What I Learned from the Dog Tag Fellowship as Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Start a Business...Right Now
By Marit Taylor
I am always intrigued by how businesses get started and the people behind them. The NPR podcast “How I Built This” always blows my mind. Hearing about the number of struggles entrepreneurs have at the beginning and the incredible risk they take on is truly unreal. I know, right now, I am not ready or willing to take those risks or face those struggles. So, what can I learn and take away from the Dog Tag Fellowship, which focuses so much on “fostering an entrepreneurial mindset?”
I have learned when to create something from the ground up––and when not to “reinvent the wheel.” For example: the bakery product my group developed. Our recipe went through many rounds of development and testing, and in the end was better for the creativity and work we put into it. But not everything is better off when you spend a lot of time personalizing it; “reinventing the wheel” was not ideal for daily administrative tasks. Dog Tag utilizes countless software products and tools to make their lives easier, such as eTapestry to keep track of the ever-evolving list of donors, and I’ve learned how tools like that can make things so much easier.
But the greatest thing I’ve learned is what truly trusting and caring leaders look like. In January, I was ready to learn and in a good place. When I hit a speed bump in March, multiple staff members at Dog Tag recognized my struggle. They supported and talked to me, offering solutions and a listening ear; they validated my experience. Throughout the Fellowship, I balanced a full online school course load, a move to New York City, the final steps of my transition out of the military, and many medical appointments. Leadership is always changing and highly individualized. It is amazing how I had to leave the military to find the kind of leader I really want to become and emulate.
The complete list of my lessons learned is far too vast for this blog post and honestly, I likely have not fully realized everything. However, I know the lessons and skills I learned at Dog Tag will continue to compound through the years.
Marit is an Army veteran who graduated from the Dog Tag Fellowship program in June 2018. To learn more about Marit and other Winter 2018 Dog Tag Fellows, click here!