About Me (uh-roon’ chi-toor’)
First things first. How do you say my name? It’s a rare occasion when I introduce myself to someone and their first question isn’t “Huh? What’s your name again?” I’ve experimented with pacing, tone, exaggerated lip movements, immediately offering a rhyming term … all to no avail. It doesn’t keep me up at night but can be annoying all the same, especially when many of my friends found my name simple to start and haven’t failed to get it right since. So I’ve become accustomed to providing a pronunciation key whenever I’m at a conference or networking event. I don’t do this to be provocative, but really to get us past the awkward moment and into a meaningful dialogue.
Okay, now that the name thing’s out of the way! Despite my fight against restrictive professional identities, calling myself a husband (which I am) and a father (which I am) means a lot to me. I’ve been a husband since 2008 and a father since 2019 and appreciate many things about both experiences, foremost that both have pushed me to understand myself and my role in my family and community in all sorts of ways.
After college at Ohio State, I joined the active duty Air Force and spent the better part of a decade deploying across the Western U.S. to alert facilities 80 feet below ground with one crew partner. The two of us stood ready behind one of the world’s most powerful instruments of politics and strategy. The job can be busy with daily maintenance, 24/7 security operations, and constant revision to hardware and software. Yet despite the significant responsibility and unique heritage, my fellow “missileers” and I grew up in “one of the world’s worst cultures” according to author Daniel Coyle. In 2014, a select group of the Air Force’s senior leaders directed an overhaul of our profession and to rehabilitate the service’s image of nuclear operations. We made some early gains and were on the path to convincing the ‘old guard’ that there was a better way, but it seems what positive momentum we enjoyed early would give way to old patterns of behavior and our persistent failure of imagination. As often happens in large organizations and in the face of inertia, we failed to lead.
In the year preceding my military separation in 2021, I struggled (like many veterans) with what my next “mission” would be. My plan had long been full-time graduate school–a PhD in the social sciences and public policy–then teaching in higher ed. But as the application deadline loomed, I questioned whether that path was the right one. There’s a lot about myself I don’t know; but among the few things I do know, one is how difficult I find it to chase after one idea or goal. We’re surrounded by problems. And no matter how capable or well-intentioned we are, it proves virtually impossible to work toward a solution that satisfies even a plurality of them. But I’ve learned the hard way that leading ourselves and others toward a solution doesn’t start with an answer, it starts with a question and one step.
Fellow veteran and business owner Rob Rens talks about focusing our attention around three lines of effort: our “main hustle, side hustle, and give-back.” His point was clear and powerful in answer to a common question: How can we possible get everything done every day? So many of us ask this question then resign ourselves to futility because we don’t have a framework around which to organize. Rob’s concept isn’t a be-all-end-all but it’s a worthy start. And so in my life, after my responsibilities as a husband and father, I organize my efforts around three lines of effort:
- Financial Advising. I looked into the financial services industry and the role of advisors years ago while assigned to a base in North Dakota. I wrote-off the idea quickly under the assumption that without a background or academic credentials in business or finance, I’d be dead-on-arrival. Lo and behold, such a barrier doesn’t exist. If anything, successful advisors tend not to be the ones with a ton of technical acumen but the ones who take care of their clients first and put their energy into customizing a plan for each of them regardless of the monetary incentives.
- Coaching. If you know me personally, you know this has been a long journey on its own. As far back as 2018, I opened a coaching practice called “Enabled Word.” I hadn’t developed a clear vision and failed to identify who I was best equipped to help, so the effort failed. I emphasize here that I don’t think it (and I) failed because of the business’ premise, but because I didn’t do the work necessary to make good on it. Today I still seek to help others transform into the better leaders they want and need to be, but I focus on the development each individual needs and what it will take to lead effectively in their unique situation. If I’m not actively coaching an individual or group, I’m studying and writing about leadership, training, and team-building.
- Career Transitions, Research in Practice, and Modern Education. This third effort, my so-called “give-back” line, remains in development but is also a hodgepodge of activities about which I’m quite excited. The military transition experience is difficult, can be turbulent, and is unique to each individual who’s decided to hang up their uniform for good. As a civilian, I’m still in “transition” as I learn how to navigate the world and my days without a bigger “mission” provided to me in neat, PowerPoint format. Having grossly underestimated how tough it would be to extricate my identity from my role in uniform, I’ve partnered with Joey Utah (another fellow vet and former nuclear security specialist) to build content and support programs that help others in transition–not just from the military but any professional endeavor–to build their own leadership framework and philosophy, independent of any organization, so that they’re prepared to lead anywhere and at any time. Beyond that, my academic work lately has been centered on the development of our primary, secondary, and higher education systems, and what steps we can and should take to jumpstart its expansion and necessary evolution. If that last sentence gives you pause or generates questions, well that’s awesome 🙂 … subscribe to my newsletter or connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook as I’ll be sharing plenty more there over time.
I’ll leave it there for now. I know that may be a lot to chew on, but I felt I owed you something of an explanation in exchange for the time you’ve gifted my page and me. Look around the rest of the site and really, seriously, reach out to me with any questions or feedback you have. Even to say hello and connect–I love to learn new stories, and luckily, each individual we encounter in our lives has a special one to tell. We lack leadership in all sorts of places but none of us lack the capacity to lead. We simply must acknowledge it then work every day toward realizing what it would mean for you and me and every one of us to step up and be better, do better, lead better.
The Wisdom of Others
The future of leadership is braver leaders.Brené Brown
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What makes you effective as a leader is not the title you hold. Rather it’s demonstrating an unrelenting focus on helping others succeed in their collective efforts.Tanveer Naseer