Texas Tech University

Mentor Magic: Darrell Guthrie’s Mentorship Philosophy is Rooted in Leadership

TTU Office of Communications & Marketing

June 8, 2020

Innovation Hub mentor and U.S. Army Maj. Gen., Darrell Guthrie, shares his leadership perspective in career and mentorship.

The concept in Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" of focusing on the "circle of influence" has guided Darrell Guthrie for many years. In his military service, civilian career and mentorship role, Guthrie strives to work on what can be directly influenced rather than what cannot. Today Guthrie is a Major General, a testament to great leadership & one our Texas Tech startups have access too.

"Presently, I command the 12,000-plus soldiers and civilians of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)," Guthrie said. "We have facilities in 29 states and provide support globally. On any day of the year, we have 300-700 soldiers supporting operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and across the Indo-Pacific region.

While a part-time force, we provide more than 98% of civil affairs, psychological operations and information operations. We assist in providing intellectual influence of adversary militaries and civilian populations via our work participating in humanitarian relief and disaster assistance, working with foreign governments and non-governmental organizations or creating strategic messages and synchronizing efforts for flow of information in the cyber area."

"If we work on what we can directly influence,  like taking care of ourselves, hiring the right people, working on the product or system at our level,  it's far more productive than worrying about what we cannot directly influence," Guthrie said.

Guthrie has served in the U.S. Army for more than 35 years. The first nine years were on active duty in Fort Hood, Texas; Germany and Fort Monroe, Virginia. For the last 26 years, he has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, where he has served in units in Lubbock, Texas; San Antonio; Phoenix; Riverside, California; Pensacola, Florida; Tacoma, Washington and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During his time in the Army Reserve, he has deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he served with the British Army; Afghanistan; and Iraq. While in Iraq he served with the U.S. Department of State.

Through his service in the Army, Guthrie discovered that many of the same principles in military service can be translated into mentoring startups.

"In the military, I am currently leading an effort to support operations in the highly contested information environment, especially short of armed conflict," Guthrie said "As such, I'm essentially leading a startup within a much larger organization. The challenge of this sort of startup is matching available resources within a hierarchical structure and effectively communicating a vision of the future that is much different than the present."

In his civilian career, Guthrie is a lawyer whose practice focuses on real estate and renewable energy, which frequently involves providing guidance to small businesses.

"Every small business was a startup at some point," Guthrie said. "The habits developed in decision making as a startup tend to make the difference in the success of the business in the future. I try to offer my many years of military and civilian experience in leading organizations and making decisions to the startup's leadership."

"I always try to provide comments on how that startup leadership is addressing internal and external leadership and decision-making challenges, Guthrie said. "As an attorney and military leader, I believe it's important to be proactive and develop skills to be able to see farther into the future, albeit that future will always be hazy."

Guthrie summarizes his leadership philosophy by saying, "I'm not perfect, so I don't expect you to be perfect. But I expect a lot of myself, so I will expect a lot of you."