Patrick Army is a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism. He believes that strategy and insight are the keys to driving innovation in entrepreneurship. After leaving the Army, Patrick built a partner program with a local brewery to create a brewer master class.
Patrick gives talks to universities and corporate organizations looking to change the relationship between the veterans and civilians. Recently, his work has been featured on the After Action Network here in Kansas City.
Patrick holds a Ph.D. in Brewery Craft from the University of Kansas, a Master’s in English from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Patrick, can you start off by telling us about yourself and your life-long learning passion?
I have always an avid reader. Growing up in a county with a small library, I was there each week with my mother checking out 10 books at a time; I did the same at school. That love of reading carried me through multiple degree programs, and through books I understood how to think critically and how words have an immense impact on individual and global scales.
I also have to say that there’s nothing like the feeling of getting part-way through an interaction in German and realizing that I’m not speaking English – it’s a special sense of accomplishment.
Patrick, what do you have to say about the Strange Days Master Brewing Class led by Master Brewer Damon Arredondo?
After transitioning from the Army in 2015 into the construction industry and taking a job with Turner Construction in 2016 in Kansas City, I found myself in a new city with few contacts or close friends. All of my neighbors were very close to each other and although they were very nice, it felt like we didn’t have much in common. When Turner Construction partnered with After Action Network in 2019, I had the privilege of meeting and working with Joey Williams and Chris Hays.
Joey and Chris invited me to participate in one of AAN’s programs that introduces Veterans to brewing beer. The class was one of the most fun days I’d had in a very long time. I love beer, I love making things, and I was hanging out with other awesome Veterans who I could relate to and with whom I could swap old war stories. Needless to say, after learning the basics from the program, I was inspired to become the next Veteran brewer and dove head first into brewing and never looked back.
Once I had my new brewing kit and started my first brew day out in my driveway, two of my neighbors drove by and noticed the setup. Come to find out, they had been brewing for many years together, and invited me to join their brewing efforts! Now the whole neighborhood brews together, whether we’re competing against each other for a new brew, or joining up for a big batch. I’ve brewed quite a bit of beer over the last year or so, and I always think back to that class with Joey and Chris. I can’t thank After Action Network enough for allowing me to find a new passion, as well as helping me make meaningful connections in my community.
What advice do you have for other up-and-coming leaders?
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Take on small challenges to grow your skills. You do not have to know 100% about a topic to be part of the conversation or project. Take every opportunity to meet new people in your industry and others.
Also, do not be afraid of significant challenges or projects! Several times in my career, I was handed what seemed like an impossible task with limited information. Reframing those situations as learning opportunities and a chance for my work ethic to shine helped me tackle situations I never would have chosen for myself.
In those scenarios, it’s like someone handing you a cupcake and asking you to recreate the recipe. How would you go about doing that?
- Do some research on Pinterest, find a cookbook, etc.
- Watch some videos or look for examples of other people baking cupcakes
- Take a baking class (if possible)
- Lean on previous baking knowledge
- Gather your materials
- Ask your closest cupcake expert to check your work as you go
Now, take this framework and apply it to a challenging project: Where can you go for additional information? Who can you ask for help? What other examples are available to you? Can you adapt something you already have? Revise, revise, revise… And eventually you will complete what you set out to do.
Will it be perfect? Probably not. Will you have gained some awesome skills to help with projects in the future? Absolutely.
Are you active on social media professionally? If so, what platforms work best for engaging your followers?
I am most active on LinkedIn (and Instagram). LinkedIn is a great space for sharing my thoughts on the brewing industry and entrepreneurship. I also spend a lot of time talking about entrepreneurship in the private sector and finding better ways to collaborate across industries.
What’s the major difference between Civilian life and the Military Life?
I think the biggest difference hinges on a similarity: deliverables. In both academia and the private sector, we all have projects to complete by certain deadlines. What I have noticed since moving out of university life is the difference in attitude about how work is completed. For the most part in academia, no one is looking over your shoulder to make sure you get your work done; outside of class and office hours, you’re not required to be on campus. You can complete papers, grading, and reading in a coffee shop, home office, library, or park, and if you complete them by the deadline, no one really cares where the work was done.
Since I started working in an office setting in the Midwest, I noticed that people care that you’re physically sitting at your desk, regardless of whether your tasks are completed. When I worked in South Korea, we called this behavior and concept “desk warming,” where people would sit at their desks even if they weren’t working on anything. I definitely think with the rise of work-from-home options we are moving toward better work-life balance, but the idea that anyone can sit somewhere for eight hours and work that whole time while maintaining a healthy lifestyle is bizarre.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Visibility! As someone early in my career, it’s hard to create space in rooms and at tables with long-term industry professionals. I would love for more people to read my work and offer feedback; the open exchange of ideas and dialogue with industry professionals is something I am missing outside of conference settings.
With the ideas I am currently sharing, I would love more people to comment, collaborate, hop on a call/Zoom so we can talk about how to truly transform our work and industry.
What do you have your sights set on next?
I would love to be a published author, starting online and eventually moving onto a book. There are a few ideas flurrying about, so I am giving myself space to figure out which one is best to pursue over the next several months. In addition, I want to give a TedTalk!
What is a day in your life like?
I wake up, go to the gym, get ready for work, and have a cup of coffee. My health is incredibly important to me, especially as someone who gives 110% in my professional life.
My workday normally consists of a few meetings in the office, lots of email and planning across teams, and I have started incorporating my language lessons and writing time into my formal workday. I am also scheduling 1 – 3 meetings outside of the office per week with local professionals for lunch or coffee to brainstorm and problem solve (*this is currently on hold until social distancing and quarantine practices are lifted*).
In the evening I like to read, cook or bake, and spend time relaxing. Depending on the day, I will attend a Centurions event or some happy hour or philanthropic event in KC; I love being connected to my community.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love brewing, cooking or baking, and painting. If the weather is nice, I love water skiing at the lake.
What scares you?
Failure. I think that’s why I chase new challenges. Even though I fear failure, I face the possibility head-on because I have learned it’s the only way I can grow. I tend to think that I have a 50/50 shot at anything; it will happen, or it won’t. Either way, I will learn something and move forward.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
I absolutely love Italy. It was my favorite trip and I would go back in a heartbeat: Lake Como, Florence, and Positano are my favorite places.