Adam Voci – Transformation Through Physical Development

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

Adam Voci is a graduate of Harvard Business School, a former intelligence officer for the United States Air Force, certified Crossfit Trainer, and current Development Director in Washington DC for CRC Companies. He is an experienced leader and has a history of seeking to help those in his charge grow in their career field and holistically.

Adam was the 8th military academy graduate in his family. He described an attitude of winning in his family, mentioning that while effort is important in the end it comes down to an ability to be both effective and efficient. He described his parents philosophy as slowly providing him more free reign on his life as he continued to demonstrate greater levels of responsibility. This was coupled with an intentional approach to develop personal agency by learning how to do things on his own. This sense of an ever increasing level of responsibility doesn’t just mimic a great environment to grow up but also provides insights into the world of work, by providing ever more complex tasks, and ever more autonomy in one’s work. This is a topic that is also tied to Self Determination Theory.

When he got to the Air Force Academy he had to face a harsh reality that when ranked by classmates he was either first or last. He linked this back to his childhood where he would architect situations where he would come out on top.

His remarks about his professional career in the military and at HBS echoed his upbringing, where he described that, by doing your job really well, or just learning something new quickly, people recognize you for it. He further emphasized that even if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask questions and expose weaknesses. This is a lesson he honed in on while at Harvard Business School.

Adam explained one mistake he believed he made was choosing a career field, intelligence, in the Air Force that didn’t naturally fit his personality. He worked hard to leverage his skills to promote the development of his subordinates and ended up working towards pararescue. His best moments were flying over the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq. But in the end getting his MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS) won.

Adam worked to start his own business during his time at HBS. Throughout his life he described taking pride in applying pressure to his environment to create change. He explained that he sees business and entrepreneurship as a component of this process.

Among many leadership development processes Adam discussed, he found Crossfit to be one of the best. He described Crossfit as one of the most powerful behavioral change agents in the world. It began with 15 affiliates in 2005 and grew to 13,000 by 2015. He made it a point to mention that a crossfit gym can be one of the best leadership laboratory. He witnessed his subordinates get stronger, that people don’t know what they are capable of until you are not afraid to fail. Crossfit creates the environment and opportunity to try with the support to fail. Adam described the experience as a Crossfitter to promote intensity in a workout, regardless of size, experience, or lack of experience.

Adam explained that when he challenges his subordinates to engage in crossfit, he would have them write down three things you want to be better at in your life. After doing crossfit for 6 months his subordinates would admit that other areas of their lives would improve as well. He explained that it forced them out of their comfort zone, focused on personal improvement, with Incremental victories. As soon as people start to taste progress they are hooked.

Since Adam left HBS, he has joined a real estate company. He was happy to find a company where their culture works for him, with small number of employees, where he has a lot of autonomy. He has had the opportunity to work with design thinking, and business to support the wounded warriors, around the DC area and is extremely happy to have found this position.

Adam’s journey to find his path came down to understanding components he would want in a job, and that he feels are needed in promoting motivation. He identified: autonomy, complexity (challenging problems), and direct correlation between effort and result. Two of these components are identified as psychological needs within Self Determination Theory which identifies what is needed to support movements towards intrinsic motivation.

Watch the TED Talk on Taking a Cold Shower

Learn more about Self-Determination Theory here.

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