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Essential Things to Know About the 2017 National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE)

Essential Things to Know About the 2017 National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE)

Recently, Three Wire, CEO Dan Frank, Solutions Engineer, Wes Jackson, Sr. Client Executive, Keith Foley, and Director, Business Development, Katie Koehler, attended the National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE) in St. Louis, MO. In its seventh year, this conference connects Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) with Procurement Decision Makers (PDMs) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal agencies, state government, and commercial firms. As a collective effort, the conference affords PDMs an opportunity to conduct hands-on research and participate in product demonstrations all under one roof.

Team Reflections:

Dan Frank – Founder, CEO

“While at the event, I learned about a potential new Veterans Affairs (VA) approach to set-aside RFPs in which all companies (small and large) would be able to submit a proposal, called a “tiered evaluation.” VA would first consider SDVOSB proposals, to determine if the proposals have a fair and reasonable price. If so, VA would award the contract to a SDVOSB. If not, other categories of businesses (e.g., VOSB, 8a, etc.) would then be considered. Ultimately, if no small business has a fair and reasonable price, the contract could then be awarded to a large business who does. This could have major impacts to small businesses who partner with large businesses for set-aside work.”

Wes Jackson

“The Three Wire team met a variety of people this year at the conference. There were several PDMs and senior executives from the VA there, as well as a multitude of current and potential industry partners. We met leaders and team members from organizations who can augment things we already do, which led to some exciting discussions.”

“It is fun to engage with knowledgeable people in talks that range from the future of IT, to what other industries are doing with today’s technology, to how the Government will build tomorrow’s public services.

“It was good of the VA to make so many PDMs available both for one-on-one discussions as well as several breakout sessions.  Hearing directly from our key stakeholders like this, helps the industry formulate plans and contemplate innovations that can solve the most important problems the VA is facing. So many times, in this industry, you see solutions looking for a problem. Gaining insight and having real dialogue helps us focus on the right things and not waste time and taxpayer dollars on solutions that don’t quite hit the mark.”

“I was particularly interested in hearing that VA is making progress on the path of modernizing its application ecosystem through the use of APIs.  Those efforts and innovations will mean that future apps will be far easier to develop, secure and operate.”

Keith Foley

“The Three Wire Systems team had a tremendous time at this year’s event.  Our mission especially hit home within Industry and Government engagement to collaborate on addressing the needs of our veterans.  We discussed a wide range of technical and operational areas that the VA needs help from partners such as Three Wire to modernize and transform healthcare delivery.”

“Of particular importance is the alignment of new business approaches and technologies for VA to stay ahead of healthcare demands and produce greater health outcomes for veteran care.  Cloud, Managed Services, Agile Development, Analytics and Accountability within IT are areas that we’ll continue to focus on and drive change within the agency.”

“It’s exciting to see Technology reaching a point of rapid delivery and mobility to remove legacy stove-pipe systems and improve communications which tie directly back to saving lives and enhancing the quality of life for the people who mean so much to our country.” 

Katie Koehler

“I was able to meet with over 30 companies within 48 hours, most SDVOSB and some large companies who are very interested in our Call Center capabilities and would like to partner to bring more efficient and effective performance to VA. It is extremely exciting to know others are interested in the great work we’re currently doing for veterans and want to expand and grow with us.”

“VA is changing as it grows to better support veterans, from both a healthcare and benefits perspective and there are so many good businesses and entrepreneurs that want to help VA during this transition. I heard a VA PDM say how excited he was to meet with so many people who had their hearts in the right places vice just looking to ‘get rich’. “

“With a stack of business cards in hand, new insight, and inspiration, we look forward to each follow-up to reconnect and continue the conversation.  Those follow-up meetings inevitably lead to new partnerships, great new ideas, and a wealth of new opportunities for the coming year.”

To learn more about Three Wire Systems, visit us here.

What to Do (and NOT do) to Help You Sleep Like a Baby

Some of us sleep like babies, but unfortunately, many of us don’t. Approximately 20 to 40 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia, a sleep disorder resulting in wakefulness or restlessness and an overall inability to sleep. Some people can fall asleep fine, but suffer from an inability to stay asleep, which is referred to as sleep-maintenance insomnia.

Dealing with insomnia of any kind is frustrating and the reality is that there is no cure besides medication. What you can do is improve your “sleep hygiene” to get your body and mind in shape for a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips to make that happen.

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. The routine will reinforce the natural sleep-wake cycle of your body.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise during the day (but not in the few hours before bedtime). The physical activity will help tire your body out so you can sleep better.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that involves winding down as you get in bed. For example, take a warm shower, brush your teeth, do some easy stretching or practice yoga before turning off the light.
  • Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable. This involves being in a cool, dark, and quiet room with a comfortable mattress.
  • When you find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night, try to meditate. Practice progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing to force yourself into a more relaxed state. If that doesn’t work, try listening to soft music or reading for 20-30 minutes before you try to go back to sleep.
  • Avoid eating large meals before bed.
  • Avoid stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) in the afternoon.
  • Avoid alcohol in the few hours before you go to bed. Alcohol may initially seem as though it makes you sleepy, but it may cause you to wake up later as your body metabolizes the alcohol.
  • Avoid using technology right before you go to bed (i.e., watching television, working on your computer or other electronic devices).
  • Avoid naps or limit them to no more than 30 min.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least seven hours of quality sleep each night. To wake up well rested and refreshed, set yourself up for success by using our tips above to improve the quality of your sleep.

The Importance of Full Spectrum Support for Veterans in the Workplace

The American Council on Education estimates 1.5 million U.S. veterans will be transitioning to the civilian workforce over the next three-to-five years – a 30 percent increase over historical norms. As increasing numbers of veterans enter the workforce, it’s important for companies to recognize that veterans offer unique and versatile skill sets as potential employees. It’s even more important for companies to provide full spectrum support for the transitioning veterans.

“Full spectrum support” goes beyond hiring a veteran, and includes training organizational leaders and managers in veteran-specific issues, such as financial guidance, educational assistance, stress management tips, and emotional and family support. Through Three Wire’s VetAdvisor Program – a peer-to-peer coaching program tailored to support veterans through all phases of transition from military to civilian life – we work tirelessly to ensure businesses and veterans have the custom tailored support necessary to succeed in both their personal and professional lives.

Bunker Labs CEO and U.S. Navy veteran Todd Connor points out that “…while plenty of Americans and industries strive to support [our vets], they often don’t know how to interact with them.” Veterans live and work in a military culture that is often foreign to the civilian population. Day-to-day business environments and operations are usually very different.

Bunker Labs’ research also found that 25% of veterans want to start businesses in their local communities. Civilian mentors and professional networks each serve to support “vetrepreneurs” while navigating a successful entrée into their chosen industry. Fortunately, there are many resources available to the vetrepreneurs including programs supported by the SBA (Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Boots to Business, Contracting Support for Small Business), the Department of Veteran Affairs (Vet Biz, Veteran Entrepreneur Portal) and the National Veteran Small Business Coalition.

Government initiatives such as the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, the Veterans Employment Center at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and organizations such as the Veteran Success Resource Group support veteran employment and those who employ former military members. As the preceding initiatives and programs continue to grow and operate, and as more companies harness the power of the veteran experience, veterans will prosper in the civilian and commercial workspaces.

At VetAdvisor, we are the “First in Veteran Centric Care” and offer a mission-centric focus that cultivates and celebrates the years of military skills and service that veterans bring to bear. Some of these skills include a strong work ethic, attention to detail, managerial and organizational skills, sense of teamwork, and a calling to serve a purpose greater than self.

Improving the veteran’s experience in the workplace – providing each a full spectrum of support – includes being aware of what the veterans’ needs are and implementing the appropriate support mechanisms to address those needs. At VetAdvisor, we endeavor to partner with organizations seeking to recruit, retain, and actively engage with veteran employees as part of our Human Capital Management service offering.



Fuel Happiness with Random Acts of Kindness

We all want to be happy. According to the wise ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Sometimes the smallest things can brighten your day: the sales clerk that gives you a warm smile and asks how your day is going; the kind driver who lets you into a long line of cars; or the fresh bouquet of flowers you find on your front doorstep, just because.

Being the recipient of kindness is wonderful, but what’s even more satisfying is being responsible for it. Aristotle had a word for this too. When he described the four levels of happiness that humans seek to achieve, the first two, Laetus and Felix, are self-centered; the third level, Beatitudo, is the happiness one feels from doing good for others and making the world a better place.

We recently experienced this third level of happiness at Three Wire when we celebrated our own “Random Acts of Kindness Week” in each of our offices. Each day, for five days, we challenged employees to carry out five “nice” things that would benefit someone else.

If you want to try it, and spread happiness, look at our list of “random act” recommendations below. For about fifteen minutes out of your day, you can make an incredible impact on someone else in this world and hope that they too decide to pay it forward.

Day One: Leave a nice note for a friend, loved one, co-worker, or even a stranger.

Day Two: Write a letter of encouragement to a stranger who needs it.

Day Three: Register to become a bone marrow donor at https://www.giftoflife.org/page/content/steps-to-donation. If you are already registered, or can’t/don’t want to become a donor, donate to this or another cause that you feel connected to.

Day Four: Go to Free Rice and spend 10 minutes answering questions. This is a United Nations Food Program that will donate rice to hungry people for every question you get right.

Day Five: Purchase a five dollar gift card to a store or restaurant and give it to someone who could use a bit of a perk.

Fitness and Stress Management

Stress and physical activity are things that we deal with daily, but you may be surprised at how related they are. Even a small amount of physical fitness can boost your “feel good” endorphins and act as a distraction from day-to-day worries and stressors. If you find yourself stressed on a regular basis, exercise could be a healthy form of stress management.

Exercise and physical activity increases neurotransmitters called endorphins. If you have ever heard anyone talk about a “runner’s high,” they are actually referring to the increase in endorphins they experience from the act of physical activity. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the body similar to morphine without the negative effects of drug use/abuse. Endorphins are also known to act as analgesic, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as a sedative and can increase healthy sleep patterns, which are directly related to stress, anxiety, and depression.

While involved in a high paced activity, you will often find yourself concentrating on your bodily movements, rather than concentrating on the day-to-day irritations and stressors. As a result, many find themselves able to focus on tasks better, tackle projects with increased energy and enthusiasm, and have a more optimistic attitude in general.

Even if exercise has not been a word in your vocabulary for quite some time, building up levels of physical activity can have immediate positive effects on your overall wellbeing. If it has been awhile, start slow and increase as you go along. It helps to choose activities that you already find enjoyable.

Also, pencil in some physical activity on your weekly agenda; this will help you stick with goals you set for yourself. Exercise is worth the time slot in your schedule as regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels, boost self-esteem, ward off anxiety and depression, and improve sleep.