Decision Vision Episode 52: Should I Have a Veterans Hiring Program? – An Interview with Jason Jones, CRESA
What benefits does employing veterans as part of a veterans hiring program bring to my company? What are some of the unique skills and perspectives veterans will bring to my company? Former Naval Flight Officer now technology and telecommunications advisor Jason Jones answers these questions and much more in this episode of “Decision Vision.” The “Decision Vision” series is hosted by Mike Blake and presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Jason Jones, CRESA
Raised in Atlanta, GA, Jason Jones attended Duke University in Durham, NC on a Navy ROTC scholarship. After graduating from Duke in 1991 with a degree in political science, he traveled to Pensacola, FL and enrolled in naval flight school. In 1993 upon moving to Virginia Beach, VA, he learned to fly the A-6E Intruder as a Bombardier/Navigator and was subsequently assigned to a fleet squadron, deploying on the USS Enterprise.
In 1997 Jason left Virginia Beach to begin a tour of duty as a navy medical recruiter in Phoenix, AZ while attending Arizona State University’s Evening M.B.A. program. After leaving the Navy in 1999 he worked for one and a half years as a civilian headhunter recruiting senior executives for health insurance companies.
Upon finishing his M.B.A. in August of 2000 and before entering the business world full-time, Jason departed on a 15-month world trip on September 18th, 2000, returning to the United States on December 18th, 2001. He later documented his travels in the book Nomad: Letters From a Westward Lap of the World.
After returning from his trip, Jason entered the commercial real estate industry, ultimately landing at Cresa.
Jason leads Cresa’s technology infrastructure advisory service line, C3, which assists clients with Communications (voice), Connectivity (Internet) and Cloud services – especially during a relocation. Choices for phones, Internet and cloud services are endless and constantly changing, leaving companies little time to stay on top of current options and put together the best solutions. C3 helps clients navigate the confusion caused by evolving and disruptive technologies and ensures coordination between the real estate and IT departments. IT leaders benefit from C3’s experience analyzing technologies from a vendor-neutral perspective and selecting best in-class solutions to match their specific needs. Solutions include hosted VoIP, SD-WAN, cloud hosting and cybersecurity.
To contact Jason, follow this link.
For more information on Hire Heroes, which Jason mentioned during the show, follow this link.
Michael Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is Host of the “Decision Vision” podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
“Decision Vision” is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the “Decision Vision” podcast. Past episodes of “Decision Vision” can be found here. “Decision Vision” is produced and broadcast by the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX®.
Visit Brady Ware & Company on social media:
Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:20] And welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owners or executives’ perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand when you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:38] My name is Mike Blake and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware & Company, a full-service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton, Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Indiana, and Alpharetta, Georgia, which is where we are recording today. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:03] So, the question and decision point that we’re talking about today is should I put in a veteran hiring program? And, you know, this topic is one that comes up every once in a while, but I think it’s particularly timely, because we are in an economy, at least, by some measures of unprecedented growth. It’s inarguable that we’re at historic lows in terms of unemployment. And I’m not going to debate on this podcast what that means or does not mean.
Mike Blake: [00:01:38] I’m sure there’s an economics podcast out there you can listen to if you really want to get in the weeds of that. But the fact of the matter is that, you know, it’s pretty easy to find a job and it’s pretty hard for employers to find qualified people to fill those slots at just about any level. And we are seeing some indications that wages at all levels of the labor force, including at the so-called unskilled or bottom end of the wage scale are creeping up.
Mike Blake: [00:02:07] So, that’s telling you there’s some tightness in the marketplace as we record this on January 10, 2020. And one of the things that then comes to my mind and gets me thinking is, you know, are we, as an economy, hiring everybody that we could? Are we leaving, you know, stones unturned? And there are two groups in particular that interest me in this area. I mean, everybody talks about, you know, people who have been out of the workforce a long time and now, they’re being pulled back in, talk about moms or even potentially stay-at-home dads that are coming back into the labor force.
Mike Blake: [00:02:44] But two groups that are getting, I think, now more attention are people with criminal records. That’s a topic I definitely want to approach. And I’ve got a guest that I’m eventually going to track him down and get him to come on, but we’re not going to do that today. And then, veterans, not that I would put them in the same group, but there are two groups that I think are historically neglected for, you know, whatever reason.
Mike Blake: [00:03:08] And, you know, I hear a lot of stories where, you know, veterans perform their service to our country for some period of time, whether it’s, you know, a brief enlistment or whether it’s a long career up until retirement. And then, they find that the civilian work environment is not particularly welcoming for veterans that are making that transition. And so, I think it’s interesting to kind of explore why that is and also interesting then to talk about, you know, what is the case for hiring a veteran.
Mike Blake: [00:03:43] And full disclosure, I think some of the best business leadership books I’ve ever read have been written from a military perspective. One of them is called Semper Fi. And I read this, I’m going to say, about 15 years ago. And it talks about the application of US Marine Corps team building methods, particularly, when they train recruits from day one until they get through the crucible. And I think that’s an outstanding book.
Mike Blake: [00:04:11] Not that we’re necessarily going to have accountants that are climbing rope ladders and so forth and staying out in the woods for 72 hours of food or water, but there are a lot of things there that I think are useful. And then, another one, by a guy named Michael Abrashoff, retired captain of the US Navy, called it, It’s Your Ship. And it’s a story about how he turned around the USS Benfold, which was the worst performing ship in the US Pacific fleet into the second highest performing ship with only a two-year tour of duty.
Mike Blake: [00:04:45] And I heard him speak on that, fascinating, read the book, learned a ton. So, you know, to me, you know, the military has a lot to offer in terms of skills that can translate into business. I find it perplexing that employers, sometimes, find themselves hesitant to hire veterans. So, I want to talk about that. And as you know, from our show, I don’t talk about these things myself, because I don’t know anything about it, so we’re going to bring in people who do know something about it.
Mike Blake: [00:05:18] And joining us today is a longtime friend, Jason Jones. Jason leads a C3 service line at Cresa, the world’s most trusted occupier-centric commercial real estate firm. C3 stands for communications, connectivity, and cloud. And helps information technology leaders navigate the decisions that lie at the intersection of real estate, finance, and information technology. And, you know, as an aside, that’s an interesting place to be, because not that long ago, we thought that information technology was going to obviate our need for real estate and real estate is going to go away, and it’s turned out to be the exact opposite just like we thought paperless technology gets rid of paper.
Mike Blake: [00:05:59] Information technology leaders benefit from Jason’s experience selecting best in class infrastructure service providers who can match each firm’s specific needs. Cresa is an international commercial real estate firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Cresa represents tenants and provides real estate services, including corporate services, strategic planning, transaction management, project manager, facilities management, workforce and location planning, portfolio lease administration, capital markets, supply chain management, sustainability, sublease, and distribution.
Mike Blake: [00:06:29] Formed in 1993, Cresa now has more than 60 offices and 900 employees. In addition to Jason’s information technology consultation and real estate experience, Jason brings lessons learned during his military career. His naval service included flying A-6 Intruder attack jets off of aircraft carriers. While planning and flying tactical missions, he developed a talent for communicating details with concise, mission-oriented focus.
Mike Blake: [00:06:56] Jason has successfully turned his disciplined approach as a naval aviator into a methodical approach for helping companies optimize their corporate real estate and information technology services. After departing the Navy, Jason earned an MBA from Arizona State University and complete a 15-month solo trip around the world about which he wrote and published a book, which I believe is called, NOMAD: Letters from a Westward Lap of the World.
Mike Blake: [00:07:21] His military travel and academic background give him the depth and character to guide his clients to the most effective solutions. Since then, Jason has been active as an advocate to help companies understand the benefits of hiring military veterans and coaching veterans in how to prepare themselves for civilian employment. Jason’s affiliations include the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS, Million Dollar Club, Buckhead Church member, Starting Point leader, and Duke’s C-Level graduates of Duke University and is a founder.
Mike Blake: [00:07:50] He is a flight school Top Gun recipient. And that’s not exactly what you may think it means. We’ll ask Jason to explain that. It’s still good, it’s just not the movie. Published the book that we just talked about. He’s a CoStar Power Broker from 2005, ’07, ’08, Volunteer of the Year, and two-time recipient of the Forever Duke Award. Jason, thank you for coming on our program and thank you for your service to our country.
Jason Jones: [00:08:16] Michael, it is a pleasure to be here. And I just want to say, I’m so glad that I’m at the right podcast. I got a little nervous when you talked about the criminal records and I thought, “Well, maybe that’s the one I should have supposed to do.” But showed up with the right one. I’m glad this is the right fit.
Mike Blake: [00:08:30] You did show up at the right one, yes.
Jason Jones: [00:08:32] Thank you.
Mike Blake: [00:08:32] Yes. Now, when we do that other one, we’ll—no, Jason is about as squeaky clean as it comes. And it’s because of people like Jason that shrieking cowards like me can post anything they want on Facebook. So, thank you for that. So, before we get into this, as I was telling you, you know, before we actually hit the record button, you know, when I invite people on the show, some people are people I’ve known a long time, something about meeting for the first time on the show, you and, I have known each other for, I think, a decade now.
Jason Jones: [00:09:03] Yeah, a
Mike Blake: [00:09:03] t least. And I did not know that you were a Top Gun recipient. What does that mean?
Jason Jones: [00:09:08] Sure. Well, when I was going through flight school, it’s a very challenging time. As I mentioned, this was back in the early-’90s. And the key to flight school is you only get to select the jet that you want to fly, is if you graduate number one in the class. And so, there’s a lot of incentive and we’re naturally competitive people anyways.
Mike Blake: [00:09:36] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:09:36] And the award that they give to that person is called the Top Gun award. So, that was what that was.
Mike Blake: [00:09:42] Interesting. So, you chose the A-6 Intruder?
Jason Jones: [00:09:45] I did.
Mike Blake: [00:09:45] Why?
Jason Jones: [00:09:46] You know, I was a bombardier navigator. I was a naval flight officer, which means that I ran systems on the aircraft. I help navigate the aircraft to help do all the mission planning and the strike planning and the bomb weaponeering, et cetera. And out of all the jets that were available for that type of position in the fleet, the one that I found most attractive is the one that was really at the center piece of the carrier battle group. And when you think about it, the aircraft carriers are made to put bombs on target.
Mike Blake: [00:10:17] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:10:17] Ultimately, it’s to project power. The jet that does that and the person who is putting crosshairs on the target and planning those missions is the bombardier navigator in the A-6 Intruder. So, that’s the one place I wanted to be.
Mike Blake: [00:10:31] Okay.
Jason Jones: [00:10:31] It was a great ride.
Mike Blake: [00:10:33] And so, you published a book. I was aware of your trip around the world, did not realize you published a book, so that’s going to go into my Kindle reading list. Tell me-
Jason Jones: [00:10:41] Well, really quick, as I like to tell people, when you read it, remember, it’s not Hemingway, it’s Jones. So, set your expectations.
Mike Blake: [00:10:52] Well, the good news, I’ve not been able to get through a Hemingway book in my entire life.
Jason Jones: [00:10:55] There you go.
Mike Blake: [00:10:55] So, I actually think that’s a positive. But tell us a little bit about the book and what drove you to write that book?
Jason Jones: [00:11:04] Yeah. Sure. Well, you know, I’ve always had a love of adventure. And I think that’s part of what attracted me to naval aviation. And so, when I got out of the Navy, after an eight-year tour of service, I decided to travel around the world by myself on a backpacker’s budget, $40 a day. And as I traveled, I kept a journal, as I was taught as a young child on family vacations, to always keep a log or journal. So, I did that. And then, I started drafting e-mails to friends and family, letting them know what I was doing, where I was.
Jason Jones: [00:11:43] And as I kept doing that, going from country to country to country, because this was a 15-month trip, I went to approximately 25 countries. And we’re not talking about Europe, where everything’s real close to each other, we’re talking about Africa and South America and it’s a pretty long distance. So, I covered some ground. But I got the idea, I’m going to share this with other people. I’m going to encourage especially Americans to contemplate to consider international travel. I think that’s a good thing for those people and also, just for relations between people in different countries.
Mike Blake: [00:12:18] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:12:18] And that’s why I made the effort to put it together into a book.
Mike Blake: [00:12:22] I could not agree with you more. You know, as you know, I’ve lived abroad early in my career and in Russia. And one of the more striking things from that era was that I worked in a building in Minsk that was a bomb shelter, right? And then, you realize those bombs are supposed to be coming from my home country, right?
Jason Jones: [00:12:45] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:12:45] And that’s a point, for me, I realized, you know, they have a different economic system-
Jason Jones: [00:12:50] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:12:50] … but they’re afraid of this. You know, they’re every bit as afraid of us as we were of them.
Jason Jones: [00:12:54] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:12:55] Right?
Jason Jones: [00:12:55] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:12:55] And all concerned and everything else. And, you know, unless you go there and you see that and you touch it, you just never experience that. And, you know, I’ll also take that option to brag on one of my cousins. She also was a naval aviator.
Jason Jones: [00:13:11] Oh, nice.
Mike Blake: [00:13:11] Was flying—whatever the term is with the person who operates the radar.
Jason Jones: [00:13:18] Okay.
Mike Blake: [00:13:18] I believe it’s called a Hawkeye aircraft, surveillance kind of-
Jason Jones: [00:13:20] Yeah, E-2C Hawkeye.
Mike Blake: [00:13:22] There you go.
Jason Jones: [00:13:22] Sure.
Mike Blake: [00:13:23] But she was recently admitted into the Monterey Foreign Language School, where she’s now learning Arabic.
Jason Jones: [00:13:30] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:13:30] So, her goal was to get stationed over there. And-
Jason Jones: [00:13:32] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:13:32] … you know, what a great opportunity, right? Again, there is no danger of my joining the military, but there’s one part of which I was envious, that language school, it’s the finest language structure the world and she’s going to take that opportunity to learn about the Arabic world, right?
Jason Jones: [00:13:49] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:13:49] Which is so very different. And Jennifer, you’re awesome. So, if you’re listening to this podcast, you heard it here over the internet. All right. So, you know, you’ve been successful, you joined The Million Dollar Club, which I assume has something to do with doing something that’s worth a million dollars.
Jason Jones: [00:14:09] Somewhat.
Mike Blake: [00:14:09] Somewhat, right?
Jason Jones: [00:14:10] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:14:10] So, how, in your mind, has your military service helped you get to that point?
Jason Jones: [00:14:18] You know, I think what the military and specifically, I’ll speak to naval aviation.
Mike Blake: [00:14:25] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:14:25] Because that’s what I come from.
Mike Blake: [00:14:26] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:14:26] Tactical aviation, launching off the aircraft carriers. It ingrained in me deeply sort of three character traits or qualities. One is I became very detail-oriented, I became process-driven and mission-focused. Those three things, detail-oriented, process-driven, mission-focused. And as I break each of those down, you know, in the Navy, when you’re flying jets and you’re dropping bombs, you really do need to pay attention to the details, okay?
Mike Blake: [00:15:00] I guess so. That makes sense to me.
Jason Jones: [00:15:02] And a little tiny detail, I’ll give you one example, so you might get a couple of sea stories here on this podcast.
Mike Blake: [00:15:08] That’s what I’m hoping.
Jason Jones: [00:15:09] Okay? I had an instructor in flight school who was doing some practice bombing runs in a training exercise. And you have some settings on the armament control unit that will determine the distance that the bombs will hit the ground or the time interval between release of bombs and those two are related. And then, you have another number that’s the number of bombs you’re going to release. And the A-6 could carry 24, 25 500-pound bombs. Typically, we only carried, you know, 12 or so and then, maybe a missile or two.
Jason Jones: [00:15:50] But in this case, they were going through the practice area, they were running out of their time on target on station and they said, “Well, let’s do one more run through and let’s run up the number to clear all of our bombs off of our jet.” The problem with that was their settings for the timing in between the release of bombs was too short of a time for safety. It was only good for dropping one at a time. So, when they dialed up the number of bombs and there was a little note in the weaponeering that said, “Do not drop more than one bomb at a time”, under the settings.
Jason Jones: [00:16:29] So, they were under pressure. They need to get these bombs off. They need to get out of the target area, because you got some other jets that are coming in. They dialed it up, had a bomb-to-bomb collision under the jet, it exploded, and they had to eject. So, that’s a sort of a real-life story. And it’s not that in the business world, we have, you know, situations where, you know, the cost of a missed detail is your life, but you certainly learn it with that level of intensity when you’re in the military. And I think that can roll over into being a really good employee who pays attention to the details.
Mike Blake: [00:17:06] And, you know, business being more forgiving, right? Very few people die.
Jason Jones: [00:17:10] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:17:10] It might be embarrassing. You might even lose a job, right?
Jason Jones: [00:17:12] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:17:13] But nobody’s going to die from it. By definition, that makes it more forgiving, right?
Jason Jones: [00:17:18] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:17:18] So, if you have a mental kind of fault tolerance of that military, you know, you make mistakes, people die kind of thing-
Jason Jones: [00:17:25] Precisely.
Mike Blake: [00:17:27] … then it must seem like almost like child’s play-
Jason Jones: [00:17:30] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:17:30] …in a more forgiving environment.
Jason Jones: [00:17:32] You’re right. It’s more forgiving. But the second part of that, so I mentioned being process-driven. And my sea story there that I think is kind of somewhat humorous in how it applies to the private sector is I had a squadron mate who was taking off of the aircraft carrier. And naval aviation and the military, in general, but certainly, naval aviation is really big on checklists. All of aviation is, for that matter.
Mike Blake: [00:18:04] Right. My dad was a pilot. Even up until the day he couldn’t fly anymore, 30 years, always had the same checklist.
Jason Jones: [00:18:10] Yes, precisely. It’s a process. It helps with error avoidance and increasing efficiency. So, he was taxiing around the deck of the aircraft carrier. And as you taxi, you know, you have your rudders, are your steering wheel. So, that changes with the nose gear points. You also tap your brakes. So, he pulls up into the catapult and, you know, gets hooked up to the carrier, then he goes into what’s called tension, which is where you go to full power, but they haven’t shot you off the front end yet. And now, you do a quick checklist. You check your flight surfaces are moving properly with your stick. You check that the weight that you have communicated to the catapult officer is correct, because they’re going to set the pressure of the steam to launch you based on what your weight is. They don’t want to do too fast, don’t want it too slow, it’s got to be just right.
Mike Blake: [00:19:10] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:19:10] So, you’re cross-checking that. And the other thing that you check is that your feet are off the brakes and you say it out loud, “Feet off the brakes.” So, he goes through his checklist, salutes the catapult officer. Catapult officer fires the button to send him down the front. And we hear this loud boom, boom. That was his two main mounts, his tires blowing, because they didn’t roll, because he still had his feet on the brakes. So, guess what his call sign is for the rest of his career? Boom-Boom. So, it’s just a-
Mike Blake: [00:19:45] He’s lucky he still had a career.
Jason Jones: [00:19:47] Yeah. Well, precisely, but there is some forgiveness for things like this.
Mike Blake: [00:19:50] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:19:50] And he was fairly young and new. But the whole point of that is there’s a process. And that process, it sometimes includes a checklist. It increases efficiencies in error avoidance. And that’s a good thing in the private sector also.
Mike Blake: [00:20:07] And I thought for sure you’re going to give us some story about landing on an aircraft carrier, which, to me, has got to be one of the hardest and most terrorizing things to do. I mean, talk of something that needs precision and discipline.
Jason Jones: [00:20:20] Precisely. And, you know, kind of depends on the weather and time of day. Nighttime, bad weather, not so fun.
Mike Blake: [00:20:29] Oh, no.
Jason Jones: [00:20:29] Daytime, good weather, actually fun.
Mike Blake: [00:20:32] Okay.
Jason Jones: [00:20:32] Could be a good time.
Mike Blake: [00:20:33] Okay.
Jason Jones: [00:20:35] But, you know, that’s a process also. And the more consistently you can do the processes and trust the process, take the time to think about what should be the right process, the better success that you’re going to have, the fewer errors you’re going to have, the greater efficiencies you’re going to have. And again, all of that translates into a good employee, someone who has an appreciation for details, for process. And then, my third one was mission-focused. And that’s sort of the X factor that I think has helped me in my career.
Jason Jones: [00:21:08] It’s not getting lost in details, understanding that there’s a bigger picture, and that we’re going to accomplish the mission. That’s the thing about somebody coming out of the military, is if you give them a goal, if you give them a mission, that’s what feeds them. They want to accomplish the mission and they’ll do whatever it takes when you have their loyalty and you tell them that you’ve got their back. So, I think that’s another key attribute of, A, what helped me in the private sector and I think what the benefit is of hiring someone and having a veteran-hiring program.
Mike Blake: [00:21:43] So, you know, it certainly sounds to me like you credit your military service pretty heavily with the success that you have been able to achieve and sustain. Is that why you’re so passionate about sort of helping other veterans find their place and helping other companies find, you know, a great employee?
Jason Jones: [00:21:59] Yes. So, it’s a couple of things. One is, I do see the benefit it gave to me and how that parlays itself into the benefits to my company that I work for and the clients that I work for. But there’s also just a sense of having walked a mile in those shoes of making that transition and it can be a very difficult time for someone coming out of the military. And when you’ve been through that crucible, you naturally want to help people get through it as well.
Mike Blake: [00:22:35] And was it hard for you?
Jason Jones: [00:22:36] It was very hard.
Mike Blake: [00:22:37] What about it was so hard?
Jason Jones: [00:22:38] You know, it was one of those things where, A, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. So, I needed some help there, some guidance as to what’s the right fit for me, so I can be a good fit for the company I work with ore a good fit for the clients that I work with. So, I needed some help there. It happened to be a terrible economy when I was getting out. This was not too long after 9/11 and that was a terrible time to try to get hired by anybody, particularly a 100% commission only-based job in commercial real estate, where most people are older and have more experience and that’s how they get hired. But thankfully, I had an angel that flew into my life who hired me. And we’ve been partners for 19 years. So, it can work out to hire someone fresh out of the military.
Mike Blake: [00:23:30] Oh, there’s that loyalty, too, right?
Jason Jones: [00:23:32] And, you know, that’s another thing that I was going to say. I described attributes for me as a naval aviator, as a tactical aviator, I also think there are three characteristics of anyone coming out of the military, just generally speaking, that they’re going to have their benefit to the private sector, to companies hiring them. And you hit on one of them. But I would say it is, they have a tremendous work ethic, they’re extremely loyal, and they have a sense of personal responsibility.
Jason Jones: [00:24:09] So, tremendous work ethic, extremely loyal, and a strong sense of personal responsibility. Those three characteristics go a long way. I mean, you can do a lot with that raw talent, those raw materials. You just have to have a program to capture that talent, to bring it into your organization and then, you’ve got to have some degree of training to help. And that would be the case with anyone coming into an organization now. But I think that’s the investment that’s worth making by private sector companies.
Mike Blake: [00:24:46] And that last part about not giving up and, you know, making sure that you complete your task, as I’ve read books on military leadership, I think that’s something that they do exceptionally, exceptionally well. They’re so good at team building.
Jason Jones: [00:25:05] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:25:06] Because ultimately, you have to be able to rely on those people in combat, ultimately, right? So, there’s just no F-ing around at that point, I have to imagine.
Jason Jones: [00:25:15] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:25:15] And, you know, one thing that struck me about the Marine training program, you know, that one of the ways they trained people, I don’t know if it’s the same way in the Navy, but basically, if somebody in the platoon screws up, the entire platoon suffers, right? And to my mind, I think that’s about as effective a motivator as anybody. It’s one thing if you suffer all the time when you screw up.
Jason Jones: [00:25:39] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:25:39] But then, you see that other people are going to pay a price when you screw up, which is exactly what they’re trying to do, right?
Jason Jones: [00:25:43] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:25:43] You screw up, they die.
Jason Jones: [00:25:44] That’s right, yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:25:45] I think that is immensely effective. But then, it produces somebody whose focus is not even on the dollars, right?
Jason Jones: [00:25:52] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:25:52] Once you’re on that team, you’re just like, “I don’t want to be the weak link.”
Jason Jones: [00:25:56] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:25:56] Period.
Jason Jones: [00:25:57] Well, you reckon, A, there’s that sort of comradeship and being a part of something larger than yourself are great qualities for any organization. And you also have, again, that sense of personal responsibility, that accountability to each other. And I’ll give you a good example of the kind of accountability that’s expected in the military. And I think, gosh, this is the kind of person that I would want to have in my organization. There was someone I knew, he was a Marine Corps officer, and he was stationed for a period of time at the Pentagon.
Jason Jones: [00:26:36] So, he’s living in Arlington, I believe it was. And he’s got to drive in the next morning. It’s his day to do what’s called stand the duty. So, every command has a duty officer, someone who answers the phone. If there’s some type of emergency, they would be the one that’s in charge. And it’s a typically a shift during the day. You’re the squadron duty officer for that day or whatever the case may be. There was a terrible snowstorm and ice everywhere on the roads. He couldn’t make it in to stand the duty the next morning.
Jason Jones: [00:27:14] It happened overnight. So, he calls up to his boss and he says, “Hey, look, as you know, there’s this terrible snowstorm or ice storm, I can’t get in to stand the duty.” Well, the response from his boss was, “Why didn’t you drive in last night?” You saw that the weather report said, “There might be—your job is to be here and we don’t shut down, we don’t not go to war, we don’t not do our duty just because it snowed or there was ice on the roads.
Mike Blake: [00:27:47] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:27:47] You should have come in, set up a cot, and slept here overnight. That’s the level of accountability that I’m talking about. Now, am I saying that we really need to go that far in the private sector? Not really. But boy, wouldn’t you want somebody who comes from that type of mentality working in your organization?
Mike Blake: [00:28:06] And the underlying texts of that are our time management-
Jason Jones: [00:28:09] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:28:09] … and contingency planning.
Jason Jones: [00:28:12] Correct.
Mike Blake: [00:28:12] Right?
Jason Jones: [00:28:13] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:28:13] And contingency planning and making sure that you control the outcome.
Jason Jones: [00:28:19] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:28:20] Right. What happened in that case is that that individual allowed nature to control the outcome-
Jason Jones: [00:28:26] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:28:26] … which is not—like you said, you know, the military doesn’t just take days off.
Jason Jones: [00:28:31] Right. “Oh, it snowed today.”
Mike Blake: [00:28:32] That’s a great way to get bombed. So-
Jason Jones: [00:28:35] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:28:37] So, why do you think veterans have had trouble finding places in—actually, I’m going to come back to that because I want to go back to something that I think is so important to your transition. It’s better than any of the questions that I wrote down-
Jason Jones: [00:28:54] Okay.
Mike Blake: [00:28:54] … which is you talked about that difficulty transitioning from military into civilian life.
Jason Jones: [00:29:02] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:29:03] What was it that made the transition possible? So, an angel came down, gave you a shot.
Jason Jones: [00:29:09] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:29:09] 19 years later, you’re still there.
Jason Jones: [00:29:11] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:29:11] I want to drill down more into the micro there, right? They hired you, but you knew how to navigate and how to drop bombs on people.
Jason Jones: [00:29:21] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:29:23] As far as I’m aware, that’s not part of the Cresa job description. You’ve never mentioned either of that coming up when you’re selling at least to a data center.
Jason Jones: [00:29:29] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:29:30] Right?
Jason Jones: [00:29:30] That’s correct, yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:29:31] So, what was that process like to get you from that to where you are? Did they have to train you a ton? Was it learning by doing? Was it formal training? Was it mentoring? Something else I can’t even think, dumb luck, what was it?
Jason Jones: [00:29:48] Grit. Grit. I mean, this is the other thing, it’s that I mentioned the mission-focused and just doing whatever it takes to get the job done. One of the things that—A, I love to learn, so that’s convenient. But as soon as I-
Mike Blake: [00:30:10] You don’t go to Duke if you’re a rotten student.
Jason Jones: [00:30:13] My application got put in the wrong pile, I’m telling you. I don’t know how I got in there, but I just feel like, you know, someone took a chance, so to speak, on me, because they saw raw talent. And then, I had the grit to persevere and teach myself to a large degree, but thankfully, I had the grit and the humility to go to people and learn from them and ask for help. And that’s really what I did. It took me 90 job interviews to get that job.
Mike Blake: [00:30:50] Ninety?
Jason Jones: [00:30:51] Ninety.
Mike Blake: [00:30:52] Wow.
Jason Jones: [00:30:52] I counted it out. Now, these job interviews were not all interviews for a specific job, it was all informational interviews.
Mike Blake: [00:30:58] Right.
Jason Jones: [00:30:58] But I counted it up and it was 90 people in the commercial real estate industry in Atlanta. Number 90 hired me and hired me on the spot. But I kept learning along the way. And then, once I got that position, I kept those interviews going with, now, people inside the organization so that I could learn. And it was all on the job training and that’s part of what was tough about the transition. But what I sensed coming out of the military is it gives you all of these raw material qualities that put you in a position for success and to really contribute significantly to whatever organization does themselves a favor, in my opinion, and hires you.
Mike Blake: [00:31:45] So, you know, that’s interesting. So, a learning point that I’m getting out of this is that, you know, if you’re an employee and you’re looking at a veteran and most of the time, you’re going to look at somebody that does not have a directly translatable skill, right? Some of them are. You know, I have another cousin who is in information security and satellite communications. He’s a major in the army. He’ll transition to civilian business.
Jason Jones: [00:32:09] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:32:09] Just in fact, he may just stay in the same place, change his uniform-
Jason Jones: [00:32:13] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:32:13] for a suit, basically, or khakis. But I think what I’m learning is that as a hirer, I need to evaluate a little differently, right? Because, you know, most people are not going to walk in, “Oh, I have five years of experience in accounting”, right? Or, “I have four years of experience in law”, you know, whatever, real estate. But the X factor is that a lot of civilian candidates, if they don’t have that, it’s a wild card as to whether or not they’ll be able to get there from there to here.
Jason Jones: [00:32:53] Correct.
Mike Blake: [00:32:53] Right? With a military person, with the military background or a veteran, that sounds like that’s a lot less of a wildcard.
Jason Jones: [00:33:01] Correct.
Mike Blake: [00:33:02] Because again, now, here’s new mission, right? And it doesn’t even enter your mind that this isn’t going to work out, you just figure it out.
Jason Jones: [00:33:13] We’re going to burn the ships and we’re going to make it happen.
Mike Blake: [00:33:15] We’re going to burn the ships and we’re going to make it happen.
Jason Jones: [00:33:16] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:33:16] So, you know-
Jason Jones: [00:33:16] And also, one thing I’ll add is you also tend to get, particularly, if you’re hiring into a junior position, which really, sort of needs to be for a lot of folks that are, you know, four to eight years out of either college or high school and they’re now transitioning into the private sector for the first time, they’re not going to go straight into an advanced position.
Mike Blake: [00:33:38] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:33:38] It’s going to be entry level. And they understand that they’re going to rise up quickly and they’re going to want to. And I think you should give them that opportunity. But the thing that you get is you get maturity. This is someone who’s not straight out of college, who’s not straight out of high school. They’ve got some life experience under their belt. And that has to translate into greater productivity, better culture, all these things as you want that, really, you talk about culture, that’s an X factor. And when you have someone who is detail-oriented, process-driven, mission-focused, extremely loyal, tremendous work ethic, understands personal accountability, that’s the kind of person I want in my culture.
Mike Blake: [00:34:15] And, you know, think about how old were you when you were flying, right? It’s even A-6.
Jason Jones: [00:34:18] It would’ve been from the ages of, you know, graduate college when you’re 21 to 28.
Mike Blake: [00:34:26] So, at that age, you’re in charge of, say, a $20-million aircraft? $15-million, 20-million asset?
Jason Jones: [00:34:32] Easily.
Mike Blake: [00:34:33] Right?
Jason Jones: [00:34:33] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:34:33] How many 22-year-olds are in charge of a $20-million balance sheet?
Jason Jones: [00:34:37] Well, it’s not only that, you’re in charge of where your bombs go.
Mike Blake: [00:34:42] Right. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:34:43] And that can be a lot more expensive.
Mike Blake: [00:34:45] And as we’ve learned, not all at once. Wherever they go, don’t do it all at once, right?
Jason Jones: [00:34:50] Yeah. Or, just pay attention to the details and do them in the right amount and the right settings, yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:34:55] Yeah. Okay. So, you brought up culture, which is great because that segues exactly to the question I want to go to next, which is, I think an interesting thing about the military, I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s a fairly uniform culture by design. I’m sure there are different leaders, other different styles, but at the end of the day, you’re in the US military or you’re not, right? And if I’m wrong, please correct me, because, again, I don’t know anything, just the movies talking basically and having beers with my cousins.
Jason Jones: [00:35:29] Keep going.
Mike Blake: [00:35:32] You’re not going to see that in the business world, right? You’re going to see a wide gamut of cultures, some of which are highly ordered and regimented, some of which are highly decentralized, some of which may seem flat-out insane, right? I’m thinking of Silicon Valley startups, something like that, right? Are there certain cultures that you think veterans are going to gravitate more naturally towards or are veterans more of a Swiss Army knife, where they can adapt and succeed in whatever culture in which they happen to find themselves.
Jason Jones: [00:36:06] So, I think that is an excellent question and I’m so glad you asked it, because it gives me the opportunity to dispel a preconceived notion or just the wrong notion about the military and its culture.
Mike Blake: [00:36:26] Good.
Jason Jones: [00:36:26] So, what I’m going to say is counter-intuitive. The culture where someone from the military will probably not do well would be a highly regimented, militaristic culture.
Mike Blake: [00:36:41] Huh?
Jason Jones: [00:36:42] So, here’s why. What folks don’t realize is the culture of any type of military service, particularly those that are combat services, those that are going to require someone to go into combat, require that person, by definition, to operate in a dynamic environment. They have to be a decision maker. They need the freedom to make decision. So, what you do as a good leader for combat services is you explain the big picture, you tell them what the mission is.
Jason Jones: [00:37:20] And then, you leave it up to them to figure out how to do it, because you never know what happens in the haze of combat, where the circumstances are going to change. They’re going to have to call an audible. They’re going to have to adapt to the circumstances. But as long as they know the big picture and the ultimate goal, they’ll be able to make those changes in that rapidly changing dynamic environment to accomplish the mission.
Mike Blake: [00:37:48] That reminds me of something I think is attributed to Eisenhower, who said that every battle plan is great until the first shot is fired.
Jason Jones: [00:37:57] There you go.
Mike Blake: [00:37:57] Or, something like that, right?
Jason Jones: [00:37:59] That’s right.
Mike Blake: [00:37:59] You think about D-Day, there are so many things that went wrong in the invasion of D-Day. And to a certain extent, one of the reasons the Allies prevail was more things went wrong for the Germans, but it was not a flawless-
Jason Jones: [00:38:09] Whatever it takes.
Mike Blake: [00:38:10] Yeah, it was not a flawless-
Jason Jones: [00:38:11] No, of course not.
Mike Blake: [00:38:12] … operation, people landing where they weren’t supposed to.
Jason Jones: [00:38:16] Exactly.
Mike Blake: [00:38:16] Those poor guys crossing the British Channel, they’re fed like a 3,000-calorie breakfast. And, you know, you could predict how that worked out. Again, sort of best-laid plans. You’re right. It is counter-intuitive, because the stereotype is I’ve got to have almost a Marine boot camp-style of management to let somebody from the military really flourish. But in point of fact, where the military succeeds is when they have to think for themselves.
Jason Jones: [00:38:44] It’s-
Mike Blake: [00:38:44] Because you’re not always going to have somebody telling you what to do.
Jason Jones: [00:38:47] That’s what all of the training is about in the military, is putting that person in position to be able to think creatively for themselves, yet keep the bigger picture mission in mind. I can think of no better employee that I would want to hire.
Mike Blake: [00:39:05] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:39:05] Right?
Mike Blake: [00:39:06] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:39:06] That’s what you call, to some degree, this is a little slang, is a fire-and-forget-type employee.
Mike Blake: [00:39:15] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:39:15] Okay? And I got this from one of the guys who used to work for Buddy’s Copycat. And this person, when Scott was describing him as a mutual friend of ours, he said, “Oh, yeah, that guy’s fire-and-forget.” And what he means by that is there are anti-tank missiles, this is just one example where when you shoot that missile at the tank from a shoulder-fired launcher, there’s a little wire that uncoils, but it’s connected to that missile and you guide it all the way to the tank. That’s a guided-all-the-way-to-the-tank missile. But fire-and-forget would be that anti-tank missile can lock on to the heat signature of that tank or in some other way where it no longer requires guidance once you fire it out of the tube. So, it’s fire and forget. You see what I’m saying?
Mike Blake: [00:40:08] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:40:08] So, that’s the kind of employees you want and that’s where the culture, back to your original question, where someone from the military is going to thrive is when you give that person as much leeway, as much freedom as possible, build the walls that they have to operate in very high, but make them very, very wide and say, “Go get it done.” And then, you’re going to let the horses out of the gate and they’re just going to do amazing things for you.
Mike Blake: [00:40:37] So, all these sounds fantastic and as an aside, we actually have a Marine that is starting in our group starting on Monday. So, I’m really happy about that.
Jason Jones: [00:40:53] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:40:53] With all this that’s going for veterans, why does it seem like they have trouble getting hired?
Jason Jones: [00:40:59] Well, those that may have trouble and so, I don’t know what the statistics are or what have you, but I think there’s a couple of things. One is their preparation for transition. I can only speak to my experience.
Mike Blake: [00:41:14] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:41:14] I got out of the Navy in 1999 so that was a long time ago. It wasn’t a really great process for preparing me for that transition. So, I think preparation is one challenge, but the other challenge is, and that’s why I’m so glad to have an opportunity to do this podcast, is awareness on the business side, in the private sector of how to translate their experience, their character traits, the qualities that they bring to their organization, being able to have the vision of—the employer, having the vision of how can I plug this great talent into my organization. What type of veteran-hiring program can I put in place that’s going to attract that talent and then, how do I train it? And so, I think that that piece is a little bit missing. And there are some organizations out there that are dedicated to helping bridge that gap between those two sides.
Mike Blake: [00:42:15] You know, what it seems to me the way you’re describing it, it’s kind of a shift of cost, right? If I take somebody out of college who also has little civilian work experience and maybe they even do have work experience, the issue, I may have some comfort on the direct skill set translation side and the place that I’m going to wind up spending most of my time is on building culture, discipline, work ethic, the desirable, ironically, the soft things that make an employee long-term successful, right? If I hire a veteran, I may have to invest more, a little bit more in the skills training side, but those other things, in terms of showing up to work on time and following company procedures and getting along with people and stuff-
Jason Jones: [00:43:06] Being able to think creatively.
Mike Blake: [00:43:08] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:43:08] Keeping in the mission-focused.
Mike Blake: [00:43:09] Fire and forget.
Jason Jones: [00:43:09] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:43:10] Right. That’s done. All right. I can check off the box and I can forget about it, right? And in the long run, it’s probably cheaper, easier, and more effective to train the execution skill than it is to train the person in terms of how they’re going to be as an employee and a team player, because the military’s already done that for you.
Jason Jones: [00:43:30] The execution skill piece, you know, that’s a repeatable process.
Mike Blake: [00:43:33] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:43:34] And the soft-side stuff, it’s more difficult.
Mike Blake: [00:43:40] And you may not know the answer to this question, so, you know, I’m going to give you a pass anyway, but I’m curious-
Jason Jones: [00:43:46] I can always pretend.
Mike Blake: [00:43:48] Yeah, well, there you go. So, one question I’m curious about, if somebody were to apply for a job at my organization, can I call the military and ask for a reference or is there a military record, something that I can access as a matter of public record? How do check somebody’s background the same way I might check a civilian applicant?
Jason Jones: [00:44:09] Yeah. My only answer to that that I’m aware of is that you can, at a minimum, ask the former service member for what’s called their DD 214.
Mike Blake: [00:44:22] Okay.
Jason Jones: [00:44:22] Department of Defense Form 214, which is your exit paperwork, which basically says, “Were you given an honorable discharge, a dishonorable discharge, a bad conduct discharge?” And that will at least let you know that standing. There may be more, Mike, but that’s the only one that I’m aware.
Mike Blake: [00:44:43] Okay, fair enough. So, this has been great, I’ve learned a ton. I think one last question I want to ask before we wrap up here is, is there a difference—you’ve talked a lot about, because I think this your direct experience, you know, you retired from the military relatively early in your life on the right side of 30, as they say, but there are others who go into the workforce that have had a full, is it 20 or 25-year retirement.
Jason Jones: [00:45:15] Twenty years.
Mike Blake: [00:45:15] Twenty years, right?
Jason Jones: [00:45:16] Yeah, in all of these.
Mike Blake: [00:45:17] And so, they’re going to, you know, have retired and they’re going to have someone coming, because they’ve earned it, is there any kind of—but a lot of them want to kind of have that second career, right? They’re only 45-ish and a lot of life left, right? Maybe you’re not ready to play golf for the next 50 years or so.
Jason Jones: [00:45:39] I’m over that number and I got a lot of life left.
Mike Blake: [00:45:41] There you go. God willing, right? So-
Jason Jones: [00:45:43] Right.
Mike Blake: [00:45:43] But is there a difference in your mind, do you think, in hiring somebody that’s had that full military career and is going for Chapter 2 as opposed to somebody who is relatively young and maybe, there’s a different kind of life priority? Am I making any sense with that question?
Jason Jones: [00:46:00] Yeah, I think the idea is how motivated are they going to be, really?
Mike Blake: [00:46:05] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:46:05] What kind of effort are they going to put in? How much initiative do they have, really? My thought there is, you know, let’s take a look at some private sector folks that never spent a day in the military and had a career change.
Mike Blake: [00:46:27] Okay.
Jason Jones: [00:46:27] So, for instance, let’s take one example. You’re familiar with David Cummings.
Mike Blake: [00:46:30] Sure.
Jason Jones: [00:46:31] Right? So, for those listening who don’t know, David Cummings is a highly successful entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur-type. So, he had an exit, a big one with a company called Pardot. He had to be in his early-30s, I’m not sure, but he was young. When he sold out and made his gajillion-figure number and he came to you and he said, “Mike, you know, I’ve got an idea. I’ve got some ideas. I want to go to work”, would you hire that guy?
Mike Blake: [00:47:06] I think I would find a way to hire him, yes.
Jason Jones: [00:47:08] I think I’d find a way. David, if you want a job, if you’re listening, let us know. I’ll get you in touch with our HR person.
Mike Blake: [00:47:14] Right. He left that big exit, which was a barely big number, and, you know, bought a building and started a startup community.
Jason Jones: [00:47:25] Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:47:25] The Atlanta Technology Village.
Jason Jones: [00:47:26] And a fund and-.
Mike Blake: [00:47:27] And, you know, all sorts of things. So, it’s less about, are you at the end of one career and how motivated are you, because you finished up this career and maybe you have a pension, it’s really about the person. How hungry is that person? I just think the fact that they were in the military and they hit a retirement age is really irrelevant. It might be something, okay, we need to ask this question, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to have initiative and not be motivated, et cetera. Plenty of life left in somebody who is now in their mid-40s and ready for the next thing.
Mike Blake: [00:48:08] All right. Well, we’re running out of time and it’s time to wrap up, but there probably lots more questions that could be asked and our listeners are going to think of. If someone wants to reach out to you to maybe ask a question about maybe they’re a veteran looking for some help or they’re considering hiring a veteran or putting in a veteran employment program, can they contact you if they want some advice and guidance?
Jason Jones: [00:48:28] Yeah, sure. I think there’s two things that I would say. Number one, very easy to find me. The easiest way is just my name and you can Google it with the word Atlanta, because that’s where I live. You Google Jason Jones, Atlanta, my profile on my bio for my company, Cresa.
Mike Blake: [00:48:48] Yeah.
Jason Jones: [00:48:48] Right? All folks with voice communications and network connectivity will come up, top of the page, amazingly. We must have a really good marketing person who’s working on the search engine optimization. But the other thing that I would say is there’s one organization that I do want to mention that as I mentioned earlier, you know, there’s two sides to the coin of a veteran getting hired. One is the veteran being prepared and being able to translate what their skill set is to the private sector. And the other is the private sector company understanding. And one nonprofit that actually is headquartered here in Atlanta, although they do work all over the world is called Hire Heroes.
Jason Jones: [00:49:28] And you can obviously just Google that. Hire Heroes, they have job boards, where companies can post their position and veterans can go to take a look at what’s available. Obviously, these are people who are interested in the benefits of hiring a veteran or having a veteran employment program. They do employer training, which is where they will train your HR staff on veteran hiring and retention. They’ll do virtual career fairs. They’ll have talent sourcing where you get pre-screened e-mails, direct your inbox. So, I think that would be a good organization to look into if you have an interest in veterans.
Mike Blake: [00:50:03] All right. Very good. Little information nugget at the end. Thank you so much. That’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. And I’d like to thank Jason Jones so much for joining us and sharing his expertise with us today. We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next executive decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy these podcasts, please consider leaving a review with your other favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us so that we can help them. Once again, this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision podcast.