DERRICK Interview with Veteran Miyoko Hikiji

October 25, 2013

MiyokoBookCoverEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Miyoko Hikiji who joined the active duty Army in 1995 and served three years as a supply clerk at military bases in Louisiana and Texas before returning to her home state of Iowa where she attended Iowa State University. While studying journalism and mass communication and psychology, she continued to serve part-time with the Iowa Army National Guard as a supply clerk and truck driver. She deployed to Iraq for a year from 2003-04 and her experience as a female combat veteran is the crux of her memoir titled “All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq.”

Miyoko was honorable discharged after 9 years of service, with 12 military decorations, and since 2005 she has worked as a writer, actress and model.

Miyoko is an advocate for veterans, especially in the areas of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and Suicide. These topics, which effect a large percentage of the military population from the previous decade of wars, are the subjects she is investigating for her second book.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

My dream is to be open minded to the gifts of the people and the world around me to live with an attitude of gratitude for the blessings of my life. I want to connect the strengths and talents of people in order to close the gaps and met needs, whether they be business, financial, social or emotional. I want to make a difference, no matter how small, each day, turning negative energy to positive in the world we share.

My goals, more concretely, are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism or creative writing, write a second non-fiction book, a sequel to my deployment memoir about post traumatic stress, military sexual drams, substance abuse and all the related challenges of veterans, especially women veterans, reintegrating to civilian life.

I want to continue to raise the awareness and education of the non-uniformed population about these issues and be a leader in the non-governmental, non-profit initiatives to help struggling veterans now.

Earlier in the year, my first book, “All I Could Be: My Story as a woman in Iraq,” was published by History Publishing.  It was a tremendous undertaking, but I can see now, that writing a book was only the launching pad for a much larger mission. I have joined forces with seven women vets to form the first National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau aimed at promoting a positive image of women and I am also the spokesperson for the military sexual trauma initiative for the Veterans National Recovery Center.

E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

I have two BS degrees from Iowa State University in Journalism and Mass Communication and Psychology.  My media studies got me in the habit of scanning news stories, asking questions others are uncomfortable asking and many are hesitant to answer in plain truth. It also taught me to be a lifelong student of life to always wonder, search and learn.

My psychology studies helped me to view many mental disorders as challenges instead of illnesses, and many as manageable and treatable. Particularly in the realm of traumatic stress. I saw how the brain and body’s reaction was a normal response to extraordinary circumstances and that social support and help with others stressors, like homelessness or unemployment, can have a significant impact in helping a person win back their best self.

Through both courses of  study, I learned to listen compassionately to the stories of others.  Everyone has a great story inside.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

My greatest resources are my abilities to communicate with clarity and passion as a writer and a speaker. What is unique about me is the fact that I have lived a soldier’s story, but don’t look like GI Joe. In fact, I now work part-time as an actress, a profession that some would label as quite opposite military life.  I see the two as having similarities life. There’s a different set of skills and a different uniform, but a similar level of commitment and preparedness. Good soldiers don’t miss “mission time”working actresses don’t miss “call time.” Both also require a high level of boldness and ability to think on your feet.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

I knew I was both ready and moving in the direction of my destiny when I got those first few calls for interviews about my book prior to its publication. Some of the interview questions were difficult, complex or personal but I felt comfortable, articulate and in the right place at the right time.  It was time to raise the visibility of women in the military and I suddenly knew I was supposed to be a part of that movement. It was powerful feeling.

I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

Photographer Ben Easter. I have a soft place in my heart for artists, of all mediums, that use their talents to not only express beauty and emotion, but do so for a greater good. Ben has a beautiful spirit  and easily connects with people through the lens of his camera to tell their stories. He has generously donated his time, talent and resources to create exhibits to raise money for children with Down Syndrome and children with an incarcerated parent. He also photographed my book cover, which I constantly receive compliments for.  Though Ben is already highly successful, I anticipate seeing his name attached to many projects in the future and I look forward to celebrating those with him and hopefully working with him again.

C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?

I came from a fairly large family of five brothers and sisters and I was the youngest. So, there was a lot of competition for my parents attention and considerable pressure for me to be as good in sports, music and athletics as my siblings, who were all very talented. My parents were only 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants, so they were hard working, but poor. College savings was not available to me. That’s the biggest reason I joined the military at 18 to earn the GI Bill.

I think there are also challenges embedded in being a minority, especially in a nearly all Caucasian state like Iowa. Many of my peers growing up, and some adults, displayed over discrimination and used racial slurs. Combatting their ignorance and developing thick skin prepared me for the greater challenge of being a woman in the military. My first duty assignment in 1995 was with a combat unit and had only recently opened its ranks to women in the few jobs labeled as “non-combat.” The women made up only about 3% of the unit and we had to overcome stereotypes and unfair treatment. Outside of my deployment to Iraq in 2003-04, that first year in the military was the most physically and mentally challenging experience of my life.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

Don’t discount anyone. Many of the connections you make later in your career will originate from some of your first work relationships and friends, Movers and shakers from disparate industries often come together as leaders to promote community prosperity. Everyone is connected; always be professional. Also, a lesson I learned early on from one of my mentors was that it was my responsibility, at each rung of the career ladder that I climb, to reach down and pull someone up. The best position to be in is in the middle using the help of another to climb up while being the help someone else needs to achieve their next goal. Depositing into the dream accounts of others is one of the most rewarding investments you’ll ever make.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

Trust yourself. You’ll make mistakes, especially if you take risks, But risks are required to actualize opportunity and the risk is often proportionate to the loss or gain. While we always want to gather information and trusted advice, at the end of the day the decision is yours and your path is unique. You will not get to where you need to go following in anyone else’s precise footsteps. Learn to adapt and don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way. You must pause and be thankful for the joys and blessings in order to have the emotional fuel required to keep charging ahead.

Visit Miyoko Hikiji for more information.

DERRICK Interview with Entrepreneur Mark Pelmore

January 30, 2013

Encouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Mark Pelmore who is a disabled military veteran (US Army) from Champaign, Illinois. His educational background includes pursuit of a PhD, a MS in MIS, a BS in IT, and a BS in CJ. Professional experience in the Business, Educational, Medical, and Textile industries.

D is for Dream: What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

My dream & goal was to be a Renaissance man, being able to control my time, my capital & the outcome of my own destiny. To accomplish my dream & goal I thought my efforts needed to be well rounded but centered on being a businessman. My pursuits shifted to becoming a sound business owner, after gaining priceless experiences taking the scenic route of college, the military and corporate America.

E is for Encouragement: What encourages you?

Besides the Holy Spirit, the scriptures, my wife & my parents (family), I am encouraged by other believers that help those in need or pay it forward genuinely without expectations of reciprocation.

R is for Resource: What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

My goal of becoming a Renaissance man lead me to select paths were I traveled the world, become immersed in high levels of educated and indoctrinated through experience based professions. Being exposed to the globe, trained by great minds, and groomed though a number programs I gathered information & experience to become a resource of sorts to help others beginning on a similar path I took.

R is for Ready: When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

The journey to get to this point has taken 20 years of preparations (most of my adult life) as I had to gain knowledge in practically 5-6 different industries. To the insider it seemed like I was a professional student, a frequent job changer and had no plan. Honestly at times it made me doubt if I was following the right path. Now that the plan is gaining and  as I expose pieces of the true purpose of my Renaissance approach it makes me realize I couldn’t have gotten here faster if the plan was to be correctly executed.

I is for Individual: Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why?

I think the person the world should be introduced to is Crystal Cain, the founder of raisingCAIN multi-media. The company and plan she is building is complementary to where my plans are going for my company. I envision our young companies can grow simultaneously while providing a benchmark, resources & platforms to each other.

C is for Continue: When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic what makes you want to continue?

I imagine something profound could be said about my inner drive to be successful, however as I have progressed in purpose & age I think being an aspiration to future generations is much more rewarding than proving to myself I can continuously get of the mat when knocked down.

K is for Keys: What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

The decision between working for and owning should never be taken lightly. Gaining experience & knowledge in your industry of choice is very critical for being effective.  I think addressing a need is a staple of business however customers drive business therefore meeting their needs should be equivalent to addressing business needs. I biggest hurdle I have faced in knowing the importance of capitol and other financial practice that are not taught about small business. For leaders equip yourself with more than a specialty and always be willing to improve your people skills because our people will shape progression.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

Identifying oneself into a box, position or an industry is a mistake…what you do cannot be equivalent to who you are. Pour into others that are coming behind you & others that you would not customarily involve yourself with, will broaden your scope and give invaluable knowledge to someone else

Visit Mark Pelmore for more information.

Welcome To Columbus, Georgia

April 13, 2012

Royce Matthews would like to welcome you to Columbus, Georgia

Columbus, GA is a great place to live and to start a business. We moved here from Germany 7 years ago and have decided to retire here. My husband has a few years left in the Army and we have also started a bake shop since moving here. Columbus has a lot to offer if you like sports, entertainment, college life, or are in the military or are retired military. We are an hour from Atlanta and close to Alabama and Florida. Columbus has lots to offer everyone.

New York Blog Series Part 5: Thanksgiving Football In Brooklyn New York

December 12, 2011

In my wildest dreams the last thing I thought I would do during my trip was to play football on Thanksgiving Day in Brooklyn, NY. My Brother In Law Charles plays every year. Charles suprised me in how athletic he was. At 42 he has an outisde chance to suit up on Sundays in the NFL.

Hanging out in NY with my Brother In Law Charles

Before the game  started everyone showed love to each other with handshakes and hugs. I blended in like I was one of them. Not one person treated me like I was from out of town. In the south you hear rumors about how unfriendly New Yorkers can be. It was a great display of hope for each other. All I saw was black on black time.

After the hugs and hellos it was game time. Touch Football with a Tackle Football feel. The rules were simple, it’s touch but if you get a chance to knock someone off their feet through a block or by preventing them from catching the ball by all means do it.

Are You Ready For Ready For Football?

Our team lost 7 touchdowns to 4. Charles scored 1 touchdown and had 1 interception. I had 2 catches that both went for firstdowns. We lost our momentum when Charles went out injured. Charles went for a pass and ran his thigh into a pole. Yes a pole. The playing field was a school playground that still had basketball goals up.

Football Game MVP who represents the Army

After the game I ate like a grown man and slept like a baby. This is what you are supposed to do on Thanksgiving Day.

If you Missed any of the Blog Series episodes: