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BY Joel Junker

The Million Dollar Choice: Military to Business Transition

Would you rather have $1M today or a penny today that would double every day for 30 days?

Would you believe that that initial penny would be worth $5,278,709.12 in 30 days?

I assume you would take that penny and forego the $1M!

What does this “Million Dollar Choice” have to do with the JMO’s transition to a business leadership career? They should search for that penny rather than the $1M.

Delayed Gratification = Future Payout

In this “Million Dollar Choice”, the penny represents a development position, allowing the JMO to grow into a company’s executive leadership path. The development path transforms the JMO into a business leader. This transformation requires starting a career where the JMO uses their strengths and skills, does work that interests them, and their leadership invests in their development. Over time, this path will ensure the JMO develops a track record of success.

But there is a catch! This path leads to a significant payoff in the future, but it does not all happen at once. The value is created over time. In the case of the penny, it multiplies every day. A development career also multiplies over time.

The Problem of Wanting it All Right Away

The $1M in the “Million Dollar Choice” represents having it all! Sometimes, JMOs get out of the military, and they hunt for the $1M opportunity where they get the development path, ideal location, and high pay. However, this isn’t easy to find because JMOs represent less than 1% of the working population in the US. Most companies are not set up to hire JMOs for development positions. The risk in searching for the $1M opportunity is that the JMO could easily land in a non-development role or be underemployed in a company that does not fully get their skillset. As a result, the transformation takes a lot longer and likely some job hopping to find the right fit.

On the other hand, the penny is the business leadership career opportunity or what we call the development career, which often requires some delayed gratification or tradeoff. Why could it require a tradeoff? Because very few companies fully understand the JMO skillset and potential. Therefore, the companies do not know how to invest and develop JMOs. One should not trade off on the opportunity if one wants to be a development candidate. They are better off trading off on location at the start of their career to get a higher return in the long run. And they can navigate to the ideal location in a short time.

You Will Earn a Return on Your Investment

Most Cameron-Brooks JMOs do start their career in their region of preference. For those that do not, most had opportunities in their region of preference but chose another opportunity outside of their preference that had a higher return on their investment. Then after a few years, they transform into a business leader, and with their investment, they can move to their ideal location.

This same thought process holds for compensation. A JMO certainly does not want to accept a low compensation because it shows that the company does not fully understand their potential. Yet, occasionally, I hear a JMO asking for a significant compensation package and unwilling to consider anything else. I would argue that the initial compensation is not as critical as where the compensation plan goes as the JMO progresses. In other words, do you want the $1M today, or the penny today that will be over $5M in 30 days? The initial offer is important but not as important as the total compensation over time.

Do you want it all now? Or, are you willing to invest in your career and likely have higher returns later? This is your Million Dollar Choice.

Joel Junker

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