With Veterans Day on Saturday I thought I would take a moment and call out one of my first bosses in the Air Force. TSgt Desnoyer was the typical, cigar chopping Sergeant you’ve seen hundreds of times in the movies. Barely looked at you, grunted a lot, liked to give you funny nick names. ‘Sink or Swim” being a favorite of his.
In 1987 I was a 20-year-old kid making $250 a week, brand new in the military. At the time, the Air Force had an incredible program called the Montgomery GI Bill. The plan was simple back then. Give the Air Force $100 of your pay back each month for one year, and get $10,800 to use for education when you get out. No brainer, right? In my infinite wisdom I declined to be part of the program….That’s until TSgt Desnoyer “coached” me.
After yelling at me about how stupid I was to let free money go to waste, he reasoned with me. He explained the power of education and how I should always be striving to learn and grow. He finally got through to me. Was it his persuasion techniques? Was it his charm? Was it his loud voice? None of the above….It was because I trusted him, and I knew he honestly cared about me. You can’t hide or fake caring. You either care or you don’t. Great coaches care about their team more than their own needs.
I did give the Air Force back $1,200 of my very little take home pay over the next year. And I took the $10,800 they gave me and ultimately parlayed it into an MBA from Anna Maria College in 1999. That piece of paper has opened more doors and changed my life in ways I could never pay back.
So, on this Veterans Day I salute all the great coaches in my life. Especially TSgt Desnoyer for caring about a stupid kid who thought $100 a month was worth more than the 30 years of education that followed. Happy Veterans Day