The Power of Gender Diversity

first captain

On the morning of July 7, 1976, 119 women joined the Corps of Cadets, establishing the first class of females at The United States Military Academy at West Point.  It was one of the smartest moves that the United States Military Academy ever made! The impact of that class and those early pioneers such as my classmates that joined in 1981 have left this key institution stronger, smarter and more devoted to mission.  In 2017,  West Point appointed the first African-American female First Captain following in the footsteps set before her.  Congratulations Cadet Simone Askew pictured below with a further description in this link Go Army!

I am not saying that everything is perfect in USMA and the Army with regards to gender diversity, but the improvements on the Academy and the Army have been immense. I would like to touch upon two things that impacted me directly.  First, with the switch of USMA to a coed institution, a lot of the destructive, hazing and other institutional practices born of machismo and nothing more were transformed or eliminated.  That does not mean the Academy got easier.  To the contrary, the practices and the rituals became more purpose-built to mold modern military officers.  The focus went from purely physical feats of bravado to those of mental and physical endurance.  The second thing was that there was an infusion of female officers as tactical officers and professors.  Indeed, two of the four tactical officers that I served under while at the Academy where female – Captain Sasarak and Captain Hayes.  Captain Sasarak was a terror on inspections, an awesome role model, and helped me get a coveted assignment to Korea for my Junior Summer.  Captain Hayes could leave us all in the dust carrying a 70 lbs. ruck.  They brought a female perspective, shorn of the false bravado, but ever the bit as tough and demanding as any male Army officer.  They both shaped me in a positive manner for my role as an Army officer.  I salute and thank both of them!

If you want to read more on the Power that Diversity brings read these related blogs.

The Power of Diversity – A True Game Changer

Life Lessons – Diversity of Cultures and a Legacy of Service

Honoring Veterans and Leading in the New IT

One of the greatest lessons that I have learned from Weight Watchers is “to keep your Why, nearby!”  I had a very specific “Why” in 2016 that helped to propel me and others to better health and service.  In August of that year, in honor of one of my former Army colleagues,  I and others from Accenture decided to do a walk to raise money for Veterans.  But this was not your normal fun run or walk.  To honor the huge sacrifice of all Veterans lost in battle, the only fitting tribute was a Kennedy Walk.

John F. Kennedy introduced this 50 mile walk in 20 hours.  People still do it every year along the Potomac.  My company Accenture sponsored the walk to support the Merivis Foundation and the young Marines of the Capital Area.  The icon that you see on my blog is me at the end of the first Kennedy Walk.  The picture below is of some of the participants for the most recent walk on Veterans Day, 2017  (this year I switched it up and did 200 pushups instead of 5O miles).

merivis2

Here is the introduction on why we had the walk.  The picture of John Kennedy was given to me on my 20th birthday from my roommate at the Academy.

 

If you are a Veteran or further interested in donating, here is a link to Merivis Foundation that trains Veterans for positions in IT.

http://merivisfoundation.org/

 

 

Life Lessons – Diversity of Cultures and a Legacy of Service

This is first of three stories alluded to in my recent blog here The Power of Diversity

When the topic of Diversity comes up, most people do not immediately think of the US Army or its Service Academy, West Point, but I do.  I cannot say my childhood was totally lacking in diversity, but I really begun to appreciate the perspectives brought by different cultures and ethnicities while a cadet.   What united my fellow cadets was love of freedom and country.  What made us collectively stronger was the melding of the ideas and perspectives from our different backgrounds and cultures.
One of my good friends at the academy and to this day is Peter Vu.  Peter was a fellow member of the C-1 Cobras, my company at West Point.  (A company is like a fraternity except with none of the parties but all of the service projects!).  Peter and our fellow classmate Jean Nguyen were the first two Vietnamese Americans ever to graduate from West Point.  Peter  as a child escaped through Laos from the war in Vietnam and immigrated to the US.  I learned and am still learning many lessons from Peter.  One of the most important is the art of quiet endurance.  When we were at Airborne School together, Peter could take the intense yelling of the instructors and stand the hours in the “front lean and rest” (aka Plank position) while the rest of us secretly fumed.  He could go and endure, quietly driving through the obstacle.
I also remember meeting his family on a visit to New York and the closeness they shared.  It was also my first introduction to Pho and Hung’s love for all food.  Unfortunately I tried to replicate it without his metabolism.  I also learned the art of self-deprecating humor from Peter (something I do not practice enough).  He had to endure many hardships and overcome many obstacles as an immigrant to the US and these experiences he passed on.  Most importantly, he brought the perspective that all power must be tempered by compassion, tolerance and fairness.  Below is a posting that I have kept about Peter’s graduation and a picture from Airborne School.

 

Peter has spread the legacy of Vietnamese leading and serving in our country.  He has been a sponsor of numerous cadets all in the service to our country.  Below is a recent picture of Peter and a new batch of the Long Grey Line.  Thank you Peter for the lessons learned in leadership and bringing the best and brightest to serve our country!  We are better together when we blend our unique perspectives and talents to a higher purpose!

peter

 

Forward to F.I.T – The Tale of Pam *2

Forward to F.I.T
First posted  on March 2016
This was a great week on my fitness journey – especially in terms of fitness. I broke a personal record for a single day on my FITBIT – 22,117 steps or 10.43 miles. Not quite back up to a half Marathon but close! And a lot better than the half mile which was all I could really do back at the start of 2015. For this blog, I would like to discuss three things that helped me to move Forward to F.I.T (more about this acronym later).
On January 1, 2015, I knew something had to change. I was at my peak weight and had a key event that I wanted to attend – my 30th Reunion at West Point. Everyone wants to look their best for a Reunion, but this is an imperative when meeting a group of former and current Military Officers. So I had a vision and goal to get fit by August 2015.
The first thing that I did was create a Vision Board. I learned this trick from Weight Watchers. They have confirmed studies that show people who visualize their goals have a better chance to realize them. So I created a Vision Board shown below.

vision board

In this Vision Board was pictures of my classmates both in the past and recent. My class motto – For Excellence We Strive, 85! (Now, you know my approximate age). And a few pictures of me reaching for my goal – note the cool retro headband my youngest gave me for my last Birthday. I looked at the Vision Board each day along with the goals assigned. It was on my phone (BTW it is called HayHouseVB on IOS – there are others).
The next tool of the trade is I joined a gym – LifeTime Fitness (Austin North). I always loved group exercise (hold over from Army morning PT). The only problem was I was not in shape for strenuous exercise. So I did the only thing I could. I did Water Aerobics every Saturday. For those just easing back into exercise it is the best thing. It is easy on your joints but can give a great workout. My instructor was a lady named Pam and she helped me to start to realize my Vision outlined on the Vision board. More about Pam later.
Soon, I could get out of the pool and do more strenuous exercise on the land. Not a huge leap yet – Elliptical training and walking with my Fitbit. One activity on the Fitbit – the Challenges – really helped me up my game. I love competition and the challenges allow you compete against others. Below, I show the challenge I won this week on the Fitbit – this is my first victory. For you with Fitbits, I recommend you get some friends and participate in some challenges. It will cause you to do some crazy things (yes competitors, I walked around in circles from 11:45 to Midnight to win. Woke up the wife and Boots the dog!) Here is a screen print of the challenge for those of you interested in jumping into one).

fitbit

Now to the conclusion and back to Pam and the acronym F.I.T. Using the above mentioned tools, I was able to go to my Reunion and hold my own with my classmates. Below is a picture of me at the Army Football game at the Reunion (Beat Navy – please one of these years!). I also got to meet Pam again this week in her other class Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T)  at LifeTime Fitness (Austin North). This is my gym’s rendition of P90X or Insanity – one hour of heart pumping; butt thumping; muscle aching; legs quaking exercise. When I was done and a puddle of sweat was on the floor, Pam came up to me and said I recognize from somewhere but you look a different. Is this really your first class, here? I said yes but I was the guy that used to have problems making arm circles in your Water Aerobics class. See the Vision; be the Vision!

westpoint