What’s the most important question you can ask your employees today?

Twenty-four years ago this month, I was lower than an Army Private; I was a cadet candidate, aka “new cadet” at the US Military Academy. Though cadets outrank Army enlisted personnel by a technicality, as a “New Cadet” (in training to become an official “Cadet Private”) I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. No freedom, no respect, no hair.

I’ll never forget the discomfort of new combat boots and the musty, sticky sweat coming off my field uniform, as 1,200 uneasy comrades and I marched mile after mile in full gear, stumbling single file through the woods, up and down the hills of the Hudson Valley. The oppressive New York humidity and the rocky trails were steadily eroding my will to live. Years before the convenience of Camelbaks, we wore hard plastic Vietnam-era canteens on our belts, one on each hip. I was a ridiculous, flopping fish out of water, juggling my rifle in one hand and reaching back with the other, trying to secure a canteen without dropping it, to screw off the cap and take a sip — all without losing pace with my squad or drawing attention from the upperclassmen. …


John Yi

Product Management, Growth Marketing and Leadership

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