Five Ways to Lead in Times of Crisis

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We are definitely feeling the stresses and the strain that living the quarantined life is having in our lives.  Whether it be professionally, personally, or even emotionally.  In times of crisis, it may seem like a daunting task to lead your team, especially when there are so many uncertainties in our nation with the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Instead of social distancing, Project RELO is using this time to socialize with you from a distance.  Below are five ways that you can demonstrate leadership to your teams during these trying times…

Don’t Allow Your Emotions To Get The Best Of You

In times of crisis, leaders perpetually find themselves in the midst of a stressful and tense atmosphere. There are vast mental, physical and psychological pressures that can lead you to become disconcerted or perhaps even yell at those around you (Not a good thing to do during quarantine). Instead, stop and apprehend that you have a lot more control than you think you do. Now is the time to take charge of your thoughts, emotions and the way you deal with problems. With time, good leaders become proficient and skilled at exercising self-control. and just like your kids, your employee’s actions will emulate yours. Allowing emotions to get the better of you can cause your subordinates to lose faith in your abilities. Employees can interpret this as a loss of control. “If you’re going through hell, keep going!” Winston Churchill

Celebrate All Victories Both Large and Small

This means even more recognition of the adaptive actions that get positive results. Don’t over-hype the small gains. To use some lingo from the baseball field, home runs are sexy, but it’s the singles and doubles that allow you to emerge stronger and persevere throughout the game. “Leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people.” Brian Tracy

Communicate Often

During a crisis, you want to be constantly communicating with your audiences — internally with employees, partners, and board members, and externally with customers, investors, and reporters. Sometimes, you may even want to solicit ideas from them, because they may have the breakthrough idea you’ve been looking for. Treat the crisis like the breaking news story that it is and ask yourself each day what your audiences need to know that day and the next day and the one after that. You can never over communicate in a crisis. “The biggest communication problem is that we listen to reply, not to understand.” James Cummings

Before Asking Others to Sacrifice, First Volunteer Yourself

If there are sacrifices to be made – and there will be – then the leaders should step up and make the greatest sacrifices themselves. Crises are the real tests of leaders’ true north. Everyone is watching to see what the leaders do. Will they stay true to their core values? Will they concede to external pressures, or will they confront the crisis in a straightforward manner? Will they be seduced by short-term rewards, or will they make near-term sacrifices in order to fix the long-term situation? We have seen many layoffs, furloughs, and companies declaring bankruptcy during these tough times. But is we refer to the previous tip, and communicate with our people, you will see that sometimes leaders need to do what is best for their people, not their business. You take care of the people, the people will take care of the rest. Want to see extraordinary leaders? Type “CEOs giving up salaries in hard times” into your search engine… Read the impact they made in their companies. “I took a seven-figure pay cut in order to afford my employees during this crisis, and my life has gotten richer for it. I feel a bigger sense of purpose and harmony in my life knowing that we as a team are proving that there’s a better way to do business.” Dan Price, CEO Gravity Payments

Be Present, Visible, and Available

Don’t be a Lieutenant Dike! If you have ever watched the HBO series Band of Brothers, you will understand that reference. Leaders must always be present. Even in the face of insurmountable obstacles. During a crisis, leaders should be accessible. Because right now it is not possible to walk around your facility and talk to colleagues in person, let employees know how they can best reach you with status updates and questions. Particularly during a crisis, employees have a need to hear from their leaders frequently. When leaders appear calm, concerned, knowledgeable, and in charge, workers feel encouraged and are more likely to have confidence that things are under control and will be fine. “As a leader, part of the job is to be visible and willing to communicate with everyone.” Bill Walsh

Times of crisis test us and define us. We don’t have to have all the answers or pretend that we do. We simply need to be willing to stay connected, to tell the truth, and to convey hope. We owe it to ourselves and to the people we care about to be this kind of leader.

Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy!

Leading a Transformation

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Have you ever worked for or applied for a position with a company known for hiring veterans? When soldiers return to the U.S. from being on duty, they bring with them a unique set of skills that often make them beneficial and desirable job candidates in the corporate world. However, sometimes, this is overlooked by potential employers.

Frisco’s Project RELO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating business executives on the benefits of hiring military veterans. This education occurs during immersive leadership courses where veterans and corporate executives conduct simulated military exercises on U.S. Army bases. The Project RELO team teaches the community to learn, lead and find talent businesses need.

There are currently more than 44,000 veteran nonprofit organizations in existence. What sets Project RELO apart is that the group is changing the narrative from corporate America helping veterans by hiring them, to veterans helping corporate America by being hired into positions that maximize their impact. Casey McEuin, the president and executive director of Project RELO, says, “We do this by immersing corporate executives, usually from directors of HR all the way to the CEO level, into a three-day pseudo military operation where they are led by the very veterans who are looking at transitioning from military ranks into ranks of the companies in attendance. Through these three-day operations, executives get a firsthand look at the value veterans can bring to their company and get to see past the verbiage written on a resume. They see the true character of a veteran. Through this, we shift the dialogue from hiring a veteran for a social good to actually doing so because it is good business!” He adds, “We see ads or events that discuss the victimization of veterans and know that veterans need assistance. We want to change that dialogue and show companies they need veterans and what they can bring to the table. Above anything else, we are not about giving a veteran a handout. Moreover, we are focused on initiating the handshake.”

Mr. McEuin has been the president and executive director of Project RELO since the organization’s inception in 2016. He served in the U.S. Army for 17 years. In 2011, he was critically injured in Afghanistan during an attack on his outpost, which subsequently forced him to be medically separated out of the military. He shares, “Once I got out, I struggled to assimilate back into the civilian world. I struggled to find work and ended up making the decision to live out of my Jeep for a few months.” While living in his Jeep, Mr. McEuin decided he wanted to be part of a change that could ultimately help veterans avoid going through what he was. “I finally found work in the nonprofit world, hoping to make an impact,” he shares. In April 2016, Mr. McEuin was invited to the White House to be honored by former President Obama for the work he was doing for veterans. After being honored, the nonprofit he worked for sent him to events to speak and sent him on the very first Project RELO mission where he and the founder bonded immediately. “We knew our visions for taking care of veterans aligned with one another. I resigned from my old company and took the reigns of Project RELO,” Mr. McEuin says.

To help Project RELO meet its goals and bring attention to the organization’s cause, there is an annual fundraiser held in Frisco. This year’s February 21 event, taking place at Verona Villa, will have a Charity Casino Royale theme that is expected to bring people from around the nation together to raise money. Every dollar raised will go directly to Project RELO’s mission to educate corporate America about the value of hiring veterans onto their business team. “Through this education, we drive demand for veteran talent,” Mr. McEuin shares.

The Casino Royale event is highlighted by its poker tournament where the winner will win a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, where, last year, the winner was on global television at the main table of the event. This month’s event will also feature a silent and live auction, live music, food, a cash bar, casino games, a state-of-the-art photo booth, many NFL players/alumni, local celebrities, Medal of Honor recipients and more. To get additional information about the event or to order tickets, visit The event team is hoping to highlight many Frisco companies and has numerous sponsorship packages available.

Project RELO educates corporate America in five ways. First, they provide publicity and public speaking to underscore the mission and change public perceptions of the value of veterans in business. Secondly, they have established a speaking platform called “VET talks” allowing veterans to showcase their successful transitions and workplace value. They talk about innovative and inspiring ideas any business leader would want for their company. In addition, Project RELO has missions that help individuals experience the unique abilities veterans possess that are common misconceptions. Launching in 2019, the organization is adding “Project ALPHA,” which showcases how elite mindsets think alike, even when environments are different. While similar to Project RELO missions, this is run by elite special operations service members (Delta Force, Navy Seals, Marine Force Recon, Green Berets, etc.) and partners one-on-one with high-level CEOs in high-tempo operations conducted on military bases. And, finally, the organization fosters corporate connections and networking for company-wide shifts in perception and intimate ties between the military and corporate America.

One of the most important elements leading to the group’s success are the three-day leadership courses. Project RELO courses “provide the best leadership training. Period,” Mr. McEuin assures. “Training missions are conducted on military bases where participants and transitioning veteran instructors conduct multi-day pseudo military operations. Participants develop a deep understanding about the character, quality and full extent of veterans’ skills. And with this understanding comes appreciation and a desire to hire more former military members into their respective organizations.”

During Project RELO missions, participants conduct real physical convoy operations, navigating to various objectives in massive military training areas. Weapons training (real weapons/simulated rounds) and high-tech simulators provide a glimpse into military members’ backgrounds. Exploration of combat towns and mock negotiations with costumed mullahs diversifies understanding of veterans’ skillsets. “As the collective team navigates various obstacles that invariably arise during any military operation, leadership, teamwork and selflessness allow the collective team to meet its objectives. It is also here that participants experience the best leadership training available anywhere. Instead of in a classroom or on a whiteboard, leadership is taught by example.”

Afterwards, Project RELO continues its veteran advocacy beyond missions by helping firms establish or improve existing military hiring programs. Companies have the option to join a planned mission or to let the team at Project RELO create one for them. Mr. McEuin says, “If companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, UL, JCPenney, Sprint, Walgreens and more have looked to us, then imagine what we can do with other companies. The word we live by every day is ‘impact.’ Through Project RELO, we are making an impact in the lives of veterans because we are removing the proverbial red tape in companies that once had a hiring bias against veterans. We are making an impact in business by helping their bottom line and connecting them with veteran talent that will help their organizations grow!”

Volunteers are critical to fulfilling the organization’s mission and have helped build it up through things like fundraising, event organization, website design and social media outreach. The team is looking for people who are passionate about raising awareness on the value veterans bring to organizations.

Any business leader looking at being part of the change can join this leadership mission or help sponsor veterans. Veterans and community members can learn more about this organization and find ways to get involved or volunteer at

Leadership skills – Project RELO

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I am one of those lucky people who has 2 homes. I grew up in Malaysia and spent 19 years of my life in that beautiful country and then left to what i call home now – America.

A month ago I joined a Project RELO Mission. This non-for profit organization provides an avenue for corporate executives to participate in some extraordinary experiences along with veterans. I learned from the veterans what it means to be brave, resilient, positive, process oriented, mission focused and most importantly the meaning of actually sacrificing for the greater good – even if it means time away from loved ones. I learned from the executives what it means to be willing to learn, willing to teach and willing to step out of their comfort zones. I really felt like I was sitting amongst giants. We sat around the campfire and shared stories like friends and family who have known each other for years. We opened up about what our ambitions were, our aspirations could be and what regrets we have.

I am so grateful for the privilege to have been on this mission, so privileged to have had the opportunity to experience something that will forever make me a better person in my professional and personal life, so privileged that I understand how powerful having the skillsets and strengths of a someone who has served our country translates into business and most of all so privileged to call this beautiful country, America – my home.

For more information on project RELO – visit their website: Casey McEuin

p/s – Remember to vote – it MATTERS.

See the article on LinkedIn, HERE.

Growing leadership through military skills at Project RELO

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Earlier this month I got to participate in a Project RELO mission at Camp Grayling in North Michigan. It was founded about seven years ago by several veterans looking to change the dialog around veteran recruiting in corporate America. The founders wanted to create the opportunity for execs in hiring positions to experience the leadership, teamwork, and collaboration skills of our military veterans in a setting uniquely tailored to their skill-sets. It doesn’t take long to see the parallels to challenges we face in the corporate world.

Having many veterans in my own extended family and with my long-standing respect for the military tradition of leadership and excellence in performance, I was thrilled to spend 3 days in the chilly, rainy weather and warm, inspiring company of my 15 Project RELO teammates – about half of whom were veterans themselves. We went from exercise to exercise: squad combat tactics, weapons range simulations, ATC driving (lots of ATC driving!), the tasty joy of MREs, proper radio comms, IED detection & remediation, and more, culminating each evening with a mission de-brief around the campfire.

Through all this I learned some valuable lessons that relate directly to the Microsoft Leadership Principals: Create Clarity, Generate Energy, and Deliver Success.

One of our very first lessons on the course was proper use of our radio communications – hand-held two-way radios that each team of two received. We were a gregarious group and jokes and wisecracks were welcome and appreciated, but the radio was for strictly business. Radio messages followed a clear protocol and if you heard your team’s name on the radio, you had better listen and reply.

When I think about the communications situation within my own team at Microsoft — we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to communications technology, from Outlook, to Teams, to Yammer, to SharePoint, and yet, Creating Clarity in that environment can be very challenging; when every channel is important, no channel is. I’ll be working with my leadership team to define our communication protocol to ensure that there is an appropriate outlet for all voices and messages while ensuring the most important messages are clearly heard.

Another surprise was that despite the fast pace and jam-packed curriculum and the fact that I wasn’t exactly getting my beauty sleep in my Army issued tent and sleeping bag, I never really felt tired. Reflecting on this, I believe it was the environment of engagement and empowerment that the Project RELO leaders created. We were never just told what to do. Our leaders provided Commander’s Intent (the real desired outcome – the “what” not the “how”) and some necessary details and then left it to the team to come up with creative solutions. In this way they were able to Generate Energy within the team, because we were personally invested in the outcomes. That…and the fact that this was a really fun group doing awesome activities together. I’ll be attempting to do a better job of expressing Commander’s Intent at work and not over-prescribing the solution.

Then there was Deliver Success, which happened because of the attention that our team leaders put on training. I was surprised to learn that 30% of military budget is spent on training. I heard several times, “You have to spend money to save money” in reference to the investment in quality training that results in critical tasks becoming muscle memory. I also was impressed to see how training was delivered by practitioners… not professional trainers. That makes a huge difference in credibility and authenticity. We already have a pretty strong focus on professional development and training in my One Commercial Partner technical organization, which I’m proud of, but I’ll be working to turn our training efforts up to eleven going forward.

And last but not least, I’m going to be prioritizing veterans in our recruitment efforts, so I can accelerate the adoption of those leadership principles in my organization and across Microsoft!

Learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to giving back to service members and their families here.


Read this article on LinkedIn, HERE.


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