Show Notes: Project Management Lessons from Marine Special Operations and Beyond with Sean Salomé | Episode #31


In this next episode, I was joined by Sean Salomé, who has a very unique career that’s spanned from 0311 and special operations as a MARSOC Operator to leading intelligence programs in the US Marine Corps. Plus, his work on the private side in intelligence and physical security. Additionally, Sean studied international relations at UT Austin.

Our conversation today was focused on project management and leadership. It was fascinating to hear Sean’s thoughts and experience on this topic since he’s taken the road less traveled through small unit leadership, leading intelligence teams, leading physical security projects, and so much more.

It was a great honor to have Sean as a guest!

Highlights from This Episode

  1. Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life: It involves more than just a career change; it’s about adapting to a new societal and cultural environment.
  2. Importance of Networking: Essential for success in transitioning and career development in civilian life.
  3. Growth Mindset: Viewing challenges and failures as opportunities for learning and growth.
  4. Knowing Your People: Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities of your team is crucial for effective leadership.
  5. The Value of Humility: Being open to learning and acknowledging your own limitations can significantly aid in personal and professional development.
  6. Ownership and Accountability: Taking responsibility for both successes and failures in project management and personal endeavors.
  7. Adapting and Planning: The importance of being flexible and able to adjust plans based on unforeseen circumstances.
  8. Continuous Learning: Emphasizing the need for ongoing education and skill development, both professionally and personally.
  9. Understanding Stakeholder Needs: Active listening and clear communication with all stakeholders are essential for project success.
  10. Rest and Burnout Prevention: Recognizing the need for breaks and rest to maintain team morale and productivity.

Memorable Quotes:

  • On Leadership: “You have to be a leader because at the end of the day, you’re charged with moving this project or program in the right direction.”
  • On Humility: “You got to humble yourself and say, ‘Listen, you’re the colleagues that you’re going to compete with, for these positions, these jobs, they’re coming from different backgrounds.'”
  • On Being Dependable: “I’m not the subject matter expert in a lot of projects that I lead, but I’m the one that everyone goes to when they need something.”


  • Books:
  • “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William H. McRaven
  • John C. Maxwell’s books on leadership, including “360 Degree Leader”
  • “Battlefield Leadership” (the specific author wasn’t mentioned, but it’s referred to as being written by a World War I German General on changing leadership styles)
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
  • “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland
  • People:
  • Carol Dweck (mentioned in relation to the concept of a growth mindset)
  • Admiral William H. McRaven
  • Jocko Willink
  • Leif Babin
  • John C. Maxwell
  • Jeff Sutherland
  • Courses & Training:
  • Dale Carnegie Training Courses
  • Cybersecurity education programs for military veterans (specific programs not mentioned)

Use CONTROL + F to search the transcript below if you want to learn more!

Transcript from this episode

*Note: this transcript was generated using automated software, and may not be a perfect transcription. But I hope you find it useful.

Travis  0:000  
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the security student podcast Travis here. In this next episode, I was joined by Sean Selmy, who has a very unique career that spanned from Oh 311 and special operations as a MARSOC operator to leading intelligence programs in the Marine Corps, plus his work on the private side in intelligence and physical security. Additionally, he studied international relations at UT Austin, our conversation today was focused on project management and leadership. It was fascinating for me to hear Shawn's thoughts and his experience on this topic, especially since he's taken the road less traveled through small unit leadership in the Marine Corps, leading intelligence teams, and so much more. So it was a really fun conversation for me. I hope you enjoy the following conversation. And as a reminder, if you want to support the podcast, please open your Spotify or Apple podcasts app and click follow. So you never miss a show. Cheers.

Shawn, it's a pleasure to have you here on the podcast for a little bit of background for listeners. So you and me met initially in a cybersecurity study group. And we got to chatting one day when we were just kind of talking shop and I thought, Oh, wow, Sean has a really cool background. He has really interesting experience. He'd be awesome to have on the podcast. So I think the universe kind of wanted this one to happen. So Shawn, I'm really excited to chat with you today. No, I really appreciate this opportunity. And like you said, it was just an opportunity that presented itself, right time, right place. And we I think we both really like hey, why not? Yeah. And I think one good place to start would be starting with a little bit about your career path. So could you talk a little bit about really where your career and security started and what brought you to where you are today? Yeah.

Sean  2:06  
You wouldn't be truthful, without saying that, you know, where I ended up today. Didn't start, you know, over 20 years ago, when I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2001.

I enlisted right before 911. Actually, I just had to wait to go to boot camp until after I started out in the grunts Oh 311. Best MOS there is. And then through that I was blessed to become a Marine Raider with third M SOP in its infancy years. And actually, it's great because

MARSOC just, you know, celebrated an anniversary of its creation February 24. And I was in that formation, or the Secretary of Defense said, Welcome to SOCOM. So you know, some great milestones I've been a part of, and then

Travis  15:26  
they're starting to do now, which is, which is great, because it's setting up their people for success when they get out. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, and I completely agree. It's like, if any of those Marines just did a PMP crash course they'd realize, okay, there's, there's just different terms for everything that I'm doing here. It's, it's really all the same thing. And yeah, definitely anyone in those types of roles would easily meet the experience requirements for any of those PMI certifications.

And Shawn, as I think about project management, too, can you share a little bit about maybe like any lessons learned over the years through successes through failures? I would definitely say,

Sean  16:14  
you know, first learn what you can control and what you can't. That's very important, right? Is you can't control everything. And the great lesson that we learned, I think, coming from the military is the inevitable thing that you didn't know that was going to happen, you know, the military, we like to call it Murphy. Right? Like, who knew COVID was gonna come? Who could? Who kind of like, I think you can say there's very few people or project managers that can predict that. However, you can plan for the unknown by saying, Okay, I know something is going to affect this, let me give myself a little buffer.

Or more importantly, is being able to adjust, being able to adapt, being able to think clearly in the storm when everyone else is panicking.

I think that's, that's really a big deal. And of course, that is something a lot of veterans will bring to the table.

And then I would say more recently, for me,

community? Well, I wouldn't say more recently, I would say, this is something that through my years, communication, communication, communication, you have to be able to communicate clearly and concisely, to all stakeholders. And that also means active listening. So what are the stakeholders looking from you? And what are their metrics? That's very important, not your own metrics? What are their metrics for the project to program, and then clearly, and concisely communicate to them your plan of action, maybe problems that you may see, but the solutions, so don't just present problems present solutions, because at the end of the day, you don't want to be the last person to know of a problem. So you need to present to the stakeholders or the people who are going to make decisions are we going to cut that check are we going to go ahead and extend the time on the project for X, Y, and Z.

And then also to your people, whether that's your employees, whether that's your subcontractors, you know, whoever is working that project with you, you need to be able to communicate with them. And you need to be able to be diverse in

the type of level of communication meaning one day I'm talking to the C suite, and giving an executive brief. And then the next minute, I'm speaking to a construction foreman, or I'm speaking to a software engineer, or what do you have to be able to learn how other people receive that communication?

You gotta, you gotta be a chameleon, and you got to be comfortable wearing several hats, and you have to be willing to write clear, concise emails. And these are all things to that I learned in the Marine Corps. I like you said, you know, at a, I was a, you know, young, I think I was 2223. In Colombia, and we weren't down there to train Colombians. And then my team was like, hey, we want you to go to the embassy and be the liaison officer. Okay. And then the next day, I know I'm giving briefs to colonels, and then I'm giving a brief to the ambassador to the DEA, like

You know, in a suit and tie,

Travis  20:02  
you gotta be able to be dynamic like that, and, and have people focus on what you're communicating, and not what you're not communicating? Yeah. And as I think about that, too, like, when it comes to communication, I feel like in many projects where I've had challenges over the years, like, especially when I was when I had far less experience, it was times when generally I wasn't communicating enough. And then also, like you mentioned, it was, I think it also boiled down to like, really understanding what stakeholders cared about. And that's like a careful balance, because they won't always tell you like, explicitly, like, Hey, this is what I care about, this is what we're doing, this is what we're not going to do. This is what I care about. So yeah, it's it's like kind of like navigating some of these, like, interpersonal relationships. And then, also, I think one of the biggest skills that I've really started developing over the last several years, was just learning how to better interview stakeholders, like, it wasn't something I thought was like, you know, critical skill in the past. But it's definitely something that's very challenging. Like if you're, if you're not used to just going out and talking with complete strangers and trying to diagnose what's going on in their organization and get to the bottom of it, like, first, it can be nerve wracking, just walking up to some executive who's a complete stranger. And you're asking, you have to build report quickly, because you're going to be asking questions that are going to, you know, kind of get to the heart of the matter when it comes to security challenges that they might be facing. So yeah, I think there's like a whole, there's like a whole skill set for doing some of those stakeholder interviews, everything from the way you introduce yourself, introducing the topic of the project you're working on. The individual questions you ask or even your body language, I've seen body language where it's someone's interviewing a stakeholder, and I could tell the person being interviewed is just, they're basically just completely shutting down, like not giving any real responses, just because they feel intimidated. Yeah. And, you know, try to say, I'm chuckling thinking about

Sean  22:19  
what am I last? Well, you could say, when I transitioned or when I decided to become a counter intelligence, human intelligence specialist in the Marine Corps. Going through that school,

I learned a lot, you know, body language, Neuro Linguistic Programming,

interpersonal communication, and it's interesting, of course, we're using it, you know, to do human intelligence, through means of debriefing interrogations, running sources, and all critical skills, I believe, are absolutely foundational, in pretty much anything you do after whether that's relationship with your partner, your family, your kids, or you know, people at work, and you know, your customers, right, and just like you said, body language, how you present yourself

the feedback that, you know, I think it was, I can't remember who said this, but you know, 80% of communication is not verbal.

And people have to realize that, that's very, very important.

And even though we have many means of communication nowadays, whether that's like you me right now, or, you know, texting or all these communication apps, I feel as a society, we are, we are doing a worse job and actually communicating. And face to face communication

is a critical, critical skill. And it's very hard to just pick up by watching our video has to be practice. And those things that you mentioned before, I remember being a young Marine, and is going okay, I gotta get out of my shell. I got to do a good job and go randomly asked somebody in the mall a question and feel comfortable about it.

And those are things that you can learn to do for free. But they're critical in what you do when you are trying to, like you said, understand the aspects and concerns of all stakeholders, whether that's your your C suite, your customers, those, you know, creating the product for you. You have to be able to understand their needs, their limitations, their wants, and put that kind of any realistic plan to move that project or program forward. Yeah, and as you're talking to about these interpersonal skills, like for me when it comes to interpersonal skills, my default out of the womb was not

Travis  25:00  
not to be like the most extroverted, personable person like that was something I really had to get better with over time.

Like, I can think of one really influential book that I read, and I feel like it's probably more useful for people that are

less extroverted. There's a book out there called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It's like one of the most popular bows. Absolutely one of most popular books on planet Earth. I never stumbled across it until I was like, I don't know, and maybe my early or mid 20s, but I read it. I was like, Why didn't anyone expose this book to me like 10 years ago, I could have this could have really come in handy at high school.

But yeah, you nailed it on the head. Why was in communication taught in high school? Because if you think about it, learning how to just communicate with people around you would probably mitigate a lot of problems that we have today. All right, yeah. And at least, I'm like a younger ish millennial. So I feel like computers weren't at, I don't know, we weren't as immersed in computers, when I was growing up as they are now. So I figured, like, today, it could be an even larger challenge when people are, are getting more screen time.

And actually, on that note about Dale Carnegie, really one of the best courses one of the most useful courses I've ever gone to back when I was on an EP team out there in Southern California, our EP managers sent a couple of us to like this Dale Carnegie two day immersion course, which is pretty much like a two day public speaking course. And I've never felt so uncomfortable, but like getting those repetitions being out in front of complete strangers having to make kind of a fool of yourself in front of people, people that are complete strangers, and then also like diving down into some of their, into some like Dale Carnegie's like core principles that kind of guide his and his preferences for interacting with people stuff like that was so useful. It was like, maybe it was a $600 course for two days. But something as simple as that completely unsecured related was really one of the best courses, one of the most useful courses I've ever gone to.

Sean  27:22  
Yeah, communication, I think is is a skill that

I don't want to say it's undervalued. I think it's valued very much. But I think it's it's a skill that is probably much cheaper to sharpen own and pick up than people think. And maybe is overlooked sometimes. Yeah, I think. Absolutely.

Travis  27:45  
And then, also, so as we think broadly about project management,

like what do you think? What's required to be successful in project management? Like if we think about just like an individual person developing skills? Or what, what factors influence someone's success in managing projects? What do you think? Well, one, definitely communication, definitely, you need to have communication skills.

Sean  28:14  
And again, we're talking broad, so I'm not going to get into you have to be technical, whatever you're managing, you have to be able to manage the semis, subject matter experts on whatever you're in charge of, they're the pros. So you have to be able to communicate with them, and say, What do you need to get this project from A to B?

What don't you need, so I can facilitate that for you? I would also say that, being able to say no, it's, I think we live in a world, we want to please everybody. And when you're running a project, you're running a program that not everyone is going to be happy of how you're going to accomplish getting that to the finish line. And whether that is a stakeholder who wants to increase the speed of the project to impress somebody, you may have to say no, because if we do that, we are undermining the subject matter experts or materials or whatever need not

learning to

under promise and over deliver and not over promise and under deliver. Because, again,

you have to deliver what you're going to say you're going to deliver. It may sound great in the beginning, hey, I'm going to do X, Y and Z you know by this date, and then when you're three months behind when that date it doesn't look good, right?


I would say your planning is very, very critical.

Be have to be able to adapt

You have to be able to adapt, things won't happen.

supply shortages, you can't, you know, whoever who thought that COVID would have caused supply shortages for chips for vehicles, right? I mean, so.

But you have to be able to be creative and adapt. So I would definitely to circle back it would definitely be communication is critical.

Adapting, planning,

and learning, you have to learn everyone's capabilities on the team as well. You have to know your people, you have to know what they're capable of, and what limitations they have, and what they bring to the table. And in doing that, if you bring that to the forefront, I think you can be very successful, no matter what gets thrown at you. And, you know, it says in the title program, project manager, be have to be a leader, because at the end of the day, you're charged with moving this project or program in the right direction that the stakeholders want you to have to lead.

Travis  31:17  
Yeah, that's a very good point, too. Yeah, really, at the end of the day, it all comes back to, to leading people to leading teams.

And as you were talking to about,

about the need or the ability to manage subject matter experts, I was talking with someone working in executive protection not that long ago. And they're with the security service provider. And they were telling me when they do some of their work with some of the big tech clients, the big tech client will assign like a scrum master or a project manager to the individual project that they're working on. This person on the security service provider side, they said that, that was always a huge help. Like it kept everyone on task, everyone on the time on the clients timeline and made sure every little item was done. And yeah, there, they just remarked it, how initially, they were skeptical, like, why do we need this extra person to join our meetings to join our calls, but it's such an integral part of rounding up everyone together, keeping everyone on task, and then also reporting up the structure to whoever the bosses are?

Sean  32:30  
Exactly, you know, the world that you and I come from, a lot of times, that's your platoon sergeant, you know, that's your squad leader. In order to by being a leader, I did not have to be, or it's not that I wasn't, I wasn't always the best, right? Whether that was the best communicator, the best shooter, the best runner, definitely never the best runner, or the strongest, but I led them

because they're always needed to be someone that, you know, was accountable, dependable, could communicate.

And it's interesting, but those can be rare sometimes. In you know, moving forward. Now.

I'm not the subject matter expert in a lot of projects that I lead, but I'm the one that everyone goes to when they need something, right. And you have to become a dependable person. And then when your project is failing, or you're not communicating, you got to take a step back and go okay, what can I do better? And that leads to my next thing that I forgot to mention one of the critical things as a programming project manager, ownership. Everyone, I'm sure knows of the book.

Extreme Ownership, right.

And, you know, they came out some years ago, written by a former Navy SEAL, Jocko, everyone knows, right, and he has then you know, come with, he brought a him and oh my gosh, went to UT as well since I left Babban or SAT. Well, he's part of it. But there's more His name is Mark, but they started a consulting firm.

Right. And, you know, a lot of things they do us that were prior military were like, well, yeah, that was bred into us from the first day of boot camp, Extreme Ownership. And that's something you really have to do because there are times where you're, you got problems that were not your fault. Okay. Maybe you were not charged in ordering that specific part that is integral in the project, but the wrong one was ordered. How are you going to solve it? It's your problem now.

So you have to take extreme ownership in a lot of situations that you probably didn't put the team in, but the team's in it now. So that's another critical piece in every area.

Travis  35:00  
Next, anything you do anything you do even in, you know, your personal life as well. Yeah, I also read shakos book, I thought it was really fascinating. And I think right now, if you have a Spotify Premium account, I'm pretty sure it's free there within the audiobook. So for anyone listening, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Yeah. So it's a good reading and good listen. Yeah, yeah, I love listening to it. And that makes me think more thinking down that leadership track. Shawn, are there any other? Are there any other leadership books that you would recommend to others out there? Or maybe something that's influenced you? Sure. I mean, there are so many and um, and as you're saying that I'm like, looking back.

Sean  35:46  
Even I would say some of my favorite books I've actually linked out at this time. Another one another great one simple read.

Make your bed. Okay, bye. Everyone make Raven. You know, he I was blessed to go to UT during the time that he was a chancellor, him and I have breakfast several times you've talked and everything that he talks about in that book, if you were the military, you can relate. No, I didn't have to be a Navy SEAL to, to relate to the things that he said. But what I love is he packaged it in a way that everyone can relate to. You can read it in a day. It literally if you listen to the audiobook, I think it's only an hour.

But it simplifies a lot of leadership traits that are needed. And you don't have to go to an expensive course to get it.

Jhansi Maxwell has some great books about you know, 360 leadership that I was reading in the Marine Corps. Another very interesting read, let me see if it's on my shelf. I read it as a young sergeant. And it's called battlefield leadership. And it was written by a world war one general, who at that time saw that leadership had to change. And he was a German General, I believe, because most people, you know, like, before World War One, the generals, you know, they everyone just charged into battle, you know, yeah, the officers, and then everyone else is basically like a private, and the military is changing. And you know, now, and I tried to tell a lot of my colleagues now that some of the smartest people I've ever met in my life, were enlisted Marines. I'm talking about people who gave up fluoride scholarships, or then eventually went to Ivy League schools, but they just didn't want to be an officer, they want to do something else, or then they became an officer.

And that book, that core that book talked about, you have to know your people, if you want to lead them, you have to know them. Because some people especially nowadays, I would say, you know, if we're talking about the military, the enlisted personnel, they're much smarter than they used to be, they all have pretty much high school degrees, some of them have college, were before, you know, hundreds of years ago, it wasn't like that. And he talked about you have to

create a style of leadership for the people that you're leading. Stick with your values, not saying that you change your values, but you have to find ways to you know, some people, you talk to him in a very low, quiet voice, and that works other people, you gotta yell at them, you know, learning what works. And as a young sergeant, especially in the Marine Corps at the time, where it was just like, you know, if you're a leader, just do what I tell you to do. Right? I saw rails like, oh, man, it's not a way to lead. So that was another critical read. I mean, there's a lot of veterans that are writing books on leadership now that

you know, I'm seeing because I really, you know, Adam Gribben gone on to write like three more books.

I would say that, let me see if I have any more popping out at me. But

you know, Jhansi Maxwell, I do have a list of actually, books. I'm reading for 2020 For

Travis  39:20  
more focus on business. But you know, those books that I mentioned before, I think are some great reads that your listeners would like? Yeah, and I could definitely include a list of some of the ones that you mentioned. But yeah, those are those are all excellent ideas, especially kind of like

thinking through leadership of like the lens of each individual team member that you're working with, because each of them has different motivation has a different way of doing things you guys different.

I mean, really different skill sets, really different strengths and advantages. So yeah, that's really interesting. Yes. So moving away from leadership a little

But I wanted to ask you could you share a little bit about what it was like transitioning from the military into the private side?

Sean  40:10  
Interesting, I just had this conversation with someone yesterday about this.

You know, I think a core trade everyone needs to have in their daily life is humility, that you have to be humble.

In that should be probably the first thing that you do every morning is, think whoever you believe in for another day of life, and it will probably change your life. But with that being said to, when you're transitioning out, humility is huge.

And, you know, people call it transitioning, people will call it re entering the civilian world, but I think it's all fake phrase very incorrectly and poorly. You gotta understand that a lot of us, you know, like myself, I chose to enlist

when I was 17, and went straight into the Marine Corps. And when I'm leaving, I am, you know, 30s.

Married, and then within me leaving, I was blessed to become a father very shortly after that, is that it's your, you're not only leaving what you've only known. Now, you're, you're a different person, as well. So

you're entering a society that you didn't know. Okay, so

that's another thing, too, it's not like you were ever a civilian before you were, let's face it, you were a kid who made a you know, very courageous decision, and then you left. And that's what you've know. So, no matter what you've done in the military, and I saw this as I was getting out, because I was transitioning from active duty in 2015.

You have to learn to be able to communicate well, to what you did. And this goes back to I say, understanding your audience, you can't speak the same language that you're accustomed, and expect a future employer to understand what you're saying. And this goes back to what you're saying before is changing in your resume. Yes, I was a, you know, a senior staff,

you know, noncommissioned officer. And they're gonna look at you like, what?

Right? Yes, I was a program manager, I was a project manager. Does it make more sense? Right. And so it's things like that, that you have to learn? Definitely, you need to find out what you want to pursue

this whole thing of like, they tell veterans like, Oh, you guys are veterans, you have a one up on everybody I think is a

disservice. I think it is a disservice to say, You got to humble yourself and say, Listen, you're the colleagues that you're going to compete with, for these positions, these jobs, they're coming from different backgrounds.

Take that chip off your shoulder, and learn to be competitive in this space without only relying on your military service.

Travis  43:21  
So you know, I decided to get out and go to University of Texas, get my degree, but I think there are a lot of different pathways, you don't have to get out. Especially if you're going into cyber right. You need? Well, I mean, you know, I'm sure a lot of people will say otherwise. But do you really need a computer science degree, or certifications and experience more important? So I think whatever career field, you're looking to get into learn what the best in that field are doing and how they got there. Do that. mirror that? Yeah, and there's some really cool programs out there. Like, I mean, first, just thinking about cybersecurity in general, like, there's a ton of programs out there for military veterans to get involved in, like cybersecurity education programs that either cost nothing, or the cost is very low, or it's 100%, covered by some of your GI Bill benefits. So like, definitely, there's a ton of educational stuff out there where you don't even have to pursue a degree, you could just go straight to learning the most practical stuff and getting involved there. But then also, you have organizations like I'm not sure if you're familiar with Veter ATI, which is kind of like a network. Yeah. So you have this big network where you could connect veterans who are just getting out of the military or maybe they're maybe they're already working, but they still need to connect with more veterans. Learn more about a specific industry. Maybe they're trying to work for a specific company. You do have some of those organizations like that, that could really help veterans get a leg up to and you mentioned humility, like definitely

Sean  45:00  
humility is huge whether you're a veteran or not, I mean, I feel like when I come to conversations like this, it's like, okay, I was efore reservist MP in the Marine Corps, and I'm talking with the MARSOC. Marine who has like 14 years of experience. Like, I'm obviously coming to this with a lot of humility myself, too. Yeah. And you're gonna like, the I am humbled every day when I, you know, a lot of the guys that they like, you're talking about Sean Ryan Show, right? I mean, you were talking about, he's had guys on there that were Delta Force, right, def group. I mean, those, those are the top of the spear operators that a lot of us were like, in awe of right. And, you know, I was only in MARSOC for a couple of years. And then I went counterintelligence. And then I did see I work in the Special Operations space, too.

There's always going to be someone smarter, stronger, faster, whatever it may be.

Instead of going, oh, man, I wish I was that guy learn from them. And that's something I struggle with every day, is do I sit here and wallow that I'm not that person? Or can I learn from them? And, you know, I think we as people deal with that, you know, every single day, and that's, that's, that's part of being human. That's the human experience. So that's, I think, very important. And, you know, for veterans transitioning, I would say, also, listen, it can be a very, very long, lonely, lonely process. If you make it, it doesn't have to be in it, I would say, just like project management, you need to know when to reach out, say, hey, I need help.

And, you know, I, again, a lot of things in project management, end up really being a good project manager, you're kind of like, wait, I can apply these skills, my life as well. Why aren't I doing that? So I think those are very important to you, and you're transitioning out is network, ask for help. Don't do it alone, is very difficult for people that were not in the military, they just don't understand you are literally changing societies.

Even though we are American, we grew up here we left that, you know, a long time and you know, any

service branch that you were in, whether it was Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, you know, National Guard, you know, even Coast Guard, right, you left to do something part of a larger mission to protect us assets. And allies across the world. You're part of this, like global mission.

Travis  47:43  
And then you're not when you get out. And that's a very hard transition, you know, you're leaving that grand society, you're moving into another grand society, it is totally different. So it can be very, very difficult. Yeah, and I like what you said there to basically about not having to go at it alone. Like, even just thinking about like you going to UT like, I imagine there's a ton of veterans programs on campus or like other ways where you could connect with veterans in your in Texas. So I feel like that's probably a very veteran, friendly area. So yeah, being able to find veterans in some of those smaller communities that you're in, or whether it's connecting with them on veteran potty or even just cold messaging, like another former Marine on LinkedIn, if someone cold message, cold messages me, I'm gonna reply, like nine out of 10 times to try to help them in some way.

Sean  48:40  
Yeah, and that's, that's definitely, you know, talked about LinkedIn too, that sort of thing to people have to, or, you know, especially for jobs or whatever, you're gonna, you're gonna message probably, like, 10 people and get one response back because everyone is busy. And guess what, that's okay. That's another thing to stay humble. Some people are just not going to message you back. Move on, you know.

And, you know, I'm saying all these things, because I made mistakes. And I tried to do it alone sometimes, or I didn't network as much as I should have, or I didn't, you know, engage with my network as often as I should have it. I think if I had maybe I would have ended up somewhere different, I don't know. But these are all critical things that you have to do to

be successful.

Travis  49:34  
Yeah, and that makes me think towards two. I want to get some your thoughts on what your job search might have looked like when you were going from UT Austin on to your next thing, but I could also share some of my own lessons recently. So I just recently changed jobs moving from one senior consultant project manager role into a new project management role more focused on infrastructure and

So, within that job search, I can tell you I probably applied for,

I'm sure at least 100 jobs over the course of like, six months. And during that time, I probably got about 10 rejection letters, I got one interview, and I got the job.

But yeah, there's, there's six months, or I was getting nothing but rejection letters or hearing absolutely nothing. And really the, what I really took out of that job search, I got the most traction, just talking individually with people who are in my network. So talking with people that I've had on the podcast with others that I've met at conferences where they could reach out whether they have internal openings with their companies, or whether they have friends who, hey, I know so and so at this company, he's looking to hire a project manager. Oh, good. Yo, PMP, you have this, you have that? Oh, wait, you don't know anything about Revit? Okay, go do a Revit course, and then go apply for this and your name will be at the top of the list. So yeah, really, my big takeaway was that I pretty much wasted my time applying for those 99 jobs where I didn't have where I didn't have like a warm introduction there. So yes, I think that networking is just so critical. Yes. And it's why it's critical to do your homework ahead of time. And I think I made the same mistake where I thought my military experience was going to supersede some of the requirements and guess what it's not. If they want that certificate, or if it says preferred, yeah, that means they want it. So find out how to get it, or find out how to make sure you put on your resume that maybe I don't have that cert yet. But I did the work. And but you know, I think sincerely leaving UT, it was it was a very trust, rough transition of what jobs to apply to.

Sean  51:57  
I thought it was geolocation issues as well, I had to stay here in Texas, a lot of the jobs that I was either being offered or was going to get the East Coast. So I had to kind of reinvent what exactly I was going to do. And then also, again, humble myself. And even though maybe what I would say is I was doing some high level things in the military. When I left, you know, I left in 2015, kind of on a on a high.

I my last mission was great. It was a great mission with a great unit.

I just gotten promoted, just gotten a reward, I mean, and then I have to come over here and it's like, Wait, you don't have this cert, you know, this cert, and you're like, Yeah, but I got all this. And it's like, so, again, learning how to communicate what you do have networking. And I can't tell you just like you drivers, I can't tell you how many jobs I've applied to since then. Because again, during COVID I got I got furloughed, and then unfortunately, you know, I've been laid off before during the tech layoffs. So that's another thing too, is learning how to deal with being laid off job applications. You know, these recruiters will tell you to do this. Other recruiters will tell you to do that. And then you kind of have to take all of that and go, Okay, what's good from here? What's good from here? Do I apply to the job right now? Because I saw it posted? Or do I wait to make a LinkedIn friend, because then sometimes when you wait for that person to message you back, the job is gone. So you know, and I would just say, Be decisive and take action, whatever that may be. You know, and always find out what other successful people are doing in that career field and reach out to them and just say, I see, you know, you're doing, you know, on X, Y, and Z path, I'd like to be there. They give five minutes just to share one piece of knowledge with me. Yeah, you'd be amazing. Like how open people on LinkedIn are to helping you if you just sincerely reach out and ask him that a particular topic, people are very helpful and

Travis  54:17  
when you talk about, like talking to some of these recruiters, and I think one thing to keep in mind here too, I feel like many times if you could get in front of the right person, like those certs and like all the superficial stuff tends to not matter. And really it comes back to like how passionate is this person about the work that they're doing and continuing to learn? And like this specific area, I feel like you could almost not avoid the certifications we could almost get like a head start by just having that passion because that's going to be like the most critical component to ensure that you that you succeed there and it's so hard to find. Right because if you if you have the right care to lose

Sean  55:00  
Do it, then you're like, Yeah, I'll find a way to get that certification. Right, I'll find you know it. You know, once I've done that before, once I get this position, within six months, I get the certification. And that sort of thing, too, is I think a lot of employers don't realize in the Armed Service, how many times we have to learn systems expedition, like in an expedient rate, we have to learn, we, you know, whether we get a new weapon system, new communication system, we don't just have to we get to play around with it. It's like, No, you got to learn this now. Because you're gonna take it out and use it in a real life scenario. And within six months, you know, or, you know, I remember, one of my teams, I was not, you know, I didn't have a satellite communications background, but we didn't have another guy or a backup. And I was like, Hey, I already got all these other tasks, but I'll learn. I'll do it. And next, yeah, no, I, I was learning satellite communications, and how to set up classified networks,

you know, out in the field. And it's because it's like, we have that mentality of, oh, the team needs this. I'll get it done. And that's something that you bring to the table.

Travis  56:17  
And that is important, too. Because I would say in the military to get the job done. We are not. It's like, do you have the cert? It's not a big deal. But it is critical, I would say in the civilian sector, because of, you know, liability issues, or, you know, so they have, you know, the standards Policy Governance, that is very important. So, you know, you have to balance that as well. Yeah. Yeah. And as you're talking about that, I can think of two friends like in my immediate network, both Marines both working in cybersecurity, one. One is just crazy passionate, he has a ton of experience. I mean, he kind of like self educated himself on everything from doing online investigations, to doing hacking to doing protecting networks, all kinds of stuff. And he has maybe like one or two certs, but he's the kind of person who could pretty much solve any problem that you throw at him. And you have people like that people like that are almost they're incredibly rare to find, and you want to hang on to people like that. And I think about my other friend,

Sean  57:30  
who we've worked together at a different job. And I was kind of like a hiring manager, I pretty much hired him, he came out of school with the mass Master's in Public Administration and cybersecurity. So pretty much hired him with no experience, but I knew like, he's the type of person that's so passionate, we could give him almost any task and working together, we like we're going to be able to accomplish whatever we need to even if we have a really small team. So I think I feel like that's one area to where it's like, if I'm ever a hiring manager, I know, if I talk to a Marine who's competent and passionate I can have, I can have a lot of confidence in this type of person. Yeah, and that goes back to you know, they're called that the soft skills. And it kind of goes to show you that you can't, you know, even though we're we're going to the age of you know, you see in school, starting, you know, my daughter, even their age, stem stem stem right. And I think that's great. I think that that's so great. But where are the classes on communication? Interrupted intrapersonal communication, right? Where are the classes on? Let's teach these kids on how they learn. Because that's our thinking, too. I learned in the Marine Corps, like, it was funny where I took a step back when I when I left the Marine Corps, and I was going to UT. And I was like, Wait a second, man. There's some things I learned in the Marine Corps so quickly, and became like, how did I do that? How did I memorize this? Or how did I do all that? But then I'm sitting in this class, and I'm like, Man, I can't remember anything. Right? And it's because I think in a service, sometimes they teach at a level. They teach differently. So a lot of people like us pick it up, and it sticks. And it's not just classic education of sit down in a classroom read this book. It's a lot of hands on, right? So it's learning how you learn. And those things right there it goes such a long way. And it proves that also, you know, someone with character, certain characteristics, you know, that's important that you just said, Travis, is this person dependable? You know, that that's so critical is yeah, they got all the right certs. But at the end of the day, are you willing to, you know, I'm willing to put this person in front of the

CCE, we give this brief. And are they going to be confident?

Travis  1:00:05  
All right. So yeah, and we've we've covered some interesting topics to about, I guess about like the American educational system. Because like, like when it comes to communication,

I don't think I really ever did any type of classes that actually talked about communication till maybe like junior college or

talk about like,

I don't think I'd ever had a course, in

any schooling that I've done, where the topic was about learning how to learn. I remember like, probably like, I don't know, maybe like, seven or eight years ago, actually picked up a book, I think, was by these psychologists over at University of Washington that have written a book about, like, their research about how people learn best. And it took me you know, 25 years to go pick up a book about how to learn, but maybe I think this would have been a year. I'm sorry, I cut you off. I believe senior year I took public speaking that helped. But then, you know, it was all on record. And it wasn't until

Sean  1:01:13  
I think, my years doing CI, human work that you know, I'm learning about interpersonal communication and body language and neuro linguistic programming can isa cues. You know, when learning why, you know, people don't understand like, why don't poker players always wear shades, and hoodies, right. And I learned that on record walk ins, because you know, there are certain things that people can't hide when they get excited or happy their ears go red. So that's why they wear a hoodie. So people don't go like, Oh, that person is excited about their cards.

And I think it wasn't until, like you said, I was actually taking a college course, on the weekends while I was in the Marine Corps. And it was about how you learn. And I remember sitting there going, why didn't I read this? When I was younger? Why didn't I read this? Like? Or why didn't I learn about this in elementary school? So then, Middle School in high school probably would have been easier.

But you know, and, you know, that's why I'm, you know, as a father, now, I'm trying to take those lessons learned and help my daughter now and not, you know, when she's in high school or college.

Travis  1:02:27  
Right? Yeah, that's beautiful, being able to give them opportunities, or like, just injecting some ideas out there that you know, are going to help them way far down the line. That's awesome.

Let's see. Shawn, before we wrap up the conversation. Were there any other topics that you wanted to dive into? Or maybe anything that we might have skipped over? Um, I actually don't think so. I think we covered a lot. I think we

covered, you know, again, we dove into the project and program management, but it definitely weaves in and out of our experiences and how we learned and I hope I also shared with your audience, like I failed a lot. That's another thing too, is I failed a lot. And I'm still failing. But I'm owning it. And I think that can be the hardest part. I think there's a lot of growth, when you own it, and say, You know what, I messed up. And this is, you know, moving forward. I think you can't you can't move forward unless you own it. And then once you own it, it's a great catalyst into doing better. So I think that's very important to express. Yeah, I think that's a theme we kind of touched on with some of the other topics too. And there's a I mean, it's probably kind of cliche by now. But there's a idea out there called growth mindset made popular by a woman, Carol Dweck, I think she might be from USC. But yet her whole, her whole theory, there's there are all theory, there's that really, like anytime we approach a new situation a challenge, like we need to look at it just as that it's just a challenge. If we do poorly, it's not because innately, Travis is bad, and he's going to crumble every time he faces this challenge. It's okay, here's how, here's the situation. Here's what we did. How could we avoid this next time? What can we do better? How could we improve? So it's really just approaching all failures as just a way to learn and I think that's going to be useful. Whether you're sitting down and taking one of these certification exams, because you're afraid of failing, it's going to come in handy there or, like you mentioned, for anyone that might be getting out of the military, and now they're going into a university setting. It's like, they're gonna fail. They're going to do something incorrectly, but

But they just have to look at each thing as a challenge to overcome and get better with each iteration.

Sean  1:05:07  
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I would say one more thing, too is know your people. I think that's so critical.

You know, you hear it called, you know, burnout.

You know, when you're running a project, you got to make sure that you're also not, you know, burning people out. And because you can't accomplish the mission, well, we call it the mission, but you can't, you know, close that project out, you can be successful at that program, if you're burning out the people that are going to help you get to that finish line. And so the thing is, a lot of times people will tell you that they're burned out, because they want to keep going. So it's important to know, okay, it's it, sometimes it's critical to slow down to speed up. And a lot of people are like, wait, what that's, but it's true. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up, and there was a project.

I was a contractor, I took over a team, the morale was bad.

I had to go in there and basically tell my bosses like, Hey, we're shutting down operations for three, four days. And they're like, what I'm like, you know, and I said, Yeah, shut down for three, four days. We're gonna, you know, reorganize, refit. Let's get morale up a little bit. Next season. Oh, you know, three months, four months into it, we had the highest completion rate. And we're right back on track. So

Travis  1:06:40  
I think that's, you know, very important to be able to do. Yeah, yeah, there's definitely like, what seems like small tweaks that you can make in the environment and a schedule that could just have a huge impact. And it reminds me, a while ago, I heard this Vice President talking with one of his sales directors, and he told the Sales Director, if you didn't go on vacation in the next two weeks, that he was going to fire him.

So, and I just kind of made me look at leadership in a way it's like, oh, wow, this person, he's going to make it mandatory for him to use PTO and, and that sales director is still like,

producing at like an unbelievable rate. But for me, hearing that it was just really interesting. Or someone was forcing another person to take PTO. But there's obviously a rationale there. The guy was working like crazy hours, also doing incredibly well. But yeah, you just need time away from whatever your projects might be, just to continue progressing and stay, stay on that track.

Sean  1:07:46  
Yeah, you definitely have to, like you said, going back to the growth mindset,

you got to grow by also resting, and being comfortable in that space of resting, whether that is taking a step back for five minutes from the project, while you're trying to figure out what's the solution, whether that is, you know, taking a day off, or whether you're spending time with your family, but that's also making sure that you're

not just reading about what's going to help you better in your field, but also reading about what's going to make you better as a person about the things you know, whether that's being a father, a husband, brothers, you know, sister, whatever that may be, making sure that you're grown in that too, because you're bringing that to work to, like, you know, you're you're bringing them to work. And people will tell. So, it's it's critical to do. Yeah, that's a good point, too. Like, you're, you're working with a whole person. It's not just like the half of Travis that comes to work every day. And you know, ads, JIRA tickets or whatever. Yeah, that's, that's an interesting way to look at it.

Travis  1:09:03  
Cool. Well, Shawn, I really appreciate you sharing your time with me today. We covered some really cool topics, everything from your time in the Marine Corps managing really interesting projects there to transitioning out what, what like success criteria you see for project managers? Yeah, this is all incredibly useful stuff. So I think for any of the security practitioners out there who are managing projects now or who are considering it, I think this will give them some really good ideas. Oh, actually, one more thing to mention. For anyone who's less knowledgeable or, at say less knowledgeable about project management, but you're interested in getting involved in it. One really interesting book that I've liked recently, there's a book called Scrum SC r u m. by Jeff Sutherland, who's like the founder of the scrum philosophy. I think that'd be a

Sean  1:10:00  
really good place to start because it gives you like, it gives you like a broad look at project management, but also gives you some really interesting like cheat codes or like shortcuts that I think you could probably use day to day. So I'll I'll leave that in the links. But Shawn, it was awesome talking to you. I really appreciate your time. Travis, it was great. I'm so glad that we're able to do this. I look forward to us, you know, staying connected and seeing each other grow in each other's careers. It was humbling to be here. It was a blessing. Thank you very much. And it was a great time. So in to your to all your listeners have a great day. Thank you for listening, and

Travis  1:10:43  
take care. Of course, pleasures, all mine, and I'll see you in the Security Plus study group. course I'll be there.

And that concludes today's episode. Remember, show notes from today's chat can be found online at the security which includes a transcript, links to resources mentioned, and a quick summary of big ideas we touched on today. Final note, if you're finding my podcasts useful, and you want to help me in a very meaningful way, please go to the Apple podcasts app and write a quick review stating why you would love the podcast