#WeAllServe Episode #62 with SEAC (Ret) John Wayne Troxell

John Wayne Troxell is a retired United States Army senior noncommissioned officer who served as the third Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity he served as the principal advisor to the Chairman and the Secretary of Defense on all matters related to the troops of the United States Armed Forces to include the lethality, readiness, fitness, welfare and deployability of the force, as well as joint force development and education.  This position made Troxell the most senior enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces. He enlisted in September 1982 as an armored reconnaissance specialist and graduated from One Station Unit Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Troxell served in the United States Army for well over 37 years in numerous units throughout his career. They include the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas; two tours in Germany with the 3rd Armored Division and 3rd Infantry Division; two tours in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Campbell University Reserve Officer Training Corps in Buies Creek, North Carolina; and the Special Operations Division of Joint Task Force Six (Counterdrug) in El Paso, Texas.  Troxell has served as the Command Sergeant Major of the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York and Iraq; the Regimental Command Sergeant Major of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in both Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Lewis, Washington; the Command Sergeant Major of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington and during the Surge in Iraq; the 21st Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Armor Center and Fort Knox, Kentucky; the Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Accessions Command and Human Resource Center of Excellence in Fort Knox, Kentucky; the Command Sergeant Major of US Army I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington; the Command Senior Enlisted Leader of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan and the Command Senior Enlisted Leader of the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea.  Troxell was sworn in as the SEAC on December 11, 2015 and finished his tour of duty on December 13, 2019.  His official retirement date was March 31, 2020.

Troxell’s five combat tours of duty include making the combat parachute jump and service in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As the SEAC, Troxell routinely visited troops deployed to countries around the world to include Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and numerous others to gain the pulse of the force for the Chairman and Secretary.  His military education includes Ranger, Airborne, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, PLDC, BNCOC, ANCOC, and the First Sergeants Course.  He is a graduate of Class 51 of the US Army Sergeants Major Course and the Command Sergeants Major Course. Troxell is also a graduate of the National Defense University Keystone Joint Command Senior Enlisted Course, the US Army War College Strategic Leader Development Course, the US Army Intermediate Strategic Leader Defense Course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the US Army Advanced Strategic Leader Development Course at Southwest Airlines and Exxon Mobile headquarters.  Troxell is also a fellow at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.  His civilian education includes a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in strategic leadership from Trident University in California.

Troxell’s awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger tab, the Master Parachutist Badge with combat jump star device, the Pathfinder Badge, the Driver Badge, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Infantry Division, I Corps, and IJC Combat Service Identification Badges, the Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze
Star with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device and four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with silver oak leaf, Joint Meritorious Unit award with oak leaf device, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal (12 awards), National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with arrowhead device, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two campaign stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon with bronze award numeral 4, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 4, NATO Meritorious Service Medal, NATO Medal (ISAF), Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Kuwait).  He is a Silver Medallion recipient of the Order of St. George (Armor Association), a Centurion of the Order of St. Maurice (National Infantry Association), and a recipient of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara (US Field Artillery Association).  In June of 2021 Troxell was inducted into the prestigious Noncommissioned Officer Center of Excellence/US Army Sergeants Major Academy Hall of Honor.

During his time as the SEAC, Troxell campaigned for a distinctive rank insignia for the SEAC position much like each of the Service Senior Enlisted Advisors and on December 8, 2019 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the new rank and title and pinned the new rank on Troxell at a ceremony in the Pentagon.

Troxell is married to the former Sandra Jimenez, his wife of over 38 years from El Paso, Texas.  They have three adult sons and four grandchildren.

Since his military retirement, Troxell has opened his own consulting firm, PME Hard Consulting, LLC, and now serves as a strategic advisor and brand ambassador for the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Foundation, as well as brand ambassador for Veterans Lending Group, Muscle Mac, Zyn Drink Products, It’s Skinny Pasta, DownRange Supplements and Eyewear Safety Systems (ESS); he serves as the Vice President for Strategic Planning for DFND USA and an executive consultant for 5th Principle, LLC.  He is also the owner and founder of E-Tool Nation apparel and gear line.  Troxell also serves as a strategic advisor for FitOps Foundation, the Director of Outreach for Tactical Combat League, and serves on the advisory boards for Allied Forces Foundation, Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, Warrior Suicide Prevention Foundation, Our Community Salutes Foundation and the Patriot Foundation.  Troxell is a member of the Flatter,Inc speaker’s bureau and is the host of the Leader Talk podcast and the co-host for the E-Tool Nation podcast and Political Soapbox podcast.  He continues to focus on supporting service members, veterans, their families, and issues affecting our nation.

SEAC (Retired) Troxell and Sandra reside in Lakewood, Washington.

Authority Magazine: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself: The Second Chapter Of My Life

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in the second chapter in life, to share their stories and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Shalom Klein.

Dr. Scott (Shalom) Klein is a well regarded community activist and entrepreneur. Scott is a published author who hosts the popular “Get Down to Business” radio show in Chicago and serves as an Officer in the US Army Reserves (Military Police) as well as the Chairman of the Village of Skokie Economic Development Commission.

Scott holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a masters degree in Jewish Professional Studies with a concentration in non-profit management. He is on the executive committee and active leader for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Several quotes inspire me but my favorite quote is: “Service is greatness.”

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Thanks for the compliment. My success as a communicator, networker, connector, speaker, and business consultant was influenced by these three major qualities: Willingness to learn, willingness to serve others, and my flair for networking. I once shared on the Better Call Daddy show that although I’ve met and taken pictures with a lot of dignitaries such as Michelle and Barack Obama I’m not flattered by those pictures. Of course, I cherish those moments but I seize them to ask a lot of questions. I also read a lot of books, glean experiences from seasoned leaders across the world. Consequentially, this has influenced my desire to keep learning because I found out that the more you learn the more you discover how much you still need to learn.

Secondly, I said earlier that my favorite quote is “service is greatness.” If you study the most successful leaders in the world, both present, and past, you are going to find out that they are not driven by personal aggrandizement or self-glory. They are driven by the burning desire to serve others. People such as Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, John Maxwell, Barack Obama amongst others. Let me mention that I was just 8 years old when I first volunteered for a social development program. So, it has always been the desire to serve others. I also told Pirie on that show that I am a lifelong learner and I cherish mentorship a lot.

Lastly, my flair for networking keeps me on my toes. You must have heard of the saying that. “your network is your net worth.” Honestly, that statement is very true. Because networking with people is beneficial in several ways one of which is that it creates opportunities for you. It also gives you access to successful individuals.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

My career experience was a fulfilling one. I was doing pretty well as a business consultant, entrepreneur, speaker, etc. I impacted many businesses, met and helped to grow many organizations, spoken in many conferences internationally. But because of my desire to serve more people, to serve the United States, to serve more people, I decided to reset; to unlearn and relearn many things.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

This is not my first time experiencing this kind of change. In 2014, for example, I took a break from our family business so that I could build a consulting firm. It was quite tasking but I enjoyed the process.

Technically, I wouldn’t say I did it alone. I must acknowledge the efforts of my wife. She played a major role in helping me reinvent myself. When I joined the army, I knew I had to detach myself from a lot of people and things I was used to. I remember for the first three months, there was a huge communication gap between me and my wife. It was such a challenging time for both of us. Sometimes, she would have to write letters to reach me. On the other hand, I had to stay focused on the new path because it was the decision we made together. I discussed it with her when I wanted to join and she agreed to it. I had to make her proud.

Secondly, my faith in Judaism also helped me. You know we have to learn to see God in everything we do. And yeah, I must say that this shift has helped me to move closer with God.

In summary, my wife and my faith played major roles in reinventing myself.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

Wow… Well, I really can’t say much about the specific trigger, as it were. I desired to serve. I grew up as a young child to volunteer for social programs. So, I guess it’s been a part of me. However, the particular decision to change to the army was to be of service to the nation.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

Nothing much. Honestly, I will just say that it’s what I’ve inculcated since childhood. My parents were supporters of volunteering programs. So, at a young age, I was exposed to social development programs. This, being part of me, influenced my decision to harness those powers…

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

Beautiful. Can I decide to keep this part private? At least for now. I’m new in the process, so I don’t want to unleash the growth process yet.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, there are several persons that I’m grateful for in this journey. First, my wife for her understanding. She’s such a rare gem. Despite the challenges that I faced when I switched, she stood by me and understood the processes. Also, many thanks to LTC Robert Mikyska for his support and candid mentorship as far as my military career is concerned. I owe my present position in the army to him.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I don’t think I have a most interesting part per se, because every moment was beautiful. The officers, the people I trained with, and everyone in the army.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Well, yeah. Joining the army wasn’t an easy task because like I mentioned, I was older than many of the people I trained with. I almost felt out of place. But I quickly snapped out of the limiting belief.

In my work, I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

Absolute right. We all need support systems, regardless of our various positions. Whether you’re a soldier, an architect, an engineer, a business consultant; whichever position. I learned this early enough and so, it helped me in my transition to the new field. The way I built my support system wasn’t so difficult. First and major support was my wife because she was my closest partner. I needed her to understand the new role I’ll be fitting into. Secondly, I decided to learn from the people I trained with even though many of them were way younger than I am. Then, I leveraged my relationship with my trainers. They helped me grow fast.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Yeah, I agree with you on that. Joining the army made me go out of my comfort zone. Like I said earlier that I joined the army at 29, which generally was not too young but as far as the army is concerned, I was old in the army. I trained with folks who were about ten years younger than I was. So, I had to fight against my ego and my past reputation.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

First, I wish somebody told me to have a plan for my life but be flexible about it. At some point, I was so engrossed in growing my business consultancy career that I secluded myself from people. I wanted to stick to the plan every day of my life. But I noticed I almost lost what makes me happy: serving the community.

I also wish somebody advised me to join the army earlier than I did. Although I brought my business skills into the army (which wasn’t necessarily a bad idea), I wish I had joined the army earlier than I did. The 8 TLPs I learned in the army would have been of great help for me during times of crisis in my life.

“Never lead to be known; lead to serve” I wished someone had told me this earlier. This is because, at some point in my life, I almost got my motives wrong. I started right. I want to serve wholeheartedly but it’s so easy to deviate from the big picture and want to be in the face of people. So, a leader or whoever wants to serve rightly should check his motives.

Know your place in everyone’s life. I know I’m passionate about improving people’s lives; I want to serve people and the country but you can’t occupy the space that people don’t give you. That will no longer be a help, but an intrusion.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. I think I foresaw this question. I don’t think I may want to initiate any other movement aside from the #WeAllServe podcast. The podcast has been of immense influence to a lot of people. Also, it’s a privilege to serve in the American army, learn from people in my formation, share stories about lessons I have learned from them. Nevertheless, if you insist on inspiring a movement, I think I want to help create supportive employment opportunities for National Guard and Army Reserve service members; just like I mentioned in an interview with Authority Magazine.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Wow! This question again. Well, no problem. The Authority magazine asked the same question in November 2020 and my answer was “Admiral William McRaven.” His talk on “Make Your Bed” which discusses how little things can change your life is my philosophy that I share with the soldiers in my formation constantly.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.shalomklein.com

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!