InDependent’s Samantha Peterson sat down with Yahoo Small Business’ Chris Wayne to gain insight on career, balance, and carving purpose-driven pathways to success. As a former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne and current chief technology officer whose platform is very invested in helping support successful small businesses, we think he knows a thing or two about transitions. Hear from one of the best on how you as a military spouse can navigate professional waters, not just successfully, but holistically, with vision and passion in mind.  

For those military spouses who fall under the category of entrepreneur or transitioning professional, this interview is for your personal and professional growth so you can continue working to fulfill your purpose, even if you aren’t currently employed. 

Check out Yahoo’s Business Maker tool where you’ll find a team ready to help you launch what’s next. 


Military spouses are fierce business leaders. There’s truly no match for their drive. However, we know all that drive can lead to spouses expecting way too much of themselves, especially during transition seasons like PCSing or switching careers (again). Wayne shared four things military spouses should consider when starting a business or choosing employment.

“Successful professional transitions happen when you have these four principles in place:

  1. Easy to pick up and go 
  2. Little overhead 
  3. Working at your own pace 
  4. Decentralized clientele  

An online presence compared to brick and mortar can bring you global clientele versus local which as a military spouse is to your advantage. You have to balance work and opportunity. Ideally work in short bursts.”

Working in short bursts may be an ideal schedule for military spouses who often encounter drastic upticks of responsibilities outside their businesses. Learning to work within the lulls and show up prepared to pare down in the busy seasons is a practical way to avoid overextending yourself, or worse, overpromising. 

“It is important to show continuity externally. Your clients should never see you going through a transition internally,” said Wayne. 


Military spouses and service members want to put the best foot forward when starting fresh after a transition and they can best do that by supporting each other. 

Wayne emphasizes, “Valuing each other’s strengths is important when entering into a transition period. Spouses on either side will play a critical role in supporting one another. It is a collaborative effort. Research what support organizations are available to you.” 

InDependent talked recently about communication and learning the value of clear and honest talk in a marriage. Find the blog post and video here.


Sometimes military spouses prioritize professional growth over working for pay or market value which can help them secure opportunities down the line, but they should also be paying attention to when they’ve outgrown a position or a role and be thinking ahead to what’s next. 

“Education and experience play a major role in this equation. For less experience, growth is key. The linear track option is: getting the job, waiting for the next level, waiting some more, and then eventually landing at the highest rung. It could take decades,” says Wayne.

Many military spouses are finding that traditional linear career fields are difficult to successfully marry with military life. As the world itself shifts to place higher value on well-rounded, life-experience-rich individuals, the market opens up even more to spouses who are undoubtedly very well-rounded candidates. 

Wayne reveals, “The zig-zag option is what rockets people to the top. Your career growth is exponential. As you continue to learn, your value and experience will also increase to the organization as well.” He prefers this option and encourages military spouses to take it. 

Military spouses fight many battles on the compensation front, however Wayne’s evaluation has us looking at opportunities through a whole different lens. It’s not just what you make, but how much you are growing and learning that matters. 

“The money will come later. Only when you no longer have opportunities to fail is when you know you’ve truly honed your skills. When you have failed so much and can’t learn more, that’s when you know you are tapped out. Failure is key. failure is where you grow,” states Wayne.” 

Did a chief technology officer of a major corporation just encourage failure? Yes. 

From the nomadic employee to the solopreneur, it is critical that we round out our work lives, leaving room to make necessary errors in order to grow. Seeking opportunities to try and fail within reason may prove to be more valuable to a military spouse than wage if you’re playing your cards right. 


During seasons of choosing not to work, or times when it’s impossible to find meaningful employment, military spouses can still create and grow leadership skills that will position them for good opportunities in the future.

Wayne advises, “This is your growing season. Focus on building, running, or creating your own business. Spouses struggling to understand the value they possess right now as leaders should read the book You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader. Solving problems for others around you is leadership. It creates value. Supporting the success of others around you is leadership.”

As it turns out, all military spouses have leadership experience, a frequently asked question for most interviews. If solving problems for others is experience, then we have it in spades. 


“Investing in my own purposeful pursuits is how I remain well. When my passions and profession align, helping people and protecting liberties and livelihood, it makes it easy to find purpose. Purpose gives you peace of mind. This is critical to who I am and how I stay well,” declared Wayne.



Samantha Peterson is a storyteller, writing for publications like Military Families Magazine, We Are The Mighty, and Legacy Magazine. She’s a travel schooling mom to three wild boys seeking local adventure surrounding each duty station. Together with her family, they’re inspiring other military families to explore their lives together.