Paul Peterson is a West Point Military Academy Graduate and currently is an Officer in the US Army. As of this interview he was stationed in Honduras as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and works in HR. Not your typical office manager! Paul takes us briefly through his childhood, what its actually like to go to West Point and the day to day activities, and his post academy experience. We learn why he chose Mechanical Engineering as a major, what the military has taught him about himself and how it developed his positive outlook on life, and how he has been able to take advantage of the breaks the military offers to pursue his passions, such as travel. Paul provides a lot of insight on what its like to work and travel around the world, how to work your butt off and still have a good time, and some deep life advice.
This conversation was really fun for me. Paul and I met during a study abroad program in Monterrey, Mexico in 2010. We share some similar passions such as travel, adventure, and exercise for therapy. What I really want you to listen for is his high energy and positive attitude. Listen how he answers questions with enthusiasm and as a member of the military but also as a unique individual.
(FYI at about the 5:00 mark we lost the connection so you’ll notice a little break up in the conversation)
–Soto Cano Air Force Base is where Paul was stationed as of the interview.
-Paul’s parents put a huge value on education. Introduced him to do anything and follow his passions. He discovered he liked a lot of things, including Soccer, Track and Field (Pole Vaulting), and the Trumpet. He prefers to be a “Master of None” and a “Jack of all Trades”.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
-Paul accepted an appointment to West Point Military Academy. He didn’t want anything to do with the military at first glance, but upon researching it ended up piquing a lot of his interests (travel, athletics, self growth).
-What is West Point actually like? Paul describes it as “the best experience you never want to do twice.” These were the most formative years of his life, where he was able to focus on himself. West Point TAKES ALL DISTRACTIONS AWAY. You have no car, clothes, partying, or any decisions to make, really. Here was able to focus on developing core life values (physical, spiritual, and emotional).
-Paul talks about day to day life at West Point.
-His military career path: West Point> Fort Rucker AL Flight School> S Korea Blackhawk training > Fort Rucker > Honduras as an HR specialist and pilot> Heading to Alexandria, VA
-Paul was able to figure out how to study abroad through West Point! He understood the importance and FIGURED IT OUT. Find out how to do it at your school right now! Check out this straightforward article about the value of studying abroad.
-How Paul turns on/off military mode.
-How he takes advantage of the military for his passion of travelling.
-One of his favorite places is Medellin, Colombia. Some of the most beautiful women in the world are from here! Costa Rica is a great place for outdoor activities and adventure sports.
-Paul talks about what its like to stand out as an American in these places He speaks Spanish and it helps a lot. Never been mugged with a weapon, but the best way to deal with it is to ignore them completely and keep walking. Any attention is bad attention and will draw even more attention to you.
-Paul is a positive minded, hard working, and driven guy. Where does this come from? What Drives him? Intrinsic motivation from Dad. GRATEFUL for his dad as his role model. Trying to do good to impress his dad, his role model. Gets his optimism from his mom. Another role model. Notice how grateful he is about this!! Actively seeks positivity because it affects everything in life.
-Being negative attracts more negativity. Expect positivity and success and attract it to you.
-The military has taught him that “You cant choose the weather, you cant choose whether you’re here or not, but you can choose your attitude.” As a leader, everyone is looking up to you.
-Paul’s advice to himself as a Sophomore in College: 1. Study Abroad 2. Find a balance of living for now vs. living for later. 3. Plan out breaks from school! Internship or vacations. Dont waste opportunities for travel, it ends quickly!!
-Advice to 24 year old Paul: Don’t let yourself stagnate. Easy to get into comfortable routine. Don’t let your education end at college. Relearn things. Read Books.
-We talk briefly about the importance of starting a financial plan early around
-Paul’s favorite 3 meals he has ever had:
1. Grilled octopus stuffed with seafood at Sunsets Cafe in Santorini, Greece with the sunset in the background.
2. High Quality sushi places in Tokyo or Osaka, Japan. Changed his sushi experience forever. Fresh from tsukiji fish market!!
3. Dak Galbi in South Korea. Paul took sister and parents to eat an authentic Korean meal and give them a taste of where he lived.
-Workout routines: Varies it up. Avoid stagnation. 8-12 week cycles. Cardio focus/lifting focus. 6-7 days a week sometimes 2x a day. A passion for him. Running biking swimming rowing boxing. HIIT, circuits, rec sports. He picks a focus every 8 weeks. Involve yourself in competition! Great way to make friends and have fun while exercising.
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of being ignorant and helpless. Seek out help! Be actively learning! A military slogan that he applies to everything: “Don’t just bring me a problem, bring me a problem with possible solutions.” There is always a way to get through something. With access to anything these days, there are no excuses! It is just a matter of taking action!!
-Check out Paul on Facebook here
You can either be the author of your life, or the victim of it. Every day the choice is yours!