The first six months of the Eagle Nation Podcast have flown by.  We are 30 episodes into this journey and it has been a blast so far.  We have had some amazing guests and have covered a lot of really interesting topics.  This week, we thought it would be cool to pause and take a look back at what we’ve learned so far.

In this episode, JJ and I talk about:

  • The best advice we’ve been given on the podcast
  • Questions we wish we’d asked
  • How we’ve grown through this process
  • Not letting perfect be the enemy of good
  • The vision for Team RWB’s future

A bunch of listeners have asked us for a consolidated list of some of our favorite books and podcasts that we’ve mentioned on the show.  Here to go!

Our favorite podcasts:

  • TED Radio Hour
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Tim Ferriss Show
  • Barbell Business

Our favorite books:

  • Contagious
  • Tribe
  • Zero to One
  • Start With Why
  • Daring Greatly
  • Fooled by Randomness
  • Originals
  • Good to Great


Blog written by Jill Roberts

Backing up to a cliff face towards a 125’ drop seems like an unnatural act, doesn’t it? Well, actually, with the right equipment, the right guide, and the right group encouraging you, it can be a very rewarding experience. This was just part of my adventure at the 2016 Team RWB Mid-Atlantic Rock climbing camp, held in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia.

This was my first opportunity to be an active participant in a Team RWB event, and it proved to be unique in its ability to immediately create an environment of inclusion and acceptance. I’ve been to events and training where the presenter claimed we were in “safe space” while there, but this is the first time that, although I didn’t hear the term uttered by the leadership team, I truly felt the safe space created by their willingness to take the lead in being open, honest, and vulnerable.

Being comfortable in one’s own vulnerability can be very important when backing up to that cliff. After an evening of Pies and Pints at the meet and greet, we leapt right into climbing camp the next morning to learn the basics of tying ourselves off properly and belaying a fellow climber. No pampering here. The crew goes above and beyond to ensure your safety, but you have to get the basics down to get a sense of, and respect for, the technical skill involved in participating in this sport.


Then you have to get yourself to the top of the cliff. Which brings me to the backing off part. I thought it would be much more difficult to take those steps back, but Jeremy (one of our ever tolerant guides) had me lean my full weight back in the rig once I was secured and, for some reason I will never understand, I felt instantly safe and confident in the system. I won’t say I thoroughly enjoyed that first time down – I was still a bit apprehensive – but I went back up immediately for a second turn!

After a top notch lunch spread provided by our hosts at Adventures on the Gorge, it was off to my first climbing experience. Well, my first climbing experience beyond the dumb-ass things I would do as a kid before I knew I was breakable, that is. Out of the three routes available up the rock face I chose the most difficult one……not because I was confident, but because it was open when I was ready to go and no one else wanted it. The handholds were small and difficult to find, I didn’t plan my route very well, and I found myself relying on the encouragement from below and the skill of my belayer, an experienced, retired climber. I slipped off the wall a couple of times, but made it over a particularly difficult spot only to find another difficult patch standing between me and my goal – the carabiners at the top of the rigging. My hands were shaking and my fingers didn’t feel up to it, so I let my belayer know that I wanted to let go and come down. I said it a couple of times.

His response? “I’m ignoring you.” So I motored on, finally getting mad at myself for not accomplishing this small thing that used to be second nature to me, and made it to the top. Yes!

Now Day 2…that was just plain fun. The climb site accommodated 5 routes (including a stove pipe), each with it’s own unique challenge. We were all able to ascend multiple times and even had a chance to belay for fellow climbers. I came away from the climb with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And the Day 2 rappel site? Well, take a look at the pics. The view is incredible. At first I was intimidated by the roughly 125’ descent, but I lowered myself about 20 ft, turned around to look at the world below me, and became downright giddy. Most of the rappel was past the rock face, and I took advantage of the mid-air hang time to fully take in that view, the sun, and the feel of the early autumn breeze. Incredible. Never thought I would rappel off a cliff. Never.

So many thanks to Team RWB, particularly Mike Paugh, Brennan Mullaney, and Dustin Sanderson, and to the skilled (and entertaining) staff at Adventures on the Gorge for making this possible. And a special thanks to Kellyn Cassell for introducing me to the RWB family and encouraging me to take on this challenge. Even though I started off feeling vulnerable and unsure, the safe space that was created by the guides and other Eagles at the camp helped me reach outside my comfort zone and grow over the weekend.

Chapter: Team RWB Salem

Member Since: 2013

Motto: “One Person Can Make a Difference”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I joined team RWB in 2013 around the same time that I was just getting back into running. I was told that the majority of its members were Veterans and that they were a physically active group and very involved in their local community and that’s exactly what I had been looking for. In Team RWB I found the camaraderie, passion, and commitment that I once had but was missing once I got out of the service.”

What has Been Your Favorite Event or Experience with Team RWB?

“By far I would have to say being part of the Old Glory Relay has to be one of the best events/relays I have ever done. I thought OGR will be cool to do, but I honestly did not think that the journey of one flag, and the support of not just veterans but many community members as well, would have that type of effect on me…or bring unexplained happiness to some of the older Veterans that were able to join us on the last mile of the day.


How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I have a passion to help people, but I do love my Veterans and the community I live in, so most of my community support is helping Veterans. I am currently the Veterans Outreach Coordinator for the Salem Vet Center and due to that job I am very involved with the Marion County Community and some areas outside where I live and work. I work very closely with a lot of the Veterans and non Veterans Organizations that support Veterans in my community . I help organize many Veterans events, such as a yearly Veterans Run to help raise funds for homeless Veterans, the yearly Homeless Count with the City of Salem, Toys for Tots events and toy drive, and organizing the Annual Veterans Stand Down for the Mid-Willamette Valley. The yearly stand down event helps more than 250 local Veterans access resources such as housing, employment, medical, etc., all in one day under one roof, it’s just amazing. And I am excited to say that Team RWB was a big part of the Stand Down and Veterans Run.”

What Inspires You?

“I know that to some it may sound silly but my children inspire me. They make me want to be a better person and I make every effort every day to be a mom they can look up to, a mom they are proud of. I have 3 beautiful daughters and their tolerance, innocence, optimism, ambition, honesty, energy and courage inspire me every day. They have a lot to do with shaping the person I am now, because of them I do what I do, I just want to be a good role model for my girls.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“Because of my involvement with the team I have now a bigger networking circle and this allows me to provide better services to my fellow team members and others in the community. I have also met some awesome people that are more like family to me, and without Team RWB in my life I don’t know if we would had crossed paths. “

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Thinking of Joining Team RWB?

“I would say, just do it! Don’t think about it too much, and don’t worry if all members you know enjoy running and you don’t think of yourself as a runner. That’s not what Team RWB is about, we are more than that, we are a family. A family that is always there to support, encourage and pushes one another when we are ready to give up and need it the most.”

Blog written by: Mel Barkalow

I applied to attend the Team RWB GORUCK Leadership Camp a while ago, and got notification of my acceptance while I was in Minnesota attending to my dying father. Receiving that email meant so much to me. A lovely glimmer of happiness in a world of smothering sadness and darkness. Of all who applied – I was one of the lucky Eagles chosen to attend the Team RWB GORUCK Leadership Camp here in Boise, Idaho. Members of Team RWB came from all over the United States: North Dakota, Washington, Montana, California, Utah, Colorado, etc. Some members were in positions of leadership within their communities and others were in the process of starting their own local area chapters. And then there were some members, like me, who are not titled in leadership positions, but take an active role in their community.
Camp started Friday evening and concluded Sunday afternoon.  We gathered at a local Team RWB member’s farm to have a meet and greet and do our introductions.  I arrived late and extremely harried from work.  I found myself having a hard time concentrating or caring for much of the evening’s activities.  No matter how hard I tried to pay attention, my work day kept intruding in to my thoughts.
Sun set and we had a small fire. It was dark. I took this time to separate myself from the group and hang out on the outskirts with the volunteers (whom I knew and are friends with). One of them, who has a much greater understanding of my job told me she would listen whenever I wanted to talk about it. I thanked her. And moved away and cried while the rest of the group mingled. I wanted to erase those images and words from my mind of my work day. But they stayed front and center for much of that evening. And kept me awake for a while at night.

The next morning we trekked to a local fitness center where we had classroom discussion on leadership and Team RWB values. I was still distracted from work the day before and at times on the verge of tears. I have taught myself that crying is a form of weakness. Even though I know this to be logically incorrect, I get caught in that old way of thinking often. There were many times I wanted to share my struggles, but I was also ashamed of myself for having those struggles. Work rarely bothers me. I keep it nice and compartmentalized and move on. I discuss things with fellow coworkers, often times in a manner the public may view as crass or distant or inappropriate. But that is how we release the stress of our job. How we do not go crazy after time. It is also how we bond and cement ourselves as a sort of family. We understand what one other goes through much better than a general person off the street. And it is this reason that I tend to prefer the company of veterans. They often have a better understanding of this mindset. And respect it.

Before I knew it, it was GORUCK time. I could not wait to share my passion of rucking with the members of our group. Many of whom have never attended an event before and were nervous to do it. Clarity set in for me. I was in my element. Exercise is my happy place. The thoughts and images from work the day before – vanished. I now had a purpose. And it was to ruck. It was to help my fellow Eagles on the ruck.
We lined up and started out. Those of use who were GRT veterans were there to help, participate and at times, observe the discussion more than chime in. It was to give those that have never done an event, a chance to lead, speak up and recognize times when action and discussion was needed. The GRT veterans corralled and corrected to help the new ones understand better. Rather than a standard PT Welcome Party, we did a 30-min AMRAP broken into five groups of five different stations. Then we got in the Boise River (my favorite!!) and plunged our faces under water. Then it was time to move on.
We started out as an 8-person litter carry of our casualty. We rucked it up to Castle Rock near Table Rock.  Which meant a steep rocky, dusty single track trail with crumbling edges and scraggly itchy sharp dried out plants on either side. We rucked it up that incline and made it to a very scenic vista. Time to rest. Talk about Mogadishu and the sacrifice the soldiers made that day to help each other out. Then it was time to ruck off the promontory and back down…while carrying our casualty. I volunteered to carry for much of that time. I wanted the additional challenge of carrying him to push me harder and work myself more. I do not like simply rucking without carrying an additional load. I feel that I am not working hard and could be doing more.

We picked up a fallen tree along the way. It was very light weight and easy to handle compared to previous fallen trees I’ve had to carry in past events. But I had to keep reminding myself that this event is not a standard GORUCK. It is to build leaders and push people who do not know rucking past their level of comfort and introduce them to something that builds team and leaders.

When we got to Endex, we got to do the oh-so-lovely Tunnel of Love and then the inch worm push up. At the very end, we had to hold the push up ready position for the duration of the Ballad of the Green Berets.

Unbeknownst to us listening to the song, the volunteers were placing our GORUCK Light patches on our rucks. Then we lined up and got our RWB GORUCK Camp patches. We all did it together!  And everyone did it with such a good attitude. What a great group of people, and what a great experience to go through.


Before we wrapped up camp for the weekend, we held some discussions on leadership and effective leadership styles. Reflecting on the differences between genuine and authentic, and discussing empathetic leadership. We had a fantastic discussion. People listened actively and participated in a mature and eager manner. It was such a relief to be in such an open-minded communicative learning atmosphere. Where people want to be there. They want to learn and share and express and debate. I wish we had more of that in our lives.  Rather than attack and deride.

The GORUCK event helped clear my head. I do not mull on the events of work. I had my meditative Zen moments and reached peace within myself. And I got to share it with others. I certainly hope some of them get what I do out of challenging your body. Pushing it to work harder and the amazing rewards of accomplishing something you were not sure you could do. This is one of the main reasons I do GORUCK. I feel like I am a better person both personally and as a part of a community after I participate in an event. The bonding you can do with others at an event is a wonderful thing. I have made many friends through my rucking experiences. And now that I have gained more insight how to be a better leader, I hope to share my passion for exercise and rucking to others and help them reach mindful clarity and hopefully peace and happiness as well.

Doug McCormick is a lot of things – he’s an Army Veteran (Infantry Officer), a small business owner, a highly skilled investment banker, a Veterans advocate, and a financial author, to name a few. In this podcast, we talk about economic empowerment for the military community, and why the traditional model of investing and asset allocation is imperfect.

We cover a ton of content in this podcast, to include:

● His book, Family Inc.
Economic empowerment for Veterans/Military Spouses.
The striking lack of financial literacy in America, and why it’s a problem.