Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - Hi everyone, Sal Khan here from Khan Academy. Welcome to our Daily Homeroom livestream. This is a thing we started seems like a long time ago now, but it was several weeks ago when the school closures happened. Just a way to continue to support you as a parent, a teacher, a student, obviously, Khan Academy has a lot of resources like that. But there's something especially in this time of social distancing, about being able to connect people live. And some days it's just me and it's here. I'm here to answer your questions. And some days we have incredible guests like today. And so today, our guest is going to be General Stan McChrystal. I'm gonna be bringing him on a little bit, but I'll tell you all ahead of time, whether you're on Facebook or YouTube, start thinking of questions that you would like to ask the general and put them in there. We have Khan Academy team members who are looking at those questions and will surface them to myself and General McChrystal. I do like to remind everyone somewhat, 'cause it's important that we are not for profit. We are funded by philanthropic donations from folks like yourself, we were running at a deficit even before this COVID crisis hit. And now with the school closures, we're seeing our traffic be almost three-X of what it typically is, our registrations are, depending on the day six-to-20-X of what we would normally expect to be and we're trying to do more programs. So, if you're in a position to do so, please think about donating. I do wanna give a special shout out to several corporations who've stepped up in the last few weeks, Bank of America, Google.org, AT&T, Novartis and Fastly to help us help you hopefully, with what's going on school closures, but we are still running at a deficit and we still need more help. So, whether you're an individual giver or a corporation or represent a corporation, please, please think about that. So, with that I'd like to bring on General Stan McChrystal. And General you're one of those people. You're a very decorated person in your career. I could probably read your bio for about five minutes. But the headlines, you are retired four-star General, you ran a essentially a significant fraction of some of the, or all of the US military operations and that we've been in, in recent modern history. And since then, you have gone into the private sector, and you are focused on helping advise folks on things like leadership and organizational structure. Did I get that generally right? - Well, you probably gave me more credit than I deserve. I was part of the team. But yeah, you're pretty accurate. - So, maybe a good place to start. You know, there's a lot of young people who are watching this and they're always thinking about their careers. They're thinking about how do I navigate life? How do I build a sense of leadership, if you could just walk us through your career arc, starting from when you were maybe a high school student, but especially at once you went into the military. And also a lot of us don't fully understand how the military hierarchy works. And what are the expectations as you become a lieutenant, as you become a one-star general, two-star. How does that work? - Sure, yeah, I mean, you only kind of figure it out in the rear-view mirror. I grew up in an army family. My father was a soldier. And his father was a soldier and my four brothers all were in the army and my sister married a soldier. Then when I married my wife, she was the daughter of a career soldier and her three brothers were so. So, you kind of get it, we were the army business. From the earliest age I can remember, I wanted to be a soldier, like my father 'cause my father was my hero. He was a very low key guy, a decorated combat veteran, but very self effacing, very quiet. And so he was my idea of the model of a leader. So, I wanted to do what he did and go to West Point. So, at age 17, I went to West Point. Now, that was 1972. And to put it in context, the military wasn't very popular in 1972, at the end of the Vietnam War. So, statistically speaking, it was the easiest year in the academy's entire history to be admitted. So, here I am. So, I got into the academy and I wanted to be an infantry officer. And West Point was 170 years old when I entered, and they took themselves very seriously. And I thought West Point was gonna be sort of just a turnstile I go through to get to my career, and I didn't take it very seriously. And so we had this clash of cultures, me and West Point, 17-year-old Stan and 170-year-old West Point, you can guess who won. And so, for four years, I had kind of a rough go of it. First couple years, I did horribly in discipline. I did horribly in academics, almost flunked out. And then my last two years, I started dating this girl, Annie, who I've now been married to for 43 years, and she sort of set me straight and I started improving on those things. But you come out of West Point basically schooled in things like character and a college education, you're not a trained soldier. And so, the first thing you do is you go to some initial courses and your desire is to become technically and tactically competent. You wanna know weapons, you wanna know tactics, you wanna be able to land navigate. So that when you go to your first leadership job, as a platoon leader, you know, you'll be respected and you'll be effective. So, I went through about eight or nine months of additional training schools to include Ranger School, where they sort of try to break you down. And then if you don't break, you get this Ranger Tab and you go forward. But I got to my first unit, the 82nd, as a second lieutenant, and it was '70s army. And it wasn't very good and it was still kind of Vietnam hangover and the troops, most of 'em came from a difficult background. And so you walk in, a college graduate, trained, and you think, okay, I'm gonna lead these people. And then you realize that, in fact, they know an awful lot. And although they would do some amazing things on weekends, they actually take care of you. You take care of them, but when it really gets to doing business, they take care of you. So from an early age, you learn that the fight is gonna be won by the sergeants and the privates, the lieutenant is going to enable them to win it. And that gets more true the further you go up. So, you spend the first, I spent four years as a lieutenant, leading first about 30 soldiers as a platoon, as a paratrooper lieutenant. And then I went to Special Forces and led a team of Special Forces non-commissioned officers, Green Berets. Your next-- - Just on that first appointment, I am curious, you know, you were probably what, 23, 24, when you were leading that group? - 22, 23, yeah. - And I'm guessing most of them were your age, maybe even a few of 'em were older than you. How did you handle that? Like, did you ever feel like an imposter syndrome? Or you know, how am I gonna get the respect of these folks? - Well, it's very interesting, you do, the first thing is you wonder, are they gonna mind me? Are they going to respect me? But it was really kind of a dangerous thing because what would happen was the non-commissioned officers would be more experienced. And they'd have to be sort of the hard asses, and the privates sometimes-- - And what does that mean? What does non-commissioned officer mean? - Means sergeant, so you have commissioned officers, which are lieutenants up through generals, and non-commissioned means you are an officer but with no commission. So, it's sergeants, it's from sergeant E-five up through sergeant major, and then below that are privates and specialists. We call them our corporals. So, the military is broken into enlisted ranks and officer ranks, and typically people enter as a private or they enter as a lieutenant. Now, some people will enlist in it and become an officer, but the traditional way is to come into those two. So, as you're a 22-year-old lieutenant, you've got sergeants who are combat veterans, who have been around the block. And they have got to be the biggest sticklers for discipline and standards in the platoon. And yet you want to be in charge. So, it's this interesting dynamic, you have to earn their respect, but you're not really as qualified or as knowledgeable as they are. Good platoon sergeants, you have a platoon leader and then a senior sergeant, sergeant first class, he's responsible or he feels he's responsible for training you, for developing you. And if you get the right relationship, it gets very close. And the lieutenant learns to keep their mouth shut, learns to let the platoon sergeant guide them, but the platoon sergeant also learns increasingly to let that lieutenant take more and more responsibility. Now, when you're young, you can make some big mistakes. I made some very bad mistakes as a second lieutenant. At one point I started listening to the privates when they would complain about the sergeants to me. I shouldn't have been listening to 'em about that. But they would complain about 'em and they'd go, you know, LT, those sergeants really are a pain in the ass, aren't they? And if you give them that ear, and you start to think, wow, they like me, they don't like the sergeants, so I'm actually a good leader, that's exactly the wrong conclusion. Because what really the reality was they're, you know, wily people and they are creating sort of a division. And it takes a little mat, it took me some maturity to sort of grow through that era before I really learned how you lead. Another time, or we all have times when you learn about standards. Once we went to this position and I was pretty demanding 'cause I wanted to have high standards. We went to this position and I was leading a mortar platoon. And I made them dig the mortars in, which takes several hours, three or four hours of really hard work for the whole platoon. And we dug 'em in, and then we went to open the range with the range controller, who allows you to live fire, and they told us you're in the wrong position. And I said, wait a minute, and it was my fault. I had read the papers wrong. So I had 'em digging in the wrong position. I went to Range Control, I said, would you please let us change so that we don't have to move? And they said, nope.