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Defying Gender Expectations in the Military | Lisa Jaster

Episode 65, duration 1 hr 27 mins
Episode 65

Defying Gender Expectations in the Military | Lisa Jaster

Lisa Jaster is an American soldier, combat engineer, and one of the first three women to graduate the elite United States Army Ranger program in 2015. She graduated at age 37, while the average trainee age is 23. Prior to receiving her esteemed Ranger tab, Lisa worked as an engineer with Shell Oil in Houston and an Army Reserve individual mobilization augmentee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lisa is the recipient of numerous military accolades including two Bronze Star Medals and the Meritorious Service Medal. Lisa left active duty in 2007 and started a family and civilian career with Shell but returned to the Army as a reservist in 2012. Lisa holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering. She released her first book, “Delete the Adjective,” at the end of 2022.

Defying Gender Expectations in the Military - Lisa Jaster

In this episode we discuss:
– What it’s like to be one of the first female Army Ranger graduates.
– How to rise up in the face of low expectations.
– The keys to leadership and physical fitness that transcend race and gender.

00:00:00 Introduction

00:02:38 Lisa’s Story

00:08:46 Going to West Point

00:15:05 The First Woman to Graduate Ranger School

00:20:40 Delete the Adjective

00:24:08 Different Standards for Women

00:27:52 Ranger Skills

00:35:43 Becoming a Ranger

00:38:53 Handling Sexism

00:45:23 Can You Keep Your Head?

00:54:05 Facing Negativity

00:56:47 Finding Courage

01:01:25 What Makes a Community Effective?

01:07:52 Navigating Social Media

01:12:47 Don’t Put People In Boxes

01:18:37 Ranger School and the Public Eye

01:20:28 Leadership Training?

01:22:12 What Makes a Good Team?

01:24:02 What Destroys Teams

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Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:00:01]

Welcome to the Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show where I believe a healthy world is based on transparent conversations.

In today’s episode of The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show, I sit down with my friend, Lisa Jaster. Lisa is one of the first three women to graduate Army Ranger School. In this episode, we talk all about that. We also discuss how to rise up in the face of low expectations and key components to leadership and physical fitness that transcend race and gender.

Lisa Jaster is an American soldier, combat engineer, and again, one of the first three women to graduate the elite United States Army Ranger Program in 2015. Now, for those of you who don’t know, this is one of the most difficult training courses in the world. by the way, Lisa graduated at the tender age of 37, while the average training age is 23.This is incredibly inspiring for anybody.

Lisa has had a noteworthy activeduty career, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before Ranger school, she worked as an engineer after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point. I have to tell you, she is something special. She volunteered for combat training when she discovered the Army Ranger course was open to women for the first time in 60 years as a US government experiment to see how women would fare in the notoriously brutal program. She is the recipient of numerous military accolades, including two Bronze Star medals. She is currently a partner in the Talent War Group, and she is author of the book, Delete the Adjective.

As always, if you like this episode, please share it with someone who needs to be empowered.Lisa has defied all odds. Please share this, pay it forward.

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LisaJaster, thank you so much for coming on the show. By the way, it’s always amazing when I get to have my friends on the show.

Lisa Jaster [0:05:19]

Thanks for having me.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:05:20]

Yes. You are just not any friend, you are a woman who graduated Ranger School, one of the first three women to graduate Ranger School, also a West Point graduate, a soldier, an engineer, a mom—

Lisa Jaster [0:05:37]

And a wife. That’s the easiest one to put at the end of the list, which I’m working on right now, actually.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:05:45]

Pretty incredible. You are extraordinary. I wanted to bring you on to share your story.I want to hear all about you and also what makes you, which islike this nebulous question. But tell me, a woman going through RangerSchool, a soldier, tell us a little bit about your background.

Lisa Jaster  [0:06:06]

I grew up in a really small town in Wisconsin; I don’t know if we want to go all the way back.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:06:10]

We can fast forward to, I know that you’ve always wanted to be a soldier, that you want to be a soldier since you were seventh grade.

Lisa Jaster  [0:06:16]

Yes, seventh grade, I was inspired. I decided in seventh grade, I was going to go to West Point.I worked towards that goal starting in seventh grade with a few missteps along the way. I was not necessarily a good teenager or completely focused, but I did get there.While I was at West Point, one of the interesting things for me is being one of the first women to go to Army Ranger School. I never had a burr under my saddle about not being allowed to do things. It just was the way it was. I wasn’t trying to be a first at anything; I just wanted to be the best I could be at whatever opportunities were thrown in my face.

Fast forwarding through West Point, I tried to do sports and activities that would feed into being a good soldier, which included being on the Army Martial Arts team, primarily that, which was a lot of fun and has carried through. I’m 45 now and still doing martial arts.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:07:15]

So not the chess team.

Lisa Jaster [0:07:17]

Not the chess team. But honestly, now that I do play chess, I learned because my kids learned, that would have helped me with tactics quite a bit; absolutely excellent activity to do with my children. Of course, they beat me almost daily. But again, back to West Point, when I graduated,I wanted to be an engineer because I thought that was the closest to the fight for a female other than military or police, and the garrison mission. The mission that we did when we weren’t in a combat environment was also extremely useful, and it translated into the civilian world.

When I saw the first Gulf War, I was watching TV, and I thought these people aren’t acting. They’re not pretending. They’re actual heroes. We watched all these war movies growing up, whether you had a dad who liked John Wayne, or you were in the Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger genre family, there were always war movies.These people weren’t pretending.They weren’t acting like they were going to help people, they were actually helping people. Even if they didn’t see combat, they were willing to sacrifice their life, if that’s what they were called to do. It just seemed like a higher calling.I’m a Christian, big fan of the idea of having a higher calling, a higher purpose in life, andbeing in the military seemed like it was a reason to live, not just a job.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:08:49]

I think that’s really interesting because a lot of women maybe want to join the military, but the idea is often that they don’t want to necessarily be soldiers.

Lisa Jaster  [0:08:59]

There’s a common misconception, too, that we’re all war fighters. There’s this clash where peoplewho have done things like your husband has done or—

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:09:10]

You mean the dishes?He definitely didn’t do that.

Lisa Jaster [0:09:14]

Or my husband,he’s a Marine. You hear the stories.You see the war movies, and you think, oh, warriors.Thenthere’s this back and forth within uniformed service members that anyone who isn’t out in front fighting the fight is a pogue or—

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:09:29]

Which stands for?

Lisa Jaster [0:09:30]

I don’t even know.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:09:32]

Well, I think it’s–

Lisa Jaster  [0:09:33]

It’s the people who aren’t doing the war fighting stuff. Wehave fobbits,which the FOB is the Forward Operating Base, and those are the people that go to war and then never leave the protective barriers. There’s a lot of people who do that. There’s this misconception that somehow, they’re not as critical to the military as the people out there who are at the tip of the spear, who are out there fighting, who are out there doing the individual one-on-one contact or unit-on-unit contact.But something that was learned early on World War I is if you want to defeat another military, you cut off their supply lines. You hit them in the rear with the gear. If people can’t get food, if they can’t get fuel, they can’t win wars. So when you have someone who might be a smaller person, male or female, and they’re like,I can’t carry or hump a 90-pound pack. Sorry, a little bit military vernacular, but I can’t carry that 90-pound pack with me through the woods.Well, you don’t have toto be value-add to our military services. Even now, or especially now, with drones, some of the kids who grew up playing Xbox, not that I advocate gaming at all, I really don’t. If that’s something you love to do, good for you.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:10:53]

No, turn it off, people.

Lisa Jaster [0:10:54]

Yes, go outside. Get grass on your feet. But those people are huge added value for the Air Force and some of these. As the war becomes more digital, we need those skill sets. You think of those people and you think of pale skin and not a lot of muscle, but they can add value as well as soldiers.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:11:18]

When you decided to become a soldier, did you want to go fight a war?

Lisa Jaster  [0:11:21]

I did.I didn’t want us to be at war. But I did want to be part of the tip of the spear, whatever that looked like.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:11:32]

When you went to West Point, how was that? WestPoint, for people who don’t know, if you could highlight. I know what the Naval Academy is, and West Point is the opposite.It’s like the sister school, right? Am I butchering this?

Lisa Jaster  [0:11:46]

Everyday of the year, we absolutely love our brothers and sisters in the Navy. Except for Army Navy, it’s the first weekend in December. I promise you, I will not be talking to you. We’re not talking. We’re just not.Unless you want shaving cream in your car.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:12:02]

No, definitely. You’re going to clean it now.

Lisa Jaster [0:12:05]

Yes. But actually, the person who graduates last in our class in ranking, we call the goat, which is the mascot of the Naval Academy. That’s how much love there is there. ButWest Point is the Army’s school, college, commissioning source. We often say that the history you read was written by our graduates because a lot of our graduates, you’ve got your patents and your Schwarzkopfs. There’s a long line of history from West Point graduates. But it is a military school, so you leave from your high school less than 30 days after graduating high school.You spend your whole first summer doing basic training, then you go into the school year. The whole time you’re there, you’re under military regulations. You wear a uniform the entire time. Yoursummers are taken up with military training. When most college kids are coming home for Christmasbreak,you’re at military intercession, learning small unit tactics.

I went there really wanting to be as military as I could. I started off thinking,based on being a woman and wanting to use my mind, be an intellectual, I want to go military intelligence. I actually really thought that was the field forme. But as I learned more about the Army, I did graduate with a degree in civil engineering,I realized that I could go somewhere where there was nothing and build something that lasts forever. I could do it with the military. That means I can do service projects, which the military does a lot of that. We go into communities that need rebuilding, and we help build them up, whether it’s improving water systems, improving structures, or I could go and be a combat engineer, which is another part of that. Those are the people who do the demolitions. They blow stuff up, and they clear lanes, or they clear minefields so that the infantry can move forward. There’s even a joke among combat armsthat the infantry guys always say that infantry leads the way, and then engineers reply only after we clear it for you.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:14:15]

What did you do after you graduated from West Point? Did you graduate as an officer?

Lisa Jaster  [0:14:19]

Yes. Everyone who graduates from West Point is commissioned as a Second Lieutenant or an O1 in the United States Army. From there, you usually have a month, maybe two months of a break, and then you have to go into training, and you owe mandatory of five years activeduty service and three years of InactiveReady Reserve, which are the people that they can call up. I don’t know if you heard in the news recently,they’re calling up the Coast Guard IRR, Inactive Ready Reserve, and having them backfill someNavytroops. You have an eight-yearobligation after graduating, and then there’s just a constant tie back to the school.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:14:59]

What did you do when you graduated? Where did you go?

Lisa Jaster  [0:15:01]

I went to the Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Then soon thereafter, I got stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia.It’s outside of Savannah, absolutely gorgeous place to be stationed.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:15:13]

But you went overseas, too.

Lisa Jaster [0:15:15]

I did.I was commissioned in 2000, and then September 11th occurred. Very soon after September 11th, my unit started deploying soldiers to Afghanistan. I went over. After the new year, I went to Afghanistan.We came back, and then we actually deployed again to Iraq.I went to Operation Enduring Freedom One, which was Afghanistan, and then Operation Iraqi Freedom One which was in Iraq. Then after that, the Army paid for me to go to graduate school, get my Master’s in civil engineering, so I truly am an “enginerd”. I’ve watched concrete dry, and I took pictures of it, actually.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:15:52]

Yeah, that is unusual, somewhat weird and unusual. But when you were over there, what did you do?Was your job as an engineer?

Lisa Jaster  [0:16:01]

The military’s changed a bunch. Now, we have a route clearance and area clearance, which means we go out to either roadways or a big section of land, and we clear it for unexploded ordnance, mines, whatever else might be in the area. Back then, we didn’t have that. That was our first exposure to these IEDs and non-conventional warfare. There wasn’t a frontline and a rear area.

When I was in Afghanistan and Iraq, we actually up-armored our bulldozers. We armor-plated bulldozers in114-degree weather, stuck a guy in full kit with Kevlar in that and said, hey, go drive around and see if you can blow up any of the mines that are out there. Ideally, you would identify them and not blow them up, and then bring in the ordnance guys–guys and gals– to blow them up in place. But more often than not, you had a mind rake and that you would detonate that way.

That was one of the things we did, and then I got to build roadways, airfields, build up the camp. My platoon did a lot of convoy missions. We occupied perimeter positions, so my guys were even in foxholes. So I just want to dispel any rumors that yes, women weren’t on the frontlines necessarily back in 2001 and 2002,but we weren’t hidden either. We were still out there every day out on convoys, out getting exposed too.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:17:28]

You are a polarizing guest, which I love. I mean, I also love you and adore you as a human, but this is a very polarizing topic, this idea of women in the military, but not so much of women in the military, but women in Special Operations communities, Special Forces community, and rightly so.There’s just a lot of cultural, a lot of history that goes into all that. The goal of this podcast is really for people to get to know you. You are extraordinary. I mean, you and I were joking, I could definitely not make it through Ranger School. I couldn’t.

Lisa Jaster [0:18:06]

I couldn’t make it through medical school, so we’re good. We’re a good pair.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:18:07]

Well, you probably could.That is much easier than Ranger School. There’s just a lot of– and I was reading your book, and I was just thinking to myself, why would you put yourself through this?There’s lots of hard things that we do, but this is a different kind of hard; as a female, going into Ranger School. I think you said that you were 19 at the time.You were one of the first three to graduate in the history of Ranger School. Again, I know you didn’t set out to be the first, but it is not a comfortable experience. I say that so lightly to be in an environment where your fellow soldiers– you’ve always wanted to be in the military.You trained up to be a teammate, are looking at you thinking– I mean, at least outwardly,some people are like, get out of here. WhyRangerSchool?

Lisa Jaster  [0:18:58]

I didn’t want to go to Ranger School. It actually wasn’t on my to-do list, and I was contacted.Somebody said, my Ser Major–for anyone who doesn’t know, SerMajor is your Senior Enlisted Advisor. So you got your officers, and you got your enlisted. This is the guy who, if you ask him anything, he’s been in the Army long enough to know everything. If he doesn’t know, he’ll fake it and make you believe that he knows it. SerMajor Robbie Payne, I think he hates how much I mentioned his name now,he wrote me.He’s like, hey, listen, the Army’s going to open up Ranger School to women. Some of us were talking. I don’t know who the some of us were,but I’m sure none of it was a good conversation, but we think you should go. He sends me this via email. I just wrote him back, and I’m like, Ser Major,that’s great; I like room service, literally. I’m at that point in my life. I was 36 going on 37,two kids, amazing husband, great job. I took a King Air plane to my project site.I drink coffee on the way.There was a Land Cruiser waiting for me when I got there. I don’t want to live in the woods unless I’m camping and maybe even glamping.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:20:04]

Yeah. Even then, you don’t want to live in the woods.

Lisa Jaster [0:20:07]

I like my coffee every day, if nothing else anyway.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:20:09]

I could not deploy ifthere’s no Starbucks around here.

Lisa Jaster  [0:20:14]

Ser Major Payne didn’t get anywhere with me, so he communicated with my husband.My husband, I love him and hate him for this simultaneously,but he cornered me. He was like, why wouldn’t you go?He quoted one of my favorite quotes back to me, which is Einstein saying, “A ship is safest at the shore, but that’s not what it was built for.”He’s like, baby, you were built for this. Think of your life. Think of the 36 years you’ve had.You don’t have a chip on your shoulder.You have the support system. You’ve been deployed.You’ve got a combat action badge.You’ve earned a Bronze Star.You’ve done these things.You’re coming in here, and you’re not going to be naive. You’re not going to care if somebody gets in your face.Shaving your head is just another day. I was like, I really don’t want to run five miles in 40 minutes. In all honesty, I would rather– my cardio is lifting weights faster. I do not want to run. He was like, well, we can get you there,but you really need to do this. So I went to Facebook and overwhelmingly, my friends were supportive.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:21:19]

Did you do a poll and say, hey, should I go to Army Ranger School or not? Did you think about potentially the repercussions and the impact that it would have on you, your family, if any?

Lisa Jaster[0:21:28]

I did to a point.I didn’t think it would go this far because I really thought that there would be swarms of women that were younger than me that would succeed.With the invention of CrossFit and the popularity of it–now granted, this was 2014. I attended in 2015. So this was fall of 2014, CrossFit was huge. A bunch of us were doing it.There were more women in jujitsu.You just saw so many strong women out there, especially in the military. We were fighting two wars publicly, and there’s all the other skirmishes that are going on in the background that aren’t highly publicized. But there’s enough people out there. I thought, well, there’s going to be plenty of women that want to go and graduate. I’m just going to be one of many. That was actually an interesting thing, too because all the army asked for was your social security number,if you were interested.Send an email to this inbox with your social security number saying, I’m interested in going to Ranger School. The reply was so overwhelming, we had to compete for slots. For only three to graduate was actually pretty surprising to me.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:22:37]

How many people go to Ranger School?

Lisa Jaster [0:22:39]

Each class is about 100. Or each class starts with almost 400 people depending–

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:22:44]

That’s a big class.

Lisa Jaster [0:22:45]

It is, but you– my class graduated, I think it was in the– I should have read my own book. Because I got all the numbers in there.It was either 68 or 86, but I can’t rememberright now.But less than 50% the year I went. Less than 50% of the people who started graduate, which is a much higher graduation rate than BUDS. But it is a significant drop.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:23:11]

2015 was the first time that they opened Ranger School to women.Was it the last time?

Lisa Jaster  [0:23:17]

No, it’s still open.120 some odd women have graduated since then.There are now women in Ranger Battalion. I’ve heard of other women doing other things, but because of the kickback and the response that we received, I don’t know if it’s the government or the individuals are trying to keep those names out of the press as much as possible because women like me just want to do their job. I don’t want to be a female Ranger School graduate; I want to go to Ranger School,so I could be a better engineer officer,so I could do the job that my male peers are doing with the same information, with the same level of training.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:23:55]

That’s what I think is so amazing. When you read the book, and when you and I talk, it actually had nothing to do with you being a woman wanting to do this thing. It was, how could it make you a better human? How could it make you actually a better soldier? Is that where the name, Delete the Adjective came from?

Lisa Jaster  [0:24:14]

Yes, indirectly. In 2016, President Obama had his final State of the Union, and I was invited with several other people to be a guest of Michelle Obama. The President’s spouse has a box at the State of the Union. They invite certain people who have been, they think, influential in the last year, and I was invited.I was allowed to bring a guest, and my husband, Alan said, I don’t really want to go.I’ll take care of the kids. I’ll stay home.It wasn’t a political statement, wasn’t anything. The person I invited instead was a LGBTQ activist, but she was also one of the first women to graduate from West Point in the class of 1980. She was extremely helpful throughout Ranger School. She is also a politician.She’s done a lot of navigating the DC area.

My number one fear is I’m a soldier. I’m a soldier, I’m a mom, I’m a wife, I’m all these things, but a politician, I’m not. I didn’t want to have to navigate those very shark-infested waters without somebody by my side who could tell me, hey, talk here, be quiet here, walk here, don’t do this. So I invited Sue as my guest. We were standing in line, wandered down or whatever to get into the West Wing. There was a newspaper article that was published, and it was something about Lisa Jaster, first female Army Reserve Ranger School graduate invites LGBTQ activist. I say that because the IA+ or whatever wasn’t part of it back in 2015. So I’m reading this article and just thinking, oh, my gosh, and Sue’s like, yeah, you didn’t invite me because I was gay or an activist, did you? I’m like,I invite you because you’re my friend. I thought you would be fun to go to this thing with.She goes, yeah, sometimes people need to just delete the adjective.

That was January 2016, and it juststuck. Why am I friends with you? I’m friends with you because I can talk to you about your husband, your job, you’re being a mom. I can talk to you about your house. I’m friends with you because of the whole person. Any one of those is great, but they’re just adjectives. I want to be friends with the whole person. So Delete the Adjective came from that. Then obviously, it fits very well with the Ranger School story. I have been told I should change the title only because it sounds like an English Lit book.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:26:35]

I love it. I think it’s very suiting.You went to Ranger School 2015. At the time, there were 19 women, 19 slots.

Lisa Jaster  [0:26:46]

21 women.The men don’t have to go through pre-Ranger. But because men usually have a pre-Ranger train up at their home units,they thought, let’s try to make it even playing ground for the women. So we’re going to send them to a two-week pre-RangerSchool called RTAC; it’s RangerTraining and Assessment Course. For the women to receive a slot to Ranger School, they had to graduate our RTAC.Again, this isn’t a requirement for men,so there’s been a lot of publicity about the fact that we had different standards, andyes, we did. We had to graduate pre-Ranger.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:27:24]

Probably under a lot of scrutiny, more scrutiny than somebody else.

Lisa Jaster  [0:27:28]

Yes. Part of the negative of that is the women’s hair standard in the military is different than the men’s. TheRanger standard was to cut your hair to the shortest allowable standard. For women, that was a quarter inch; for the guys, it’s a shaved head. So even day one, we stuck out because we had hair and they didn’t. I mean, it wasn’t even the fact that we looked different, or we were mostly more petite.Some of those guys are not– they’re any bigger than me, you will say. Butwe’ve got different voices. We stuck out significantly, which means– and this is nothing against Ranger instructors–they picked on us.But they didn’t pick on us because we were women.They picked on us because we stuck out. If you look into a sea of people, and there’s one black person, everybody notices the black person.It’s not because we’re allracist. It’s because he sticks out. I think that’s something that I had to get really comfortable with, andbeing 37 at the time was actually helpful because when they picked on me, I realized it was the fact that my voice was a different tone,so they zeroed in on me. I had hair, and the guys didn’t.

The women had to graduate this RTAC. I think there was 20 slots per class for four different iterations. If 80 of us went through, there was up to 60 slots for women reserved in the April Ranger School class. We were competing for 60 slots. Only 21 women actually graduated from RTAC. Two of them, one decided she didn’t want to go to Ranger School, and then one, I think, broke her ankle,so only 19 of us showed up on the first day.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:29:03]

Were you guys all friends?

Lisa Jaster [0:29:05]

I didn’t know. I knew one of them because she was in my RTAC class, andI had saved her cell phone number. I kept asking her, and we’re still friends today.Hey, Kris. Kris Griest, she was actually one of the first women to graduate from Ranger School. She was the only one I knew when I showed up on day zero.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:29:21]

What were you thinking going into it?

Lisa Jaster  [0:29:26]

I was actually more concerned about what it would do to my family. I wasn’t really concerned about my military career. At that point, I had gotten out of the military for five years, came back in as a reservist, and the army was something fun I did in addition to working for Royal Dutch Shell. But my kids were of that young age where in my mind, they needed their mother. But luckily, I did my due diligence, and I married the right man. I don’t know that they even noticed I was gone. Other than the fact that he manscaped the house a little bit, removed the coffee table and put in a wrestling mat so that he could have the kids, hey, you guys go practice your jits while I make dinner. Very good.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:30:12]

Good job, Alan. You weren’t thinking this is going to be hard. I need to be courageous. What if I suck? You were just thinking, okay, this is cool. What are some of the skills that you learn at Ranger School for people that have never heard of what a Ranger is or what you learn in Ranger School? What was it that you were doing?

Lisa Jaster  [0:30:31]

I thinkat Ranger School, there’s a misconception that Ranger School is a school, likeyou’re going to get educated. But the truth is, it’s a test. when you graduate, it’s more of a certification than it is in education. Because what happens is, we’re all good when we’re like this; hair, makeup, good night’s sleep, cup of coffee, and yeah, everybody’s good. What if you can’t have coffee for nine straight weeks? What if you haven’t slept for more than 45 minutes a night?The average day at Ranger School is 19 and a half hours long. So you learn these tactics, but they’re small unit tactics.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:31:13]

It’s things that you’ve already learned.

Lisa Jaster [0:31:14]

Everybody in the military from coast guard, navy, we all know how do you move through the woods? How do you walk quietly? How do you camouflage yourself in whatever environment you work in? These are all basic military skills. Well, now we’re going to test you by putting you in charge of whether it’s 5, 15, or a platoon of 30 some odd people who are all equally as tired. They’ve been walking around with 70 pounds on their back. In a typical Ranger School, which is nine weeks long, you walk on average, 200 miles. The rucksack is, on average, 70 pounds, which means sometimes it’s 50. But most times, it’s 80 or 90, and that’s 200 miles and 19 a half hour days. That includes those days when, hey, we’re jumping out of airplanes tomorrow, so they have to give you eight hours of rest. The nights are skewed where some nights are 15 minutes of sleep, so that you can have eight hours of sleep before your jump night or jump day. So what did I learn at Ranger School? It was, do I really have the mettle I thought I had when I’m tested? You knowit’s blanks. They can’t shoot live rounds at us;that would be stupid. They shouldn’t do it.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:32:25]

That would really limit the military.

Lisa Jaster  [0:32:28]

We’re sleep deprived, so they don’t want to give us live ammunition or send us to ranges. They can’t test us on the military skills we get tested on outside on our regular units. What they do is it’s got fake munitions, but you’re exhausted and you’re hungry, and every part of your body is sore as you’re walking through the woods. For weeks after you graduate, you have an interesting stench about you because your body actually starts digesting your own muscle mass to survive. The guys come out, andI specifically say the guys being gender-specific, they come out looking like they were locked in a basement for a month. Now, one of the other interesting things that comes in the controversial side is my face was still not very gaunt when I graduated,so there were rumors that I was getting more food, or I got more sleep, I got to come in for more showers. As a doctor, you understand that a 37-year-old female does not burn calories like a 22-year-old male. Where the guys were losing 15, 20 pounds, I lost 4. Then the next iteration, they’d lose another 10 pounds; I lost 2. We had guys that lost upwards of 50 pounds, and I lost 15.Again, 37. Trust me, I tried to lose weight all the time. It never works.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:33:48]

It’s just fascinating. But then they shouldn’t really call it Ranger School. They should probably call it Rangerselection.

Lisa Jaster  [0:33:56]

Yeah, maybe. Because it really is. I had somebody explain it to me because the grading standards.There were questions, hey, can we see the grading standards that the women were graded at?Now those cards are never kept because they are so individual.They’re individual to the instructor.They’re individual to the student. They’re individual to the position.You could walk through the woods here and walk through the woods by my house, which is separated by 250 miles, andit’s a completely different experience because I live in the hill country. So you and I automatically wouldn’t be graded the same because it’s just every scenario is different. With that, there are grading standards, but the true standard to graduate is, could I trust you to have my back in a foxhole if we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere and all I had was you?If I could answer yes, then you deserve to graduate from Ranger School.

Now, there are standards to make sure it’s not a good old boy system, or good old gal system, however you want to refer to it, but there are standards to make sure it’s not a good old boy system. But that’s really the underlying goal is, I’m going to test you to see if I can trust you. When you’re tired and hungry and going through whatever it is you’re going through in your personal life, can I still trust that you’re going to lead and make the right decisions?

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:35:18]

What makes a good leader?

Lisa Jaster  [0:35:22]

I think number one is leading the individual. Now, in the military, you have to lead a unit. But if you’re leading a unit of five guys, you talk to those five guys at their level. If you’re leading a squad of 12 or a platoon of 40, you talk to them at their level what they need to hear and how they need to hear it. I think being able to communicate in a way that your audience can hear you, regardless of the size, is critical. If you’re the Secretary of the Army, you can’t sit there and talk about the littleeaches. You have to talk big picture. You have to talk strategy. If you are a unit commander, you have to talk at an organizational level; you have to talk about operations, strategy, it doesn’t matter to necessarily the people at your level, unless it’s just a good to know. But when you’re at that small unit tactics, which is what Ranger School is testing, you have to speak to the individual. You have to speak at that tactical level. So can you when you’re tired and hungry and you don’t want to be there anymore, and you haven’t slept in a bed three weeks, can you still talk to these people in a way that they can hear you and they can execute your intent regardless of how you’re projecting? I think when you’re talking about leadership, it’s really knowing your audience and knowing how to motivate them.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:36:46]

What was it like for you? Take us throughthrough– I don’t know if it’s a day because I was reading your book, andit sounds like there are phases.There were phases where sometimes you are in charge, sometimes you’re not, or you guys flip flop.Take me through a scenario.

Lisa Jaster  [0:37:01]

Ranger School has three major phases, but the first thing you do is you have to graduate RAP week. RAP is the RangerAssessment Phase. That’s the first four days. Yes, it’s called week, and it’s four days, military math, I don’t know. But that’s all these individual tasks to make sure that you are physically capable of making through the school without hurting yourself. So push-ups, sit ups, run, water obstacle course, we can’t have people going through the swamps who can’t swim.Obstacle courses as a whole, ruck marches, ruck runs, lots of land navigation, just individual skills to make sure that you can handle yourself in the woods; pass that, great. Just to give a dynamic of what that looks like, we showed up on day zero. Day one was the physical fitness test. We started with 398, 399 people, a quarter of those people didn’t make it to breakfast on the first day. That’s a four-day assessment phase. If you don’t get through that, you go home; no questions asked.

Then you have your three phases, which is the crawl, walk, run, and crawl is in Fort Benning, Georgia. Walk is inDahlonega,Georgia, and then your run is in Florida. A typical scenario is in the early phases, you’re in charge of a team or a squad, so maybe five, maybe 12, and you have an assigned duty. If you’re the lead squad, you’re doing land navigation; if you’re the weapons squad, you’ve got all the big guns.Super fun stuff, it’s fun to be the weapons squad, except the fact that you have to carry those big guns all day through the woods along with everything else. If you’re in a leadership position, your job is to make sure you don’t lose anyone, which is a really big deal at Ranger School, andit’s a really big deal when you’re out there in an actual military operation. Can you keep accountability of a bunch of people who are drowning, and when I say drowning, I mean they’re literally walking around like there’s no human behind those eyeballs. Can you keep them moving in the right direction, keep everybody together, keep them doing their job they’re supposed to do?Then whether you’re in a leadership or you’re an individual person, just remember a squad,you’re reacting to artillery rounds coming at you. You have somebody attack you.At least once a day, you get an attack from opposition forces or people pretending to be enemy. Then the culminating event is you actually complete either a reconnaissance mission or you attack somebody or you set up an ambush. There’s some  sort of mission at the end of the day. Then finally, you get graded on setting up your patrol base, which is where you refeed and plan for the next day, maybe rest if you get a chance to sleep and start all over.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:39:50]

It just sounds very relaxing.

Lisa Jaster  [0:39:52]

Yes. It’s like going to the spa.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:39:54]

Yeah, it sounds very relaxing.


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What were the other soldiers’ influence on you? Because again, reading this book, it’s one thing to be able to execute in a way where it doesn’t matter what people think. As we’re doing this podcast, there’s going to be people that love this podcast, and there’s going to be people that hate it. But it’s not people directly in my face, and not with them for nine weeks. These are not my teammates. I’m sure some of them wanted you to succeed, and some did not and didn’t understand why you were there. Again, for those not in the military community orin that environment,this is very polarizing. Number one, what were some of the experiences that you had, and how do you navigate or process that?

Lisa Jaster  [0:43:50]

The guys who were there. First and foremost, above all else, the 40 somethings or the late 30s, we know somebody who fits every category. You know that person who’s a retired professional athlete, has their second career, and you’re like, wow, look at all the stuff you’ve done. But at 22, I didn’t know that person. I didn’t know somebody who was worldly, intellectual, and athletic andthis and that. So these young cats are coming in and all they’re being told leading up to this integration is oh my god, don’t let a woman graduate. That would be terrible.

Ranger School like life, is a team sport. Like everything in the military, it’s a team sport. We started the podcast talking about without logisticians, the guys with the guns don’t have bullets, so they can’t fight the wars without their backup. So we get there and after you did a few air squats, and you did some burpees, and you did all these other physical fitness requirements, hey, somebody didn’t make it on time to formation. Everybody, do 100 jumping jacks.By the time we got there, and my classmates looked at me and the other women, and we’re like, wait a minute, the women are doing all the jumping jacks.They’re getting noticed more because they stick out because of their size, their voices, their hair,so we’re getting more attention than most of the guys, which means we can’t fake it.We can’tfade into the background. The women not only are doing the same thing we are, but they’re doing it under a more watchful eye. It took probably less than 24 hours for our classmates, in general, to accept us. Now, there was a couple of them that would fight the good fight.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:45:33]

Really fast. Why?

Lisa Jaster  [0:45:42]

Because if I dropped my rucksack, let’s say we were holding our bags over our head doing what we call Y squats, where you make a Y with your arms, you squat with whatever you’re holding over your head, and you do a bunch of it. If I dropped my bag, everybody gets punished for it. Well, the women were getting watched. There were guys dropping their bags,but none of the women, at least not in Bravo Company, none of the women dropped their bags. Once you get to that point, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care who you sleep with, I don’t care anything about you other than don’t drop your bag. After a 20-hour day where you get, you might get 2000 calories, if you can eat really scalding hot food fast enough.You might get 2000 calories, but you’ve been up for 20 hours. You’ve been physically active the entire 20 hours. Now everybody goes into the barracks, and you have three hours to sleep,ready, go. Nobody cares. Nobody cares if they were sharing a bunk with a woman. Nobody cares about anything. Just we didn’t shower together. Other than that, you change over there, I don’t care. It just stopped being important. There was a couple of people who either didn’t work with me directly, didn’t work with one of the women directly, that would come up later on in the field and be like, why are you here? But it wasn’t a hey, you’re not pulling your weight. It was more of a–

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:47:04]

Never for you. I mean, you excelled at many of the things.

Lisa Jaster  [0:47:10]

I definitely had a couple of weakdays. Everybody has a weakday. You’ll hear this from a lot of guys. They’ll say, I mean, my dad went to Ranger School in 1968. He said if you were a man and you didn’t cry at Ranger School, you’re lying. Everybody broke down at some point in time. That’s the other thing, too. Because when you read about stuff, you’ll hear something about, this woman broke down here, or this woman fell back in this ruck march. Okay, well, also out of the 68 plus people that were in that platoon, or were in that section, five dudes did as well. Everybody fails at some point in that school, even the best of the best.

The guys really accepted me quickly. The couple of guys who didn’t, it was more of a conversation of listen, I know my wife. I know my kids. I know my mom. I know my sister. Why would you want to do this? Why are you opening this to women? What if the next step is for women to be part of selective service? My question back to them is, why wouldn’t we be?Of course, that’s a wholeother discussion and a whole other debate. But part of it toowas, I wasn’t fighting to be in combat arms. That wasn’t even my fight at the time. I wanted to go to Ranger School because my male peers that were engineer officers were recognized and promoted because of their accomplishments in their career, andthey were allowed to go to Ranger School andI wasn’t.It put me at a disadvantage.

It’s not just because of that school. I wanted to be tested. I wanted to have something where I could prove, hey, listen, I’m a cut above. I am the best possible officer I can be. I have taken every opportunity put in front of me to try to make myself the best version of myself, and I’m going to keep pushing. If a door is open, I’m not stepping through it, I’m diving through it.When you have those conversations, as you’re bearing stuff in the woods or whatever, when you’re having these conversations on one on one, the guys will look at you and go, okay, I get it.You can do it,but my wife can’t. I’m like, but your wife isn’t here, and she doesn’t want to be.Nobody’s forcing guys to come to Ranger School, and nobody’s forcing girls to come to Ranger School.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:49:26]

It’s also important to highlight what you said.Ranger School is different. It doesn’t mean that you’re going into combat. When an individual graduates RangerSchool, they can what, go join a, is it a platoon, or is it not called the platoon?Or you go back to your job.It’s not like SEAL selection where they go through SEAL training, go through BUDS, then you go through the phases, and then you go to a team where you’re training for war. This is not what this is.It’s different.

Lisa Jaster  [0:49:57]

Right. Even the Ranger units have people in who haven’t completed RangerSchool yet. So, yes, if you’re going to go to a Ranger unit, or if you want to stay in a Ranger unit, you need to go to Ranger School. But every infantry officer has to attend Ranger School. If you don’t, it’s a career ender. The reason why is it’s important to be tested. Can you have bullets, fake or not,flying in your direction, fake kill or real kill? Now real kill obviously is a whole lot more stressful, but we can’t test that. So can we put you in the most stressful environments, and can you keep your head? I think that’s really important for everyone to test themselves, especially if you’re going to be out on convoys, if you’re going to be occupying the perimeter.If I’m going to be a lieutenant, and I had 40 plus people in my platoon in Afghanistan, it would have been nice to have tested myself a little bit more before I got in that position.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:50:55]

When you were there, did you feel as if you’re going to quit? Or did you think, okay, if I can just make it through these nine weeks, it’s going to be okay, because you knew that the end was in sight.There’s a certain level of maturity. Then the other aspect of that is what did the other Ranger instructors even think of you? Were they whispering like,hey, Lisa, good job, or were they like, get out of here, man?

Lisa Jaster  [0:51:20]

Oh, the Ranger instructor story is a great one. It’s very different than my peers. But to answer your first question about quitting, anyone who says they never thought about quitting is, again, probably lying to themselves, which is okay. Sometimes you need to lie to yourself to get through it. I will say, I remembered a Ronda Rousey quote from UFC, the TV show, Ultimate Fighting Championship. She was talking to one of her, I’ll do the short version. She was talking to one of her athletes, and he was like, I’m just going to drink water. He couldn’t make weight for his fight. She goes, don’t let the quit in. He’s like, but I’m not going to make weight anyway.She goes, yeah, but don’t let the quit in. And I thought about that.Every time my brain went to that negative spot of don’t let the quit in, because once you let that in the door, it’s always there. Once you quit one thing, it’s easier to quit that second thing, which makes it easier to quit the third thing. So don’t let the quit and was one thing that I tried to keep in mind.

The second thing is, I had two friends that I was really close with at West Point. One of them, her dad was a colonel in the army,an O6. He wrote me a letter and said, build your quit criteria, which was a totally different aspect when thinking about quitting. What are some reasons you could quit where you wouldn’t be ashamed. Make that list. If you’re going through something, and it’s not on that list, then you don’t get to quit. So I made my list: death of an immediate family member. That’s a good reason to quit and go home.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:53:02]

For sure. Compound fracture in my lower body.

Lisa Jaster [0:53:08]

Yep, that was it.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:53:09]

Pretty much that works, because I know that you had a shoulder injury and you had knee injury but no compound fracture.

Lisa Jaster  [0:53:14]

But it was very specific, andit was only those two things. I couldn’t think of anything else where I could call my mom and be like, hey, I quit and her response be,well, I’m proud of you. You tried hard enough.You did everything you could.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:53:28]

People should deploy that in their own life, a quit criteria. In fact, I’m going to do it. I’m going to come up with a quit criteria.

Lisa Jaster  [0:53:38]

You can do it with everything, with your job. Are you in a miserable job? I know you’re not. But for other people, are you in a miserable job? How is your relationship? What in your life is something that you think about quitting in?Because it’s easy to quit so many things. It’s easy to quit a diet.It’s easy to quit an exercise regimen. It’s easy to quit so many things.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:54:02]

Once you quit, you’re a quitter.You become a quitter.

Lisa Jaster [0:54:03]

Yeah. It’s there. It’s there forever. So the quit criteria and the “don’t let the quit in” were my two little mantras. But to answer your other question, which is the one that it’s the hardest for me to answer because were there Ranger instructors that didn’t want me to graduate? Hell yes. Hell yes.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:54:23]

Because they’re old school, I’m guessing,

Lisa Jaster  [0:54:27]

But I’m also trying to invade their community.I always call it the mystical bro bond. But the hardest thing to deal with for anyone is uncertainty. What happens when you have 10 dudes that love each other like brothers, and they always hang out together, and now there’s a girl who’s been pushed in there. It completely changes that dynamic, and it changes the culture.And it’s true; it does happen. But there were a couple things you got to consider. Kris, Shaye, and I, the three who graduated in 2015, are really part of the guys. Mike Cirelli, Talent War Group.The other day, I’m listening to one of his podcasts, andhe’s like, yeah, you know Lisa, she’s like a dude, but she’s just got long hair. I was like, I would take offense to that,but it’s true. I’ve been one of the guys. I’ve worked construction. I’ve worked oil and gas. I like being around one of the guys, so I don’t know that I would change the culture of an all-male unit significantly. To some degree, people would automatically change their behaviors, but I’m still one of the guys, so it would be incremental change maybe. But once that door’s open, there’s going to be other women that follow me,and maybe those other women aren’t a Kris, a Shaye, or a Lisa. Their fear is very real. Will the Ranger culture change? Yes. Will it be for the worst? I don’t know. Will it change everywhere? I don’t know. So they had a couple that were what we call tab protectors. They would take their velcro that’s on their shoulder of their uniform, and they would put it over their Ranger tab. Now the joke was, oh, it’s so that it doesn’t get caught on a tree branch and get torn off because they’re velcroed on. But let’s be honest, that’s happened how many times?Tree branches are not coming and stealing your bag from those guys.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:56:20]

I mean, they could. We are you in 2023.

Lisa Jaster  [0:56:25]

Yeah, but it’s like a $1.49 at the PX.You can go get another one.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:56:27]

When you graduate RangerSchool, do you become a Ranger? Does an individual become a Ranger? How does that work?

Lisa Jaster  [0:56:34]

I will never refer to myself as a Ranger. Okay, I will call myself a RangerSchool graduate because there’s a difference: I haven’t been in a Ranger unit. But I do want to touch back with the instructors because the other thing that I want to give them grace for is the fact that my classmates completely accepted me because they had to live with me. They had to deal with me. I was their teammate, those Ranger instructors, they came in for their 24-hour shifts, and they went home, and they had to read articles in People Magazine. They had to listen to congressmen questioning the validity of this being there. They had their buddies who had never seen any of us, who didn’t know that I’ve been lifting weights since–

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:57:16]

You’re pretty fit. I mean, I’m going to lie.

Lisa Jaster [0:57:20]

I try. I try really hard.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:57:22]

You’re pretty fit, and you’ve been pretty fit, and you’re strong, and you’re capable. Again, this for you wasn’t,I’m woman, I can do it. It was just, dude, why can’t I go do the same thing everybody else is doing? Why can’t I test myself in the same way? That’s important.

Lisa Jaster  [0:57:44]

But those instructors had to deal with both worlds. I didn’t have to deal with that.My classmates didn’t have to deal with that. We just had to make it through the mission. But they had to go home and get a phone call from their guy friend that they graduated Ranger School with 10 years ago going, you ain’tgoing to let one of those women graduate,are you? So they’re caught in this,do I let them graduate? Are they earning it? Am I judging them right? Am I judging them too harshly? Am I letting them get away easy because they remind me of an ex-girlfriend?They had an emotional aspect that they had to deal with. And so as much as I started off by saying for sure, there were RIs that didn’t want us to graduate, andthere were some RIs that were unprofessional. I mentioned them in the book, I changed their names, but anyone who was in the class with me, they weren’t changed that much, so they will know exactly who I’m talking about. But there were those people, but as a whole, these guys were really professional. They were dealing with both sides, people telling them, hey, women have to graduate and people telling them, hey, women should never graduate. They were also dealing with the fact that even if we did graduate, we still couldn’t be part of the Ranger community. We still couldn’t go to Ranger units. So right before graduation, the company commanders and the leadership of the Ranger units came and tried to recruit people who were graduating. They actually said, Ranger, Jaster, you just sit there.You can’t come to us even if you wanted to.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:59:18]

You probably weren’t looking to do that at that time.

Lisa Jaster  [0:59:23]

I wasn’t. I really wasn’t.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [0:59:25]

You have two kids and other stuff. What did you learn about yourself? Did you have to really muster up some courage?

Lisa Jaster  [0:59:37]

I think the biggest courage again was having a family was both my strength and my weakness. It was really hard that I didn’t get to teach my daughter how to ride a bike. But it was really awesome that my husband has a really good relationship with my daughter because he was there during those three- and four-year-old stages where she needed a strong parental influence, and he got to be that.So there’s the pluses and minuses. One of the main things I learned about myself with regards to that is I had hidden who I was as a mom and a wifeuntil this point. Being a mom was never something I dreamed of. I never wanted when I was little, oh, I’m going to get married and have babies.I’m like, I’ll get marriedif I find the right guymaybe. Well, obviously, I did find the right guy. But I never stressed out about my kids being at daycare.They’re probably getting better care there than they would with me. I’m just not that nurturer. At Ranger School, I found out I am that nurturer.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:00:35]


Lisa Jaster  [1:00:40]

I want to be important to them. They’re my legacy. They hate it now, but when they asked me questions, I’m like, hey, you want the Lisaanswer, or you want the mom answer? And they get the option.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:00:51]

What’s the difference?

Lisa Jaster [1:00:52]

The Lisa answer is if you ask me about asphalt, I’m going to tell you about bitumen. If you want the mom answer, I’m going to tell you,well, it’s the black stuff over there. So I can do either. Not that moms don’t get in that, but that’s how we categorize it in my house. Sometimes the kids answer with the mom preference, and sometimes they actually want the Lisa answer. I’ll tell you a story about that later, but it’d be boring for this group. But I realized that I am probably more of a parent than I ever thought I was.But I also realized, and this one was a big one for my leadership style, was that men and women, when they’re broken down, are not that different. We all fill roles. When you’re in a tight unit, whether it’s all men or all women, there are things that have to be done. There are people who automatically step up, male or female, to make sure everybody ate, which we would think of as a nurturing characteristic, right? There are also people that the first thing they thought of no matter what position they were in, was, hey, are we secure here?There were people checking on health and feet, and hey, let’s make sure everybody’s getting their equal amount of sleep.

So there were people pulled every role, which identified to me that men and women can work together. We just haven’t been broken down enough to cast away some of those social requirements. There were guys that missed their kids more than I missed my kids. There was a guy, and I shared a foxhole with him one night, and he pulls out an ultrasound that he received in the mail. We had some laminate that we were supposed to use on our maps, and we laminated his ultrasound so that he could carry it in his pocket. But the only thing in the world he was talking about is going home and holding his wife and being a dad, and I realized in my business life, because again, I’m a reservist. I only do this part time. I only do army part time. I realized that when I go back to my office, when we’re saying, hey, I need you to go on a business trip, dads want to coach Little League as much as moms want to coach cheer.

So we cannot automatically say that dads have to do all of these things, and they have to pull this load while women don’t. That being said, I also realized that it’s totally cool to have a traditional marriage and have a traditional relationship. I’m more okay with that now than before I went to Ranger School. Now, none of these things sound like lessons from Ranger School, but they are leadership lessons is, again, leading that individual. If I have a guy who I’m the primary breadwinner, I want to climb my way to the top of the corporate ladder, my wife is the support structure, great. I can support that as a leader. If I have another employee who comes up to me and he’s like, hey, listen, my wife and I are 50/50. This is what I can and cannot do. Great. I can accept that because I saw these guys broken down and realize that as people, we all still have the same hierarchy of needs.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:04:03]

Do you think there are certain qualities that allow people to succeed in tight, uncomfortable, broken situations?

Lisa Jaster  [1:04:13]

Yes. I think numberone is not assuming the worst out of someone.To this day, I mean, I got a comment this morning, about being a woman and being a fake and being trying to be something I’m not, whatever. Whatever it was, it was hateful. It doesn’t make me mad. I just realized, hey, this guy’s never met a LisaJaster. Maybe I should engage him and see if maybe the issue is he just can’t fathom who I am or what I want to do. There’s way to bring people around, I guess.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:04:52]

Interesting. When I think about success, I often think about discipline and execution, but I don’t know if I’ve often thought about the other aspects, meaning do we need to not make assumptions? Or how do we operate? I’m sure you saw certain qualities in people over time and obviously when you’re in Ranger School that these are the type of people that will continue to succeed, and then these are the type of people or qualities that won’t. Did you see that?

Lisa Jaster  [1:05:28]

Yeah. I’ll use a great example. We do these walk to the sunrise. So you start out on a mission, you do everything I explained earlier.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:05:40]

Stop by Starbucks.

Lisa Jaster [1:05:41]

No Starbucks on the way.Maybe fill your water bottle in a stream and throw an iodine tablet in there; it’s about as brown as coffee.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:05:50]

A side of giardia.

Lisa Jaster  [1:05:53]

So you do that, and then a second mission will come. The next thing you know, you are not sleeping.You walk, you get to your patrol base, and then you start planning the very next day. So you have no time to sleep. You have to eat, and you’re eating your dinner as you arrive. And because you’re starting your next day, you eat your breakfast. So you eat two MRE’s per day, but they’re at the exact same time. I mean, that’s 2500 calories all at the same time. Being that person who doesn’t get their feelings hurt, I’m in a leadership position, I’m just going to yell at you. I don’t have time to say, hey, how was your walk?Are your feet feeling okay? I have to say, hey, listen, I need you to do these 17 things, and you have to do them in order. You have to do them right. I have to walk away, andI’m going to check up on you later. If you fail, then we both fail. I have to leave. Then the next night when you’re in leadership, you have to be that same way with me, but then we still have to like each other. So you can’t get offended by it. Then you add in the dynamic of being female, or we didn’t have a lot of African Americans in our group. You don’t have a lot of guys with glasses. Nobody’s a heavyset. So if you had a thicker guy, or you had somebody with glasses, there’s all these things that make you different. Well, if somebody calls you four eyes, you could get ticked off.You could have a bad day about it, or you could glance over it and work together.

So if you’re going to have an effective team when you’re broken down, like your original question, is you have to have a bunch of people that are okay, with, hey, I’m going to say something and it’s not going to be polite and sweet. Or I need you to take it the way I mean it, not the way I said it. Right now in society, that’s one of the reasons why our tight-knit communities are becoming tighter is because we’re comfortable. I can say some things to my military friends that if I said them publicly, people would think I’m horrible. But that’s just effective communication with my military friends. I think if our society got a little bit more, okay with, hey, I know that you didn’t mean it as a slander to say that I’m a chick or whatever. I know you’re just questioning your misconceptions, your conceptions, your beliefs. I know that by calling me a girl or questioning my capability, you’re really just challenging what you know.If I think of it that way, then I can’t get offended, then I can work with you.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:08:30]

It’s pretty evolved. I mean, that’s a pretty evolved framework of thinking. I’m sure you got backlash from this. Did it affect you? Did it get under your skin? How do you recommend people even navigate?Again, we live in a very public world now in a way that we didn’t live before.

Lisa Jaster  [1:08:48]

Yeah. I did. I got a lot of backlash. It did get under my skin. It wasn’t getting under my skin because of the accusations towards me. It got under my skin because they’re questioning the military that I love. I’m 45 years old. I decided to join the military when I was 11. So for 34 years, my heart and soul has thought the army is the place for me. Even when I got out, I missed it. I thought service, everybody should serve. Of course, I would never force it on anyone. But I can’tconceive of somebody not wanting to serve their country, especially if you’re an American, like God bless America. As cheesy as all of that sounds, what offended me is that people weren’t just questioning me. They weren’t just questioning the school. They were questioning any Ranger instructor who worked with me and changed their mind. They were questioning all of my male peers who were like, hey, Lisa, can you be my team leader today? Because I know you’d be on point. As for land navigation, I know you’d be awesome at that. So they’re questioning the integrity of the system, and they’re good questioning the integrity of people.That would get me so fired up. It took me a long time to realize that a lot of them just didn’t know someone like me. Yes, I do like going hunting. Yes, I like room service, but I do like going hunting.We only eat things that we’ve killed in my house, except for maybe once a week because we don’t have a lot of fish at home, and I got to get a balanced diet.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:10:23]

But it is a really evolved way of thinking about it, that it’s probably that they just don’t understand you. I think that’s giving a lot of credit to potentially people. But once you made that decision, were you able to move off that X or move off that—

Lisa Jaster [1:10:40]

No, I love the term moving off the X.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:10:42]

Yeah, I was just thinking, that’s our buddy, Jason Redman.

Lisa Jaster  [1:10:44]

Yes. I just read his book;it’s amazing by the way.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:10:47]

We love you, Jay.Were you able to compartmentalize that?

Lisa Jaster  [1:10:50]

I was until my son got his YouTube account. He read comments.I manage all of his social media accounts. I mean, he does whatever he wants on them. I don’t—

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:11:01]

You monitor them.

Lisa Jaster [1:11:02]

I don’t actually monitor. I post for him because he forgets to post. He wants to play college sports, so there needs to be a backlog of videos of him wrestling and football and pole vaulting. So I post. I don’t read any of his comments.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:11:13]

Sounds like a real underachiever.

Lisa Jaster  [1:11:16}

Yes, I’m trying to help him with those straight A’s.Not that I’m bragging, I’m totally bragging.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:11:23]

As you should.We were talking about this before.

Lisa Jaster [1:11:26]

I’m proud of my little ginger. But YouTube, he doesn’t do anything with.It’s just a way for him, andI want him to have an account while he’s 15, living in my house, so he can make those stupid mistakes before they’re permanent. So I like him being on social media. Well, when he watched a video of me and had to read comments,it was really hard. He replied, and he replied super professionally andway more professionally than I thought any 14-year-old would. But some guy was really hitting hard on the fact that I’m a liar and a cheat and a fake, and no woman’s ever done this, andthis is BS.He just, you don’t know my mother. You don’t know the time she puts in the gym. You don’t see her up at 4:30 jacking steel while you’re– it was really professional. But that’s when it bothers me is when my kids have to defend me.Now my husband, he’s always going to have to defend me. He’s six foot nine, nobody’s messing with him. All he has to do is say, come meet me for coffee, and everybody backs down. But my kids shouldn’t have to defend me, and so that does make my blood boil sometimes.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:12:37]

But other than that, you found that you were just totally inoculated to the criticism.

Lisa Jaster [1:12:43]

I’m not that good. But I do make a point to get to engage, so I will look at those comments.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:12:51]


Lisa Jaster [1:12:54]

Because you don’t change people all at the same time.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:12:56]

But why even give them your time?But that takes a lot of effort and energy to engage with people that potentially will never change their mind. I know that you feel that they may, but why?

Lisa Jaster  [1:13:10]

Let’s take it a different way. There was a guy at Panda Express. My kids love Panda Express, only orange chicken. I think we got all the orange chicken.There was this guy behind us. I was buying for my kids, and there were a couple of other kids with us. I was buying for a bunch, and this guy behind us in line just said, are you buying for me too?We went back and forth fora little bit.While he got to the checkout counter,and we had bought his. I mean, whether I’m buying for five people or six people at this point, it’s Panda Express; it’s not going to break the bank. The guy was just overwhelmed at the fact that I bought his $4 chicken. We have this pay it forward concept, right? His mood completely changed from when he was in line to when he left Panda Express on some random Saturday. So now he’s going to go home, and he’s going to be in a better mood. It’s that whole pay itforward concept. So maybe he’s nice to five people who are nice to five people who are nice to five people.

Well, that’s what I’m doing. Every time I reach out to somebody, I might not change their mind, but somebody on social media, somebody’s going to read that comment. Part of it, I don’t want that rubbish hanging out there without being checked. That’s part of it. Hey, you can’t accuse me of being of being a liar, a cheat without getting checked a little bit. But on the flip side, I want other people to see that. I want other people to read it. But I had a guy on, I’ll use this example, andI went back and forth with him for a while, and it got heated enough that he took it offline and was instant messaging me. Fast forward six months, his daughter comes home from second grade bawling her eyes out because it was career day at school, and she had drawn a picture that she wanted to be a police officer at school. The boys in her class made fun of her because police are boys. Girls can’t be cops. She’s like,Daddy, I didn’t know I couldn’t be a police officer.That’s what I really want to be. He reached out to me and he goes, how do I deal with this? There are no women in my life that want to do these kinds of things. How do I talk to my daughter? How do I support her? I don’t want to tell my daughter– and I wrote back the same stuff you told me.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:15:16]

I just can’t believe he had the audacity to reach out to you after all of that.

Lisa Jaster  [1:15:21]

But that’s why I put myself out there because there are people who don’t know. People don’t know someone like me. People don’t know someone like you. We are not typical. But nobody’s typical. So I want to be available so that maybe somebody’s mind will change. If that person’s mind doesn’t change,maybe there’s a secondary exposure or a tertiary exposure. Maybe somebody goes looks at those comments that my son made in five years on, I think it was combat story, and say, oh, my God, look at this young man sticking up for his wife. This woman and her husband are raising a great kid. They must be doing something right. Let me look at some of the other things they’ve done. Oh, my goodness, here we go.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:16:05]

Where do you thinkthat all this is going in terms of just how we begin to think about these things? Because again, this is not really a male-female kind of a thing. It’s just if you’re capable of doing it, you should have the opportunity to do it.

Lisa Jaster  [1:16:23]

I think we’ve gotten so hung up on adjectives in our culture today.We are so wanting to put people in boxes. That’s why we’re seeing the polarization we’re seeing. We’ve got people who want to fight the system, and we’ve got people who want to build the system up. I think the concept of deleting the adjective will bring us back to merit-based. I don’t care what you do with your life. You can express yourself however you want. You can look the way you want. You can manipulate your body, you can get earrings, tattoos, I don’t care what you do.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:16:53]

I’m glad you approve of that part.

Lisa Jaster  [1:16:54]

Well, I love your tattoos. I’m super jealous of them. But I don’t think it would look as good on me. But you do whatever you want to do, but are you value added? And I think if we get back to the are you value add, can we have a good conversation? Can we build on what you bring to the table and what I bring to the tablewhen we get back to that discussion? All of these hurt feelings will go away because we’re not focused on that anymore. The adjectives don’t become important. I’ll use the example of homosexuality. It was such a big deal. I remember in the ‘90s joining the Army and don’t ask, don’t tell, and being gay, it was just man, do you think she’s gay? It was this thing we whispered in corners. And now, who cares? Does it affect me one way or the other who you sleep with? Okay, well, we need to mature past some other things that were whispering about in corners now because it’s all about what you bring to the table. Are you combat effective? Our military specifically has got to be merit-based.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:18:00]

Life has to be merit-based.

Lisa Jaster[1:18:02]

Yes. But I talked about it in the book.There are 140-pound males who can’t deadlift 345. That’s my deadlift. So does that mean that because I’m a woman, I shouldn’t be able to do certain jobs andhe’s a male, even if he’s weaker than me? Or is deadlifting a requirement? Is strength the requirement? What are the job requirements? And I could probably talk on that for the next two hours.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:18:24]

I mean, there’s some great parts in the book. You talk about how, at 145 pounds, you have to carry,how much was it?You have to be able to carry a 200-pound soldier out. But the same wasn’t–was that across the board for all soldiers?

Lisa Jaster  [1:18:40]

Right. My husband always loves that. He goes, I’m 260 pounds, and six foot nine. Because the example that gets used quite frequently is, if my husband’s in a tank and the tank starts on fire, you’re not going to be able to pull him out. My husband straight up, nobody can do that. If you tied him to a crane and pulled him out, if you’ve ever seen a man in kit, you’re not dragging him out of the top quickly. It just doesn’t work. Maybe there’s some world somehow where somebody could do it, but look across our armed forces. That’s not what we need. We’re not looking for the guy who can figure out that specific issue. We’re looking for a whole person who can be value add.Sometimes that value add is brute strength. Therefore, the requirements need to be brute strength tests. Sometimes it’s academic prowess. No matter how strong or weak you get, it’s your brain that I want to be sharp as could be.That’s the sword you need to keep sharp and all the rest is just the cherry on top.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:19:48]

Where and how did this change your life?

Lisa Jaster [1:19:53]

Ranger School or just this?

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:19:54]

Yeah. I mean, I know this podcast is great. It’s probably life changing. How did Ranger School change your life?Because it probably put you on a different trajectory.It certainly catapulted you into the public eye, which I don’t know if anyone is ever ready for that. How did it change you?

Lisa Jaster  [1:20:10]

It definitely changed my career.It was very hard. It’s very difficult to be an engineer doing project management andhaving this big message I want to share. I think the best part of this is I have a platform, and I’m able to use that platform to have this discussion, let’s be merit-based. I don’t care if you’re male or female. If you’re not strong enough or you’re not smart enough, I don’t want you in certain positions. I’m able to have a voice on that. The other thing is, you really learn what teammates are like and who’s got your back. Going into the public eye is an amazing way and a horrible way to clear the chaff from maybe a lifetime of friends and see who’s really supportive. I didn’t know how blessed I was until I did get in the public eye. I literally had people calling me that I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years saying, hey, listen, I disagree with all of this, but I got your back.If you need me, let me know. We can argue about it publicly or privately, but you’re still my friend. We did homework projects together once upon a time, and those are the friends I need. I want people who disagree with me. I never want to be yelling in an echo chamber. That’s another thing that becoming more public and graduating Ranger School has helped me understand is the people I value in my life are also the people who don’t necessarily agree with me.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:21:39]

Those are probably the most valuable. It’s just the way that it goes. What are you doing now?You said you changed your career. I mean, I know these answers, but I would love for you to share them.

Lisa Jaster [1:21:49]

I’m a partner with Talent War Group. We’re an executive search firm. The part I work in is we do a lot of talent management. We do leadership workshops, leadership development, executive coaching. I also do a lot of keynote speaking. I like to focus more on the leadership and the team building side,but also, I speak about going to Ranger School, which I always try to loop back into proper team building, leveraging merit, all of that good stuff. But keynotespeaking, executive coaching, and then leadership workshops is really where I’m focused.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:22:24]

What’s your favorite?

Lisa Jaster [1:22:28]

I think the leadership workshops because I actually get to peel the onion, especially if I go into a specific company, get to peel the onion on the issues within that company and really work with people because yourleadership style is not the same as my leadership style. Your organization is not the same as my organization. There’s no one size fits all. You can’t read a leadership book and walk back into work the next day and be like, eureka, I’ve got it. It doesn’t work that way. So when you do a workshop, I can find out about the culture of your organization. If you’re a family-based or a team-based organization or your hierarchial, okay, those are all great. How do we work and build within that?It really is a puzzle. As an engineer, I love searching out problems and trying to find solutions. It’s always a collaboration, and it’s something that’s long lasting. It could be a four-hour workshop, but it’s months of prep time before and usually a relationship that’s indefinite at the far end. So leadership workshops is really where I’m happy.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:23:27]

I asked you what makes a good leader, but perhaps I should have asked you what makes a good team? Tell me.

Lisa Jaster  [1:23:36]

I talk a lot about up leadership because people seem to think, if I’m an individual contributor, I need to contribute at my level. The problem is that old school thought process of I’m going to work hard for 20 years, somebody’s going to notice me, and I’m going to get raises and promotions in accordance with my hard work doesn’t really work anymore. You have to manage around you. I don’t mean manage in a slimy way. I mean, if your teammates don’t know what you’re doing, then are you value added to the team? If you’re keeping information, or you’re driving really hard on whatever you’re working on, but you’re not sharing and you’re not collaborating, are you really working as part of a team? If you’re not up managing, if your supervisor doesn’t know what you’re doing or when you’re doing it or how you’re doing it or what resources you’re using, again, are you really adding the value that you could add?

I think a great team are people that are willing to collaboratebut also work independently. That independent work is I know what the team needs, I’m going to do it without being told or asked, but I’m also going to share that I’m going to do it.We see this a lot in the engineering world, people keep things.The military does it sometimes too, hey, if I own this, then I’m important and that might bemy avenue to success.Well share, hey, this is what I’m working on. If you have any great ideas, that’s fine. If not, I’m a subject matter expert here, I’m going to plug away. I’m going to push hard on this. If anybody has anything ancillary to it, let me know because we probably at some point in time need to mesh our efforts together.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:25:17]

Do you find that there’s one thing that destroys a team?

Lisa Jaster  [1:25:21]

It’s usually when people get sensitivefor the wrong reasons. One thing I used when I was in battalion command is I had a lot of personalities that were given to me. People would fight, and I said, well, do you really think he hates you? No. Okay, but he talks to me like this. Okay, he shouldn’t. But did you listen to him with– I’lluse fake names, Bob andSue. Did you listen to Bob with Bob ears on? What does that mean? Okay, when Bob says, I need this by five, and he doesn’t do anything else but give you that directive,he’s being crass. Bob doesn’t think he’s being crass. Bob thinks he’s being efficient, and he doesn’t want to waste your time.In his head, he’s being respectful. So Bob will come into my office. Oh, my God,Sue takes up so much of my time. She’s always wanting to complain. She’s always wanting this. Okay, did you listen to sue with your Sue ears? And the answer,what are Sue ears? Well, Sue thinks you don’t understand where she’s at or where she’s going, so she’s trying to explain it so that you can give her guidance. Sue needs more guidance. Listen to Sue with your Sue ears. She’s asking forguidance. Bob’s asking for efficiency, Sue’s asking for guidance. Oh my gosh, when I say that, they’re like, oh, yeah, we can totally work together. When you don’t understand that the other person is coming at an issue from a slightly different angle, that’s when teams fall apart because the assumption is he’s being rude or she’s being whiny or whatever the negative terminology would be.

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:27:05]

That’s very valuable. I think everybody listening to this podcast is absolutely going to come away a better person. You highlight some really important things. I love that about you. Again, it is really based on merit. I feel like your life and your drive and just how you show up is about being the best version of yourself. That’s very inspiring. Whether you are male or female, I think you have a lot of great things to say. I strongly suggest everybody follows you, and I will share your book. I think I’ve already shared it, but I’m going to share it again. I’m so grateful to know you, to be your friend, and I’m in full support. I think you’re the best. Thanks for coming on.

Lisa Jaster  [1:27:46]

Thanks for having me. This was awesome.


Dr. Gabrielle Lyon  [1:27:49]

The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon podcast and YouTube are for general information purposes only and do not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice. No patient-doctor relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast, YouTube, or materials linked from the podcast or YouTube is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professional for any such conditions. This is purely for entertainment and educational purposes only.