We’re back with another insightful discussion in our ongoing #MeetTheTeam series, where we get to know the outstanding team of faculty here at RBLP. Our chat today is with Vincent Politte, RBLP-T!
Hi Vincent! Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from.
I appreciate the opportunity to share a little about myself with this ever growing RBLP community and beyond! I grew up in a generational military family and after moving nine times, found myself calling Papillion, Nebraska my hometown. I am a father of one incredibly intelligent and talented daughter; a traveler; an adventurer; a reader; a fighter; a student of people; and a lover of good food, great people, and amazing conversations.
What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP?
I’ve always been a life-long learner but am most certainly not an academic. I think Mark Twain said it best, and I’ll paraphrase here: “Travel is the killer of ignorance.” I’m lucky that I was exposed to that way of thinking from the very beginning and understand that travel can be going to different places both physically and through imagination, reading, and writing. After my obligatory time in high school, while working one or two jobs, I took a position managing a warehouse shipping department for about a year. Still not having enough money to pay for college, I enlisted with the United States Air Force, where I embarked on a bit of an unusual career path – or two.
In my nearly 22 years with the Air Force, I had four different specialty codes and spent time as an enlisted airman as well as a commissioned officer. I changed duty stations 16 times, had countless temporary duty and training assignments; deployed 4 times; and spent time in 34 different countries as well as 45 states. During that time, I spent nine years as an F-16 aircraft maintainer; four years in conventional and nuclear munitions maintainer; a little over a year as an acquisitions officer, an executive officer, and an operations officer; and then nearly eight years as an officer and Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations, specializing in executive protective services and counterintelligence. After retiring in 2014, I spent a short stint as a contractor with the Joint Counterintelligence Training Activity at Quantico, Virginia, teaching Department of Defense Special Agents skills they might need during espionage investigations, before being hired as a Program Manager and Special Agent at NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). As an aside, yes – my daughter calls me a “space cop”.
Who is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory?
I would not say I ever had a career trajectory or any one person that inspired me. As you can tell from the many changes in my professional growth, I moved around until I found something that I felt was right and was lucky enough to have the opportunities to do so with the Air Force and at NASA OIG.
At the very beginning, there were my parents who both taught me that hard work brings success, however that is defined for you. During my military days, I met so many people of great dedication to service like John Gouthro, one of my first supervisors, who brought an energy to the job that I could only hope to emulate. Paul Borja and Michael Holbert, who both showed me that doing the right thing every single time, and holding yourself and others accountable, brings a sense of self that one can only achieve through being meticulously detailed in your work and expectations. Randy Timulfichuk, who encouraged a level of professionalism and leadership in me that I did not know I had. Hunter Jones, who taught me that people must come first every single time, no matter what. And Judy Fedder who was an inspirational leader during my military career and who gave me my first real “career” opportunity in the form of a commission.
There are also other examples, both good and bad, from which I took bits and pieces in forming my love of leadership and my leadership style along the way.
What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor?
My brother, Jason Politte, brought RBLP to my attention as it was still in development and just trying to get off the ground. He was my RBLP-T instructor and my exam was proctored by Dr. Gene Coughlin! Jason encouraged me to become an instructor based on my experiences and I wholeheartedly jumped at the chance! I’ve loved every minute of my interactions with clients and sharing our leadership stories, both positive and negative, within the RBLP framework and community. It’s been an amazing experience working with clients everywhere across the globe. I’ve consulted with clients in Israel, Germany, and a plethora of different states and time zones; some still on active duty, those that are retired military and still wanting to share their experiences, as well as folks without military experience trying to learn all they can to better themselves professionally or in their personal lives.
In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers?
To me, resilience has always meant the ability to overcome challenges. It’s that feeling of getting up off the ground when you fall or get knocked down; of talking about an issue and deciding to work together as a partner toward a single goal; being part of a team and overcoming an obstacle or challenge at work. Even that feeling of helping your child learn to read. Those are all examples of resiliency in our everyday lives.
The art woven within RBLP is how to bring that resilient feeling out in others to the benefit of the team, the organization, or the company. And the great thing is, it’s not rocket science! For anyone reading this, browse the website or have a conversation with someone in the RBLP community on LinkedIn.com and you’ll see how this realistic framework of resilience can help!
What are the three most important components, in your opinion, that you try to convey to every team that you train under the RBLP certification program?
One of my former clients, Sandeep Kumar, framed it best when he summed up RBLP as well as his own leadership style in the phrase: “People, purpose, and promise”. Thank you for that Sandeep, as it forever positively changed the way I express RBLP, in 10 seconds or less, to others.
As someone fortunate enough to instruct for this certification, I know that the sessions build upon one another and having the luxury of understanding the entire framework, looking back on my leadership experience, I can tell you I wish I had the hindsight of RBLP before beginning any one of my past jobs. For instance, while in the military you receive leadership training commensurate with your paygrade. You essentially get a piece of the leadership puzzle, and with that training and your own experiences, you build your leadership style and set the priorities you believe are best suited to achieve success. But what if you got an entire leadership framework and understood what it takes to lead from the individual, team, and organizational level upfront? That’s what RBLP certifications bring to the table!
What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training?
There are so many influential and inspiring examples and experiences that I could fill a novel with the stories of success and failures I’ve had and witnessed. I saw some of the most horrible and difficult situations you can imagine and every single time that person, that team, that unit, that organization strove to succeed together no matter the hardship. They pulled from a common bond of experience and overcame all challenges, even if, or even after, a failure occurred.
I believe more each day that any person, organization, or company can benefit from this certification program. As we continue to face challenges both personally and professionally during a global pandemic, leaders around the world are looking for new ways of thinking and relying on their community of leaders to build a climate able to change quickly enough to meet new demands. That ability to change reflects resiliency and is exactly where RBLP is focused.
In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories of a training program that you’ve accomplished with a company and why?
Over the nearly two years I’ve been with RBLP, I can tell you unequivocally my favorite memories are when a client smiles and realizes how the entire framework of this certification program fits together. It’s when they begin to talk about their leadership experiences in the context of the program, and show excitement about getting back to understanding that people-focused leadership creates success. I could go on and on, but those interactions that result in a confident understanding of this framework make my day!
Pivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love?
Outside of work, my focus is on spending time with my daughter. Since she lives with her mother in West Virginia and I live in Virginia, I’m always trying to find ways to ensure I’m a big part of her life. She and I share a love of books and we challenge one another in how many books per year we can read; she usually wins. We also love movies and constantly share our new finds. I also love to travel, when I can; to find new recipes to try in the kitchen; to ride motorcycles; to exercise. And I’ve recently found a love of hiking as opposed to the formerly forced definition: Marching.
Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others?
There are many quotes, sayings, readings, and inspirations that have molded me into who I am and how I lead today. The most notable influences are Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Bixby Letter’ and Robert Frost’s ‘The Road not Taken’. I’ll let you as the reader surmise as to why those may have influenced my life.
As for quotes, I cannot recall who said this or where I heard it, only that it stuck with me as part of my thinking patterns: “You will never be criticized by someone who is doing more than you, only by someone who is doing less.” Read, learn, and lead by example in all that you do!
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together!