Thursday, November 27, 2014

All That I am Thankful For...

Thankful for all That Unites Us

As I was rowing this morning in my garage gym looking out at the snow I reflected on all I am thankful for. I am thankful for being alive and for family, friends and community as well as the opportunity to serve in the Army with some great Americans.  My thoughts also wandered to the families of those I have served with that were killed in action serving this great Nation ,and lastly to the organization I am proud to be a part of, Team, Red, White, and, Blue, which keeps the stories and memories of their sacrifices alive so that we may never forget.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to travel around the country and interact with members of Team RWB. I recently wrote about the “Medici Effect” which is the concept that when people from different backgrounds cross paths in life and have a shared experience, great things can happen. And that has been my experience with Team members and Veterans coming together to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.


  My recent experience in Boston running an obstacle course race is a prime example of this with members from Chapters in Rhode Island, Danbury, Boston, and West Point converging on Beantown for the race. Throughout the race members could have forged on individually but didn't.  Instead, they waited on their fellow Eagles (many of who they had never met before) to conquer the obstacles with their teammates and then move on to the next challenge. The examples I saw on the course really personified the Eagle Ethos of Passion, People, Positivity, Commitment, Camaraderie, and Community. It is great to be part of an organization that lives it every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Coffee Shops, Veterans, and the “Medici Effect”

I have spent a lot of time in coffee shops over the years. One cool thing about coffee shops is that they are the crossroads of society and you can meet people from all walks of life. You could be standing in line or drinking coffee and having a conversation with a banker, stockbroker, college student, etc….  Conversation is good because it ultimately leads to the sharing of ideas, stories, and possibly the forming and building of relationships, which is a good thing, in general.  This is the “Medici Effect.” In his book of the same title,  Frans Johansson writes  “When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas.” 

Since coffee shops are a place where people’s lives intersect, they make a great place for Veterans to build relationships with community members. In the work I do for Team Red, White, and Blue (RWB), I often stop by a coffee shop after a workout wearing the RWB Eagle, which happens to be a great conversation starter.  These coffee shop conversations lead to me revealing I am an active duty Soldier and wounded warrior. More importantly, these conversations lead to the sharing of ideas and stories of others I have served with over the years. It is through these types of conversations that community members learn about Veterans and the great things the military has been doing.

Starbucks happens to be one of my favorite coffee shop chains. They have locations in almost every city across the country. During my travels I frequently go grab a coffee after a workout, as I mentioned earlier, and end up conversing with community members sharing stories about others I have served with. They walk away with a better understanding of what Veterans have experienced during their service.  As Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote in their recent Washington Post opinion piecetitled “Want to help veterans? Stop pitying them.”, “A better recognition of the overall veteran experience — the bad, the good and everything in between — is essential to forging a lasting compact between those who have served and the rest of us.” This happens when Veterans’ and community members’ lives intersect. The “Medici Effect” happens in Starbucks and other coffee shops all across the country.

Today, I had the opportunity to meet Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks and Rajiv Chandrasekaran after they spoke at West Point as part of a panel discussion. I look forward to reading their new book,  “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice.”

Interested in connecting with Veterans? Find out more about Team Red, White, and Blue bychecking out our website. Get involved today!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Still Ticking After 27 Years of Service

27 years ago I entered the Army on what was supposed to be a 3 year enlistment and I am still serving today. Though there have been ups and downs, I generally wake up every morning FIRED UP to be a member of the Army Team. I decided to celebrate the anniversary of my 27th year of service by working out with cadets and faculty members at West Point. It was a challenging workout and as I reflected back on the past 27 years I realized that as I grew and developed as a leader, so did my love for physical fitness. Through physical fitness individuals learn how to push themselves and overcome challenges. 

After 27 years my body bears the scars of war but I make the most of every morning.

Monday, September 1, 2014

25,000 Mornings: Make the MOST of Every One of Them

In his article "You get 25,000 mornings as an adult. Here are 8 ways to not waste them" James Clear writes that we will wake up for approximately 25,000 mornings as adults  and lists 8 ways to get the most out of the morning.

After reading and reflecting on the article;  Number 8 "Develop a “pre–game routine” to start your day" really connected with me. He writes  "What you do each morning is an indicator of how you approach your entire day. It’s the choices that we repeatedly make that determine the life we live, the health we enjoy, and the work we create.", and asks the reader what they will do with their 25,000 mornings.

I used to take mornings for granted, but morning number 6,140 of my adult life was almost my last. On April 9th 2004 I led my Cavalry Scout Platoon on an attack to seize a bridge in Al Kut, Iraq. I almost did not make it another morning. I was seriously wounded in the fight along with 9 of my soldiers . It took awhile but I had a great recovery due to family and friends and community.

Pretty much every morning since my recovery (the past 3,000 plus mornings) I have embraced life to the fullest to include physical fitness, and with approximately 14, 000 mornings left in my adult life I wake up and CRUSH IT daily.

This morning for example, I was with Team RWB- West Point doing the "Hill of Death" WOD in which we ran up a hill that had numerous functional fitness stations every few hundred yards.

How will you make the MOST of your mornings?  FIRED UP!!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Purple Heart Day 2014: Wounded not Broken

The Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces that has been wounded or died as a result of a wound in battle, and yesterday August 7th was  Purple Heart Day. ( Click here for background). For those of you who did not know, Gen. George Washington established the Badge of Military Merit, known today as the Purple Heart on August 7th, 1782.

I am a wounded warrior myself (Click here for story) and similar to my “Alive Day” celebration, I chose to observe the day properly and celebrate life with a challenging workout. Nothing makes me feel more alive than throwing a 70LB slam ball. : )  At 0530 in the morning I was out CRUSHING IT with my teammates from Team Red, White, and Blue, which recognized its wounded members with this Purple Heart Day post on Facebook.

I encourage all wounded Veterans to get active and healthy if they are not already, and to get involved with Team Red, White, and Blue.

You never know the people you will meet, or stories you will hear from the person on your left and right working out with you. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

"The edge of uncomfortable is where you start to grow"

"The edge of uncomfortable is where you start to grow"

-Trent Dilfer, head quarterback coach for the Nike Elite 11 program

Last weekend I had the opportunity with several of my Team Red, White, and Blue teammates to take part in a leader development experience for the 18 top high school quarterbacks in the nation as part of the Nike Elite 11 program at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR.

The quarterbacks were broken down into 6 teams and we served as small unit advisors, coaching them and giving advice during the days events. My team members were Sam Darnold, Deondre Francois, Ryan Brand, Davis Webb, and Dennis Gile.

All of the Team RWB small unit advisors were combat veterans and experienced leaders. They understood that leaders are developed through hard, challenging experiences, and that leaders have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. The experience was designed to take the quarterbacks to  the "edge of uncomfortable" so they could grow and develop as a result of it. It was planned as a series of military style missions that would last approximately 7 hours. The missions included an unknown distance ruck march and flag run, building a bunker, a waterborne mission with a raft with no paddles, and finally the "21 Guns" WOD.

There was also time set aside for us to share our leadership stories with our groups. As I thought about what stories to share with theses young leaders who are the future of America, I reflected back to my combat experiences thinking about the similarities to the role of a frontline leader in combat and the role of the quarterback. Frontline leaders lead by example in complex, dynamic, and dangerous situations. Football is not as hazardous, but quarterbacks lead their teams in fluid and dynamic conditions during the game. As I shared my experiences with them I pointed out the similarities to help make the connection between this experience and what they do on the football field.

The stories I shared had these themes weaved into them:

Trust: Cohesive teams have a foundation of trust. I told them they had to build trust  amongst their respective teams and show them they care care and are competent.

Developing Future Leaders: I explained third generation leadership to them which is  the concept that the investment they make in the younger players will influence successive generations of players on the team.

Energy: Leaders are a major source  of energy in any organization. They are expected to fuel the fire that inspires others to take action

Overcoming Adversity:
I had the chance to review all the bios of my team and everyone of them had faced adverse conditions, some more adverse than others. That was one of several things we all had in common. One of my favorite sayings is "CRUSH IT" , which is for overcoming and crushing adversity.  I told them the true test of their character was how they lead when confronted by adversity.  I shared how I had faced adversity in combat and as a wounded warrior (Read about Vulnerability& Courage), and how I overcame it.

Prior to the execution of "21 Guns" we conducted a peer evaluation. The team rated each other from worst to best. One of my quarterbacks was ranked last by a majority of the team. Part of the peer evaluation process was each person who ranked him last had to come up and "own" their comments and tell the player why they ranked him last. I facilitated this session to make sure the feedback was professional. This  was uncomfortable to all parties, but taught the value of brutally honest feedback designed to give the recipient takeaways on how they could learn and improve. That is exactly what happened after the peer evaluation session was over and where vulnerability and courage came into play.

 Deondre Francois was the recipient of the feedback and this was a crucible experience for him (More on crucibles here). His peers had told him that they thought he was holding back, not giving 100 %. It took courage for him to acknowledge the feedback and then overcome it. The peer evaluation session lit a fire in him. He confronted the adverse feedback by absolutely CRUSHING the 21 Guns WOD which was as many rounds as a possible (AMRAP) in the time period specified. He and his partner completed more than any other team (Read the story here).

With my team after the bunker mission. L to R Davis Webb (Texas Tech), QB Coach Dennis Gile, Ryan Brand, Sam Darnold, and Deondre Francois.

Overall it was an incredible experience. Most importantly the quarterbacks learned that Leadership Counts!

Monday, May 26, 2014

CRUSHING IT in Honor of the Fallen

This Memorial Day weekend I had the Honor of conducting a modified WOD with Warriors with Team RWB on the set of Fox and Friends. Watch the broadcast here.



The “21 Guns” Memorial Day WOD with Warriors is meant to replicate the 21 Gun salute which is reserved for the Nations fallen on Memorial Day.

Check out the WOD with Warriors You Tube Video here.

As we were conducting the WOD I was thinking of these fallen warriors:

LTC Joseph Fenty -KIA Afghanistan
CPT Michael Tarlavsky- KIA Iraq
CSM Jerry Wilson-KIA Iraq
SFC David Todd KIA Afghanistan
SSG Robert Chiomento-KIA Afghanistan
SSG Robert White-  KIA Afghanistan
SSG Michael Lammerts-KIA Afghanistan
SGT Allen Greca- KIA Iraq

Added by Gwen Olsen:
LCPL Daniel Olsen- KIA 04/02/2007 IRAQ

Added by Patrick Moore:
SSG Jorge Oliveira, KIA Afghanistan 

Added by Chris Lanca:
SSG Johnnie V. Mason - KIA Iraq
CW2 Kyran Kennedy - KIA Iraq
CPT James Adamouski - KIA Iraq

CW2 Aaron Power - training accident, FCKY

Added by Jon McBride:
LT Richard McBride, U.S. Navy, Killed 1992  

Added by Ben Coffey
SSG Anthony Lagman-KIA Miam Do, Afghanistan

SGT Michael Esposito-KIA Miam Do, Afghanistan

In honor of the brave men and women who have been killed in action:

 "Live a Life worthy of their sacrifice"



If you have a fallen warrior whose name you would like to add to the list above please e-mail me at    Check out Team RWB and get involved.