My experience in the military prepared me for leadership and placed me in environments where I was forced to lead, whether I was ready for it or not
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of dealing with crisis and how to adapt and overcome. The context of this series is the physical and financial fallout that resulted from the COVID 19 pandemic. Crisis management is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Levon Taylor.
Levon is an active duty military man who’s dedicated to his family. With a background as an Interior Communications Electrician he serves in the Navy division of the military. With dreams of communicating in the masses he joined forces with his brother for Taylor Talent Reels. Believing in his brother’s background he assisted in creating an environment where actors and actresses can become business-minded about their approach to the entertainment business. Not only does he serve his country, but he takes part in the Arts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
My name is Levon Taylor, I was born in Los Angeles California in the late ’70s and lived there until the age of 12, that’s when my parents decided to move our family to Montclair, Ca to give my little brother and I a safer childhood because of the growing gang lifestyle in LA. Growing up in LA which is a predominantly Black community, Montclair was definitely a culture shock as it was completely the opposite but I settled in, made friends and it became my home. Growing up I was always attracted to Electronics, my parents would tell me stories of myself taking apart small electronics before putting them back together because I was curious about how they worked. After I graduated High School I attended ITT Tech to pursue a career as a Technical Engineer but dropped out to change schools and study computers, right before my last year. After I became a husband and a father I decided to join the military, motivated by the same desire as my parent’s hand years prior, to give myself and family a better life.
And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?
Today I am still enlisted in the Navy where I work as an Interior Communications Electrician or (IC). My primary job is setting up and monitoring telephone systems, alarm systems, as well as television and surveillance systems.
Can you tell us a bit about your military background?
I was stationed on the USS Nimitz in Everett WA, Port Ops in Sasebo Japan, and aboard the Reagan in Yoko Sura Japan, I’ve been back in California for the last 6 months but am scheduled to return to Japan once I get my new orders.
Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?
The most interesting story for me is actually experiencing the world. As a kid I’ve always thought about traveling, growing up I was into Martial Arts and Anime and had a fascination for the Japanese culture, so being able to live in Japan for these last few years have been sort of a dream fulfilled.
We are 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.
I can’t think of a scenario of one particular story of heroism. I think collectively everyone I’m stationed with are heroes because we’re all sworn to serve our country and protect our nation.
Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?
In my opinion a hero is a person that will do the right thing no matter what type of loss or hardship they have to endure.
Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business or leadership? Can you explain?
My experience in the military definitely prepared me for leadership but placed me in environments where I was forced to lead, whether I was ready for it or not. The military helps you learn to adapt quickly because you are responsible for the people and the livelihood of the people around you that you took an oath to protect.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out how to survive and thrive in crisis. How would you define a crisis?
Identify the situation, implement control in order to minimize loss, execute a plan, and assist as needed to reach a desired goal.
Before a crisis strikes, what should business owners and leaders think about and how should they plan?
They should create a plan based on crisis type scenarios so that they’re better prepared in case of one. Financial plan being number one.
There are opportunities to make the best of every situation and it’s usually based on how you frame it. In your opinion or experience, what’s the first thing people should do when they first realize they are in a crisis situation? What should they do next?
The first thing to do when faced with a crisis is to make sure they’re calm, their thoughts are rational and in the right mental state before making any decisions so that their decisions aren’t irrational, based on fear or emotion and are clearly thought out.
What do you believe are the characteristics or traits needed to survive a crisis?
Characteristics or traits needed to survive a crisis are, Hope, Determination, Leadership, Bravery, Faith
When you think of those traits, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Jesus, if you read the bible you can figure out why.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
My divorce, my main reason for joining the military was family-based, with my divorce my plans were derailed, I found myself in a situation where I was hurting and in debt. I have since raised my expectations in regards to what I look for in a relationship. It took me 10 years to get out of debt and have built up savings to make sure that myself and my daughter are always taken care of.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Crises not only have the potential to jeopardize and infiltrate your work, but they also threaten your emotional stability and relationships. Based on your military experience, what are 5 steps that someone can take to survive and thrive in these situations?
- Have faith
- Don’t forget your dreams
- Seek knowledge
- Analyze what’s true
- Focus on solutions
Ok. We are nearly done. 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. 🙂
I would inspire a movement of Hope because I believe even if you lost everything else, by holding on to Hope, you will have to motivation to gain it all back.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders 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, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would choose Denzel Washington because he actually helps actors in silence and supports HBCUs. He moves in silence but makes an impact on many people of color’s lives.
How can our readers follow you online?
I would prefer that they follow my Facebook Group “Actorprenuers” and @taylortalentreels on IG.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.