My Chief Induction Ceremony Speech

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Since I didn’t ask someone to record me, the following is verbal replay/interpretation of my speech I gave at a recent CMSgt Induction Ceremony:

Thanks Chief Taylor. And while the introduction is flattering, I don’t have any “vast accomplishments”, but MSgt Rohr does. Good evening everyone, and congratulations to tonight’s inductees. Shout out to the DV table, shout out to the JROTC cadets for being here and raising money at the coat check station. Also, for everyone in the audience that’s under the age of 18, please stand and shout out to you! Super cool you can be here for your family member’s accomplishment, no doubt they are proud of you as much as you are proud of them. Or you’re just here and you look nice, so that’s an accomplishment as well.

So I was asked to give my perspective as a squadron commander on what I expect out of our newest crop of Chiefs. To start my thoughts, first I’d like to have all of the Lieutenant Colonels in the audience please stand. No, please stop applauding us. Because you know why? Nobody cares about Lieutenant Colonels. Seriously! Here’s the reason why: when you see one of walking around, we are somewhere on the following spectrum. While I give these descriptions, please don’t look at him or her when I say something, as it could make it more awkward at your table:

  • The guy/gal on one side of the spectrum who is obviously trying really hard to make O-6. It’s like “bro, we get it, now knock it off.”
  • The guy/gal in the middle is doing ok. The effort is there, bless your heart, and you’re making the right mistakes to advance the team.
  • The guy/gal on the other side of the spectrum, who is basically just there. I applaud anyone who is willing to sacrifice 20 years of service until retirement, so good on you, and we all wish you luck in your next chapter.

So since the majority of us fall at the ends of the spectrum, most people don’t care about Lieutenant Colonels. There is one exception: those who are currently in command. If you’re lucky enough to have a commander’s badge over your name tag, that’s means you’re temporarily important. If you have a commander’s badge under your name tag, that means you used to be someone important. Anyways, when you’re an active commander, you have the well-known “fish bowl effect” happening to you, which is when your every action or non-action is noticed by your squadron, whether you like it or not. That effect lasts the duration of your command tour, and when it’s over, if you’re not stepping into another command position, it goes away because you’re just a Lieutenant Colonel again. Here’s my tie-in to tonight: for you new Chiefs, your “fish bowl effect” starts immediately once you have the rank sewn on to your uniform, and it doesn’t matter what job you have. From all of the enlisted looking up to you, to all of the officers that stand next to you, all of us are looking at you and expect great things. We expect Leadership of our enlisted force. Courage to be an active part of the Squadron Trinity. Expertise and Experience you have built your entire career to advance the team. Humility to know that you wouldn’t have achieved your rank without those who paved the way for you, so we expect you to do the same for those coming up. These are characteristics that commanders expect you from the moment we immediately see CMSgt on your sleeve.

So since we have a mixed-age audience, I’m going to tailor my final expectation from a squadron commander to a Chief accordingly. If you’ve heard me speak before, you know one of the things I say to my squadron, to ALS and ILE classes, to anyone in general…#DBAA. If you don’t know what the acronym stands for, ask someone at your table and they’ll whisper it to you. Again, there are littles in the audience and I’m not going to say it out loud. Believe it or not, you inductees have a spectrum of impressions you could fall into, of which I’ll caution you to make decisions every day to be one the right side of the spectrum. On one side you have a Chief, and on the other side you have an E-9. Don’t be an E-9. Don’t be an E-9. There is a difference between the two. I expect use your new rank to build teams and get the mission done for those around you, not for yourselves. The stripes you wear have power, but are to be used for good. We expect greatness and leadership from the moment we meet you, because that’s what we expect out of the top 1% of the enlisted: leadership.

So that’s my advice for this newest crop of Chiefs. Congratulations, and don’t be an E-9. Wired up Fired up, thank you.

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