When the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis went looking for a new top executive last year, the free-market think tank turned to Allen West—an outspoken former U.S. Representative from Florida’s 22nd District and a bona fide star of the tea party movement. While West, 54, is nationally known for the one term he served in the 112th Congress, he also is understandably proud of his 22-year career in the U.S. Army. A retired lieutenant colonel, the Atlanta native and University of Tennessee graduate served in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom. His goal at the NCPA, he says, is to promote the “three pillars” of U.S. security: economic security, energy security, and national security.
I worked for eight or nine months at a Baskin-Robbins in Atlanta. I was happy to get the $3.25 minimum wage job.
Discipline—that comes from my years in the army—and perseverance under hard conditions like combat.
Being the “FNG”—the freakin’ new guy. Once I get some experience under my belt, everything will exponentially take off.
Weekdays I wake up at 5 or 5:30 a.m., then do a 4-mile run. On the weekends it’s 5 or 6 miles. Then I also do push-ups and sit-ups. I’m a master scuba diver and an avid motorcycle rider, with a 2005 Honda VTX 1800N.
Participatory. I don’t like being micromanaged, and I don’t like micromanaging people. Give people a task and a purpose, and then let them go out and achieve.
SECRET OF YOUR SUCCESS
My faith. I have Joshua 1:9 inscribed on my dog tags: “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will never leave you or forsake you.” This is without a doubt the scripture that defines the success that I’ve had.
Timeliness. I was taught the Lombardi code: Being early is being on time. If a meeting is to start at 3, everybody should be there five minutes before.
It came from Col. Denny R. Lewis, my brigade commander at Fort Bragg, as I was preparing to evaluate the training exercise of a subordinate artillery battalion. We were in the back of a Humvee and, after describing how he saw the evaluation going, Col. Lewis said: “West, don’t ‘screw’ this up!”
OTHER CAREERS CONSIDERED
After I retired from the Army, I taught high school and coached track for a year in Deerfield Beach, Florida. It was such an enjoyable experience, I volunteered to go back to Afghanistan as a civilian military adviser to the Afghan Army.
My wife Angela, a Ph.D and MBA, is a financial adviser with Raymond James Associates. My daughter Aubrey, 22, will begin her masters study at SMU in the fall in molecular and cellular biology. My daughter Austen, 18, will be a freshman at Dallas Christian College.
Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” It includes strategies for leadership and for life.
FAVORITE TV SHOW
I’m a college football nut. My favorite “show” is SEC college football.
“Spartacus.” I still cry when all his friends stand up and say, “I am Spartacus.”
ANY PLANS TO RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE?
I run for my health.