Business is not warfare. This is an important point to make, especially on Veteran's day because corporate cultures that visualize themselves battling with competitors adopt warlike strategies that aren't effective within complex business ecosystems.
For example, I once had a boss at the now-defunct computer vendor DEC who literally said: "Think of IBM as Hitler." Ironically, his group was later tasked with cutting a deal with IBM to distribute some DEC software. As you might imagine, no "co-opetition" (like Microsoft and Apple) took place.
It's my observation that executives who frequently use warlike metaphors almost never actually served in the military. By contrast, real-life veterans tend to tread lightly with the metaphors but draw heavily upon their experience.
This makes sense because while idle corporate chatter about "chain of command" and "marshalling the troops" is useless, today's real-life military demands personal and technological skills that apply directly to how today's business work.
To illustrate this point, here are what three real-life veteran/entrepreneurs have to say about how they've applied their military experience:
Military Experience: Aviation Electronics Technician, U.S. Navy
Current Position: CEO and founder of Cuvee Coffee, a nitro cold brew brand.
His Remarks: "The military taught me that in order to achieve a mission or milestone in a business, it takes a team of people all willing to have each other's back and give their best individual effort. This is why they run training exercises and hold people accountable. When I started building my business and even now, I make sure we are strategic in picking team members who understood the company's goals and are willing to give their best effort in order to achieve them. Once we bring them on, we make sure we fully train them so they know what the expectations are and each person is held accountable for the work they do."
Military Experience: Sergeant, U.S. Marines.
Current Position: Executive Chairman and Founding Partner of UFC GYM which brings Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) safely to the masses.
His Remarks: "My 8 years in The Marine Corps did more to shape my business skills than my 25+ years in business have. While a Marine I learned what it means to truly lead, inspire, and become a courageous leader who is uncompromising in his pursuit of the best team and best outcomes. Most importantly it showed me that a true leader will always Lead from the Front."
Military Experience: Fighter Pilot, U.S. Marines
Current Position: Co-founder of Babiators, a line of aviator and Wayfarer-style sunglasses for babies and children.
His Remarks: "The Marine Corps taught me that taking care of your people allows them to take care of their work. Stepping in and doing work they should do for themselves has the opposite effect. No one should go it alone. We don't send rifleman out without a squad, we don't send jets out without wingmen. The same is true in business; you need a team, working together, to build a successful company. Ultimately, no matter how important your mission seems, no one is more important than your family."