people, bias, military, understand, ron, veterans, ptsd, business, experiences, naval academy, linkedin, trust, airplane, talk, naval, private sector, happen, complacency, deal, andrew, Business broker, Business value builder, M&A consultant.
Damon Pistulka, Ron Higgs, Andrew Cross
Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everybody. Welcome today to the Exit Your Way Business Roundtable. I have to say we’re really excited today because this is our inaugural episode on LinkedIn live. Hopefully we’re streaming to LinkedIn on our company page, let’s check over here one second to see I don’t see it on there yet, but I’m sure it’ll be there sooner than later. With us today, we have Ron Higgs. There we are. LinkedIn live on LinkedIn on my screen over here if you didn’t, didn’t know that already. We’re really excited about that. We’ve only applied like a dozen times and, and didn’t get it yet. But with us today, we’ve got ron ron Higgs, great friend of ours, a naval pilot veteran. Now he helps people in the private sector as a as a fractional CEO, and does a bunch of wonderful things as veterans as well. Happy to have you here here Ron. Just just glad to be able to talk to you today.
Ron Higgs 01:13
Great to be here. I feel like I’m under a lot of pressure for your first broadcast. LinkedIn live but
Andrew Cross 01:22
no way. This everybody’s everybody’s watching.
Damon Pistulka 01:25
Yeah. Watching so nervous and stuff.
Andrew Cross 01:28
I think reading landing airplanes on a flight deck. Be a piece of cake.
Yeah, so I will tell you guys, you know, I was a naval flight officer. So you’ve ever been taught the movement, Top Gun, you know, Maverick use, you know, so I was goose I was in the back, right? So actually, I think Who do you think is braver the guy doing it or the guy sitting in the back lay some while the is landing.
Damon Pistulka 01:53
That’s a good that’s a good point. Because if you’re the one that doesn’t have control of the plane,
Yeah, I flew an airplane with dual sets of controls got my share flight in but I was and I was not a fighter guy did some f3 Viking, I did get a chance to find the FAA team in flight test in Patuxent River, Maryland. So
Andrew Cross 02:15
yeah, well, the world for goose so so
Damon Pistulka 02:21
so first of all, I mean let’s let’s let’s talk a little bit about your your naval naval flight career because you mentioned to me one time and just because I like it’s interesting you said you land a plane on fire
yeah so you know that kind of stuff is not in the brochure. So lots of times aircraft have problems. Yeah, you know, we have to deal with said problems. So we had a generator catch on fire. And you know, we had to land the airplane immediately. With smoke coming out of the engine and the engine being on fire Now we were able to land and get the fire out. aircraft was not destroyed. But it was a an interesting few moments.
Damon Pistulka 03:05
Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. So I’ve been I didn’t mean where we are actually going to talk about bias here in just a moment. Oh, so in appreciate you stopping by to do that with us. But when you fly a plane for as many hours as you did because you flew a lot in the Navy and then you’re a test pilot after does it get like riding a bike? I mean, comfortable, you’re comfortable of the engine goes out, it’s really not that big a deal. You just kind of working through it and do what you got to do or
no, it’s a perishable skill. And there’s lots of training. Lots of you have to have your monthly training, your training, constant training, training, training, and complacency is what kills people. Yeah. So there can never be complacency. There’s not one time that I got an airplane that I thought, Man, I got this. I’m getting The comfortable because you have no idea what could happen, you know, especially an aircraft carrier, take off an aircraft carrier, you really have no idea where you’re gonna land. And I had a couple of those experiences where something happened to the ship, and the ship just kind of went dead in the water. And they sent us all away. Meaning, you know, we had a, we had an ultimate place to go, but they’re like, Hey, you can’t come back to the ship. So you got to go to the alternate landing field where we did. So when we took off that day. You know, we thought we were coming back to the ship. But big surprise, we were not. So anything could happen in an aircraft. You know what I mean? When you take off you never know where when you’re going to land if everything goes according to plan. It’s great, which it does most of the time, but you have to be ready. So in flight school, it takes it doesn’t take long to actually learn how to fly. Right how to how to do your planning and deal with emergencies is really what takes a long time. Yeah,
well tie that to exit your business but yeah,
Ron Higgs 05:03
Let me see you make that
Andrew Cross 05:04
day that is the same thing though complacency
Yeah. I think it happens with Professional Firefighters police officers. Yeah, it’s like anybody in a in a dangerous occupation complacency you know oil people working on oil drills oil platforms I play divers right complacency.
Damon Pistulka 05:25
Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Interesting. It’s well it’s it’s a it’s really cool to hear that because that’s one thing that I often wondered is if if flying is gets easier and easier. So it’s not but that’s good to know. So today we’re going to talk about bias. We’re actually on a on a had the panel A while ago on the Thursday event, and we talked about veterans the value that veterans bring to business and in one of the things that got brought up in the chat and a little bit as we were discussing, it was military bias and then you You talked and we talked after about it, and thought it might be interesting for us to talk about bias and your perspective.
Well, just before we go on to that, just just for background for anybody who didn’t really see that roundtable that Ron participated in, he brought up a couple of veterans and we talked about the value of veterans in the business, you know, in that aid for them, there are challenges of transitioning into the business community and, and also all the value that they bring to the private sector and businesses. So it was a it was a fantastic Roundtable. And then this is a continuation of the discussion because we started talking about biases good and bad. Yeah. Yeah. So we decided we wanted to get in with Ron directly here and talk a little about that as to how that relates into business as well, from their experience.
Damon Pistulka 06:56
What Yeah, and as we discussed Ron, not only as a As we discussed in the panel about the military bias, and I want to cover that, but then about being an African American, in the military and in the private workforce, and how that how that, that that bias that you see there, too. And, you know, that’s, you know, certainly on on a lot of people’s minds now and in the, in the United States world, it’d be good do so. As as you are, as you are thinking about this, what are some of your thoughts where we where we would start with this, Ron?
Well, yeah, you know, we talked about veterans, you know, I have a bias towards veterans in mind as a positive one, right? Because, and I sort of know what I’m going to get when I hire better, right, I already know all those things. But there’s an overwhelming majority of people who have not interacted with veterans before. And frighteningly small percentage of the population has been in the military, you know, have families in the military and unfortunately, a lot of folks get their impressions of the military from some of the things that they see on television, and Hollywood and those things aren’t necessarily true. You’ve got images of indestructible heroes. And then you’ve got images of people who are one loud noise away from a PTSD episode. So, we’re all all we’re all as unique is our experiences in the military, every veteran is different, you know, we spent a different services, different professions within that service, different lengths of time, different timeframes, and we were all just so much different, but there are some common things we all we all rose our hands in sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States for everyone we did that. So there are some biases, you know, positive ones, but there are a lot of negative ones and I shared with shared with you folks before as a consultant and as a consultant on leadership. You know, I was faced with people saying, Oh, we don’t need military style leadership, like, Well, I’m not sure what the definition of military style leadership. Yeah, it is. It’s out a bit more a deeper conversation with that person. They had no direct experience with the military, either things that they have heard or seen on TV.
Andrew Cross 09:20
Yeah. And so that bias, they have a bias not even sure where it came from. Mm hmm. And there’s another side to that bias where somebody says, oh, a military guy. I need you to whip people in the shape. No one not the way it works. So there are some misconceptions all the way around for good in factories.
Damon Pistulka 09:46
Yeah, that’s for sure. And and, you know, with with PTSD, the awareness of PTSD now, I really, I honestly have thought about PTSD a lot. I don’t know if it’s because I you know, As COVID as watching all these old military shows on history challenge or anything, but, you know, PTSD for military people has been around as long as there’s been military. That’s, that’s failed us. And, and and probably worse, so. And I’m not saying worse. So in that it’s not as bad now as it was then or anything like that, because I have no clue First of all, but just by the sheer numbers of people that were affected by the wars, that’s the only thing is my gauge of this and the type of warfare You know, when you look at World War One World War Two and and so far, I mean, yeah, just kidding. Yeah. Well,
sorry. I’m sorry, that bias on, you know, that someone might have for that, you know, getting back to that is, yes. it alleviates, right, if you know more about it. Now we know, you know, we knew PTSD was always there, you know, but they didn’t really have you know, we know much more about it. Now. Now. But much more of a sensitive appreciation for for it before it was it’s always the bias and it’s not it’s the ignorance not the ignorance but it’s just not understanding not having the
Damon Pistulka 11:13
lack of understanding.
Oh, you remember what the image of men were because it was mostly men went to war, right with mimic the image of men, right? You don’t complain, you know, you suck it up, you deal with it right? And it’s not okay to talk about your feelings, that kind of thing. You know, back a long time ago, we also have the same level of communication back then I believe that there was just as much PTSD. With those vets. They just didn’t have the forums in which to express it, which again, brings a lot more awareness because of the level of communication. So now a lot that’s a lot of resources. Yeah. That’s Yeah, but but let’s not let’s not forget either I know we’re talking about that’s right now. But you don’t have to be a vet to have experienced PDS PTSD, right? So sure, we’ve had victims of domestic violence. So Solon have all have PTSD as well. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 12:14
But you’re right is, as Andrew said, understanding, like anything a military person, military people in general and understanding that there is as unique as, as the shades in the color spectrum. That it is, it really is about the individual like anything else. And the bias needs to needs to be peeled back, to really understand what you’re, you know who you’re talking with, and what you’re going to find in there. Because just because you are in the military doesn’t mean PTSD doesn’t mean that you’re going to be extremely organized or you’re gonna be up at four o’clock in the morning. I mean, there’s as You can explain more. It’s a it’s a wide range of people and it really takes understanding the people behind the behind it. They’re really that are there in front of you,
but the truth, data sets you free, right? So understanding is bias lies and people make assumptions about things and ideas about things that they don’t understand. And that’s the root of it, you know, but what I find interesting, Ron, in your discussions if it was about I would really like about the military Is it really you really are in the people business you know, you know 100% and we’re all kind of in the people business at the end of the day but they it’s really based down to their focus on that right and and to have have the warrior in the best possible even they got to be in the best health they have to be in the right from and they really pay attention to all those details, that maybe in the business world, we just, you know, hey
If we were in the military, we depend on each other for our lives. Yeah. Yeah. Good on each other very live. So that makes even if there’s somebody you don’t like or don’t get along with, for whatever reason, you know, you have a mission to do in the mission. So that Trumps all of that. Mm hmm. So yeah, we’re in the military, everybody is from a different place. It’s not like you’re walking to somewhere local, where most of the people either from the local area with the college together or something like that, everybody is from somewhere else. So the first you know, I went, I went to the Naval Academy prep school before I went to the Naval Academy, both at the prep school and the Naval Academy. You had to learn everybody’s name and where they were from, and I still remember to this day, when I see these people, oh, this is Jeff shirt from Taos and Maryland. This is Michelle afford from Las Cruces, New Mexico. I just know that time to their names because everybody is from somewhere else. Right? So not you don’t have any old college buddies, high school buddies all all together, even from the Naval Academy, we all end up going out into the fleet because such a small percentage of officers come out, you know, from the Naval Academy. Yeah. So everybody is from somewhere else. So you have to find a way. You know, to get along, you have to put your biases away. You know, I came, I walked in from Camden, New Jersey. I stand next. You know, I’m in a room with a guy from Houston, and a girl boy from Arkansas with an accent and I can barely understand. And a surfer dude from California. And you know, somebody with a heavy Boston accent that I can’t understand. So people are from everywhere, which makes it great because like it’s not a major city in the country. I can go to and not know something.
Well, that that’s a bait. That’s great, because you’re put into a situation to where you can embrace that right. You know, it’s the attitude of Going into that situation? And then how do you get the people? All right? You met somebody who’s you can hardly understand because he’s from Boston. Like, for example, so, you know, how do you get, you know, the organization then to go around and, you know, not only do accept all those differences, but even devalue them, you know, in a way so that, you know, when you go, you do a really bad situation, you know, that you trust that person enough, you have a tight enough relationship that, you know, they have your back and those kind of things, you know, I just, it’s fascinating to me and, yeah, you don’t trust
us process and culture, right. If I know someone and this is again, this is a bias, someone who’s a graduate of the US Naval Academy, for me that is implied high level of trust. I am one gives trust first, right? There’s some people that make you earn the trust, right, there’s a difference one, I’m one that gives it but add a fellow enabled Academy graduate fellow military officer, I would have a higher level of trust.
Ron Higgs 17:06
And that’s that’s that is my bias.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cuz I mean biases. It’s just a strange thing but there’s no especially negative biases to there’s, you know, there’s no profit in it. You know, from the business perspective.
I would just let the current climate in our conversation let’s not forget that bias is much more than what we’re talking about right bias exists in a lot of forums cultural, religious, racial, you know, gender sexual orientation, age, physical appearance.
Damon Pistulka 17:45
Yeah, age talking to the current crowd here. So, the one thing that I’ve always and and this is I was never in the military full time I would my my service was in the National Guard, but Always, you know, from the time you walked in the thing that I liked, and I know it has to be different in full time service was that, you know, in my experience, they really stamp on on the fact that we are here for a mission. We are all in this together, and they knock that bias down as much as they can right away or uncovered, whatever you call it, but get the bias, get past the bias because everyone has to work together. Can Can you explain your experiences with that in the military, and then maybe some idea, you know, I just start with that.
Well, I’ll just I think it’s through purpose, right? Because you everybody, what’s the purpose I repeated it to you in every veteran that you encounter will be able to say what was the year mission because we took enough support and defend the Constitution United States, right. And that is the purpose that is the purpose larger than self. You know, to start serve this country that we love, and to make sure it stays the way it is. Yeah. That was based on the current environment. Yeah. So I think that purpose is really what unites people. I mean, that’s passion that ignites people’s passion. So for your business, right, there’s a bunch of basic things that I think people want. And I’ll just tell you what I want from from the workplace, right? I want respect, right? I want some respect. I want some level of empathy. I want to be trusted to do the job for which I was hired. I want some recognition. Don’t tell me Hey, Ron, great job coming in on time every day, but you know, right, some sort of recognition, right? we all crave recognition for the work that opportunities for growth and development, and then and then purpose, right, we all want to purpose for me. I try to find a purpose larger than self. You know, I’m doing your purpose larger than yourself. Some method of adding value to other people and making a difference in the lives of others. And I think you know, for me as far as the military because people are passionate about this country and their loved one I am Yeah, I’ll show you know. I’ll show you the background on my
Andrew Cross 20:24
Ron Higgs 20:27
from my phone since I’ve had a smartphone and that’s where it’s gonna stay.
Damon Pistulka 20:34
Yeah. I love Yeah, yeah. Yeah,
Andrew Cross 20:38
Damon Pistulka 20:40
Yeah, it’s it’s it’s too bad. We couldn’t get that passion across the US right now. We’re just bringing people together.
Andrew Cross 20:53
I’ll leave that one. Oh,
Damon Pistulka 20:54
yeah. Nothing I ever leaving it alone. I’m just saying that that I just guys because you know, that’s the one thing Got it that I think that, you know, the military is obviously not without problems and there are some obvious challenges in the military and stuff, but I did. I do think that some of the bias that we have in the private sector in the general public you know, now you see the Black Lives Matter and the other things that we have in an edited been on. Yeah, honestly, this is just the the latest piece of what has been happening for an awful long time that we need to continue to address. And, and to continue to understand and continue to do to be better at is what was brought up in the in the conversation about veterans a couple weeks ago was unconscious bias. And I think that is is it happens we don’t even know it happens. I mean, like unconsciously, I mean, unconsciously, I don’t like the color, you know, purple. Oh, I don’t like that color. You know, it you know, and it can be something as simple as that or something as that is been just part of what we do and we don’t even think about it. So what are your thoughts around around unconscious bias, Ron, and then when you talk about in the workplace, can you can you explain a little bit of the bias and I don’t about the workplace being an African American male in the in the workplace? What are some of the things that that surprised you coming from the military to the private sector?
Well, there’s some of those things don’t have to do with me being an African American male. I mean, a lot of it was sort of high levels of trust, right. And, you know, we did have high levels of trust in the military, and I implicitly trust people. And then, you know, I had a job as a consultant, and I was in a position where someone just took credit for my work, you know, and wasn’t and I was just shocked, you know, it’s like, how I do that, right, because I just came from an environment where people wouldn’t do that. I like environments of extremely high performers. You know, I am a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School. You know, we we tend to have high performers in those types of environments. Yeah. And then I was a spacecraft manager for a satellite program again, you know, high performing people and then walk into into a situation where people are unethical.
Ron Higgs 23:31
It really surprised me, but we
shouldn’t admission was pretty easy. But there are some things you know, like, oh, that, that people assume that I’m good at because you’re a military guy. You know, hey, you know, like, you’re gonna show up seven in the morning?
Ron Higgs 23:53
Maybe not. Yeah.
Andrew Cross 23:56
Let’s take care of their bias right away.
My some of the things that surprised me at my transition had more to do with not being around high performing people and trustworthy people. Oh my goodness here. And I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in the military, but it is absolutely not tolerated in the military.
Damon Pistulka 24:23
Yeah, I was very much so that the level of exposure to unprofessional people was a little bit jarring for me. And this doesn’t have anything to do with bias. But I found it very difficult to leave my first job because I’d never been in a position where I could actually leave the job. And say, I quit. I felt like I was failing and I wasn’t carrying through. And I went, wait, this job isn’t getting me from where I am to where I want to be. So and I don’t see it happening. In this company, so I’m going to have to go elsewhere. And I was very, very apologetic to the president of the company. And he was very understanding and said, Hey, we’d love to have you here. You did. Great. You’re welcome back anytime I understand why you’re leaving. So I thought that that was good. But again, it was very difficult for me to leave that job.
Damon Pistulka 25:17
Very interesting. So I’m not sure I answered your question. But I will tell you, I’m not sure how much time we have. But then in terms of bias in general, I, you know, as African American male, my journey through corporate America, in America in general, has, it’s been different from yours. And I’ll just like women have different experiences and things that we have. My journey has just been different than yours. And for just people to recognize that there’s nothing you have to say. But realize that again, I have to maybe deal with things that maybe you did, and I told you guys that story before. We’re in a story and I can’t remember the name of the guy. Otherwise, I would give him credit. But he talked about talking about the window in his car. Yes, your side window, the electric driver’s side window, being able to roll out, right? And they hit me because if if for some people, majority of people, if you can’t roll that window down, that would be your minor, minor annoyance to you. And you would just get it fixed when you can’t. For me, that could potentially put me in a life threatening situation if I get pulled over by a police officer. So I would consider that an absolute priority to get fixed. I take a day off of work to go get that face. Yeah. Right. And something that you just probably wouldn’t think about.
Ron Higgs 26:44
And I’ve had I’ve had some bad experiences
by the police have been treated very poorly by the police in some, some situations. But I’m very, but I don’t I don’t hold The entire every police officer responsible for that. Right. I still respected police. In fact, I was I went to the Bellevue citizens police academy, and I was one of the advisors for the community, the African American community to the police department in Bellevue. Before
Damon Pistulka 27:17
Ron Higgs 27:19
So I’m just sharing my experiences.
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. You know, in that situation, you don’t it’s such a different, you know, experience. But I mean, if you had to take a day off work to get your window, repair to what’s the reaction from what from your employer, towards the
PTO is PTO, you know, it’s like, I’ll use my PTO to do it. And
no, it’s Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that. That’s Yeah, I think.
Right is not mine, but it’s such a great story that resonated with me that Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 28:01
You said you said we just don’t understand because we haven’t walked that walk down that path. And that’s that’s what I think that your story is so enlightening to people that that don’t understand if you can hear more of these stories, what it’s like to be in the military, what it’s like to be an African American, what it’s like to be a an Asian person in the United whatever we’re trying to understand more about. It starts with us understanding because it’s, it sure as hell not going to get solved by somebody in the government. It sure as hell not going to get solved by the people that are extreme left or extreme right on these subjects. It’s about people like us that that know each other, trust each other like each other and need to understand this better because from us, it grows. That’s where it has to start with the people that are around us to understand and around you to understand and in your circle. And understand more, embrace it. Because when we talk about when we talk about bias it also you can really talk about bias without diversity. And diversity is one of the best things you can have any business. Mm hmm. Because
Andrew Cross 29:18
Damon Pistulka 29:19
Yeah, there’s profit there. There’s profit there. Because, you know, it’s in. So we really need to understand people better. And I think for, for my last little rant there, I was honest, understanding helps us to get get get to understand will help us to eliminate the bias. But when we talk about bias and diversity, the understanding allows us to get to the diversity that we want in business, to be able to really harness the creativity in the problem solving and the other things that you get from that, because I think when you look at it, and you look at the military and think about what business does. The military is created that that ecosystem where everybody has to work together for that common mission, no matter who what, you know, doesn’t matter. We’re all working together and doing that, right? We need to get more of that in, in business. Talking word,
key word to understanding is awareness. Because some things you’re just not going to understand. If you’re married and you have kids, right? Your no woman can explain to a man what it’s like to make a man understand what it’s like to carry another baby or another human being in her body and give birth. Right? You ever understand that? But you’re just aware that it’s something that you just have no idea. It’s sort of the same thing, right? So there’s some things that you just may not understand. ever understand, but just that awareness of it. Right? Well, it’s good to self awareness of your own biases. I told you guys about some of mine. I’m aware of mine and in least aware enough to call somebody else in for an opinion when you know, your you know, whatever you’re thinking may be driven by your own bias, right and then, you know, make some efforts to, to deliberately seek out differences or different opinions or different people use that word ruin around a table in all the members of the board are stuck, you know, you walk outside and grab the executive assistant and ask the Executive Assistant, what he or she thinks they may come up with a good answer. Even the person emptying the trash. I mean, you just never know. Right? So just seek out those differences and be aware self aware that you have biases and biases exist. And that’s the key. Yeah, that’s
a, that’s great. I think you touched on a point there, too, that biases, you know, happen because it’s a bit it’s a bit of laziness. You know, it’s easy to get a bias you know, rather than really Trying to learn more and understand, you know, and open up, you could just you could just write it off as a pious they’re just that way or, you know, and, or that someone else is just that way. And, you know, I think it’s the good organizations and, and, like the military and in the private sector that I see that work really hard, you know, on that to get past that kind of stuff. And yeah, awareness is the first step
Andrew Cross 32:25
that they’ll take to get around by. You’ll never understand. Right, but
subject for a different Yeah, round table, but in our 140 character world, I don’t think there’s room for discussions, right. shouting, yeah. Back and forth. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 32:47
yeah, that’s, that’s for sure. And it is part of it, too. I mean, you you have part of it is that our attention span now as a whole is is going down by the second and going down Two seconds. And in taking the time to be aware and understand is even harder than ever to get people to do
Ron Higgs 33:10
Damon Pistulka 33:11
We got a couple people on on LinkedIn, I’ll just say thanks, Andrew Deutsch and Ira Bowman for watching us here. I don’t see I don’t know how to see all the other people that are watching but thanks because you know this our first one and that as well so yours gonna say something, Andrew, sorry.
No, no, this is good. You got it. Yeah, Yeah, I did. Towards the end. So yeah, well, yeah,
Damon Pistulka 33:34
we’re getting towards the end here. But Ron, I sure am appreciative of you stopping by and the it’s just been a pleasure.
Thanks, guys for having me. I really appreciate it. This is twice now that you’ve given me a chance to, to speak to other people. So if I really appreciate ya, your faith would be in your Faith enough to have me on your first leap in life.
Well, we appreciate you being our experiment here with Billy. So we’ll see how it looks.
Damon Pistulka 34:09
Yeah, I know we may not have given the subject the Justice it deserves, but we are trying and we’re on. So we will we will do that. But I again, Ron Higgs, go ahead and reach out to him on LinkedIn. Connect with him. Great guy. Great fractional SEO consultant. Connect with him. Got a lot to give. Thank you for being on the show today. Andrew, any parting thoughts?
Andrew Cross 34:38
No. Hey, have a great day.
Damon Pistulka 34:40
Yeah, we will. We will be back soon. All right.