Tag Archives: Lessons Learned

Captain Dad: On Being a Modern Parent Leader

Parents are the leaders of families. This is not a new concept, and it has been recognized when considering things like parents’ role in leading their kids’ education and upbringing. The tie between parenting and leading outside of the household is also fairly easy to see, and you can check out other pieces that identify the similarities between leading kids and adults (written by a former SEAL), note the boost to leadership parents receive, and list the numerous lessons learned from parenting that are applicable to leadership. Not to be forgotten, The Military Leader ran a piece a couple years ago about this very topic. (A version of that same post also ran on Task & Purpose.)

All of that is to say that the body of literature on parenting vis-à-vis leadership is fairly saturated. But even after reading much of the existing work, I found little mention of some of the comparisons I had in mind. I don’t claim to be a stellar example of either a leader or a parent, but I can certainly see the overlap. So, here’s my contribution to that “scholarship,” with a mind especially to company grade leadership and the help of the TV show Modern Family:

Continue reading Captain Dad: On Being a Modern Parent Leader

Bourbon & Battles: One Year In

During Christmas Break one year ago, I wrote a piece for PMJWire, the blog for PolicyMatters Journal, which is the student-run journal for my school, the Goldman School of Public Policy. In that blog post, I argued for including women in registering for the Selective Service. Not satisfied with whatever audience that post would reach, I decided to share the post on Medium—my first self-published piece. I published a few more things on Medium, but it wasn’t long before I bought BourbonandBattles.com.

So began Bourbon & Battles Year One.

Continue reading Bourbon & Battles: One Year In

On Running and Leadership

I ran a 10k Monday. I’m not bragging—it wasn’t a special event or a race, just a slow 6.2 miles because I wanted to. (And because of the whole “PTing for fitness in the Army” thing.) I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no PT stud, so it wasn’t a particularly inspiring 10k, but I felt good afterward, and I started to think about some of the ways running is like leadership.

And while I’m not the first to draw the comparison (see this, this, this, this, and this), I argue that there is much about leadership you can learn from running. Some of my thoughts are a stretch, but some might make sense to you. Strap on your PT belt and have a read: Continue reading On Running and Leadership

Guest Post: The 8 Lessons of Leadership I Learned from Brewing Coffee

Bourbon & Battles welcomes Alex Licea, today’s guest author. This post was originally published here on June 14, 2016. Check out Alex’s bio below the story.


Like most of my colleagues, I enjoy a cup of coffee each morning. While my experience with the brewed drink won’t inspire me to write a book about coffee any time soon, it has left a profound impact on me, and in some ways shaped me as a military communications professional and leader.

Before I get to those lessons, let me set up the scene.

The date was October 1, 2013. The government had shutdown for the first time in nearly 20 years. Continue reading Guest Post: The 8 Lessons of Leadership I Learned from Brewing Coffee

Adjutant Advice #2: Ask What the Acronyms Mean

This is the second in a series of posts aimed at answering some of the most frequent questions or issues new officers would have when I was a battalion S1/adjutant.


Today’s “Adjutant Advice” is less advice from an adjutant and more advice as an adjutant. AG soldiers rarely find themselves assigned to an AG or HR (human resources) unit, so very often we are permanent party visitors to a different branch within the Army, each with its own individual identity, doctrine, and set of acronyms.

This scenario is also true of many branches besides AG, including intelligence, logistics, signal, medical, and ministry soldiers, among others. And the further you advance in your career, the greater chance you stand of being assigned to a unit as the sole member of your own branch. To be an effective member of the team, you have to put the effort into learning your operating environment. Continue reading Adjutant Advice #2: Ask What the Acronyms Mean

Adjutant Advice #1: Write Your Boss an Introductory Letter

This is the first in a new series of posts aimed at answering some of the most frequent questions or issues new officers would have when I was a battalion S1/adjutant. They don’t represent any official guidance, just pointers and advice. I welcome any input about each topic from those wiser and more experienced in the comments and/or on social media. I also welcome your own questions if you’re a new lieutenant or cadet curious about personnel, military courtesy, or protocol-type things.


When you are a brand new lieutenant, your focus and training is usually about being the best platoon leader you can be. That doesn’t leave much room for protocol and traditional formalities, especially when text messages and emails are the norm these days.

So it isn’t surprising that lieutenants at their respective Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) would often email or call me to ask: should I write an introductory letter to the battalion commander. The answer is always yes. Continue reading Adjutant Advice #1: Write Your Boss an Introductory Letter

6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

Few jobs in the Army inspire the phrase “better you than me” than that of a headquarters company command. There are paths to success if you find yourself in that gig, especially if you follow good advice like that offered by Captain Scott Nusom in his article “Surviving Headquarters Company Command” published at From the Green Notebook.

But along the way to completing a successful headquarters command, there are a handful of slow—sometimes painful, sometimes cathartic—realizations that change the way you perceive the job, for better or worse. Continue reading 6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

Lessons from a First Year in ACS

About five months ago, around the time I started this still-young blog, I shared my lessons from a first semester in ACS – the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program. It didn’t seem like there were many firsthand experiences shared, so I decided to pitch my voice into that void on the off chance that I might help someone out or at least get them to think about ACS.

One semester later, I feel like there are a few more lessons worthy of sharing as I wrap up my first of two years in grad school. The overarching lesson? Grad school isn’t that different from many things I’ve learned in the Army: Continue reading Lessons from a First Year in ACS

On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Once upon a time while working on a history project about US Army casualty operations since World War II, I collected a bunch of old Adjutant General Corps-related documents. One of my favorite eBay scores was Technical Manual (TM) 12-250, the War Department Technical Manual for Administration, dated October 10, 1942.

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Captain Phillipps failed miserably at making sure this thing wasn’t removed from Headquarters.

Continue reading On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone

Post #7 in the “In Between” series.

I’ve come to appreciate a handful of things about basic military administration and organization since I’ve spent some time away from it. As a leader, you have the very real responsibility of keeping your organization knit together and operating functionally and smoothly by mastering those administrative/organizational exigencies. We often lose sight of just how fundamental much of what we do in the military is.

From my brief foray into the civilian world, let me share just a few things I miss.

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Don’t be like Zoidberg.

 

Continue reading Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone