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Before Transitioning, Take Time to Reflect on Your Military Service

Podcast featuring Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.Lt. Col (retired), U.S. Marine Corps; Program Director, School of Business and
Charles Jackson, U.S. Marine Corps (retired); Founder, Charles Jackson Media

Transitioning out of the military can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. In this episode, AMU professor and former Marine Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr. talks to entrepreneur Charles Jackson about his experience transitioning out of the Marine Corps into civilian life. Learn why he recommends servicemembers take time to reflect on the skills, experiences, and passions they acquire during their service and assessing how it can apply to civilian life. Also learn the greatest strengths servicemembers can offer to the civilian workforce.   

Listen to the Episode:

Read the Transcript:

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Welcome to the podcast, I’m your host, Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr. Today, we’re going to talk about the experience of a Marine transitioning from uniform to entrepreneur. In the spirit of the podcast, we’re going to find out our guest’s perspective on his military service and the edge it provided him in being successful after his service in the military.

My guest today is Charles Jackson. Charles is a man of faith, family man, Marine veteran, and successful entrepreneur. Charles has experience as a Marine leading hundreds, as an ordained pastor touching hearts, corporate leader promoting inclusion, and a Black man living in America that has shaped his innovative approach to age-old ideologies. Charles Jackson impacts lives every time he speaks. Founder of the Charles Jackson Media company, a consultancy connecting people with their passion and purpose, Charles finds innovative ways to reach across racial, social and overall differences.

Today he is an author of an upcoming book, “Low Down Good for Nothing: An Uncensored Account of the Black Man in America.” And host of the popular video series, Race Talks Uncut and Leadership 911. Charles’ leadership insights are a breath of fresh air. His teachings and programs put a 21st century spin on age-old ideologies and practices. Founder of Relational Leadership Model, the connector, teaches leaders how to use his three-step framework to connect with his employees, facilitate diverse collaboration, and establish generally inclusive environment. And on top of all that, I would like to say is a dear friend of mine. Charles, it’s great to have you on the podcast.

Charles Jackson: You know, I was sitting there listening and I was looking around to see who else was coming out on stage with me. It’s not often I get to be on the other side of hearing some of the things that I’m doing and the different endeavors that I’ve trekked on since I’ve left the military. But I do want to thank you, Larry, for having me on the podcast. It is definitely an honor. One that I do not take lightly.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: It is a pleasure. And so, hey, I don’t want to cheat the audience out of anything for the time that we have you. So let’s start our conversation by talking about you, the man. A Marine veteran, we actually served together. But all those things that I said, why don’t you take us back? I want to thank you for your service, but I want you to take us back. How did this all start? We can better understand, if we understand the beginning, we give a better perspective of where we are now. So context is everything.

Charles Jackson: Absolutely. So let’s walk back a little bit to Daytona Beach. That’s where I was born and raised here in Florida, until I left for the Marine Corps. Now growing up, I really had no aspirations of the military. It wasn’t until I was in college that my mom hooked me up with an Army captain at the time who said, “If you’re going to be in school, here’s an opportunity for you. If school doesn’t work out or maybe you can pay for school by engaging in the ROTC program while you’re in college.”

So I hooked up with the Army ROTC while I was in college. And that was sort of my first introduction to the military lifestyle. But it honestly, really, I thought it wasn’t for me. So after my first year or two, I stepped away from it, right?

So I’m living in Daytona Beach and then I’m working now because I lost my scholarship in college and I’m working full time. And so one day I have a dream, Larry, and in that dream I was talking to a Marine Corps recruiter. I remember him saying, “I’m with the Marines and we can help you change your life. You can travel,” and different things from the dreams stick out. But I remember him saying Marine and travel and adventure.

And so it was a time where we had the phone books. So I wake up from that dream the next day, I opened up the phone book, go through the yellow pages, right? And some people listening are like, “What is the phone book?” So I go through that, find the closest recruiting station and call up the recruiter. And a gentlemen answers, at the time Staff Sergeant Richardson, and he and I started talking. After about 10 minutes he had me. Just the confidence in which he spoke, the way he talked about the Marine Corps. It really drew me in.

And he asked me, he said, “How did you hear about us? Why did you reach out to me today?” And I say, “Really, I had a dream that I was talking to a recruiter about the Reserves and the Marine Corps.” Had no clue what the Marine Corps was really at the time. And he said, “Well, I’m a man of faith. And so I believe it was destined for us to talk. Why don’t you come in?” And I went in, had a conversation with Staff Sergeant Willie Richardson. And three months later, I was off to Marine Corps boot camp, just like that. That’s how that journey began for me.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Wow. It’s not often that the recruiter has somebody recruit them, you know? That’s a unique perspective. And if I understood what you just explained, you were actually pursuing your education, because that leads me into that next point, because that’s actually one of the major reasons I hear that individuals join the military, it’s because of education benefits. But, in your case, you had already started pursuing college. Is that correct?

Charles Jackson: That is correct. So after high school, I got a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman, now university, which is an HBCU in Daytona Beach, Florida. And again, after that first year I connected with the Army recruiter and I wasn’t, I was kind of undecided at the time. I was going through the Criminal Justice degree program, but I really wasn’t sold on that. I kind of picked it because I was looking at the classes that I was going to take. And some of the scheduling, it just kind of worked out for me in terms of the amount of time that I would have after classes. So really that’s how that major got chosen.

And even though I felt that it will help me later on, because I did want it to be a detective kind of all my life. If somebody would ask, “What would you do with your life when you get older?” I was, “I want to be a police detective.” And so criminal justice, police detective, it kind of made sense. But yeah, I was already pursuing a college degree prior to going into the Marine Corps.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: And did you continue on with education and everything once you were in?

Charles Jackson: I did. So after I got in and got established at my first duty station, I picked back up with what we call “off-duty education”. So I started using tuition assistance to continue pursuing my degree, and it remained a degree in criminal justice.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay, okay. And your occupational specialty while serving?

Charles Jackson: I went in as an 0111. At the time it was 0121, administrator. And then they converted the two administrative lanes into one, but I was an administrator. And so, interestingly, I wanted to go in and do sort of the paralegal type studies and be in the legal field. Because I was like, “Well, if I don’t become a cop or a detective, maybe I’ll be a lawyer.” But once I got in there and I started going through boot camp and everything, toward the end I kind of locked in with that administrator route. And that’s the direction that I went.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay, I appreciate that. Because you know, a lot of individuals have no clue that all these opportunities, education and things of that nature is open to everyone. And some just believe, “If I get into a particular skillset or something that my path won’t lead to success the way others do.” So I find that understanding where individuals come from is very important. So it gives everybody context that we all can come from different places to get to that destination of success.

Charles Jackson: Yeah. And you make a good point, because while I was sitting down with my recruiter, he did share, it wasn’t, “Hey, Charles, you can travel. Yeah, Charles, you can do some exciting combat training and learn weaponry and all that type of stuff.” He did talk to me about choosing a job in the Marine Corps or in the military that once I got out, if I didn’t retire, that I would have a skillset that would transfer to the civilian sector in an area that I felt like I would enjoy, which that with that legal piece that was like, “Well, if I don’t get into the criminal justice field as a detective, I thought about maybe going to law school. And so I thought if I go that paralegal route in the Marine Corps, I would be working with judge advocates that will give me a great deal of knowledge should I get out and wanted to go into law.”

And so thinking not just military service, but afterwards, my recruiter helped me prepare for that. And then he said, “As an administrator, you’re going to learn HR type skills, administrative skills, clerical skills that can help you operate in an office environment. So it doesn’t matter what job you take, you’re going to have some organizational skills and work on computers and things of that nature.”

And so that was why I didn’t go a combat route or some type of combat engineering or an infantry route. That was why I went the way that I went, because I felt like afterward, not knowing how long that stint in the Marine Corps was going to be for me. And once I got there, I wasn’t planning on leaving and we may get into it down the road why I did end up leaving and didn’t retire. But once I got in, I was ready to go. But I was thinking life after the Marine Corps, my recruiter shaped that for me.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay. Well you actually given a great lead in, because that’s the main thing, we’re really trying to focus on veterans, individuals that they’ve done their service, they’ve done their time within whatever respective service that they chose. And it’s time now to look at life beyond. And that’s where we see ourselves going. Now that you’ve given that background, how many years did you serve?

Charles Jackson: So I served 10 years on active duty and then three years as a reservist. Now, eight of those years were an active-duty Marine. And then I spent some time as a reservist on active-duty orders. And then subsequently time as a reservist, a drilling reservist.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay. And that’s probably about the point in which I met you and we served together, correct?

Charles Jackson: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. So in total, I had 12 years of service.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay. So, now we’ve had all those years of honorable service, experience that you gained, and it’s time to depart. You’ve now come to the decision to leave the service. What was your experience? What was transitioning like? How was that process?

Charles Jackson: Yeah, I think it’s important to share why I specifically transitioned. Like I say, when I got into the Marine Corps, I started doing very well. Coming out of boot camp, being honor grad, going into my first school, which was for my MOS, administrative school. Number one in the class, meritoriously promoted there.

I get to my first duty station, two more meritorious promotions. And then finally, my last rank also. All meritorious promotions the whole time that I was in. And so I was a Staff Sergeant at eight years and all my peers 12, 13 years in, so I was doing very well.

But I was on I&I duty, independent duty up in Jacksonville, Florida, part of 4th tracks, Amphibian Assault Battalion. And it was time for reenlistment. And so I’m going through the reenlistment process and I am thinking about next steps and what I’m getting ready to do, my next duty station.

But, again, you said in the intro in my bio that I am a man of faith and my faith and kind of trusting that God is directing my steps, had been a big part of how I’ve moved in the decisions I’ve made. I felt like that I wasn’t supposed to reenlist through, again, another dream and conversations that I had with some of my spiritual covering. And so I left active duty in the Marine Corps to go and pursue my master’s in Divinity to go into the Army as a chaplain.

And so departing the Marine Corps for me was going to school full time. So I had my GI, I had saved up a little bit of money. My wife and I had a home that my mom had transferred to me, we could go stay in. So I felt like we will be okay while I finished my school and go back into the military, to the Army as a chaplain.

Marine Corps we don’t have chaplains. So it was either Army or Navy to fulfill that role. But I felt like that was sort of the next step or the next calling for me. And the next area I wanted to serve. I wanted to serve in the Marine Corps, the military, but then I also wanted to serve that sort of spiritual care that a lot of military members need.

And I think that may have come through, I was a operation stress control readiness trainer while I was in a Corps. And I really saw how, when we deploy and when we’re separated from family, when we’re young Marines, and we are not used to being on our own, managing money, managing relationships, just the strain of being in the military. I saw the importance that the role of the chaplaincy played in the lives of a service man and woman.

And so I thought that would just be ideal for me, being a man of faith, right? I get to continue to serve and I get to serve in that capacity. So when I separated from the Corps, I had an intention of coming back to go into the Army as a chaplain.

So my transition at the time for that first year was a little easy because I was really just going to school. Now, once I decided that I wasn’t going to go back into the military because of some injuries that I sustained while I was in, once I stopped serving and running PFTs and CFTs all the time that kind of caught up to me, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to physically probably perform like I did before. I decided not to go back on active duty. And then I started working and pursuing jobs in the corporate environment.

And while I was transitioning, I had a point of contact when I told him, “Hey, I’m getting ready to leave. This is my intent.” He said, “Well, if you ever need anything, just reach out.” And so when I changed my mind about the chaplaincy, I reached out and they hooked me up with a security manager job for a corporate company. And then I begin to take those skills that I learned as a security manager when you met me, to then use that in civilian sector as what they call an FSO, facility security officer.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Hey, Charles, that’s a very important lesson that you just gave our listeners there, that your plans can change. It’s not something that is written in stone and may not ever need to be modified. And so, would you say being deliberate, but flexible is an important thing to keep in mind as you’re transitioning from the service?

Charles Jackson: Absolutely, absolutely. One of the biggest things that I have learned that the military gives us, because of the training that you go through, regardless of the service, regardless of your military occupational specialty, there are some things that are just foundation, foundational to being in the military. And that is, especially the Marine Corps.

And Larry, you’ll probably agree with this, the ability to adapt and win. If you can learn to adapt and win. And when I say adapt, of course, things change, environments change, opportunities change. We have our sight set on one thing and then we get a different objective sometimes via order or just by something maybe we are curious in. And so we have to be able to adapt.

And when I say win, winning to me is whatever it is that I’m now endeavored in. If I set out to go and accomplish X, Y, and Z, even if I have to make adjustments along the way, I still get to that target and I’m still able to achieve the mission, even though it, overall, mission may have changed, those small missions along the way. But if I can just adapt, make the adjustments and still get in there and accomplish whatever it was I was trying to accomplish.

Whether you set out to obtain your degree and you thought you wanted to study this and something else comes up along the way and you changed the degree, but you’re still able to get to walking across that stage. Or maybe you’re pursuing a certain career after you leave the military. And if just, for whatever reason another opportunity comes up or you realize you don’t like it, that’s not in the space for you, but you make the pivot, you adapt and you’re still able to land at career and be successful. That’s winning to me.

Because you’re learning things along the way. You’re gaining experiences along the way every time you have to change, adapt and make a pivot. And to me, it all comes together to create your story, but it also gives you the necessary experience and the skills that you need to really strive at that next level.

And so, yeah, you may set out and have a plan like I did. And just through a series of events, I realized that, “Okay, maybe I thought I wasn’t going to go that way, but that’s not the way I needed to go.” I adapted and I feel like I’m still winning now being a military veteran on the other side of that service that I gave.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Yeah, that’s valuable and powerful right there, so I appreciate you sharing that. Now, we always say 2020, in hindsight, if you had a chance to do over or a chance to talk to future veterans, they are a few years out. So let’s in this scenario say they’re two years from separating. What would you tell them to focus on, on that first year out of service?

Charles Jackson: To me, that’s really a discovery phase. You’ve served. You’ve had a lot of things come your way. A lot of it was sort of rapid fire. Your life was just really, really going. The military life is not a slow-pace life, right? It’s really fast paced. Things have been coming like high speed, really high-out tempo for the time that you serve, whether it’s two years, four years, or 20, and you’re getting ready to separate.

About a year out, maybe even two years out if you feel like you notice what you’re going to do. I think you have to start thinking about the skills that you’ve learned, the courses that you’ve taken, the classes you attended. Pull your smart transcripts, see what college credits you already have on there and courses that you’ve taken along the way that you might have, I don’t know, slept through them, didn’t realize you were in or had under your belt.

Because when I looked at my smart transcripts, there were so many courses and classes and things that I had accomplished and certificates of training for this, that, I just didn’t remember. It blew by. So here, if you start looking at those transcripts, you look at what you really enjoyed doing why you would end the service, whether it is your military job or another job that you saw somebody else doing, that’s kind of a lateral position that you could get into. Assess that, assess what you’ve done, what you’ve gained.

Because I think for me and a lot of veterans that I’ve talked to and I’ve had the privilege, as some of the colleges have invited me to speak to their veterans through the USO or maybe their military program that they have, University of South Florida is one. They all talk about, “I don’t know what skills I’m bringing to the table and to the civilian world. I don’t know how my job translates to the civilian world. I really don’t know what I have to offer, I was just a machine gunner. Or I was a data tech. Or I was an infantry man, or I was an administrator.”

So, that first year, if you know you’re going to get out, that’s information gathering in terms of the skills you’ve acquired, the courses you’ve taken. Put it all down, make a list of it, bring that all together. And then start to assess what about it you enjoyed, what you like.

And then, through the transition office, get with them. You don’t have to do it on your own. They can look through those things. They can talk with you. And then they can have recommendations about the various civilian jobs and careers, or even educational opportunities that align with some of those things that you’ve done to at least give you a starting point. So you just don’t go out there blindly if you don’t have a clue what you would like to do.

Some people are dead set they know what they want to do. But for those of us who are trying to find their way, I would use that year, that last year of being in, and that’s the whatever stage you’re at, whether you did two years or you did 20, of information gathering in terms of what you’ve acquired.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Okay. Time for reflection is very important. And I believe, based on what you’ve said, and what I experienced, a lot of times military is just so much on the go. They don’t take that time for themselves. Where I’m sure it’s for all services, but we know in the Marine Corps we’re a selfless organization. We pride ourselves on putting the unit first and putting the mission first.

But the message I’m hearing from you is, you’ve served honorably, proudly, it’s okay to put your future on the table, especially when you know you’re going to transition. When you know you’re going to transition, it’s okay to put your future on the table and start to think about it.

Charles Jackson: Yes, 100%.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Absolutely. Okay.

Charles Jackson: Yep, no other response, but yes, 100%. Most of us, we’ve served selflessly and now it’s time to, because that’s a big part of our lives, that life after the military. And so, yeah, we’re not the same. And that’s another reason. So yeah, I guess I do have more than just a “yes” response.

The person that we were when we went into the military is not the same person that’s coming out nine times out of 10. The military is designed to change us and transform us to operate as one, think like one, act like one, especially in the Marine Corps, we’re trying to become one. And so you are not the same person, and it’s a good thing. You acquire intangible skills, the ability to adapt, the ability to think creatively, the ability to lead, to lead others and lead them well.

And so we’ve acquired so much through serving and we’ve been exposed to so many things, we don’t realize it. And so self-reflection before we separate, I think it’s huge and should not be skipped. I think it should be taught in the transition briefs or something that they have, because I’m telling you, it is a big deal.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: That’s another powerful statement. And that’s leading me right into the next, because you just said, “We’re not the same person that went in.” And the whole point of the podcast is to speak on the veteran and what’s making them special, what’s giving them that edge.

But to get that appreciation, I want to know your experience and the perception of veterans when you came out. Your family, the neighborhood, those you ran into when you told them you served, what was the family thought? And what was the environment thinking of you as being a service member?

Charles Jackson: Yeah, that’s a great question, Larry. Even while I was in, I would be seen as, the minute you tell somebody you’re in the military, they see your military ID, or you’re in uniform and same thing once I transition. Anytime it comes up, the family around me, the people in my neighborhood and those in the civilian sector, they really feel like if you’ve served in the military, you’re a very courageous person. You’re very admirable. You’re very selfless. You are an individual who can take and operate and thrive in very complex and chaotic situations.

Because we equate military to warfare, right? So no matter what your job is, what you’re doing, they think you’re in the military, you’re in an environment that is all about winning wars, national security, however that looks. Whatever the role you play, you are trained and equipped for that one mission that we all have.

Even if you’re rear party you never go overseas, they don’t know that. And so those are some of the adjectives that are always, when people say, “Thank you for your service. I appreciate you being courageous.” My family, the minute I joined and I came home and I’m in my uniform, I became the protector of the family all of a sudden. And anytime something would happen, my mom, I’m staying at the house and she hears a sound, “Charles, there’s a sound.” Like, “Well, you’re not going to call dad?” It was like, “No, you go check it out.”

So that sense of courage from serving which, I truly appreciate that the training though, the way we train and the way we come together and being able to be selfless and not think about self, that mentality.

I think those around me really appreciated that, they had that expectation. Whether we, some of us have it or not. Maybe not everybody is completely transformed, but that’s the expectation that I felt was placed on me. And one that I had no issue with living up to, or trying to own. I embraced it and still do, still do embrace it.

People joke with me all the time, if we are around and something goes down, there’s a sketchy situation, they’re like, “Charles, you’re going in first.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m sitting here. I just got a stapler like you, or Sharpie like you.” And there was like, “Oh, you got enough. You were a Marine.” So that was some of the things that I think my family, they saw me as dependable and it’s a big deal to be seen as dependable.

And as we go further on into the discussion, going into now the marketplace and seeking jobs, to be seen as one who is dependable is huge. Who’s going to be there on time. Who’s going to do what they say that they’re going to do. Who’s going to put their best foot forward in everything. Like that type of dependability that is placed on us, it really does separate us in a lot of those civilian sectors that we find ourselves in after military service.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Yes, those golden nuggets that our veterans, our audience really need to hear. And now we’re talking about that veteran. I know from my experience, I see typically they fall into four categories, that’s that Marine or that servicemember that’s going to go out and immediately become a student. You ask them what they’re doing afterwards? “I’m going to school.” A government contractor, because they often work beside somebody. Some may go out in the corporate or the commercial sector, and then the entrepreneur. So I see this four categories that typically start out.

And I probably have to have you back at another time to cover all of them. But what made you go the route that you did? Because what you let us know was that you found a job through connections and networking, which is important. That’s another thing that’s probably important, but I also know you as a successful entrepreneur. So why did you choose that route? You’re working. You got a good job and some people say, “Hey, that’s enough. You’ve got a good job.” How did you become an entrepreneur?

Charles Jackson: I will have to tell you that I’ve spent time in all four of those categories and to a degree still remain in, I guess, three of them. Yeah, so even to this point, and I left active duty 2018, and so here we are now.

I’m still in school right now. Just started Tuesday, pursuing my Master’s in Social and Criminal Justice. So you asked me earlier, was I getting education? And I said, “Yes, I was.” Well, once I left active duty, a year later I completed my undergrad in Social and Criminal Justice. So I was able to take those college credits that I got before I lost my degree, a little bit of that transferred over. A great deal of my transcripts transferred over and a year after I left the Marine Corps, I got my Bachelor’s in Social and Criminal Justice. And now I’m in the middle of my Master’s in the same, Social and Criminal Justice with an emphasis in cyber security. So I’ve been a student.

Government contractor, that first job, which once I stopped being a full-time student, I began working as an FSO for a company called Jacobs. Again, we have government contractors we’re all over the world, 70+ locations, doing all types of work. So the segment that I worked for, we do a lot of IT, enterprise intelligent work for the government. And I was one of the government contractors before I became overhead staff. Sorry. So I’m the overhead staff. So I’m not a government contractor, but our company, we employ government contractors.

And then the entrepreneur. So, after the military I learned that I had acquired a great deal of leadership skills and probably when I was thinking about separating and what I was going to do, remember that time of reflection.

I wanted to see how I could take those skills and my success as a Marine leader into the civilian world. And so, although I knew I was going to get jobs, I wanted jobs in leadership. So I began to study leadership really in depth. I studied the leaders in the Marine Corps that were around me that were phenomenal, like yourself. And I’m not saying it because I’m on this podcast with you, but studying leaders like yourself, how they led, by walking into the office, I’m looking at the books that they are reading, the things that they talk about, some of their business ventures, and how they lead. And so I really leaned into that and I leaned into my leadership style while I was in the Marine Corps.

So then when I separated, I began talking about leadership either on LinkedIn, on my social media channels, because it was in me, I had consumed so much of it. Before I knew it, I had developed what I call now the Relational Leadership Model, which is a three-step leadership model that I teach. And it was based on what I felt like was the most effective leaders in the Marine Corps and in the civilian sector that I had studied and read about. And then I used my own life and own leadership style in the Marine Corps to really model this leadership tool. I realized that I didn’t just lead this typical hard-charging Marine, where I just gave orders, barked orders, told people what to do, and don’t care how they like me, don’t care how they felt, as long as they did what I told them to do, I was good to go. That wasn’t me.

Every time someone would come and ask me to speak at their promotion or their getting an award or some type of certificate and they asked me to come and be present and they gave me a nod or a mention in their speech. They say, “Charles, Staff Sergeant Jackson, Sergeant Jackson is a phenomenal leader. I want to thank him. He leads by example. He is a 300 CFTer, first-class PFT, first one in last one now. But more importantly, when I was going through this, he listened. When I had this life experience and crisis, he was there and gave me real practical tips. He was relatable. He led with not just his head, but with his heart.”

And that became my model of leadership, leading with my head and my heart. And so entrepreneurship was birthed out of that. I began to build a leadership platform to go in and teach other leaders and supervisors, especially frontline supervisors, how to better connect with those under them. And that started with the Relational Leadership Network. And now it’s grown, now it’s Charles Jackson Media LLC, because there’s a whole bunch of other things that came on this journey of post-military service.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Wow. Well, you have just been giving a great deal of knowledge all the way through, and this has been phenomenal. The veterans that are looking or soon-to-be veterans just need to place great emphasis on those lessons that you’ve just dropped.

The one thing I take from this, and I’m just providing a quick recap, is that we all come into the service with different reasons, different purpose. The one thing that I saw that you emphasized throughout our conversation, and I don’t know if it was intentional, but what I saw was education was continuous. You were educating yourself prior to while in the service and after. And then I also saw that there was not a predetermined path that you could not deviate from if life events called for it and still end up at success. And so I really saw those three things there. And I just want to ask one quick second, did you want to expound upon any of those points? Those three points?

Charles Jackson: Yeah, because, and it was intentional. I’ve learned something, Larry, and I hope that every veteran get it. I really wish that we would give more attention to the importance of education, the importance of knowledge, the importance of what I say every day, “We should always be growing, either personally, professionally, spiritually.” And when I say spiritually, that doesn’t even have to be religion. Like just understanding that we weren’t put here just to be isolated and live alone. We are connected to all of humanity, to all of the world. We should be growing spiritually. Personally, your personal beliefs and morals and character traits. Always, always growing, always adapting and evolving for the better.

And professionally, whatever it is, that trade, that skill that we like. Even if it’s just for a season, always learning more about it, sharpening those skills, getting around people who are better at it than you are, seeing how you can become just as good as them.

Like we should always, always be learning. Because knowledge to me, I know it’s cliché, gives us power, because the more knowledge we have, the better prepared we are for even when things don’t go quite as expected, but we have a little bit of knowledge to be able to make the right pivot.

And I felt like we leave the military often without a lot of knowledge. Knowledge of what to expect, knowledge of myself, and what I’m bringing to the table and how that aligns with the civilian sector, or just educational knowledge in terms of textbook and all of that stuff.

And so, yeah, I’m very big on learning, because the more we know the better equipped we are for the real world. And that’s what I teach high school kids. And that’s what I teach transitioning military folks. We just need to soak up as much knowledge, because to me we can then open up our aperture in terms of what we actually pursue in life.

I would have just been going down one lane, but the Marine Corps really opened up my eyes to all of the opportunities out there, places and things that I could do. And so yeah, that is big for me, real intentional about that.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Well, I appreciate that. And taking some inspiration from a great person’s podcast that I was on, I got two questions and this is going to be the lightning round as we wrap this up. And keeping in the spirit of this podcast purpose, the Veteran Edge, we’re going to speak to the veterans or soon-to-be veterans first. You got one comment, one word, and then I’ll give you an opportunity to expound upon it. For that veteran to give them that edge when they separate from the service, one word, what would you give them?

Charles Jackson: Adaptability.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Absolutely.

Charles Jackson: The ability to adapt.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: All right. You know what? We’re actually going to move to the next one. And so I’m not going to let you go further than that. Now we’re speaking to prospective business partners, employers, anyone who might come in contact with a veteran on the other end after they separate from the service. What would you tell them in a word? What gives that veteran the edge?

Charles Jackson: Leadership. In the military we’re not necessarily delivering a product, but all of us have one thing in common as people, and that’s the people that we are leading. We’re leading people, we’re leading teams, we’re leading missions, we’re leading assignments. And so young men, young women age 18 go in and the minute they pick up E2, E3, they have people that they’re given orders to. They have assignments they have to complete, missions that they have to complete, very strict orders and rules to follow to be able to complete them.

And so in the military, we’re not delivering a product, but leading people. I think every company, every organization needs strong leaders. I have a course, Leadership 911: When Crisis and Courage Collide, which is the show that you were on. When things go wrong, we need strong leaders. When things are going right, when we need an adjustment, we need strong leaders.

And I believe that’s what our veterans bring to your organization. That leadership, that to me, is unmatched because of the environment in which we’ve had to lead and the age at which we start leading, it gives us to me an advantage in the workplace compared to our counterparts.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Wow. I have to agree with you a 100%. Charles, this has been a great conversation. Anything else you’d like to add or leave us with and share where we might find more from you?

Charles Jackson: Absolutely. Thank you and your team for this opportunity. As it says on the American Military University website, Rise to the Challenge. I love that. I love what the school stands for. I love what this podcast is about.

I would just tell all those veterans out there listening, go ahead and rise to the challenge, whatever it is, whether it’s being a student, being a government contractor, being an entrepreneur, working in corporate America, just rise to the challenge.

If those who are listening want to connect with me, again, I lead Charles Jackson Media. We are a media company helping connect people with their passion and their purpose. I’m on the web, and on all your favorite social outlets at charlesjacksonmedia, I would love to connect with you.

Dr. Larry D. Parker Jr.: Again. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise today for this episode. And to our listeners, thank you for joining us. Be well, stay safe.

Dr. Larry D. Parker, Jr., currently serves as the Department Chair of Transportation and Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management with the School of Business. He serves as an adjunct faculty for various universities around the world.

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