How 1 Army Veteran Is Building A Community Of Female Leaders | TODAY

How 1 Army Veteran Is Building A Community Of Female Leaders | TODAY


>>>WELCOME BACK.>>>WELCOME BACK. THIS MORNING, WE’RE INTRODUCING THIS MORNING, WE’RE INTRODUCING YOU TO AN ARMY VETERAN WHO IS YOU TO AN ARMY VETERAN WHO IS TURNING GRIT INTO A LIFESTYLE. TURNING GRIT INTO A LIFESTYLE.>>SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST>>SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST WOMEN TO FLY AN APACHE WOMEN TO FLY AN APACHE HELICOPTER. HELICOPTER.>>NOW, SHE’S TAKING THE LESSONS>>NOW, SHE’S TAKING THE LESSONS SHE LEARNED IN THE MILITARY TO SHE LEARNED IN THE MILITARY TO BUILD A COMMUNITY OF FEMALE BUILD A COMMUNITY OF FEMALE LEADERS. LEADERS.>>WOMEN ARE SO ACTIVE AND SO>>WOMEN ARE SO ACTIVE AND SO ACCOMPLISHED, I THINK IN SO MANY ACCOMPLISHED, I THINK IN SO MANY NONTRADITIONAL WAYS IN ALASKA. NONTRADITIONAL WAYS IN ALASKA.>>Reporter: AS A CHILD GROWING>>Reporter: AS A CHILD GROWING UP IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, SHANNON UP IN ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, SHANNON PULLSON LEARNED TO FOLLOW HER PULLSON LEARNED TO FOLLOW HER DREAMS. DREAMS. AT AGE 17, PULLSON TOOK HER AT AGE 17, PULLSON TOOK HER ALASKAN GRIT AND TRAVELED ACROSS ALASKAN GRIT AND TRAVELED ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO ATTEND COLLEGE AT THE COUNTRY TO ATTEND COLLEGE AT DUKE UNIVERSITY, IN NORTH DUKE UNIVERSITY, IN NORTH CAROLINA, WHERE SHE JOINED THE CAROLINA, WHERE SHE JOINED THE ROTC. ROTC.>>I ENDED UP GOING ACTIVE DUTY.>>I ENDED UP GOING ACTIVE DUTY. I WAS IN THE FIRST GROUP OF I WAS IN THE FIRST GROUP OF WOMEN WHO FLIED THE APACHE IN WOMEN WHO FLIED THE APACHE IN THE U.S. OREMARMY. THE U.S. OREMARMY. THERE WAS SOMETHING EXCITING AT THERE WAS SOMETHING EXCITING AT THE TIME TO DO SOMETHING THAT THE TIME TO DO SOMETHING THAT WAS NEW AND HAD JUST OPENED UP. WAS NEW AND HAD JUST OPENED UP. I FEEL FORTUNATE FOR THE I FEEL FORTUNATE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE FLOWN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE FLOWN MISSIONS THAT FELT LIKE THEY MISSIONS THAT FELT LIKE THEY WERE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. WERE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.>>Reporter: PULLSON WENT ON TO>>Reporter: PULLSON WENT ON TO SERVE IN BOSNIA, AFTER THE SERVE IN BOSNIA, AFTER THE BOSNIA WAR. BOSNIA WAR.>>WE HAD OUR 30 MILLIMETER>>WE HAD OUR 30 MILLIMETER LOADED IN THE APACHES READY IF LOADED IN THE APACHES READY IF WE NEEDED TO USE THEM. WE NEEDED TO USE THEM.>>Reporter: AFTER BEING>>Reporter: AFTER BEING PROMOTED TO ARMY CAPTAIN, PROMOTED TO ARMY CAPTAIN, PULLSON WAS DEPLOYED TO SOUTH PULLSON WAS DEPLOYED TO SOUTH KOREA IN THE LATE ’90s. KOREA IN THE LATE ’90s.>>IF WE VIOLATED THE NO-FLY>>IF WE VIOLATED THE NO-FLY LINE, WE WOULD BE SHOT DOWN. LINE, WE WOULD BE SHOT DOWN. WE KNEW THE RAMIFICATION OF THAT WE KNEW THE RAMIFICATION OF THAT KIND OF ERROR. KIND OF ERROR. I THINK THE MILITARY TAUGHT ME A I THINK THE MILITARY TAUGHT ME A LOT OF TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE. LOT OF TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE. IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU CAN LEARN FROM THE MILITARY. YOU CAN LEARN FROM THE MILITARY.>>Reporter: AFTER EIGHT YEARS,>>Reporter: AFTER EIGHT YEARS, PULLSON RETURNED TO CIVILIAN PULLSON RETURNED TO CIVILIAN LIFE, STARTED A FAMILY, EARNED LIFE, STARTED A FAMILY, EARNED AN MBA AND WORKED IN THE AN MBA AND WORKED IN THE CORPORATE WORLD, INCLUDING A CORPORATE WORLD, INCLUDING A MANAGEMENT JOB AT MICROSOFT. MANAGEMENT JOB AT MICROSOFT. EIGHT YEARS LATER, PULLSON EIGHT YEARS LATER, PULLSON STARTED THE GRIT PROJECT. STARTED THE GRIT PROJECT.>>MY EXPERIENCE WAS UNIQUE>>MY EXPERIENCE WAS UNIQUE COMING INTO THIS FIELD AS ONE OF COMING INTO THIS FIELD AS ONE OF THE FIST WOMEN TORST WOMEN TO DO THE FIST WOMEN TORST WOMEN TO DO WANTED TO DRAW STORIES FROM WANTED TO DRAW STORIES FROM OTHER WOMEN, AS WELL. OTHER WOMEN, AS WELL.>>Reporter: IT WAS HER PASSION>>Reporter: IT WAS HER PASSION OF INSPIRING WOMEN’S STORIES OF INSPIRING WOMEN’S STORIES THAT LED PULLSON TO START THE THAT LED PULLSON TO START THE GRIT INSTITUTE. GRIT INSTITUTE.>>YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO>>YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO PUSH THROUGH THINGS AND NOT LET PUSH THROUGH THINGS AND NOT LET PEOPLE DEFINE YOUR PEOPLE DEFINE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES. OPPORTUNITIES. YOU DON’T QUIT. YOU DON’T QUIT. YOU DON’T GIVE UP. YOU DON’T GIVE UP.>>PLEASE WELCOME SHANNON>>PLEASE WELCOME SHANNON PULLSON. PULLSON. TAKE ME BACK TO THAT INITIAL TAKE ME BACK TO THAT INITIAL DECISION, ONE OF THE FIRST WOMEN DECISION, ONE OF THE FIRST WOMEN TO OBVIOUSLY FLY AN APACHE TO OBVIOUSLY FLY AN APACHE HELICOPTER. HELICOPTER. WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO IT? WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO IT? DID YOU ENCOUNTER RESISTANCE? DID YOU ENCOUNTER RESISTANCE? PUSHBACK? PUSHBACK?>>I WAS PART OF THE ROTC>>I WAS PART OF THE ROTC PROGRAM IN DUKE UNIVERSITY. PROGRAM IN DUKE UNIVERSITY. I WAS IN THE NATIONAL GUARD AT I WAS IN THE NATIONAL GUARD AT THE TIME. THE TIME. WE HAD APACHES AND BLACKHAWKS IN WE HAD APACHES AND BLACKHAWKS IN THE NATIONAL GUARD. THE NATIONAL GUARD. I WAS GIVEN MY ASSIGNMENT AND I I WAS GIVEN MY ASSIGNMENT AND I WAS TOLD I COULDN’T FLY AN WAS TOLD I COULDN’T FLY AN APACHE HELICOPTER. APACHE HELICOPTER. IT WAS THE EARLY ’90s AND WE IT WAS THE EARLY ’90s AND WE WEREN’T ALLOWED TO FLY THE WEREN’T ALLOWED TO FLY THE APACHES. APACHES.>>AS WOMEN.>>AS WOMEN.>>WHEN THE COMBAT EXCLUSION>>WHEN THE COMBAT EXCLUSION CLAUSE WAS LIFTED, THAT WAS THE CLAUSE WAS LIFTED, THAT WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLE AIRFRAME AND MOST INCREDIBLE AIRFRAME AND MISSION AND AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. MISSION AND AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. IT WAS SOMETHING I KNEW BECAUSE IT WAS SOMETHING I KNEW BECAUSE WE HAD THE FIRST “DESERT STORM” WE HAD THE FIRST “DESERT STORM” WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, THERE WAS WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, THERE WAS A GOOD LIKELIHOOD YOU WILL GET A GOOD LIKELIHOOD YOU WILL GET DEPLOYED IN THE MILITARY. DEPLOYED IN THE MILITARY. IF I WAS DEPLOYED, I WANTED A IF I WAS DEPLOYED, I WANTED A CHANCE TO SHOOT BACK. CHANCE TO SHOOT BACK.>>YOU HAD ONE OFFICER, MALE>>YOU HAD ONE OFFICER, MALE OFFICER, TELL YOU, YOU WOULD OFFICER, TELL YOU, YOU WOULD NEVER FLY AN APACHE. NEVER FLY AN APACHE. THEN WHAT? THEN WHAT?>>WHEN I WAS IN THE NATIONAL>>WHEN I WAS IN THE NATIONAL GUARD, I DRILLED WITH THE GUARD, I DRILLED WITH THE NATIONAL GUARD FOR THE LAST TWO NATIONAL GUARD FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS IN COLLEGE. YEARS IN COLLEGE. WHEN I WENT TO RECEIVE MY WHEN I WENT TO RECEIVE MY ASSIGNMENT, THE AVIATION ASSIGNMENT, THE AVIATION OFFICER, STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OFFICER, STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CONVERSATION, LEANED BACK OF THE CONVERSATION, LEANED BACK IN HIS CHAIR AND LOOKED DOWN HIS IN HIS CHAIR AND LOOKED DOWN HIS NOSE AT ME AND SAID, YOU NOSE AT ME AND SAID, YOU REALIZE, CADET, YOU WILL NEVER REALIZE, CADET, YOU WILL NEVER FLY AN ATTACK AIRCRAFT. FLY AN ATTACK AIRCRAFT.>>THAT GIVES YOU MORE DRIVE>>THAT GIVES YOU MORE DRIVE RIGHT THERE. RIGHT THERE.>>IT DOES, RIGHT?>>IT DOES, RIGHT? IT DOES. IT DOES. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT SOMEBODY HAD SAID SOMETHING WITH SOMEBODY HAD SAID SOMETHING WITH SUCH VERY SPECIFIC, CLEAR SUCH VERY SPECIFIC, CLEAR INTENT. INTENT. AND I WENT BACK TO THE ROTC AND I WENT BACK TO THE ROTC DETACHMENT AND ASKED FOR DETACHMENT AND ASKED FOR TRANSFER TO ACTIVE DUTY. TRANSFER TO ACTIVE DUTY. AND THE COMBAT EXCLUSION CLAUSE AND THE COMBAT EXCLUSION CLAUSE WAS LIFTED. WAS LIFTED. I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM SINCE. I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM SINCE.>>IF YOU’RE WATCHING RIGHT NOW,>>IF YOU’RE WATCHING RIGHT NOW, PAL — PAL –>>IN YOUR FACE.>>IN YOUR FACE.>>THAT’S RIGHT.>>THAT’S RIGHT.>>YOUR STORY IS SO>>YOUR STORY IS SO INSPIRATIONAL. INSPIRATIONAL. THERE’S A LOT OF WOMEN WHO ARE THERE’S A LOT OF WOMEN WHO ARE TRAIL BLAZERS IN THEIR FIELD OR TRAIL BLAZERS IN THEIR FIELD OR DOING SOMETHING THAT IS DOING SOMETHING THAT IS TYPICALLY A MALE-DOMINATED TYPICALLY A MALE-DOMINATED FIELD. FIELD. THAT’S WHAT THE GRIT PROJECT IS THAT’S WHAT THE GRIT PROJECT IS DOING, RIGHT? DOING, RIGHT? IT GATHERS THE PEOPLE TO TELL IT GATHERS THE PEOPLE TO TELL THEIR STORIES. THEIR STORIES.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>ABSOLUTELY. ESPECIALLY WOMEN IN ESPECIALLY WOMEN IN MALE-DOMINATED FIELDS, WE DON’T MALE-DOMINATED FIELDS, WE DON’T TELL OUR STORIES AS MUCH. TELL OUR STORIES AS MUCH. WE FEEL ALMOST LIKE WE SHOULDN’T WE FEEL ALMOST LIKE WE SHOULDN’T TELL THEM. TELL THEM. THE PARTY LINE IS THERE’S NO THE PARTY LINE IS THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MAN AND DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MAN AND WOMAN. WOMAN. THE EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT. THE EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT. THE PERFORMANCE MAY BE MORE THE PERFORMANCE MAY BE MORE EXCEPTIONAL. EXCEPTIONAL. BUT THE REALITY OF THE BUT THE REALITY OF THE EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT. EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT. AND IT OCCURRED TO ME, HAVING NO AND IT OCCURRED TO ME, HAVING NO FEMALE ROLE MODELS IN THE FEMALE ROLE MODELS IN THE MILITARY, THAT WAS SOMETHING I MILITARY, THAT WAS SOMETHING I WAS MISSING AND I WOULD LOVE TO WAS MISSING AND I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO FIND THAT COLLECTIVE BE ABLE TO FIND THAT COLLECTIVE WISDOM AND BRING THAT TO PEOPLE WISDOM AND BRING THAT TO PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING — NOT JUST WHO ARE MAKING — NOT JUST WOMEN, BUT WOMEN AND MEN — IN WOMEN, BUT WOMEN AND MEN — IN THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES TODAY. THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES TODAY.>>THE ONE THING THAT IS SO>>THE ONE THING THAT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY, IS EMBRACING FAILURE. TODAY, IS EMBRACING FAILURE. FAILURE IS IMPORTANT. FAILURE IS IMPORTANT.>>I WANTED TO SAY AND I THOUGHT>>I WANTED TO SAY AND I THOUGHT OF THIS EARLY ON, WHEN YOU’RE OF THIS EARLY ON, WHEN YOU’RE FLYING AN AIRCRAFT, A HELICOPTER FLYING AN AIRCRAFT, A HELICOPTER AND AIRPLANE, YOU TAKE OFF AND AND AIRPLANE, YOU TAKE OFF AND LAND WITH THE NOSE INTO THE LAND WITH THE NOSE INTO THE WIND. WIND. I LOOK AT THAT AS FACING I LOOK AT THAT AS FACING FAILURE, FEAR, ANY OF THE FAILURE, FEAR, ANY OF THE CHALLENGES WE MIGHT FACE, YOU CHALLENGES WE MIGHT FACE, YOU HAVE TO TURN TOWARDS IT AND FLY HAVE TO TURN TOWARDS IT AND FLY DIRECTLY THROUGH IT. DIRECTLY THROUGH IT. IF YOU DO IT THE RIGHT WAY, THE IF YOU DO IT THE RIGHT WAY, THE RESISTANCE HELPS YOU RISE. RESISTANCE HELPS YOU RISE.>>THAT’S GOOD.>>THAT’S GOOD.>>RESISTANCE WILL HELP YOU>>RESISTANCE WILL HELP YOU RISE. RISE.>>YES.>>YES. SHANNON POLSON, THANK YOU. SHANNON POLSON, THANK YOU.>>MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH.>>MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH.>>SHANNON’S BOOK, BASED ON THE>>SHANNON’S BOOK, BASED ON THE GRIT PROJECT, IS DUE OUT LATER

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