Finding Your Right Path and Leading the Way to Fulfillment – RVE #330

For the RV Entrepreneur Podcast episode #330, Jim talks with retired Air Force Colonel and civil engineer Don Gleason – a leadership transition coach helping people find the work that fulfills them most while working from his RV.

Thinking of a big career change, or transitioning to working from the road? Then don’t miss this discussion with leadership transition coach Don Gleason.

Don is a retired Colonel who served 27 years in the Air Force before transitioning to be a corporate management consultant. He is now “half retired” and enjoying the RV life while helping people move on with the next phase of their lives.

Don serves military and civilian personnel in their search to find the job that energizes them so they can live the life that fulfills them most.

We discuss leadership, team building, coaching, and the best aps for CRM, content delivery, and more. Don shares stories from his military career as a civil engineer. And, Jim discovers how skills learned from birdwatching can translate into business development.

don gleason

Finding Your Right Path and Leading the Way

With Leadership Transition Coach Don Gleason

Your Host: Jim Nelson

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The RV Entrepreneur #330 Full Episode Transcript:

Finding Your Right Path and Leading the Way with Leadership Transition Coach Don Gleason

DON: A good leader is about the people. You get to know your people you communicate with your people, you challenge your people, but you challenge them in areas that they really need to grow and want to grow.

RV LIFE: Welcome to the RV Entrepreneur Podcast, the weekly show for nomads, work campers, RVers and entrepreneurs looking to earn a living or build a business while enjoying the RV lifestyle. This week’s host is Jim Nelson. Let’s settle in and enjoy the RV entrepreneur podcast brought to you by RV life.

JIM: Hey there Jim here at RV life with another fantastic interview for the RV entrepreneur. You know, I would argue that the majority of new working age RVers are transitioning from a completely different life. They may be hitting the road for adventure and need to figure out how to support the nomadic lifestyle. Or perhaps they’re sick of their current work situation and dream of being a digital nomad. Regardless, the switch from a 9 to 5 job to working from the road can be daunting for sure. People retiring from the military or corporate executive life have a similar situation that may be even more challenging. Integration into any new society presents difficulty and confusion with soldiers and high ranking officers. This can actually be quite traumatic, and that’s why I am excited to share my discussion today with Don Gleason. Don is a retired colonel who served 27 years in the Air Force before transitioning to be a corporate management consultant. During that career, he honed his skills and is now a leadership transition coach, helping people move on with the next phase of their lives while working from his RV, enjoying bird watching and many other adventures, Don has plenty of stories and advice that translates well to the solopreneur lifestyle. Check out the work he’s doing at Achieve New Heights Comm, and hear the wisdom he has to share about leadership, team building, coaching, and much more right after this brief message.

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JIM: Don. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.

DON: Well, thank you, Jim, and thank you for the opportunity. It’s so much fun to get on and talk about the different experiences in life, and hopefully share a few things that people will get some value from.

JIM: Oh, you’re welcome. And I think we definitely will because I really love what you’re doing there at Achieve New That’s great. And I do want to get into all of that. But first, this is technically the RV Life Entrepreneur podcast, so I’d love to know kind of when were you first introduced to the RV life and what does that look like now?

DON: Yeah, you know, one thing I’ve been working on for quite a while now is crafting my life. What do I want it to look like? You know, I went through and we’ll talk 27 years. Air force, pretty much 9 to 5, actually, like seven in the morning till nine at night, Saturdays, weekends. You know, it just got to be an all encompassing thing. And I started to figure out I wanted to have something different. I got into Booz Allen Hamilton as a consultant and, uh, had a little bit better balanced life. But still, I pulled more all nighters that way, and I started to figure out how can I work part time and get on the road and do different things. And I started to see through Lunch Club, which is a software app where they match people of similar interests, styles, stuff like that. And I started running into more and more people who were camping in their RV, doing work, doing interviews, etc. and I started opening my mind to what was possible. You know, I’m in the middle right now of studying, think and grow rich. And it’s all about how do you move from your current. They call it departure point energy, your current situation to a new level of energy. You know your future. So I started thinking about what’s possible, and my wife and I started talking and and we’ll talk more in some of these pieces. But that was really my intro to RV entrepreneur or work camping. And, uh, it’s been really fun. I’m just getting started on it and growing.

JIM: So speaking of that, what does being an entrepreneur mean to you? What does it take to be an entrepreneur? What does it mean?

DON: Oh man, isn’t that an interesting question? You’re right. It’s easy to be that business person where you have a role. Like when I was in the Air Force, I was a civil engineer. I commanded squadrons in a group. I was leading different teams when I was a management consultant. Same thing. But now as an entrepreneur, you’ve got full range of everything. It’s like being a CEO of a company. You’ve got full responsibilities, but when you’re not making as much money, you’re pretty much doing everything. So you’re trying to bring some products or services to a client as an entrepreneur and help them with whatever their problems are, whatever their challenges are. So it’s hopefully a match. We talk about sales, but sales is really matching a product service to a need. And if you’re trying to push a product service to somebody who doesn’t have a need, that’s not really sales, that’s coercion, right?

JIM: And as entrepreneurs, we end up doing the sales, the marketing, the product development, the coaching, all of that. But you mentioned something there. Interesting. A minute ago, you mentioned working part time. I’m coming to understand the difference between retiring from the military and retiring. So in the bio you sent me, you called yourself half retired. Can you explain what you mean by that and why you decided to be part time retired?

DON: Sure. I’m actually reading a book called Half Retire and it really comes down to some 64. We hit the big Medicaid decision here this year. We’ll hit the Social Security decision. You know, depending we’re in that zone already, but we’re thinking 67 or so and maybe 70. But I have a lot to give. And I’m not looking to sit around watching prices. Right. And soap operas and all that. That’s not my style. I want to be engaged. My wife loves to make greeting cards. She loves to sew. She leads a knitting group for premature kids. They donate stuff every month. Sweaters, hats, all kinds of stuff to kids who are premature down at the children’s hospital. So we have things that we want to do. I’m involved with the Society of American Military Engineers. I’m actually taking on a role as a veteran point of contact for Texas. We’re going to see how we can get more veterans hired and and help companies attract and retain veterans. So there’s a lot of things that I want to keep doing, but I want to have a life where maybe a week, a month, maybe at least a long weekend, we just take off. We go enjoy. We just got a scratch off picture of Texas with all the state parks, and we’re scratching them off as we go where maybe a quarter of the way through. So seeing the different parts of Texas and in fact, we got a five week trip next year to see the Detroit Tigers in Cincinnati and Toronto. So that’ll be baseball stadiums. 18 and 19 were scratching those off as well. So it’s about having other interests but still being. Gaged in serving and helping others.

JIM: Nice. You mentioned the Air Force and a consulting firm. What did you do in your previous life?

DON: So the piece that I really loved was environmental people hear this way too often for me, but for this audience. Fifth grade, 1970, the first Earth Day I was in fifth grade, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Well, I shouldn’t say exactly. I knew I wanted to be working in the environmental arena. My dad would take us out fishing and hunting, and we’d see the streams and the pollution and the yellow foam and the stench and the fish turned over and like, we got to do better than this. This is not the way to treat this earth that we are giving stewardship over. So I was really good at math and science, so I ended up going to Wisconsin and getting a bachelor’s in Civil and Environmental focus on the environmental was not a guy who liked enjoying concrete structures or steel structures or highways. I was about the environmental water, waste water, groundwater. And I got the opportunity when I joined the service, the Air Force, to do exactly that. It really made a name for myself. So that was a big part of it. I got into spill response because of environmental right. We had fuel spills and hazardous material spills, which got me into the chemical, biological, radiological area. When I was a squadron commander, I was the on scene commander for a base. So if something happened, I was the guy out on scene. Everybody reported to me and I was the lead cleaning that up, fixing it, whatever it was, they really went hand in hand.

JIM: Nice. Good for you. So as a civil engineer in the Air Force, we have a little connection there. My dad was a civil engineer and he worked with the Army Corps of Engineers on lots of projects. How did your experience building things and coordinating large projects translate into building relationships and helping others make connections? What did you learn there that you’re applying now?

DON: Yeah. So a couple parts of that. How do I help relationships. The beauty that I loved with civil engineering is we got in touch with almost everybody at the base. You know, we were always out if you were doing facility maintenance, working on their toilets or their lights or their heat. Actually, in 1987, we started this thing called room. Now I can’t remember what it stood for, but it was readiness or readiness oriented operations management. And it was about the structure was we would go out and talk to the occupants of the facilities, see what things needed to be fixed, and then we would bring a team in to fix them. Up until that point, we would go in one at a time. We’d go fix the toilet and leave. Now we’d bring a team in and we would fix everything in the building. We do that every six weeks, so unless there was a emergency, that’s what we would do. So we got in that relationship building with the customer. Same thing when we did a construction project, like when we did a fire department build a military construction project, which is a different it’s a congressionally authorized project, usually over. I can’t remember the limit now, but $1 million or so. We were building a fire department.

DON: So we sat down with the fire chief, and we walked through all of his requirements and how things needed to be laid out, how many trucks you need, what has to be in the bays, what kind of bunk rooms do you need? How many sleeping quarters do you need? What kind of, you know, the latrines, the training rooms, all the control center, all of those things? That’s what I loved about civil engineering is we would always be talking to the client. Now, we also back to the piece about Army Engineers and the Corps of Engineers by congressional mandate, the National Security Act of 1947, when the Air Force became a separate service, we were mandated to use the Army Corps of Engineers for major construction. Now, since we’re using the Navy Facilities Command, we’re using the Air Force now created a structure. But we were always working with those type of construction agents, contracting agents to help us in our mission, because in the beginning, we weren’t allowed to go out and do that direct contracting. We’ve hence changed a lot of that because the Army Corps couldn’t handle it all. Just just too much money coming all of a sudden. So we’re always building relationships to get the job done.

JIM: So I can see the correlation there about, you know, getting down, seeing the nuts and bolts of how things are built, building the foundation, whether it’s a structure or a relationship. But I first heard about you on the Work Camper News podcast. And have you enjoyed any traditional work camping jobs since retiring? You know, the definition of work. Camping has changed over the years to include any type of work while work camping. But I’m referring to like the traditional job where you’ve stayed at a campground in exchange for site and pay. Have you done that type of job?

DON: I have not, I have not been a like a camp host. You know, my wife and I, we look at that job and they take care of bathrooms and it’s like, yeah, I’m not really the guy who wants to clean bathrooms, right? But we’ve met a couple. They come down from Michigan every summer and they stay at two different campgrounds in Texas state parks, and they’re the birding host. Oh, wow. We go see them at Goose Island. In fact, today I’m in Corpus Christi, which is kind of a working trip. There’s a bird that we’re coming down here to see. We’ll talk about that. But just northeast of here is Goose Island State Park. So we go down there every February. We go to Lost Maple State Park just west of San Antonio where I’m living, and we meet them and we go on birding tours with them. And those guys, man, they’ve got the the calls. They know that by memory. They know all the colors and the shapes of the birds. And they’re teaching us so much. So we would not mind being a birding host, but we haven’t done that yet. But we’re thinking about it. So right now it’s just been my business that I’m working on nice.

JIM: And that’s working while you’re camping. And I do want to get into that birding passion later. But on that podcast, you said life is too short not to enjoy it, and too many of us wait until the end. But you know that enjoyment requires income. And many of us nomads are not yet retired. So what are some of the first steps someone can take to achieve that perfect live work balance? If it exists?

DON: I want to push back on that statement. Does it take money? When my wife and I, before we even got married, I had a tent for Man Mountain tent, bought it for back then 70, $80. Right in the car. We would go out and we’d go camping. Now we didn’t have this is the 70s, so you didn’t have the Wi-Fi and the cell signals and all those things back then. But you could do that today, right? You could go in with a computer, you could sit at the picnic table, you could do a bunch of work. You could state parks have usually Wi-Fi at the main entry point. You could go up and download emails. You could do send things out so you could do work. I think with a tent for 20 years, we utilized a pop up. And during our vacations when kids were resting or playing outside, I would do project reviews. I was doing environmental impact statement reviews or working on sections of environmental impact statement or whatever. So I could do that out of a pop up. I think that cost us 7000, if I remember right, in year 2000, but now we’ve moved to hard sided trailer. So it gets a little bit more comfortable. But I don’t know that the capabilities for work actually has changed a lot.

JIM: I definitely agree with that. But it does require resources and I believe it’s give and take. So depending on the lifestyle, you do need to support it somewhat. So let’s talk about your business and how you’re currently supporting your lifestyle.

DON: Can I go back to something you said though, which is what you said, which is don’t wait. Just had a friend of mine, we were stationed in Germany together, 88, 89. We went separate ways in 89, but we stayed in touch and he asked me to retire him in 2005. Then he got a job. After a couple jobs, got a job with the Army Corps of Engineers, which you were referencing, and he just retired in 2022. He got the inheritance of his family house up in Maine. He spent the summer last year working on it, ended up breaking his back, hauling drywall through the medical treatment. They found cancer throughout his body and he passed away in March of this year. So we went back up. First time we’d been to Maine, we went up there for the funeral and stuff in May, and we’ve been working a lot with his wife, which we know very well from 20 plus years, 25 years, so trying to help her along the way. But they were just getting started on what was supposed to be their retirement years. And now he’s gone and you just don’t know how long you have left. So we get caught in this piece of spending all of our time at work to get promoted, to get more money. And then too many of us don’t have the body because we haven’t taken care of ourselves physically or no longer have the relationship with the spouse because we gave it up because we worked so long, I almost I’ve been married 41 years, but I’ve almost screwed that up a couple times, right? Because I’ve been focused like that. So just really about now, when I work with folks, help them find the job that energizes them so they can create the life that fulfills them. And that’s where we’re going. The life that fulfills them. Enjoy it. Now, get out on weekends. Get out on you know when you do your vacations. Enjoy. Don’t just stay at home.

JIM: It’s an excellent point and it’s exactly why my wife and I, you know, we’re by no means retired, and we set off on this lifestyle 16 years ago. So, wow, with those 34 years of Air Force and corporate experience, how did you hone your leadership skills, as it says on your website, are there any specific habits or traits you feel helped the most in your development as an efficient leader?

DON: Two ways, probably mostly trial and error and learning from others mistakes or successes. I would like to say that I had a bunch of mentors who really taught me leadership, and what I had was mentors who challenged me, gave me different projects. They were there for me. Not all of them, but a number were, and I could go ask them questions, and if I screwed up, they would pull me aside and say, hey, try this versus that, right? So it was a lot of trial and error. The beauty of the military in my mind, is you get a lot of responsibility very early on. I remember after six months in the military. So this was the summer of 83, went back to Madison, where I grew up and graduated college, and I was talking to some of my counterparts friends that we’d had from high school, and they had nowhere near the responsibility of what I was doing. I was really surprised. So here I was. By the time I made Colonel, I was actually a select d. I was in Baghdad working the programming of 3200 projects, $12 billion to reconstruct the country of Iraq. This is like the Marshall Plan after World War Two. So that’s an incredible responsibility for somebody who’s about 24 years of the service, 22 years in the service. So when I got into each of those situations, I, I would walk home from the from the building in the green zone back to the main embassy. Just praying is like, God, I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I don’t know how. Am I good enough for this? Am I missing something? And I would just pray and I would think and I would try new things. And it was trial and error. And that’s kind of the way my whole career went.

JIM: It definitely took some leadership skills there. So what makes a good leader, or what’s the difference between a good boss and a good leader?

DON: So a couple things there. Let’s define a bad leader. Bad leader is somebody who’s selfish. It’s about them, right? It’s about position. You listen to me because I’m the boss. I’m the one who has the final say. I have all the ideas. Everything is about them. A good leader is about the people. You get to know your people you communicate with your people. You challenge your people, but you challenge them in areas that they really need to grow and want to grow. Right? I remember bosses giving me projects, and they knew that it was going to develop certain skills through that that I would need later on, and they would talk to me about that, and they cared about me. And when I stumbled, they would give me good feedback. It wasn’t coming down and beating on me or firing me. I see it way too often. When somebody makes a mistake, a bad leader comes in and wants to fire him. They don’t want to work with him. A good leader helps them stand back up and get back moving again in the right direction. We all fail. Fail is a part of success. So I love the way Chris Hogan, who was a Dave Ramsey personality, he said. A good leader makes people good at their job. A great leader makes them great at life. And that’s what I’ve always tried to do. So. But I think about when you said boss to me, a boss and a manager kind of go together. A manager is one who tracks metrics or quantifiable items or processes. It’s all about compliance with those things. They’re not caring about the people. It’s just tracking by the numbers. And that’s kind of managing. But a leader cares about the people now. You still get the job done through people. So you’re still concerned with the metrics, but you’re not so focused on the metrics that you forget the person. Does that make sense?

JIM: It does. It definitely does. And now you call yourself a leadership transition coach. What does that mean and what kind of services do you offer clients?

DON: So I had a fantastic transition from the service in 2009. Now I joke, which is kind of a joke because kind of real. I never thought I would spend more than four years in the military. When I graduated college, I had 454 rejection letters from companies because it was the recession of 1982. Nobody was hiring. Unemployment was 1,820%, incredibly higher than where we’re at today, right? In fact, when I retired, unemployment was pretty darn high. So when I was thinking about leadership transition, I wanted people to have that same experience that I had because I spent 24 years kind of deciding where I wanted to go in my life. I had an opportunity at eight years to get out, but we wanted to go to Germany, so we took the next assignment. I’d thought about getting out at ten years, but I got a boss who got me into a master’s program so then I could get promoted to major. So I stayed, and next I knew I was coming to 20 years, and I was on track for Colonel. So I kept moving forward, and I had a great transition out of the service into Booz Allen Hamilton. And so many people are struggling today. I want to help people have that same second career or next job that I had. Here’s a couple things for military. We’re still getting 22 people, military and veterans committing suicide every day. The number one ideation for suicide for that group is career transition.

DON: They’re being told there’s jobs out there for them, but when they go out to find the jobs a it’s a new process. But B it’s a hard process and hard because they’ve never done it before. So I’m helping to teach them the right way. And unfortunately there’s a lot of people out there teaching the wrong way because it worked for them. But I’ve helped over 157 people the last three years. I’ve really zeroed in a lot of stuff that works and on the civilian side, so non-military. Think back to 20 2021. After Covid, 4.3 million people per month were changing jobs. Wow. They didn’t like the culture, the values, the role that they were in. They wanted something more. But 70% of them, when they look backwards, say, oh, I wish I wouldn’t have left what I had. It’s not better. The grass is not greener. So I want to help them find that job, because I think that when when they’re in the wrong job, it leads to divorce. It leads to disconnection from kids. It leads to so many different family problems and inside of us, anxiety and stress, which is bad for our physical or mental side. So it’s mental health issues going on now with those kind of jobs. So that’s what I want to do, is help people find that right job that energizes them.

JIM: Good for you and what you’re doing, because I could see how that transition back to civilian life could be so challenging because in the military you get all kinds of challenges, but there’s structure in place and there’s leadership in place. And when you’re out there on your own and all of a sudden you’re given your package, now they have you to turn to. So do you have a typical client? Are they mostly military reintegrating? Are they only executive level or are you helping small businesses? Who’s your client?

DON: So far, most of my clients have been military and they’ve been the senior officers and senior NCOs. So the E-7 to E-9 retiring after 20 years and the senior officers could be majors to colonels retiring after 20 years. That’s been the majority of my clients. I’m working with a few middle level to senior managers on the civilian side, and that’s where I want to continue to expand because that’s really an underserved area. There’s so many programs helping the military, but there’s not so many helping civilians. Yeah, if I can, 35 to 50 year old married with kids, moving up in the company, having greater aspirations, kind of reached a place where the job isn’t inspiring them anymore. It’s not challenging them. So they want something more, or maybe they got a bad boss and go back to what we had bad boss, bad leader and said, ah, it’s time for me to change and get away from this. I have to say, one of the things I did when I left Booz Allen is I. Changed around. I had a boss that I wasn’t gelling with. Let me just say it that way.

JIM: Sure, sure.

DON: It was time to move on.

JIM: So speaking of best bosses, the best coaches speak or teach from experience. What challenges did you personally overcome when transitioning from military and corporate to entrepreneurial life?

DON: The hardest thing, and it’s still the hardest thing for most people, is what job do I want to do next? Because most people, they start with their resume, I’m getting out. Let me go write my resume. And then they come back and they’re talking to me. It’s like, well, I don’t know what to write in my resume. Well, you don’t know what you want to write because you don’t know what job you want. So you end up trying to be all things to all people. One thing, as you said in the marketing realm, when you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t market everybody. You have to find your niche. Now, you may sell to everybody, but you market to a niche. So when you’re getting out, you need to market to a niche. When I was getting out, I’m an environmental engineer, right? I couldn’t start talking about how to be a mechanical engineer. I want to be an aerospace engineer. I want to be an air guy because I’ve got experience in a lot of things, but what do I really want to do? So I spent a number of years thinking into really what I wanted to do, and it came back to the same thing of why I got the degree I got. I wanted to clean up the environment. So I really focused myself on environmental. And when I wrote my resume, it was things that were related to environment or project management that led into that, that I could show those results.

DON: So my resume was targeted to that kind of work. And so many people today want to be jack of all trades. You know, I don’t want to miss any opportunity. Well, the bad thing is you’re missing every opportunity. So I think that’s the number one challenge I faced. And I think it’s still the number one challenge. So that’s that’s a big part of my program is helping people really figure it out. Look at their personality. Because your personality, like if you’re a very compliant, analytical person, that’s a different job than being a, say, a salesman who’s a very influential speak off the cuff, I type disc personality versus a C, right. So think about your personality type, think about your skills. But here’s a big one. We don’t often do your experiences. I got a lot of jobs where I looked and say that was not an experience that I want to have. Again, you know, the idea of facility maintenance, being worried about everybody’s toilets and lights and heat does not excite me. Right? Did I do it? Yes. Did I do well? Yeah. I won some awards for it, but not the kind of thing I want to do for another 20 years. So getting through all of that and deciding what you want to do and then you sell yourself.

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JIM: In that discussion, you kind of mentioned targeting your skills and niche there for a minute. Are there any like high level concepts you teach that can translate to any industry or regardless of what niche you’re in?

DON: Definitely. Yep. And one of those is what do you want to do next? I think the second piece is that networking piece, 85% of jobs are found through your network. Again, I’ve served mostly military, so I have a lot of experience there, but I think it’s the same thing on the civilian side. When military are getting out there networking with other military who are getting out or people who are helping military, they’re not networking with people in the civilian companies that they’re going to go work in. So example, as an engineer, would it help me to go be involved in an HR organization? Probably not. Right. That’s not the people are probably going to hire me. But Society of American Military Engineers was mine. Sometimes people call it pseudo government. It’s the government agencies and the civilian contractors coming together form a partnership to help the military maintain their installations. So it’s just a good communication across good teamwork across we’re working issues and we help each other as we develop leaders. I just led a leadership lab for them for four years in San Antonio. So we’re doing a lot of things to build up both sides and build that teamwork that you were talking about. So if we’re not focused in on those kind of things, we’ll miss it. We got to be getting the right agency.

DON: So I actually have a number of websites that I can work with to help people find the right organizations to work with. I’m working with a guy over in Italy who’s coming back next summer, and he wants to be trying to think what it was a logistics supply chain person in North Carolina. So we looked and found a supply chain association of supply chain managers in Carolina. He says, well, I’ll do that next summer. I said, no, start doing that now. By the time you come back next summer and you’re ready to ask for a job, it’s too late. You need to be in there a year, two years, three years early. Getting to know people, getting to know the processes, them getting to know you. So when you walk in and you say, hey, I’m getting. Now the service next week, somebody’s going to say, hey, Jim, we’ve been working together with you for two years. I really like you. Come talk to me. I’m going to introduce you to somebody at my job. But you can’t walk in the organization, attend a meeting and expect that person to offer you a job or be able to push your resume forward. It’s not going to happen. That’s their reputation. They’re putting on the line.

JIM: So it pays to plan ahead. But in there, you mentioned being jack of all trade and teams. And most of us are. The entrepreneurs are transitioning from a default life and we tend to do everything in our businesses. So do you have any specific tips for solopreneurs with the goals of eventually developing a team to support their growth?

DON: Yeah, and this is the where I’m at. You know, in my area, it’s figuring out what you do best, trying to put your focus there and try to outsource, get other people to do the things that you don’t do. So find that virtual assistant. When I started my business, I knew I wasn’t good at marketing. My daughter had gone through some marketing classes at Nebraska, so we sat and talked about marketing and she took some pieces on. She built my website. My oldest son was really good at English, so I give him my blogs and stuff like that and have him do that editing so I don’t have to spend the time on it. Did I do well in that in the military? Yeah, I did a lot of it, but I don’t enjoy it. So I could write it and he could edit it. My second son was really good at graphics, so he designed my business card and my logo. And my wife loves do spreadsheets, so she does my finances. So outsource those things as much as you can that you don’t enjoy. I’m at the point where I need to start getting a virtual assistant to start running the calendar and going through emails and stuff, so I can focus more on the things I need to do. So I think the bottom line is, as soon as you can outsource the things that that’s not your best use of your time, it may not be just the things that you don’t enjoy. Think about the pastor in Houston. I can’t think of his name, but huge megachurch used to be the old Houston Astrodome. He spends three quarters of his time working on his sermons. They hired him to work on the sermons. They have other people to manage the church and manage the relationship and do the counseling. He does the sermons. He’s not trying to do everything. And so many pastors run themselves crazy by trying to be part of everything. And entrepreneurs can do the same thing they can.

JIM: But often it’s hard to do, especially when we’re first getting started. Their growth is a challenge because we often think, nobody can do my job as good as me personally. In our previous life, I resisted growing our own business because of the time and effort it would take to train someone up to my caliber of work. So how can entrepreneurs change that mindset to take more of a leadership role? How do they let go?

DON: Unfortunately, it really gets forced, I think, by an event. I’m so busy doing so many things that I’m working 60 to 80 hours a week, and then all of a sudden, the wife, I’ll use that example, wife comes walking in the door and says, either you slow down or we’re getting divorced. I didn’t marry you to look at the back of your head or have you gone all the time? Right. And that’s kind of what I face sometimes. In the military, I was working so much. She was like, I’m over here in Germany. I don’t have the friends. I don’t have the network. You’re my network. Stop working so damn much. And unfortunately, it becomes that or it’s like a heart attack. Next thing you know, they’re in the hospital having a heart attack and it’s like, dude, you better change. So learn from those before they happen to you and say, I have to make this change. I see where things are going. I’m way overweight. I’m not sleeping at night. What are those things? When I was with Booz Allen Hamilton, you know, a couple of times I noticed that I was waking up at 330 in the morning with nightmares and sweating and and I was just really anxious, and I was like, this has to change. You know, I have to change what I’m doing. The relationships. And I had conversations with people and I said, you know, we’re going to change what I’m doing or we’re going to change the company I’m working for, but I can’t continue like this. So when you see those signs, you’ve got to make the change.

JIM: It’s similar to addiction in a way, but being addicted to work, you hit that rock bottom. And speaking from personal experience, we were at a point in our previous business where I needed to hire some sales help, but if I needed sales help, I then needed production help and all of a sudden I’m growing at a huge rate and we would have made that decision. But that’s when our dog lost a leg to cancer and we ended up selling everything and hitting the road, so we were at that point. But as a coach, you need to be a good leader and you need to understand specific needs and capabilities of an individual client. What are the differences or similarities when leading a team or an individual?

DON: Oh it’s good. There’s a lot of good things that I was thinking about when we were talking about that question, right. A coach needs to have good patience. You need to be a good listener. They need to listen so they can ask the right questions. And I think leadership is the same. When you walk into a situation as a leader and you think you already know the answer based upon your past experience and you don’t listen to people, you’re going to create the wrong solution. Chances are, because you’re looking at things the way you’ve always looked at them, you’re not looking. The environment and the situation of today, and coaches have to be the same way. We can’t presuppose when we’re coaching. Oh, I’ve heard this before. Here’s your solution, right? Maybe like a mentor might do, because that’s what they know. But a coach is about asking the right questions, getting the individual to find the answer inside of them. And I asked somebody, what is it you want to do? And I start getting a few clues. I don’t look at them and say, oh, I think you should be a civil engineer. You’re really good at math. You’re really good at science. You have a concern for the environment. You should be an environmental engineer. It’s tell me a little bit more. Tell me what you’re seeing. Tell me what kind of things you’ve explored. Tell me what things you haven’t explored. Right. Maybe there’s an article you read or a TV show, or listen to something that that piqued your interest, and somebody will say, you know, I saw some people fishing in the back roads and they found this stream of yellow foam and dead fish, and that really turned my stomach.

DON: I just have a passion to go clean that up. Oh, so there’s a lot of ways you can do that. You know, you could be the contractor cleaning it up. You could be the consultant, you could be regulator. What kind of idea? And when they come back and say, well, I don’t know about those three, maybe they ask me the question. Well, I can give you a little bit of perspective on it, but I don’t want to presuppose that you might be one or the other, and I keep trying to get them to. Do they really enjoy being that government guy who has the regulations, or they enjoy getting out knee deep in the mud and cleaning it up. So I got to find that out from their perspective and not presuppose anything. And I think a good leader does the same thing. I had a situation we were working on, a Department of Energy job, and I was co-leading a project about 35 people working on a cost efficiency project, and we submitted a product to the government, and we got the opportunity to do it over. We failed. Right. And as we started talking amongst the leadership of what we needed to do this right, I needed more time from one of these gentlemen on my team who worked for me. But his wife had just had twins, and he had a two year old at home. And and he had a lot of other responsibilities. So I went down and sat with his office and I said, Jake, we need more of your time on this deliverable for the next 2 to 3 weeks.

DON: But I want to make you successful at home and in your work. What things can we give to other people for this period so they can learn and frees up your time? But how can I make sure you get home at night and he’s military reserve. He goes, don’t you worry about me. I can do everything. Bravo, Bravo pounds his chest. I can do anything, said Jake. It’s not about you doing everything. It’s about you being successful in those key things. And I found out the next day, he said, I went home and he went home and he was mad. And he talked to his wife, and his wife said, he’s just being a good leader. It’s what you always talk about. He cares about you and making sure that you’re here for me. So I don’t have the postpartum peace. And don’t be lonely because you’re working 18 hours a day, so it’s okay. And he came back the next day and apologized. Well, when I left the job, the project, he took my position and within a year I got him promoted again. So he took two promotions in the next year and a half to two years, ended up replacing me as a senior associate on the leadership team because I cared about him. And I think that’s what goes back to what a what a good leader is. I hope that was a good leadership piece. I don’t want to be egotistical, but that’s where the coach and the leader, I think, kind of come together. You’re concerned about the person.

JIM: It was a great piece and it’s perfect testament to what you’re doing and how it’s working. So let’s talk about logistics just for a second here. Sure. What platforms are you currently using to prepare and deliver your curriculum or your coaching content?

DON: Yeah, I’m using ConvertKit as an email service provider, kind of like MailChimp or Mailer Lite, but right now I’m in the free version. There will be a paid version at some point, but it’s what I can use to to submit email packages out to my email, put a PDF on it as a lead magnet. Those kind of things I’m using right now, Google Drive for my platform, for my recorded courses. When I really get going, I’m working on Kajabi, so it looks like it’s going to be a great future course platform. What I want to do when I create the course, it’s going to be in those four. There’s like four modules. We talked a little bit about the four pieces I’m working on mindset. It’s the habits and beliefs and stuff like that that are holding them back. We got to get people to recognize it. It’s the what next, which we talked about when next you’re going to go forward with. It’s the networking piece. How do you network with the right people? So you find that job, 85% of people get through the network and then it’s to sell your value.

DON: So I’ll be able to drip the course out in about 21 different lessons over X number of weeks. And I don’t have to be there. They can access it. I set it all up to drip out. On a certain day they access it. I’ll have a call once a week where they can ask me questions, or we work one on one with different people. From a RV entrepreneur perspective, I just have to be available for the 1 or 2 calls a week versus working with everybody as I’m doing now, because right now I don’t have enough time to meet with all the people I’m doing. I’m saying the same thing over and over and over again. So I’m thinking about Thinkific. The person who replaced me on the Leadership Lab is using Thinkific and a mentor. I just found out this week I’m working on through a course with Think and Grow Rich. And this is the fourth time I’ve worked through it with this guy. He started the John Maxwell team and he’s using Thinkific, which is a great platform. So those are the 3 or 4 that I’m really using.

JIM: So you mentioned that and Kajabi, but do you have any favorite apps for scheduling or productivity? How do you keep control of all you’re doing?

DON: Yeah, Calendly is my scheduling app. It’s a fantastic platform. I can set it up. I have 15 minute slots, 30 minute slots, 60 minute slots. When somebody selects it, I can put in there. Right now, my availability is Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 5 in the afternoon. The mornings are mine to work on my business, the afternoons where I work in my business. That really helps me when they schedule something. Boom! It sets out an appointment and outlook. It has a zoom link in it, so I don’t have to mess with any of that.

JIM: I’d agree because that’s how I’m using. People can schedule on Calendly with me for these interviews and such, but many entrepreneurs have a great idea, but they have no experience implementing things to achieve certain goals. Do you have any tips or advice for those with no idea where to begin with what they think they know about?

DON: Well, touch on one more piece of application, okay? Pipedrive. Pipedrive is you got to find a CRM. Crm is the piece that really helps you manage the relationships with your clients or potential clients. Because if you’re on LinkedIn, LinkedIn messaging is a terrible system to sort things. Email is challenging, but with a CRM, you can put a date on it so it automatically feeds back in. So I just don’t miss that one. Thanks.

JIM: We’ll get all those links in the show notes. Um, what about the folks that really don’t know where to begin? But they might have an idea.

DON: I think it’s finding a mentor, somebody else who’s done it, somebody who’s gone before you, right yourself. And you’ve been on the road for 16 years doing the RV entrepreneur, the knowledge you’re getting out of this podcast by you asking the right questions, talking to different people is going to be invaluable. So talking to the mentor, listening to podcasts, reading books, and I think goes back to the experiences piece I was talking about. You got to find those things that trip your trigger, right? I see a lot of my peers helping business owners get started in their business lead magnets, LinkedIn messaging, all this kind of stuff. Not anything I want to do. So you got to pay attention to you, inside of you and say, is that something I want to do? Or is that something I want somebody else to help me with? And what is the piece that you want to do? So you get a lot of introspection, and to do that, you’ve got to expose yourself to a lot of things.

JIM: At the other end of the spectrum, there’s folks who have no idea what they might want to do next. Can you suggest any exercises or resources for people to help them identify their purpose and move forward?

DON: What I love to do is because it’s one thing I love to help people with, is find that coach who can ask you questions, and if you don’t have the money to pay for it, barter. I’m actually bartering with another coach right now. We coach each other every week, so find a coach that you can do something for. Maybe you’re a good marketer, right? Or sales person or whatever it is, and see how you can work a relationship with them, because they’re going to be able to ask you questions and dig inside of you. If you have no idea there’s something inside of you. And the reason I say this I was talking to a gentleman, Army Sergeant Major E-9, and I just started talking to him. I said as we were digging in, I said, so where’d you come from? He goes, Alabama. I said, what got you in the military? He goes, that’s easy. There was nothing for me in Alabama but crime and drugs, jail and an early death. I see my brothers. I saw my friends, not where I wanted to be. So I jumped in service. I said long conversation. I said, so what was the most exciting thing you did? He goes, oh, easy.

DON: I was in DC and I got to be one of the lead points of contact for the USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team. Coming to DC and talked to the inner city kids. This is David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, all these greats, right? They started talking to the kids and the kid’s eyes lit up and he started talking to the kids later. And the kids were saying, I didn’t realize those millionaires came from the exact same situation I’m in a lot of them single parents, a lot of them in poverty, a lot of them in, you know, government housing, and they work their way out. If they can work it, I can do it. And he’s now passionate about working with kids in the inner city. It’s not what his job is, but it’s what his volunteering is about. So by exploring those background pieces, we found something that lit him up. It was outside of his perspective, outside of his reality, until I brought it back in with a question. I think that’s why the coach is so important.

JIM: That’s great. So speaking of passion, you have a passion for bird watching. I wonder, are there any related skills that translate to business development? Maybe it’s the research or the documentation or the attention to detail, perseverance? What possibly translates there to what you’re doing?

DON: Yeah. So research patience and knowledge. So here we are in Corpus Christi this weekend. My wife was looking at different birding hotspots on I think it is or, but you’re able to go in. As you’re seeing birds in an area you put your list in. So we were on the 1st of January. We were in Sierra Vista, Arizona. We saw 51 birds. So we ended up putting our list in. Well, all the other birders put their list in. When you have enough birds, it creates a hot spot. Also allows when somebody sees a unique bird to highlight that. So my wife this week was researching I think it was on Wednesday and she said, there’s this cattle triant in Corpus Christi at a restaurant eating bugs off of dumpsters. It’s only ever in South America, eating bugs off the back of cattle that kick up in the fields. But it must have got blown off. Can we go to Corpus Christi on Friday? Saturday? Right. And because I keep Fridays open for the most part, I was able to rush to corpus after a meeting this morning, another mentoring session doing this call. And we’re going to go see that bird. Right. So it’s about the research, you know, thinking through what you want to see, where the right hot spots are, finding the right resources. It’s about patience when you’re out in the field. We were looking one time at this down on the the Rio Grande. We’re there and this little town of San Ignacio, and it’s where the white collared seedeater comes across from Mexico. And we’re walking around town and we had binoculars on and people would walk up. Hey, did you see him? Did you see him? And we’re like, see what? Well, you’re only here for one bird. You’re here for the white collared seedeater, right? Well, yeah, we are, but we sat there for 45, 60 minutes waiting for this bird. Finally, all of a sudden there he is. So I think research, patience. And I think knowledge.

JIM: You know, another thing that stuck out there for me is the importance of community and connecting with others and sharing experiences. So how might your own working and living change in the future? What’s new on the scope for achieving new heights?

DON: Yeah, I’m looking to be more and more of that gentleman doing the digital courses and instead of doing the one on one calls, it’s more of like I said, the once a week call with a group of people. And I love the mastermind idea, where we get 8 to 10 people on a call and we help each other. Somebody comes up with a, hey, you know, I don’t know what to do in this situation. I’ve approached this company. I’m getting a response. Well, I have a perspective, but I may not be the best perspective. I’ve helped a lot of people, but when I can bring the knowledge of the other 8 to 10 people to help each other. So it’s to me, leading masterminds that once or twice a week that call and we’re going to continue probably to take on longer and longer trips. This year, we did a four week trip through New Mexico and Colorado. Next year we’re doing a trip through, we call it the Midwest up through Cincinnati to Toronto and back. And we’re going to be in Lincoln, Nebraska with my daughter on the opening of the Olympics. That’s a five week trip. So we’re starting to take longer and longer trips and figure out how we can make that work.

JIM: Awesome. That’s great. On the personal side, and I can personally attest to the value of mentoring groups. We belong to a peer space and have a mastermind coach, but we all help each other in what we do. So what is the best way for people to connect with Don Gleason and learn more about what you’re doing to help people?

DON: So I’m most active on LinkedIn because that’s where most people that are searching for a career are. So I’m the only Don with a middle initial L Gleason. There’s like 65 Don Gleason’s and Donald Gleason’s, but the only one with the middle initial L, and it says right there career transition coach. So that’s probably the best way to send me a message. And I always tell people, if you just write me a note and say, I saw you on the RV entrepreneur podcast, I’ll give you a complimentary 30 minute session to talk about what’s going on with you from a career transition or from, in this case, being an entrepreneur on the road or whatnot. You know, and if you want to work with me later to to find that right position, you know, I’ll be able to, to do something for you at that point.

JIM: Fantastic. We appreciate that. Don, thanks so much for coming. I really appreciate your time.

DON: You bet. Hey, can I mention one thing? If you. Yeah. Please do my LinkedIn page at Achieve New Heights. You can see a PDF that’s out that way. Just reposted it a couple of days ago and I’m going to continue to. It talks about the four different phases. So if anybody wants to go to that and just download it certainly invite you to go to achieve new Heights is the My Business page on LinkedIn. And you can download that PDF and you can also connect back with me that way. So thank you very much for the opportunity to be here.

JIM: You’re welcome. We’ll include all those links and include achieve new Heights. Com in there. So check the show notes for those and we’ll be in touch. Thanks so much Don.

DON: Thank you.

JIM: Who would have thought that bird watching skills might be applicable to career and business development. But it makes sense. Research, attention to detail, knowledge retention, record keeping. They all play a role and so does a sense of community one finds when connecting with like minded individuals. Speaking of which, we want to know the challenges you face while working from the road in the RV Entrepreneur Community Group on Facebook. Or if you have questions you’d like us to address on the podcast here, send us a message or leave a voicemail at the RV contact. Together, we can all help each other and assist any new entrepreneurs transitioning to enjoy the RV life.

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Jim Nelson