Who wouldn't want to be featured in the No. 1 Super Bowl television ad in front of 86.1 million viewers? The New England Patriots were joined by other patriots featured that day.
Air Force Captain and MOL graduate Colleen Johnson may not have literally stepped off an airplane to be greeted by an airport lobby full of standing and applauding civilians, but for one moment captured by the magic of Hollywood, that image is impressed on our minds forever.
The No. 1 rated Super Bowl commercial is what all companies aspire to. Anheuser-Busch won that honor this year with "Hero Salute," their 60-second tribute featuring servicemen and women returning home from deployment. As they walk through the airport terminal, one by one men, women and children stand and applaud, showing their appreciation. Anheuser-Busch chose to use active or reserve military, not actors, for the commercial.
The MOL program showed me that there are applicable systematic approaches to better leadership skills
A friend's husband is returning from overseas today. He flies F-15's. Those are the true heroes, Colleen shared.
I was just representing all my friends who have been deployed. I'm grateful the company chose to honor the military in this way. A Super Bowl commercial is a big financial commitment.
Her phone is ringing off the hook from well-wishing family and friends.
And from the Pentagon press department asking her to represent the military in interviews for the major networks, including CNN, the CBS Early Show and NBC Nightly News.
Word has trickled down from the Pentagon that they are pleased with the commercial and pleased with the positive response America has had. I've heard from a lot of friends in the military. That's made it very worthwhile. It's something that has brightened my friends' day, and the commercial has made them feel proud.
For Colleen, the filming process was only a glimpse of what she hopes Americans capture: Increased support and prayers for our troops.
Colleen's Air Force career began as a recruit to the Air Force Academy, on a basketball scholarship. Most recently she led a recruiting squadron, and a few months ago chose to enter reserve duty. The Air Force supports educational opportunities, and when looking for an advanced degree, Colleen chose Biola's Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program.
I chose Biola for several reasons, Colleen said.
I was impressed with the caliber of faculty and staff. I attended an information session and felt dawn to their passion for developing leaders based on a biblical model. I quickly discovered this program was a catalyst for many people, prompting positive change in their lives.
The learning in this program not only impacts my work, but also my marriage, my friendships, and my service at church, she said.
I love that the Air Force encourages its members to pursue advanced education. While many academic programs might fascinate me intellectually, I knew that not all programs would prepare me in practical ways to excel in my workplace. Therefore, I searched for a program that would equip me to be a better officer, leader and influence for Christ. My search ended with the MOL program!
The MOL program has helped me realize how important it is to be aware of the responsibility for leaders to value people, Colleen continued.
Whether dealing with workplace interpersonal conflict, sudden crisis, problem-solving, mission accomplishment, decision making or communication, I am now seeing more clearly how I can value people at work.
In January Colleen was experiencing a normal reserve weekend at March Air Force Base in Riverside when the e-mail call went out asking for volunteers to appear in the television commercial. She was chosen, spent the entire day at the Bradley International Terminal at LAX, and come Super Bowl Sunday, sat with friends to enjoy the game.
I was told when the commercial would play, so my husband, friends and I were curious to see how it came out, she said.
Taping was an all-day filming process and we must have walked down the corridor dozens of times. I was in the back of the pack, never expecting to be anything more than a face in the crowd.
Instead, Colleen became the "face" of the commercial.
During the filming process I kept telling myself, 'I can't believe I'm doing this, and I can't believe people do this for a living.' It was 11 hours of 'hurry up and wait,' she laughed.
But it was fun, and I met some wonderful people.
Colleen graduated from the MOL in December, 2004. Her educational experience, she shares, contributes to her entire life, not just segmenting her professional career.
I've seen too many leaders try to 'wing it,' and I quickly realized I couldn't hope to grow by being passive. The MOL program showed me that there are applicable systematic approaches to better leadership skills if one is willing to invest the time and energy into this active development.
If you find yourself wanting to step it up a notch, challenge yourself in new ways and broaden your leadership horizons, then this MOL program is for you!
Colleen's interview is available on the CBS Early Show.