Podcast 107 – OGR with Microsoft’s Danny Chung
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Danny Chung, is the business manager and chief of staff for Military Affairs at Microsoft, manages the Military Affairs team. Before coming to Microsoft, Danny provided strategic communications support for Ingram Micro, Southern California Edison and BRTRC Federal Solutions after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010.
In this episode we discuss:
• The Old Glory Relay, and why it’s such an important event
• The power of community and why Microsoft cares so much
• Veterans in our communities and why that’s important
• The power of OGR in weaving together communities to break down the civilian-military divide
Speaker 1: 00:00
Intro: 00:01 this is the Eagle Nation podcast where we talk about building richer lives and stronger communities. We have inspiring guests to have real conversations about things that you care about.
JJ Pinter: 00:13 Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Eagle Nation podcast. This is Jj pinner. I’m going to be your host today for a fantastic old glory relay themed edition of the Eagle Nation podcast with a exceptionally special guest. I have Mr Danny Chung from Microsoft on the podcast with me today. Long time. He’s been involved with the uglier relay for years now and he’s a really interesting guy and I cannot wait to have this conversation about the uglier relay with him and it’s really going to be bigger and broader than that. We’re going to talk about community, were to talk about civil divide, where we’re talking about veterans, we’re gonna talk about all sorts of fantastic stuff. So Danny, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today.
Danny Chung: 00:55 Hey, good morning jj. It’s really good to be here and thank you for having me.
JJ Pinter: 00:59 I wanted to really quickly before we talked about some of this ogr related stuff, you know, you’re a military veteran, you’re retired from the marine corps and had a pretty cool path there. I would love, before we dove into the podcast, if you could maybe tell us a little bit about your military experience.
Danny Chung: 01:18 You know, I gotta tell you it started from. I can send her the reason for joining the Marine Corps around the word community. It was graduating from high school, not having a lot of direction or purpose in my life and just longing for that community, that Brotherhood, that sense of belonging. And after I tried college for a year, I just said, you know what, I’m just not the sharpest tool in the shed, so let’s do something. And I said, let’s join the Marine Corps and I tell Ya, I joined the Marine Corps partly because I was just wanted to get out of southern California where I had grown up and like I said, I was just longing for that community. Just seeking that out. And Lo and behold, the marine corps after 13 grueling weeks of boot camp down in San Diego gave me orders right back to El Toro, California, which as you know is in Irvine, California. So ended up right back where I started. But the great thing is at that point I belong to a community and the community of the Marine Corps is just fascinating as you as you know, we have a very rich history.
JJ Pinter: 02:20 I love the, like a spree decor and like one of the things that I love about the Marine Corps, I was not in the Marine Corps just from the outside looking in is just the, the sense of like comradery that exists in the Marine Corps for one. But the other thing I love is honestly I think the army could use, learn a few things from this is like the never quit, never stopped. Like take the fight to the enemy. Like go, go, go, go, go mindset. Those are two things in my limited amount of time working with Marine Corps when I was in the army that I, I really appreciate and think are laudable about the branch for sure.
Danny Chung: 02:53 Yeah. I think you’re spot on and it’s this almost sense of arrogancy that we’ve got in the marine and we back it up, you know, we back it up with our actions and you see that amongst the marines and it’s, it’s amazing the comradery that exists even amongst marines who don’t know each other. Like I’ll be sitting at an airport getting ready to jump on a plane as a civilian now as a retiree and I’ll see a marine maybe in his blues or maybe in his Green Alpha is getting ready to ship off somewhere. I’ll make a beeline for that marine and we’ll just have this conversation for the next two, three minutes and it feels like we’re just the best of friends and that exists anywhere and everywhere I go. And that’s that community that I was talking to you about, Jj is I know that sense of belongingness, that sent, that connection, that connective tissue that exists regardless of where you are or whether you know this person or not.
Danny Chung: 03:47 So you know that that’s what I long for. And that’s why. That’s why I joined the Marine Corps. So I started out fixing airplanes down with a Marine Aviation Logistics squadron 11 at alturo before it got shipped down to Miramar and worked on fat and [inaudible] until I’ve met a really good mentor of mine, Staff Sergeant Scott’s daughter, who basically kicked me in the rear and said, Danny, you need to go get a commission. You need to go do something. And we try it out for the ROTC scholarship two years in a row. And was denied twice based on my high school grades. So third trial was with a program called Misa marine enlisted commissioning education program. And for some reason the Marine Corps, he accepted me to that program. Next thing I knew, I was at Oregon State University working partly as a student, partly a staff member helping to run the battalion and three years later I became a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
JJ Pinter: 04:42 That’s fantastic. The only people within the Department of Defense would come up with acronyms like that.
Danny Chung: 04:49 It’s a mouthful I’m telling you.
JJ Pinter: 04:52 So I then, I know you had a, a really fantastic career as an officer ending or you know, is mostly spending a lot of time doing public affairs type work, which I think is super interesting.
Danny Chung: 05:02 Yeah. You know, leave it to the Marine Corps to send a send a closet introvert like myself to become the spokesperson for the Marine Corps and that’s what they did. They sent me to Fort Meade, Maryland to train as a public affairs officer. And the strange thing is I loved it. I loved it so much that every year thereafter I try to get back to the defense information school at Fort Meade, which we call lovingly Dinfos as an instructor and right before, as my last tour of duty was dawning upon me back in 2000. Let’s see, 2007. My Monitor was gracious enough to send me back to Denver, not just as an instructor but as the commanding officer, so you talk about a great ending to a great career. It was just fantastic to be back at the school that I started my officer career, not only as a ceo but also as a instructor developing curriculum and teaching the new public affairs officers, all five branches as well as a lot of state agencies, so it was really great time.
JJ Pinter: 06:02 Well, I’m going to hit on a couple of those things in a second, Danny, but I wanted to you. You started to answer the question, but I wanted to run this back at you. I guess maybe just more specifically this idea of community and for you, you know Danny Chung. What does the word community mean to you?
Danny Chung: 06:18 It starts with a family. That’s my highest priority is my family and I build that community within my family to ensure that my family is a safe space for my kids, my wife, my brother, anybody else in my family, and then it grows from there. It grows to your neighbors, making sure that your neighbors know that they can count on you if their water goes out or if there’s a fire or if their dog is loose and then it goes out to the community writ large where you’ve got my kids’ schools, the PTA and just grows and grows, but at a certain point, especially for those of us in the military and you know this Jj, is that we moved so often that developing that community is one of the first things that we seek to do. When we moved to a new location. Some people call it finding your people.
Danny Chung: 07:08 You know, my son is an avid soccer player. He’s 17 years old and that’s all he lives and breathes by. So every time we move I can see the trepidation. I can see the nerves when he has to trial for a new team and the first thing I tell them is, hey caleb, go find your people. Go find the soccer players at your high school. Go find a soccer players in your neighborhood and start building that. That connective tissue within that community and that’s how he’s able and that’s how I think we’re all able to kind of stretch our arms out and connect because through connections we’re stronger, we empower each other to become stronger and as a result that community grows stronger and we really need that as a nation. I couldn’t agree more. I mean
JJ Pinter: 07:54 so much of our lives that happen at the local level. I’ve always thought about this and what we can do locally is just so incredibly important to not, but also just from a very individual perspective. If you don’t have community in your life, if you don’t have kind of genuine, positive relationships in your life. I mean, you know, I’m jumping around a bit here, but it. Loneliness is this big and isolation is this big kind of public health epidemic that we have going on right now.
Danny Chung: 08:20 [inaudible]
JJ Pinter: 08:22 no, you just, you will live a better, more full, more enriched life if you surround yourself with community and people and. But the thing is you have to work at it. I guess that’s kind of the thing, right? You can’t just sit on your front porch and hope to build community like you have to do something to build it. Man. It’s so important to have.
Danny Chung: 08:41 It is and it’s a two way street, right? Changing. It’s a two way street and you hit on a great part. That loneliness aspect and that’s the other reason why community is so important in everything that we do here at Microsoft is that. I’ll give you an example. You heard about the 22 that are occurring every single day within the veteran community and I think the number’s thankfully gone down a little bit, but still too high. So we gathered a team here at Microsoft about six or seven military Microsoft engineers and we sought out to develop an APP to address veterans suicide and through all the research that we did, what we discovered is the lack of community is what allows people, not just veterans, but people to just get on that real slippery slope that leads them to the point of harming themselves. And as a result we developed a.
Danny Chung: 09:33 We work with an organization called, I call them Oz, but it really stands for objective zero and it’s led by a Kayla and Blake who are one’s army, went to blake, his army, Kayla’s marine corps in fact, and they developed this fascinating app and you got to check it out. It’s called objective zero and it basically connects the veteran community with each other and they call them ambassadors and when you start building this connective tissue, it allows for that last chance for that veteran before he or she hurts themselves to connect with an ambassador to talk with somebody to chat, whether it’s via text or video or phone call, and then to eventually get connected to somebody who’s a medical expert in this field to help them walk themselves off that ledge. But it all leads to community and it’s just, it’s ingrained in us.
Danny Chung: 10:23 It’s a part of who we are as human beings. And the last thing I’ll say about that, jj, is that, you know, like I said, it’s a two way street. One is we, we do have to work at it everyday. We have to reach out into the communities, we have to reach out to other veterans, shake hands, hug, embrace, share stories and build that connective tissue, but we also have to understand that there’s a huge population out there who are less apt to extend that hand or to reach out to other veterans and we can’t forget that group. We have to be on the lookout for that group. You know, as as any military leader knows that we’re only as strong as the weakest link. And whenever I led a platoon or a company, I always sought out those who were very quiet. Those who may not have embraced the mission as much as everybody else. And I always made sure that we were addressing their needs as well. And I think that’s critical in this endeavor to build community. And I know many people, I think people who
JJ Pinter: 11:27 can, the veterans space know this, but if you’re listening to this and you’re not familiar with this work, Microsoft has a very robust long standing. They were one of the leaders from a corporate perspective. When it comes to really embracing not only veterans, but the whole kind of military family unit, spouses and kids, all of the above and I know I’ve gotten a chance to know you over the last couple of years. Microsoft been a fantastic long term partner of tomorrow to be and I know that this, this idea of community as it relates to veterans and military families is really important to Microsoft as well. I’m wondering why, but not from the sense. I’m just wondering like how, how you came to the realization or how you landed on that theme as something that was important organizationally and that you are going to really try to attack.
Danny Chung: 12:19 Yeah. Inquiry questions. Are you doing about four years ago, four and a half years ago. You and I both know, you know, we’re on the heels of the great recession. Unemployment was tremendously high. It was even higher for that of the veteran veteran community who were transitioning out of the military. So from a business standpoint, we looked at it from Microsoft and we said, you know, this is a great group of people. They have all the fundamentals that have a work ethic, team building, Camaraderie, all that intrinsic stuff that we’re looking for. What if we took this group and just gave them a little bit of technology training? It’s a group that’s very agile. They learn very quickly and it’s a smart group that hasn’t been really looked at, so we developed the program called Microsoft software and Systems Academy Mssa, and we started off at one location here at joint base, Lewis mcchord and slowly but surely we got through our phase one goal just this past march of [inaudible] 14 locations throughout the United States.
Danny Chung: 13:19 We serve close to 20 military installations, if not more so locations like Miramar for Campbell camp leisure in Hampton roads, Jacksonville, Florida, Fort Carson, Colorado. I mean we’re, we’re from coast to coast now and we’ve got over a thousand students in the pipeline at any given time, but when I joined the team about three years ago, I looked at what we were doing and what I realized was I tried to put it into kind of the five paragraph order. You know, how we used to use a. The model, I don’t know if army uses that, but it basically five paragraph order situation, mission execution, oh, is it administration, logistics and commanding control and when I put it into that Ma, you know I’m surprised I remembered quite frankly, but when it. When I put it into that model, one of the things I remember as a as a young lieutenant was a who are your supporting forces when you attack hill one, two, three.
Danny Chung: 14:16 Who’s that support by fire element that’s going to provide you that base of fire? Who are the EHR components were the naval gun liaisons and all these thoughts started to come into my head and that’s when I realized, hey, we can’t just focus on the transitioning service member. We’ve got to look at who supports that transitioning service member and when we as a team looked at that enough, we discovered, okay, hey, we got to start looking at the military spouse group. They’re facing 16 to 18 percent unemployment and no one’s looking at them. What about the kids? I remember when I got deployed Iraq in 2002 before the war started, as soon as I checked in, there was a note waiting for me from my wife that somebody had received via email, through the headquarters, command this and that, and it was that my son had a bicycle accident.
Danny Chung: 15:06 He was like two years old and he just had a bicycle accident and he was bleeding all over the driveway and had to go to the Er and that just kind of rocked my world and I realized when I look back on a scenario like that, I can’t focus as a service member, as a troop leader, as an officer in the Marine Corp. I could not focus on my mission when my kids were not in a safe place, in a loving environment where they weren’t. They dIdn’t have to go to the er. Thankfully it wasn’t that serious, but the example proves the point that the better we support the military kids, the better. We’re supporting that service member who may be out accomplishing the mission on behalf of this nation. So that’s how we got to the point where we started looking at military spouses and military kids and the great thing is microsoft has been doing programs for kids for as long as we’ve been around.
Danny Chung: 15:59 We do stem awareness programs. We have programs called digi girls that focuses on young girls because as you know there, there are very few women in this industry who can be mentors who can provide that leadership for the girls. So we have a program specifically for digital girls called digitals for middle school girls. And then we’ve got other programs called youth spark for milk for kids. And I ask the question one day, I said, did you know there are kids who go to public schools on military installations? And all I got was this french shrug. Like, no, we had no idea. And I said, what if we did use spark on military bases? And we piloted that last year. My boss chris cortez was thankfully he trusted me to pilot this program on five bases last year. And it was such a success, jj, that we’ve got administrators, teachers, parents.
Danny Chung: 16:53 We’ve got the pta banging on our door right now, asking us when can we come to their school, so this year, starting july 30, first of this year, we’ve got seven locations. We’re going to be out at miramar and october for bliss, campbell leisure in hampton roads, jacksonville, Florida and fort meade for the next 12 months, posting these youth spark for military kids and then getting back to military spouses. We’ve got a great program that we’re going to pilot beginning at the end of september and it’s going to be the first program of its kind and it’s a technology academy where we’re going to take a cohort of military spouses, military spouses, and we’re going to bring them into a a mssa like environment and for four and a half, five months we’re going to teach them everything they need to know about server cloud administration, and then we’re going to make sure that they get jobs. They get careers, meaningful careers in the tech industry. Danny.
JJ Pinter: 17:50 wow. That’s fantastic. I want to go back really quick. I had a question I forgot to ask you and then I want to jump in and talk about our relay. We are talking about community and you know, you were talking a little bit about your, your lack of community growing up in southern California, but the community that you experienced in the rink or I know you spent time deployed while you’re in the marine corps doing pao work and various places, but then also that you ran a newspaper which is, you know, when you think about like one of the things that ties a community together, like the news is one of those things, the newspaper and that’s one of the places, especially in smaller communities that people go to really find out what’s going on in the community. I’m inTerested when you think about your various experiences around the United States, but then really internationally the times you’ve spent interacting at the local level doing public affairs type work, interacting with, with local media in, in other countries. What are somE of the similarities and differences you see in kind of the community unit? If that’s such a thing around the world?
Danny Chung: 18:53 I think in one word it’s purpose. People seek purpose, wheTher it’s okinawa, Japan, or the greek islands or, or here in litchfield, Michigan. You know, where you grew up. Um, I think. I think people see community. I think people seek that purpose, that shared purpose. Leading the newspaper group at quantico, Virginia was, was an amazing experience, but what was even more amazing was when I was put in charge of the okinawan marine out in Japan and what I found was that we’ve got nearly at 50,000 members of the us veteran military community out on that island and in mainland Japan and we would get emails and phone calls from all sorts of people from even ex pats, retirees who for one reason or another they just wanted to chat and talk and communicate and they use the newspaper as a means to do that. With that shows me is that people are seeking connections, people are seeking purpose and I think it transcends your nationality.
Danny Chung: 19:59 It’s transcends geographic boundaries. there used to be a lot of protests on okinawa. That was one of the major community challenges that we faced as the public affairs office and even for, and it’s kind of funny, I don’t mean to disparage it in any way, but it was kind of funny how the japanese would fly in protestors from mainland and they would bus them in these really nice coach buses and as they were, as these elderly people were getting off the bus, they would help them off these nice coach buses and hand them each one of these banners. And I didn’t, I don’t know what the banner said. I presume it’s something about, you know, moroccan military leave, leave Japan or something to that effect. But again, I don’t mean to diminish that, but recalling that imagery I have in my head, uh, seeing these people, it was probably thousands of people. It just shows me that people are seeking purpose and a lot of these people were 90, maybe 100 years old. And uh, they were just so well organized. They were arm in arm and whatever it is, people seek purpose and people see community.
JJ Pinter: 21:06 And I think that’s a really good transition to talk about the oakland area relay and if, if someone’s listening to this and they don’t know what the old larry relay is, it’s an event that goes on every year where there’s a single flag that has moved people power from. It starts on September 11th, that ends on veteran’s day. So it’s, it’s about 60 days long and it moves from coast to coast and this is the first year that we’re actually running east coast to west coast. We’ve changed it up a little bit, but it’s an event that is, that is hosted by tim rob and it’s presented by our longtime partners at microsoft and we could not be more proud and more appreciative of them. But it is a, it’s a really cool event. And what I think is so special about it is that when you talk about community and you talk about bringing people together.
JJ Pinter: 21:59 This event in my mind is. It’s like the physical manifestation of that because you have, you know, the flag has to travel 50 to 60 miles per day every day. People powered and it’s traveling through small, you know, it’s not safe to run on highways obviously, so we’re moving through say smaller towns across America and linking people together and part of it is to get the job done of, of moving the flag, but then a huge part of it is to see what happens in these, in these small town communities across America or bigger communities across America when they see the flag coming through and it just, it really brings the community together in a really special way. And I just, I think it’s so important for not only bringing communities together but because this is led by team red, which is a veteran serving organization.
JJ Pinter: 22:51 It’s also, you know, it’s like the mechanism that we can use to help break down the civil military divide, which I know is something that you at microsoft, you personally and then you as a microsoft also care about deeply. I’m just, I wanted to ask what is it about this event that you know, maybe caught your attention initially and what is it that has caused you to stay on, in support of this event? Because you know, it’s a big lift, there’s a lot that goes into this and you know, we couldn’t pull it off without you and I just wanted to ask that question really broadly.
Danny Chung: 23:25 It’s an incredible event. Incredible. September 11 to November 11th. When you think about the 4,000, 300 miles that people, like you said, it’s people power 4,000, 300 miles that people are going to be carrying this flag whether on foot or on bicycles from coast to coast. It is the physical, but the word I would use is it’s action. It’s words put into action and you see so much, you know in everyday news, the social media about everything that’s wrong. Everything that people are pointing fingers and it’s just everything to tear this nation apart. But then you look at something that team red, white and blue is doing and you’re not just talking about it. You’re not just saying, hey, eagles come together and run and it’s going to enrich your lives. Blah, blah, blah. You guys are actually doing it. There are chat. I don’t know how many hundreds of champions you have throughout the world, but I see I see your eagles and for those of you who don’t know team red, white and blue, I think he’s still call them eagles.
Danny Chung: 24:27 right? Your members, absolutely. You’re are that physical manifestation. That’s the action from words. You’re not just talking about it. You’re doing it. You’re going out and representing the best parts of this nation, but at the same time when you know, when I’m. When I see the groups running, when I meet with them, when I shake their hands, when I talk to them, what I find out, one of the things that’s very interesting is not everybody knows each other. Yeah, it’s this, it’s this straggling group of disparate veterans and even non veterans. I was just having a conversation last night over dinner with my good friend chris emmerich, who helps us run the video production for this, and we were kind of talking about olga relay and chris looked over at me and said, danny, you know what? One of the coolest things that happened last year was as he was driving the old glory relay van covering the old glory relay last year, this stranger just kinda pulled up in his car, got out of his car and old timer and just kind of knocked on his window and said, hey, what are you guys doing here?
Danny Chung: 25:26 What, what is all this? And chris explained to him a team, red, white and blue silver. Really we’re taking that flag that you see running down the street from coast to coast. And he said, can I run with that? And chris said, yeah, absolutely. And we let this guy run with the flying. I mean he, he didn’t run miles and miles, but I think he ran at least maybe a quarter mile a third of a mile and he was an old guy he hadn’t seen as korean war veteran. Yeah. You remember that story? Yeah. Story. Yeah. It was very touching and it’s just amazing. It’s just amazing how this is people coming together and it’s not just poc, it’s not just this one’s cool picture that you capture and you put it up on social and everybody clicks like on it, but it’s every day of this old glory relay. Every mile you, you’re impacting lives.
Danny Chung: 26:16 You’re enriching lives. Not just the veterans, but everybody around it. You got school kids running up with their flag, waving their flags and they’re gonna remember this and they’re going to look back on this and say, you know what? I remember team red, white and blue when I was in elementary kid, and now here I am. I’m an army Soldier, or a navy sailor or marine or whatever. Or maybe I’m just a part of a military family at that point and they’re going to remember this because that’s how impactful this is. Yeah. I’m reminded of, I think it’s a physics
JJ Pinter: 26:44 equation. Gosh, it’s the, uh, you know, the opposite. Emotions tend to take, tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. And I think about, if you think about the community and you think about maybe the civil military divide and veterans in the community that is going to continue, if you pick some community at large in America, you know, there’s, there’s some percentage of that community that’s veterans and we talk about this problem of the civil military divide where there’s this kind of, this increasing separation between America and the people who, you know, fight the wars and that’s not gonna change unless something causes it to change, I guess is my point. And what I love about something like the old glory relay is that that can be the thing that can be the thing that comes through town that brings people together that, you know, that can be the mechanism that gets veterans in the community to really gel together to do something. And that’s, that’s what I love about it to your point, danny, is it’s ah, it’s action, right? And this is the delivery mechanism.
Danny Chung: 27:44 And I’ll tell you what, the physical action aspect of it, let’s not lose that part either. It’s not just the soul being enriched, but it’s also your physical wellbeing. I mean these rods are not sprints. They’re not marathons there. It’s not, you know, it’s not for the ultra marathoner. It’s, it’s a community building run. So even if you’re not an avid runner you can still join and it’s a very good pace. It’s easy. And the ultimate aspect of this is that not only enriches the soul, but it also enriches your physical wellbeing.
JJ Pinter: 28:19 Yeah. It’s, you know, the, what this actually looks like is that a flag gets moved from point a to point b everyday and it’s generally between 50 and 60 miles and it’s like the old moniker about raising kids. It takes a village. This takes a village. It takes a lot of people to get involved to keep that flag moving and then just what it does to communities when it comes through. I was telling danielle story and I want to share it really quickly here. I grew up in a very small town in southern Michigan. Farm town, graduated from high school with, you know, like 40 kids from public high school. That sounds population. What does, it was about a thousand. Then we just looked it up. It’s grown, I guess the 1300, so you know,
Danny Chung: 28:58 1,391 91, let’s
JJ Pinter: 29:01 feel Michigan quick shout out, but the, the, the route is coming through my hometown this year and I have been working with My dad and a local sheriff and the local mayor and just stuff like this doesn’t happen in my small hometown of litchfield and in lots of other towns like this very often. And this is going to be. I almost look at this like this is I’m going to try to make this the most special day that I can from my hometown and, and have it be the way that I say thank you almost because it was a great, great place for me to grow up and you know, the people there, the community, we were fantastic and I really want this to be special for the community and something that they remember and it’s going to be my way of. I’m going to try to have this be the way that I say thank you back to my town and you know, that can happen in any town along the route is what is, is so incredibly special about this.
Danny Chung: 29:57 Very cool. Very cool. I’m so happy for you.
JJ Pinter: 30:00 Yeah, I know. It’s going to be super, super exciting. Super exciting. So danny, a couple of other things really quickly and then I want to change the subject and ask you about a couple of questions about leadership, which is a way that I like to end every single one of these podcasts. I want to ask a question about the power of veterans in our communities. I know that that’s something that, that you care about personally, that microsoft cares about and making sure that veterans are connected with their communities. You know, why is it so important to have kind of an empowered affective, you know, cadre of veterans in our communities in America right now from your perspective?
Danny Chung: 30:43 Well, I think there’s a lot of different answers that I can provide for you, but I think the most important reason is that we’re just such a special group that is such a small percentage of America, but carries such a greater percentage of america’s burdens were all over the world. There are service members Who are serving and locations that we don’t even know where they are on the globe that we couldn’t even identify on a map. There are wives and husbands who are toiling every single day back home worried sick about their service member. There are kids who some are too young to know that their parents or their mom or dad is serving somewhere in harm’s way. There are other kids Who are confused as to why mommy or daddy is no longer reading them bedtime stories at night, and then there are older kids who are longing for that companionship with dad or mom and really having a struggle knowing that their parents are off somewhere doing work in a foreign country or a remote location somewhere serving this great nation.
Danny Chung: 31:53 Suffice to say, there’s a lot of sacrifices being made every second of every minute of every day, and it’s by a very special group by a very small percentage of what makes up the american population and they Deserve to be recognized. It’s a population that shouldn’t be recognized first and foremost, but I would say even more importantly that it’s a group that has a lot to offer the global experience, the lack of resources with which the service members operate, the locations that they go to and the things that they have to endure, I think makes them superb. Superb. Americans. And you know, one of the things that aren’t. I recall flow grover telling me he’s a medal of honor recipient army soldier. Oh, I have to meet him at the airport a couple of months ago and one of the things he told me was, you know, what he tries to strive for is when people come up to him and shake his hand and say thank you for your service. In his head, he told me, he’s thinking, well, I’m not done serving yet. Just wait for phase two, man. That was just phase one, but as a veteran, I’ve got a lot more to offer and I think that’s true for the veteran community writ large is that they have so much more to offer and we need to recognize that as a nation and we need to include them and we need to involve them and we need to empower them to do even more great things for our nation.
JJ Pinter: 33:24 Yeah. I always tell people the, we know the average american lives to like 88 years old or something crazy like that now, and life expectancy is going up and if you were in the military now, let’s say you did one hitch or two hitches for, you know, three or five or six years or something in your twenties, that’s a fantastic experience and it’s going to be with you your entire life. But you know, that can’t be the most important thing that you do in your life. You’ve got another 60 years ahead of you that you can still continue to contribute to society and integrate way and you know this, you’re primed. You’re prime to be able to do it. So
Danny Chung: 34:02 absolutely, it’s continuous evolvement, continuous learning, continuous evolvement. Yeah, but then he really good
JJ Pinter: 34:08 quickly I’ll say if you’re listening to this and you’re interested in getting involved in yoga relay, you know, we’d love to have you obviously, so you could go to old glory, relayed that or if you can go to the website and just look at oakland relay. All the registration information is on there and we’d love to have you obviously, and it starts, it kicks off September 11th in boston. Danny, I was going to ask you, you mentioned some really cool programs that microsoft is involved in, the mssa and I now you’ve got this kind of new program for spouses and then youth spark. If someone was listening and they wanted to find out more about one of those, where would you direct them?
Danny Chung: 34:45 Yeah, I would say first and foremost checkout our website which is military.microsoft.com. No, www. Just military.microsoft.com. If you look under some of the tabs or you can connect directly with me or any one of our team members where you are more than happy to connect with you via linkedin, facebook, we also have a twitter and youtube channel where you can find out more about the different programs, check out videos, but I am more than happy to connect with anybody out there via linkedin or facebook. Just shoot me a note. I’m happy to answer any questions and get you connected to the right people so that we can get the right program in your hands. Military spouse programs kicking off at the end of september here at joint base, lewis mcchord. If you know of any military spouses who might be a great candidate and who are looking for a great career in technology, please send my way as well,
JJ Pinter: 35:38 and I was scrolling through your twitter feed earlier. Danny’S got a great. He’s a great twitter follow as well, so if you’re looking for something someone interesting to follow, that’s maybe another good way to connect with them.
Danny Chung: 35:48 So I try to keep it professional. It’s a jarhead pao de. How could
JJ Pinter: 35:55 not something be good if it starts with at jarhead
Danny Chung: 35:59 jarhead oh, now I got to go in there and clean it up.
JJ Pinter: 36:05 Danny. So let me, I want to ask you a question about leadership and this is a question that I ask every guest that I have on the podcast and it’s one of my favorite parts of the podcast, honestly. And so here’s the question. The question is, is about lessons that you’ve learned in your life. So it’s what’s the most important lesson that a leader has ever taught you in your career and when some people answer this question, they can think about immediately their mind comes to some moment and some person where they learned something or sometimes people say, oh, over my career this, it’s much more broad. Thematically I’ve, I’ve learned this thing from a compilation of great leaders that I’ve had and you know, some people are talking about high literally coaches and some people are talking about, you know, military leaders. So that’s the question for you. What’s the most important lesson that a leader has ever taught you in your life?
Danny Chung: 36:56 In the marine corps? The biggest, biggest conch, one of the biggest controversies amongst leadership discussions is what’s more important, mission accomplishment or troop welfare and the preponderance of people with whom I’ve spoken with have always said mission accomplishment, last fall, ultimate goal of why we’re in uniform and why we do what we do, and I’ve always been on the other side of the fence. It’s about troop welfare and I think that ties directly into my definition of leadership is that leadership is not about standing out front. it’s not about telling people what to do, but it’s really about taking on that servant leadership is about making sure that your troops are taken well care of and that you’re setting them up for success and if you do those two things right, your troops will take care of you, but it’s a mantra that I’ve. I’ve stuck to my entire career whether in the marine corps or out of uniform and it’s served me very well. It’s something that I still stick to this very day. I take care of the people who worked for me and who work with me and I trust them with everything.
JJ Pinter: 38:02 Yeah, that’s an interesting thing to think about. I’ve never really heard it positioned that way before. I remember someone told me, you know, mAny people probably told me this, but I remember someone specifically told me when I was a, when I was a young lieutenant and they just kinda said, hey listen, there’s no way that you can be successful in this job if you don’t have the support of the nco is that are around you. Like it just is not going to happen. It can’t happen. You can’t do everything yourself and you know, you have to really focus on taking care of those people and inspiring those people. And if you do that, they will give you their very best work and you will ultimately be successful. But you gotta it takes effort to put, to do that.
Danny Chung: 38:44 Yeah, that’s absolutely true. We can’t do it on our own. Right. That’s the, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. you can’t do it by yourself and in the military we used to say uh, well it depends on which rank you’re talking about, but basically the nco rank is the backbone of the marine corps for us and without van ceos and what they do every day and as a previous nco and I, I’ve lived through that. So I think that’s kind of resonated with me over the years and that stuck with me. So that’s what I live by.
JJ Pinter: 39:15 We have just a couple more minutes. I want to, if you have a second, you, you had a really rich, robust career in the marine corps. I’m wondering, I know this is really hard, but is there a favorite kind of funny or moment that stands out to you when you think that’s your career that you, you look back and you say a like, I’m going to remember this forever, but the only in the military with something like this happen, like I would never encounter something like this in, in civilian world. Is there, is there A moment like that? That is a favorite moment that you can remember?
Danny Chung: 39:47 There’s probably 12 too many jj and nothIng I would share out in public, but you know, probably one of the best missions that I got assigned to was when we got sent out to Pakistan right after the kashmiri earthquake and we went into a little town called [inaudible] in the northwest frontier province with a bow. There was a, probably a little over 200 of us. We took a medical group in there and our team, so mostly navy, but we had a large marIne corps contingent out there as well. And I remember, you know, you get to know the, the navy personnel, they’re very young. A lot of them were operation, not operation, but uh, our technicians nurses and you get to know them as quote unquote kids because they were so young. And then I remember one night we were woken at about two in the morning, a german ambulance had just come down the hill with two or three patients earn victims, pakistanis who were living up in the mountains and they’re 10 caught on fire to adults refined.
Danny Chung: 40:54 But there’s a newborn baby that was just literally, this baby boy was burned pretty badly and he was wrapped in that foil to prevent further infection and I was inside that tent and I remember at 2:30 in the morning with minimal lighting, I experienced something amazing and that was watching about two dozen navy personnel. These young kids working in near complete silence and it was almost like a dance watching these kids go back and forth and there were just doing what needed to do with minimal instruction. Yeah. I remember one of the navy commanders was a was a surgeon and he was addressing the burn patients that our technicians were doing their thing. The nurses were doing their thing. They were bringing in oxygen and it was just. He was near complete silence the way that I remember it. And it was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever seen to see one day a bunch of kids smoking and joking and talking about this and you know, sharing jokes.
Danny Chung: 42:03 And then within 12 hours later, you see this ballet sequence inside this olr up in the mountains of Pakistan, saving the life of this little baby and that’s an image that’s going to stick with me forever. That that was just an amazing experience and it’s a. It’s a testament to what our service members do and can do is that don’t just look at them as a 22 year old young kid who didn’t do anything in his life or just graduated high school and decided to join the navy. But these kids have amazing talents and you just got to give them the chance to prove themselves.
JJ Pinter: 42:40 We didn’t beyond that, I think your story is, it’s a perfect example and I think back to my own personal experience as a very young person, you are given immense amounts of responsibility in the military, much more so than you would get in the, in the private sector. and it causes you to grow up really quickly. I think in a lot of senses because you’re doing things as a very young person in their early twenties that you know, just you’re allotted a lot of responsibility very, very early in life and I think that is one of the things that it’s, it’s, it’s definitely has shaped my life and I, I see that play out with lots of other veterans as well.
Danny Chung: 43:21 Oh, absolutely. Jj is a 22 year old and ceo. You’re, you’re entrusted with the lives of three of your service members in the marine corps and a fire team. As a corporate, you’re entrusted with three others as a sergeant, you’re entrusted with a squad or a staff and you’re entrusted with the squat and that’s 12 marines lives that you’re entrusted with lives.
JJ Pinter: 43:41 Yeah. So it is incredible. You know, you’re, you’re, you know, I guess it could be debated as to how much actual control of a second attendant has as a platoon leader in a platoon, you know, you, you are certainly interested with everything that happens there. I actually loved the army’s definition of leadership that I remember from when I was in the army and that, you know, it’s the definition is that a leader’s responsible for everything that you know, happens or fails to happen, and I think that’s a really great way to think about it. So, you know, I think that’s a great definition. You’re responsible for everything that a unit does or fails to do, period.
Danny Chung: 44:14 Exactly, exactly. Jokingly, I would tell my, uh, first sergeant when I had command was that hey, it’s his responsibility to make things happen, but ultimately I’m there to sign the paperwork and go to jail if he screws things up.
JJ Pinter: 44:27 Yes, yes. A position because I don’t want to go to jail for danny. I think this is a great place to, to end the podcast here. I really appreciate you giving us some of your time. This has been a really fun conversation to have and then I really appreciate it. On behalf of myself, everyone at team rwb all of our membership. I just wanted to say a huge thanks for not only the support of the old glory relay, but just the supportive team are to be in general, like we wouldn’t be able to be what we are today without microsoft and I just, I couldn’t be more thankful, so thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope I don’t know if we’ll line up our schedules, but I hope to get a chance to see out on the course.
Danny Chung: 45:09 Absolutely. And jj, thank you for the opportunity on behalf of our vice president of military affairs, chris cortez and the rest of the team here at military affairs. We could not be more proud to be the presenting sponsor for old glory relay for the past three years and for as many years as you’ll have us, you guys are putting words into action and we appreciate that every day. So thank you for what you do.
JJ Pinter: 45:32 Awesome. Danny. Thanks.