Guest Blogger: Adam Potter, Tillman Military Scholar Class 3, Stanford University
1. The value of a curated veteran’s benefit by quality staff.
Immediately following Pat’s Run, I was asked by another veteran at my school to assist him on a research project about veterans organizations. I was to give feedback on which organizations provided quality services in my experience as a veteran. While answering, I had in mind prior lectures in business school about social organizations and their key success factors: a) there is a dedicated staff that curates the organization; b) the staff is very in touch with their market seeking all chances to interact and get to know each other; and c) the staff emphasizes participation in attempts to create community (not necessarily revenues). Many veterans organizations are out there and they are backed by passionate people with great intentions, but as we reviewed all that were available, we could see room for improvements; it was hard to say any had appeal or had reached out to their intended audiences in a meaningful and sustainable way or comprehensively met the three criteria above. The model in my mind was the Pat Tillman Foundation and particularly Hunter I Riley and Cara Hammer. I remember the first time I attended an event, the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. – I entered a room of what seemed like over a hundred people, and having never met or seen each other before, I was greeted by name, by Hunter with a big smile and immediate immersion. That same connection exists and is fostered for everyone. It became even more intense at the Pat’s Run where I was eager to meet everyone again and anyone new. It was becoming community to me and I look forward to more.
2. The value of college in my social transition from military to civilian.
I served 10 years of active duty in the Marine Corps from 2001-2010 with some officer training prior to that and continued drilling reserve status afterwards. While I am very proud of my service, I sensed as my active time was coming to a close that Marine and military culture had truly embedded itself in who I was and as a result, I was growing less culturally adaptive and professionally dynamic as I once was when younger. I could feel work habits and my expectations of interpersonal dynamics becoming more rigid. I was starting to get worried that the flexibility in which I prided to solve complex problems and work among diverse teams was perishing
When I left active Marine service, I hoped to start my own business service private commercial entities. However, my skills were too easily translated back to military service and as a result, I soon became a contractor to the Department of Defense traveling the country and working long hours at various military bases. It was hard to accomplish my own professional goals to transition to a new skill set and work environment while paying the bills and maintaining the household I had built as a mid-thirty year old. So I continued serving the military, but as a civilian
I needed time to go to school and finances to pay for the costs of education which have soared in tuition and in my own personal living standards and family obligations I had achieved up to my mid-level executive career
The Pat Tillman Foundation and Post-9/11 GI Bill have been the fundamental enablers of my ability to re-invest in myself as well as augment the skills I developed in the military with skills directly valuable to companies I learned at business school. My business school took interpersonal relationships and executive communication seriously and I took full advantage of formal courses, workshops and coaches in an attempt to capture my social flexibility and confidence with ideas and personalities coming from any source
Pat’s Run was the first time I was able to experience the value of this education in a new environment away from school where I had been incubating them over the prior 6-7 months. I was even able to benchmark from the prior Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in summer 2011 prior to going to college. Being able to move about the various new people I was exposed to over the weekend and interact with ease was great for me. I can definitely navigate a financial statement after going to business school, but just as importantly, I can navigate diverse people and civilian organizations after having the time to enjoy a safe environment for exposure at school.
3. Phoenix loves Pat Tillman!!!!
Often times when I talk about being a Tillman Military Scholar in other parts of the country, I have to refresh people’s memories. Not in Phoenix! I arrived wearing Tillman Military Scholar clothing and locals asked about or honored Pat Tillman constantly. Even more so, to enter the Sun Devil Stadium area and have it PACKED with people, all wearing Pat’s Run paraphernalia was moving! After Pat’s Run, as I boarded my plane, I was stopped multiple times upon entering the airport all the way to my seat on the plane.
- The TSA security guard who examined my ID and boarding pass: “That man,” pointing to the Pat’s Run logo on my chest and taking a moment to compose herself, “he was a good one.”
- The Southwest attendant as I boarded the plane: “The run was today! I go every year! Except today’s…I had to work. I’ll make up for it on the run next year!”
- Passing a seated man in the front of the plane on the way to my seat: Both Thumbs Up in the Air!
I think it says a lot about a city when a certain personality comes to represent it and its people uniformly choose her or him to be their symbol. Coming from San Diego, Shamu the Whale comes to most people’s minds and it is a very accurate representation of how seriously we take ourselves there. Leaving Phoenix, I hold it in higher esteem now knowing who they overwhelmingly choose to be their symbol.