Season 3 Episode 129: Sharing Wisdom from the 12th Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley

Serving as the 12th Sergeant Major of the US Army from 2000 until his retirement in 2004, Jack Tilley shares wisdom gained from a 36-year Army career and the successful career he’s had since hanging up the uniform. While in the US Army, he held a variety of leadership roles including tank commander, drill sergeant and Command Sergeant Major. After his retirement, he founded the American Freedom Foundation, a 501(c)3 that supports veterans and their families. He is also a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, President and CEO of J. Tilley, Inc., author, public speaker and host of the Your Next Mission podcast.

Jack Tilley credits his career success to his willingness to try new things and meet new people. Jack is a people person and believes success begins with relationships. Learning how to listen and communicate while showing people the respect you want to receive will help you become a valued leader. Take the time to look people in the eye, talk to them and listen.

Jack Tilley encourages people to start thinking about their life after the military as soon as they join. Learn how to optimize your time in service and mold your military career with your next career. When you are 2 years away from retirement or separation, Jack advises you to take stock of your financial situation and pay off bills. Make a list of all your military accomplishments and craft a resume that translates those achievements into civilian terms. Find at least 3 mentors that are already out of the service and can assist you with the process. Finish your education. Your degree will open more doors and will better prepare you to enter the civilian world. Get a thorough physical done. Document your medical issues. Learn about your benefits.

 Know your worth when you leave the military. Know the value that you will bring to an organization. If you know what company you want to work for after your service, research the culture and start networking. Involve your partner and children in your decision-making. Their lives will also change when you separate or retire.

 The most important step in the military transition is figuring out what you want to do next. Do not work until your last day of service. Take time to explore your options. Know that you will most likely experience culture shock. For people that spend years in the military, it will take time to acclimate to the civilian world. Jack believes it took him 2 years to feel comfortable after leaving the service. Just 1% of the country has served in the military. Understand that most people know nothing about the military and are not interested in talking about it.

Build and maintain relationships. Communicate with as many people as you can. Jack advises people to float their resume to people that they have met and lean into their mentors to help guide them through the job search process. It’s common for people to feel depressed after leaving the military. Reach out and check on your buddy. You don’t have to go through the transition process alone.

Many people don’t know about the different benefits they have earned from their service. Out of 17M veterans, only 9M use the VA for benefits. Let a veteran service organization assist you with the paperwork, at no charge. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your military transition. Life is all about attitude. Decide today that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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