Character and Camaraderie

Years ago, I had the privilege to serve as the president of Kauffman FastTrac, an organization that trains entrepreneurs to start and grow companies.  It was meaningful work that I was lucky to do with a team of amazing colleagues.  The level of camaraderie that we shared was something unique and, to this day, we still get together frequently for “Team KFT” reunions.

During a recent get together, we found ourselves reminiscing about a special project we were tasked with:  The Veteran Entrepreneur Program.  Essentially, it was a 10-week curriculum offered to U.S. military veterans interested in starting and growing their own companies and was designed to help veterans transition into the civilian workforce by equipping them with the knowledge to launch a business.

Why veterans?  It’s simple:  Character and camaraderie.

Though it may sound stereotypical, I find that current and retired members of the military have a wealth of experience that lends itself to entrepreneurship.  They possess outstanding leadership attributes and the ability to manage risk and build teams – strong assets to create and build businesses.  They are focused, determined, and they take care of one another – and everyone else, too.  Again, character and camaraderie.

The Center for Army Profession and Ethics defines character as “dedication and adherence to the Army Ethic, including Army Values (i.e., loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage), as consistently and faithfully demonstrated in decisions and actions.”  And, camaraderie is the essence of what binds military units together, providing a cohesiveness among the individual members, which allows the unit to function effectively as a collective entity. 

In relationship building, whether we identify as military, entrepreneur, or civilian in any profession, we should all seek to build our personal brands based on character and camaraderie.

Today, in observance of Veterans Day in the United States, I want to extend my personal gratitude to our current and retired service members and their families for their commitment and patriotism.  Thank you for your leading by example with character and camaraderie.  Wishing you a meaningful holiday.

Happy Networking!

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