In the middle of the scalding Arizona desert, Meredith Perry, CEO of uBeam, is wrapping a tourniquet around Travis Steffan, CEO of online fitness training program, WorkOutBOX. She’s one of more than a dozen entrepreneurs taking part in a series of exercises that instill military discipline, tactical methodologies, and entrepreneurial acumen, which, the organizers hope, can transcend the field to the boardroom.
The seminar, in which Perry and the other entrepreneurs learned first aid and to assess the welfare of fallen soldiers, as well as carry their teams to safety, took place at a personal development and growth retreat in Sedona, Arizona this summer. Serial entrepreneur and former “The Apprentice” participant, Andrea Lake, is hosting the retreat.
Jesse Levin, founder of Tactivate, an organization that unites military personnel and Veterans in Special Operations with entrepreneurs, provided the team-building exercises at the retreat. Tactivate specializes in team-building exercises for companies, but Levin’s underlying goal is not just to give entrepreneurs a new skill set. He wants to show entrepreneurs the value that military personnel can bring to their companies. In essence, Levin created Tactivate to help military personnel find civilian jobs in the high tech industry.
He’s not the only one trying to do that. Other organizations with the same goal have emerged over the last couple of years, such as Hire Heroes USA and RecruitMilitary.com. They’ve been helping to manage the influx of military personnel entering the civilian workforce since U.S. President Barack Obama announced he was ending the war in Iraq in 2011 and promised to bring the troops home from Afghanistan by 2015.
Hiring, however works both ways. Sure, train soldiers to thrive in their post-military careers, but you also have to change the culture of companies. “The key,” Levin says, “is to not just tell entrepreneurs to hire the military, but to let them see for themselves how running a military operation is similar to running a company — and how valuable these guys can be to their team.”
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