guess I was taken aback by just how much you received.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So for example, you know, being in, once you get into leadership spaces, there’s an opportunity to lead in every area. The job that I had, there’s an intermediate basic course and then there’s an intermediate and a senior level course and then there’s one above that, right?

Mike Whitaker: So there’s even, there’s so many different ranges of opportunities to get there. And as you move through the ranks, you get more and more leadership experience, more and more training. They’re big on making sure that you have what you need to be successful. They’re not just going to call you a leader and then not equip you.

Mike Whitaker: So that’s one thing that you know, they’re really good at is equipping every person and giving them the shot to get to the next level. Giving them a shot to be able to really grow as a person if you’re applying those things. Something like backwards planning, that’s what we call it instead of reverse engineering something.

Mike Whitaker: Right. So it’s big in the military. We start with the end in mind. All of that stuff is key. Leadership-wise, you’re learning how to lead at every level, from small team to the next team to on up through the elements to eventually where if you worked your way through it, you could be leading thousands as a general. Right?

Mike Whitaker: In every space you get an opportunity to be trained.

Bill Raymond: I think about some of the work that I did in order to grow in my career and very much most of it was me deciding that I needed some training and then seeking it out. I think it’s great that, I think that we’re going to talk a little bit about the corporate world next, but I think that might be one good example of where maybe the corporate world can use a few lessons from what the military does.

Working in the corporate world

Mike Whitaker: Right, right.

Bill Raymond: So with that in mind, can you share a little bit about what it’s like working in the corporate world for you now that you’ve moved out of the military and into the corporate world, and what some of the major cultural differences might be?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, sure. So, for me it was a bit of a shock coming from being told what to do to giving opportunities to say where I want to go. So it’s good and bad, almost to an extent, is I have to change my understanding and my mindset. Like, oh, so you’re telling me I don’t have to do it that way, I don’t have, oh, whatever you want to do to make it successful. Here’s some suggestions.

Mike Whitaker: So that mindset I had to shift to, okay, understanding where do I want to go? Where do I want to be? How do I want to move about? Because there’s so many different aspects of what I could do, which I’m used to because I never did the same job twice being in the military. Even though I had the same job the whole way, there’s so many different levels of it. But coming into the corporate world, I really had to change my mindset around, okay, this is my boss, but he’s not giving me orders. And I’m like, oh yeah, you’re starting on Monday.

Mike Whitaker: And I come, it’s like, get to it. It’s like, get to what? I don’t understand. Right? I’m used to you giving me a task so I can go handle that. So it was different to have a boss, but a person is not bossy, right? That person is not, hey, you will do this, this is, and I didn’t necessarily understand the mission all the way, the end goal all the way, I had to go do some research and find out, oh, this is what we’re trying to do and here’s the skills that I bring to the table to be able to fill the gaps, right? To be able to get us to the next level. So that mindset was completely different. And then, the company I’m with, is great about training. So they’re giving us those opportunities to do that. But me being able to pick where I want to go, which is different, right? Instead of having a predetermined path for if I want to get to a certain space. And it’s like, no, you can pick which way you want to go, there’s a lot of different opportunities and then utilized it the right way.

Mike Whitaker: So that was different. And man, the culture shock is not every company has this, I’ve been a part of a couple different ones. But the unity that comes from military, right? That common bond that we have of all going through basic training or whatever, or being deployed together in places that are not so great or doing things not so fun, is cold, is wet, we’re all in here, and what we call it in the military is being in the suck.

Mike Whitaker: Because it’s what it is and we’re all in together and it bonds us. And it’s just different not to have that immediately in the corporate world. Not being able to relate to, you know, automatically I go to a new unit in the military, I can relate to some people, oh, you deployed here. Yeah, I did too.

Mike Whitaker: This is what I went through. And now we got the common bond. But corporate world was different for me because I didn’t come up behind a desk or the mission that we had in most cases for me were literally life and death, right? The things that we’re giving could injure, could take life or it could save lives, right? Based on the information. So it’s a little different in that way. That everything is not about, you know, I’m not making decisions that could have a national security implication. So the culture, the shift, it’s like, okay, and at a whole ‘nother level and it’s still just as important, right?

Mike Whitaker: But just having that mindset shift was, was key.

Mind shift set when looking for a corporate job

Bill Raymond: Before we get into the whole agile conversation, I’d love to just get your perspective on providing maybe some, we do have people that are active military and we have people that are veterans here, that are listeners.

Bill Raymond: Maybe you could share some of your own advice around how you might look for a corporate job.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So first is, understand that you have value, right? And that value, although in the military a lot of times is not understood because of the way we word things in our resume, the things that, you know, we say we have different terminology. And just because I may not be called a Scrum Master, for example,in the military, doesn’t mean I didn’t serve in that capacity. So being able to relate my job experience to what the corporate world is looking for, right? And understanding that there’s more value, you have a lot more value than you think in these spaces because you already have the work ethic, you already have the discipline it takes to be able to do things.

Mike Whitaker: And a lot of times what we do is we take the first thing that’s thrown at us instead of really going out there to see our options. It’s like, oh, somebody wants me, I got to take it, you know? Slow down, let’s look at what the company is trying to accomplish and if that aligns with where you’re trying to go, right?

Mike Whitaker: And the things that you want to do, is there opportunities for you to grow? There are opportunities for you to lead. There are opportunities for you to get into a different space and you know, are the leaders really leading you? Because we’re used to a different type of leadership in the military, right?

Mike Whitaker: Can you find a leader that cares? Can you find a company that’s going to care about your wellbeing? I’ve worked for all sorts where they were all about the money and others are like, man, we care about you. Which is really cool. So finding out what that looks like. Some people can’t handle big corporate.

Mike Whitaker: It’s not what they’re looking for, they’re just another number. Some people need the smaller company and you know, because of that, others don’t like the small companies. They want to be with the big security of the major corporation. So finding out what’s really, really important to you and is it going to be best for your family?

Mike Whitaker: Having that work-life balance is key, especially coming from the military, out the military where they own you pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365, they can make you come to work at the drop of a dime. But here they don’t own you so much, and your time. So finding out what’s important to you. Is it about you having the time you need to be with family or the things that you want to do in life?

Mike Whitaker: Or is it about you just working and work, work, work, trying to work it to the bone and get you everything about you? So that is some of the things that I look for when it came down to it, I worked for both major corporations and smaller ones. So just got to find out what’s best for you.

Finding the language

Bill Raymond: That’s great advice and I loved your thoughts also about the language that you used. You know, I suppose that if I were looking to, I don’t know, if there was some person in HR in the military that saw my resume, they’d probably look and say, what on earth are these terms? And we probably received the same thing on the corporate world.

Bill Raymond: What on earth are these terms that you’re using? So finding the language I think is also important. I could tell you that, we did actually,when I was actively hiring at a larger job that I had, we would very often receive resumes we didn’t understand the language that they were using, that the veterans were using in their resume, and it was hard to kind of relate that back.

Bill Raymond: And, you know, I think the power of words really helps a lot when you’re writing a resume. Doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say, just change the title. Sometimes what it means is like how you’re relating yourself to the people on the receiving end.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. I went through that. My first round of resumes was terrible. I talked about the awards I got, I talked to, I received, I talked about, you know, as a CW2 or as a senior NCO or whatever. All of those things that means nothing to people, right? That don’t understand the lingo.

Mike Whitaker: And as soon as I was able to translate it with the help of my beautiful wife, she’s amazing at writing, right? She’s like, oh no, let’s translate it to corporate speaking. I’m like, oh… I got hit after hit after hit after hit. And people really understood the things that I was doing. I’m like, I got it, right?

Mike Whitaker: So we just learned to talk in a different way. There’s military shorthand and that’s how we wrote resumes, as well. Because we used to write in all of our evaluations in shorthand. So that’s how we think we write our resumes too. And it’s not the same.

Bill Raymond: That’s really good advice. Thank you for that. I appreciate that little diversion there.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, for sure.

Personal perspective on agility

Bill Raymond: Now we’re going to talk about agilists and agility, but maybe you could just give your personal perspective on agility.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So, for me, agility, I love it. From the time that I heard about it, I’m like, I knew that there was a better way of doing this, right? Coming from such a waterfall environment, which is the military very well is right, waterfall. It’s something that I’ve been looking for. You know, the warrant officers, they always say, we always say we are the rebels of the military.

Mike Whitaker: Right? When, I don’t want to do it your way, you tell me, you know, there’s a picture of a bird sitting on a fence line with a line through it, and the warrant officer is the bird sitting right next to it on the fence, right? We’re those people that’s going to break the rules and not want to do it the traditional way because we see that there’s a better way of doing things.

Mike Whitaker: So when I found agile, I’m like, this is it, right? This is something I looked for in my whole career, for us to be able to process things faster and not waste money. We always talk about not wasting money. How can we get to this product better and get our, you know, get what we need to get to our customers, to our clients, to the war fighter, to the person on the ground.

Mike Whitaker: And then every decision coming from top down. I’m like, man, you don’t even understand the implications of what you’re asking us to do, right? So that, it’s really important that you allow us to make these decisions at the lowest level. Not everything, right, obviously, but the small things.

Mike Whitaker: And coming from having this is the right answer. No, we’re not doing it that way. We’re doing it this way. It’s like, man, so when I found it, I’m like, oh, there is a better way. I knew it. So it was really eye-opening for me. It made me want to dive in, really to be able to get to that, right?

Mike Whitaker: So I love a space where I can automatically adapt to it. So it wasn’t a terrible transition for me because I was looking for the new, I was looking for a way to have better results in a quicker way without having to overtax people.

Mike Whitaker: It allowed me to see things a lot quicker, see the results a lot quicker. It came from a world again, where I didn’t see results maybe for five or six months of the things that I did, sometimes longer. I did something a couple months, you know, a few months before, and six months later ended up in the presidential review.

Mike Whitaker: I’m like, I did that six months ago. Wow, can we get some, you know, some feedback a little more early and often? And that would be amazing, right? So that was huge for me. And being able to have that and then to adjust quickly to things that come up. Now we do that. The military does it well when we’re at war, literally. Or you have to, because the enemy’s not going to do exactly always what we predict on the battlefield. So that adjustment comes in war itself, but it doesn’t always come on the back end where things are, you know, where the factory is rolling in the back end to get to that other space.

Mike Whitaker: So finding agile and my perspective on it, man, it really was eye-opening to come from such a waterfall organization no matter where you went.

Mike Whitaker: You know. It’s amazing.

Waterfall from a military perspective

Bill Raymond: Can you dig a little bit deeper into that? When you say waterfall, what do you mean from, if you will, a military perspective?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So most of the decisions that are made, I’m not going to say all, most decisions that are made from the commander. Now, they do hold the responsibility for every decision that’s made, but that doesn’t mean that they have, you know, all of the ins and outs of how we do stuff, do things, right?

Mike Whitaker: So for example, I was deployed and the commander comes and says, Hey, I want to do this. I want this from, I want to get this right now. So the officer comes in, he is like, hey, the colonel says he wants this. And I was like, he can’t have that, that’s illegal. And he was like, no, we’re going to do it.

Mike Whitaker: No sir, that’s illegal. What he’s looking for is this. No, you need to go do what he said. And I was like, can we step outside real quick? Because he said it in front of my people, right? I was the leader and I was like, hey, can we step outside? No. Chief, you’re going to do what I said. And I said, okay, Sir, come on outside.

Mike Whitaker: So I said, hey Sir, that’s illegal. We can’t do that. What he’s really looking for, is this information here. He’s like, no, he is not. I’ll go tell him myself. So I go into the Colonel’s office and, Hey, sir, what you asked for, is it legal? What you’re looking for is this? Yeah, just do that. Something so simple dude, I’m trying to tell you how to do the job correctly and keep us all out of jail.

Mike Whitaker: I’m not going to jail for anybody, right? So those spaces, when if I didn’t know my job well enough and didn’t have enough guts to go to the person, right? In a such a waterfall world, I could have been reprimanded really hard on it. Matter of fact, I did get in trouble for it just, you know, trouble.

Mike Whitaker: Right. So my leader at a different organization was like, Hey, glad you did it, but you got to do it a different way. You have to follow it. You know? And I’m like, sir, but he’s like, I got it. You were right, but you were wrong. And I’m like, man, so coming from, you know, a space like that where really you’re not open, they’re not open to feedback, and I still got in trouble even though I did the right thing, right? Not, you know, trouble, it didn’t hurt, affect anything but something like that, right? And meaning waterfall too, I can change how I process without asking anybody because I’m trying to make my mark as a leader. So for example, you know, there’s no shot on those generals and SAR majors that make the decisions to change uniforms, but a lot of times it’s for a bullet. It’s for eval bullet. Oh yeah.

Mike Whitaker: Time to change. So yeah, I’m the one that changed the military to go towards this, you know, so. Things like that, that just doesn’t make a lot of sense in my opinion. Right. Coming from the low man up, looking at it like, man, you’re changing the way we do things, and this is not even the best way.

Mike Whitaker: He didn’t ask the people doing it, the recommendation, right? So that’s what I mean by waterfall.

Agility in corporate environment

Bill Raymond: And so now you’re focused on agility in a corporate environment. And that’s all very different. We still of course, have leaders that will tell us that we need to do something, and hopefully it’s not illegal, but I do think that when people do that, we have a tendency to just say, well, we have to go do that thing that leader said.

Bill Raymond: But when we move into this world of agility, we’re not just talking about teams here. We’re talking about how we all interact as a team and that team is also the leadership team as well. And so we start to see this shift in how requests come to you. It’s about asking for, can you accomplish something and this is a value that we want and then you have to try and figure out the way to deliver it.

Bill Raymond: Is that your experience as well?

Mike Whitaker: Yes. And that’s probably my favorite. I don’t necessarily need you to cook the eggs for me. Just tell me that you want eggs, right? I don’t need you to do, and I love that when a leader can come in and say, Hey, here’s what I want, as long as you don’t break the rules of what it’s supposed to be followed or I don’t care how you get it. And is it possible to get it? Right, asking those questions. And that’s so key. Matter of fact, we’re on with a client and to see their, when their leadership came in and had the buy-in, you could see the light come on with the rest of everybody else, all their employees.

Mike Whitaker: They’re like, oh, if he or she’s in here, and they’re saying it, oh man we got to do it, they have our backs, right? So it’s super important as leaders, especially in the agile world, to have their back and show the people that, hey, we’re agile too, right? And we trust you.

Mike Whitaker: We hired you for a reason. We believe in the work that you do and let’s go forward with this thing and rock. So it’s cool, very cool to see.

Bill Raymond: What I’m getting is that you’re getting to use more of your creative side.

Mike Whitaker: Definitely. Right. I love the fact that I can change how things go, right? Which is really cool. I love that part.

Thinhs to learn or unlearn when moving from military to agile space

Bill Raymond: That’s great. And I guess if someone’s looking to get into this space and they’re moving out of the military, they’re saying, I want a corporate job or whatever, I want to be in the agile space. What are some things you need to learn or unlearn?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. So first, unlearn the fact that somebody’s going to give you all the answers.

Bill Raymond: So you have to really want to tell people what you try to do and then find a mentor that’s going to help you get to that space. There’s a lot of different avenues to go about, right? So you can go to different Scrum master classes, you can go to SAFe classes, you can jump on all the different podcasts like this one and just start having a conversation with people, right?

Mike Whitaker: It’s really cool how, what I love about this community, agile community, I don’t care if you’re Scrum or SAFe, everybody’s open and wants to share their knowledge and help you get to where to get to. Help you find ways to be able to get there, right? Which is really cool.

Mike Whitaker: And I love that part. The next thing I would tell them to do is, get out there and take as many courses as you can, but don’t just rely on the courses, right? Try to find a way to get some experience and apply it while you’re still in the military, and in just your life in general.

Mike Whitaker: Because now, these things, these principles are applicable just about everywhere that I found, so that’s what I love about the agile space, that you can do that.

Mike Whitaker: And lastly, I would say, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. I don’t have the answers, but I’m willing to learn. And people usually respect, I found that they respected that more than a person that’s going to, for lack of a better term, you know, make up stuff to get through there, right. BS their way to an answer and if they’re in this space, they understand he or she doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. So just don’t be afraid to say, I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn and put it out there.

Mike Whitaker: For me, I had to go take courses on my own. I was willing to spend my own money to go be able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s different from the military, for sure. And people already want you to be certified in some cases, in some places to, in order for them to see that you’re serious about it.

Mike Whitaker: But in the end, I find that the knowledge that you get from it is way more important than the money and you’ll get your return.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, actually that one, and I think I made it clear here, but I was never in the military. But you know, I will say that was one big one that I had to unlearn was when I don’t know an answer. I’m one of those people that really kind of always wants to have the answer for someone. And that’s a hard one to unlearn, if you will.

Bill Raymond: And just saying, I don’t have the answer, but let me go see if I can find it. I don’t have the answer, let me talk to my colleagues. Because I know for me personally, I actually get defensive and I have to mentally put myself in this special space where I don’t do that because the minute you ask me something and I don’t have the answer, I just sort of start deflecting and I have to be very careful about that.

Mike Whitaker: Yeah. Yeah. I found early from being an instructor, one of the, I forget his name, a buddy of mine, he was, and he was instructing longer than me and I was like, Hey man, I love with how you do in the classroom, teach me some stuff. He’s like, first thing out his mouth was, never be afraid to tell the students you don’t know, but you’ll find the answer.

Mike Whitaker: He said, you’re fine. You get way more credibility with them than if you go and just make up something or try to act like you know it all. I was like, oh, okay. You know, simple enough, because I’m willing to listen to you and based on what you told me, that’s the first thing he told me. He said, as an instructor, you will lose the whole room, if … so, I just applied that to everything. I say it’s difficult for me too, coming from being a warrant officer, which is a subject matter expert. We know the answers, Hey Chief, what’s this? Hey, if nobody else knows, Chief knows we got to find it and I got to have it. So coming into a space where I’m like, yep…

Mike Whitaker: So what’s the difference between it? For example, I had one interview. What’s the difference between LEAN and SAFe? And I was like, Ooh, LEAN and agile. And I’m like, oh, I have no idea. Hey, I’m going to be honest with you guys, I have no clue. Oh, just take a stab. You know, a mentor of mine told me don’t make up answers, even if you think you can.

Mike Whitaker: So I’d much rather say, I don’t know, and be willing to learn than I would tell you anything at all about it. Because I have no experience, I have no idea, no idea what the difference is. I can respect that. I was like, hopefully I didn’t lose the job, you know, based on that one answer, but that’s how I was taught to answer the questions.

Mike Whitaker: And I can find out for sure, but in this space, especially in the interview, what are you going to do? Give me five minutes to go look it up so I can come get the answer? No. That’s big, right? That for you to have that transparency to say it’s tough.

Bill Raymond: That’s really good advice.

Bill Raymond: I guess the final thing that we wanted to talk about here is, if someone is looking to hire a veteran, what are some of the things that they should be looking for? Is there advice you can share? Is there some input you could provide that would help someone that’s a hiring manager really think through how to interact with you?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, sure. 1. Asking about their actual experiences and being able to find what you’re looking for through those. A lot of times we’re not taught that our experiences really matter, right? And it’s really, it really is difficult to translate. So, because you’re the hiring person, understand that the language that they’re going to use might be a little different, but the principle behind what they’re doing is the same, right?

Mike Whitaker: It is probably what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a leader, you can find that a person, you know, somebody in the military that went through the ranks from E5 to E9 has probably had, and they were in the military for 20 years, 25 years. Over 20 years of leading easily, and he could be 45 years old, right?

Mike Whitaker: So it’s like, man, how do you have over 20 years or whatever, how do you have 10,000 hours of leading? Well, I’ve been in leadership literally outside of the first two or three years of my career the entire time, right? I’m always leading people. So finding those ways to say, oh, okay, I’m looking for a strong leader, somebody that can make a difference here, not being afraid to stand on their morals, not afraid to stand, you know, on this person’s disciplined enough to… yeah, sure you can, you know, call references. You can, you know, they’re going to show up on time. You know, they’re going to be there when they need to. Giving them an opportunity to share the things that are important to them.

Mike Whitaker: And from that, you can usually gather whether or not they’ll be a great fit for what you’re looking for. And then that’s my experience when it comes to military folks, they’ll tell you if you ask the right question, right? And if you’re willing to say, so tell me what’s the, you know, the thing that impacted you the most, but it was tough for you.

Mike Whitaker: When was the last time you led somebody and it didn’t go well? There’s plenty of, you know, we have all of us have those examples of,for me for instance, when I first became an E5, and I was 20 years old, not even old enough to drink. I’m the one that’s the leader.

Mike Whitaker: Everybody on my team was older than me and married and I was single and young, right? So I had to learn how to lead a bunch of people that knew more than I did for one about life and didn’t have anything in common with me. So having that experience at such a young age taught me a lot about how to lead people and how to, and I’ve screwed it up royally.

Mike Whitaker: Right, you know, I can give you some stories about that, but just looking for that, those little nuances to get what you’re trying to get out of those veterans and I’ll give it to you.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, it’s really all about shared experience, isn’t it? There are many stories that you could share that will still allow you to relate to the role that they’re looking to hire.

Mike Whitaker: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

Bill Raymond: This has been a great conversation. I really appreciate this.

Bill Raymond: This is actually one of our first conversations where we are trying to provide insight for people that are looking to change their roles and move into something new that might even be a little bit scary too. And I really appreciate all the thought that you put into this.

Bill Raymond: Mike Whitaker, is there any way people might be able to reach out to you if they want to have a further conversation with you?

Mike Whitaker: Yeah, for sure. You can check Linkedin, you can put my name in Mike Whitaker, and I’m always available. Reach out there.

Bill Raymond: Wonderful, and I’ll make sure that it’s on the agileinaction.com podcast. And of course, if you’re in an app right now listening to this podcast, just go down to the show notes, the description, and you’ll see a link to how to reach Mike there as well.

Bill Raymond: Mike, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

Mike Whitaker: Oh, thank you so much. This has been great. You’re such a gracious host, I appreciate all the time and effort and man, I look forward to hearing it.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, I do too. Thank you.


Bill Raymond: Thank you for listening to the Agile and Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Subscribe now to stay current on the latest trends in team, organization, and agile techniques. Please take a moment to rate and comment to help us grow our community. This podcast is produced in affiliation with Cambermast LLC, and our executive producer is Reama Dagasan.

Speaker: If there is a topic you would like Bill to cover, contact him directly at bill.Raymond@agileinaction.com.