Catch Jim Vasconcellos on the #PirateBroadcast
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Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast where we #interviewinteresting People Doing #interestingthings where you can expand your connections your community. #Kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. And let's get this party started.
Russ Johns 0:21
Holy cow we got another #PirateBroadcast today. Hey, I want to welcome you and thank you. All the gratitude in the world for you joining us today. We're going to have an amazing program, share a few #Nuggetsofknowledge and you know, kindness is cool, smiles are free is what I always say. And I mean that because I want to be able to share something with you that might educate, inspire, motivate you to do something else along the way. Today, we're going to be talking to Jim, a brand new pirate in the room and talking about some of the things that a retired intelligence officer might consider and think about as he's building courses, assisting and coaching other people along their journey. So, Jim, good morning, how are you doing?
Jim Vasconcellos 1:15
Good morning, Russ. I'm great. How are you?
Russ Johns 1:18
Not too bad, not too bad. Well, let's get the party started. Thank you first of all, first and foremost, for serving in the military and serving the country. I know that there's a lot of time and effort that's spent in serving our country and I just want to thank you and appreciate you for your service. Thank you. How long were you in the military?
Jim Vasconcellos 1:43
I served for 27 years.
Russ Johns 1:45
Jim Vasconcellos 1:47
Yeah. retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Russ Johns 1:50
Jim Vasconcellos 1:57
Honestly it was my honor and privilege. I worked with a lot of great people, did a lot of interesting things. had a lot of fun.
Russ Johns 2:06
Any interesting stories or places that you visited that you can share with us?
Jim Vasconcellos 2:11
Well, I did two deployments. I went to Iraq. While I was there, we also went over to Afghanistan. I was working as the chief of intelligence for the US Special Forces and I went to Guantanamo Bay for a deployment, where I got to sit across the table from some of our enemies and discuss things with them. So yeah, I had an interesting career.
Russ Johns 2:43
Jim Vasconcellos 2:45
Yeah, it was. A lot of the people I saw there had been there for about five years. So it's not a great thing to be incarcerated for that long and I could sympathize with them not being very cooperative.
Russ Johns 3:20
So, you retire, you get out and then all of a sudden you're faced with this dilemma of like, I've been doing this thing for over 20 years, now what do I do? So, walk us through the next steps. What what was the journey after?
Jim Vasconcellos 3:42
I was a reservist. So I retired 10 years ago and just started collecting my retirement pay last year. There's a little bit of a difference when reservists retired. I had a civilian career, also. I did some consulting work. I worked for IBM, work edfor small consulting companies, worked for myself. So, I had retired after doing seven years of active duty and when I got out, the economy wasn't that great and it was hard to find work. I just took all kinds of different jobs. I did retail, I did work for the DOD, I worked as a sales and support person for an internet service provider. It was stressful. It was hard to find steady work. I had a little bit of PTSD that I'm discovering now. I'm almost embarrassed to say it because I know a lot of my brothers and sisters out there have real serious issues. Mine's pretty mild but it affected my ability to perform well on the job. So 10 years later, I'm still kicking and screaming my way along and trying to move forward and I've got a lot of experience. I've studied leadership ever since I was in college when I started back in 1979. I decided to use that experience to develop my coaching consulting practice. And that's where I am today, working on getting clients and getting my products out there and my offers up and running.
Russ Johns 5:53
First and foremost I know that trauma experiences in challenging events, especially in the military, I can't even fathom some of the experiences you've gone through. So, I want to make sure that people understand that this is a real challenge for a lot of people. And I have to believe, Jim, that you have the experience that could help other people in similar situations, or people that are in even corporate environments, because of the experience you've achieved and acquired. Because until you go through that, I mean, you've led individuals through a lot of situations as an officer.And I have to believe that that's a situation that, you can transfer that knowledge, that information into the civilian world.
Jim Vasconcellos 6:57
I want to make everybody aware of two really important things regarding PTSD. It doesn't just affect military.A lot of people think that I've met civilians who have undergone their own personal traumas, and you know, rape victims, things like that. And then the other big thing we have to really be aware of is sexual trauma in the military, and, that women, my sisters in arms, are dealing with being harassed and raped and how the military law works or doesn't work to serve to protect them. So if anybody wants to get more information on any of this, they can always hit me up.
Russ Johns 7:52
With that, now that you're a pirate and you're part of the pirate community, I want people to reach out to you. What's your preferred method of connecting with individuals.
Jim Vasconcellos 8:04
The easiest way is to reach me on LinkedIn. It's linkedin.com/in/JimVasconcellos or they can email me at Jim.Vasconcellos@gmail.com.
Russ Johns 8:21
We'll put all of that in the show notes and everything.
Jim Vasconcellos 8:28
Russ Johns 8:29
You can always find all the pirate content at russjohns.com/piratebroadcast. Jim, I want to talk a little bit about the leadership piece because I think right now in the US and around the world, I get the sense that leadership is needed more now than any other time that I've seen it. Maybe it's just where I am in my life and maybe it's just what is propelled to set the mood in the media and everything else. I try to avoid being swayed by that. It's almost impossible to avoid something in the news where something's going on. I want to talk a little bit about leadership and how it's impacted by its absence and how it can change circumstances that are challenging, because it seems like there's a vacuum here that we need some leaders to fall into.
Jim Vasconcellos 9:36
Yeah, I agree. I think my biggest concern regarding leadership is that, and this was a surprise to me when I started my doctoral studies, the gurus out there have created this huge turf battle of what leadership is or what it's supposed to be. It's like, well, you can't be a leader unless you're an authentic leader. No, you have to be a servant. No, you have to be a transformational leader. No real leaders are transactional. I think people get too wrapped up in the definitions and in the frameworks and which one do I do and which one is right. And it's not that difficult. It's not that confusing. It's hard to do well, and it takes practice and you've got to have a lot of self awareness, but it's really about the people who follow you. And that's about it. You can do everything you need to do to be a good leader, if you pay attention to them and how they're doing and what they're reacting from. So the first leadership lesson that I learned from the military was in ROTC and they made it very clear to us that when you graduate, you're going to be a lieutenant, you're going to be an officer, you're going to outrank every single enlisted person in the entire military.You don't get to act like it. And that just made sense, because I'm not going to go into any job where everybody there, even if they just got there the day before, has more experience than me and act like I know what's going on. That was the first lesson. And then the best lesson in leadership that I ever learned was I got put in a position where I had the Chief Master Sergeant, highest enlisted rank in the Air Force, and he had 27 years of experience and came into my shop, introduced everybody and after that, he said, come on, sir, let's sit down and talk. And during that conversation he said, let me ask you a question. If the commander came up to you and said Lieutenant Vasconcellos wants you to put up a flagpole right here, what would you do? And I started to answer like it was an engineering problem. Dig a hole this deep and figure out how deep to bury it. He stops me and says, No, that's not what you do. And I said, okay, what would I do? He said, you come to me and you'd say, Chief, get this flagpole put up and then I'd turn to the sergeant and I'd say, dig a hole, right there, this deep, get the cement and I said, okay. Yeah, in that in that two minute conversation, it was...there's a system in place to put people in their jobs. So some of these decided that they know what their job is. I should know what mine is and where it ends. And my job is to tell people what to do and help them get it done by giving them what they need. That's leadership in a nutshell, for me. I have not learned in any of my formal education throughout 27 years in the military, or my master's degree or my doctoral studies, anything that contradicts that. And I've read a ton of stuff.
Russ Johns 13:35
Well, that's a great lesson because if you break it down in simple terms, it's an entrepreneurs, especially freelancers, when they're first starting out...they're used to wearing so many hats all by themselves, and they really can't become a business owner until you start delegating this responsibility to other people. And start giving other people opportunities to grow and share and build on their career. And I think that's really what great leaders do. They deliver opportunities to improve other people's lives.
Jim Vasconcellos 14:17
Russ Johns 14:18
Through that process, you can follow up. They want to know how to get to the next step. They want to know where their journey is going to take them. They want to have a vision and I think leadership and vision have a lot of...they coincide. It's not to say that the leadership at a place, a certain task or a certain environment. I mean, it doesn't necessarily have to do anything with a title. You can be equally gifted or equally burdened by the situation and whoever takes the role of saying, here's where we're going, let's go could be designated the leader at that moment.
Jim Vasconcellos 15:01
Oh yeah, there's a key concept called self leadership that fits that everybody has a responsibility to do their job and to know where they fit in the context of everybody else doing their jobs. So yeah, take responsibility and do your job well. Lead yourself first and help others. To put a really fine point on something you said. We had a saying in the Air Force: you don't delegate responsibility. You delegate authority. Ultimately, that stops with the leader.
Russ Johns 15:21
I like that
Jim Vasconcellos 15:46
Me telling somebody, okay, here's what you're going to do. And if you need to make changes, whatever you have the authority to do that. But I, as leader by title, I am ultimately responsible. The buck stops here. That's something that we're not seeing a lot of these days, especially in government.
Russ Johns 16:09
Yeah and we could talk for days on that. I try to avoid that at all costs; however, I do like and enjoy the opportunity to pull out the leadership piece because I think we all have permission to be a leader at some point in our lives, and sometimes we just have to take responsibility and personal responsibility for our own leadership. It's like it's not anyone's fault. This blame game and this victim mentality, has to stop at some point in time and you have to do personal inventory on your skills, You have to look at things and say, okay, what do I do well? What do I enjoy doing? And what would people pay me for and what is the value I bring to the table? I think there's a system, you may have come across it. Ikigai?
Jim Vasconcellos 17:20
Yeah. ikigai. I've seen that diagram before. It's actually an American diagram that goes back to the 1920's and what happens in the center, that is your purpose. Ikigai is a Japanese word that's close to that, but not quite the same sense that we have about it in America. So it's nothing magical. Ikigai is nothing magical. It's about your life's purpose.
Russ Johns 17:56
A lot of us bounced around in our early 20's and we kind of get a few experiences and we figure out, okay, I like this better than that. I enjoy doing some of this and oh, wow, people will pay me for it. And then we kind of fall into this career, in this group and it sounds like, for yourself, you've made a decision early, You went to ROTC, you came in as an officer and you launched your career. You had a good, solid, successful career and now you're going back and you're doing a second career.
Jim Vasconcellos 18:34
Well, It wasn't quite as smooth as that sounded. But yeah, I originally went in, I wanted to be a pilot, of course, you know, every kid wants to be a fighter pilot and that didn't work out for me for a bunch of reasons. And they said, you can stay in or get out and I had a degree in history, and I'm like, the only thing I could do with that is go get a teaching credential. That means going back to school. I don't want to go back to school so they let me become an intelligence officer and I had a lot of fun with that.
Russ Johns 19:08
They invited you to stay. Hey, I wanted to say hi to some of the pirates in the room. Wendy's here this morning. Good morning pirates. Thank you so much Wendy for being here. She helps people write children's books. She's awesome. And so thank you for your life. time of service. She says. JD is in the room. Jim and all the pirates around the world, thank you so much for being here. And don't be embarrassed to say it. It's okay. Some of us civilians have it, too. She's talking about the PTSD.
Jim Vasconcellos 19:42
Russ Johns 19:53
Be kind to yourself. That's all I'm gonna say.
Jim Vasconcellos 19:55
Russ Johns 19:56
Wendy says, if it affects your life, it doesn't matter the severity.Reach out. You don't have to deal with it alone. PTSD alone. So that's absolutely true. And then Wendy Runge says, pirates have such wonderful purposes. Welcome to Russ John's posse. Jim, you're now part of the posse. So connect with Jim on LinkedIn and tell him Russ sent you because you're a pirate and use that reference, personalize it and let him know that you're part of the posse now. Really, I think that's part of the process of us. I've had my challenges with, depression, isolation and things like that in my life as most of us do at some point in time. I think the more I isolate myself and the more I withdraw, it's not necessarily a productive outcome. I think what we need to do is build communities, start conversations and have social interaction. So you can see, even if it's not you experiencing some brighter days, it's, you can imagine there's some hope out there. That's something we need to think about and consider. So Jim, I know that you're, you're working on some courses, and some coaching material. Talk us through that process, and what that's gonna look like for you.
Jim Vasconcellos 21:47
Well, the course that I'm getting out there first is about how to deal with overwhelming stress at work and effectively become a team leader. It's simply methods to refocus, to take back control, and how to be a good leader of a team. So it's, it's a good course for entrepreneurs that have a few employees that are finding themselves stressed out, as you said, not sure what to delegate. It's about new managers, mid level managers all the way on up to CEO's. If they're not feeling their groove or they're stuck, or they're not sure what's going on, they can use this course and take a look at where they are and make an assessment and have some techniques to move forward. And then, my coaching in general is aimed at executives and that same area of stress and, and how to take control. And then my consulting is around leadership and large scale change, transformational change and business process design that focuses on people as the generators of the business process not as cogs in the machine.
Russ Johns 23:26
Jim Vasconcellos 23:28
Yeah, actual people doing actual work to take care of other actual people.
Russ Johns 23:35
You know, it's interesting to see, because every argument has two sides. Every position has a possible different outcome. And when you look at things, it's not always as we see it. There's a lot of people that look successful, that may be miserable. And I think especially in the leadership role, or especially in higher responsibility positions, there's a lot of people that are miserable. Our culture has often said, it's like tightening up your bootstraps. Just go out and get it done. There's a lot of pain involved in that. It's a little toxic.
Jim Vasconcellos 24:26
Russ Johns 24:28
And that passes along to other people. If you're in a leadership role, or you're in a position that has to provide authority to other people, and you're miserable, that falls down into the organization. So, is that something that we can manage and learn how to change and evolve over time, or how does that process work with leadership?
Jim Vasconcellos 24:55
Yeah, here's the thing that people talk about our greatest resources are employees. Business is all about building relationships, but we don't really act like it. We just view work in a very mechanistic way. You know, F equals MA, you're going to take this piece of paper, you're going to make some changes to it, you're going to pass it on and that's work. That's not what work is. Work is about taking care of each other. Work means nothing gets done without people talking to each other, and that involves everything that you are as a human being, being brought into the room, your concerns, your frustrations from home, whatever it is, that affects your mood. It's not as simple as just go turn on the lathe and cut the metal. It's who is this for? How is it best produced? How do we define quality? How do we, as people. interact with each other, inside the company and outside the company, to take care of each other. It's really, really, really about taking care of real human concerns. I don't want a car, I want an ability to go from place to place with a certain level of luxury and size because I've got kids to take to soccer practice. I want the ability to move. I don't want a car. So it's really getting to the human needs of all of your customers, internal and external. People buy things to take care of some human need that they have. And that's what leadership is. Taking care of your people so they can take care of the customers.
Russ Johns 26:50
Makes a lot of sense. I know that in my experience, I've been in different positions in corporate America and now in leadership roles and, I like what you said with the master sergeant, the Chief Master Sergeant is your delegating authority for them to take action and do something else. And if you can provide that frame of reference in what we're doing, it's very empowering. Rather than saying do this task, you know now it's you have the authority to get this completed and use you resources as you would you use your resources for yourself. You know, a lot of times I don't care how you get it completed as long as you get it completed, it may not be the way I would complete it. It may be 10 times better than the way I would complete it. It's not for me to say. It is free to say how can I help remove the roadblocks that allow you to be successful. And that's what he's talking about. This ability to watch out for each other and help each other grow and allow people to learn along the journey. I think it's important for us to inject that into the equation when we're talking about business and leadership and teach people, allow them to experience life and things like that along the way. I like that. I like the idea of that. Learning together.
Jim Vasconcellos 28:35
Russ Johns 28:36
It's a shared experience and I enjoy that type of...when I receive it from leaders, it's nice to be able to say, okay, I've learned something new. Because I've experienced it through somebody else's perspective.
Jim Vasconcellos 28:53
The old saw about you've got two ears and and one mouth or two eyes and one mouth, using that proportion really holds true. Pay attention to what's going on, listen to people, let other people speak. And then let them contribute. You'll find out that most of your people are more creative than you thought.
Russ Johns 29:19
Yeah. Yeah. And people have the ability to do great things when they're given the opportunity.
Jim Vasconcellos 29:26
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah.
Russ Johns 29:29
Well, Jim, I like these conversations. I really enjoy this leadership. Learning and education is really important for myself personally and I know that there's a lot of pirates in the community that appreciate it as well. So thank you so much for being here. All the gratitude the world all the success that you deserve.
Jim Vasconcellos 29:56
Russ Johns 29:57
Again, everyone, Jim can be found on LinkedIn. Connect with him. All of the notes will be in russjohns.com/piratebroadcast. In his post will be his podcast, and the transcription. We'll share all the links to his social media platforms. Any words of wisdom you want to leave with us before we wrap up today?
Jim Vasconcellos 30:22
You know, I think one thing that people get scared a lot about is theories. I don't want theories. I hate theories. I want practical knowledge. Well, we live in a world of theories, the outside world is not what we think it is in our heads. Probably the most valuable lesson I learned from consulting is the map is not the terrain. It's a very particular way of looking at the terrain. It helps you navigate the terrain, but it isn't the terrain, so different maps will help you more so anybody else's interpretation is just as valid as yours.
Russ Johns 31:01
I like that. The map is not the terrain. So with that, let's enjoy the journey today and move on and do great things.
Jim Vasconcellos 31:12
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Russ. Thanks to all the pirates out there.
Russ Johns 31:16
Jim. It's a pleasure and thank you so much for being here, everyone. As you know, always, kindness is cool, smiles are free, and you enjoy the day. Take care. See you soon.
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