Richard Rierson | Host of Dose of Leadership and Courageous Leadership Podcast | High Speed Low Drag Podcast Transcript

This is a conversation between John Lee Dumas and Richard Rierson.† Rierson is the the host of Dose Leadership Podcast.† He is a Marine Corps veteran.


Richard Rierson will crush your limiting beliefs
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High Speed Low Drag Episode 11.

Welcome to High Speed Low Drag, the podcast for veterans and soldiers transitioning into the civilian world. War veteran John Lee Dumas interviews other veterans who are crushing both business and life, revealing the path they took to achieve outstanding success. Veterans, are you prepared to ignite?

John: Veterans, are you interested in owning your own business? Join me, Antonio Centeno and Tom Morkes, all successful entrepreneurs and veterans, as we talk about what it takes to build your own business from scratch by leveraging the skills you developed while serving your country. And you’ll have the support of a community of veterans that are committed to helping you succeed. Visit That’s

High Speed Nation, John Lee Dumas here and I am fired up to bring you our featured guest for today, Richard Rierson. Richard, are you prepared to ignite?

Richard: Absolutely. Let’s do it, John.

John: Yes. Richard is the host of both the Dose of Leadership and Courageous Leadership Podcast. He helps professionals in organizations develop an authentic leadership presence, crush limiting beliefs and overcome mediocrity, creating a more purpose-driven life full of time and economic freedom. Richard, give our listeners just a little overview. So take a minute and tell us about yourself and then we’ll dive in.

Richard: Well, guys, John, I am the host of Dose Leadership Podcast but from your perspective with this, I take great pride in being the fact that I am a Marine Corps veteran. I was a Marine Corps officer from 1991 to 2001 and a pilot at that. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t reflect back on that experience. It directly attributed to any modicum of success I’ve had in the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world. So that’s who I am. I’m here to help transform people’s lives and get in touch with their authentic courageous self.

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John: Well, I love hearing that because, I mean, that is the main focus today, Richard, is to be speaking to high speed nation, to be really sharing how those things we picked up in the military really have just impacted and had been applicable to our civilian life as well in that whole transition process which is so difficult for so many, including myself. We’re going to do all those deep dives. But before we do, I know you have a great success quote for us. So take it away.

Courage 1Richard: I found this during some of my leadership masterminds and one of my students actually gave this to me and I just love this because it hits on where I’m at as an entrepreneur. I know you too, John. But I love this. It’s a longer prayer but its the last prayer and it closes with this:

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world so that you are able to, with God’s grace, do what others claim cannot be done.

And that just resonates with me because for so long I didn’t go down the entrepreneurial map because I had so many limiting beliefs and self doubt about myself and it was fear that was preventing me from stepping forward. So the belief that you can change the world is huge and has become part of my mantra the last couple of years.

John: Now, I love that word “foolish” in there and it’s a word I wish that I personally had embraced a lot earlier in my life because you and I run a lot of parallels, Richard. I mean, I feel like in everything that we’ve done post military, we’ve taken so seriously. And I don’t want to put words on your mouth but from my perspective, significantly, like every job that I took, every like step that I went for, even in law school, when you should be having some fun, it was like I was all business. I was so serious, so uptight. I wasn’t willing to be foolish. I wasn’t willing to be silly, just relaxed and have some fun at the same time and really open myself up to what I actually maybe wanted to do, not that like I had to do. What are your thoughts on that?

Richard: Well, I agree on you. And it goes back to what you told me about in a couple of years ago or a year and a half, not even that long ago, when you went to that first — I don’t know if that was the World Domination seminar or something to that effect. And I remember how you were looking in that audience and you were thinking, “My gosh, there’s no way I can be on that stage.” And there you were. You were on that stage. At some point in there, something triggered you to believe that, “You know what, I can do that.”

The same happened with me. I mean, literally, our biggest obstacle is our self and it sounds so clichť and it sounds so easy and common sense when we’re talking it speed zero. But we really are the biggest obstacles to our — The thing that is so exciting to me is that we are literally one decision away, always, any time, from dramatically changing our lives for the good and the bad. But you’re just one decision away. When you look at that in that perspective, you have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for.

John: No, I love that. You are one decision away from making any change you want to in this world. And that’s just so powerful for High Speed Nation really to absorb, to take in, to realize in, to kind of just flesh out the story a little bit that you started, Richard.

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In June 2012, I went to BlogWorld, New York City. I was sitting in this audience saying, “OMG! Look at this people on stage. I could never do that. I could never be them. They have this freedom that I can’t even picture.” Six months later, in January of 2013, I’m on that stage giving a presentation, having a hangout for Fire Nation. Why? Because I made that one decision, Richard, that we talked about. I made that one change in my life that made all the difference. And you can, too.

And so what I really want to do, Richard, is focus the rest of our chat here on you and on your military and then into civilian journey. So, share with us a time in your military journey that you actually look at and can pinpoint as the most pivotal moment for you.

Richard: I think you could go back to the obvious landmarks. Getting my wings was certainly a big moment. Becoming an aircraft commander in record time was a big moment. But when I really look back at pivotal moments, they were almost like the innocuous kind of exchanges between another officer, a more senior officer, kind of leadership moments. And there was one in particular that happened probably halfway through my first fleet tour and I was the Adjutant for the commanding officer.

So basically, that’s the secretary for the skipper and the executive officer. So I sat in front of a desk and coordinated everything, answer the phone and all that. And anyway, all of these, they were out of the office. It was a Friday before a holiday weekend and the commanding officer, the skipper left and so the executive officer and literally, the most senior officer was the Ops officer. And the Ops officer and the maintenance officer, two Majors, went and go played golf. I was a 1st Lieutenant at that time.

I was literally the most senior officer in the squadron at the moment while everybody was out playing golf. A young Marine came up and he wanted to go on leave and he needed to get home because he had some kind of emergency. On top of that, it was a long day, weekend. It was Labor Day weekend. So, remember, in the military, I don’t know if you would literally take Friday off and they’d have Monday off. So like a three-day weekend was like a four-day weekend, typically.

John: Once a month, just let me add that.

Richard: Yeah. So that was the case. He wanted to go on leave and so his leave was supposed to start at Friday at 8 o’ clock in the morning or something like that. Well, here was Thursday afternoon and there was no one around to sign and approve this leave chit. So the admin person came to me and I’d said, “Well, I’ll sign for it.” And not really knowing that I don’t have the authority to sign for it. So long story short, everybody goes to the weekend and we come back on Tuesday for the formation and everybody is kind of talking.

And after I ran the formation as the adjutant and welcomed everybody back and everybody starts talking, “Did you hear about what happen to Corporal so and so?” Anyway, he got on a car wreck in Colorado, broke his leg. He was really fine but come to find out and I heard everybody talking, “Yeah, he left early. So this kid was supposed to leave Friday morning at 8:00. He left Thursday night and started driving all night to go halfway across the country from California and he got in a car wreck and he broke his leg.”

So he left before his leave actually started, right? And then on top of that, they were talking, and I said, “Is this the kid that I signed the leave for?” And then he said, “Yeah, and somebody forged the skipper’s signature.” It was my signature. I started panicking and I went to the Ops officer and I said, “Hey, you know what, that was me that signed that sheet.” And they said, “Oh my god, we can’t tell the skipper.” The Ops officer and the maintenance officer said, “We got to hide this from the skipper. You’re going to be done if he finds out you did this.” And I was literally sick to my stomach as brand new to the squadron.

And the end of it though, I mean, I went home and I got to do the right thing. I talked to another officer in the squadron. He said, “No, you got to go in and tell the skipper what happened.” I went in thinking that, man, my flying career is done. I went in and I told him, “Hey, sir, this is what I did. I had good intentions. I didn’t forge your signature. There was literally no one else here.” And so it was really eye opening in a couple of fronts that I had two senior officers that were ready to, basically, have lack of integrity.

And when I went in, I told the skipper, he was like, hey, basically gave me good head work. Or, I mean, bad head work. Good initiative, bad head work call, right, the speech. And from that point on, that skipper, every time he went on a trip, he took me with him. And so, it was like a lesson of integrity and of doing the right thing even when no one is looking, even though the consequences may have — I needed to be accountable for that mistake.

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And, no, it’s not a sexy story but I’ll never forget seeing two examples of really bad leadership and examples of exemplary leadership and all in kind of the same week. So that’s my pivotal moment.

John: It’s a pivotal moment for so many reasons, though. And I look at today, Richard, and a lot of our listeners who are about to transfer out or are in the process of doing so or are already out.


They’ve made that transition and let’s say that they are going to go into the online world, online entrepreneurship. Let’s say that they’re going to start a small business or whatever it may be. Whatever you’re going to do, believe, is going to involve in some way, shape or form this worldwide internet thing. It’s just is inevitable. And today, more than ever, you are really exposable in almost every single thing that you do.

I mean, you’re trying to tuck things away, trying to hide things underneath the bed. It just doesn’t work anymore. And that focus is so important, Richard. Just start by doing the right thing. And always be that person that your audience is looking to as a credible figure, as somebody that they know, like and trust. And you’re not going to misplace any of those three words that they look up to you for and that’s so important if you’re looking to be any kind of an authentic leader in this space.

Richard, that’s your specialty, is leadership. You exemplify that in every single way, shape and form. I commend you for that. I think it’s a great lesson for our listeners today. High Speed Nation, really absorb that and say, “You know what, I know I should do the right thing but it’s actually mission critical that I do the right thing for my business.” Because things just get fleshed out. That’s just how it is. Inevitably, Richard, you know it. I know it. It would have gone fleshed out. He would have not given you the exact same speech, no doubt, had that happened.

Richard: I think you had a great point especially — And you know this. This certainly is a tribute to your success. And everybody is crushing you right now in any space, in the online and, I think, in businesses, people that are being extremely authentic, completely transparent, completely vulnerable. If you’re anything other than that, you’re just a short term flash in the pan. Anybody that’s going to be sustainable for any length of time is going to be focused on authenticity and vulnerability. There’s no way around it.

John: Yeah, and I love that word transparency. I’ve really been focusing on it as well. The other people who saw have done it before me, like I wanted to follow that lead because that’s the kind of business that I want to run. I don’t want people just to look at what I’ve built and what others are building around me like it’s just an internet business and like it could be play time and anything that can just be materialized in air.

This is real. What we’re doing is real. We’re going to be transparent all the way through. Richard, what I want to do now is kind of fast forward a little bit. I’m actually curious about this myself because I don’t think I’ve heard this portion in your story. But this is where I really want to talk about your specific transition out of the military and into the civilian world. And I kind of like to hear some challenges, some obstacles you faced and then specifically some lessons you learned.

Richard: Yeah, sure. First of all, the transition, voluntarily, when I got hired by American Airlines in 2001. But that transition really wasn’t as real as the real civilian transition because, let’s face it, the airline is full. It’s almost like military like. Because everybody that’s in there, 85% of the people in there were military pilots. So it was kind of like being in another squadron.

So when I finished my training with American Airlines in September 8th, 2001, I had three days and September 11 was my first official day at American Airlines as a fully checked up pilot. I was based in Dallas, living in Wichita, Kansas, got on a plane, commuted to Dallas, Fort Worth and literally landed when they shut the air space down, walked in the airport. That’s when I learned about the terrorist attacks in September 11.

I flew six times after that and was forced in the corporate arena on October 1st, 2001. I remember being completely panicked thinking, “Oh my god, all I know how to do is fly airplanes.” And I got a job as shipping supervisor that paid $17 an hour which is a huge difference from Major’s pay in the Marine Corps and what I was going to be making at the airlines for sure. But I had to do something to put food on the table.

And that’s when it really hit me about how much the Marine Corps taught me about common sense leadership. It’s something I took for granted when I was ten years in the Marine Corps and getting out and being in that first civilian job. It smacked me right in the face about how much the Marine Corps taught me. And specifically, when I had my first meeting with — Literally, these guys looked like the Sons of Anarchy, I’m not kidding you.

John: I believe it.

13271791364_61a9110c0a_oRichard: And these guys had been driving forklifts for 15 years and making $12 an hour. And here I am, still got my Marine Corps high and tight, wearing my khakis and my polo buttoned down shirt, typical officer gear, right? And I said, “What do you guys need?” And they looked at me with skepticism and they’re like, “What do you mean what do we need?”

But just like that brand new 2nd Lieutenant who’s facing the salty gruff war-hardened platoon, how does that 2nd Lieutenant gain, getting them to know, like and trust, to use the phrase that you said, and gain that respect? Well, they certainly doesn’t do it through position of authority. And I simply had the mindset just like a brand new officer would, I’m going to add value to these people’s lives.


And that’s the mindset I took. And I said, “What do you guys need?” And they said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Look, you guys are the experts. I’m here to move to the obstacles for you. Tell me what you need.” And then this guy came up to me that had two tiered-up tattoos, the kind of the supervisor of the group. And afterwards, he said, “No one in 17 years has ever asked me what we needed back here.”

And that was an aha moment for me to go, “Holy cow, what do you mean?” That’s just something I took for granted in the Marine Corps because that was like Leadership 101. And so that was a huge lesson for me to understand that, look, maybe it isn’t as common sense as it was in the military. That certainly wasn’t the case. That really was the kind of the spark of why I do what I do today.

John: A couple of things I want to pull out of that, Richard, that I just love — that phrase common sense leadership. I mean, I just can’t get enough of that because that is something that is just engrained in officers and then just in the military in general. I mean, it’s just something that we’re taught to question things and to wonder why. Like why is this easier? Could this be done a better way? Could we go to somebody who knows a little bit more?

And one thing that you did — And this just is applicable for any listener in any situation — is you started the relationship by providing value. You went first and foremost right to the value. You didn’t say, “Hey, this is who I am. This is what I need. This is what I want you to do.” It wasn’t I, I, I, me, me, me. It was you. What do you need? How can I provide value to you? The most powerful word in the human language is “you.” And marketing is always been that way. Use that word you and go for that sense of authenticity.

You really wanted to remove those obstacles because you saw it firsthand when you were in the military how powerful it can be when you do get out of people’s way and then remove other obstacles that are in people’s ways because they want to get the job done. And they’re the people that are on the ground, the experts. So, love, love, love that.

Let’s keep moving forward here because that was, obviously, a transitional period for you. You weren’t always going to be making $17 an hour as a shipping supervisor and that’s definitely not what you’re doing now. So, bring it forward. Tell us of an aha moment that you’ve had, of a light bulb that went off at some point as a civilian now. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur at this point, maybe you’re not, but tell us that story, Richard, and the steps that you took to turn it into success.

Richard: Well, kind of feeds on what I just told you about, kind of that big lesson learned, I think, coming out of — Let me couple that too with the fact that it was a real struggle for me coming of the Marine Corps and I talked to a lot of people who had made that transition, particularly people that been a long time. And when you’re in the military, no matter what branch you’re in, it’s real easy to wrap your arms around a bigger picture, a bigger why what we’re doing, right?

So even the supply mechanic or the supply chief understands what he’s trying to do when he’s getting the beams, the bolts and the bandage, the frontline. And you can fall in love with that no matter what your position is, right? That was a big struggle for me when I got in the civilian world and finding it’s like, okay, we’re making wind chimes and bird feeders here. What’s so exciting about that? Eight months ago, I was delivering rice to Kenya for famine relief or was refueling over Kuwait doing something tangible and real, right?

And that was kind of a selfish way to look at it. And the aha moment was, hey, we maybe bird feeders and wind chimes here but I got 400 lives at stake that are dependent upon this. These are the best damn wind chimes and bird feeders that there are, you know what I mean? And so, the aha moment was kind of separating yourself. Instead of falling and being in love with leading something, the moment I started becoming in love with leading, period. Does that make sense?

For such a short time, I was focused on leading something because I wanted to feel that void of lack of significance that was easily met in the military. That significance started getting filled and that vacuum started getting field when I started transitioning my thought to falling in love with leading instead of leading something.

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John: So, one thing that I’m just really loving about this is the importance in — You’re just making it so clear. You need to master the inner game before you ever even start to try to attempt to master the outer game. If you don’t have your inner game right, if you’re not aligned with yourself with the right mentality, with the right attitude, with the right thought processes of how you choose to see the world, because you’re really making a choice.

Richard could have chosen to see the world that, “Hey, I’m making these stupid wind chimes like who cares? I’m no longer dropping relief supplies to soldiers that are behind enemy lines.” But he chose instead of say, “You know what, this is the mentality I’m going to have and because of that, I want to be the best gosh darned wind chime whatever or maybe person out there.” And that’s a game changer. Because that set him up for everything he’s done in life. Richard, that’s what I want to focus on now.


Take us to present times. Talk to us today. In our pre-chat, we talked about something pretty exciting you have going on. And opportunities like that have come because of decisions you’ve made throughout and of you mastering the inner game. So share to us where you’re at and what you’re most fired up about right now.

Richard: Yeah, most fired about this whole idea of developing a leadership community. Because one thing that even though you could sit there and I could tell you that moment when it kind of hit me as a shipping supervisor and noticing that I have — And the military has given me this gift of understanding how leadership works in the real world and in crisis situations. And all that is a gift, I believe, that the military gives to all of us. All of us, veterans. It really does.

It gives you a competitive advantage. It’s so easy to succeed in the world because of the skills that we learned in the military. So having said that, I get excited because I realized — And I had some failure along the way of almost getting divorced because I was still wasn’t looking at leadership at the full aspect, of the full picture. I was still just focusing on leadership on becoming the best whatever, VP of Operations, yada, yada, yada. And I was failing at my personal life, of being a good spouse and a good father.

13271613393_2ac2c0e14c_zAnd then the other kind of transitional period is understanding that leadership is central to all aspects of our lives and that the skills and you learning how to drive a tank or fly an airplane can be applicable to business, to entrepreneurship, to your relationship with your spouse and relationship with your kids. It’s central to everything that we do. And so what I’m excited about doing is creating this community that’s not like anything else out there, is gathering like-minded individuals into a community where I teach them leadership skills that nobody else is teaching because it’s common sense.

It’s not a theory academics. It’s not get rich quick schemes. It’s about real transformation at the most personal gut wrenching level. And I’m excited about giving — I’m creating a 30 video online leadership course coupled with a community which will unlike — If you’ve heard my interviews on those of leadership people, the other guests that I have on the show, there will be live Google hangouts, live masterminds with some of those guests I’ve had on my show on a month to month basis.

But it’s basic community where like-minded individuals will get together and start to transform their lives, all aspects of their lives from their personal life to the professional life. That’s what I’m excited about.

John: Boom! Well, High Speed Nation, you know by now that I love putting in my two cents whenever I can. But in this situation, Richard here shows why he’s a great podcast host of not one but two leadership podcasts. Because this guy just knows how to start and finish a thought. Richard, what I instead want to do right now is move into our lighting round because you have some incredible resources and mind blowing answers to share with us. Are you ready?

Richard: I’m ready.

John: What was the most difficult adjustment that you had to make to the civilian world?

Richard: I alluded to it already, but letting go of my ego and sense of external significance and getting the inside fix before I started focusing on the outside.

John: What is the best advice, Richard, that you would pass along to those are making the transition right now?

Richard: I would say don’t bore people with your — I’m sure you’ve got some great kickass stories about what I was like to be in the military. People will thank you for your service but don’t bore them with your stories because they don’t care. And let your ego go and share those stories with other veterans like ourselves over some beers talking about the good old days. But just focus on the task at hand and become the best wind chime maker that you can.

John: Yeah. And they won’t get it anyway, so don’t waste your breath on them. What is one of your habits that contributes most to your success?

Richard: I don’t think it’s technically a habit but I would say decision making with partial information. I mean, that by itself has given me a competitive advantage and edge over my civilian counterparts by far.

John: What will be the book that you recommend to our listeners?

Richard: I think if you’re really interested in leadership, I said this before, it’s not necessarily the whole book but it’s the chapter in Level 5 Leadership from Jim Collins. I always go back to that. if anybody is not familiar with leadership, you really want to get it capitalized in your own mindset on how to apply it to something in life that would resonate with every veteran out there is read the chapter from Jim Collins on Level 5 Leadership From Good to Great.

John: Love it. What’s the biggest generalization, if any, that you’ve had to overcome in the civilian world?

Richard: I joined the military because I had no other options. I needed money for college. It seems like that was the only thing that people generalized me in that. And that the military is full of yes men and women and people who blindly just do orders. That seems to be the kind of mindset that people thought about the Marine Corps anyway. They think it’s just about a bunch of mind numb robots almost.

John: Interesting. So, Richard, I want to thank you for being so inspiring and for sharing your journey, your transition, your pivotal moments with High Speed Nation today. Give us one parting piece of guidance then share the best way that we can connect with your and then we’ll say goodbye.


Richard_RiersonRichard: Yeah. I would say for everybody out there, when you’re getting ready to make the leap, understand — And you know this at your gut level. Understand that fear and uncertainty never, ever, ever go away. And that is a gift to all of us out there. And the fact that fear and uncertainty never goes away, the military taught you to deal with that better than anybody else. Don’t ever try to get rid of fear and uncertainly. Instead, find ways to exploit it and you’ll be surprised at how successful you can be.

And if you want to get in touch with me, you can always find me at That’s the home base for the Dose of Leadership podcast. You can find out more at my personal website, where it’s the home of Courageous Leadership podcast and has a lot more information on my speaking and executive coaching services. So that’s it.

John: High Speed Nation, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you’ve been having out with Richard and myself today. So keep up the heat. And, Richard, thank you for being so generous of your time, your expertise and experience. High Speed Nation salutes you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.

Richard: Thanks, John.

Click here to listen to Richard Riersonís podcast on iTunes

Click here to listen to Richard Riersonís podcast on Stitcher

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[0:22:57] End of Audio


This is a conversation between John Lee Dumas and Richard Rierson.† Rierson is the the host of Dose Leadership Podcast.† He is a Marine Corps veteran.