Life and Leadership Lessons I Learned In The Military: “Find the Answer” With Joshua Joel Moffie
Find the Answer! As long as your morals and integrity are not compromised, you will find that there is always a way to get something done, even if the answer is to not do it. FIND THE ANSWER.
As a part of my series about “Life and Leadership Lessons Learned In The Military”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Joel Moffie. Joshua was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He joined the United States Air force in 2007 and continues to serve as a reservist with the 452nd Security Forces Squadron at March ARB, in Southern California. He currently holds the rank of Master Sergeant E7, works as a squad leader and is part of the units Phoenix Raven program which is a small unique special duty that provides in-country security/intelligence support for USAF assets and crewmembers when transiting to high threat, austere locations around the world. Joshua has successfully conducted multiple operations in over (40) different countries, including serving a tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A few of Joshua’s medals included the Airman’s Medal, Accommodation Medal, Achievement Medal, Volunteer Ribbon, Meritorious Service Medal, and Expert Marksman Ribbon. Joshua received his Associates Degree from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Youngstown State University, and his Master’s Degree in Business (MBV) from the University of Southern California. He worked as a Management Consultant with a major consulting firm (Accenture) for 2 years before joining and investing in a business in California called Trident Coffee, an RTD Coffee company founded by a fellow classmate and Navy Veteran he met at business school in USC. He is working as the Director of Business Development, his duties include strategically growing the business/brand and getting the product into the hands of more customers. He is also a Managing Member for a small family business in its very early stages dealing in General Contracting in the LA area (Moffie Build Group). His main duties will include high-level strategic decision making and light oversight. He currently resides in Santa Monica, CA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I was raised in gritty Youngstown, Ohio by two loving parents. I have a younger brother, and older sister. My father was an entrepreneur and owned two taverns in the city that I would help manage when able, and my mother was a nurse. I went to a very well-known Catholic High school and excelled in football and baseball. My senior year football team won the “State Championship” in which I started as the middle linebacker and blocking back. This really changed my life, because I really got the taste of accomplishment, and I knew I loved it. I went off to College at the Citadel Military College of South Carolina after high school and made the football team as a preferred walk-on. I left the Citadel after a year and ended up finishing my degree at Youngstown State University in my hometown. After undergraduate school, I moved out to California for an Active Duty slot with the United States Air force reserves. I spent 4 years in the slot, and rebranded myself by going back to college for my Masters in Business. Once I graduated, I joined up with Accenture and “honed” my skills until I was invited to join my classmates business in which I currently work for.
And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?
I am currently an investor and the Director of Business Development for Trident Coffee Roasters. I am responsible for driving Trident Coffee’s business, increasing revenue, identifying and developing new business opportunities, and building and expanding the presence of the company in the market.
Simply put: Get Trident Coffee into the hands of its customers that so desperately want it.
Aside from Trident Coffee, I am working on helping establish (Moffie Build Group), and serve our country in a reserve capacity. I love the challenge, it really makes me organize and prioritize. I firmly believe that anyone can juggle multiple responsibilities, just as long as you are making it work. If you find it is not working, then you quickly need to reevaluate, because you can hurt people involved in each area.
Can you tell us a bit about your military background?
My military career was very Non-traditional. I was not raised in a military type family, a few of my family members served, but It was nobody in my immediate family, and it was never really talked about. I attended The Citadel because it was the biggest school that wanted me to play football, even if it was only as a “preferred walk-on.” After the first semester, football started to take a backseat to being homesick, and completely out of my element in South Carolina and attending a Military College, so I decided not to go back. I returned to my hometown, and it only took 3 months to realize what I had given up. I realized at The Citadel, that I missed and excelled in the environment that The Citadel provided. Without hesitation, I walked into the recruiters office and enlisted in the United States Air Force as a reservist to get that feeling back. I returned back from training as a Security Forces member 8 months later and was assigned to Youngstown Air Reserve Station. I was deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq 2 months later. I retuned back from Iraq in the middle of a school semester and ended up graduating the end of that year. Once graduated, I moved out to California and was chosen to become a part of the Phoenix Raven program on active duty. This special duty allowed me to visit over (40) different countries and really see how the military impacts places around the world. I now currently balance my civilian life once again as a reservist, and will continue to serve as long as I enjoy throwing the uniform on from time to time.
Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?
I was fortunate to work very closely a couple times with the Secret Service and other Federal Agencies involved with protecting Air Force One and Presidential movements for the Obama Administration. I remember noticing how everyone around anything that dealt with the President (security or not) was very professional and was always concentrating at the task/mission at hand. There was no room for error and you can tell everyone knew that. My take away was, that I now look to treat every situation and every moment in life like it is a high stakes situation dealing with a President, and leave no room for error. If you do, success should be easy.
I’m interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.
Fortunately I was in the right place at the right time to save a person’s life. I was off duty and pumping gas, when I heard a loud crash and looked up and saw a car collided with a tree and caught fire. Once I saw that nobody was getting out of the car, I sprang into action ran over, instructed another bystander to knocked a window out with a shovel, and then I pulled an unconscious driver out of the car before it engulfed into flames. I left the scene after I gave my statement to emergency responders. My military supervisor was actually at the same gas station at the time unbeknownst to me, and told the story. This action resulted in me receiving an Airman’s Medal for heroism.
Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?
A “hero” can be many people, most notably a “hero” is someone that is willing to put his/her life in danger to help save others. I know any one of the men/women that I served with would have done the same thing if in the same situation as me, because I served with a bunch of “heroes”. I also think a “hero” can be as simple as someone that is willing to take the time to listen to someone that is in need, then takes the required actions to help that person in need. Heroes wear many capes.
Does a person need to be facing a life and death situation to do something heroic or to be called a hero?
Absolutely not. I guess I got ahead of myself with my previous answer.
Based on your military experience, can you share with our readers 5 Leadership or Life Lessons that you learned from your experience”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Lead from the Front
A real leader is most effective when they not only explain what they want you to do, but given the situation, they also do it with you.
2. Treat everyone with the same respect as you would want in return
From Airman to General, Secretary to CEO. Treat everyone like they are human, because THEY ARE! We are all just trying to figure out this crazy thing we call “life” and we are doing it together. It goes much smoother when people give respect to each other.
3. Take pride in your appearance and the way you carry yourself
The most effective leaders in my military and civilian career always had that “presence” to them. Well kept, healthy looking, pressed clothes, firm handshake, and well spoken. There is something about a man or women that takes pride in their appearance and demeanor, that screams leadership.
4. Unless the situation is literally life and death, remember, it’s NOT life and death!
Take a break at times and go have some fun with your teams. Let your “hair” down from time to time.
5. Find the Answer!
As long as your morals and integrity are not compromised, you will find that there is always a way to get something done, even if the answer is to not do it. FIND THE ANSWER.
Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business? Can you explain?
This is a “no-brainer.” I was trained for 13 years and still continue to be trained by the best leadership curriculum that the world has ever known, the United States Military. It is very easy to apply military experience with the civilian world, the hard part is translating it so it makes sense.
As you know, some people are scarred for life by their experience in the military. Did you struggle after your deployment was over? What have you done to adjust and thrive in civilian life that others may want to emulate?
Diving into the civilian workforce was very scary coming off active duty, my identity was threatened and I did not know what to do. To all the men and women out there, my advice is to take the time to figure out what is next in your life and make sure it is feasible and you will enjoy it. Then, use all of the tools the military gives you to help you succeed: VA, therapy, GI Bill, transition programs, volunteer programs, vocational school, etc. Finally, surround yourself with like-minded people; military veterans and civilians that understand what you are going through and that are rooting for you. IT CAN BE DONE!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Besides working on Trident Coffee, I am also taking Acting class “as they say, when in Hollywood” I find it as a great outlet to open me up more as a person and it transfers really nicely into making me more comfortable in front of people when I am pitching them on Trident. Who knows, maybe I will be the next great action hero! A few Non-profits I follow and support are (MVP) Merging Veterans with Players, VetPaw, and Team Rubicon. All three are great, check them out!
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Set your expectations early, communicate often, and find out each of your team members social styles. Everyone operates and responds differently, it’s up to a leader to figure out how to handle all of it so everything runs smoothly. Lastly, saying “good job” goes a long way. Let your team know they are kicking a** when they actually are, kicking a**!
What advice would you give to other leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Find out the best way to communicate clearly and effectively. Break the team down into smaller teams that have a (direct contact) over them. This way will allow your communication to be streamlined.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Many people helped shape me into the man I am today, my parents, grandparents, certain influential people in this world. However, one person that really stands out is my Uncle, Jim Noonan, who married into the Moffie family. Jim was an Infantry Marine during Vietnam and was one of the few that retuned from that war that was able to get his life back on track. He graduated from Brooklyn College and worked his way up through the entertainment industry over a long 40+ year career that ended 2 years ago with his retirement as the Head of Communications for Warner Brothers Studios in LA. He is always so humble and eager to give advice when asked. He gave me a great piece of advice when I was younger, when I asked why he was still coming home at 7:30 at night, late into his career “a real boss is the first one there, and last one to leave.”
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I really enjoy helping out struggling veterans that have gone/going through the same experience I did, losing our identity! I am proud to say I have 5 success stories and hopefully more coming! If anyone knows a veteran that wants to break into the world of business, or just wants to talk about NEXT STEPS, please email me, I am here to help.
I do want to break into more philanthropic efforts when able, I am a huge animal advocate!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I can’t give away too much, but your new favorite coffee company, Trident Coffee is already working on something like this! Hopefully it works, and impacts are made! Stay tuned!
For me though, we live in such a polarized society right now, its seems like so many sides are being taken. I think a “call to action” to just be kind to each other can go a long way.
Get social media involved and post pictures of polar opposites getting along or helping someone in need. Once people start seeing it happen, it spreads like wildfire. Social media is strong, and needs to be utilized better IMO.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It seems the harder you work, the more luck you seem to have” — Thomas Jefferson
The quote explains itself, work hard to put yourself in the best situations possible to succeed!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Oddly enough, I work out in the same gym (Golds Gym, Venice Beach) as this person, and see him all the time, but rule #1 in the gym is to never interrupt a workout. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a man I have respected since I was a small child. For an immigrant to this country to accomplish all he has done, and to be still doing it, well, it truly is an inspirational story, and shows what hard work and an unrelenting attitude can get you. I would love to smoke a cigar with that man and pick his brain.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.