YOP061: Millennial Leadership with Dr. Hans Mumm

By October 29, 2015 Podcast Episode No Comments

Bio: US Army Captain (Ret) Hans C. Mumm…now Dr. Hans C. Mumm was a mustang, serving eight years in the enlisted ranks and over eight years as an officer before becoming a wounded warrior and medically discharged in 2010. Leadership is his passion and has been the key to his success. He is a dynamic speaker through a range of topics including leadership, drone/UAV issues, advanced technology future challenges as well as the human trafficking phenomena and the challenge of human communication.

He is an entrepreneur at heart and through years of self-improvement and a high need for achievement Dr. Mumm’s business partners claim “he is able to do more in 24 hours than most people do in a week”. He bought his first rental property at the age of 21 and has been learning how to leverage real estate, finances and time ever since. He is the founder of a UAV integration company, a property management company, as well as a management consulting company. Through a variety to positons in multiple US Government agencies Dr. Mumm has seen the value of leadership and the need to embrace change and not fight for the status quo. He has been able to achieve success because of his time management choices, his peer group, and focusing on the long term.

He served as the officer in charge of the “Iraqi Regime Playing Cards, CENTCOM’S Top 55 Most Wanted List” which was touted by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as one the most successful Information Operations (IO) in the history of DIA. Dr. Mumm has won numerous awards and accolades for his dedication in supporting homeland security and America’s strategic global position.

Dr. Mumm is a proven leader in a diverse set of fields including technical investigation, scientific research, military intelligence and small business owner. He is a published researcher in both the scientific and social science arenas. His published works include Embracing the Need for Leadership in the New World of Unmanned Vehicles and Robotics, Managing the Integration and Harmonization of National Airspace for Unmanned and Manned Systems and co-authoring, The Multi-Fuel Optimization System: A Technical Discussion, and drafted Legislation to Establish a National Inter-Agency Working Group To Develop Policies and Protocols On the Use of UAVs and Robotics, along with several other works. He has notable experience in research and systems engineering which includes emerging and disruptive technology for offensive and defensive missions supporting US and coalition operations.

Dr. Mumm is highly skilled in designing policy and governance for advanced technologies including unmanned vehicles and robotics earning his Doctorate of Management (with a concentration in homeland security) from Colorado Technical University (CTU). Dr. Mumm’s unique skill set is a hybrid resulting from on the ground tactical combat experience and many years spent in strategic homeland security roles consulting on policy creation and fielding new technologies within the intelligence community. His UAV and robotics policies have focused on determining the specific uses, exceptions, and allowances; including studying the unintended consequences, future use and misuse of such technologies.

Dr. Mumm has earned twenty-three personal military ribbons/medals, six military unit medals/citations, and two Directors Awards from the Defense Intelligence Agency. In 2005, Dr. Mumm was recognized as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans and in 2003 he was awarded the National Defense PAC “American Patriot Ingenuity Award” for service during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Dr. Mumm is an instructor with American Military University and California University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he has been offered a fellowship with the Cyber Conflict Documentation Project to research autonomous systems in the physical and virtual worlds.

Dr. Mumm participates in many philanthropic endeavors including supporting BARN, a transitional housing and intensive case management service to homeless mothers and their children.

In his spare time, Hans enjoys flying his Solo Drone with a GoPro 4 and riding his motorcycle.


Zephan: Hey, everyone! This is Zephan Blaxberg from the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I am joined by US Army captain, retired, Hans C. Mumm—now, Dr. Hans C Mumm. Was a mustang serving eight years in the enlisted ranks and over eight years as an officer before becoming a Wounded Warrior and medically discharged in 2010. Leadership is his passion and has been the key to his success. He’s a dynamic speaker through a range of topics including leadership, drone and UAV issues, advanced technology, future challenges, as well as the human trafficking phenomenon and the challenge of human communication. Through a variety of positions in multiple US government agencies, Dr. Mumm has seen the value of leadership and the need to embrace change and not fight for the status quo. He has been able to achieve success because of his time management choices, his peer group, and focusing on the long term.

And I didn’t want to ruin the rest of your bio so we can share some things here today. So I skipped over a couple pieces and I’m sure we’ll get into it momentarily. But how are you doing today?

Hans: No worries—I’m doing outstanding, are you kidding? I woke up in the freest country in the world and nobody’s shooting at me today. It’s a great day, don’t you think?

Zephan: My grandfather always says “I’d rather be vertical than horizontal.”

Hans: Absolutely!

Zephan: So tell me just a little bit—you shared right before we jumped on the call, but I’d love to hear some of your history with the military and maybe a couple of your experiences that have led to speaking on leadership and how to become a good leader today?

Hans: Well, I’ll thank you, first, for having me on your show. I really appreciate it. My roots started more in the humble days of being in Reno, Nevada. My family has always been in the military in different ways. My dad was in during Nam; we lost an uncle to Nam. My great grandfather is actually brigadier general Elmer Erickson. He was the first commanding general of Buffalo soldiers. So service has always been in my family and in my blood. I never imagined in my entire life that I would do almost seventeen years in the army and I would end up in combat multiple times.

So it’s a little bit different of a path, but where that path led me though was to find that the need for leadership in the human spirit is there. People want to be led, I want to be led by great leaders. The people that I’ve dealt with want to be led by great leaders. What I’ve discovered over time, which is part of where the book is—it goes into—is looking at the idea of freeing that human spirit and allowing that spirit to be able to grow an be led, but be led in a way that they feel not only comfortable, they feel safe people will go out and do more for you if you allow them to.

So one of the big issues that we have right now in today’s society is that we get into situational leadership and we also put people under our thumbs, and the challenge is when you micromanage people, the only thing you’re going to get is the result you micromanage to. If you allow people more of a non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organized entities, they will amaze you.

Zephan: Yeah. So I have found, just in my experiences—obviously not nearly as large as an experience as yours with leading a group of people—but through high school, I was in a youth group as a leader. In college, in a fraternity and also as an employee in the recreation center, I led three hundred student-staff. I guess I want to kind of start out first with the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Do you think that people can be born as leaders, or is this something where either a situation comes along and they’re thrust into a leadership role or they learn these abilities over time?

Hans: So I think that the answer to your question really his both. There are some natural born leaders out there. Whether you love or hate politics, it doesn’t really matter, we do have some natural born leaders out there. President Obama, he can rally people to his cause very easily. So we see the leaders that are there. So some of these leaders are born. You’ve seen leaders throughout history that they come up through the ranks and you think “Did somebody guide this person?” How in the world did Schwarzkopf become an incredible general and a leader? How did Colin Powell, who ended up—he was wounded many, many times, he had a very difficult upbringing… How did this many become such a leader?

So I would say, in a lot of ways, some of those people, yeah, they were born leaders, but they need mentors around them. They need people around them to bring that out. I think that it’s all situational as well as mentorship or leadership around you. I will tell you my personal, quick story, which is I had a full-bird colonel, Colonel Servinski—I was enlisted when 9/11 occurred. He saw more in me than I saw in me and pushed me to accept a direct commission, which I found out later only 10% of the US military’s ever been directly commissioned. He pushed me to be a leader. So it was all situational as well as mentor. He mentored me to be a leader, but now I was pushed into a situation where 9/11 occurred and I had to lead.

Zephan: So that’s a very interesting scenario there, where you were kind of thrust into that role, but I’m sure that many people have the skills to kind of take it on headfirst and not run into many issues there. I guess my question from here is kind of did you have any other situations, especially during the war, where you’ve experienced other people who have tried to rise to the challenge and for some reason or another it just hasn’t worked, and what do you think they could have done differently? Because not everybody can rise up and have somebody follow them.

Like you said, Obama, it’s very easy for him, but I’m sure there’s other people where, if I go—here’s a great example: I live in Baltimore, and if I just go walk downtown and all these protesters are outside the courthouse and Black Lives Matter and all these situations going on, and I just start to yell and scream and try to get people to listen to me and pay attention, they’re probably not going to. So have you ever found certain situations where it’s extremely hard to become a leader, whether it’s a situation or the group that you’re trying to lead, and what could be done better?

Hans: So I actually have a perfect one for this one. So at the beginning of the Iraq war, I ended up volunteering to come on active duty. And, at the time, I was with a unit that was over with the Defense Intelligence Agency. And I was updating a database, I was not doing anything exciting. I didn’t feel that I was contributing at all. I felt I was showing up for no good purpose. And I had a group of enlisted around me who actually knew me when I was enlisted and as an officer and they felt the same way. And what I did was I tried to work through some of the chain of command, “I really want to do something different. How do I actually contribute?” and it just wasn’t working. Because I found that some of the command structures, especially military and in the civilian world with the government, they get a little more worried about their careers than they do about the situation.

So what I did, I grabbed up a group of guys and I said “Guys, do you like what you’re doing?” and they said “No.” I said “Okay, let’s go change the world.” And they said “Well, what do you want to do?” And I did go and talk to my company and sort of got almost the permission to go off and do crazy things. And my deal with them was that we were going to create intelligence products that were going to change the world. Now that’s a pretty big statement, and I’m a little second lieutenant nobody sitting at a desk. And what I did was I grabbed up these guys and the spark in their eyes when they hear that they were gonna get an opportunity to go and change the world, it was incredible.

So, next thing you know, we’re out working twelve hour days, we’re working fifteen, twenty hour days, and we don’t care. Because they’re so hungry for that leadership, they’re so hungry to go and do great things. So what we ended up doing was we created several different products, and one of the more famous—or infamous, depending on the way you look at it—is the Iraqi Regime playing cards with Saddam as the Ace of Spades. So our group put that out, and that was not always loved by everybody up and down through the chain because I did not go through the normal chain of command in order to do that. What they did, though, was it galvanized me as a leader with the folks that I dealt with and with other people around me who said “Look at this guy, he was willing to take a risk, he was willing to step out, and his rank is completely meaningless because he didn’t let that stop him at all.”

So I think when you book at leadership traits, you have to look at—one of them is risk and sometimes it works and sometimes it does. Now, keep in mind that I did get in a little bit of trouble for doing that, however when it went on to the international stage and became a big hit and it worked very well and it was culturally sensitive as well. I know that sounds a little strange, but the Jokers were actually instructions to the troops, because I wasn’t trying to make it a laughing matter to go and deal with this, this was something that our president and our congress decided that we needed to go do. We’re a civilian controlled military. What I do is I support them. So to be able to take that and really understand how do we do this, how do we make this into something that is great? And now myself and my team sit in almost every major military museum in the entire world.

Zephan: Wow. So I think that at some point you kind of have to create that disturbance if you’re trying to make a change. That was something that I even saw on a corporate retail back when I was working for Apple. I went to the managers and the people above me and I saw issues that were going on that could have easily been fixed and how we could have enhanced customers’ experiences and you’d think that a company like Apple would really care about that stuff. They are all about the experience. That’s why there were Apple stores long before there were Windows stores. It was all about the experience.

And so when I found I couldn’t or they weren’t going to allow me to advance the way in which I’d hoped I could, that’s where you kind of have to kind of create the disturbance. So, for me, it was leaving. And the funny thing was it was like a domino effect, because a lot of people left right after that. And, for other people, you can either settle and stay there and deal with where you’re at right now or you can try to create that disturbance and hope that it makes a big enough wave that someone sees it and goes “Alright, we need to make a change.”

Hans: I agree, because you’re also—throughout my career, even as a Wounded Warrior, it was a very tough time in my life, but it was also a time when I needed to continue that leadership. And sometimes you just want to go home and go to bed, you’re just like “Okay, I’m done with this leadership idea. Can I just follow somebody now?” But that’s not always the destiny that you’re put on the planet for.

So when I ended up, even when I was a Wounded Warrior, we had guys who they could find their medical records or they didn’t feel that they were getting care, they didn’t feel that the doctors were listening to them. They had headaches, they had migraines, they had different issues. And so, what I did was sort of blaze the trail again in order to be able to make sure that folks were being taken care of. And even in my own spare time, I worked with Walter Reed on a couple of different projects, being able to get books on tape and things like that. Because when you’re laid up in bed, sometimes the first thing is you can’t concentrate and the second thing is you really—you don’t want to read. Sometime you do, but a lot of times, you—it’s difficult to read, you’re in pain. So what I did was I looked at the solution as more of books on tape, because you want to be able to continue engaging the mind, engaging the person to keep them engaged in your life.

So I worked on that project as a separate project on my own, but that was just one of those things where you never know where—sometimes, as leader, you want to sit down and you want to be led, but sometimes that’s just not gonna happen, so you have to be willing to grab another cup of coffee—and coffee definitely is the nectar of the gods. Grab another cup of coffee and continue moving in a direction.

Zephan: I tell you what, coffee has been one of my big secret weapons with just being productive and being able to accomplish more in the same amount of time. If you’ve never tried it, for yourself and for everyone listening in, Bulletproof Coffee, while it sounds very off, some people don’t like it, but basically it’s a tablespoon of grass-fed butter and a tablespoon of coconut oil blended into your coffee. So there’s no sugar, there’s no added cream or anything like that, but you chuck it in the blender and you blend it up for like thirty seconds.

My roommate, being a personal trainer, swears by this stuff. And when I started drinking it, it’s basically almost all the boosts and effects of caffeine but you don’t get that weird jittery feeling. So just something for our listeners to check out. I personally have tried it out, I love it. I feel like I’m wired all day long when I try it so I can’t do it every day, otherwise I would just—like the Energizer Bunny. But yeah, I highly recommend coffee.

So tell me a little bit about this book that you just put out recently. I would love to hear the title and what sort of things you talk about in it.

Hans: So the title is Apply Complexity Leadership Theory to Drone Airspace Integration, and although that sounds like a big mouthful, really the book was built out of my dissertation. So I did an application of my dissertation for my Doctorate with this, and what I did was I saw two issues coming out of the book. One is really the idea of how to harmonize the speed of innovation and change with the human spirit’s need for leadership. So part of the book is really about leadership and looking at the idea of right now we are very linear and authoritarian, especially when you look at governments and organizations, their matrix. We’re very linear and authoritarian. The millennials are not going to take to that and they don’t take to it. So if you have a millennial right now and you say “You’re going to do it my way because I told you to do it my way.” What are they gonna do?

Zephan: Well, this is kind of like the theme of my life. I revolt at any point that I can.

Hans: Exactly! And that’s exactly what’s gonna happen. So now let’s change the paradigm, and that’s really what I was attempting to do here, was shift the leadership paradigm to a non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organize entity. What I mean by that is what I did, first thing I basically put it against the problem set of drone airspace integration. So I wanted to be able to show examples.

Let me give you an example of a self-organized entity. There’s an organization out there called UAV Aviators. Patrick Meier’s group, and what they do is they’re a group that deals in humanitarian uses for UAVs. And what they did was it’s a completely self-organized group, no government is involved, no government said there was a requirement, nobody said “We have to do this.” Patrick Meier’s basically a guy who deals in big data. He understands drones are basically trucks for censors so it goes how and gets data.

So he creates this organization here you can enroll—and again most organizations these days are actually self-organized. So if you look at Uber, you look at Facebook, you look at all these things, they’re self-organized. So he created UAV Aviators, a self-organized entity. You go on, you sign on on the website, you agree to the terms—and the terms basically, not to bring them all the way down, it’s basically “Don’t do stupid things.” It’s not “Sign your life away.” It’s not twenty government pages’ worth of regulations or anything else.

But the interesting part of it is that they’re not trying to go outside of the regulatory bodies. They actually have on their website the regulations for every single country, what their drone policies are. So when people sign up, they agree—so if they have a drone—there’s different categories, so if you have a drone and you want to fly during a humanitarian crisis, you can do that. So that they do is they put all this stuff together and they actually have better policies, better regulations, better education, and they’ve got an amazing group of people out there.

I’ll give you an example: Nepal. Nepal, they had an issue several months ago. Four hours before Nepal was even on our radar here in America and really being tweeted out there and a lot of news stations and everything else, I got an email about two hours before that from UAV Aviators, and they were basically saying “Does anybody have assets in the country? We’ve got people trapped in buildings.” So here’s a self-organized entity that can do what appears to be more than what the governments can do and more than what the private industry can do because they’re self-organized. They’re there for their own purpose.

And the funny part about that is that truly, a lot of our own organizations out there that are successful today, like I mentioned Uber and Facebook, these are self-organized entities, but at the same time if you go to corporate America and you go to the US government right now for policy help, what’s the first thing they’re gonna do? They’re gonna look and say “Our leadership is linear and authoritarian.” Even though the major companies that are making major money are non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organized entities.

Zephan: So basically, they government’s gonna put a lot of obstacles in your way. It’s not impossible, but it’ll probably seem impossible at first because they’re basically going to say “There’s no way you’re going to be able to make this change.”

Hans: Well, the challenge is our entire thought process, when you look at government policy in governments, is designed to be slow. That is a real issue. So, right now, we have an issue where technology is changing the world faster than our world leaders, and the governments can actually align the policies and governance and rule of law to these new technologies. Well, if change is the only thing guaranteed to us, we can either fight it or we can align with it and move with it, and that’s where I’m really trying the new leadership paradigms that I’m putting out is moving towards.

So, right now, the government is still very stuck in the idea of very linear processes. So to give you an example, the Aviation Rules committee, when you’re looking at the drone issue, it takes approximately five years to change one rule. Technology moves at speeds that are eclipsing this, so we cannot continue along these lines and think that we’re going to somehow lead our way out of the problems that we’re in or that somehow people aren’t going to take it on on their own. The drone issue is a prefect issue. If you look, the FAA’s had twenty to twenty-five years to put out legislation and policies and everything else. They’ve got a basic framework out there, but right now all technology ca be used for god or evil. It really depends on the governance of the leaders, on which way that’s gonna go. And right now, that’s not working out very well.

Zephan: Yeah, and being a videographer, I see a lot of this first hand. With the personal drones, I’ve got a guy I’m sending out on Thursday in just two days here with a drone to shoot some footage for me, and they still haven’t been able to solidify the laws based on what you can or cannot do with these things. And so there’s a lot of people who are upset that they’ll get yelled at if they take a drone to a state park and fly it around just for the fun of capturing a gorgeous view of the Grand Canyon or whatever is out there. So it’s really interesting to see that because most of the people find the drones are millennials. For starters, we are the ones that like to cause a little bit of trouble.

I guess it kind of begs the question, what can we do as millennials to create a shift in the government, in the leadership that has surrounded us just in the overall community that has been created for us? Because this is what we’re inheriting.

Hans: Well, I think—first, let me address the drone really quick. I actually own a drone, and I’m not a millennial. But I fly solo myself. And the challenge, again, is that the technology can be used for good in the way of being able to deal with humanitarian—they actually have an ambulance drone that’s out there now. It actually carries a little bit of medical supplies and has a phone on it so you can [inaudible 24:23]. It’s really incredible stuff, but then on the opposite end, you’ve got people—there was a drone that was used as a weapon the other day in Seattle. There was a gay and lesbian rally going on, peaceful march down the street. Somebody was filming it. One of the people actually flipped the drone off, upset the drone user, and then he flew it right into her. Knocked her out, could’ve killed her.

But the challenge is, again, because policies and laws and everything haven’t caught up with all of this stuff and appear to be a long way away, when that occurred, the police showed up. Well, what’s 911 gonna do against a drone? Who knows? So they showed up and they took the drone and tnhey put an APB out for a white guy with a girl tattoo. Okay, that’s not realistic. So on the drone issue, it can be good and bad. Keep in mind, you’ve got crazy stuff that technology is moving out there. You can actually use drones now to fly over a building and inject malware into somebody’s network. So the stuff that’s out there is absolutely incredible.

So how to the millennials keep pushing on this? First thing, I think it’s an education piece. I’m not sure it’s the millennials job at this point. I do think it’s my generation’s job. I think the millennials can help by kind of taking a deep breath and understanding that the same things that my generation says about the millennials, by father’s generation said about me. We don’t listen, we’re rebels, we just want to do it our own way.

But I think there’s a radical shift that people aren’t talking about. And that radical shift comes down to the idea that generations in the past, they looked up to leaders because they had the knowledge. And that knowledge came to them from leaders before them. So my generation, the generations before me, we looked up to leaders because they had that innate knowledge and they could lead. Well, that’s not what’s happening anymore. The radical shift is the internet age has changed that equation. The young no longer depend on elders to instruct them anymore. And they can actually sometimes get better information from the internet than what their elders are giving them.

So that’s a radical shift that people aren’t understanding. So the first thing is I think there’s gotta be some education out here to understand how do you work with millennials a little better but also understand why do they think the way they do. Why do you think the way you do? Why do you feel “Wait a minute, I was trying to make things better at my corporate job, but folks weren’t listening!” Why was that? And then how do we basically take an organizational leadership change model and be able to put it in place to be able to get a little bit more on the same page? But the shift, that radical shifty, that one little shift that people are not realizing is really the key. The key is that the millennial age has more information now, today, than my entire generation had, and that is a major shift in how things are moving and how they look at things.

Zephan: Yeah, and I think it’s gonna very, very interesting to see in the next five to ten years how this plays out, because, just like you said technology-wise, five years ago, people weren’t flying their own drones around that they could buy in the store for five/six hundred dollars. Now it’s totally possible, as you said, to fly over a building, inject malware, and probably destroy an entire company. So it’ll be interesting to see how things progress and where technology advances to in the future.

It’s been great speaking with you today. I’d love for you to share where people can get in touch with you and where people can find your book online so that they can check it out.

Hans: So you can easily find me at hansmumm.com. You can also find me if you just go to Hans Mumm on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook, and then Twitter, and I’m in LinkedIn as well.

Zephan: Alright, very cool. Well, thank you so much for spending some time with me today, and waving hello to you from up here in Baltimore. I know we’re not too far away. It’s a very interesting in podcasting, I just talk to somebody this morning in the UK, but it was like two o’clock in the afternoon her time, verse you’re about a forty-minute drive away from my house right now. So it’s always something new and exciting, so thank you very much for being a part of that.

Hans: Technology’s a wonderful thing. Thank you, much appreciated.