UNITED STATES VETERANS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (USVCC)

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The United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce (USVCC) is a 501c3 and 501c6 veteran organization connecting corporate America, government, and small businesses to our Nation’s veterans and veteran owned businesses. Through various programs including financial, contracting, educational and many other USVCC tools, the Chamber is a one stop shop for both corporations seeking bid-ready veteran owned businesses(VOB) for procurement and VOBs interested in corporate contracting.

The National USVCC office, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the governing body to uniformly run regional and state chambers. The breakdown of the regional chambers are: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest with approximately 8-12 states encompassed in each region.

Membership to the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce for VOBs and SDVOBs include:

1. Live third-party certification for veteran owned businesses through local and regional chambers
2. Veteran Owned Business Evaluation Program to ensure VOBs are bid-ready
3. Matchmaking corporations with VOB’s
4. Tier 1 & Tier 2 contracting
5. Wellness programs for veterans and veteran owned businesses
6. Financial tools
7. Leadership and education scholarships
8. Veteran employment
9. USVCC Annual Summit
10. USVCC Veteran Podcast

Michael Zacchea, Lt.Col. Marine Corps (ret) is the Executive Director of the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce. Zacchea served overseas in Somalia, Haiti, and finally in Iraq to build, train, and lead in combat the first Iraqi army battalion trained by the US military. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal (with Valor device), the Purple Heart Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and numerous unit and campaign awards. Since his retirement from the Armed Forces, Zacchea has helped create and run many nonprofits such as Netroots: an organization of military advisers helping Iraqi interpreters immigrate to the United States, University of Connecticut Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities which has incubated hundreds of veteran businesses, and is an active participant in various CT Dept. of Veteran Affairs groups and initiatives. Michael Zacchea now brings his leadership and strength of the veteran culture as the Executive Director of the USVCC.

Leading the USVCC Board of Directors, is Chairman and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Paul “Buddy” Bucha. Chairman Bucha served in Vietnam as a Captain and commander of Company D, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment who infamously stumbled upon a full North Vietnamese army battalion during a routine mission. Throughout the night, Bucha’s heroism shined as he single handedly destroyed bunkers, encouraged his men, and distributed much needed supplies to soldiers who were cut off from D Company. Once his tour in Vietnam ended, Bucha went on to teach at West Point, work as chief of operations in Iran for Ross Perot’s company, and start multiple companies and nonprofits of his own. It is the USVCC’s honor to have Paul Bucha as the Chairman to the experience rich USVCC Board and Advisory members.

In two years, the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce will have a presence in all 50 states, over a quarter of a million veteran business members, and 200 Fortune 1000 corporations. Live certification and membership is available for VOBs, SDVOBs, Gold Star spouses, and caregivers of 100% disabled veteran businesses. Memberships are available for veteran friendly businesses.

For more information on the USVVC, please contact:
Adrian Guglielmo
A.guglielmo@usvcc.org

If you’re a veteran owned business looking to join the USVCC or interested in running a State Chamber, please contact:
Saul Newton
membership@usvcc.org

Visit the website today at usvcc.org

Paws of War Asks for Help to Bring Soldier’s Dog Back to America

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soldier pictured with her dog that lying on the grass next to her feet

Many people are aware that some military bases are being closed overseas and the soldiers are being brought home. What they may not know is that some of these soldiers have dogs that will be left behind to fend for themselves in an area of the world that doesn’t treat dogs with kindness.

One of those dogs is Meeka, who has been a loyal companion to Sergeant E, who is already back in the U.S., missing her dog, and has turned to Paws of War to help bring him back home to live with her.

“Anyone who has ever had a dog knows how difficult it would be to walk out on him one day and live with the idea that you may never see him again,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “That’s exactly what has happened to Sergeant E, and we will make every effort to bring her dog to America to live out the rest of his days with her in a safe and loving environment.”

The bond between a dog and his human companions is special, particularly when you are someone living on a military basis thousands of miles from home. When Sergeant E first saw a dog wandering around the base that was showing signs of neglect and abuse, she had no idea that she would end up creating such a bond with him.

Naming him Meeka, the pair created an instant bond and connection. Every morning when she would leave the barracks she would see the dog, who would get excited for her attention. The dog would also spend time each morning alongside of her as she did her runs. The two became inseparable, but then she was sent home to the U.S. with very little notice, leaving Meeka on his own. He hid for a while, staying away from people out of fear, until other soldiers found a way to coax him closer by enticing him with food. They were able to catch him and have been holding him in a makeshift pen until Paws of War can help reunite him with Sergeant E.

“Ever since I returned home I’ve been worried about Meeka and miss him,” says Sergeant E. “I’m grateful that there is an organization like Paws of War that will help in such cases. I look forward to them bringing Meeka home to me. We have a bond that will last for many years to come.”

Paws of War is on a mission to help bring the dog back to the States, but needs the help of the public for it to happen. Transporting a dog across the world is not only costly, but it involves working with overseas organizations and volunteers to ensure that all medical records and paperwork are in order.

To support the effort to bring Meeka back to America, please make a donation at: 
https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com.

Paws of War rescues dogs, provides them with proper training, and then pairs them with veterans who need service animals, all free of charge. They also help soldiers bring their dog back to America after serving in the Middle East. Those who would like to learn more about supporting Paws of War and its mission can go online to: http://pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War

Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets, rescues and trains dogs to be service dogs, and provides therapy dogs to veterans. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

How to Disagree with a Superior Without Starting World War III

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boss and employee in a heated conversation

By Steven Matthew Leonard

As we sat in the general’s office, the conversation carried the typical banter we’d come to expect. The general had a habit of talking out new concepts until he was sure he fully understood them and could articulate them clearly.

We were there to help him frame his thoughts, sort of like speech prep for big ideas.

That particular day, we’d brought in a major from a subordinate headquarters to give us a hand as we worked to make sense of a white paper he’d written. The topic wasn’t particularly difficult to grasp, but the writing was a little thick, so we thought it best to make him part of the process. Everything seemed to be progressing normally, until the junior officer’s tone changed sharply.

“No. That’s stupid. That’s not how it works,” the major blurted.

“Excuse me?”

“You’re wrong.” The major pushed his chair back and crossed his arms in front of him. “I wrote it, I know.”

“Okay, let’s dial this back a bit,” the general answered. “Remember who you’re talking to.”

“You want a debate? I’ll debate you,” the major replied, pointing his finger at the general. “Right now. You’ll lose.”

The aide-de-camp and I looked at one another, totally dumbstruck. Try as we might, we couldn’t intervene quickly enough. The general didn’t have much of a temper, but the major had pushed his buttons to a point we hadn’t previously seen. The aide distracted the boss—whose face was rapidly approaching a disturbing shade of purple—as I pulled the major outside and away from the general’s office.

“He’s afraid to debate me,” the major said confidently. “He knows I’d win.”

“That’s not the point,” I explained. “If he’s wrong, you’re here to help him understand, not to piss him off. Not to argue with him. Not to tell him he’s stupid.”

“Nobody can beat me in a debate on this,” he said. “I know more about it than anyone. That’s why I wrote the white paper.”

I pushed the major out the door and down the hall, still in disbelief. Words like blunt, tactless, and caustic came to mind. I’d seen people disagree vehemently before, but never in quite so spectacular a fashion, and never with someone so senior to them. I shook my head as I watched the officer walk away, shoulders back and head held high. There was no doubt he believed he’d just achieved a major victory, oblivious to the fact that he’d probably just written the epitaph on his next evaluation.

When Trying to be Right is Really Wrong

It’s not unusual to want to disagree with your boss: A new project proposal you don’t think will solve anything, a timeline that isn’t realistic, or an initiative that will cost more than it’s worth. Disagreeing with the boss elevates speaking truth to power to new heights. This isn’t just about providing unsolicited feedback or sharing knowledge of a problem. It’s about telling someone you think they are wrong. And not just anyone—someone senior to you who could just be in a position to influence your future. For a lot of people, this situation triggers a fight-or-flight response, and they choose survival over disagreement.

The truth is you can disagree with someone without fearing for your livelihood. It requires a delicate blend of timing and social intelligence, but it can be done.

First, weigh the risks. Is the matter at hand so important that you want to take a stand? These are what I often call silver bullet moments. You only get so many silver bullets; don’t waste them on squirrels.

Second, acknowledge their authority. A little respect goes a long way if you’re planning to disagree. The decision is usually theirs to make, so acknowledge that. Your role is simply to help them make an informed decision, not to make the decision for them.

Third, ask permission to disagree. This is one area where it’s far better to ask permission now than to beg forgiveness later. Often, all this requires is a statement like, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer some thoughts.” This allows your boss to invite you into the discussion instead of you barging in like the Kool-Aid Man.

Fourth, validate their position. This is a simple, yet essential step in disagreeing with your boss. Acknowledge their position, even if you think it’s completely wrong: “I think that’s a great point. Maybe we could also…” If you allow disagreement to turn into debate, you’ve already lost.

Fifth, keep your emotions in check. Sometimes, our passions are our undoing. If you feel particularly strong about an issue, this can be a true challenge. Always remember facts, not emotions. This might also save you from using judgmental terms, such as “stupid,” “short-sighted,” or “wrong,” or inadvertently telling someone senior to you to do something that might be anatomically impossible.

Finally, stay humble. You’re not the authority figure in the room and it’s not your decision to make. Don’t pout if you don’t get your way and don’t gloat if you do. Keep things in perspective.

You can disagree with your boss without committing career seppuku. Be smart about it.

Source:  news.clearancejobs.com

What to Ask When Interviewing a Veteran

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woman recruiter interviewing man during a virtual meeting online

By Emily King

When interviewing a former service member, your goal is to understand the various roles, responsibilities, skills, and experience the candidate has accumulated over the course of his or her military career.

To do this, you may need to look well beyond the most recent position, going back 10 years.

Unlike a civilian resume that often culminates in the highest level of responsibility to date, the military resume is often a collection of seemingly unrelated experiences and must, therefore, be considered together as a whole.

Below is a list of questions you can select from to assist you in understanding the candidate’s background, and convey your interest in the world from which they are coming.

General opening questions can build rapport and sense where the individual is in his or her transition from military service to civilian employment.

Begin with “I know leaving the military can be a big transition . . .”

  • How is it going, separating from military service?
  • How has the adjustment been?
  • What has been the biggest surprise about the civilian workplace?
  • What opportunities are you looking forward to taking advantage of as a civilian employee?
  • What challenges do you foresee as a new civilian employee?

For each job over the past 10 years, ask:

  • How would you describe this position in layman’s terms?
  • What was your primary mission in this job?
  • What did it take to accomplish this mission?
  • What were the key activities you performed, and in what circumstances/conditions?
  • What people or resources were you responsible for in this role?
  • What were the greatest challenges in the role?
  • What is an example of a time that everything went as planned?
  • What was your contribution?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • How did you incorporate what worked and what you learned?
  • What is an example of a time that things did not go as planned?
  • What went wrong?
  • What did you do, and what was your contribution?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • What did you change or do differently as a result of this experience?
  • What aspects of this role or job would you like to find in a civilian position?
  • What aspects of this role or job would you prefer not to perform in a civilian position?

General questions to ask include:

  • How would you approach a situation in which… (describe something “typical” of the job the candidate is applying for; avoid irrelevant questions that may come across as setups)?
  • What kinds of things did you coordinate and accomplish in the community (e.g., community social events, charitable projects, leadership roles)?
  • Looking across your recent military work experiences, what key knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences would you say are most valuable?
  • Setting aside the specific job you were required to do, what activities do these knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences prepare you to do?

Emily King, a nationally recognized expert on the transition from military service to civilian employment, is founder of the consulting firm Military Transitions and author of the book, Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing & Retaining Veterans.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Land a Civilian Job

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airport employer holding guiding sticks for airplane to taxi in

Being able to translate your military skills, experiences, and accomplishments into terms that civilian hiring decision makers will easily understand and recognize as being valuable to their organization is key.

That translation requires that you understand how business decision makers think and the language they speak.

One way to speak an employer’s language is to communicate the impact and results you’ve achieved in your work experience.

Employers understand results; by communicating your ability to make a positive impact on critical aspects of the business, you’ll increase your chance of being hired.

Most organizations are focused on:

  • Attracting and retaining customers
  • Improving customer satisfaction, and product or process quality
  • Increasing operational excellence
  • Boosting the performance of the organization (in part or as a whole)
  • Improving the organization’s strategy
  • Maximizing the return on investment

Review the following examples for ideas on how to translate your experience into a framework employers’ value.

Result/impact statements

Results: Results hiring decision makers care about

Impact: How you have delivered results in these areas in the past, and/or how you can deliver them in the future?

Result: Quickly solve problems, and then prevent them from occurring again

Impact: When conducting after action reviews, I focus on the root causes of problems rather than searching for someone to blame. As a result, I ensure we only make a particular mistake one time, and that we can accurately identify and address any operational weaknesses.

Result: Improve safety and reduce accidents

Impact: Having spent time on rifle ranges, handling hazardous materials, and working around dangerous equipment, I understand how to develop, disseminate, and implement safety guidelines that virtually eliminate accidents or injuries.

Result: Increase the reliable operation of equipment, reducing breakdowns and expensive repairs

Impact: By inspecting and maintaining equipment before, during, and after an operation, I eliminate unexpected breakdowns and prevent the need for expensive repairs.

Result: Nurture teamwork and collaboration that allow staff to achieve things together that would be impossible for them to accomplish individually

Impact: I make sure all the members of my team understand how the tasks they perform will affect their coworkers and other units or departments that depend on us. Once they understand why and how their role is important, they stay motivated and collaborate more effectively with others.

Result: Analyze and select from among competing courses of action

Impact: I have learned to quickly generate several possible courses of action, evaluate each to spot the strengths, advantages, and weaknesses, and then develop an action plan around the most promising one.

Source: careeronestop.org

How I Got Into The Best Shape Of My Life At 51

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King Cuz promotional poster

by Ellis King

Most are generally surprised to find out my actual age of 51. “How do you look so young and fit? That is a question I get often and with a grand smile I pass on the great advice I received from my father; if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you!

As a retired Navy Veteran for 26 years and spending 4 years in amateur boxing, I’ve developed my own blended fitness program that combines the physical military training with the intensity of boxing training. This approach I consider my “Ageless” workout plan consists of building and maintaining lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat to achieve a healthy body and mind.

Growing up in a large family of 6 brothers and 5 sisters in southern Georgia and whose father is a Brick Mason and Farmer, hard work and fitness came hand to hand.

Being the shortest of all my brothers and the only twin to my younger sister,  I’ve prove to myself that my strength matched their sizes and never needed their support.

During most of my tours in the Navy, I was appointed as Command Fitness Coordinator (CFC) where I’ve trained Sailors to pass a physical fitness assessment (PFA) twice a year!

I’ve developed a deep passion to continue this training after retirement and my results have been amazing!  I’m truly am at the best shape of my life!

Earlier this year I started to conduct live virtual workout sessions to support others looking to make improvements to their health regardless of their past fitness level which can be done from the comfort of their own homes.

Since COVID-19 made its entrance in 2020, the world has never been the same and now more than ever we need to make health and fitness our top priority. The truth of the matter is with a weak immune system, poor diet, and lack of exercise we’ve been a huge target of health issues before this pandemic occurred. The stakes are much higher now and we must do all we can to defeat it.

I am honored to mentor and coach others on their path to fitness success.

Learn more at www.50andfit.org

Air Force Vet’s Business Franchises Take Flight

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Headshot of Don Stone

By Rhonda Sanderson

Don Stone’s entrepreneurial spirit first began when he learned to fly while serving in the Air Force. After leaving the service, Stone took his flight knowledge and chose to open his first business as a fixed-based operation, which is basically a gas station for planes, at a small airport in Colorado.

While it was a fun business overall, he faced challenges with the city and county governments that owned the airport. This experience helped him immensely for his next endeavor—owning and operating a franchise.

Stone’s first franchise was part of a 216-location hair salon company near Texas. After selling that business in 2000, he was immediately interested in purchasing another.

“My experience with franchising was what made me pursue future opportunities,” Stone shared. “I spoke to someone in Dallas about a mobile pet grooming business that wanted to expand and start franchising. Because of my experience with the hair salon franchise, I thought of using that same model to expand it, but instead ended up buying the business outright.”

After much due diligence, Stone realized it would be complicated to turn the mobile grooming business into a franchise. He was surprised to learn that mobile pet grooming salons are more complicated than the average person would expect, so instead of franchising, he kept the business as it was and it has since grown significantly. Stone now operates over 50 mobile grooming salons in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

As time went on, Stone continued to watch for a complementary business to purchase.

“I knew one of the founders of Pet Butler,” he said. “I watched the business as it grew and franchised.”

Once the Dallas/Fort Worth market opened, he jumped at the chance to diversify by adding a Pet Butler franchise to his current business model.

“It was easy for me to add on because we had the back-office services in place already,” Stone explained. “It was a great way to acquire a much-needed service, popular in the pet specialty services group.”

Stone was able to keep his focus on the same great services for pets in people’s homes or offices. He has a full-time manager and six scoopers—four having been a part of his organization for more than 10 years. And when Pet Butler was acquired by Spring-Green Enterprises in 2017, franchisees of Pet Butler received not only digital marketing help, but also back-office support—a huge advantage Stone says because he’s not tied to a desk.

The company’s National Call Center answers all calls from would be and existing customers, and provides immediate information to the franchise owner.

“Within minutes, we are on the phone with the customer solving any issues or schedule changes.” Stone said.

The back-office support team also handles customer billing and processes payments. Stone has also gotten his son involved with the Pet Butler end of the business, which, frankly, involves the back end of a dog! Stone has a dedicated, full-time Pet Butler manager, but he, too, scoops poop, and his son is learning to become a manager for the business by scooping poop as well.

“He will learn the business by doing, not by taking over,” Stone says.

In fact, all of Stone’s children are involved in both his Pet Butler and mobile grooming businesses. They came to them on their own, which was very important to Stone.

“It is interesting to get a different perspective from my kids,” said Stone, who is proud to build his businesses alongside his kids.

His advice to those veterans thinking about purchasing a Pet Butler franchise?

“You must have an entrepreneurial spirit, but you also need to follow the program,” Stone said, “The franchisor spends a lot of time and money on what works and what does not. A good franchisee will learn from that so they don’t repeat costly mistakes.”

Stone added, “If you’re in the pet business already or are looking for a business in a booming industry, take a serious look at this. Ninety percent of the things you need to know and do are already figured out for you. It’s a great business.”

Pet Butler was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of 43-year-old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years.

To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit their website here.

To inquire about a franchise, call (844) 777-8608 or visit their website here.

Send A Birthday Greeting To The Oldest Living World War II Vet In The U.S. As He Turns 111

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Lawrence Brooks smiling with people in background

In a week’s time, the United States’ oldest living American to have served in the Second World War is going to turn the grand old age of 111. To help him celebrate, the National World War II Museum is asking people from all around the world to send him a birthday greeting.

So what is life like for a 110-year-old? If you’re Lawrence Brooks—who in the early 1940s was stationed in the Pacific as part of the 91st Engineer Battalion—you spend lots of time doting on your five children and five stepchildren, your 12 grandkids, and an incredible 23 great grandchildren.

If you’re Lawrence, you also love celebrating your big day with others at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

On those jubilant occasions, there’s live music. There’s cupcakes. It’s a fun day for all.

But because of the pandemic, on his birthday this year Lawrence won’t be able to celebrate with lots of others.

Luckily, the museum has come up with a novel idea for Lawrence’s September 12 birthday this year: Well-wishers can send the supercentenarian a birthday card the old-fashioned way: by mail.

Lawrence, who lives with his daughter in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood, reflected on his long and interesting life to National Geographic. And he gave a few words of wisdom. Eat right. Stay healthy. Most importantly? ”Be nice to people.”

Now you know a little of Mr. Brooks’ story, perhaps it’s time to find that stash of letter paper, your fanciest pen, and celebrate by sending the veteran a card?

Here’s the mailing address you can send your birthday greeting to:

The National WWII Museum
c/o Happy 111th Mr. Brooks!

The National WWII Museum
c/o Happy 111th Mr. Brooks!
945 Magazine St.
​New Orleans, LA 70130

Happy writing! And be sure to check out the National World War II Museum’s social media on September 12 for a special birthday video.

Image source:  National World War II Museum

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

StableStrides: Why Horses are Used for Therapy for Veterans

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A man wearing a camoflauge shirt, looking at a black horse

by April Phillips, StableStrides

Horses are not only “good for the inside of a man,” but uniquely suited for mental health therapy for veterans due to both instinct and behavior.

When paired with a human, a horse will intuitively react to behavioral patterns or body language from the human. This gives insight into how a person is being perceived. Because they are prey animals, horses are constantly on the lookout for danger and respond quickly with either confrontation or flight. This instinct allows for a deeper level of intervention with a therapist that surpasses any other mental health treatment.

StableStrides is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose primary focus is mental health therapy with horses. Situated in the large military community of Colorado Springs, CO, StableStrides is uniquely positioned to serve veterans, active duty servicemembers and military families. On a mission to significantly improve the lives of people through a connection with horses, StableStrides exists because of horses and their ability to touch the lives of people.

Horses and humans share a history that goes back to ancient times and has continued to today. Their role in medicine was first prescribed by Hippocrates (460 BC-375 BC) as a form of natural movement that strengthened the body. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” believed in health that united body and mind and studied treatment for trauma and mental healthcare. Since then, relationships between horse and human has been studied and incorporated into modern medical practices, both physical and mental.

The physical aspects of horseback riding are used to develop physical strength, muscle development and other physical benefits, while the relationship between horse and human is known to strengthen both mind and spirit. Today, the term Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) defines the use of the horse in recreational and medical intervention. A large portion of EAAT is focused on veterans and their healing journeys during and after service. When partnered with a horse, a veteran is asking the horse to enter into a relationship with them that requires mutual trust and some degree of vulnerability.

One veteran reflects on his mental health sessions at StableStrides by asking:

“How could they go from resting and relaxed to full alert, with a first instinct to run, then to relax again, in seconds? How they could let go of that tension and anxiety and just “be?” As a herd animal, they entrust leadership to the strongest. That leader makes the decisions for the herd for as long as it’s capable or trusted. How can a prey animal, the horse, come to trust an apex predator, a human, with their safety? What a concept. This huge, powerful animal, easily capable of killing me, that fears me because I am a predator, could come to trust and work for me because it wants to.”

As prey animals, centuries of domestication have done little to lessen the horse’s response to danger. They understand that their best chance in escaping danger is to flee. As a result, the horse’s “fight-or-flight” instinct is used for decision making. In addition, horses are extremely perceptive and communicate with body language to convey fear, anger, calm or anxiety.

In a herd, each member relies on the leaders in the hierarchy to make decisions for the safety of the herd, if that leader can be trusted. When in the absence of a herd, the horse will determine if the human is to be trusted as the leader. If not, the horse will decide on his own what is safest.

Therapists have selected horses to incorporate into therapy due to these characteristics, including what many call “mirroring of emotions”. While horses aren’t mirrors, they will often reflect their leader’s emotions. If their leader senses danger and responds with fear, so will the horse. If the horse senses calm in their leader, the horse will likewise be calm, trusting their leader’s instinct. In mental health therapy, the therapist incorporates the horse and the relationship between veteran and horse for a dynamic and therapeutic environment. Through the horse’s reactivity, a veteran and therapist are able to examine and process behavioral reactions or emotional incongruencies. This requires the veteran to be present and mindful as to what is unfolding, and to be transparent about reactions.

Many organizations such as StableStrides exist for the horse-human connection and improve lives through EAAT. Through a connection with horses, mental health therapy strengthens families and individuals. Because of the horse’s unique qualities and instincts, incorporating horses into mental health allows for a therapeutic intervention that surpasses any other form of mental health therapy.

Photo Credit: Amy May Images 

 

 

 

Virtual Events Take Center Stage

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A woman in a military outfit looking at her laptop

By Innovate Marketing Group

As the live events industry awaits COVID-19 regulations, guidelines, and phase rollouts; innovations and digital opportunities arise, virtual events take center stage, and the importance of an events agency and planner sustains.

Why go virtual? Virtual events have proven to be an effective and efficient way to convey content and engage attendees. Experts shared that future events will incorporate a digital aspect as a hybrid-type model as the events industry seeks to widen their audience and maintain contingency plans. Events will see more virtual aspects embedded into their programs moving forward.

Going virtual also brings market share and new opportunities.
“Some companies that were previously on hold to wait out COVID-19 have either pivoted to virtual or seriously considering since the recovery is so uncertain. Business still needs to go on. Leadership conferences, educational and training are still vital for companies,” said Amanda Ma, chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group.

All of the different elements of a virtual event need to be coordinated into one impactful and engaging experience. The event agency’s role includes helping guiding businesses to pivot to the new normal, advising and adjusting contract changes, applying event strategies to help meet goals, vendor coordination and recommendations, program management and managing multiple tracks, marketing and communication, incorporating sponsors and stakeholders and the guest experience.

Some of the many benefits of pivoting to virtual include:

  •  Cost savings and lower cost per guest attending
  •  Access to a wider audience and reach, and not limited by location
  • Replay capabilities and reusable on demand content
  • Lower carbon footprint and less impact on the environment
  •  Attendee engagement
  •  Opportunity to get creative and engage viewers in new ways
  •  Metrics, instant data tracking and capture, and gaining new insights
  •  Virtual events eliminate the need for a venue, catering, rentals, stage, décor, photographer, videographer, transportation, etc.
  •  Taking action – calls to action link in right away; connect, survey, polling, Q&A and donate

Some challenges in comparison to a live event include emotion and energy, stimulations such as touch, taste and smell, memory and recall, networking, and viewer attention span.
Innovate Marketing Group also shares top best practices in going virtual, such as setting your goals on information, education, message, attendee and sponsor engagement, networking, etc.

Format: Determine your virtual event format – webinar, webcast, pre-recorded sessions, simu-live, live streaming, networking, exhibitors.

Registration: Reconsider the registration process, including number of users who will be accessing the website, personal data, payment processing safety, and customized questions per data you would like to collect.

Keep Your Audience Engaged: with tools such as live polling, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, gamification, live leader boards, rewards and social media feeds. Maintain your event experience by making your guests feel involved and connected to your program. We are in the planning stages of a 3,000 people walk/run event, and one of the ideas is on the day of the event to have a virtual DJ play during the walk and the organization lowers the volume if messages need to be communicated. The music is based on what the organizers want. This way while people are walking, they can stay connected as part of the program.

Pre-Event Communication & Marketing: Communication and marketing are key. Unlike an in-person event where they must get dressed up, drive to the event, and spend more time to prepare for the event, a virtual event is simply a login to a platform. Therefore, it is very important to send out reminders and build up the anticipation of the event. In a recent virtual event, we advised the client to ask for the attendee’s cell phone number.

So, in addition to email reminders, the week of event and day of, a text notification was sent out to all attendees. We received great feedback for putting that in place. It reminded folks the virtual event is coming up and to tune in. Digital marketing, promotion, advertisement, and video content is still very important for a virtual event, before broadcasting on your event day.

Surprise and Delight Before the Event: Sending a swag bag prior to the event with items relevant to the event. For an upcoming conference, we are sending a box with a blue light blocking glasses, candle, custom door handle, notebook, T-shirt, and a coffee tumbler. We have a special note to go along with this kit to kick off the conference mindset. On the day of the conference, we asked everyone to wear the shirt provided. One less worry about what to wear on “top.”

Content is King: Offer educational, relevant, timely and meaningful content that people will want to hear. It is vital to create content that captivates guests, sparks their creativity and results in productivity.

Do Not Try to Replicate Your Live Event: Instead, look for new opportunities but stay true to purpose of your event. Keep principle of why your guests were coming together, and make it part of the equation.

Test, Test, and Test Again: Technical difficulties may occur, and it often distracts from your event. Have a run through with your speakers and moderator in advance and test the virtual release on your platforms.

What You Know is Only the Beginning

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Aliahu “Alli” Bey's Headshot

by Jackie Hobson

Aliahu “Alli” Bey is a husband, father of 3, and a US Army Aviation veteran entrepreneur. After gathering nearly two decades of engineering and project management experience, Alli decided he would prefer life without the corporate politics.

Utilizing his experience, he started his first small business, Haight Bey, in June of 2014. He spent 14 long months writing proposals from his basement and making ends meet by moonlighting at a small food manufacturer in the evenings and working as a boot and ski technician during the day at a local ski resort.

In July of 2015, he won his first Department of Defense contract worth more than $47 million dollars. Over the past 5 years he has added several Prime and Subcontracts to their project portfolio, and most recently stood up a cybersecurity compliance company called Totem Technologies.

Helping Other Veteran Business Owners

Bey volunteers his time and donates company profits to helping other veterans and minorities start and grow their businesses. He is a board member of the Utah African American Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chairman of the Warrior Rising board, a nationally-recognized organization that helps veteran entrepreneurs. Bey developed over 3000 square feet of incubator space within the Haight Bey and Totem.tech facilities. He currently supports two veteran-owned businesses— one is a USAF Minority Veteran, Woman-owned Human Resource startup called Pyramid Edge, and the second one is a USN-owned machine shop called Fox Machining.

Haight Bey workforce employees standing around a table
The Haight Bey workforce is comprised of over 60 percent veterans

Bey’s advice to those thinking of starting a business:

Stick to what you know: My first contract win was in support of a tactical weather system utilized by the USAF and Marine Corp. This was not luck—it was experience, patience, and relationships. I worked over a decade on this system for the manufacturer, and then as a program manager for a large Prime contractor. I assisted with engineering, deploying, servicing and supporting. I knew this system inside and out.

I had and continue to have great relationships with the manufacturer and the government program management team. What you know will get you started, but who you know, and better yet—who knows you—is a cornerstone in building and growing a successful company.

Focus on quality: Our chief cybersecurity engineer has always said to me, “Build a quality product and the customers will come.” We all know that nobody wants a cheap product that’s going to fall apart after a few uses. What we don’t understands as clearly is that a quality product requires a collective mindset of those around you. From my salesperson not over promising and clearly defining what will be delivered, to our project manager ensuring that we are constantly communicating and delivering exactly what our customers expect, everyone in the process must share the same desire of delivering quality.

A group filming Travis Bell's weather program
Program Manager Travis Bell, teaches the Air Force about their sustaining methods and support of their tactical weather program.

Don’t depend on your set-aside status: All too often I find within our veteran and minority business community individuals that expect to be handed business opportunities solely on their set-aside status i.e. Woman, Veteran, Minority, etc. In business, your set-aside status is a good thing, but if you have failed to focus on what and who you know, and delivering a quality product or service, your set-aside will never become relevant.

Get multiple mentors: You can never have enough people around to ask questions. I often seek advice on the same topic from multiple mentors, knowing each will have an answer based on their unique experiences. Sometimes I get widely varying opinions/answers, however, I have now been a mentee long enough to learn that no one answer or opinion is more correct than the other. This allows me to evaluate my issue from multiple perspectives, which ultimately leads me to make a better decision. Mentors don’t have to be formal. Many times, I ask for advice from co-workers or even a complete stranger.

It’s hard work: Let’s be honest—starting a business takes a rather large emotional commitment, so you must want this at your core. I spent years talking daily with my family and other business owners, making sure I was making the right move. I knew once I jumped in, it was all or nothing. Vetrepreneurship requires buy-in from the entire family, as there is usually a substantial financial and personal time commitment.

Jason Van Camp, my friend, mentor, US Army Green Beret and the founder of Warrior Rising, says, “I ask the same three questions to vetrepreneurs that I do when a guy tells me he wants to go to Ranger School or Special Forces: The first is, why do you want to do this? Second, what are you going to do? Finally, what have you done in the past to ready yourself for this?”

Photo Credit: Haight Bey Marketing

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