Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • - 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.