How do you Prepare Your Team to Succeed with Otis McGregor

From the top down, everyone in your organization requires a periodic, if not daily, a reminder of vision, opportunity, and hope. Do you need to complete something more than once? Can you automate, delegate, get rid of, or hire someone to do it?

Make sure you’re assuming your queen bee role so your organization will prosper and flourish due to your laser-like focus on the right things. Using the after-action report, you can get your team ready for success. By receiving a hot wash, emotional feedback, acting on what you’ve learned, and rational feedback.


  • Ground Pounding
  • Is your mission missing in your Business or nonprofit 
  • Embrace the Suck
  • The difference between starting a business and creating a job
  • The Queen Bee Role
  • Learning from your experiences

Listen Here, Scroll down for the full Transcript



Notable Quotes

Driving purpose is about finding clarity and resolve and your purpose.

Don't try to sell hope of solving the problem; sell the hope of the organization. That's how you keep people.

Push through with a vision and hope; and the reality, so you balance the hope with the reality.

It's a lot easier to get through the suck if there's a time limit.

Otis McGregor Bio

Leadership Expert, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, Project Management Trainer, Rugby Coach, LTC, Special Forces, US Army, Retired

My passion lies in helping people succeed. I’ve used this passion through years in the Army Special Operations, coaching rugby and Business. It now drives me to create better leaders. I believe that better leaders create better organizations, better organizations create better communities, and better communities will create a better world.

I worked as a Business Development Manager, Director, and Chief Strategy Officer for several companies. In 2009, I founded LTO Enterprises, LLC to help businesses win government contracts. In 2021, I rebranded LTO to become Tribe + Purpose, aligning with how we operate and our business purpose. We focus on creating better leaders to lead high-performing teams. I am a certified business performance coach and certified project director and trainer through The Institute of Project Management.

I retired from the US Army in 2009 as a Green Beret Lieutenant Colonel following 25 years of service. While in the Army, I had a broad range of experience from being a private driving tank five years older than me; to an engineer in the Arctic, running heavy equipment in the most extreme arctic conditions, to leading Green Berets on complex and dangerous missions around the world. I also had the unique experience of being part of new organizations and creating these new units into cohesive, effective organizations. This experience ranged from Arctic conditions in Alaska to counter-terrorism units in Iraq and Afghanistan to NATO Special Operations Headquarters. Being part of these organizations from the ground up has given me immense experience in creating successful organizations

I’ve used those skills and experiences to build successful teams, business units, and companies in the business world. I’ve led capture efforts and proposal development for large and small firms. These efforts have ranged from small task orders to multiple large entity Joint Ventures. In addition to my business development efforts, I ran multi-million-dollar programs for the government spread across the US and overseas.

I possess a BS-Engineering Technology, from Texas A&M University; MA-International Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School; Certified Professional Coach, Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC); COR.E Leadership & Performance Dynamics Specialist, IPEC; Certified Project Director and Certified Project Trainer, Institute of Project Management (IPM); USA Rugby Level 300 Coach. I create better leaders, host a podcast, build high-performance teams and wrote the book Enable Your Teams Success.

I live in Colorado with my wife, Suzanne. We have three grown children living in the USA.

Connect with Otis:

Full Transcript

Hey, welcome back to the show. I’m here today with Otis McGregor. He’s the founder of Tribe and Purpose, retired Lieutenant Colonel, and Green Beret. Otis, how the heck are you doing?  

Hey man, I am doing great and I’m just happy to chat with you. You know that.  

We’ve probably known each other for a year.  

It’s our first anniversary.  

It’s our first anniversary. I got you a gift you’re a guest on my show.  

I got you a piece of paper because that’s the anniversary. Here’s your piece of paper.  

Oh, is that what year one is?  

Yeah, I think so, but I’ll say it is whether it is or not sounds good. 

If it’s not true, we’re going to make it true. We’re going to have the Tribe-purpose when your anniversary is going to be paper, so write that down, mark that on your calendars. We’ve spent quite a bit of time together. We’ve done, I don’t know, like two dozen or three dozen zoom calls. We’ve had a whole event where we were in Texas at our ranch for a week together, which was a whole lot of fun.  

Yes, it was.  

Tell us a little bit about your background Otis, and about TriMet’s purpose.  

Yeah, well I grew up in Texas, which made the trip to the ranch in Texas even more fun. I was enlisted in the army while I was a cadet, driving a tank that was five years older than me, and then shifted over to doing the ground pounder stuff, and then got committed. 

And as an engineer, I went to Alaska. which was that’s a whole other adventure in itself. And then I raised my hand to volunteer for the big green beret and did that for the rest of my career. And I always love to tell this part of the story. The fact that I had such a clear idea of what I wanted to be in the army did not know specifically at 05 or 10:00. I knew specifically at 16 years I pinned on Lieutenant Colonel. Back to the 2025 years active because of the Guard time So 2025 years old got the DAB mark. and said, “OK, well, that’s enough.” I’m tired of moving seasons with lives now that I got a job and that was the only plan I had to get out of the army because I got a job. It’s about being dumb, dumb, dumb.

It’s hard to believe when you think how clear I was at like 19 years old. Exactly what I wanted to accomplish in my military career, and then after the army was like, “Thank you very much.” Time to get a job and seven years of what I call “wandering the job desert.” Bouncing from job to job, company to company, every one of my thoughts thought, “Man, this is the one.” This is what I’m going to do for the next 20 years. 90 days is about all I made it before I started hating what I was doing. And the longest I lasted with the company was 18 months. Before I quit, those were some long, long days and some hard lessons that I eventually learned, and that’s what inspired me to join the tribe on purpose. I figured it all out in the end. So yeah, and driving purpose, it’s about finding clarity and resolve and your purpose. And building a tribe around it so you have more success in life.  

Oh, I love that. Yeah, I did a similar track to you, did the enlisted time, and then got commissioned. I waited a little bit longer in my unlisted journey before I got commissioned, so I didn’t quite hit 05. I got selected for 4 and then had to write the hardest letter of my life declining that promotion. I got selected for 4 in the Navy, Lieutenant Commander, and other services would be considered field grade. 

When you hit that next level, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it any more than the more I learned about business and nonprofits and podcasting and all this different stuff. The way I’m thinking and my trajectory of where I’m going, just no longer suits the military, especially being in a strategic war. Old because there’s not a lot of room for growth and development. It’s pretty much-standardized rules set by strata come, so there’s not a lot of “hey, we’re going to try this out.”

It’s pretty much “this is what we’re doing. This is the way we have to do it because this is the way it’s dictated to us”, so I no longer could grow the way I wanted to. And then when I hit 20, I punched out at 22. My commissioning programs required that I work extra time. So, I took the extra time and got out essentially. at my earliest opportunity. 

But you said some things. In your background, I wanted to pull out more of you, saying you did seven years in the job desert. I did some nonprofit work, and fortunately for me, I found out that I immediately, upon leaving, had been growing this podcast before I got out, and knew that I had wanted nothing to do with corporate work at all. And the vast majority of nonprofits I talked to are stuck in it. This is this scarcity model and mindset, but you said you were a ground pounder. Now I’m an aviation ground pounder for me. This means that you’re an airplane mechanic. Is that what “ground pounder” means to you? 

No, it means that I walk there by pounding the ground with my boots. Generally speaking, the pounding was much louder and heavier because of all the weight in the rucksack. You know, 100 pounds of lightweight gear. You know, it’s still 100 pounds. Do the math. You know, remember that physics class when they said you know what weighs more, 100 pounds of feathers or 100 pounds of lead? You know, guess what? 

Their pounds of feathers is still £100, right?  

Yeah, yeah so. Yeah, that’s what it was. I walked. I would jump out of the airplane or get dropped off somewhere and walk her. That’s pretty much what that meant, yeah. 

That doesn’t sound pleasant to me. I mean, hiking sounds pleasant, but the extra weight and the weight of the world on your shoulders don’t sound like that much fun. Where were you stationed in Alaska? What was the major city or nearby? Were you closer to Anchorage or closer to Fairbanks? 

Fairbanks that makes we were up at Wayne Fort Wayne, right, just to hand them. Maybe 150 miles? I’m trying to remember how it’s been too long South of the Arctic. Circle, you know it. 

I’ve been to Fairbanks. We flew up there for a couple of days, ended up going hiking on the Chena Mountain Trail, went to the Hot Springs, and all that fun stuff. stayed at the. The quote from the United Nations the North Pole There’s a town in Alaska called the North Pole, so I have that little feather in my cap, and those that know kind of laugh at those that don’t know. Like, wow, you’ve been to the North Pole. Yes, just not the one you’re thinking about.  

I used to tell people that I lived about 20 miles north of the North Pole.  

And what did they say?  

They just kind of look at me, they’re like, “how’s that work?”  

We floated above the North Pole in a magical city, yeah? So, tribe and purpose. Is it fair to say that it’s an organization where people it’s a coaching organizations? Then you have a community that’s built around it. 

Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. We help, business leaders. They get their juices going. You know, when you start your business, you get all this excitement and I like to refer to it as the kitchen table business is because everybody is sitting around the little table, and you get this instant karma and communication and it’s everything is flowing and everybody is excited and there’s all this energy. And then the business. 

As you grow and you start having success, you start bringing more people in. If you want to draw a line, it’s usually at about 10 employees or not. Not people that are, you know, functional direct bills, if you will. But with ten employees in that overhead sort of space, that is costing you money. That’s when things start to change, because now everybody’s in the office, and you’re not. I was looking right across the table at them. 

And you start to wonder, why am I doing this? Am I the only one who cares about what’s happening? Or do you get that feeling like you want to open the door and step out onto the shop floor and go? Does anybody care if the fricking lights are on tomorrow morning? Does anybody here really care? Do you give us an idea yet? Is there anyone you know who you want to yell that at? Yeah, because you start getting frustrated because I mean, is he doing what he said he’s going to. He wants to work from home, so he’s just trying to get one over on me, and he’s this and this and this kind of passive-aggressive attitude starts happening. And then another indicator of it is that your best people start to leave. Because now they’re starting to wonder, “Well, what’s my value here?” You know, we’re just going through the same old motions that we did before we did this, and we’re doing it again.

And then, you know, Otis yells at us, and then we don’t. Then we change it. And then we and then he throws something else out, and we don’t even know where we’re going to be. What do we do? What am I going to do? And what’s happening is that nobody has an idea or vision for the future and particularly the founder. He’s lost that love of what he’s done, what he’s created. He or she’s created a situation where they no longer have a vision for the future for themselves, let alone the business. And that’s what we help them start to figure out is OK. Well, where do you want to be? Who do you want to see? Be what? Do you want to be doing it once they start to figure it out themselves, we started to align the business with that same thing. 

One of the best examples is one of my clients. We had a conversation about this fairly early on in our agreement. You know, he came to this realization that holy crap. I don’t want to be CEO in five years I want to be the chairman of the board of an employee-owned company. You know, I’ve got kids. I want to spend time with my kids and I want to do this. I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to go skiing. and not have to worry about something. You know, something happened in the shop. I want to. I want to take my kids fishing, and I want to do, you know, all these sorts of things. Or I want to spend that one-on-one time with my kids focused. And that realization has helped him change how he’s growing his business right now. You know who he’s hiring, his replacement. Do you know when you start thinking about that? It’s a heck of a lot better to start thinking about who that’s going to be. Whether it’s somebody in the team or what that person looks like, that’s not in the team yet, start looking for him now as opposed to God. This job sucks. I’ll sell just because I want to, you know. You know the exit strategy. I’m out, like, put up a for sale sign. Out there, you know. Those are never good situations. 

Business for sale $1.00 please alleviate me of all these.  

They don’t. Problems just relieve me of this job, yeah?  

Yeah, so it sounds like you find people that have built something with about 10 employees at least. And the founder begins to wonder. Everyone else is a care factor. Loyalty comes into question, and you start having this attrition. I know people are heading for the exits. Many organizations operate in this manner. A lot of nonprofits have a high attrition rate, and the thing that I see that’s missing in organizations like this is the founder slash leaders of the organization to stop stumping for vision, opportunity, and hope every day.

If you’re the leader and you’re not leading by walking around like if you’re not around the people and you’re not sharing the vision is that I hope they take advantage of the opportunity, they have every day. If you leave that in the HR room or during the hiring process when they come in, they say, “Oh, this is a great opportunity.” And then you beat on him every day for the next couple of years. And you never mentioned the opportunity, the vision, how you fit into it, all those things. And that’s something that we had in the military, right? When you get ready to go, do a bigger mission and action or whatever insertion when you go over the mission. You go over the plan. You go under over the value of each team member. As to the overall objective, that’s something that we do in the military quite frequently. But do you see this that is missing in the business world, or nonprofit? 

Oh, without a doubt. You are correct. So, what is it? What is it we’re trying to achieve? What problem are we trying to solve? Particularly, we think in that nonprofit sense, whether it’s homeless veterans’ mental health crisis, you know. Name it, whatever it is. You get excited about it, and you start it, and everybody is excited. It’s just… I mean, a nonprofit is nothing more than a business that does something different with the money, right? You start to get into it, and you start to get into that day-to-day and you’re starting to attack the problem. 

And then it just becomes mundane. And what happens is you start bringing people in and they’re all excited about it initially. We’re going to break. We’re going to solve this problem. We’re going to solve this problem, and they get disheartened because a lot of these problems you can never solve. You can mitigate them. You can assist a few people. However, if the leadership of that organization or nonprofit is not, as you stated, selling hope daily, and here’s the thing: here’s the here’s, the real. It’s not selling the hope of solving the problem, it’s selling the hope of the organization and understanding how that individual’s hope aligns with the organization’s health. That’s how you keep people in there when they understand that one, they’re significant and their actions are value-added and have a significant contribution to the success of the organization and the leadership understands what their hopes and dreams are and how they hope and dream. Teams aligned with the organization’s hopes and dreams. Then you’re starting to get teamwork because then in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, those top two in the pyramid are met. I’m starting to be fulfilled and I’m happy to be there. I’m not like, holy crap it’s only 10 and I’ve got another hour and a half before I can have lunch. You know, you know, we’ve all had those days, right? 

Oh, absolutely. It’s interesting when you start at an organization, especially if you don’t have any experience. You’re starting at a quote. UN quote the bottom of the entry-level of whatever organization you’re coming into or doing business with. Most likely, this is grunt work, taking out the trash, or sweeping floors. You’re running the mailroom. You’re doing this head-in but those tasks, although very low-level tasks are not. You don’t need higher-level thinking to sweep the floor. You’re not contemplating existence. Whatever you’re doing when you’re cleaning up after people, those things allow the function of the rest of the organization that does have the mission. “Hey Jimmy, I know you’re working in the mailroom this year, I know we’re a nonprofit and you’re just mail coming in the mail going up. But here’s the deal. You are the lifeline that we have from us to the volunteers and the donors and the public that showcases who we are, what we do every day, and the impact that these individuals are having, not only personally, but on the people that were trying to help and the community, if it wasn’t for you, Jimmy, keeping this mail running, we wouldn’t be able to do that. And I appreciate it”. 

What did that take me like 20 seconds to bring home the vision of what we do, even though it doesn’t seem like that big of a task? What is the impact that has on the people, the organization, the donors, and the volunteers in the community? 20 seconds is all that took, and now Jimmy is reinvigorated. Even though he knows he’s doing the mailroom stuff, it’s not that great. It’s not glamorous. It’s not like the letters are going to stop coming in a never-ending stream. Stuff is coming his way, but he understands how he fits into the organization’s vision and what that can do. not only for himself but also for the world around him 

Oh, 100%, then that makes all the difference in the world. The story I always use is about the janitor in the hospital; it’s You know, if the janitor understands that his job is to keep the floors clean and the room clean and disinfected, then their clients will understand the pace. Patients can get healthy quicker and get home to heal sooner, so now the janitor understands his piece, however small it may seem to the outside. He understands that his piece has value to the accomplishment of the mission and the success of the organization, just like Jimmy in the mailroom. Same thing. 

The adage I used to use was about someone’s bricklayer. Right, hey little kid walking around, going to and from school, and there’s this new house being built or new. Something is being built, and he walks with the First, guys like it. Hey, Mr., what are you doing? He’s like, “What does it look like I’m doing?” I’m laying bricks. Right, the very low-level view of what he’s doing. He walks up to the next guy and says, “Hey, Mr., what are you doing?” He’s like, “Oh, can’t you see I’m constructing a wall, right?” He’s doing the same job as the first guy, but he’s a little bit bigger. Vision is right, and then he gets up to the third guy, like hey, Mr., what are you doing? Oh, we’re building a church for the Kingdom of God. Who has the full vision of doing the same task? It’s not that I’m just podcasting, I’m recording a conversation with you. Do you know me? And Otis, right, we’re doing that, but we’re creating these conversations in a place where we can bring together thought leaders from the nonprofit world and business world consultants. So, we can have the conversations that make an impact in your organization and you can implement this stuff today. That’s a far bigger mission than just saying hey, Otis man, how are you doing? 

Yeah, oh yeah, yeah it is. It brings meaning, and you know what the other piece is. So, it’s not just the people on the team, Jimmy in the mailroom, Bob the janitor, even the upper level, the senior management, they’ve got to have that same thing to include you as the founder. Now the CEO Whatever you know, the guy who’s leading the charge. You’ve got to see that too because there are plenty of days where you’re in the suck and it just isn’t a lot of fun. But you’ve got to see that dealing with the suck at this moment on this day is justification for what we will achieve, creating that hope in that vision. 

Yeah, absolutely. What the suck is, for those who aren’t military or veterans, is the assumption that everyone knows how bad it is. The thing is that you have to do it. Cool, but you know you have to do it. So, there’s a mantra called “Embracing the Suck” or “Embracing the Suck.” Everyone knows that. Although it’s not the best, the brightest, the funniest, the whatever, right in miserable conditions, especially for military deployment, you know you just embrace it. Go through it together. Then when you Get through it. You can look back. With nostalgia, knowing that you did so as a team, even though it sucked. 

Yeah, Oh yeah. Well, you know. I’ll just say that quickly. Special forces going through You know my green beret training, the selection, and assessment. You know, I knew that it would suck. I trained my *** off for this, but I don’t care how much training you got, you still know it’s going to suck, but you know what’s at the other end of that. You succeeded in getting through that because you had I hope you had a vision for what you were going through, and you knew that you could go through whatever it was. To obtain what you so desperately desired. What you wanted shows you how bad you are. 

Yeah, I think that that might be something that all but a lot of civilians are missing. Is it understood that the thing that you’re going through is going to be terrible? I had the same thing going through flight school. I knew how hard it was going to be. I knew I was going to have to study my tail off. I knew that I was. Did you have to go through SERE school? Did you attend a specialized school? Yeah, we know just how awful it’s going to be, but we also understand how necessary it is to achieve that thing you’re trying to achieve. There are not a lot of people that can say that they’re green berets. There are not a lot of people out there that can say they’re aviators or flight officers. There simply isn’t any. You can find them right here. In the right room, everyone gets into one, but in the vast majority of rooms, you’re the only one. If you’re that person, what it takes to get through that understanding, the fortitude, the resilience, the dedication of what it’s going to be to get through that level of whatever I can withstand. If I know it’s a certain period, Of course, if I know, hey, this is going to be one year of my life, it’s going to be terrible. But I know I can get through it and do it. You can withstand just about anything. I knew SR school was 14 days. I knew that it was going to be terrible, but I knew it was only 14 days long. 

Yeah, well, you know you. One of the things that I love, I love that aspect. 

I’m trying to think that there were some things that I did that you never knew about. You knew that you knew the big picture, how long it was that event in the big picture. You didn’t know how long that was and how you had to be mentally prepared. Was it going to be 48 hours or 72,96? Was it possibly going to be more than that? You never knew, and all you could do was continue to push through it. Push through with a vision and hope. And the reality, so you balance the hope with the reality. And this is a little bit of Stoicism. I’m thinking of Admiral Stockdale and his book. You know, thoughts of a philosophical fighter pilot and what he talks about the guys that survived. You know, in the Hanoi Hilton, they weren’t the optimists, and they weren’t the pessimists. They were realists. They were the guys who took it one day at a time and said, “OK, I got through another day.” OK, I got through another day and when you think about it in business, you know that the suck in business, you don’t know how long it’s going to be. How long is this period going to be? You know you hear stories about various business folks. Selling something? Sara Blakely, who is great with the Spanx and how she went to 27 different department stores before, somebody agreed to let her display. And what if it had been 30 department stores that she had kept going when it had been 36? But it’s that belief that you have that this is the right thing for me to do, no matter the pain and the effort that I’ve got to push through. I believe in what I’m doing. I believe you. In the nonprofit sense, I believe in solving that human crisis. I believe we can do it and we’re going to push through all the boundaries, all the blocks. All the tough days. To obtain those victories. 

I fully agree with what you said about Sara Blakely. There’s also JK Rowling, who got rejected from something like 200 publishing houses. I don’t remember the number. Don’t quote me on the number. Thomas Edison tried over eight hundred ways to make a lightbulb. The light bulb was already invented, but there wasn’t a commercially available, easily the accessible light bulb. You know, when the first computers came out, they took up the whole basement of a city building to operate. You know, we don’t have anywhere close to the capacity that we have now. There’s a difference in the military between an operation or a training period that you know is going to be terrible, but you know it’s limited and. Compared to the complete UN eventuality of a problem being solved, some people have their lives to the disease, the social problem, MS, and human suffering, that which they’re going to dedicate their entire life. And no, they might likely not ever solve it, but they’re going to keep pushing forward. I believe in Mars. Society started either in the late 90s or early 2000s. They’ve been going on 30 years, 25, 30 years of not yet getting to Mars, and some of them know without a doubt. that they might not make it in their lifetime. Elon Musk says he wants to die on Mars…

But not on the landing. 

I’m glad you defined that. Yeah, but I mean, that’s the big thing, isn’t it? is to understand that it’s not as simple as going to the grocery store. I am a grocery shopping hater. I don’t know what it is about the grocery store. I don’t know what it is. I go in there and I’m just upset. I have got to walk around this place. It’s a mystery where anything is. I’ve got to load it into the cart. Then I’ve got to get to the checkout, and I’ve got to unload it to scan it reload it to get it onto the card. I’m going to unload it off the cart into the car, and then I’m going to go home and unload it again to take it inside to put it away. It makes me angry. It makes me so angry. I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s exactly how I just described it as to why it makes me angry. 

That is 100% why.  

Yeah, it’s just the worst.  

Look at all these steps I have to do.  

But I know. That it’s only. A short time. So if I’m going to go and do it, I know I can go do it, get it done, you know, grumpy about it or whatever. But then it’s over.  

Then you get to eat. 

Oh yeah, eat what you kill, but they usually get like Qdoba on the meat on the way home, and then you save the stuff that you bought for like the next night because you’re already too tired from shopping. 

You talked about entrepreneurs, people starting a business, and are they creating a business or are they creating a job for themselves? Are they the owners? Or are they owner-operator? There’s a difference. There are people out there right now, shaking their heads at what you’re talking about. There are people out there, whether you know it or not, that own business that doesn’t ever go into the business. You think the owner of the local McDonald’s franchise shows up every day, every week, every month. Maybe once a quarter, every six months, just to make sure it hasn’t burned down. But they’re not there running the day-to-day. 

You can’t own a non-profit, but you can do the things you have to do without being quote UN quote, present. You mentioned hiring your replacement, which is one of the things that non-profits do terribly. A lot of profits, I know, are terrible at onboarding. terrible at training, terrible at keeping people open to the vision, the opportunity, and the hope. And then they wonder why they leave. 18 months later, and now they have to get someone new because they never bring people on with the thought of those people working themselves out of a job, working their self out of a job because they’re bringing the people up specifically to take over roles to free up the time and capacity of the founder of the CEO. 

Yeah, well, if you’re not being that leader, and part of being that leader is creating that hope and vision and understanding what your team members’ hope and vision is. If you’re in business every day, you don’t have the time or, to be honest, the mental capacity to consider what’s next. Where do we want to go? Well, how do we handle this? What if this How can we prepare for this? What events are happening? What events can we create? All these sorts of things. That will make you more successful. You’re not thinking about those. If you’re doing the day-to-day, even 50% of the time, doing day-to-day, you’re doing a disservice to your organization and your team because you’re down in it now. I’ve got a caveat when you’re starting. Guess what you’ve got to do day-to-day? You’ve got to be in it because you’ve got to grow to that point where you can start to bring people in that take over some of those duties and be responsible.

So, these are the ones, and to be honest, they should be experts in those fields, which makes it even better, right? If I’m taking care of the HR and payroll and then I bring in somebody who’s an HR and payroll person, Holy crap, look at that. Imagine that not only do I do not have to do it anymore, but now it’s even more efficient and effective. Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about, and you do that as you grow and become more successful. 

So yes, go back to our way. Up description: you have to go through the socks, but you have to go through the socks with the thought of “how do I create that vision in mind?” How do I work myself out of the job that I’m doing right now – The guy who’s turning the wrenches in the shop – to where I can start to think about Well, what’s next for the shop? We want to add different types of cars and different types of fixes. Do we want to open a new shop? Well, if I’m turning a wrench every single day, I can’t think of those things. I can’t see them. Not only can I not envision them, but I can’t even start to put things in place. To accomplish that vision, 

Yeah, when I look at these things from the point of view of my time as a sailor or as an officer, my time as an entrepreneur or podcaster, or my time in the nonprofit world, every time I do something for the second time, Right, you do something once, it’s whatever, right? You’ve got to figure out how to do it. You do this thing right. The first thing that I’m thinking about is, can I delegate this? Can I eliminate this? It doesn’t need to be done. Can I automate this, or can I hire someone else to do this completely? If I am repeating tasks as a leader, is it required of me by some mid-level or upper-level C-Suite executive? Am I required to report to a board of directors? What is it that has me specifically? As a leader or as a manager, those are different things. If you didn’t know that, why have I repeated these things and why am I? Why am I the one doing it? Can I feel a responsibility to alleviate the bottleneck? Can I set up an IFTTT if this then that, or a ZAP on Zapier? I don’t know how to pronounce it. Can I get rid of this completely, like, what exactly is this? What is the function of this thing that I’m doing? Or can I get rid of it or raise it? And have someone else do it, like bring in an HR firm. If I’m repeating tasks, I’ve got to know why I’m doing that thing. Do I have to do that because that is what is called the queen bee role? Have you heard about this? The queen bee’s role?  

I’ve not heard that. The term, but I can imagine what it is you know.  

It’s like clockwork by Mike. Mike Allowitz, Michael Witz. How do we pronounce his name? He also made a profit. The first was in the clockwork he talks about. The queen bee’s role If everyone is dedicated to that role, to that thing that you’re doing, That’s the thing that keeps everything else running. That’s the thing that makes everything else worthwhile, right? The Queen bee and the beehive. She has one role, and that is to create more bees. And if she’s not doing it, she dies off. 

Someone else steps up to take that role, but that hat has to have that Queen Bee operating, doing the thing that the queen bee does. What is it in your organization, your business, or your nonprofit? That’s the queen bee role? That is if it is not done, visually, the whole thing falls apart. What is that thing that you have to dedicate your time to as a leader, and everyone else should have an eye on that? They’re doing it for that role. That purpose is that thing. 

For some people, it’s your mission. For some people, it’s your vision. For some people, it’s a specific part of something that gets done under the umbrella of a mission or vision. What is that? Queen bee function Are you dedicated to it? Is that where you’re putting your time, energy, and effort? If that’s the thing that has to get done, then that’s the lifeblood of the thing that you’re doing. Whatever it is, you’re doing a bunch of other stuff. What are the chances that you’re going to grow? What are the chances that you’re going to accomplish and complete your mission or vision? How likely are you to end homelessness if you’re not focused on whatever that is the Queen Bee’s role is. 

You have to know what that is, I mean. You know, if you’re doing these other jobs, whether it’s because you don’t trust your team to perform them, or you just haven’t set yourself up in this way or built your business in this way, then who’s leading? You know, every time you’re your head down doing something working in the business, to use that phrase, working down and in the business? Who’s leading the business going forward? Because if you’re working on it, whatever it is, you should go back to the auto shop. If you’re turning the wrench, who’s answering the phone? If you’re turning the wrench, who’s putting it together, you know the Facebook posts so that other people know about your shop. You know, all these sorts of things, who’s doing the customer satisfaction? Who’s doing this? Who’s deciding? Who gets what day off? You know, because somebody’s still got to do that, you know who’s managing the team. If you’re turning rich the whole time, this is all you know. I like that the queen is back because you know what, you aren’t making any more bees. If you’re turning the wrench. If you’re going out collecting honey, you aren’t making it.  

How did it go? That changes for you throughout your military career. It sounds like you started in the guard and got a commission and went up. decided to be a green beret and you made It broke that up. To look at Lieutenant Colonel, as you rise the ranks, we understand this in the military inherently, but people that are not in the military do not. What does it mean and how do you play it? Change as you climb through the ranks, from becoming a junior officer to field grade and then becoming a Lieutenant. Girl, what does that mean? Does that purview look like what? Does your role change? 

Well, you get more responsibility, and what’s interesting is you get more responsibility going up. The people that are directly under you have more responsibility also, but that’s one of the great things about the military. It’s all linear, right? I mean, you know exactly what you’re going to do, you know what you have to do to make it get the promotion. And then when you get promoted, you know what’s expected of you because you’ve also had people that you can model after or model against. There are also those people that you’ve seen that were above you. Like God, I never want to be like that dude. You know, you whisper. Do it with a buddy or a friend or somebody that works for you. If I ever do that, make sure you let me know. 

Slap me, please.  

Yeah, you have the positive and negative role models to establish who you are as you grow up in the military. The other great thing the military does is that they send you to train. This is one of the things the army is pretty strict about. It’s not when you pin the rank on, but it’s kind of in that time, so it’s not exactly, but it’s this break where they say, OK, you’ve done the job at that level for some time. We’re going to pluck you out and drop you off at a school, which is a really interesting concept when you think about it because it’s physical. and a mental break from the day-to-day, which allows you to shift OK. Now, when I return and have the opportunity to return to the same organization a couple of times, But in between. It allowed me to grow to that next level. You still learn the lessons when you get there in things, but you come back at that next level, and you look at it differently. That’s kind of, I was going to say, kind of impossible to do in business, I mean. Some of the big corporates do those same sorts of things, right? They have had some training. and things like that. And there are even a handful of organizations out there that still allow sabbaticals. Every couple of years, I think of those military schools, those next-level leadership development schools, almost like a sabbatical. That’s difficult to do. 

It’s a little different in the Navy because we almost always do schools between commands. We know, very rarely, there are a couple of positions like aviation safety officer. As a legal officer, there are a couple of positions in there where they pull you out during a tour to go for a couple of weeks. Cool, but largely you’ve got your primary training. If I look at officership, your junior officers from euro one to three, they’re in the business of doing right. They’re out there. They’re fighting, they’re doing the So for me, I went to flight school, got my wings, and went to the squadron. To conduct business. whatever needed to be done. Leading the people as a mission commander, the things that need to be done, and after that, it’s my job to then teach the next generation. 

So, I had a thing to do. So, within those short three years, you have a year of learning, a year of doing, and a year of teaching. Within those first three years, you’re learning those different roles as a junior officer. You go under your next command, which is you are in production, which means you are training the next generation of people to do the thing that you did. Instead, then, there’s some the way Naval Aviation works is you end up doing a disassociated C2, or you learn. Some other aspects of the Navy outside of your little zone. I went to Bahrain to learn how to operate and run the Fleet Command Center. I learned on the watch floor of the Fifth Fleet in the Middle East and went to, uh, planning school in between. And then I was in charge. 

50 watch standers on 12 task forces We had drones. We had special forces guys and we ran at the three-star level. very high level. The next thing coming back would have been a department head. This would have the 04 been a field grade. You progress from doing to thinking. You have a little bit of doing, but you were better. a department by making sure you hit the metrics that are required for the needs of the command. This would be needed by the office. These are the organizations. And you’re reporting to the head leader decision-maker when you leave. From there, you would go on some kind of other staff or at a higher level and then come back as a 05. This will be a commander, old friend, Colonel, and you’re in charge of leading the entire. organization, so you’re not doing it. You are talking to those department heads and ensuring that they are on track. To meet the metrics of the things that they’re responsible for.

So, when we look at an organization, it could be an entrepreneur. It could be a nonprofit. You have all these different levels of leadership, and if you are a person that goes up through the ranks, your purview is going to change. And the things that you are responsible for changing if you come in at a certain level, whatever that job requires is what you’re going to do. Everyone has things that are responsible for in-person that they report to. Even at the nonprofit If you’re the CEO or the You still report to a board of directors, understanding what’s really within your purview, within your lane, within your responsibility, getting that done, and then the military always was about tracking and training everything we did was tracked and trained. Every event we did was.

Probably the best word for entrepreneurs, it might be a launch, or it might be an opening for a nonprofit, might be an event, a campaign, or this and that. You do it, and then you have an after-action where you say, hey, what the heck happened? What did we learn? What do we have to know for next time to make this easier? And I feel like nonprofits are missing the boat on that. They do something they achieve, a goal. They take the next whatever amount of time off. They just kind of exhale and then they get right back into doing the business. They’ve always done it, and they don’t always seem to learn from the things that they have done. 

That’s a really good point. I was talking to a client about that. You know you know an event they had in the previous month. And the fact that they know better because several more veterans have yet to do their after-action reports. You know, we’re coming up on six weeks. You’re going to. You’re going to get together and talk about, you know, an event. Your organization performed at a high level during a significant and costly event. And you’re waiting six weeks to discuss how that went and how to do it. Better next time. 

Next workday, people’s next work day Yeah so. Yeah, you’re celebrating. Good job, high five. And what did we learn? The thing that you were in charge of? What went well? What’s sucked and how can we set it up better for next time? 

So, the way we always did it, we did it in two steps. You do the hot wash. Essentially, as soon as you get off the aircraft, you sit down and do an immediate debrief on the op and go through everything. Sometimes we even have outside sources come in and walk us through the debrief and it’s right there and what’s great about that is all the emotions are still there, still very emotional, still very raw. And it’s a great way to capture some things in a different aspect.

So that’s why we call it a “hot wash” because of the emotions. That’s one of the reasons. Plus, all the prop wash. But those emotions are still very raw. So that’s a really powerful place and then come back in 24 hours. You know, after you’ve had something to eat, showered, cleaned up, and gotten a little rest. Things have settled down, so now the emotions are back down. So now we’re a little bit more objective in how we see it. Things we can start to see. Ah, OK. I understand why Bob said that last night, and really why he thought we did what he was trying to get us to do. You know, three days ago, it made sense at that moment. So, we do. We did it that way. We did those in the facilitated. We would have somebody that would kind of lead us through it and phase one, talk about this phase two, you break it down into these parts and pieces, and that’s where you get it. But here’s the important part, and I, and man, I call out, you know my service. Well, I’m always hoping I don’t have any data to know whether or not it’s gotten any better, but the biggest thing that we did in the army is after that, and we spent all this time writing it up. Putting a beautiful document, It goes up. The chain gets approved and all that stuff. Then it goes into a safe and stays there. 

It never gets implemented.  

Yeah, it never becomes a lesson learned. It’s only a report, and that’s for anybody out there in Bizarro World. If you do these three steps, you do the hot wires. You do the more formal, go through it all after I’ve calmed down. The thing you have to do is make that stuff a lesson learned, and I’m not talking about the stuff you screwed up. I’m talking about the stuff you did right too because you know what? What do we all want to do? We don’t want to focus on how we messed it all up in the negative. But you know what? You did a lot right too. You may have only Getting one part of one thing right. But why not build on that? Make sure you’re going to do that part right again. 

That’s all there is to it. 

A World War One lesson in reinforcing an airplane that has all of its holes repaired. It was like oh, we shouldn’t reinforce all the places that have holes. No, we’re going to reinforce all the places that are left because those are the critical points of the aircraft. They’re going to keep it flying, and we had a huge turnaround in World War Two. We’re able to keep more airplanes and all that fun stuff. You have the event. You get the emotional hot wash. You get logical feedback and turn it into lessons learned. Then you take that feedback and implement it into the training cycle. in the training, loop to prevent you from learning the lesson a second time. 

I have a young protege, Allen, who helps me with audiograms and a few different things for the podcast. My daughter’s best friend from growing up lives here in the neighborhood, which is great. He has an old AMC Rambler and he’s got a fancy 350 in it, and he has a lot of fun with it, as young guys with cars often do. He called me; his car broke down. He was right outside the house. He’s in the same neighborhood, and he’s like, “Uh, I need help.” So, I and my son run out, my son Cole, and we go help him push the car into my driveway he’s back there and he ends up taking off the distributor and he drops the new Put the new gasket into the hole where the distributor goes. For those of you that don’t know, we’re talking about it, like disappearing into the vastness that is the engine and obviously can’t be there. Boy, you don’t. It creates lots of problems. He was hanging his head every time we took this. Free, right? We couldn’t get it put back in right away. We plug the hole up, so you don’t drop anything else in there and he ends up dropping this in there. He’s devastated, he’s like, “Oh man.” I can’t believe this and I’m helping to fish it out. We finally got it out and it’s like, you know, It’s Not The fact that you had the problem in the first place or dropped this thing in there. That’s not what’s going to get you in the long run, and he kind of looks at me funny, like what do you mean? because he’s feeling He’s not feeling well, right? He’s found himself; he’s found himself. I was like, “Water gets you.” It’s the years that go by and you drop something else in there knowing full well you already learned the lesson and you’re going through it the second time that that was going to hit you way harder than making the mistake in the first place. So don’t do that in your organization. Don’t make the mistake of it. I made a mistake. solving the problem, learning the lesson, and then not sharing that lesson with everyone else in the organization. Everyone else that comes along follows them.

You see this in military aviation. Someone will run something into the hangar bay doors. These gigantic doors that are in the hangar bay, you’re going to crunch something. It’s going to happen. You’re going to do this thing. You’re going to do the lessons learned. Everyone is going to get briefed on it. And then what happens in the military is you have this changeover. Right, so the people that it happened to, they’re like, “Oh, I can’t believe we didn’t learn from the last time.” They’re going to train all the new people, everyone there is going to be at a heightened place of man. We can’t have this happen again. It costs a lot of money. It’s a huge pain. All that stuff and they will train those people. But the people that got trained. As people change, they’re not training the next generation coming in. And because they forgot to train the next people coming in, they’re going to have to learn the lesson all over again. Especially in a high-turnover group like nonprofits, you are going to find if you’re there for long enough, you’re going to have to keep re-learning the same lessons. How long does that take? How much extra time is going to be lost if you have to re-learn the lesson every two years because you didn’t train them right in the first place? How much is that going to suck? 

Yeah, and you said there’s a problem with the nonprofits in this. This is also followed by hiring and onboarding. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. It is about preparing your team to succeed. 

How are you using those lessons learned? Teaching the immediate team, but then making it an enduring lesson learned in the process. You know, how are you? How are you implementing that? And truly showing those people the next group, whether it’s replacing somebody or you’re growing because you’re having more success because of you. In lessons, how are you teaching them to make sure that they do that and have that growth in success? Because that’s a waste of time and money and that’ll kill your business. I don’t care what you say. Do it if you’re not. If you’re having to spend the time and money to repair that hangar door, you know, every two years because now you’ve got a different operator in there. And you didn’t even try. It’s in the standard operating procedures for the train up or if you did the classic while it was in the Aesop. How come you didn’t read it? You said you read the Aesop. Yeah, this manual is great. Yeah, when did you give me time during the hiring process to sit down and read that manual, practice it, and make sure I understood it, yeah? 

Everything we’re talking about right now is like a higher-level organization. How does this look in lower-level organizations? Somehow, someway, McDonald’s, Burger King, all these fast-food joints. Taco Bell has figured out a way to create a C + B minus product. Let’s not mix words here, like it’s not that great. They run this thing, the whole operation. Essentially, you’ve got a cat herder, some manager in his mid-20s or early 30s managing a bunch of teenagers, and you’ve got multi-billion and multi-trillion-dollar corporations. Run-on teenagers. With no serviceable skills, they come in off the street, basically knowing nothing. Then they say, wash your hands. Here’s how you assemble a hamburger. Try not to punch out the customers. Essentially, they’re trained at this point. They’re able to run multimillion-dollar businesses based on the systems they have in place. 

I just gave up. You know, real quick McDonald’s. So, my eldest son worked at McDonald’s, and you know how bad that job was. But he said, “Hey, you know, I was back in the grill area. There were pictures. It wasn’t even words or pictures. This is how you assemble a hamburger. Step one, step two, and Step three, literally for illiterates working there and there.”  He said that the training was like 15,20 minutes. All the pictures and that was basically what he did when he pushed the button to start the fries. Push the button when the fries are done. Take it out. You know, dump it here. It was So yeah, the process that’s been created. 

Well, there you go. So, if you are going to onboard people and you’re not going to spend the time training them, you have to include pictures of how to do the things that they need to do. If you want to be successful and you’re not going to train your people, 

Yeah, yeah. In a sense, though, you’re still training here. It’s not the best training, but you’re still training here. Follow these steps. Uh, I think it was Or any other friend Dan I was telling us about; you know the learning method, you teach him 80% of the time and then let him learn the rest. Figure out the other 20%, right? I think that was something we talked about with Dan one time. Yeah there. There’s something to be said for that, you know. So do I flip the burgers to the right or not? to the left. Maybe, that’s The 20% is for the McDonald’s grill guy. I don’t know. 

Yeah, let him strive to figure out and close some of the gaps, letting them learn the lesson. is a huge part of that. If you are the sole answer to everything they need, they’re going to be knocking at your door calling you all day long. Let them be the solution to your problem. 

This is fantastic. This has been a fantastic conversation about us. Everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, needs a refresher on vision, opportunity, and hope on a fairly regular, if not daily, basis. We talked about how it’s a lot easier to get through the suck if it’s got a time limit on it and if it doesn’t have a time limit on it. You must keep reapplying your motivation. Everyday motivations are like soap; it’s fantastic, but it’s got to be reapplied. We talked. Doing something more than once? How are you going to delegate that? Can we get rid of it? Automate that or hire someone to take that over for you so you’re not doing it time and time again, and make sure you’re getting into your queen bee role so your organization is going to thrive and grow because you’re focusing on the right thing. We also talked about the beauty of preparing your team to succeed with the after-action report Getting the hot wash, the emotional feedback, doing the lesson learning, and getting the logical feedback. Getting that implemented, the critical point here is to give the feedback, provide updated procedures and provide the training to the person so they can do it right the next time and then follow that all up. There are people like Sara Blakely as Spanx. JK Rowling, and Thomas Edison, had to go do this thing over and over and over and over again. and not losing. Any motivation, any steam, any energy to get their vision pushed forward? Otis, where can people find you? 

Well, our website is, and you know what, I’ll throw it out there. I would love to write a weekly newsletter called Monday Moments, and if you go to, there’s a get started button, and you click that button and hit the newsletter. It’s a great way to start the week because what I’m doing is sharing my lessons. From this week to next week, so that Monday morning when you open up that e-mail, you go OK. Otis did this or accomplish this? It’s not this. You know, I screwed this up. It’s probably 50/50 at times. I’d like to focus on the positive side. It’s also, hey I thought about this, or I had this happen in my life and this is how it applies and how you can move forward. So that you start your week off with that positive thought of alright. Well, let me just kick it off. And you know, it’s just a great way to way too. Share What I’ve learned from my experiences with a larger group of people is that I love doing it. So, subscribe to the Monday Moments newsletter and visit

Hey, thanks so much for being my guest today. You can check out his podcast camera show if you search for Travis. You’ll see where I’ve been a guest on his show. Now he’s been a guest on my show. If you love these podcasts, definitely check out Check out our Ultimate Podcast Guide. Find out how you can get it. Your show started a year ago today and has great conversations. You’ve been listening to the nonprofit architect to listen to all our past shows. Visit and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review our show. Thank you.  

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