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Gain Your Cumulative Advantage 2


Mil CIV


When it comes to the art of networking, the fact of the matter is that none of us have an inherent advantage over anybody else. Humans do not come from the womb imbued with the “Great Networker” gene. Like all skills, networking is a learned skill that becomes easier and more natural the more it is practiced. By definition, networking is the exchange of information or services between individuals, groups, or institutions. Specifically, networking is the “cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Typically, these connections are created and enhanced through conversation, be it face-to-face, email, phone, or video chat. The importance of becoming an effective networker cannot be overstated during an individual’s military-to-civilian transition. Beginning as early as possible is vital in order to reduce one’s overall level of stress, while increasing the likelihood of a streamlined transition to the civilian workforce.


By Marc Stanley Tips for the transitioning military helicopter pilot


How important is it to start networking as early as possible? For the sake of comparison, let’s look at three different people with equivalent qualifications who plan to leave the military over a three-year span of time: Don starts the networking process at the three-year mark, Dave begins at the two-year mark, and Steve starts one year out. Don’s advantage in experiencing an efficient, less stressful transition is exponentially better than that of either Dave or Steve. In fact, no matter how hard Dave or Steve try, they will never catch up to Don, mainly due to the fact that human relationships require time and effort to create and sustain. Does this mean Dave and Steve will not have a successful transition? Absolutely not! It just means that Don has elected to use the power of time (think “compound interest”) to his advantage in order to find the job he wants, in the location that he wants, and for the pay that he wants, whereas Dave and Steve’s chances to land their dream jobs are effectively diminished due to the fact that they have opted to allow time to work against them. Don has created a cumulative advantage.


The Principle of Cumulative Advantage states that once a person gains a small advantage over another person (or persons), that advantage will compound over time into an increasingly more substantial advantage. This well-known effect is embodied in the catchphrase, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”


Author Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers states:


“Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to


play and the bigger preparation seems to play.”


About the author: Marc Stanley retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 after 26 years and is now a corporate pilot for MassMutual flying AW139 helicopters. Stanley regularly teaches military-to- civilian transition classes at industry events and volunteers with veterans outreach programs.


Photo: Bell Helicopter 22 Sept/Oct 2018 the role


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