Joint Chiefs of Staff J4 shares life changing insights

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs


Former Defense Logistics Agency Energy Commander Air Force Lt. Gen. Giovanni Tuck returned for a special mentoring lunch with DLA Energy employees in the McNamara Headquarters Complex Kunkel Conference Room Sept. 4.

Tuck, who is currently the Joint Staff Director for Logistics at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, told the packed room that he wanted to share a recent experience that brought him new perspective on his life and career. 

“I experienced a life change in April that had nothing to do with my health,” he said.

It was during an executive level course at the Center for Creative Leadership where Tuck’s preconceived notions about what the training could offer changed.

“I told the facilitators that I came with a certain bias,” Tuck said. “I didn’t want to go someplace where someone was going to stretch me out on a couch and try to tell me how I feel about myself.”

By the first morning, he knew this course was going to be different.

Tuck said he left the training with four key takeaways that changed his course in life. One about himself, one about his family, one about his job and one about his community.

In the last three years, Tuck said he had gained weight and was not taking very good care of his physical health. The course reminded him that he needed to change his habits to live a fuller life.

“I decided I was going to work out five to six times a week – burning at least 400 calories each time – and change the way I eat,” he said. “I stopped drinking eight to 10 Diet Cokes per day. I studied food labels and if any of the numbers in things like fats, sodium or cholesterol were in the double digits, I put it back.”

Following the improved diet and exercise plan combined with his focus on getting seven hours of sleep at night, Tuck lost 30 pounds and found he is more alert and doesn’t rely on soda or snacks to keep him awake.

Next, he said he learned to prioritize family and set boundaries at work.

“I believe ‘virtually present’ is actually absent,” he said. “I used to be that dad at a soccer game with all my national war college books out. I was there but not there.”

Tuck resolved to close his computer and put down email when present with his family and establish reasonable work hours.

The final takeaway was about community. Tuck realized how important it is to give back to past and future generations, and ensures he makes time to do that.

Air Force Maj. Joanna Wright, DLA Energy executive officer, asked if he thinks it is possible to have a healthy work-life balance and still progress up the ranks.

“I think leadership gets it,” Tuck said. “If you tell me you need to do something for your family. I don’t see any leader … in my circle anyway … that would disagree.”

He told the audience that they have to be willing to have conversations with their leaders – and be ready to hear the answers.

“You have to have the courage to say, ‘Hey sir, we’ve done everything we need to do today. If you don’t mind, I’m going to take off to do some things with my family,’” he said.

Employees said they found Tuck’s words encouraging.

“I found General Tuck’s sharing of his leadership course generous as he not only shared his professional growths and challenges but his personal ones as well,” said Ursula Waibel, contract specialist for DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Supply Chain Services. “The work-life balance he spoke of is applicable for all of us, and I will definitely take a closer look at my work and physical fitness habits for improvements. If General Tuck can do it with his schedule, so can I!”

The DLA Energy brown bag mentoring lunch is a monthly opportunity for employees to learn key soft skills on navigating a career within the Department of Defense. Speakers are often flag officers, senior executive service members or other key DoD leaders.

The next DLA Energy brown bag session is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16.