We love a good connection at Sh*t That I Knit. In fact, impeccable timing and serendipitous “You should meet my friend…” is how we’ve been able to grow the team to what it is today. And if I’m allowed to brag about anything, it’s that I’ve compiled a group of incredibly smart people who are as passionate as I am about creating a mission-driven brand, giving back, supporting other entrepreneurs, and creating really cozy sh*t.
It was through a connection that our team had the pleasure of getting to know Sergeant Major Alford McMichael of the United States Marine Corps. When I think of someone I want to exemplify as a leader, it is Al. While Sergeant McMichael has an incredibly distinguished career - having served our country for more than 36 years and becoming the 14th Sergeant Major and first African American in that rank - it’s the lifelong values he learned from his mother and grandmother that contributed to his leadership success.
I was so energized by our conversation on work ethic, morals, and leading from the heart, that I wanted to share with this community. No matter where you are in your career and life, hopefully you can appreciate his words of inspo.
Shooting the Sh*t with Sergeant Major Alford McMichael
Christina: You talk a lot about how the women (specifically your mother and grandmother) in your life have impacted your future success. What’s your favorite piece of advice that you received from one of these women?
Al: My mother always showed me how being honest would make me a winner. My grandmother always told me no matter what I do, always do it right.
Christina: I love that - I know you followed this advice throughout your career. Something else you shared with me is that all wins - especially small wins - should be celebrated. Do you have an example of this?
Al: Yes - when I was serving as the commander at the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was the small things like knowing everyone’s name made them work harder with the will to do their jobs well. On a personal level, when my daughter was a little girl I learned something as small as really listening to her ideas made life as a teenager enjoyable.
Christina: Haha - love a strong-willed girl! I have one of my own. Another phrase you told me that really resonated - “You need pennies to make dollars. You need sense to make bucks.” What do you mean by this?
Al: This means you can’t do half of anything. If the mission is worth doing, you have to go all the way to the finish line. This takes self discipline. Never take shortcuts because shortcuts make for a long ending.
Christina: You're full of words of wisdom. What are some other phrases or words you live by?
Al: Oh, many [laughs]. Here are some of my favorites:
“Don’t let the sun go down on wrong.” What I mean is, if you know something needs to be fixed do it sooner than later. Don’t wait to speak to others about something that’s not right.
“Just because you desire it, doesn’t mean you deserve it.” You have to be willing to earn it with hard work.
“I before E.” This means that one must use their Intelligence before letting their Emotions kick in. I before E.
The example of power is never as powerful as a great example.
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