Colin Baden is the former President and CEO of Oakley and currently serves as the Chairman of the Infinite Hero Foundation, a nonprofit that is committed to finding, funding, and supporting the most innovative approaches to healing the wounds of war.

We have a great conversation about leadership, culture, and values.  Colin and his team have built an incredibly strong and distinct brand at Oakley, and it hasn’t happened by accident.  We cover some really important topics like:

• The importance of defining your culture

• Why it is critical to be humble

• How introverts often thrive in leadership roles

• What it means to constantly innovate

This is a truly insightful talk with a very unique leader.  We know that you’ll get a lot out of it.

 

  

Chapter: Team RWB Pacific/Honolulu-Athletic Director

Member Since:  May 2016

Motto: “Life is about the journey, not the destination.”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I had just been stationed in Hawaii and didn’t really know anybody. I was getting pretty lonely with all of my family and friends on the mainland, and none of my coworkers shared any interests with me. I saw Team RWB at a 5K I participated in, and looked them up when I got home. Team RWB sounded perfect for me, so I immediately signed up and went to the next local event. I was welcomed like part of the family from day one. Team RWB really saved me from that dark place and has been a big part of my life ever since.”

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

“My favorite event was Run as One. Having that many VSOs get together for one big event was incredible, and I met a lot of great people that day. My favorite experience is always meeting a new eagle who is at their first event, and welcoming them into the group. Seeing someone go from that initial nervousness to being comfortable with the group and having fun with everybody else is incredible.”

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How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I am an athletic director for Team RWB Honolulu, and have been active in helping facilitate running events with Team RWB for the past year. I really enjoy volunteering at events to help veterans and try to get to as many of those events as I can.

What Inspires You?

“People who leave their comfort zone to try something new. Whether it be sticking to a new diet or running their first 5K, I’m really inspired by people who are willing to put themselves out there and change their lives like that. While a sub-three hour marathon is impressive, I am always blown away by the dedication required by the 6+ hour marathon finishers.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“Team RWB has given me the friends and support I’ve been missing since I joined the military. I feel more fulfilled, like I’m part of something bigger that’s helping people every day. My time hosting events has made me a more outgoing person by necessity; I’m much more likely now to approach someone new and introduce myself in an effort to include them in the Team RWB family.”

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

“We don’t just run! If you enjoy any type of outdoor activities or even just hanging out and swapping stories, Team RWB has something for everyone. Just come out to a weekly event and check us out, you won’t regret it.”

Blog written by: Sarah Roberts

Note: This blog is Part 3 of a 6-Part Blog Series.

Attending the Growing Veterans Peer to Peer support training was a life changing experience.  In working at Team Red, White & Blue, enrichment is an inherent part of our culture.  It’s one of the keywords in our mission that builds on the premise of social connection, engagement, and authentic relationships.  As a staff member, I’ve always felt it important to maintain certain boundaries both personally and professionally as it relates to connection and relationships in order to cultivate a sense of protection and distance from a job that often times requires a tremendous amount of empathy and emotional energy.  Much of that I attribute to my upbringing.  To be stoic is to be strong and to be positive and supportive to others without asking for help is leadership.  If I’m being honest, that’s what got me through difficult times like attending West Point, Army deployments, command, injuries, letdown, and disappointments.  Vulnerability feels like weakness.  How could I open up and let others see my imperfections and insecurities or even my dreams or aspirations.  I justified this belief saying to myself “it isn’t fair to my team or myself to be vulnerable, they’ll doubt me, lose faith in my abilities, question my leadership.”

After that weekend in the woods in Bellingham, Washington, surrounded by other leaders, veterans, peers, and supporters, that notion was flipped upside down when I was asked to come into the training.  How could I ask my team to be vulnerable if I myself wasn’t willing to be vulnerable?  Each personal story shared that day took a leap of courage, an important step in opening up to a room of strangers.  Some stories bringing tears to my eyes with admiration at the strength needed to open up.  I walked away from that weekend with a whole new appreciation for what empathy is in practice.  

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More importantly, I learned that offering empathy to others takes practice, but receiving empathy also requires practice and is a skill gained through being vulnerable.  It was not easy leaning into the discomfort of being vulnerable, but our humanness and need for connection is built through vulnerability and empathy.  How can one give empathy if one isn’t willing to receive it?  This training offered that perspective.   

I now look at the mission of Team Red, White & Blue with a different lens.  Eagle Engagement is a form of peer to peer support.  Enrichment takes many forms, but as it relates to social connection, it means to build trust and create a foundation for genuine relationships by giving and receiving empathy, listening, and making oneself vulnerable.  It’d be easy to hide behind our self imposed walls of protection, call them boundaries and keep a safe distance, but it takes true strength to deeply engage with another human being.  Would one really be living a fully present, rich, and deep life if we always played it safe on the periphery?   I argue no and the challenge I’ve set for myself is to begin the daily practice of engaging more deeply with one person one day at a time.  

 

Vincent (Rocco) Vargas is a man of many talents, to include being a part owner of Article 15 Clothing, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Leadslingers Whiskey, Warfighter Tobacco, and various other pursuits.  He’s also a Youtube Star, public speaker, author, cooking show host and musician among other things – in short, he’s a renaissance man.

We have a open and honest conversation about various topics, to include:

• What he’s learned as an entrepreneur

• How he uses humor to discuss difficult topics

• His military transition and struggles

• Veteran’s owning their transition

• His favorite Article 15 Shirt

• His favorite Youtube Video that he’s starred in

 

  

Chapter: Mid-Atlantic/Pittsburgh

Member Since:  December 2016

Motto: “People can & do recover-I’m living proof!”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“Ever since I was young I’ve always had a hard time making friends. Most people can’t keep up with my active lifestyle and don’t understand my compassion for helping others. Team RWB provided the perfect outlet for my passions for physical fitness, volunteering, and social interaction and support. I had randomly met one of my team members, we ‘clicked,’ and she invited me to start attending events and to get involved. I asked so many questions and I almost couldn’t believe how awesome this group is! From the first time I ran with the group on Wear the Eagle Wednesday to hosting my own even next week, it’s been such a pleasure being involved in such a good cause with so many great people.”

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

“I haven’t been with the team for long, but my favorite activity so far was our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service project. Our team loaded up our packs with non-perishables and rucked over 3.5 miles from the South Side, through Downtown, and into the North Side of Pittsburgh. The organizers at Northside Common Ministries were so excited to receive our donations and we were impressed with the quality of their operation; instead of visitors given a pre-set package of items, users were given freedom of choice to select which items they could use most and desired. It was a moving experience for our entire team. Additionally, a few of us ran back across town as a flag relay. We got to talk about Team RWB with a few bystanders and spread support and cheer for our country & our veterans. It was an amazing experience.”

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How Do You Serve Your Community?

“As a person with a dual-diagnosis of mental health conditions, I use my lived experience in sharing my recovery story to instill hope in others. Through my employment as a recovery specialist, I work to promote recovery & resiliency principles in the community for both mental health and substance use disorders. My position also gives me the unique opportunity to educate middle and high school youth about mental health and inspire them to combat stigma in their schools. I also volunteer with my church’s Recovery & Restoration groups, distribute ‘Blessings Bags’ to the homeless, and I sit on a national council that works to help support young adults through mental health challenges as well as help them connect to other young adult peers.

What Inspires You?

“So many things! Everything! People, places, things! Miracles, random acts of kindness, unconditional love, incredible stories of people overcoming obstacles, hope, daily blessings, the strength and courage of those around me, working with others with a shared vision, anytime people come together for a common cause, nature, life in general. There is beauty in every one and everything! God provides and life IS good.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“How has Team RWB NOT impacted my life?! Team RWB came at a really rough time in my life; I had left my current church, I was struggling with some mental health issues and relationships, and I was feeling alone, overwhelmed, and unsupported. My team welcomed me with open arms, no questions asked. They are incredibly supportive and relentless in their personal and group efforts in the community. Every member brings something unique and beautiful to the group and it’s such a positive atmosphere. I’m surrounded by people with the same interests that enjoy making the world a better place by helping others and encouraging each other! That’s such an amazing feeling.”

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

“Do it now! There are no strings attached. It’s easy to fit it in to your daily life, there’s something for everyone, and it’s a great way to be part of something BIG. There are so many opportunities for inclusion and growth and the possibilities are endless. You can make new friends and be part of a great team that supports and encourages each other, during and outside of activities. You’ll be able to set-and crush goals and make a difference in your community, whether it be through enriching the lives of veterans or other philanthropy. Health body, healthy mind, healthy spirit. #EagleFire”