United States Army Combined Arms Center – Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

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Jeff will be the first person to tell you that being allowed to serve as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) instructing young men and women in the U.S. military is one of his greatest honors. As an SME in the subjects of politics and communications, he travels to military bases teaching within the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS) Red Team program. The courses are designed to foster critical thinking, guide leadership development, and encourage the adoption of rapidly developing analytic techniques for creating successful battlefield tactics and strategies.

Jeff has worked with students from all branches of the military at bases across America. Of the experience he says: “These young warriors inspire me to be better in every area of my life. Seeing their devotion and verve for our country is a gift, and I pour everything I have into the opportunities to teach them.”

Today’s guest speak was great, so much so that I actually took the time to google him and look at his impressive resume. Probably the biggest take away from him was his SEEK (Situational Awareness, Empathize with others, Envision endstate, and seek expert level Knowledge) method. Utilizing this method I hope to place myself in a position where I can become a better listener and strategic level thinker. Two areas that I am sorely lacking in if I am being honest with myself. My other big takeaway from today was the elevator pitch exercise. This is relevant to me because I will likely have to pitch a variety of projects and exercises to my Group Commander at my next job. Moreover, I know that this is a critical skill that I am lacking in because I am the type of person that needs a lot of prep time to not sound completely jumbled up. This made me realize that I need to be ready to pitch various projects and exercise at all times if I can ever hope to succeed at my next assignment.

Student

Today’s guest speak was great, so much so that I actually took the time to google him and look at his impressive resume. Probably the biggest take away from him was his SEEK (Situational Awareness, Empathize with others, Envision endstate, and seek expert level Knowledge) method. Utilizing this method I hope to place myself in a position where I can become a better listener and strategic level thinker. Two areas that I am sorely lacking in if I am being honest with myself. My other big takeaway from today was the elevator pitch exercise. This is relevant to me because I will likely have to pitch a variety of projects and exercises to my Group Commander at my next job. Moreover, I know that this is a critical skill that I am lacking in because I am the type of person that needs a lot of prep time to not sound completely jumbled up. This made me realize that I need to be ready to pitch various projects and exercise at all times if I can ever hope to succeed at my next assignment.

Student

Today’s class was excellent. The value added by the guest speaker is incalculable. However, the knowledge that Jeff holds has been built up over the course of a lifetime so that means to me that this is a lifelong endeavor. This also means to me that after completion of the course I will still have years of refining the tradecraft to get to a point where I will feel comfortable with it, but I know I will not have that luxury thanks to individuals in the chain of command who will, ironically after today’s exercise, want to see the results of their investment of my time. One key important concept that I took away is the difference between dialog, discussion and debate, with the emphasis on the first time items. One of the upcoming project for office will be a group project where I can see the dividends of starting with dialog and then moving to discussion when there has been successful transfer of information that is not in a competitive manner, meaning talking vice finding a solution. One of the most enjoyable classes so far.

Student

Today was a good day. The instructor was knowledgeable and reinforced the lesson of knowing one’s audience. The initial video about flying and doing boot camp, in the abstract, seemed like a strange sales pitch. But, knowing the target audience AND the message needed to be conveyed (re: Access), it was pitch perfect. The context matters, as does who the speaker is and what the message you are trying to get across. This affects all communication – since war is human in nature, and organizations are built of humans, learning to better communicate with one another is critical. The SEEK method is a really great framework to look at communication. I also appreciated how, sometimes, bosses task you with quick tasks and you have “only thirty minutes” to come up with a solution among a group. Employing a quick red team method and preparing the BRIEF is a great way to employ the knowledge to the real world. As we go, it is beneficial to learn how to translate high-minded abstract concepts into ground level, tangible, real world ways.

Student

Great class and discussion today. I really enjoyed and there was great value in learning with our guest Mr. Bolton. He was effectively able to provide us the SEEK tool as an approach to improve our communication sytle and in particular our strategic communications. The prac apps were useful IOT help the students get a feel for developing elevator pitches. This skill will help in our professional and personal lives. Great day of learning. Much appreciated. I am constantly ambushed by senior leaders with RIF’s and for my perspective on things. Knowing the leaders priorities and focus areas gives a clue of what we should be thinking about. Now that I have a general understanding of the mechanics of building an elevator speak my ability to strategically communicate will be improved

Student

Jeff Bolton’s presentation to the class, along with his interaction and insights, provided a great class. His approach to communications, especially using his past experience in the USMC, as a radio host, and producer of videos, all provided explanatory power. The issue is learning the skills to break out of my personal limitations in communicating to others and keeping the tips in mind. Can this be done? Yes, with practice. His SEEK method and his ability to re-set his perspective (re the Arctic “sell”) were great tips. I know I benefitted from the elevator speech and my colleagues who did the work (while I was out) did a great spiel to Jeff and reacted smartly to his points. I had issues with the constructivism article and will need to re-read it and think about the issues. The means are effective communications exist, and I know I have worked at them in the past, and will need to implement them more in the future. All in all, because oral communication has been the mainstay of my adult professional life, it is where I have put my emphasis. I am processing the TCTI approach to written communication and gradually trying to integrate its model in my written efforts.

Student