author | positive Influencer | Strategic business consultant
“Leverage the knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in…

“Leverage the knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in…

“Leverage the knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in whatever organization you join.” with Lisa Bradley and Marco Dehry

The military brings out the best and worst in human kind. War is intentionally ugly. It has to be, or it would become the bargaining chip of choice for powerful nations. Focus on the tangible and ubiquitous skills that the military thrives upon. Leadership is not monopolized by the military, it is just more evident in the service, because it’s been woven into the fabric of all successful militaries after centuries of experience. Every company has a purpose for existence, and every employee a role in making that purpose a reality. Civilian leaders seem to be less equipped to make that transparent and tangible because their education and training is largely academic or technical in nature. The point is, the mission changed when my husband retired from the Army, the need for leadership didn’t. Leverage that knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in whatever organization you join.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Bradley, co founder of R.Riveter.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in Montana with parents who owned their own business. I knew from a young age the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Being in a remote, small town with virtually no military presence, I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be part of a military family. My journey as a military spouse has allowed me to combine entrepreneurial spirit of my family upbringing with the well-rounded and hands on mentality required to thrive in a very small Montana town.

And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?

Several years ago, my friend (and fellow military spouse) Cameron Cruse and I, frustrated in our attempts to establish productive careers while following our husbands from one military installation to another, decided to take a different approach. We founded R.Riveter, which provides income opportunities to military spouses around the country, as “Riveters” work together on a virtual assembly line to produce handcrafted leather and canvas bags. Each Riveter is responsible for individual components of our products and each has a unique stamp. They’re taking part in a symphony of production that brings them an opportunity to develop manufacturing skills, a way to bring extra income to their families, an incredible community of women to connect with, and a significant role in a great purpose. The most important factor, however, is that they can do this while still supporting the transient nature of their service member spouse’s commitment.

Our company has grown to become a symbol that the modern-day woman can define her own path. I just received an email this week from a customer emphasizing, “The women of R. Riveter embody the true spirit of their moniker. The yes we can attitude that made the great generation great thankfully, still exists.” I think this sums it up perfectly.

Can you tell us a bit about your military background?

As a proud military spouse, I have never put a uniform but, it is important to remember that a family unit cannot be fully separated from the service either. While my husband was in Afghanistan I was tested differently than those who serve in combat — loneliness, fear, responsibility and the lack of clarity as to what the future holds is a very real test albeit much different than being on the front lines.

Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?

In 2010, my husband was deployed to a very remote FOB in Afghanistan. At the time, communication to home was few and far between. We updated each other on our lives (that truly couldn’t be more polarizing) in written letters and 15-minute timed-and-recorded phone calls.

It had been two weeks since I last heard from him, and we finally got on the phone after he had waited in line for an hour. We were on the line for not yet five minutes, when I started hearing loud explosions in the background. His tone shifted dramatically, although he quickly explained that they were conducting practice mortar rounds close to the FOB. The phone cut out, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.

When incidents happen in theatre, there is a freeze on communication until the situation can be assessed, and communication protocols can be followed. A few days later, I learned that his FOB was attacked, and there were multiple casualties.

Our community’s reaction was something I will always remember. Young wives that have become family suddenly rely on each other not as community, but as a lifeline. Everyone was collectively holding their breath, praying that the feared knock would never come to our doors. During this time, receiving mail feel like the most tragic moment of your life, as your mind runs through all the possible scenarios of who could be on the other side of that door.

I finally got a phone call from my husband a few days later — he was fine. My heart immediately turned from relief to guilt, hearing that not everyone was getting the same news. It was a sad day for our military family, as brave soldiers were taken from this world far too soon.

I learned a lot from this experience.

First, I learned from my husband, who did his best in an impossible position to protect me from worry.

Second, I learned how important true community is, especially in a time of paralyzing uncertainty. I forged bonds with other wives like I could never have imagined, as we were doing everything we could to support each other.

Third, I learned that as a military spouse, there are certain times where there is not a single thing you can do to affect the outcome. It’s a truly humbling experience to put your future on a path that you cannot control. Moving forward each day, putting on a strong dace, and continuing to live the best life you can — for yourself and your family — becomes the mission at home. That’s how we can best support our nation’s heroes. And that’s what thousands of spouses do each and every day.

This is why building a community at R.Riveter is so incredibly important to me. We’ve got to be here for each other, and we’ve got to stand behind our military community — the brave men and women who serve, and the spouses and families who serve alongside them.

I’m interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.

Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?

Simply put, I believe a hero is a person who takes action where words fail. They choose the harder right, and put themselves in a position to take action on that choice in spite of personal risk.

Does a person need to be facing a life and death situation to do something heroic or to be called a hero?

No. If there is one thing you learn when you’ve seen both the military lifestyle and the civilian lifestyle, it’s that people are more cavalier with their lives than their money. The entrepreneur that risks their entire livelihood on progress, the social worker who faces the unimaginable on a daily business, or the civil rights activist that challenged the norm all make a difference, all put themselves out there, and ultimately made the world a better place. There are many forms of heroism and many forms of risk. None should be discounted.

Based on your military experience, can you share with our readers 5 Leadership or Life Lessons that you learned from your experience”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business? Can you explain?

Being married to an infantryman deployed to a combat zone teaches you very quickly what’s important. The perspective gained through hardship is a perspective that enables better decisions that are focused on bigger impact than may otherwise have been possible. Business is a combination of strategy and execution, but the truly successful business leaders see beyond their P&L and have a way of looking at things with that long term perspective. R.Riveter has a long way to go, but we try to stay focused on our mission and the long term vision when small fires or daily challenges vie for our attention.

As you know, some people are scarred for life by their experience in the military. Did you struggle after your deployment was over? What have you done to adjust and thrive in civilian life that others may want to emulate?

The military brings out the best and worst in human kind. War is intentionally ugly. It has to be, or it would become the bargaining chip of choice for powerful nations. Focus on the tangible and ubiquitous skills that the military thrives upon. Leadership is not monopolized by the military, it is just more evident in the service, because it’s been woven into the fabric of all successful militaries after centuries of experience. Every company has a purpose for existence, and every employee a role in making that purpose a reality. Civilian leaders seem to be less equipped to make that transparent and tangible because their education and training is largely academic or technical in nature. The point is, the mission changed when my husband retired from the Army, the need for leadership didn’t. Leverage that knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in whatever organization you join.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

R.Riveter is celebrating Women’s History Month with the launch of our 2019 Spring line. This line is unique for us and includes our first-ever custom-made, printed canvas — and is accented with the Pantone 2019 Color of the Year. The custom floral canvas carries with it a message of empowerment R.Riveter encourages from our Riveters to our customers, — “a flower does not think to compete with the flower next to it — it just blooms”.

R.Riveter’s 2019 Spring Line continues the R.Riveter tradition of empowering women through honoring strong women throughout American history and providing beautiful products that meet the everyday woman wherever she is — from the boardroom to the playground. We will always be a company to empower and support women, and this is our next venture down that path.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Leaders can help their teams thrive by doing less, listening more, and communicating effectively. Rarely is a leader unclear in their own intentions, yet often times teams are piecing together fragments and filling gaps to their best ability. There’s never a perfect solution, (and I’m not implying there should be), but make sure the team isn’t guessing on your vision or desired outcomes. Be clear in your communication, and solicit ideas often. Use their skills and experience to build the roadmap that gets you there, rather than prescribing it for them. Asking the right questions to help people find their way is far better than simply telling them what to do. By doing this, the outcomes are usually better, teams get more buy in and are more satisfied with the work they do, and you are freed up to focus on the next big problem.

What advice would you give to other leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Not only Does R.Riveter have a sizable team but we have the added complexity of a team disbursed throughout all four corners of our country. My advice is to create tools that keep everyone informed with one touch communication, rather than communicating multiple times across departments and people.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?

In college, a prominent banker in town became invested in my future by offering to help me through the process of patenting a product idea. The first day he started out by laying a framework that he wanted to invest his time and resources into my future, but he didn’t want anything in return. He just asked that at some point in my career, that if I find myself in a position to help another young entrepreneur that I do so in return. Brad Scott passed away last year of cancer, but I will forever be grateful for him setting such a strong foundation for how I would approach my future as a business leader. I do my best to live up to his example and am committed to helping as many military spouse entrepreneurs as possible.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Everything about R.Riveter is about empowering others and growing together — we all represent the modern day women and how tomorrow’s female leaders will describe what we stood for and drove to represent. We have worked so hard to redefinine a manufacturing model that keeps the jobs in American and are proud to say that 1/3 of every dollar spent at R.Riveter goes directly to the hands of a military spouse. What’s more — the empowerment doesn’t end at the manufacturing process. When a handbag is shipped to a customer, that handbag continues its journey to the hands of a woman somewhere in America that now has an entire community of women behind her — encouraging her forward in her mission. When I see two women who are complete strangers cross paths both wearing an R.Riveter handbag, I see a beautiful moment of connection, that they both secretly know that they are part of a growing purpose of empowering women.

Customer Messages:

A dear friend bought me my first R Riveter bag a few months ago. Since then, I’ve become obsessed, in a good way! The craftsmanship is AMAZING, the purses and card holder I’ve purchased since (yes, multiple purses — I said I was obsessed!) are so functional! The simple design, pocket placement and size are perfect! The materials are so durable. I love that this company is comprised of military wives. I’m a fairly new Gold Star war widow, so I always love supporting military spouses.

I felt so good carrying my R. Riveter Nantucket Red bag on a recent visit with my grandson at Ft. Stewart. Having been a military spouse in the Vietnam era, I know how important it is to support our military families. I wish this military spouse occupation was available to my son’s wife when he was deployed. Best wishes to you all. Lois, Army wife, mother and grandmother.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

R.Riveter is about today’s American woman who is grinding every day to make her life and her families better than yesterday; and that’s real life. With R.Riveter, I have started a movement that encourages women to show that reality, and encourage other women in the thick of it. Social media permeation in our culture is a great way to do this, rather than posting a staged and altered photo of imaginary perfection, post a raw moment that’s #reallife. If we don’t spend so much time fabricating these picture perfect social lives, two things would happen — 1) we would have more time to spend doing things that make an impact, 2) By being real we would be helping encourage others, rather than break them down as they wonder how they too can be so “perfect”.

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

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” Amelia Earhart

One thing we can control is our decision to act or do nothing- and that can be the hardest part. Beyond that, we’re reacting to what is put in our path. Have a plan but remain flexible. The largest strides have been made from women who had to re-invent themselves and their perspective.

Some of the biggest 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 with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

While there are many people who I’d love to sit down and share a meal with, Jessica Alba is one of the people at the very top of that list. Jessica is very familiar with military service, as both her father and grandfather served — she was raised and traveled extensively in a military family. As with our company, Jessica started The Honest Company with a distinct why. Today, she’s grown that entrepreneurial dream into a vision that continues to do good and fight back, all while being a mother. I’d love to have a conversation with her about how she continued to grow her mission-driven business as a modern day working mother.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.


“Leverage the knowledge and the skills gained through military service and you’ll be at home in… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Marco Derhy

❖ Marco is the CEO of Derhy Enterprises, a boutique international consulting firm. Derhy Enterprises aids with the management and growth of businesses, particularly for public figures. ❖ Marco is known as an Entrepreneur at heart, building a Los Angeles based private-label fashion company (in his early 20’s shortly after his Military Service) into a dominant industry force with numerous employees and $50M+ annual sales. This success fueled his launch into financing, Humanitarian Aid, Film productions, Real estate, Tech, AID for hospitals, Producing articles/Interviews, Writing book series, and worldwide profiling inspiring people. ❖ A “Positive” Influencer. Marco has more than 19 years in the publishing industry. Created many unique series that highlight the empowering lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs. ❖ Marco has worked with legends like Nelson Mandela, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Wahlberg, Carlos Slim Jr., The Jackson Family, Mr.Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom, and Robert Evans" The Godfather, "to name a few. ❖ Marco is Known as a Philanthropist who produced quite a few lucrative fundraising charity events. Working With Dr. Juan Montero II MD for medical supplies for children, including the champ Manny Pacquiao, UNICEF—established a partnership with the Jackson’s Family/Foundation. He produced a 2day Mega events - 1st Day in Beverly Hills Mansion, and the 2nd Day at the famous “Neverland,” at Michael Jackson home, with over 2,500 global VIP guests. He also produced charity events each year during the Cannes film festival. ❖ At CityGala, Marco Produced the famous first significant black-tie Gala event at the Beverly Hills Vineyard. He also helped raise funds to support A-listers Celeb foundations, The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), LA Youth, Health & Medicine, Domestic Violence support programs, U.S. veterans, to name a few. ❖ Marco is an Author and helped create and inspire a mini-movement among writers, with scores of writers worldwide profiling inspiring people to share their positive, empowering, and actionable true stories in prominent Platforms. ❖ A regular contributor to Arianna Huffington’s, Medium, Buzzfeed, Thrive Global to name a few. ❖ Marco is also producing for his clients - TV Series programs / Documentaries/Films with an award-winning team. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0220357/ ❖ Marco recently published one of his Book series#1 called; "Heroes of The Opioid Crisis” https://www.amazon.com/dp/1705343147/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_43JWDb2PMRSEH and working on new book series. Enjoying; Family, Friends, Philanthropy work,(Giving back to the less fortunate), Martial arts, Swimming, Tennis, Meditation, "Torah study", Nature, Hiking, Tennis...... 🙌🏼Praying for global peace, Health, Prosperity, love, and Happiness within our global society🙌🏼 ~ Life is Good~Be Good & Do Good~®️

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