Throughout a long career, you tend to learn a trick or two. At times, a mentor, trainer, or supervisor shares the tricks of the trade. Regrettably, other times we simply have to learn from the school of hard knocks. Every once in a while, a bit of luck comes your way. Almost 10 years ago, I tripped over the most successful bullet writing technique ever. Ever!
In the year preceding my retirement, friends, peers and colleagues asked that I capture these techniques so they are not lost with my departure.
Brown Bag Lessons
Use this page to ask questions regarding professional development, career progression or any leadership topic. Post on the Facebook wall or send questions discreetly via personal message. We can post on your behalf or keep the question confidential.
"Chief, I talked to a few of my unit's SNCOs after the briefing today and they really appreciate you taking your valuable time to continue to develop our AF people even in retirement. Your briefing has really provided me personnally another great tool that I'm hoping to adopt and apply to my unit. With your permission, I would like to use your slides/concepts in my mentorship sessions with my SNCOs/NCOs/Officers."
So before leaving the active duty I put pen to paper and those efforts, designed at making the daily grind a little easier, resulted in two books on professional development. I was actually composing a book called Brown Bag Lessons, Timeless Leadership, but put it on the shelf to write The Magic of Bullet Writing.
After a 30-year Air Force career, and as someone who has traveled just a bit further down the road, I humbly offer to you my Brown Bag Lessons.
Warm regards, Eric Jaren
The Murder Board
Post your bullets for "friends" to comment on the strengths and weaknesses. Or anonymously message your bullets to The Murder Board administrator to post on your behalf.
"Thank you sincerely for dedicating your talent and effort to develop our people. Your forethought and consideration in this regard is very impressive. The guidance you provide is on target and extremely valuable to the enlisted force at every level. I am a tremendous proponent and use the products you provide as well as pass them on to other Airmen in need. You make it easier for many leaders to connect all of the variables and effectively grow our future replacements."
Andrew T. Hollis
HOT OFF THE PRESS! Here it is folks. Brown Bag Lessons: The Magic of Bullet Writing (Second Edition). This version includes all of the original information and a brand new Part 4, Conducting Boards. Enjoy!
Printed copies of the Second Edition can be obtained through Amazon at the following link:
Digital copies of the First Edition can be obtained for free at the following link:
Brown Bag Lessons, The Magic of Bullet Writing. Huge thanks to the many contributors, collaborators, proponents and professional staff at the Air University (AU) Press for making this become reality. Thank you
Copyright Notice: Author retains copyright on this material.
A murder board is also known as a "scrub-down", is a committee of questioners set up to critically review a proposal and/or help someone prepare for a difficult oral examination.
The term originated in the U.S. military, specifically from the U.S. Pentagon but is also used in academic and government appointment contexts. NASA contends the murder board was created by Hans Mark, Director of Ames Research Center from 1969 to 1977.
In highly-risk-adverse, technical endeavors where extreme efforts are taken to prevent mistakes (e.g. satellite operations), murder boards are used to aggressively review, without constraint or pleasantries, a situation's problem, assumptions, constraints, mitigations, and the proposed solution. The board's goal is to kill the well-prepared proposal on technical merit. Holding back even the least suspicion of a problem isn't tolerated. Such argumentative murder boards consist of many subject matter experts of the specific system under review and of all interfacing systems.
To arrange Brown Bag Lessons for your organization, school, or group, please submit requests through the Contact link. Leadership and Management presentations in the Wright-Patterson / Dayton area are easy to schedule since that is where I reside. Presentations outside the Wright-Patterson / Dayton area can be arranged in conjunction with my travel schedule or by invitation.
The expression "Murder Board" is commonly used in military writing to describe how successful organizations gather five or six strong writers in a conference room to critique and brainstorm recognition packages. The goal of the board is to prepare a package to its fullest potential before competition at the next level.
Brown Bag Lessons
Developing, coaching, and mentoring are my passion -- investing in another person is tremendously rewarding. So it seems the time and energy spent helping others to succeed is returned two-fold in contentment. Likely that is what inspired my mentors to make an impact early in my career.
While I don't consider myself a "writer," I do consider myself a coach, mentor, someone who is willing to help others build a brighter career. I have been presenting professional development seminars for many years, both as a job requirement, but more importantly, as a personal passion.