Military Appreciation Month: Startups and the Military
Growing up in Massachusetts, I was surrounded by our nation’s history. Field trips in elementary school to Saugus Iron Works and the 16 stops along the Freedom Trail fascinated me. My grandfather’s stories of his WWII service in the Army Air Corps flying “The Hump” over the Himalayas to deliver fuel to the Allies were riveting. Later it was movies like Top Gun, Platoon, and A Few Good Men. I love our freedoms and wanted to do my part. I sought the challenges of leadership and service.
I was lucky to play a small role as a Captain in the Army, hold company command, and be given the responsibility of leading soldiers in combat. Over the years since leaving the military, I’ve often been asked about my transition from the Army to the corporate world. I’ve realized that my job in sales at Hi Marley and my time in the military share common themes.
Accountability is key. At Hi Marley, we take it a step further and call it benevolent accountability. Holding ourselves and others accountable is critical to any organization on the move. Growth at a startup is its oxygen, and making sure the team is focused and in step ensures we’re operating on all cylinders. It’s similar in the Army. Military officers must check, double-check, trust, and verify. Benevolence is removed by the First Sergeant when a soldier misses early morning formation, but it’s the same accountability that keeps us on course.
Officers eat last. You never eat before your soldiers. At Hi Marley, this means our customers always come first. It’s critically important to us that the customers we serve love our product. We listen to their needs and incorporate their ideas into new features and solutions. Not only is it important to our long-term success, but like a platoon on patrol, we must make sure our customers are fit to fight before continuing to build our own moat.
Murder boards originated in the military. Just the sound of it sends a chill down the spine. It’s essentially a thorough review among an individual’s peers on the team. As part of our sales training, we put ourselves through a murder board. It ensures alignment and confirms our sales approach. We build in space to laugh with each other, and it builds team cohesion. It complements the military’s warrior ethos: Every Soldier, A Rifleman. On high-performing teams, details matter, and victory is often won at the tactical level.
Lead with empathy. This past year Hi Marley added Veterans Day as a floating holiday. The company has thoughtfully carved out space and, like the military, welcomes all walks of life. Employees are free to be who they are. It’s the same freedoms our nation has fought for throughout its history. Memorial Day is full of emotion for me. I often think about those I knew personally that we lost, and Memorial Day brings their tremendous character and bravery into focus. As Military Appreciation month ends, I look forward to honoring our Fallen on that last Monday of May, appreciating the freedoms we cherish, and reflecting on how empathetic leadership serves all.
Grant Rowland is a Senior Client Executive at Hi Marley, connect with him on LinkedIn here!