Always seek knowledge from those with experience.
Allan Filip of Fairfax, VA is the Vice President of a cross-partisan movement to increase veteran leadership within Congress. The idea for this movement was born from a decrease in the political arena of people who have served in the military and have the resources to run for congress.
Allan began his career on the warehouse floor at International Paper and worked his way through the ranks to Project Manager and National Sales Account Manager. After such success, Allan found himself pulled toward something that would allow him to leave an impact. He moved his career into politics beginning in 2009 working for the Michigan Republican Party. From there, he moved to work at Michigan Department of State.
It was his time as Chief Development Officer at Work Skills that showed Allan just how much dedication veterans have to continue service for their country. He moved to Capitol Hill as Chief of Staff for multiple Michigan Congressmen before stepping into his current role.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I genuinely love the mission of the organization. We help veterans run their campaigns for office in Congress. I work with those on the Republican side. The concept we have is that these veterans have already been in service to their country and we help them find another way to continue that service. Back in the 1970s, veteran representation in Congress was as high as 70 percent. Today, we are at the lowest ever, near 18 percent. We believe that finding those who are from a common background and feel that genuine need to serve are what will help get things done for the American people.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am in constant contact with those I am helping to campaign. My job is to work with candidates on the nuts and bolts of creating a winning strategy. I have meetings throughout each day to touch base with our candidates and their teams. I also evaluate all of our candidates, from the standpoint of how their campaign is going and to ensure their values align with the goal of our mission.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I believe in personal interaction and collaborative conversations. I have a wealth of experience, including sales, so I use that to my advantage. I am hands-on as I meet with our veterans and help develop their strategies. I reach out to those who I believe will help us reach our goal when I need help.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Right now, we have a whole new generation of veterans who have served in our military recently and are coming home and stepping up. They want to be a part of our system of government and make a difference for their local communities. The surge in that sense of responsibility and commitment to make the right changes is very exciting for us.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am always accessible to those I am working with. If I don’t know an answer off the top of my head, I know who I can reach out to for it. Most important, I think, is following through on your commitments. Don’t make promises that you can’t fulfill or you lose your credibility, especially in the world of politics.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There is a lot I would like to say to my younger self now that I can look back. I think one of the most important lessons I have learned is to learn what is really important. Things I thought were everything back when I first started my career don’t mean the same anymore. I want to leave an impact, a trail that not only shows my success, but one that contributes to our nation and to the success of others.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Almost all people really do have the best intentions. We live in a world ruled by social media and we hear a lot about bad news or how some person went viral for the wrong reason. I view it differently. I see a potential with social media to get to know each other and learn from each other in ways we never have before. When we learn and understand one another better, we can accomplish so much.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every day, remind yourself what is lasting and important. Everyone has their own goals, their own vision of success, but the commonality is that we all want to reach it. Focus on what you can do today to get yourself closer to whatever goal you have for yourself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My best strategy was finding good mentors along the way. No one has all the answers. Drawing from people who have been successful and applying their strategies to how I work has been the most helpful to my career. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I definitely want to shape it with good habits from people who have been there.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I started out my life in what America would consider poverty, but I did not let that deter me from reaching goals I set for myself. I sought opportunities to advance in school and in my career. I learned not to settle, but to persevere and keep moving forward. Of course, it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think what most people are looking for these days goes beyond a particular good or service. They are looking to connect with companies that they feel are working toward the greater good. Whatever business or trade you may be looking into, consider it’s impact on their community and on the world. If you can provide something that may be similar to another. company, but you stand out in that way, you’ll be more likely to thrive.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was recently able to spend an evening with my family at a sporting event. It wasn’t the event that made the money spent worth it, but that quality time with my family. Work does keep me busy, so carving out those moments where we can really engage with each other is precious to me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use the Google line of products on a daily basis. It is just one of the simplest to use, totally integrated services available. It allows me to collaborate with multiple teams and track progress in real time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I absolutely recommend Team of Rivals by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. It tells about how Abraham Lincoln was able to put together a group of people who didn’t necessarily seem like a good fit for an administration that accomplished so much for our country. He recognized their talents and helped bring out their best, even though several had opposing views.
What is your favorite quote?
To this day, my favorite quote is still Ronald Reagan saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”. It was such a powerful moment, but it was the right thing at the right time. He had a lot of resistance saying it, many people thought it was too strong. I feel it was a statement not just about a physical wall, but a line of divisiveness that was poisoning a country. It’s a moment we can still look back on and appreciate for its impactfulness.
● Always seek knowledge from those with experience
● Follow through on your commitments
● Know what is important
● Appreciate the value of collaboration