On Veterans Day, we take a moment to honor the courageous individuals who have served in the armed forces. Today, we hear from Lindsey Chrismon (MBA 2025) who served with dedication and is now pursuing an MBA, connecting the worlds of military service and higher education. Join us as we explore this unique journey and celebrate the valuable contributions of veterans.
This post was prepared in collaboration with the Armed Forces Alumni Association (AFAA).
Figure it out.
Be a good person.
Buy a pair of cleats.
As a fresh graduate from Army Flight School and a brand-new AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot, I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders at my first unit. During this initial week, my commander pulled me aside to share his leadership philosophy. While the hum of the Apache helicopters roared in the background, it was that brief leadership lesson that resonated the loudest. He told me to do three things:
“Figure it out.” Those three words became my mantra. Every challenge, whether it was understanding the intricacies of the helicopter mechanics or navigating the complex dynamics of leading soldiers, required me to dig deep, ask questions, and find solutions. There were no manuals on leadership, no guidebooks on how to inspire and motivate. Instead, there were people, with hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations. They looked to me for guidance, and I knew I had to pave the way, even when the path was unclear.
“Be a good person.” Leadership isn’t just about giving orders or ensuring tasks are completed. It’s about understanding, empathy, and integrity. It is about building trust, not just as a leader, but as a fellow human being. Every decision I made, every action I took, was guided by the principle of being good, fair, and just. It was about acknowledging mistakes, celebrating successes, and always striving to do better. Because at the end of the day, the respect of my soldiers was earned, not given.
“Buy a pair of cleats.” This advice resonated profoundly, and the underlying principle was clear: Show up, every single day. Just as a soccer player wouldn’t dream of stepping onto the field without their cleats, I was reminded that I should never approach a day without full dedication to my team. Those cleats became symbolic of my responsibility to always be prepared and they represented a commitment to my team.
As my military career progressed, that foundational conversation continued to shape my approach to leadership. Each challenge faced and hurdle overcome reinforced the wisdom of those simple guidelines. The essence of leadership, I realized, wasn’t just about authority or expertise. It was about resilience, about consistently figuring things out, and embracing the core values that make one truly human. Ultimately, it was about lacing up those metaphorical cleats daily, fully committing to the team and the mission. It’s in these foundational principles that I found the blueprint for authentic and impactful leadership.
Harvard Business School’s emphasis on ethical leadership and social responsibility resonated deeply with my own values of being a good person and leading with integrity. This environment was instrumental in shaping my ambition to pursue entrepreneurship. The school’s entrepreneurial ecosystem provides not just the theoretical frameworks, but also the practical experiences and a network of peers, mentors, and alumni who are embodiments of my ‘cleats philosophy’ – fully committed to their ventures and communities. It instilled in me the confidence that the principles of leadership I had learned in the military were not just applicable, but essential, in the business world. At HBS, I’m realizing that entrepreneurship is more than a career choice; it is a way to make a meaningful impact, guided by the same values and lessons that I learned in the Army.