Amanda Huffman is the host of the Women of the Military podcast , a two time author, and the creator behind Airman to Mom. In this episode you’ll hear the story of Amanda’s engineering unit coming under attack while in Afghanistan, how she cultivated an audience around her unique niche, and why it’s important to continue to pivot into new things until you find your thing. Amanda’s story of how she landed where she is will be inspiring to anyone and underlines the fact that no matter your position, there’s people in the world that want to know what you do, and there’s only one person who can give them that. She’s embraced her experiences and is using that to help other’s in a way I think everyone ought to.
Girls Guide to Military Service - Book
(01:10) - Engineering 101
(07:13) - Colocating with a spouse in the Air Force
(11:05) - Joining an Army infantry unit
(13:38) - Challenges of rebuilding Afghanistan from the ground up
(23:54) - How view of Afghanistan changed through time deployed
(25:58) - Unit coming under attack and coping with the residual effects
(39:29) - Becoming a mom and finding a new calling
(42:29) - Starting to blog and the beginning of Airman to Mom
(47:51) - The Military Influencer Conference and cultivating a community
(57:35) - How to find your audience
(01:05:21) - When to pivot and try new things and how to validate the ideas
(01:12:34) - Defining your personal brand
(01:17:34) - Girl’s Guide to Military Service and places for further study
The Scuttlebutt Podcast - The podcast for service members and veterans building a life outside the military.
The Scuttlebutt Podcast features discussions on lifestyle, careers, business, and resources for service members. Show host, Brock Briggs, talks with a special guest from the community committed to helping military members build a successful life, inside and outside the service.
Get a weekly episode breakdown, a sneak peek of the next episode and other resources in your inbox for free at https://scuttlebutt.substack.com/.
• Brock: @BrockHBriggs
• Instagram: Scuttlebutt_Podcast
• Send me an email: email@example.com
• Episodes & transcripts: Scuttlebuttpodcast.co
Brock Briggs 00:00
Hello, and welcome to the Scuttlebutt Podcast, the podcast for current and former service members looking for a little bit more out of life. I'm your host, Brock Briggs and today I'm speaking with Amanda Huffman. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast, two time author, and the creator behind the Airman to Mom. In this episode, you'll hear the story of Amanda's engineering unit coming under attack and Afghanistan, how she cultivated an audience around her unique niche, and why it's important to continue to pivot into new things until you found your thing. Amanda's story of how she landed where she is today will be inspiring to anyone and underlines the fact that no matter your position, there's people in the world who want to know what you know. And there's only one person who can give them that she's embraced her experiences and is using that to help others in a way that I think everyone ought to. Thanks for tuning in this week. A reminder that this was a free podcast, the only thing that I ask is if you get something from it, send it to somebody, don't be greedy with your knowledge you really need to give to get. That's what Amanda does. And that's what this podcast is really about. Enjoy this conversation with Amanda Huffman. So as we're talking about you being interested in engineering, what exactly gets you interested in engineering in the first place? And where does that like line up with joining the Air Force.
Amanda Huffman 01:39
So I really like math, I still really like math. I think math is really cool. I'm one of those weird people who like the like little, you know, math equations. And then they say like, especially like Pi Day, all the PI stuff. I think it's really fun. I love I love math and I love numbers. I was going to college and I didn't know what I want to do, but I want to do math. And I love math. And so I was like all do mathematics. But I don't know if you know this mathematics, degree in mathematics is really math theory and like how math works, which I actually don't care how it works, I'm happy to hit the I believe you this works, because you told me it works button. Engineering is actually more the hands on doing the math type of thing. But I had no idea that engineering existed until I learned about ROTC from a friend when I was looking to join the military. I went to the open house at the college that was across town. I met a cadet who was an electrical engineer, and he's like, you don't want to do mathmatics as your degree, it's math theory, you're not gonna like it, you should do engineering, but don't do electrical, because it's really hard. So you should do civil. And I said, Okay, and that's what I did. And I didn't really do any research. But I did love it once I started doing it. So there wasn't really any reason to like, go back and say, Oh, was this the right decision? But that was how I stumbled upon engineering. And, and part of how I joined the military.
Brock Briggs 03:15
I feel like that really speaks to like how easy it is to get anybody in their undergraduate to like, change their major. They're like, Oh, what about this other thing? You're like, that sounds great. Let's do it. Like, I feel like everybody goes through this thing of you start learning more and more about, hey, what would I actually do with this job? And you start lining up the dots and you're like, Okay, mathematics degree, you know, I'm gonna go teach math somewhere. And you're like, yeah, do people get into accountancy with that type of background?
Amanda Huffman 03:51
Yeah well, and that was when I met with, like, a guidance counselor at the school. And I told him, I wanted to do math, he was like, Okay, well, you're gonna do like, be an accountant or be a teacher. And I was like, but I don't really want to do that. And I kinda was like, Why didn't this guy who was like, I guess he wanted me to join the math department? Like, why didn't he tell me like, if you don't want to do those things, maybe you should look at engineer like, I had no idea that there was engineering out there, like, my family is pretty lower middle class. We didn't know about engineering, my mom was like, she graduated with her degree in teaching, but that was when I was already going to school. My dad doesn't have his college degree. So like, we didn't really know about career fields and like, what options were out there. And so I really wish that that guidance counselor in the beginning would have been like, you know, you can do other things with math besides mathematics, like you can do there's like, there's so many careers and like, I mean, I could have done science or all these other things, and I had no idea and I didn't know the right questions to ask. So I'm really glad that I found the military and then had to change my career path.
Brock Briggs 05:01
You joined the you get convinced to join the Air Force was that was that your top pick? What was the pitch about what you were going to do with civil engineering and the Air Force?
Amanda Huffman 05:14
I did do civil engineering, and I kind of just really like the engineering that I was doing in school. All I heard from people was engineers do really cool stuff. And I was like, Okay, I'm on board with that. So I got selected for civil engineering. But like you said, what I wish I would have known I actually met my husband in college, and he was an electrical engineer, and he did developmental engineering. And I didn't know that I could a do that as with my civil engineering degree, and that the fact that he was developmental and I was civil meant that it was gonna be really hard to get stationed together. So in hindsight, there, I should have done more research. Like we're saying, it's kind of like a theme of what like how that would affect our career. And partly it was because before, a lot of the leadership was telling me, oh, civil engineers can go everywhere, because there's a base and you need civil engineers. But in like the last 10 years before I commission, a lot of bases have become civilian bases, where they got rid of the military people. And so most of the bases, they did that out were the bases that my husband go to, so it went from like, it would have been like, you know, 20 years earlier, it really would have been a good career, and we would have been able to move all over towards the different bases together. But with the way they restructured the military and got rid of a lot of the military at the units and made them all civilians, it made it really hard to get stationed together.
Brock Briggs 06:52
So you guys were together from very early on, then was he already in the service at that point when you met or?
Amanda Huffman 06:59
Well we met in ROTC. So we were in college, and we were going to ROTC and then he commissioned a year before I graduated, so he was in a year before me and I was still finishing school, and he was in New Mexico and I was in California.
Brock Briggs 07:14
Were they not hip to the like colocating thing, I understand that they're like, you're saying that their preferences are what you know, the needs of what the Air Force is at certain locations, but they don't just override that and like, put you guys both at the same location and find something for you?
Amanda Huffman 07:32
They work with you. But it's also like the needs of the military. And it, it's not that it's impossible, but it does take a lot of work. And like you kind of have to have support from your leadership to get you into like I worked in Ohio, when my husband was going to school and working at the research lab. i There wasn't a civil engineering base, but I was a lieutenant and there was a headquarters but Lieutenants don't go to headquarters. And so my commander, worked behind the scenes and was able to get me a job at Wright Patt. But without his support, I kind of felt like there wasn't anything the detailer was like you're a lieutenant we don't care. And you still have a year left on your contract. So you know, you're just going to be separated until you get out. And there wasn't the emphasis of like, keeping people in, unless there was someone who was like advocating for you. It's not impossible to stay together. But there is a lot of challenges. And it does take a lot of work. The younger you are in rank, the more advocates you need at higher ranks because they know the system and they know how to get you into the different jobs and the different places.
Brock Briggs 08:45
I feel like every single enlisted personnel needs to hear that because there's this like such a big divide there of just the belief that officers get everything that they want and are treated so much better. But in the reality is as they probably deal with a lot of the same problems. And maybe even as far as detailing and like where you're going to be stationed maybe even more of a challenge, just because of the such a smaller population of people.
Amanda Huffman 09:13
Yeah, and like if you're in the same career field, and there's only one Squadron and you're higher up in rank, there's like only one lieutenant colonel job for that particular career field. So like, it's great when you're both lieutenants, because you can just go to the same squadron but then as you go higher up and rank, the amount of jobs that are available for people of the same career field difference is really complicated and really hard. So that's for sure true.
Brock Briggs 09:41
Is there are certain positions that like as you if you were to have stayed in that like engineering officers in the Air Force that they like all kind of work towards. I know from the Navy side, like all of the pilots end up becoming if you stay in long enough, and you're kind of playing both sides and you you look good on paper and all those things, you eventually become the captain of a carrier. That's kind of like the end game for for pilots, is there something that engineering officers are kind of like working towards in that sense,
Amanda Huffman 10:18
it's kind of different because like the highest rank, you can do like civil engineering at a base level as a lieutenant colonel and being in charge of a squadron. And then like, if you're gonna go hire like to be a full bird Colonel should be the equivalent of a captain, the jobs are really like, spread out, because there's not like, there are like people who work at the Pentagon who work directly on like the higher level civil engineering stuff, but you could be a group commander at US mission support Squadron, you could work at a headquarters doing stuff. So like, it's a little bit different. It's not the same type of like, focus. And I mean, the focus is to become a lieutenant colonel and lead a squadron. But then after that, it's kind of like a new focus where you have like, all these different possibilities.
Brock Briggs 11:05
So civil engineering, I'm thinking like, road bridge, maybe dam construction, you ended up going to Afghanistan with an army unit, I believe, if I have that right, to support some operations like that was that on your bingo card for joining the Air Force.
Amanda Huffman 11:25
Not when I joined the military. But when I arrived at my first assignment, they were like, well, you're gonna deploy because you're a civil engineer, and they deploy all the time. But you're, you might deploy with the army, so be ready for that. And I was like, but I did army training, and I didn't like it. And that's why I joined the Air Force. So I was like, hopefully, I'll deploy with the Air Force. And I'll go on Air Force deployment. But I ended up getting selected to do a really not typical deployment. Even the people who had deployed with the Army they had deployed with, like the Army Corps of Engineers, and they had been on a base, and I was attached to an infantry unit. And we were working directly with Afghan people to help they say, reconstruct, but there's nothing to reconstruct. So we're building roads, bridges, and schools and government buildings and that sort of thing. And so it was not what I was expecting at all, especially being a woman who couldn't serve in combat, but sure, found myself in convoys. And we did face a little bit of combat. So it was kind of an interesting experience, and not what I expected.
Brock Briggs 11:32
Yeah, there's so many jokes about like, the Air Force, having it easier, and every other branch kind of like snuffing their nose that like them having it better. And like, here you are, like joining the supposedly bougie branch and you get placed into an infantry unit. I'm sure that the, the culture shock of that was probably extremely frightening, to be placed with a bunch of like Junior infantry people who are very, very raw.
Amanda Huffman 13:08
Yeah, it was interesting. I remember my first day in Afghanistan, I went to the bathroom, and I had my Air Force PTS on and this girl was like, why are you here? And I was like, What do you mean? And she's like, you're Air Force. This is like, the sticks. You know? Like we were out at warrior and like, it was not, it was not bougie at all. And I was like, Oh, I'm with the Army. And she's like, Oh, I understand. I'm sorry. And that was that was kind of funny.
Brock Briggs 13:38
Yeah. So you said that your goal was to kind of embed with the African National people. And like you said, there's nothing to really to rebuild your maybe like building from scratch. Is that like, you're building roads? Did you guys have like a particular focus? And I guess what was your role in in the makeup of that?
Amanda Huffman 13:59
Yeah. So the PRT was made up of like civil affairs teams, and they were supposed to work like with the Afghan people and help them figure out like, what projects they needed. And then as the engineers, we were supposed to do all the paperwork to get everything set up so that we could hire local Afghan contractors to do the work. But when we arrived in Afghanistan, we had like 26 projects already going on. And there was just me another civil engineer. And then we had a master sergeant who was with us and then we had two local civilian, local national civil engineers who are helping us and so we had like a shop of like, five six people and like 26 million dollar road projects and government buildings and schools with people who didn't know how to build all these projects and like no way no equipment to like test what they were building. So the civil engineer I was with, we were like, very anti building new projects because we already had like billions of dollars of stuff that we were working on. Everything was behind schedule, everything was running into problems. And we're like, we don't need to, like throw more money at Kapisa, this little tiny province and try and get more roads built. Like we just need to finish the projects that are already going on. And so that was like, our main focus throughout the whole deployment. And so our civil affairs team did work with the people and like, they tried to get smaller projects set up, but there wasn't any big contracts. There was a lot of stuff going on within Afghanistan that made it hard to like, do, they were starting to tighten the grip on like, how much money we were spending. And so it was really hard to get new projects in anyway. So we just focused on getting the projects done, and trying to make sure all the payments are caught up and everything like that.
Brock Briggs 15:56
I have to imagine that there were unbelievable, like resource constraints, not only like money wise, but you're also like, you're going from engineering school, where you're learning like, Hey, this is how you do things. There are like, you know, checks, like rigorous checks for like building things in in the states and like, but at the same time, everybody is just a call away, you know, it's whether it's a contractor or another company to come in and like do something. You know, you've got resources for building. You are like you mentioned, like out in the middle of nowhere, you have none of those people, probably none of the materials to actually be building these things, was the expectation that you are actually going to complete them. Or those two things like don't really seem to square with me.
Amanda Huffman 16:47
Oh, yeah, no, it was like, we would get asphalt samples. And we're like, thank you. Like, we can't test these, like, how are we supposed to take the asphalt core samples and like tests, and there was no, like, you need specific equipment. And like it was written into the contract that they needed to give us the samples, which was really silly, because we didn't have any of the resources. We had like a pencil and a computer. And so. So there was a lot of like, if this wall doesn't fall over, when we push on it, then it must be strong enough. Like we had to kind of use the tools that we had. And they, the Afghan people lived in mud hut houses where we were at. And so we were building like these two storey construction projects that they didn't understand that like even though it's a building, and it's more permanent than your mud hut, it still requires sustainment. Like you have to change lightbulbs, you have to put gas in the generator so that the electricity will work, you can't put water in it. And like we had all sorts of problems where we were giving them like technology that they didn't know how to use, and then they and then it would break and they wouldn't know what to do. And so then it was like it was a waste. And so the civil engineer that I was with, we were really frustrated that like the projects had been made the way that they had been made. But it was all coming from the capital, which the capital was very different Kabul had a lot more technology available. So like the capital required all these things to be in the contract. And like this two story school houses instead of like giving people a school that was like a mud hut that they could maintain, would have been a lot better. But it it there were a lot of challenges.
Brock Briggs 18:33
It sure sounds like it. And it sounds like a very classic story. And something that happens very, very frequently in the military is, you know, up in headquarters, wherever that is, they really have an idea about how things ought to be and say, oh, you know, this all should be perfect here. It says on this paper exactly what you're going to do. But a lot of times in the field when push comes to shove that just isn't possible. And it's unrealistic. In your opinion, what would it have taken? Infrastructure wise, money wise, any type of what would you have needed to carry out those directives and like successfully complete the roads or buildings that you're kind of being asked to put together?
Amanda Huffman 19:20
Well they had us read Three Cups of Tea. I don't know if you've ever read that book before we left but he went to Pakistan, and he wanted to help the local villagers and they had a three the book and like he shows up and he wants to build schools for the kids and the village leaders were like, We don't need a school. We need a bridge. And so he builds them a bridge and then he would they were like, well, we don't need a school yet. We need this. And so like he met their like basic needs of what they were asking for. And then eventually he built schools in Afghanistan. So like they had us read this book, and then they sent us there and they were like doing the opposite of like building the relationships, building the connections like listening to what the Shura leaders actually needed. And instead, they were like, You need a school and we're gonna build it. They kind of gaslit the people in Afghanistan to think that like, you need this asphalt road, you need the school instead of like, so like they were they did say that they wanted it, but they were kind of like, gaslit into, like, you need this new stuff, you need this thing. And instead of saying, like, instead of going in and saying, like, Hey, we're here to help, what can we do to help you, they went in, like, Hey, we're here to help. And this is how we think your lives will be better. And so it was kind of like, from the onset, and like, we were generations of PRT. So I think we were like, there had been like nine or 10 prts before us. So it was a problem of how it was started. And then how continued over time, and the contractors wanted the money. That was where like, I think that was like, the contractors wanted to build these two storey buildings, because then they got millions of dollars to do it. But they weren't really equipped to do it. And so I think the money factor really played into where the challenges came from.
Brock Briggs 21:17
I think that that seems consistent with a lot of the general trend of our presence in Afghanistan and a lot of the Middle East over the last 20 years. Do you think we don't need to get into like the political side of what this looks like. But do you think that from what you experience there, that the people there really didn't know what they needed? And I don't say that in like a demeaning way I say it as like, hey, the US is here to help. We're here to like, defend the people of this country who are, you know, under attack from enemies that are also our enemies. But Afghanistan is like, a country that has struggled for a very, very long time. And I just kind of wondering if it's possible that they, they didn't even really know what was actually needed to fix the state of things there.
Amanda Huffman 22:14
Yeah, and I mean, just we were in like a Tajik place and most of Afghanistan, is Pashtun. I'm actually I get letters and emails from people who worked with the Americans, and they're facing attack from the Taliban today. A lot of it, it seems, has to do with the fall of this is really like a lot of detail, but the fall of like Panjshir and the northern province, because that was like a lot safer area in the whole war. Then when the Taliban took over, they captured and that part fell. And so a lot of the people who were up there are facing like persecution, and the guise above it is like, they worked with the Americans. But I think it has more to do with like, this my personal opinion, like racial differences, because they're being persecuted because they're Tajik and not Pashtun. They're having a really hard time I'm talking to one contractor who's, who was in Kabul, and now he's hiding somewhere else and like, he's trying to get his paperwork done so he can get out of Afghanistan, because he's in so much - his family is being persecuted by the, the Taliban, and he's worried about his life and his family's lives. He said that he just talked about, like, the challenges and I think that we didn't focus, we're like, oh, Panjshir. Everything's good up there. And we didn't like equip them for when we left, because when we left, you saw how quickly everything fell apart.
Brock Briggs 23:54
How have your feelings about our presence in Afghanistan maybe changed over time starting from before you even left? Like when the war was well underway, by the time that you got over there to spending time over there, and then maybe over the last like year or two with our withdrawal? Have, how have your feelings changed on it?
Amanda Huffman 24:20
I think it's really like a complicated issue, because we went there. And in a way we kind of got like, too involved in like, I don't think the Afghans thought we were ever going to leave. We worked with a lot of interpreters who are Afghans. The local national civil engineers that we worked with one of them, he had already left in 2016 and was in the United States. And so a lot of the people who were working with Americans weren't working with Americans to save Afghanistan. They were working with America so they could get out of Afghanistan. And I think that when they're There's like a path to get out of a third world country to come to the United States. It causes a lot of problems. And then, yeah, I just have a lot of mixed feelings because I don't feel like we thought enough about, like, what it meant, like I understand, like I was old enough to remember September 11. And I remember like, how when we went to war, and like, how we had this emotion of like, we had been attacked, and the Twin Towers fell, and we had to do something. But then we like, did something and then we didn't leave. And maybe we should have left earlier and that would have helped things. Or maybe it would have been worse. I don't know, it's a really complicated, you know, there's no one right answer. But I definitely think that we weren't really thinking about what would happen when we leave. And while we were there, and then when we left? I wasn't surprised that everything fell apart.
Brock Briggs 25:58
Would you mind sharing the story of you, you and your team coming under attack while you're inspecting roads at the school?
Amanda Huffman 26:07
Yeah. So we, it was a crazy mission, because we had the new commander was visiting and we had a few people that were going to be on the next PRT who were there. And so there was a lot of activity going on. And normally, what we would do is we will go up north to like the safer part. And then we will hit the school on the very end. But we were like, we should change up our route. Because that's what the previous PRT did. And we need to like change things up. And so for that mission, we decided that instead of going north, and then hitting the school, because school is like, right by the FOB, so you could see it from the FOB. And we were like, well go left instead of going right. And so we went left, and we went down to the school first. It was our first mission objective. And we had two guys go in and clear the school. And then we were about halfway between the school and the trucks. They started shooting RPGs at us and small arms fire. And while it was dangerous, they didn't, we were up on the top, and they were down in a ravine. And they didn't wait long enough, because we would have had to walk right in front of the ravine to get to the main doorway. Had they done that I think it would have been a much different day, because we got really lucky, we just ran back to the trucks and got the heck out of there as quick as we could. And it was scary. But it wasn't, no one was hurt. And we were able to come home safely.
Brock Briggs 27:44
Would you describe that as one of those moments where you're like, acutely made aware of like your own mortality?
Amanda Huffman 27:53
Yeah, well, and it was so interesting, because like, everything like happened in slow motion, as we were like running back to the end, like we all froze when the rocket went off, and we're like, oh, that's not good. And like, they said, get back to the tracks and like everything like your body. Because of the training that we had went through like, nobody froze, nobody freaked out, we all just went back to the vehicles we got in. And like my gunner was like hand up smoke, Do this, do that. And it was like you just did what we were trained to do. And so I think that was kind of like the bigger takeaway of like, all the training that we went through, because we were in Indiana for four long months, doing training, and it felt so repetitive because the army, you know, that's how they do everything at the lowest level. But then, when it was like a combat situation, we knew exactly how to react. And so we weren't really, I wasn't really thinking about like, am I going to be okay, I was like, This is what I need to do. And this is what I'm going to do. Afterwards, it was kind of like the emotions came.
Brock Briggs 28:56
A lot of the Marines that I talk to regularly, they talk about this idea of being tactically and technically proficient. And I think that circumstances like those are exactly where that comes to shine, is you when something is so ingrained in you, you don't have to think about it. Your body is already doing it. And you almost like don't want to give yourself time to think and maybe alter from your training because it needs to be that first instinctual motion.
Amanda Huffman 29:29
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it's like you kind of and I think that's one of the like, problems the military has, especially with like, trauma and like PTS is that we like in the moment, we know how to react and we know what to do. And then afterwards we're like, oh, we're just not going to talk about that because that already happened. And you survived instead of being like, you know, a few days later. Probably we should have had like an all call. We're like, hey, How's everyone feeling? Let's talk about the emotions of like what you experienced. And we didn't ever talk about that, as a group after we did our you know, we had to fill out what happened for the awards and different things.
Brock Briggs 30:14
How have you learned to cope with something like that and work through it. You said that there really wasn't the opportunity to do that and that probably is the case for a lot of people. In stressful situations, or certain things happen. It's a lot of maybe like patting on the back. Mostly, when it comes to like the in unit level, it's, you know, a great job doing this, like literally saving our lives. It's more about that, and less about, hey, you know, are is this keeping you awake at night? Are you are you still thinking about this? Do you need to talk to somebody about it? How have you kind of learned to handle that over time? And maybe kind of thoughts about the best approach for that?
Amanda Huffman 31:04
Yeah. So when I got home from my deployment, I did go to the airman Family Readiness center and try to talk to a counselor and she told me I was fine. And I wasn't. And that conversation was another like, big problem that I think people face is like, you go to get help. And someone's like, oh, well, what you experienced wasn't as bad as so and so is it's like, it doesn't matter. It's still affecting me. And so her words stopped me from getting help for a really long time. She also prevented me from like, speaking up, when I went to like my medical evaluations, because I had a counselor told me I was fine. Whenever I filled out the paperwork, I just checked all the boxes, and everything was fine. And I didn't tell people about what I was dealing with. And so I didn't deal with it for a long time and then when I got out of the military, and I was a new mom, I had all this like unresolved anger and rage that really came out in unhealthy ways. And so I knew I needed to get help. I finally went and started getting help through a program called Celebrate Recovery, which is for hurts, habits, and hang ups. And that was really good to just like talk to other people who are dealing with different life challenges. Then I also got counseling with Cohen veteran networks, which is a national program for veterans, post 911 veterans and their families where they provide mental health counseling for free. Their are only limitation is like they're not in every state, because you have to be licensed in each state, but they have counseling offices across the country. That was really good, because I was able to, like, get resources on like, when I felt something coming up, I could like focus on the wall, and like stare at the wall and say, this is the wall and this is how it feels. It seems really corny, but in the moment, it can get you out of that, like tailspin and so and then we would do a lot of like, whenever something would happen, we would go through like, what triggered it, what was really going on, instead of like the thing that you know, the minor thing that made it so that it turned into. I went from like a one to attend too fast. And so I could slow down and stay at like a three and be angry about something at the right level. And then my mom told me about meditation. And so I've been doing meditation to help with, like breathing exercises. And that really helps me. I hate when people talk about meditation, because they're like, it just really helps. But like, meditation is like this thing that doesn't really make sense to me, but you do it and then it just it you can tell when you're not doing it. It's kind of when you're doing it, everything seems great. And then when you stop doing you're like, Oh, I'm having all these like issues. So maybe I should go back to meditating and work on getting back on a routine. And so that's, that's what I've been doing.
Brock Briggs 34:09
I hear what you're saying about meditation, a lot of people did, she does like this kind of like woosah like, kind of ethereal thing, but it's really not as complicated as I think a lot of people make it sound and speaking to like being diagnosed, I hate that word diagnosed but like you're being diagnosed as okay, I'm not sure if it's something that's innate to human beings, but we really like to have things explained and give binary outcomes to things that are like very, very gray. And it's a bummer to hear that you can literally say somebody is okay or not, when in reality is a lot of times what people need is to talk about it. It's like regardless, who cares if you're okay or not Like, I'm here to have a conversation with you about something that I've. I think that that almost is more what a lot of struggling servicemembers need. They don't need a diagnosis. They need somebody to hear them talk through some of the things that they're battling.
Amanda Huffman 35:19
Yeah, that was definitely I was looking for someone who would listen. And then she was like, we've only been home for a few days, it'll be fine. Just give it a few weeks. And I was like, but I need to talk to someone. And so then I didn't talk about it. And that was not, that wasn't good.
Brock Briggs 35:36
I'm always curious to ask different people who are interested in into meditation, how you get into that state, because I think that people go about it differently. And everybody kind of has a different answer about achieving that, that meditation state.
Amanda Huffman 35:53
Yeah, I use the app 10%. And what I love about it is how they've kind of like, I'm a perfectionist. So when I started meditation, I was like, I have to stay focused. And I have to, like, not let my mind wander, which that doesn't work. Meditation is like just a practice and it's something that is what you're supposed to practice. You can have good meditations, you can have bad meditations, and there isn't really a bad meditation, but you can feel like, wow, I don't really feel like that helped. But I think every time that you take time to intentionally like stop, and focus, even if like, your mind keeps spinning, every time that you like, catch yourself, like, off thinking about something and not focusing on your breathing, your can come back and start again. And so like, the practice of meditation, for me is more about like, learning that practice of like, my mind's going off and I'm like thinking of all these things, oh, I need to come back. And that's like, what helps me like when I start to get stressed, or feel the tension or start to like, worry about things and get anxiety, I can realize, Wait, I'm spinning, and then that will bring me back. And then I can focus on my breathing or whatever I'm looking at.
Brock Briggs 37:08
One of the things that helped me get started in meditation and something that I still use from time to time when I need it. But around that same idea of like, with your mind wandering, I kind of I tried the whole, like, I'm just going to sit here and just like try to think about nothing for like, as long as I can. I just couldn't do it. I don't know, if my brain was too active, or I can't sit still, or I'm not sure what it was. But there was one day is committed to trying to clear my mind. And what I did was I just started walking. I committed to walk until I had nothing else to think about. And I think that that is an under pitched way about how to achieve a more meditative state is the reason that your brain is crying to talk through and like work through all these things. That's, that's okay. And you need to, like trying to run away from those things is like not good. Some people talk about like, oh, you need the practice of getting off of it, and then getting back. And I think that that's helpful. But if your mind is so clouded that you can't even get rid of that for a second, you need to let it all out. And I think that that walk was probably like two or three hours long. But I did finally hit a point of just there was nothing. And that is a incredibly freeing feeling.
Amanda Huffman 38:37
Yeah, I mean, that's why I say like, there's not like good or bad meditations. Because like, you're right, sometimes, like, you need to think about all those things. But you need that space. I mean, that's what I love audiobooks, but I also like, have to focus force myself not to listen to them all the time because you sometimes need that quiet space where you don't have like something in your ears, always talking at you, or like put your phone at a box so that it doesn't bother you because you need that quiet space so you can think. Meditation allows you to do that. I love that the 10% app has like a bunch of different types of meditation. So like sometimes the meditation is to focus on like, get all those thoughts out and like Yeah, and so there is there's so many different ways to meditate and so many different types of practices.
Brock Briggs 39:29
What was the final nail in the coffin on wanting to get out of the service altogether?
Amanda Huffman 39:35
So my, I got pregnant. And I knew that six months after I got my son was born, the chances of me deploying were really high. And my deployment to Afghanistan was really hard. My commander got fired. There was a lot of team and fighting and there was just so many like, challenges inside the wire not counting been outside the wire that I didn't think I could mentally handle a deployment like that with a brand new baby at home that I had to worry about. And I also knew my husband's still in the military. And with both of us being in, I was like, how much sacrifice is the military going to ask for us to do? And then at like, are we even going to be able to make it to 20 years after like, maybe we do it for like, another five years, but then at that point, it's like, it's too much. And I have to get out. So like, thinking about, like, what I would have to sacrifice to get to retirement, and I was like, I don't think I'm gonna make it. So I'm gonna get out now and focus on my family.
Brock Briggs 40:44
I think that that's an admirable and a great choice. And I think to answer the question of what the military is going to ask you to sacrifice, I think it's everything. Yeah, I really think that that is what it takes to make the career a career in the military. I don't think that that's unique to the service, though. I think that if you want to have a fulfilling career in anything, you got to be willing to give everything for it.
Amanda Huffman 41:15
I mean, the challenges in the military different, like having to move and especially like a being a military spouse, it's a lot harder. I was just talking to someone she's like I'm PCSing, in six months so I'm like, trying to figure out my life. And like, I was just thinking, like, when I was six months out for PCS, and that's what I was, like, PCs, I'm moving, my whole family is moving across the country. And I'm trying to run a business and I have to like, figure out how to make everything work so that we can move across the country and get settled. And so it's really challenging.
Brock Briggs 41:49
It's really interesting. Now being on the other side, I started dating somebody, my last year that I was in, and we're still together, and she is still in the service. And now I have like all of the the spousal problems of like, not just I'm not the one that's showing up and dealing with the big kind of BS every day. But now I'm like, feeling it secondhand, and where we live and the deployment schedule on the whole gamut there. So yeah, it it cuts both ways.
Amanda Huffman 42:20
Yeah, for sure.
Brock Briggs 42:22
What was the start of Airman to Mom, is that did that launch right after you got out?
Amanda Huffman 42:29
It launched pretty quickly. I think I started it in officially in like April of 2014. And I got out in October. But I also had a brand new baby. He was four months old when I got out of the service. And so I needed something for me. So I had always loved writing. And blogging was kind of becoming like really popular. And I found this mom, blogger who was doing a thing called five minute Fridays. So every Friday, you would write for five minutes on a random word, and then people would share it. And that was like kind of a community. And I think what I was really missing was like the community of the military. And so then when I found like a writing community, I was like, oh, I want to be part of this writing community. So I had to start a blog so that I could post mine so that people could read it and comment. And so that was, where it all started. I was kind of in search of a community. And I did Airman to Mom, because I was an airman and then I became a mom. It's funny what we'll do when we're like, searching for that kind of place of belonging, and coming from the camaraderie of the military in general, like when you're used to that, and all of a sudden don't have it, it's a very large piece of you that's missing. How did you go about getting plugged in with the this writing group? Well, there There was a crazy challenge in October where the because they were doing that every Friday, and then they're like, oh, every day in October, bloggers get together from across the world. And they write every day. And so I joined the write 31 Day community and someone started a Facebook group that kept going after that 31 Day Challenge, ended and so that was kind of like where I really got plugged in. I was in the Facebook group. And like every day I was writing and posting and then after the October ended, we kept that writing group going where we would share and we would share whatever we blogged on and then you would read the two above you and then the person two below, you would read yours and comment and so it built like friendship and community that I'm still connected with those people on Facebook today.
Brock Briggs 44:52
What exactly were you writing about? Were they giving you the prompts, or were you coming up with your own topics?
Amanda Huffman 44:58
No, we all have like our own blogs and so like for the 31 day thing, we had different words that they were giving us each day. But then after that we kind of had like our own blogs on different things. And I connected with one of the other bloggers because she was a young mom. And so we had a lot of similar topics that we're writing about. But then, obviously, I've shifted more towards military stuff. But we all had like different topics. It was really interesting mix of people. And it's interesting, like all the different things that we've like, branched off to do after, after we started so long ago.
Brock Briggs 45:39
You mentioned somewhere else, I forget if it was on your website, or in another interview that you did, but you talked about how a lot of your writing has in the beginning and focused on your time in the military, because you miss that. Is that? Or was that a way for you to kind of like relive that experience? Or why did you feel like you needed that still?
Amanda Huffman 46:03
Yeah, I think I, I was going through an identity crisis of like, leaving the military and not knowing like who I was, I was a mom. But I didn't think I was a very good mom. And I felt like I was a good airman. And so it was like, I could go back and look at what I had done in the military. And I was really proud of it. And so it was kind of like an escape from like, what I felt like my life was falling apart. But really, I was just trying to figure out who I was and where I needed to be. That was like a way to go back and look at things with like, my rose colored glasses had I stayed in my life be perfect, which isn't true, but that was kind of what I was doing.
Brock Briggs 46:48
I always have kind of like, poked at my dad, because he while I was in, he would always say, you know, thank you so much for your service. And he's He's former service himself, and would always say thank you so much for your service, like, the sacrifices, it's crazy. And I'm like, Dad Shut up, like you were into, like, it's a really no big deal. And then there's something that changes when you get out. Like, it's, it's something very different. You like all of a sudden are like, Oh, wow, like that sacrifice was crazy. And whereas at the time, that's kind of just something that you feel like you have to do. So I haven't really quite been able to get my arms around that. And I still, I talk with my spouse about that all the time. And I'm always like, you're gonna remember this and like, you're really gonna like, look back on this positively even though it's, you know, at the time, like kind of crappy.
Amanda Huffman 47:44
Yeah, yeah. I talked to my husband today. I'm like, you don't know what's coming? Transition!
Brock Briggs 47:51
Right? When did like blogging and like a little writing group, and even doing like a 31 day challenge, when did that become something bigger here to kind of like bury the lede here. Uh, you now have like, written two books, and host a podcast all for this community that you've kind of cultivated around the airman to mom community the last couple of years? What was the tipping point for you?
Amanda Huffman 48:19
It was starting the podcast. So I was like doing whatever I was doing and nobody was reading or paying attention to me. I went to the Military Influencer Conference in 2018. And it was in Florida. And no one really knew who I was or what I was doing. But I told a few people about my idea to start a podcast in January and to focus on military women. At the time, I said military women, and I was like asking the spouses because I was a lot more connected with the spouse community than the veteran community. And I was like, so like military women? Like should I focus on spouses and women who serve and the spouses were like, We don't need a spouse podcast, we need women of the military who have served in the military. And so they were kind of like my final decision on like, what direction the podcast would go. And so when I got back from that, I started doing interviews. And I was really worried that I wouldn't have enough stories because I had I had been collecting stories and I've done like the right 31 days, and I did a series on deployments. And I tried to do it in 2018 but that was also the summer that we PCS, and so I didn't participate, but I had done a bunch of stories. So when I started the podcast, I was like, if I don't have enough women who I can find because women veterans are hard to find, then I'll just fill in with like the stories that I had written and that was what ended up becoming the book Women of the Military. Because once I started the podcast, a women veterans started finding me. And I didn't have a problem filling up the weeks with interviews of stories of women who have served. The podcast started out really small. And then by the end of the year, it already had 10,000 downloads, which was crazy to me because I was like, I didn't, that was like my unrealistic goal of what I thought could happen. And when I actually passed that milestone before, December 31, I was like, Oh, my goodness. And actually, this week, we just passed 100,000 downloads. So it's been quite a crazy adventure. And it's been really exciting to watch it grow.
Brock Briggs 50:42
Congrats, that's that's a huge mile marker, that's for sure. I wanted to kind of like back up a little bit in like, get some more granularity on this timeline. So you're, you're writing what gets you interested in going to the military influencer conference, I, one, I didn't even know that it was going on that well. And I actually just found out that the military influencer conference even existed, like a couple of weeks ago, I had on Mark Harper from We are the Mighty, and who they recently just acquired the Military Influencer Conference. So I just kind of learned about it from him, what gets you interested in going into that period?
Amanda Huffman 51:21
So I was in the like, military space. And even I said, like, nobody knew who I was, somebody knew who I was, because when they I think it launched in 2017. I got an email, like, you should go to this. And you're a military influencer. And I was like, I don't really think I am. And I also had a lesson, I headed up my son in December of 2016, my second son, and so I was like, I'm breastfeeding. And I have like a baby who kind of relies on me. And I also don't make any money off this this blogging thing. So like, I can't go to the conference. But I got on their email list because of that. And I was like, maybe in the future, I'll go. And then in 2018, it was in Orlando, and I found out before that the next year, it was going to be in DC. And because we were moving to the DC area, I was like, Oh, I'll go to Orlando. And then I can go the next year to the one in DC. And so it was kind of like just being in the right place at the right time. And it was really fun to go the first year because it was so small compared to like, the next year, it grew a lot, which isn't a bad thing. But it changes like the intimacy of the event and what the experience was like, and I'm going whatever year this is, I'm going later this month.
Brock Briggs 52:41
Yeah, I think it's like, in a week and a half or something. Well, you kind of talk about what the influencer conference is at that time, and kind of like maybe how it's progressed, if you've gone in recent years. I talked with Mark about it in my interview with him. And he said that the the name is a little bit outdated. And to be quite honest, the first time I heard like the title of that I was like, Oh, that's a little bit cringy. What, what exactly is that? But, you know, what is it as a whole? What did you get from it individually? And you know, what were your takeaways?
Amanda Huffman 53:19
Yeah, so it was just it's kind of like a party to hang out with a bunch of like, veterans and military spouses. And the first year I went, I was like, I was not, not that I didn't identify as a veteran, but I was like a military spouse. And like, that was who I was hanging out with. And that was who I was working with. And so it was kind of like a weird experience for me, because it was the first time I had been in a military space as a spouse. And people kept saying, you're a spouse. And I was like, Yes, but I'm also a veteran. It was a really interesting, like, all the different emotions. Then the next year that I went, was 2019. And that was the last year they had it because of COVID. This is the first one that they're having now. I went and I set up a meetup for women veterans, because I was like, I want to, like meet other women veterans, and I had the podcast. I set up this meetup. And I was like, oh, maybe like 10 women will show up. And there were over 50 women veterans and like the same place, and it was like, the coolest thing of like, and I met all these women veterans, and then I would see them throughout the conference and get to have side conversations with them. And it was like, such a cool experience. But it's a big party, where there's conference stuff and there's booths and you meet with like different people and there's all that connecting, but it's really like, a big party to like, hang out and you can just have like really deep conversations because it's like military people. So we skip all the what's your name, and we're just like, how are you and then you get into these like crazy deep conversations with people you Just met and lots of different collaborations and opportunities come from it.
Brock Briggs 55:05
So it sounds like that meetup that you set up kind of maybe laid the groundwork a little bit for the podcast now.
Amanda Huffman 55:12
Well, that was in 2019. So the podcast was already going, but it definitely like, spurred on, like, continuing to keep podcasting and helped me reach more women. It's funny because I met so many people at that thing. I was running around because I was organizing it. So I was like, trying to make sure that people knew where to go and was like, and so I didn't get to connect with very many people. But everyone knew who I was because I was organizing it. People will still talk, I remember you from that event. You set that up, and I met so and so. And so it was kind of like, I didn't do it as like a way to like, promote myself, but it was the fact that I let it and I organized it and got my name out there. Different people remember that I did that. And it played a role in a way I didn't expect.
Brock Briggs 56:04
Yeah, I didn't mean that in a way that was like, you were like doing it self servingly, but it was like, hey, you know, you have this thing going on. And then you instantly kind of connect with a bunch of people in person who are like, kind of interested in what you have going on. And maybe we're a lot of those people already listeners? Or were they just people that you had kind of that ended up coming, and then we're kind of made aware of what you had going on?
Amanda Huffman 56:31
I don't think that they were listeners are just all women veterans. And it was really fun. Because we were in a bar and I would just go up to random women. I was like, Are you a woman veteran? And are you a veteran? And they were like, if they weren't, they looked at me like I was crazy. Because they're, you don't ask women that question usually. And so it was kind of like, and then if they were a woman veteran, they could like, Yes, I'm here for the thing. And so it was, I don't know, it's just kind of a unique experience. Those sorts of ways. So I mean, I don't even know if everyone there knew about my podcast, because I didn't, I didn't talk about it. I'm not a good self promoter. But I just wanted to meet up with other women veterans, and it's just, it's a unique group, like veterans are a unique group. But like the more commonalities you have with the like, if you're with women, or if you're with like, people who served in the same career field, you just have more commonalities and more connections and more shared experiences, it's just, it's really cool to be around people like that.
Brock Briggs 57:35
One of the things that I think is really unique and very powerful about your story here is like, there are all these genres of people, but in today's day and age, there's like literally an interest for everything. And you have taken your niche and just like gone, rather than like casting like a wide net on everything, you've just gone like super deep into your one category. And it's like, it's you, you know, you're not doing anything that's outside of your kind of niche, but and there are so many people that kind of like bubble up from just that one group. That's kind of a subset of another group.
Amanda Huffman 58:18
Yeah, I learned that when you're speaking to everyone, you're speaking to no one, and that you need to speak to one person. So like, I'm a very big like Avatar, like know who you're speaking to make a made up person that you're talking to. And so, when I first learned about it, I was like, that doesn't make any sense. But I was desperate because nothing was working. And and so I tried it. And I started writing to a person who was the person that I usually write to as your younger version of me. And so I changed a little bit about who she is, and I give her a different name. But I'm always trying to write to like someone who's like earlier in their experience than I was and like, what I learned. And so that's like, where my focus goes. I think like, the more narrow you are, it's seems so backwards, like you're super narrow, but then it makes it really easy for someone who's trying to like, help someone who's joining the military they know that Amanda does that and she specifically focuses on women, so like, people know, that's my focus. And like people recently, I've started tagging me, they're like, Hey, I found this book. And it's about women. And it's not always military related, but it's like about women blazing the trail and engineering or being someone just tagged me in a book about Disney. Women who are Disney engineers and like how they end I was like, it's just people know, like, where my focus is and like what I'm passionate about, so it's easy for them to like, see something and then say, Hey, I think you would like that. Or hey, this person needs your or help, because I know that you focus on that.
Brock Briggs 1:00:05
How is your focus on that niche of kind of basically just Amanda, you know, you your, your current and your former self, how his focusing on that influence some of the other content that you put out, we've established that you had like a blog that was ongoing. He started a podcast and mentioned two books. Talk about how that's influenced some of those resources that you put together, because your website is literally this, like treasure trove of resources. There's literally so much there. I've spent a lot of time on it already. But I haven't got through all of it. So
Amanda Huffman 1:00:44
Yeah, well, it's also been a long time. I mean, 2014 was a long time ago. But I, so I was really focused on transitioning because I wanted to help people who transition out of the military because I had such a challenge with my transition, and not in like finding a job because I didn't need a job. But I had like this identity crisis. And I didn't know who I was. And like, what happened, it was like, what what happened, I just left the military and now like, I don't know who I am. And so I was trying to figure out like, ways to help people transition and a business coach helped me with the question of like, when is the earliest in the stage that you can help people who are transitioning out of the military and like through that conversation, we were talking about, like, oh, six months before you can do this, this this, but after we ended the call, I was like, I don't feel like six months a year? I don't feel like that's the right answer. So then I was like, What about like, five years before. And then I realized the best place to help people transition on military is to build a strong foundation when they join the military. And so that was how my idea for a girl scouts military service came because I wanted to help people. And it first started as a lead magnet, where it was a free 10 page guide. And people started downloading it and was like, oh, people want this resource that seems really crazy, really niche? How do I find these people? I don't know. But they find this. And so that was where I was like, I need to make this more than a few page guide. And like, think about what questions people need answered, and how to build that strong foundation. I mean, I would have girls send me emails, and they would like, and then I would get a chance to talk to them. And they would like have the guide printed out and show me how they filled it out. And then we would talk about like them joining the military. And it just made me so excited. And so I was really in like a focus of helping with transition, which seems crazy, because I'm focused on joining. But that was where it all started.
Brock Briggs 1:02:57
What, what all did you include in that initial guide, I love those things. And on a lot of websites, they have like free content. And that kind of gives people who are new to you or new to your website, some initial like trust, it's like a, I'm the first one to like put my hand out to kind of like shake hands and not waiting for them to come to you. And it's like a trust building thing, without even being there to like have the conversation. What kind of things that you included in that? And how did you? Or did you do anything before that that you attempted that maybe didn't work?
Amanda Huffman 1:03:37
Well, I tried to make a transition guide and somebody downloaded it. And so yeah, so like I, I was I tried to transition guide and that was like how I ended up meeting with the business coach and talking like I've made this guide, but nobody wants to download it. I don't know what's going on. And so that was like we were trying to figure out like, what other free resource could I make, that would be more helpful and meet people where they needed. And so that was what I started with. And then I created, the Girls Guide is kind of like a basic information about joining like what branches are available. And then like some self reflection questions like is the military right for you. And then things that they need to think about. Like, I try to include things like periods and hair and things that normally aren't talked about in military stuff. So and being a single parent and so it's just like a high level view of like, what the military is like with some questions that they could answer to help them decide the military was right.
Brock Briggs 1:04:41
That's like so simple when you say it that way, but like so valuable at the same time too. And like I said, it is such a good like trust building thing when you're trying to like bring people into kind of your ecosystem you know. I almost guarantee anybody who like downloads that is probably going to want to go and listen to the podcast and like, listen to anything else that you kind of put out and they have buy in because of that.
Amanda Huffman 1:05:11
Yeah, yeah, it's yeah, it's crazy how like such a simple tool can have such a big impact.
Brock Briggs 1:05:21
So you tried the Transition Guide, and that didn't work. And you kind of pivoted away from this, of from that sector and move more towards this. How did you know that that kind of validation was there? Because sometimes you need to, like, try a lot of different things to kind of figure out what works for you. And that that happens to be what works for you.
Amanda Huffman 1:05:45
Yeah, I mean, I tried a lot of other things. I was a mom, blogger, a travel blogger, like, all these different other things before I like kind of made my way over to the military space. And then yeah, and then I poked around in different places. And then I also one of the big influences was I I don't know if you know, Ben Killoy, but he does a podcast, the military veteran dad, and he and I met through a mastermind group. And we were like the only two people who kept showing up. We, we became friends and are still friends today. He and I both started our podcast in January of 2019. And so he was trying different ideas on like, how to get the podcast to grow. And he was really pushing me to do a solo episode. I was like, I'm really happy doing interviews. I don't think people want to hear what I have to say. He's like, I really think you should try it. And so I took the blog post, I've written seven things I wish I would have known before I joined the military. And I made that into a solo podcast episode. It got so many downloads, I was like, what just happened? And so I was like, oh, it's the solo episode thing. So I did another episode solo a month later about deployment, that one didn't have the same response. And I was like, it's not the solo episode, it was the topic. And so the topic of like, what I wish I would have known when joining the military, along with creating a Girls Guide that was starting to get traction and downloads really made me look at like, what resources are out there for girls who are considering joining the military. And there are resources that are for men and there usually is a chapter in the book written by a man about what it's like to be a woman in the military, but those like, it's dominantly, like everything is focused on young men joining the military or boys joining the military and not on young women. And so like, I was like, there needs to be more resources. And obviously, people want to hear it, because whenever I talk about it, or write about it, it does really well. On the back end.
Brock Briggs 1:08:01
Don't you kind of overcome the ongoing kind of fear that's looming over like anybody that produces content that if you kind of like step outside your lane, quote, unquote, that you're gonna maybe like, lose people's interest or like it won't be on or consistent with your brand.
Amanda Huffman 1:08:22
Oh, that feeling doesn't go away. Sorry. I, um, so I did this summer because we are PCs and and because my book was coming out, I did a series on joining the military and I was like, halfway excited and halfway terrified because it was so different, because it was like, all week after week, focused on joining the military instead of like sharing the stories of women and I think it was a 10 week series. So it's like 10 whole weeks dedicated to join the military and I was like, my audience might hate me for doing this or maybe they'll love it and I didn't really know what to do and I was really scared. But I actually gained a lot more listeners and I got more downloads each week and I was surprised at not of not only the fact that the people who are already listening kept tuning in even though they're mostly like women veterans and then some people who are joining the military but like people's my regular listeners kept listening and then it brought in new listeners. It's scary to make a change and take a risk and it is a risk. It could fail, but I just do it anyways, I learned when I was deploying to Afghanistan my commander told me if you come to a great chasm jump It's not that far and so when I really think I might, that maybe I should do something I like say that quote over and over and I'm like, Just do it. Just jump because it's not gonna be that far. And and that's kind of like how I push myself. To do things that are a little scary.
Brock Briggs 1:10:04
That's a great thing to kind of remember. And like you said, it's, it's so much easier said than done, especially like almost the longer you've been doing something you feel this kind of commitment by us. Like, well, I'm doing this and have been doing it for so long, then I don't want to stop. I just this week, I like due to lack of planning, and whatever number of other factors. I didn't have an episode for this week. But like mentally I committed to, you know, having one out every single week, and I did my first solo episode on Wednesday, and I just like it, it about killed me to do it. Like it was so uncomfortable. Even just like I'm sitting here talking to myself or whatever, but it was terrible. I hated it, I have no idea how it's like something totally not in really the category of what I normally talk about. And who knows, maybe that probably won't be the category that I ought to go to. But I recently am like walking through everything that you're talking about.
Amanda Huffman 1:11:14
Well, you never know like, what the risks are or like it. Even if it's a quote unquote, failure, there's still stuff that you can learn from it. Like, I didn't realize that podcasting would really help me with public speaking like I can. I'm an introvert. I was really shy in high school. When people are like, oh, like, aren't you nervous to go on stage? I was like, no, like, I talked to people all the time. I've done over 200 episodes, and I've met so many different people. I have so many different stories and I'm like always talking about military stuff. So like when I have to answer questions, and go up on stage, I mainly have done panels panels are not scary. Well see when I get to do like, where I'm leading the talk. I just did a class yesterday, and it was like freaking me out because I had to talk the whole time. But on panels and like interviews, I've gotten so comfortable with doing those that it's been really helpful. Even like the solo episodes, they've kind of helped prepare me for teaching the class because it's me talking about one topic for an extended period of time. So it's like always a learning opportunity. Even if the analytics part don't always pay off.
Brock Briggs 1:12:32
I have noticed a significant increase in my speaking ability, and even even mostly just getting rid of like filler words, going through and editing transcripts and editing audio and seeing how many times you say, um, yeah, so all of those things, you'd like start to kind of like beat yourself up over it. And yeah, even just talking better. And I could see how that there'd be a ton of application to public speaking as well. I want to talk a little bit about like maybe people getting into, and finding what their like content niche spaces, like is it really just a matter of like trying a bunch of different things? What should people be thinking about when it comes to discovery about like, what their personal category is?
Amanda Huffman 1:13:28
I think you have to find something that you're really passionate about. And I hate when people are like, You should find something that you love, and then it won't feel like work, it still feels like work. But it's a lot more fun to do it and I get excited about doing it. The thing about like running a business is there's going to be like parts of it that you don't like. So you should find something that really makes you passionate and makes you want to make change, because then it makes it easier to come up with like new ideas and new programs and new ways to try things. When you start a business, a lot of times like things don't work out the way you want to and you have to pivot. If it's something that you're like, Oh, I kind of like this, I don't think you'll have the passion to like keep trying different things or focusing on different things. It was like, I wanted to be like a mom blogger and focus on mom things. But like when it didn't work, the things that I was trying, I was kinda like, um, maybe I don't really want to do this. So it wasn't like, oh, I have to do this. But like, for me, like helping women join the military and sharing the stories of women, it's like, I have to do it. Like if I even when I try. I'm like, I don't want to do this anymore. Because I had a really bad day. I'm like, Oh, I miss talking to people about their service and helping connect them and so it's like something that when I don't do it, I miss it. I didn't have that same feeling about the other topics that I tried and you should also know that like Just because you try something and it doesn't work, like, you're probably not gonna figure out what your passion is the first time, I tried to be a mom, blogger, a travel blogger, postpartum blogger, like all these different things, and it was like I had to figure out what what the right niche was and what the right thing for my personality. So like, the discovery process is not fun. But it's kind of part of the process. I wish you could just skip it and be like, there's a way to figure it out. I don't think there's a way to figure out like what the right thing is until you start doing the work and then allow yourself to pivot. Pivoting is like, so important in running a business.
Brock Briggs 1:15:45
How did you know that? You it was the time to turn what you were doing into a business. And you can maybe kind of dovetail that with, when is there a time to quit? You know, it's easy to say, like pivot or like kind of go a different direction. But there are probably some times when it's worth just actually quitting and walking away to kind of try something different.
Amanda Huffman 1:16:10
Yeah, I think the when you know that, or when you don't want to do it, like when it's like, you wake up and you're like, Oh, my goodness, like, I woke up this morning, I had a podcast interview before this one. And I was like, I can't wait to talk to my girl I was interviewing and like, I mean, if I was like, Oh, my goodness, I have another podcast interview. I don't want to do it. Like I thought about quitting, because we moved to California. You can see that I'm in my closet, probably. But I had to find like a quiet place, because we were by train tracks and it's we don't have an air conditioner so the windows are open a lot. I was like, well, maybe I should just quit podcasting because I've done 200 episodes, there's all these stories, I can keep the podcast up. But when I thought about like not getting to interview women, and sharing their stories, I was like, well, I don't want to do that. I want to keep telling the story. So it was kind of like, I had like different challenges with moving across the country. Now I've figured out a way to keep going forward. So like if you think about quitting, and then you think about like, what will it be like to take this out of my life? Am I gonna miss it? And that kind of can help you decide if it's something that you should keep going or stop. I don't think I answered your first question.
Brock Briggs 1:17:34
That's, that's okay. I am tracking with you. We've kind of touched on it a little bit before. You have like, leaned so hard into this. And I admire like so much you finding what that thing is. And then like I said earlier, just going super deep on that one thing. You have your second book out and Girls Guide to Military Service, selecting your specialty, preparing for success thriving in a military life came out in September. You want to talk a little bit about what that is, who should buy it, and then maybe talk about where the best place for people to purchases?
Amanda Huffman 1:18:10
Yeah. So I wrote the book because we talked about earlier I created the guide and I wanted to do something more. But I really wanted to expand the guide to answer more questions. I was really fortunate that I got Elva Risa is my publisher and so they were really able to help me like reframe the book, because when I decided to make the guide bigger, I kind of went a little too more on the detailed aspects of the military instead of like, all the different topics. So they were helped me able to help me reframe the book. It starts with, how do you decide if the military is right for you. Then the next part is all about picking your career field, your branch, the different way that you can serve officer enlisted. Then we preparing for maps and basic training both mentally and physically. Then we go into like being in the military and your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing so that you can have a strong foundation for joining the military. I think that if you're in the right career field, and the right branch serving in the right way, because a lot of people just think of active duty and they don't ever consider the option of National Guard or Reserves until they're getting out of the military, but you could totally start that way. I think that if you have that strong foundation, and you know like what you want to do and you're in the right place, that gets you excited about what you're doing, it makes it better for not only your service in the military, but the contribution that you make to the military. So I want the book to be in high school guidance counselor's offices and at recruiting stations and it's meant for like junior high and high school girls to read and to to get advice and for their parents to learn more about the military, if they have questions, or they're concerned that like, why is my daughter thinking about joining the military? I don't know. I've heard all this stuff on the media, is this the right thing? And so it just gives them like an overall framework of like what the military is and what the opportunities are.
Brock Briggs 1:20:20
Where is the best place for people to purchase it? I know it's available on Amazon is that the place where you get the most money if it's purchased, or is there another place people can buy it from?
Amanda Huffman 1:20:31
The best place is military books, militaryfamilybooks.com, which is the Elva Risa publisher site, so you can get it on Amazon. But know, Amazon takes the money, the best places to go directly to the publisher. I can send you a link so that you can put that in the show notes. So it makes it easy for people to find.
Brock Briggs 1:20:50
I can absolutely include that. Amanda, this has been a really, really fun conversation. I appreciate you joining me. I'm gonna put all of your links to everything else in the show notes as well. Where else can people go to find you plug the podcast, the other book, website, everything else.
Amanda Huffman 1:21:10
So you can you can listen to my podcast Women of the Military, it's on as many of the podcasts apps as I can get it on. I also have a book by the same title women of the military that is available on Amazon because I published through Amazon. My favorite social media place to be is LinkedIn, I really am active there. And I also enjoy hanging out on Twitter. So those are my two most popular social media platforms. If you send me a message on LinkedIn, I'll definitely respond to it.
Brock Briggs 1:21:45
Awesome, Amanda, thank you so much.
Amanda Huffman 1:21:48
Thanks so much for having me.