We sat down for a Q&A with Earl G. Hall to see what he’s been up to since Graduation.
Here are a few of Earl’s accomplishments:
CEO @ AXES.ai
CHAIRMAN, International Gaming Standards Association
BOARD Member, Government Blockchain Association
TEDx Speaker (2x)
eVeritas: Tell us about your time growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Life in an outport in the 1970’s and early 80’s was not what most Canadians experienced growing up. Life was simpler, tougher and survival was always a factor to consider. Storm swells, floods, ice storms… the elements were always in forethought living on a small beach in Placentia, Placentia Bay.
Some made their living fishing on the angry North Atlantic Ocean, some worked in factories but in general, work was hard to find, and families, neighbours and friends relied on each other for survival. I guess that is where I learned that the secret to anything and everything was caring about others and teamwork.
eVeritas: Why did you choose to attend CMR?
Coming from a VERY modest background, my chances of financing University were slim to none. My parents were incredible and did the impossible to feed, clothe and ensure my sister and I were safe. However, university was a high fence to jump financially. I had considered the Christian Brothers as teaching is a primary passion and growing up in Newfoundland and witnessing the horrors of the Catholic Church, I thought I could make a difference.
Life intervened. I took a career aptitude test and I scored overwhelmingly high. My only reference to the army was my Uncle from Newfoundland that fought and survived the Korean War and my cousin who was a hero in the first Gulf War. However, my priority was education. A dear friend told me that something called a Military College existed and explained to me the life / culture / activities. I was sold. It sounded like a dream to be able to learn to be a soldier, go to a top rated school and play sports !
Being from Newfoundland, our education system was not on par with Ontario as we did not have Grade 13 and the French curriculum at the time did not facilitate learning French easily so St. Jean became the obvious choice. BOY DID I LUCK OUT. Going to St-Jean and learning French has become one of the greatest attributes of my entire life.
eVeritas: What are some of your favourite memories of your times at the Military College?
Well.. lol… how about if I said that one of my favourite memories was graduating from PREP year after two tries… 😊 Why is it a favourite memory ? Well, having an incredible squadron commander such as Capitan Lund stand up for me and plead my case to the committee that I had the potential to succeed at CMR and that failing physics was due to the foundation I had from the Newfoundland school system and that I had proven all year that I could learn fast enough to survive the following years. Well… that was one of the most defining moments of my life and that Earth Angel has had the biggest impact on my life besides Gen. Romeo Dallaire. Having Capt. Lund believe in me that much that I be the rare exception to the rule at CMR and be invited back to redo PREP year… well that not only gave me belief in myself… but after doing PREP year twice (second semester), that experience made me much more humble, more hungry to win and more focused on balancing the impossible at Military College.
I guess another favourite memory is the day I became CWTO. I could feel the weight of Dr. Bryan Brulotte, Gen. Scott Clancy and all the others that came before me. It is funny… you perceive these people with so much power when you look up to them and their incredible leadership. But when they pin the 4 bars on your lapel and you head out to the sidewalk, all you feel is the weight of the responsibility and the impossible task to be perfect to respect their example and uphold the honour of the position.
I will never forget walking off the parade square at graduation. As the tears rolled … it was so bittersweet as the struggle and strife to make it through six years was suddenly replaced with the instantaneous longing for the comradery to continue as we all prepared to go our separate ways. Friends like that… you never make again and it is a hole that lasts forever.
eVeritas: You graduated from the College in 1991 with Honours – how hard was it to find the school/work/life balance to make this possible?
Simple: Teamwork. Nothing else. That is it.
From preparing for an inspection, to studying at the library, everything is easier with teamwork.
I firmly believe that one of the greatest attributes that CMR instilled in every cell of my body is that teamwork is always the answer to everything. If you want to be a loner or a superstar, you miss out on the real magic of the Military College System as when you work as part of a team, the impossible becomes possible, every single time. That is the secret sauce of the Military College System.
eVeritas: How did your education at CMR guide you in your post-military career?
LOL… CMR set an impossible bar for every other program that I studied for the rest of my life ! CMR was structured, organized, timed, concise and precise. Everything at CMR was efficient. When I did my first Master’s Degree in civilian life, it was relatively at the same level (and even lower) than my degree at CMR. So I changed universities seeking a higher challenge. Luckily I found the École national d’administration publique. While nothing will compare to CMR… the curriculum was deep, rich and challenging.
The methodology we learn at CMR to listen, take notes, summarize, and assimilate information is simply unique. It has made my post military career rather easy. Whether it be to teach a team, build a brief, do a client presentation, it comes so naturally after the tools taught at CMR.
eVeritas: Where do you think you would be today, had you started at a civilian university?
No idea however I can say with 100% certainty… I would not be where I am today as CMR has made me who I am today. From discipline to speaking ability, from focus to stamina, CMR has been the foundation on which all else was built. Speaking French for me on a daily basis has become one of my greatest attributes that I love about myself. It was a hard hill to climb but the culture, the daily routine and the courses at CMR made it possible and today, I consider French my first language as the Quebec Culture is engrained in me as much as my Newfoundland roots.
eVeritas: What does Leadership mean to you?
My vision Leadership is simple and was taught to me by General Dallaire. Be the example. Work harder. Do more. The troops need to see their leader dug in, engaged and hands dirty. My first Warrant Officer in Valcartier in 1991, Warrant Officer Ouellet took it a step further and taught me to be close to the troops and to not be afraid to show them I was green, incompetent and largely useless lol… When my team started to teach me… it was one of the most humbling and treasured moments of my career.
Today… leadership has synthesized into being vulnerable and authentic. I still try and work harder than my team, get up earlier, go to bed later and to be the intense, engaged person that a leader should. But I have shed the iron man persona and I let them see when I am hurt, sad or worried. It seems that letting them peek through the armour bonds us even more.
eVeritas: You have no shortage of leadership experience under your belt – the most recent being the CEO of Axes.ai. What makes you passionate about being a leader?
Building people. A CEO’s job is not to build a company. That is the team’s job. The leader’s job is to build the team so that they feel the empowerment of rising up to the challenge and that they have the support to succeed. Witnessing people realize their potential, embracing their strengths and overcoming their self-doubts… well that is the reason why I still do this as the privilege to lead people is of the highest honour.
eVeritas: If you could sit down with an OCdt today and give them advice, what would you say to them?
- Survive the day ! Do not focus on tomorrow. Break down the tasks of the day and make sure that you are ahead of the schedule, the tasks and the goals.
- Work as a team. Everything is easier if you work as a team. How do you do that ? Easy. Help others first. When your buds see that you are engaged in their success, they will engage in yours.
- Do not listen to the brain noise. You will succeed if you believe you can. So the brain noise has to be swapped out with mantras or phrases that you repeat to ensure when the brain noise gets loud, you can drown it out with phrases that you have built that you can repeat to remind yourself that you will make it.
eVeritas: In one of your TEDx Talks, you talk about fear, and how you overcome it. Can you share a few quick tips with us?
Fear is a byproduct of our bodies being overwhelmed with too much information. Fear can be mastered by four simple things:
- Learn to breathe. Conscious breath ensures that oxygen overtakes and eliminates cortisol. When you breathe consciously and slowly, you take over control of the chemicals that cause fear.
- Learn the chemistry of liquids. Sugary liquids fuel fear as they render the body acid instead of alkaline. Fear increases as your liquid intake is acidic (like coffee, soft drinks etc.)
- Learn the chemistry of food. Food combinations create an acidic body and as with liquids, have a direct impact on how much and how fast the body produces the chemicals of fear.
- Your thoughts are usually your enemy. A calm, still mind produces much less brain noise. So if you have an alkaline body, you can breathe consciously your thoughts are already in a much better place. Then if you learn techniques to control and dissipate brain noise… you can literally master fear.