BTU #33: Brit Yonge – Navy to High Tech at Palantir Technologies

“Just being totally honest – you really are far behind. It’s a better assumption that you’re behind that you’re ahead. It’s not like  everyone else who didn’t spend time in the military is out there playing Lincoln Logs. They’ve got a job and they’re developing skills and they’re learning. I went into my transition with the assumption that I was nine years behind every pedigreed person out there. And I feel that attitude helped drive my hunger to play a very intense game of catch up.”
 – Brit Yonge

Brit Yonge is the Chief of Staff to the CTO at Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto based technology company that has raised over $2B in funding, and was co-founded by silicon valley legend, Peter Thiel.
Brit started out at the Naval Academy and served as an officer in the Navy for 5 years, where he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) supporting Special Operations Forces (SOF) in kinetic and non-kinetic operations. Brit transitioned from the military directly to Palantir Technologies, first as a Deployment Strategist and then as their Head of Asia ex Japan, where he lead Palantir’s Asia HQ, and now as the Chief of Staff to the CTO.

 

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • How Brit, while living on a friend’s couch in San Diego, used the motivation of “one conversation a day” to search for his first job out of the military
  • How Brit would explain Silicon Valley and the ethos of startups to someone on active duty
  • How persistence and serendipity helped him land his first job (because he didn’t go through the front door)
  • How you can use interviews to better understand a company’s values and how well it aligns with your own
  • How leadership outside of the military differs from leadership in the military
  • And much, much more…

iTurnes Beyond the UniformStitcher Beyond the Uniform


QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

 

  • Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning essay: https://www.sonoma.edu/users/s/shawth/mans%20Search

Show Notes

  • 2:09 – Brit’s background
  • 2:57 – How Brit decided to leave the Navy
  • 4:32 – How Brit approached the Reserves and why he ultimately decided to not pursue the Reserves
  • 5:01 – The most surpassing aspects of Brit’s transition to a civilian career
  • 8:31 – How Brit, while living on a friend’s couch in the Bay Area, used the motivation of “one conversation a day” to search for his first job out of the military
  • 10:49 – How Brit would explain Silicon Valley and the ethos of startups to someone on active duty
  • 13:49 – How Brit found Palantir through his understanding of their product (and how to use the products you like to help in your job search)
  • 18:28 – How persistence and serendipity helped him land his first job (because he didn’t go through the front door)
  • 20:22 – How you can use interviews to better understand a company’s values and how well it aligns with your own
  • 22:12 – In the first couple of years out of the Navy, how Brit felt ahead and behind his civilian counterparts
  • 26:04 – The day-to-day life in a high-tech company in Silicon Valley
  • 30:47 – How leadership outside of the military differs from leadership in the military
  • 35:29 – How to prepare for a transition to the civilian world
  • 43:54- Final words of advice