Travis Collier – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – Jul. 14, 2016

Book Journeys Author Interview – July 14, 2016

 

Dr. Angela Lauria with Travis Collier, author of Command Your Transition: Declare Your Intent, Craft Your Mission, Make It on the Outside.

 

I believe – the biggest victory in having a book done is … in having an anchor for what you believe, how you can serve, and a story that helps others be better as a result of reading it.” ~Travis Collier

 

Angela:

Well, hey, hey, hey, everybody! We are back at Book Journeys Radio, I am so excited to be here. I’m your host, Dr. Angela Lauria, and every episode of Book Journeys we are joined by an author who has crossed that finish line, who has a goal of writing a book and they made it across that goal despite the many things that can distract us in our process, whether it’s procrastination, other things that come up in your life, being busy, medical conditions, having another job, travel – you name it, there is always a reason not to finish your book, and so I’d like to share, on this podcast, what it takes to actually get it done, what it takes to finish your book, and why it’s worth it. We’ll learn from our guest today the difference that having a book has made in their life, and my guest today is author Travis Collier. Travis is a transition coach, he is the author of a couple of books but most recently Command Your Transition: Declare Your Intent, Craft Your Mission, and Make It on the Outside. Travis, welcome to the show!

 

Travis:

Hi, Angela, thank you for having me, great to be here.

 

Angela:

…, it’s terrific to have you. So, let’s get started just by talking about Command Your Transition, what’s the book about and who did you write it for?

 

Travis:

So, Command Your Transition is about, specifically, military transition. I – I wrote a book that I personally wish I had five, six years ago, when I was getting to the halfway point, normally, in my military career, and, looking back at that time, I – I wish I had better awareness of all the choices that were possible for me, both inside and outside the uniform. So, I came back from deployment in the Middle East last July and started having conversations with friends about transitions, and each conversation, from my own experience, is whittled down into the book. But I wrote the book for military members at eight to ten years of service, for them to figure out what service means to them, regardless of what they wear, what it means to serve, … fill their own values, and then defines the – the highest, the best quality for them to do that. For some, it is to stay in the uniform, but for some – and … I can’t – for the most, it might be to move on, take your ten years, your half … in uniform, and apply ….

 

Angela:

And so, you – so, for you, the idea of commanding your transition, is it about having options, is it about being able to make decisions, may be from a – … a more empowered place, or what’s different about this than the options that are – that were out there for you, when this book wasn’t – wasn’t there, at that point, for you?

 

Travis:

So, the option for me was to promote. It was the only option that I gave myself, and the got to third lowest evaluation of my career the summer for that – that … promotion point. And that’s very important, because, in the military, members usually leave at around four – year intervals. The five years, ten years, twenty years, twenty-five years. We call them the year ….

 

Angela:

Mm.

 

Travis:

… at five years, it’s about the first … tour, the first assignment or first enlistment, they’ve gone to boot camp, they’ve gone to specialty school, they’ve gone to the field, they … do what they like to do. Next – walk away with … these guys move on. Ten years is … as – at ten years, you’re reaching a ten-year point, and we don’t even like the phrase, “ten years in the military,” but you … are, after a certain point, whether you’re close to making E-7, whether you’re on track to making O-4 or O-5 on the officer side. The Coast Guard, when you make O-4, you’re all but guaranteed twenty years to retire, given how promotion windows work and what’s in federal law. But … this evaluation, I thought this was my only chance, I’m not gonna make O-4, I’m not gonna promote, I’m out, I’m done, I’m out, I’m done, and a very negative attitude about it. And one of my E-7’s that I worked with … asked me a question … “You know, you act like you just want to get out and you don’t even realize it. Do you want to be in or not?” And … –

 

Angela:

Mmmm.

 

Travis:

I know. I thought … “Oh, my God, you know what? Maybe I don’t want to be a Navy -” it was me not giving myself the best shot to succeed, because I didn’t want to be a part of the business anymore. So, that awakened – it really awakened me, that really woke me up, and I talk about getting that Year Eleven decision at Year Nine, guess what happened to me? I got a – … a Year Nine decision at Year Eleven.

 

Angela:

Hmm.

 

Travis:

I want people to make an informed, honest choice before they reach a turn of a point, … not after. ‘Cause once you’re in – for me, … at fifteen years, I – I can’t get out, because … looking me in the window four and a half years, I can’t say “No” to that. I can’t turn away that golden carrot. So, i want people to – I want veterans to be sure about themselves, why they stay – be sure about themselves on why the want to leave, and I also want veterans to look at transition not as just that – when – your window, when you get to make rank and you’re frustrated about getting out, but – but transition as a part-time job – as a full-time job. … it takes us years to get right into the organization. It shouldn’t … make sense it would take us years for us to actually free and indoctrinate ourselves out of the organization.

 

Angela:

Yeah. Great point. So, how did you – how did you pick this topic? How did you decide to write this book?

 

Travis:

When I see back from the point – I spent a week in Los Angeles, I actually went to … boot camp, that’s a whole other story, I went to … other story.

 

Angela:

Mm-hm-hm!

 

Travis:

I know, right? I need it. But there was a Army lieutenant, Army O-2 – Army chaplain, I’m sorry, who was in my boot camp this time around, and … we were trading stories, and – … West Point graduate, had a deployment to Germany, had seven times in the Middle East, and .. he was … walking away, because his dream, at the time, was to go the non-profit route to serve. And some of the – the frustrations he got, I had experienced, and – so … I experience the world that – so, I was really amazed by how he took responsibility for his choice and for where he stood. So, from that conversation, I had started my drive across country, to finally … to New Orleans, and I started thinking about all the other people that I – a lot of other people that I helped make their own transition out, whether they were E-5, E-6’s, O-2’s, O-3’s, O-4’s, O-6’s, and slowly, the parts of all these stories started coming together for me, for – one, the four year gates, there’s really four types of groups of people, veterans … the military, and then, two, those … ten-year point, that when I had the hardest experience with, I know, that I could give the most insight invested on. And so, I started to craft a reader or profile of someone who is in that position, who is in that state, of close to ten years, they’ve been in two tours, they’re not sure about going for third tour, they’re not sure about doing twenty years, they’ve got a great skill set, they can do something on the outside, they want to do something on the outside, they’re driven by family, and … they – they say about doing something different. There are a lot of different transition resources for veterans out there. … There is resume writing, there’s career fairs, there’s job fairs, … conferences. There’s mentoring, networks, there’s all these resources, and these resources are tactics, but transition is a strategy, a campaign. It’s not something that’s really taught or ever experienced until it’s almost too late. So, as I started to come up with the ideal reader, I came to … about twelve – veterans don’t need the tools, they need that – understand and appreciate their own thoughts, feelings and mindset about the tools that are out there.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Travis:

Maybe they’re failing to appreciate the space that their – I know, it’s – i – it’s huge, it’s not about, “Get a job,” it’s about “Get right with the job or profession that you want to have for the next twenty, thirty years of your life.” What do you want to be defined by? Are you a … what you wanna be defined by it? I think that, lots of times, the military does a great job of definition, but the reasons we joined the military aren’t always the reasons why we stay in the military. And so, for me, … that whole, “Why join and then why stay?” became a level of dissonance into – not in my experience or experience of a lot of my friends, it also became … a – anchor, or fix, if you will – positional fix on the type of perspective veterans need to make it out, and that’s where I think my book comes into play.

 

Angela:

Yeah. Well, is there anything before you wrote the book – it’s … I think people get inspired, they get an idea like that, they see a pattern like that, they’re … watching something unfold, and they think, “I’ll write a book -”

 

Travis:

….

 

Angela:

– and usually, what happens is, they immediately start writing it, maybe they finish it, maybe they don’t –

 

Travis:

Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.

 

Angela

– but for you, is there anything that you think, if you knew before you started writing, if you had to go back, or if you were gonna write another book, is there something that you would do, before you wrote your book, now, maybe, that you didn’t do before with your first book?

 

Travis:

Sure. I think, having – let me talk a little – briefly about what I know works.

 

Angela:

Okay.

 

Travis:

Having the ideal reader … at the forefront of my mind, works. His name is Samuel, he’s an E-6 in the Navy, at eight years, nine years and decided to get out and go to Pensacola, take college and get his bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer science to be an engineer. Funny story, in my profile of him, one of my warrant officers had almost the exact, same career path ten years … So, plenty of things come together. What I wish I knew then – I know now is, one of the things you learn i – in writing the book is, you wanna see how your book sits where it’s locate – where it’s positioned. I think the Tim Ferris quote about, in order to learn a subject, you want to read the top three books in the field about that subject?

 

Angela:

Mm-hm.

 

Travis:

And I had a lot of research, over time, but when people … – when I talk to other people about my book now, I now know that my book – I really … to be easy – What Color Is Your Parachute? for military veterans, … that’s the book that I wrote, and that is the book that I know my – my audience needs. And I wish I had read a more recent version of What Color Is Your Parachute? … sense of … that … fall short. I think it’s a great book, I think it’s a great resource, but I think it’s – it’s a mile wide ….

 

Angela:

For running off favorite, yup.

 

Travis:

Yeah. It’s – it’s actually one of my favorites, but I don’t think it’s veteran-specific. And – but being a – … I – I see an … on – on – on the board, I … all the time, they’re saying, “Read What Color Is Your Parachute?” I’m … read my book, because … Parachute only helps you once you know what you need it to help you for. So, I think, looking back at it, I know, for writers, resource can be a boon and a bane. It could be a joy and a curse. I had a lot of research, but I do … wish that I had a – just very briefly, focus in on the top books more in – specifically in the genre I know, where veterans can go for in the bookshelf first, and that … shown how you really, truly gift those books, not by opening page one but by opening yourself up to what you want page one to make ….

 

Angela:

Mm. Yeah, that’s totally powerful. So, what – what, for you, was the hardest part about writing this book? Was – were there moments you experience writer’s block or other challenges during the process of writing?

 

Travis:

I – I had the most idyllic, legendary, dreamy – Morpheus can do things, I … with the Matrix, Morpheus, you’re in the Matrix, and do things – experience writing my first book scale. I was in Santorini, in Greece, for two weeks for my mid-appointment leave, and I wrote that entire book in those two weeks, in my mid-appointment leave before returning to … Saudi Arabia. I had a cottage, a two-bedroom cottage on the side of a cliff and I had the best picturesque sunset in the world. You can’t beat that. No one wants to write their first book that way, ever. This time – ….

 

Angela:

Unless you have other – a list of other fabulous places you’re gonna go.

 

Travis:

Absolutely! Absolutely. And now, I gotta fly … Tuscany or Hawaii to write book five. No – I don’t think .. about that. This time around, it was very difficult, because I’m back in my normal blue uniform, I’m not in my camouflage, which, for the Coasties, is where – I’m back in my normal, quote unquote, day job. I am in a new location, I live now in New Orleans, and New Orleans is a interesting place to live and be an author. New Orleans truly never stops, i – i – it’s on, twenty-four hours a day.

 

Angela:

And – and lot of authors – there’s a – there’s a big writing history in New Orleans.

 

Travis:

Huge writing history in New Orleans. There’s a – there’s a lot of – I would say New Orleans has a pulse unlike any other city on Earth, and I truly believe that the city breathes and the connection to art in the city. … it’s arguably one … in the city, whether you’re a painter, a writer, I do improv on the side, everyone does something here besides what they do. So, the challenge for me here was to – I’d never written a book while being in – back in a blue suit Coast Guard uniform, in a blue suit Coast Guard assignment. While I was on deployment, it was easy because it was, do my deployment job, write on the side, edit, …. But here, it’s … – I had to make time in my life to do my job and to do this job, and it’s still my challenge now, that I’m on the other end of se – of providing coaching and support to veterans who are choosing to make transition the way I recommend. I have to make space, time for that in my life so that I can truly serve because I wanna serve.

 

Angela:

Mmm. Yeah. Love it. So, what – what do you think – what do you think is the best thing to come out of – maybe not with this book, but out of being an author? You’ve been an author, I think, for over a year now, maybe two years. What’s the best thing about being an author?

 

Travis:

I never imagined I would write two books in a year to the day. Never imagined.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Travis:

I – never imagined. I – I remember December first, 2014, I was sitting on the beach in Jeddah, at the hotel, looking over the Red Sea, and I remember realizing, “Yes, this is poss – writing a book is possible.” Now, a year and a half later, two books are possible. I think a book is a message. I think a book is a – is an author’s signature in a place and time of what they’re saying – what they believe and how they choose to manifest it. I think books are artifacts and I think books start conversations that I think – i – it’s not about – it’s not just about credibility. It’s about being honest in what you believe and putting that into the world. … anyone can write a blog. You write a blog for a decade, but no one really looks back five years, six years or seven years. You write a book, that never goes away, that never evaporates in the ether. So, for me, I think – I believe – the biggest victory in having a book done is not just the innate accomplishment of finishing it, but in having an anchor for what you believe, how you can serve, and a story that helps others be better as a result of reading it. I – right now, I’m reading one of the Richard Branson bi – biographies, Losing My Virginity, and I am awestruck about how Branson already had Virgin Music and Virgin Atlantic before he was forty, and I had never thought about that before, but it took Branson – talking about his life up to then, and anchoring his experience, for me or any other reader to realize that, “Wow! Amazing things can happen when you put your mind to doing amazing things.” … I believe the same for transition. Transition can be amazing! One’s got to do the work to make it amazing.

 

Angela:

Awesome. So, here’s the – here’s the thing I’m curious about with you, is – I think that when we keep a promise to ourselves as big as writing a book, that – that while there are benefits to writing a book, like … me being asked to speak or being on a podcast or getting clients, … one of the biggest benefits, to me, the way you change. So, if you think back to – to December o – of last year, in Jeddah, and now, eighteen months later, how did you think that you’re different? How do you think you’ve changed in the last year and a half?

 

Travis:

Two ways. One, I am absolutely more honest with myself. When I look back at that Year Nine decision at Year Eleven, I was choosing to be dishonest with myself. Monday, the promotion board convened for commander, for O-5, for … and definitely final promotion if I am selected. Monday, I’m gonna be in Austin for a week doing a forty-hour, five day intensive, with shows every night for six nights. … I don’t care about promotion. And … I’m not doing it in a flippant way, it’s that service, for me, isn’t what I wear, it’s who I do. I don’t need the rank to be of service. I don’t – I’m happy where I’m at. I’m happy with the choices I made, I know where the choices that I’ve made have taken me, and whatever happens beyond that is – is – is – is out of my control, and I’ve become very honest with myself about my own perspective of promotion and the system and politicking and all that stuff and it’s – and it’s huge, it’s – it’s – it’s – it’s a win that I would never have had, had I not written two books. So, that’s number one. So, number two – go ahead.

 

Angela:

Do you think – do you think – oh, yeah, you had a number two. Go ahead, … you go, I’ll remember my question.

 

Travis:

And then, my number two was, things get simple. We choose to make them simple. It’s okay that I live in New Orleans. The four seasons in New Orleans are football, carnival, crayfish and snowballs. Those are the four seasons in New Orleans. They are. … teach you the … a little before you get to New Orleans.

 

Angela:

This is great.

 

Travis:

I’ve always been afraid to live in New Orleans, and in the Coast Guard, it’s not really a coveted location to live in New Orleans, even though the vast majority of the Coast Guard’s business happens in the Gulf of Mexico, true story – … say that, it’s definitely a true story, but being here now, and being in this continued creative pursuit, things get simple. … The old – my old partying days are gone, for the most part, … it’s – it’s right, it – it’s good relationships, it’s meet veterans where they are, gathering stories, it’s providing mentorship, and inside, it’s coaching others to make amazing transitions, it’s – it’s coaching veterans to help them write their own books from whatever part of the experience they wanna write about. … Things get simple when you create something that’s big and as comprehensive as writing a book, and for me, they – it’s gotten really simple. Some of my old friends get mad at me because, “… we don’t go out anymore,” … I don’t ‘cause I do five things. I’m in the Coast Guard, I’m a writer, I do improv, I do jujitsu, Brazilian jujitsu, … that’s pretty much my life now. Whereas before, … before I’d gotten true to my writing, I think I still would have been the hard partier I used to be, and I’m not as … as I used to be, anymore. Trust me.

 

Angela:

Right. Right. So, do you think – this was the question I was gonna ask into – fit – it fits in here just as well.

 

Travis:

Okay.

 

Angela:

Do you think that you would be just as likely to be – potentially getting a promotion, … you think you’d have the – the same chance of getting a promotion if you hadn’t written these two books?

 

Travis:

Yeah, I think I’d have the same chance, however, I don’t think I would have the same mindset about promotion.

 

Angela:

Mmm.

 

Travis:

I don’t think I would have … focused on it being the end-all. I think I was more focused on that being the end-all, be-all had I not written – … am now, hadn’t written. I don’t think I would have had that perspective had I not written about – pick a portfolio, … careers, portfolios, and the military, for me, is now part of that portfolio. It’s a big part, it is the biggest part, but I also know that, in less than five years, my career is over. Three quarters of my career is behind me. I have made that choice, and with the book, Command Your Transition, … I’ve written my game plan to make my transition as seamless as possible and I – I – I truly hope – and I know it has helped others do the same thing. So, yeah, I think – I – I think percentages would have been the same, … headquarters and Congress … mandate the number of commanders there are in the United Coast Guard and it’s all out of my hands, but I think my thoughts and feelings about not promoting or promoting – because … I got ma – I got maybe a fifty percent chance of promoting, so – … in the military, if you don’t make a rank when you expect to make it, it’s pretty painful, but … honestly, I – I – I – I don’t think that there’s pain anymore for me, because there is genuinely more than what has.

 

Angela:

Wow. That’s amazing. So, before we wrap up, is there any advice that you would give to someone who has wanted to write a book but they haven’t been able to get it done, maybe they can’t even imagine writing two books in a year. What advice would you give to somebody a – about writing – getting their book done?

 

Travis:

The book you wanna write may not be the book the world needs. And you gotta be clear about, are you writing the book for vanity or are you writing the book to fill a purpose? And for the purpose, you may not even need a book, if it’s a purpose. You may …. It might be a …. It might be a work book. It might be a …. It might be a Facebook group. It may not be a book. If you’re sure it’s a book, then you have to be more sure about who you’re gonna help and how you would help them than what you wanna write about first. Otherwise, you’re not in the book for who needs it. You’re writing the book because you want a writer who … two different books.

 

Angela:

Love it. Totally love that. So, Travis Collier is the author of Command Your Transition. You can find his book on Amazon, you can also find him at facebook.com/travis.collier, we will put that all in a show note. Travis, thank you so much for being our guest today on Book Journeys Radio, it’s great to have you.

 

Travis:

Definitely, Angio – Angela, thank you so much for the opportunity.

 

Angela:

Awesome. So – you guys, this has been another episode of Book Journeys. Every week on the show, we try and help you to find, maybe that one missing piece of the puzzle of why you haven’t finished your book, and also to show you what’s possible, two books in a year with a full-time military career and a passion for jujitsu and improve, … that is a lot to be done here, but when you have the sort of clarity that Travis has, that can be possible for you, too. That’s how we change the world one book at a time.

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