Through the Glass: A Senior Enlisted Perspective #2

Featured Leader:

CMSgt Robert Rogers, USAFR

1.      What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am reading No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Seigel. I just finished reading, The Greatest Beer Run Ever by John Donohue and Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.

2.      Why did you choose to read this book?

I chose to read No-Drama Discipline because I always want to be a better parent and when I become a better parent, I often improve as a leader as well. I read The Greatest Beer Run Ever because I wanted something different than a traditional leadership book. The story was great and had some good lessons about appreciation and adapting to your circumstances. I read Can’t Hurt Me because others recommended it. Great book with an amazing personal story!

3.      What are your favorite all-time military or leadership-related books? What makes them your favorites?

I really like The Mission, the Men, and Me by Pete Blaber. Good humor, outside the box thinking, and relatable. Highly recommend. I also like Colin Powell’s It Worked for Me. So down to earth and applicable to almost everyone.

4.      Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

I’ve become a huge fan of Og Mandino in the last year. His storytelling is amazing, and the smaller sizes of his works make them easy to consume for readers at all levels.

5.      How do you feel reading has helped your military leadership capabilities?

It has given me perspectives from roles and people I would have never seen in my career. Reading and understanding ideas and experiences from others helps equip me with knowledge to make better decisions and highlight ways to care for people in more effective ways.

6.      What books do you recommend which influenced your thinking on leadership?

Dare to Lead and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. These books communicate empathy, a genuine desire to understand/grow, and insights that make you stop and think about your personal thoughts/actions.

7.      What books had the most impact on you and your development?

Once again, Dare to Lead and The Power of Imperfection by Brene Brown. They approach personal and professional topics at the human level instead of from an authority perspective where they tell you how to fix yourself – and tends to be the theme of traditional leadership books. I don’t connect well with leaders pretending to know it all or people without life scars.

8.      How do you decide which book to read next? Do you look to military reading lists? Mentor or supervisor recommendations? Personal recommendations?

I look at all kinds of lists and I ask other people. I talk to people on planes and sometimes I just go through Amazon with an idea in my head and pick something.

9.      What skills have you developed through reading military and leadership books?

The ability to focus on a subject and understand without seeking to respond. When I read, I can take in information without feeling the need to respond like I would in a conversation. Then, once I have a chance to read, I can switch to processing and see where I can tie in my experiences to make the content more sticky! I’ve also learned to see a single issue through multiple lenses by applying more strategic thought to our mostly localized perspectives.

10.   How can others benefit by reading about these military and leadership experiences?

They can learn about things they don’t know about. The more I learn, the easier I can solve problems, create consensus, or move people in a positive direction. As I like to say, “It’s hard to solve your problems with old information. If you could, you would have by now. If you want to overcome your issues, generate new ideas, take in new information and you’ll give yourself a better chance at success!”

11.   What advice would you give new enlisted leaders? New officers?

Same for both. Learning never stops, and once you think you have it all figured out, you’re probably headed for a challenge. Our roles and responsibilities change throughout our careers and if you let yourself become stagnant, you likely won’t be ready for the responsibilities you’re stepping into. This inaction on your part will probably impact the quality of care you can provide to your people and the mission.

12.   How do you feel enlisted leaders contribute to the overall unit mission?

We are the cogs (technicians) and oil (SNCOs) that make the machines run. Without proper care, routine maintenance, realistic expectations, and much-needed downtime, we break. So, if you want long-term productivity and reliable operational performance, make sure all aspects of the mission, especially the people, are taken care of.

13.   Why is reading important for our military and/or the nation?

Besides gaining knowledge from learning about other’s experiences, we must learn/teach the history of thBecause it helps us understand issues, perspectives, and experiences we can’t get from our limited view of the world.

14.   General Mattis talks a lot about using reading as a tool to learn from other people’s experiences. Can you provide a specific example or story where reading has helped you learn from others’ experience?

Yes. A recent story that sticks out to me is the difference between police stops for White Americans vs. Black Americans. I never understood the anxiety or fear some black people felt when getting pulled over, even when they were fully insured, registered, etc.… At the worst, I always saw a police stop as an inconvenience to my day, and the thought of losing my life had never crossed my mind. That’s not how our fellow citizens feel and gaining an understanding about that has helped me understand more of the civil unrest actions I see throughout our nation. Disagree with me if you like, but from the stories I’ve personally heard and publicly available statistics, this example of other people’s experience has given me an entirely new view on inequality and what that looks like in our nation.

15.   What is your leadership and ethical philosophy? How did your leadership and ethical philosophy develop?

Stay Educated, Remain Authentic, Lead with Integrity. If you are always learning you are likely always growing as well. That serves both you and your people well. When it comes to remaining authentic, people can smell out a phony. I always encourage people to learn how to become the best version of themselves and lead from an authentic place. You may not connect with everyone, but you’ll make a huge impact on the ones you do connect with. Finally, integrity should be the basis of every action a leader takes. Integrity builds trust with your team and can keep you from second-guessing the hard decisions we sometimes have to make in leadership positions.

16.   What is one of the best investments you’ve ever made in your military career?

Without a doubt, managing my time. I used to maintain unhealthy levels of work, often at the expense of my spouse, kids, or personal time. Now, I create boundaries to ensure all my needs are met, even if that means missing out on opportunities or being misunderstood by those not living the life I’ve chosen for myself.


About CMSgt Rogers

Robert Rogers resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife and three children on their 5-acre farm. He is an Air Force Reserve Chief Master Sergeant, Disabled Veteran, Author, and Entrepreneur. Having experienced many hardships in his life, he writes from a place of personal experience and attempts to expose the silver lining in all situations. He is passionate about enlisted leader authorship and strongly believes the enlisted leader perspective should be shared across all forms of media. His purpose is to make a positive difference in the lives of people and personally connect with others through his writings. When he isn’t working or writing, you’ll find Robert working on his farm, spending time with his family, or traveling to new places with his wife. 

For additional information on CMSgt Rogers, you contact him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ThePaperbackMentor/ and his website should be up and running by the end of 2021. Thepaperbackmentor.com

  • BONUS QUESTIONS:
    • If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
      • The Paperback Mentor. I love the conversations generated when we talk about topics from the book in groups and the Aha moments people have when something clicks, as people share their thoughts and experiences.
    • What are your favorite books to give — and get — as gifts?
      • I like to give out my books (The Paperback Mentor and Answers for Airmen) because I don’t think there are many books that truly capture the enlisted leadership perspective. In 2020, we gave away almost 1,500 copies between eBook and hard copies. As of July 2021, we’ve been able to give away another 1,000 and hope to keep giving more to people looking to learn and grow.
    • Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.
      • I love to beat box and freestyle rap silly songs for my kids and wife. The quality varies widely according to them!
      • I’m inspired to write because I have a God given ability to communicate and connect with people and I refuse to let my gift go to waste or live a life without meaning.
      • I am probably one of the least organized people you will ever meet. People think because I have written a couple books that I must be organized or at least have organized thought, but I don’t. Ask my wife!! I hate schedules and waking up early but somehow, I begrudgingly get it done.

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