How We View Competition: Part 2

July 11, 2016 in Veterans, Business, and Security

In an article I posted last week about why we don’t spend much of our time or energy here at The CP Journal thinking the competitors to our business, I explained how we use the “3 Buckets of Control” to focus only on those things that we can do to support our students. The reason why I discussed this view is not because we aren’t competitive. By defining the people and organizations who are not our enemies, we can focus on those who truly are. The adversaries that we compete with are not other businesses in our field. They are the predators who are attempting to hide within our communities and interrupt our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our clients might call this adversary a terrorist, an active shooter, a deranged fan, a bully or a gang member, and as we seek to support our clients in their fight against these predators, there are a few key considerations that make up our perspective on our true competitors.

1. This is a competition with clear winners and losers.

As we move through 2016 and consider the violence we have experienced in the past few years, the world certainly feels like a more dangerous place than it did even just five or six years ago. We have seen high profile terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Orlando. We have seen race-related violence that led to the recent murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and the murder of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. We have seen and experienced how often we turn on breaking news to listen to the reporting of an active shooter in our schools, workplaces and city sidewalks. While the “experts” appearing on 24-hour news channels debate whether this is an actual rise in violence or just a rise in the reporting of violence, the distinction is irrelevant. It simply feels more violent out there and, because of the fact that success stories where the good guys stop an attack by being left of bang aren’t reported as frequently as when attackers succeed, it feels like the predators are winning this fight.

Fighting a perception of pervasive violence is a big enough challenge in its own right and there is no room for people who think that we are doing things “good enough,” because clearly we aren’t. In their Continue reading »

How We Consider Competition In Our Business

June 30, 2016 in Veterans, Business, and Security

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast interview in which Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), was talking about how he has built his company and influenced his company’s culture. I first became a fan of Jason’s work and his ideas after he sent a box of his book, Rework, to my unit when I was still an instructor in the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program. What immediately impressed me was how deliberate and intentional he seemingly was about every decision he made for his business. Many of his ideas have gone against the grain of “business as usual” as he provides all of his employees with a paid vacation anywhere they want to go in the world for themselves and their families, letting his employees work from anywhere in the world, and paying for personal education like guitar lessons or culinary school for his employees as a few examples. It was clear in his writing that the common sense (yet unconventional) decisions he was making were not something to do just because other businesses were doing it, but because it was the right thing to do for his company. That level of thoughtfulness has stuck with me over the last five years as Jonathan and I have built The CP Journal and we have tried to apply the high degree of intentionality to the decisions we have made. As there have been a growing number of people offering “Combat Hunter training” for civilians, we have had a number of conversations with people in the past few weeks about how we view competition in our business. As we have always strived to build a company that we would want to do business with, how we view these competitors has helped us to become even more customer-focused than before.

When people ask us how we view competition to our business, the short answer is that we don’t. We have made the choice to Continue reading »

The Demand For Autodidacts – The Self-Taught in an Age of Shrinking Budgets

February 18, 2015 in Learning About Learning

The New Reality

During wartime, budgets for the military and law enforcement go up and, in turn, the training and equipment that our nation’s protectors need to do their jobs well becomes more readily available. Since the beginning of the “War on Terror,” the military saw the Department of Defense’s budget nearly double from $287 billion per year to $530 billion per year.[i] At home, law enforcement has seen a similar expansion. Following September 11th, the Department of Homeland Security was formed and, through DHS, local police departments had access to grant money for training and equipment through a number of different programs.   However, during peacetime or when the public loses interest in the “war,” budgets shrink. After the Korean War the defense budget shrank by 43%. After Vietnam the defense budget shrank by 33%. After the Cold War the budget shrank by 36% and, while it will be a few more years before the final cuts from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are realized, the amount of money allocated to the defense and law enforcement communities continues to decline overall.[ii]

When people without any experience in either the military or law enforcement listen to the outcry that will come from people within those communities as budget cuts are announced, the first image they often have is of the life-long bureaucrat.   This is the person who only cares about the fact that because his or her budget is going down their department is going to be smaller, which means that their “status” has just been reduced. When administrators feel like they have been slighted, there is usually a lot of concern that trickles down the chain of command to the men and women who are on the ground.   They realize that the bureaucrat (who doesn’t have anything personally at stake when making decisions about how much training those people should get) has also just been incentivized to cut corners and show how they are “doing more with less,” because that is how they will get ahead and be promoted in an era of shrinking budgets.

This often results in check-the-box training events where standards are lowered, class sizes are increased and training hours are reduced to the minimum amount required for a certificate. Maximizing the number of man-hours trained helps an organization to look like they are mission capable, at least in the bullet points of a PowerPoint briefing up the chain of command. For the operators and protectors on the ground, though, shrinking budgets can be terrifying because there is nothing scarier than being deemed “paper-ready” by someone far removed from the actual danger. People who work on the ground realize the very real difference between sitting in a classroom to learn a new skill and being able to actually perform those skills in a real-life situation when your life could be on the line for making a correct or incorrect assessment. Since the allocation or the size of the budget is a “third bucket problem” for protectors and is likely outside of your control, this article is about understanding the impact of budget cuts on your personal development and knowing where you should focus your time, attention and energy, so that you can truly succeed in your profession.

At the time that I am writing this, our country faces an enemy who wants to destroy the freedom that America was built on, one IED and one beheading at a time. We face criminals who have studied our legal system, understand what law enforcement officers can and can’t do, and continually adapt to grow their illegal enterprise. We face the risk of online self-radicalization and the anger of people who believe that opening fire in a public area is the only way to be seen as important and powerful. For the members of the military, the law enforcement community and security professionals, the public expects that you are capable of stopping these attacks and protecting the freedom that allows them to live their lives. Because they expect this of you, they are going to hold you accountable when a criminal succeeds. The public is going to see each successful attack as a failure of the government and the security professionals who were present at the scene. Despite shrinking budgets, these are the conditions that you have to learn to thrive within. Is it a double standard and hypocritical when the same people who want you to do more with less get mad and criticize you in the press when an attack is successful? Of course it is, but whether this is “what you signed up for” or not, this is the new reality.

What you do in response to this reality is your choice. The first option is Continue reading »

The Three Buckets of Control

February 10, 2015 in Veterans, Business, and Security

One of the first managers that I ever had was a tremendous leader.  I thought that he was great as a leader because he was a good motivator, he was knowledgeable, and he genuinely cared about the people on his team. I was in my first role out of college and he sat me down and walked me through a concept that would continue to be a methodology for the way I think in my personal and professional lives.

To help illustrate the concepts that he taught me, the diagram above shows three circles.  For the purposes of this post, think of those circles as buckets.  In each of those buckets you could place everything that could happen to you in your daily life, including all of the things that you think about throughout each day.  Think about the buckets as follows:

  • Bucket #1:  In bucket one, place those things that you have total control over.  These are decisions that you consciously make everyday.  For example, the clothes that you chose to put on this morning, the food you purchase from the grocery store, what time you leave the house for work, etc.
  • Bucket #2:  In bucket two, place those things that you think about and can influence but don’t have total control over.  I use examples from friends and family here.  My friends and family might call me for advice on a matter and I can influence their decision by giving them my thoughts.  Ultimately, though, the decision is theirs and what they decide to do is up to them.
  • Bucket #3:  In bucket three, place all of the things that you have no control over whatsoever.  These are things like the weather, traffic, sporting events, television shows, and the stream of items on your Facebook newsfeed that you have no control over whether they are posted or not.

The buckets are drawn to the above scale because people tend to think about things in these proportions. I have met people that spend a significant amount of time thinking, worrying, and contemplating things that reside wholly in the third bucket, the things that they have no control over.  Comparatively speaking, those people spend very little time deciding how they are going to actually spend their time, what they will wear to work, or what to put into their bodies, the things that they have complete control over.

The same comparison can be drawn to people I have met in my professional life.  I have met many people that spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about third bucket stuff, and it doesn’t get them very far because Continue reading »