Tag Archives: Veterans Day

Veteran’s Day And Business

Often when a national holiday approaches I’ll go back over my posts to see what I’ve written about the day in the past.  I’ve written about Veteran’s Day, which we celebrate today, here, here, and here.

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I vet...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feel free to go back and read them but I noticed a common theme that I want to repeat and  pretty big omission that I want to correct.

In each of those posts I thank our men and women who served to protect and defend this country.  I do again.  “My war” would have been Vietnam just as my Dad’s was WWII.  He served when his time came because he was needed; I didn’t since the war was winding down and the draft was ending.  Putting the politics aside is almost impossible when discussing the differences between those two conflicts but the service given by those who went is indistinguishable.

I also draw an inelegant analogy between those folks selfless service to us and how businesses ought to be dedicated to serving their customers.  I also touch upon the teamwork needed to succeed.  A long time ago Fast Company published an article which cited an interesting study:

After World War II, the US military commissioned S.L.A. Marshall, a Harvard historian, to do a remarkable study. The question he was asked to research was, literally, why are men willing to die in war? Marshall was allowed to advance and test a variety of explanations. Patriotism – people would die for their country. Or family – men would fight and die to protect their wives and children. The answer that finally emerged was small-group integrity. In a group of people where each is truly committed to the others, no one will be the first to run. So they all stand and fight together.

You know I’m a big proponent of teamwork and believe it’s critical to business success.  The article goes on to talk about managerial courage and how it’s tested and that brings up the omission I want to correct.  Too many of us talk about business as war from time to time, just as we do comparing sports to combat.  We need to stop that.  I used to say that the best part of what I did was that when I screwed up nobody died.  Protecting one’s country for a lousy salary and risking a life can in no way be compared to playing a game for a lot of money or running a business for an obscene amount.

So to my Dad, my other family members, schoolmates, and the millions who stepped forward when their time came to serve I say thank you.  We voted last week – you made that possible.  Think about that as you conduct your business the rest of this week and you serve customers. clients, and commercial causes, hopefully as well as the Vets served us.

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What Veteran’s Day Teaches Us About Business

It was Veteran’s Day over the weekend here in the U.S., a day when we honor the service of all of our military veterans.

Veteran

(Photo credit: Keturah Stickann)

It takes place on 11/11, a date chosen because it coincides with the formal end of World War 1. Silly humans – we thought that was the war to end all wars. We’re celebrating the holiday today and many folks are taking the day off (Federal holidays are almost always on Mondays) so I’ll be brief.
All of my social media streams were filled yesterday with people thanking veterans for their service and rightfully so. Putting your country and your fellow citizens ahead of your own wants and needs is a noble act. While it’s not on the same level, how we behave in business can mirror that action.

My inelegant analogy is that we need to put customers and their needs ahead of our own.  Shaving a few cents off of cost or improving our margins to the detriment of the customer experience or product is selfish.  Maybe we need to think of our customers as our superior officers.  When they say something, to echo the Charge Of The Light Brigade, ours is not to reason why.  We need to hear them and act.

To all our vets, thank you for your service.  To my fellow businesspeople, let’s look to the standards of excellence and selflessness demonstrated by our vets as we go about our lives – lives which others made possible!

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The War To End All Wars

Veterans Day 2008

Today is Veteran’s Day here in the US, a day where we honor those who served for their love of country and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. This day became a national holiday here in honor of the end, in 1918, of  World War I when the Allies and Germany signed an armistice. Originally Armistice Day and established in honor of WWI vets, it was renamed later on to honor those who served in subsequent conflicts in Korea and WWII.  My favorite vet – my Dad – was one of those WWII airmen who flew missions in Europe, so thanks Dad and I’m glad you made in home safely (otherwise, what would these folks be reading??).

What I’ve always found interesting about WWI was that it was justified by some at the time as The War To End War after the H.G. Wells book of a similar name on the topic.  That phrase is instructive to any of us in business.  Here’s why. Continue reading

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