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The 24/7 job: Diplomats and Generals

Work, life balance

Work-life balance does not always apply to those who protect us here at home: police, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. The same applies to diplomats and generals who protect us overseas and who run our embassies, military bases, and our troops. We embarked on a journey of discovery which led us to the American Academy of Diplomacy and a podcast series titled The General and the Ambassador: A Conversation. We heard stories about working overseas, war & peace, teamwork and heavy responsibility, as well as fun times. The Ambassadors and the Generals talk about what made them choose their careers in international service – we were surprised to learn that most had an early indication of their path during adolescence. Please see our video report). 

The series, hosted by Ambassador (ret.) Deborah McCarthy brings the stories about international life to listeners in thirty-minute episodes. We discussed the podcast with Ambassador Ronald Neumann, President of American Academy of Diplomacy. He shared that while the life of a diplomat may not be for everyone it is certainly fascinating. Ambassador Neumann is the son of an ambassador and has a special tie to Afghanistan. He spent 37 years as a diplomat and was ambassador three times- including to the same place (Afghanistan) his father, Robert G. Neumann served as ambassador. When asked about work-life balance he stated, “I have certainly thrived, my wife and I …have just celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary and we moved a lot and our children have grown up overseas …”. As for his work, Ambassador Neumann went on to say “communication and listening is a huge part of being an effective Foreign Service Officer (diplomat)…”attributes we feel are effective tools for life as a whole. Through the series, we view the world of diplomats/generals and learn how they work 24/7 to protect us.

To learn more about the stories behind their service you can check out these podcasts featuring General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Admiral James Stavridis & Ambassador William Brownfield, General John Gardner & Ambassador Katherine Canavan, and General Philip Breedlove & Ambassador Victoria Nuland.

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