I have been asked many times since launching Metafrazo earlier this year the question “Why?” Why did you start the company and why is it needed? Why did you choose the name Metafrazo and what does it mean? Why…why…why. Although it has always been clear to me I wanted to spend some time publicly on the topic because it is truly at the core of who we are as a company.
I will start with the second question first – “Why did you choose the name Metafrazo and what does it mean?” Quite simply, Metafrazo is the Greek word for translate. I have a fairly unique background as I have over a decade of talent acquisition and hiring experience and at the same time have served over a dozen years (and continue to serve) in the military. I have transitioned both from active duty and reserve roles multiple times back into private sector employment. The difficulty I have seen with veterans of all branches and ranks is the difficulty they have in translating what they have done into what they can do for a company in a way which maximizes impact and clearly communicates why they should be considered for potential employment. At the same time, companies have this same exact challenge. Fewer people serve in the military than have in years past, especially as a percentage of the total population in the US. Few veterans are in HR roles in the private sector and odds are against a veteran in most companies they will be hired into a new role by another veteran. Try as they may, those in the hiring process are often ill-equipped to translate the value of the veteran and many times they are extremely valuable candidates who end up in the not interested pile and are passed over for any significant consideration. The key piece missing in all of this is translation!! The veterans need help to translate their skills into a language which is spoken fluently in the private sector. Likewise, the private sector needs the same help in translating value and attracting the right talent for the roles they have open. This is why I chose the name Metafrazo and the significance behind it. Not profound but it does speak to the environment we are in today.
The larger question is why…why are we doing this? Was it simply the need for translation and we seek to fill the gap where others do not stand? This is a part of it, all successful businesses carve out their own niche in the market and it is what makes them unique and successful. It goes far deeper than this and as I was pondering it this weekend some things came to mind which made sense to share.
The unemployment rate for veterans in MN who have served since 2001 was measured last fall at 22.9%. By any standard of measure, this is unacceptable. Translation is lacking but this goes beyond simple translation and consulting work. For me, it is answering a call to help the band of brothers (and sisters) who have answered their nations call and served honorably under very trying times. More can and should be done to turn this around and I have unique skills which can be used to help solve the challenges in our way. Not answering the call would go against the core values I have learned during my service, specifically for me the Air Force core value of Service Before Self. Oddly enough, several years ago I was asked by a former supervisor what my dream job would be and I responded quickly and somewhat off the cuff it would be to help vets. Be careful what you wish for as it may well be less of a desire and more of a calling into service.
There are other reasons why as well. I have had the good fortune of meeting and serving with some outstanding people over the years. I have one who comes to mind readily now who is a more recent acquaintance. I will keep him anonymous, let’s call him Joe (no pun intended with GI Joe) and keep his rank and branch of service out of the discussion. Joe is unassuming but make no mistake about it, he is a warrior. He is the valorous warrior type, wounded warrior type who does not have the word quit in his vocabulary. He is a family man as well and a role model to all he serves with. He epitomizes core values and I know without question if he was called to, he would instantly give his life for me. I would do the same for him as well. His life is not without challenges though. Multiple deployments, time away from the family, memories of those he served with that were lost while serving among other things are all part of his story. Difficulty in transitioning in and out of the service multiple times only adds to the anxiety and burden carried as a price of service.
So you ask me why Metafrazo? The answer is really simple. I did it for Joe. Joe is a very real person but there are also hundreds of thousands of “Joes” out there who need help not to get to the front of the line but simply to stay in the line and get fair consideration during a hiring process which seems to weed out qualified candidates simply because the hiring authority does not understand what they are looking at. I do it for all the “Joes” and truth be told I have walked a mile in Joe’s shoes myself; while I do not have a magic formula which can make all the problems go away I can help translate value on both sides of the fence while helping companies create sustainable and replicatable internal veteran hiring initiatives.
Joe has given us so much; it is time we gave back to Joe. Joe has earned it and the ironic thing is when you hire the right Joe he (or she) will NEVER stop trying to earn it. It is the way we are built, we know of no other way than to go out and do our best in everything we do. There are many obstacles for Joe out there, both their own experiences and the culture they are returning to. We all have a choice to make. We can sit back and complain about the issues and the portrayal of veterans in the media or we can choose to be a part of the solution. I have made my choice, have you?? I have heard it said many times before that if you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem. Which side are you on? Joe is calling, he needs your help, what is it going to be?