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!


Jonathan is an experienced leader and coach with a proven record of leading and developing others to perform at higher levels and improve their overall effectiveness. He has a passion for learning and developing others to improve as leaders. Jonathan brings lessons from over 25 years of experience leading in U.S. Army Infantry, Cavalry, and Armor units in a wide range of assignments, to include leading soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. He is a decorated veteran and a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Jonathan served as a faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY before transitioning from the Army in 2015. He is a certified Executive Coach and operates his own leadership coaching business. Check out his website here: