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Beyond the Uniform

Beyond the Uniform is a show to help military veterans navigate their civilian career. Each week, I meet with different veterans to learn more about their civilian career, how they got there, and what advice they'd give to other military personnel. www.beyondtheuniform.org
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Now displaying: Page 10
Dec 8, 2017

Why to Listen: 

Thanks to all of you who completed the November 2017 survey about the types of interviews you'd like to hear in 2018, and your suggestions to improve the show. I wanted to share the results of this survey, and a bit more information on where Beyond the Uniform is headed.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

Thank those of you who took the time to answer my survey about the types of interviews you’d like to hear in 2018. Honestly, this was an enormous boost of encouragement - I read each and every response, and so very much appreciated the incredibly kind, uplifting, and encouraging messages you took the time to write.

It can be difficult to assess the impact this show is having on the veteran community, and I was very touched by the notes you shared in the survey about how this is helping you in your career. So the survey gave me not only some fantastic directional information, but also topped of my emotional gas tank to delve even deeper into topics for BTU for the year ahead

Here’s some of the things that stood out to me from the interview.
  • When it comes to the length of military service for the people I interview, it doesn’t seem to matter as much as I thought it did
  • Most of you prefer interviews with veterans with 7-12 years of service - that seems to be the sweet spot
  • But this was followed by <5 years of service, 13-19, and distantly by those with 20+ years of service
  • What do I take from this
  • I’ll put a slight emphasis on those who serve 7-12 years,
  • But for the most part, it seems like a good interview and interesting career are what matter most
  • So I’ll prioritize that
When it comes to the types of interviews you would like to hear, there were some trends, but the biggest seemed to be that you all like variety. You would like more coverage or more topics, so… in 2018 we’re going to get freaky! I’ll try to cast a wider net, and to that end, recommendations are always appreciated.
 
Some of the most requested industries were
  • Technology
  • Fianance
  • Consulting
  • Real Estate

Some of the more common functional roles were

  • Business Development
  • Product / program / project management
  • and marketin
 
The free form comments were both encouraging and informative. A few things that stood out:
  • The day-to-day details matter to many of you
  • You’ll already hear me putting this feedback to use in my upcoming interview with Wes Gray - which BTW, is over-the-top incredible - don’t miss it
  • And I’ll make sure I key in on that in future interviews
  • Challenge and mistakes also stood out - yes, most of you want to hear about the success stories but you want the honest assessments of what went wrong, what challenges they faced
  • Another point was how long does it take to find a job - great question, very relevant, and i’ll be sure to key in on that too
Tons of other great thoughts - thank you again to all of those you who shared - I’ll use this info to give future episodes a bit of a tune up. So from here, I’m hitting LinkedIn and finding the roles you all requested. I’ll also solicit recommendations via the email - be sure to sign up if you haven’t already.
 
One more thing - I am VERY fired up about the online events that will be occurring in January. Sign up to get more info - veterans in consulting we have locked in a date - January 17 at 6pm PST. I’ve secured two of the three speakers, and am honing in on the 3rd, It is going to be an epic event - you will not want to miss it so sign up, There will be a nominal fee for each of these events. the reason for that is one - to increase the commitment of those who want to attend. 2 - it’s a way to offset the cost of running this show, and helps me keep the data analysis and podcasts interviews free for all. But I guarantee you’ll get more out of this than out of a movie or out of 2 beers, which is likely to be the cost (unless I can find a sponsor).

--comments--

 

Dec 6, 2017

Management Consulting is the fifth most popular career route for Veterans of the Armed Forces. Today we’re going to be doing a data episode, specifically with information from LinkedIn, that I’ve put together to discover the different paths veterans have taken within the field of management consulting. This is something I’ve been thinking about for nearly a year. It’s just been difficult to carve out the time to sift through all the information that is on LinkedIn. Rather than waiting to publish this information as a massive e-book, I thought it might be better to start out with a podcast. I would really appreciate any feedback you might have. It will help me drill down on what people are interested in learning more about. Feel free to leave that feedback in the shownotes.

There’s so much data out there and I’m going to go into just a tiny bit of it today. But if you have any specific topics or points you’d like to see covered in the future, please let me know. It does take a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to go through all of this data so your feedback helps me understand what is most valuable to you and whether the juice is worth the squeeze or if I should focus more on the traditional interview podcasts.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

Today we’re going to be doing a data episode, specifically with information from LinkedIn, that I’ve put together to discover the different paths veterans have taken within the field of management consulting.

First just a few quick announcements -

(0:30)

The first announcement is that on January 17, 2018 at 6PM/PST, I’m going to be hosting an online panel called Veterans in Consulting. It’s going to be really cool - I’ll have three different veterans who went directly from the military to a consulting firm. We’re going to be talking about everything you could possibly want to know about a career in consulting. Pay, lifestyle, career trajectory, etc.  You can pre-register now and you’ll be notified when registration opens.There will be a nominal fee associated with this - somewhere between $10-$15. This allows me to continue to do this podcast for free as a side gig.

 

(2:23)

The second announcement is that if you haven’t had the opportunity to leave us a review on iTunes, definitely do that. I would greatly appreciate a 5-star review, it helps up get the word out about the show and serve as many veterans as possible.

 

(2:45)

And now let’s move into the episode. This is something I’ve been thinking about for nearly a year. It’s just been difficult to carve out the time to sift through all the information that is on LinkedIn. Rather than waiting to publish this information as a massive e-book, I thought it might be better to start out with a podcast. I would really appreciate any feedback you might have. It will help me drill down on what people are interested in learning more about. Feel free to leave that feedback in the shownotes. Or you can email me at justin@beyondtheuniform.io - I would really appreciate it as I want to make the information in these podcasts as valuable as possible.

 

(3:55)

There’s so much data out there and I’m going to go into just a tiny bit of it today. But if you have any specific topics or points you’d like to see covered in the future, please let me know. It does take a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to go through all of this data so your feedback helps me understand what is most valuable to you and whether the juice is worth the squeeze or if I should focus more on the traditional interview podcasts.

 

(4:25)

Let’s go through a quick agenda for today. In Part 1, I’m going to talk about why management consulting might be a good fit for you as a military veteran. In Part 2, we’re going to look at the key players in consulting. In Part 3, we’ll talk about my methodology and how I got this data. In Part 4, we’re going to talk about titles and corresponding salaries. And then finally in Part 5, where we’ll spend the bulk of our time, we’re going to do a deep dive into the data.

(5:25)

Let’s dive into Part 1. The reason why I wanted to talk about this is that consulting is a very common career path for veterans. When I compiled data a year ago, consulting is the fifth leading industry that veterans go into. Another reason is that from a data standpoint, consulting is very analogous to the military. In the military, I understood exactly how long it would take me to go from Ensign to Lieutenant Junior Grade and from Lieutenant Junior Grade to Lieutenant. This is the same thing in consulting, there is a very clear career path and very standardized roles. Consulting is also a field I’m a little bit more familiar with. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my story, I went to the US Naval Academy and spent five years on submarines before getting out and going to Stanford Business School. I did my internship at McKinsey and Company in New York. I didn’t ultimately end up in the field but during that internship I did get a taste of the consulting industry and what it was like. I’ll try to add in some of that anecdotal experience when I see the opportunity throughout this episode.

 

(7:26)

Part 2 - In putting together this data, I looked at a Forbes 2015 article titled, “The Most Prestigious Consulting Firms”. They listed what they considered to be the Top 10 consulting firms.

 

No. 1 - McKinsey & Company

No. 2 - Boston Consulting Group

No. 3 - Bain and Company

No 4 - Deloitte

No. 5 - Booz Allen Hamilton

No. 6 - Price Waterhouse Cooper

No. 7 - Ernst & Young

No. 8 - Accenture

No. 9 - KPMG

No. 10 - IBM Global Business Services

 

(9:00)

The bulk of the data I have goes through length of service, branch of service, etc. in reference to the top 10 consulting firms. Today, however, I want to specifically focus on McKinsey which brings up to Part 3.

 

(9:19)

When talking about the methodology behind gathering this data , I focused on McKinsey but based on feedback, we can focus on other firms in the future. All of the data we will go through today is gathered through LinkedIn. The reason for that is that it is my personal belief that very few people today take the time to fill out surveys. And so by using this publicly available data, I think we will gather a much greater data set.

(10:22)

When gathering data, I looked at all people working in consulting that had formerly been in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard - both officer and enlisted. For today’s episode, I’m going to specifically drill into one position. The most common position to enter McKinsey & Company is the title of associate. So today, we’ll deal mostly with associates.

 

(11:34)

Now in Part 4, let’s talk about title. When we talk on January 17th in the online panel, we’re going to go into a lot more detail on career progression. Career progression does vary depending on firm. But for today, I wanted to cover the top three titles that are most likely for a veteran to start in at McKinsey & Company. Those are associate, engagement manager, and partner. Associate is by far the leading of those three. This is generally the level of promotion within McKinsey. Usually, someone will start out as an associate, become an engagement manager, then an associate partner, and finally a partner. Let’s chat quickly about salaries.

 

(12:55)

I looked at a website called Glassdoor. Glassdoor compiles information about what people usually make in a particular position. According to Glassdoor, an associate at McKinsey makes $172,000 per year. That’s $140,000 of a base salary with $32,000 in incentives. Also the hotel and flight points are another perk. The downside is that consultants tend to be on the road quite a bit but the upside is that they also tend to build up hotel and airline reward points.

 

(14:00)

What does an associate do? According to McKinsey’s website, an associate works in teams of 3-5 people. The associate has a role in all aspects of client engagement. I’ll also put a link in the show notes to the full job description. This was my experience during my internship with McKinsey. The title was actually called “consultant”. On one project it was five people and in the other project, four people. We went into the company, we worked almost around the clock doing interviews and gathering data. It’s almost like a SWAT team inserted into the company to solve a particular problem and provide a solution.

 

(14:55)

The next role up from that is engagement manager. According to Glassdoor, that’s a starting salary of $250,000 per year. What does an engagement manager do? They will lead a team of 3-5 people on a project. In my experience, the engagement manager was a member of that team that had done the associate role for 2 or 3 years and had excelled. As the engagement manager, they were doing less of the data analysis and more of supervising the others on the team. They were really leading the project and breaking it down into small pieces for each of us while keeping an overall picture of the project.

 

(16:05)

For partner, the salary is quite impressive - $1.2 million per year. Pretty mind boggling. Base salary is $572,000 with the rest being made up of incentives. There was no job description that I was able to find online. In my experience with McKinsey, I usually saw the partner about once a week. Generally, the partner works on selling the business. They would go to different companies and sell projects. At McKinsey, the partners had usually been in the company for a while. They were extremely bright and extremely talented. They weren’t there on a project day in and day out like the engagement manager, but they were more of an oversight role. They were actively involved in making sure the project was going well.

 

(17:44)

And now in Part 5, we’ll take a deep dive into the data. Let’s talk about branch of service. And again, we’re only talking about the associate position at McKinsey. When you look at veterans that are currently associates at McKinsey, 55% are Army veterans, 31% Navy, 11% Air Force. Only 2% were Marines and I could not find any Coast Guard veterans working at McKinsey.

 

(19:00)

For the veterans currently serving as an associate at McKinsey, they usually took one of three routes to get there. First, some went directly from the military to McKinsey. Others went to some form of schooling between the military and McKinsey. Or third, they worked in a different job between the military and McKinsey. The overwhelming majority that became an associate at McKinsey came from some sort of schooling. This isn’t too surprising. Education can be that giant Nintendo “reset” button that allows someone to start over in a different field. Also, according to McKinsey’s website, to work as an associate, you need an advanced degree of some sort. According to my research 89% of veterans at McKinsey had an MBA, 6% had a Master’s of Science, 4% had a Ph.D., and 2% had a Master’s of Arts.

 

(22:03)

If MBA is the most popular advanced degree for veterans looking to get into consulting, you might be wondering what the most popular schools are. And I love you all so much that I dug into that data too. There was a tie for first place - 20% went to Harvard and 20% went to Wharton. Next up was the Darden School of Business with 10%. In third place, another tie - 6% went to the Booth School in Chicago and 6% went to MIT’s Sloan School of Management. You can find links to all of these programs in the show notes.

 

(23:05)

Whether you’re interested in going into consulting or something else, I just think it’s helpful to see what schools veterans tend to go to. And quick plug here for Service To School. I get nothing for pumping them up, but I really believe in them. They are an incredible and free resource for veterans looking to get any kind of degree. One last caveat on education - there were a few overachievers in the dataset that had multiple degrees. I just simplified this for my own analysis. In the case that someone had multiple degrees, I considered this group to be in the same data set as those with one degree.

 

(24:22)

Finally, let’s talk about length of service. I cut this down in a couple different ways. First of all, a veteran working as an associate at McKinsey has served for 6.6 years prior to leaving active duty. However, if you look at the route the veteran took, if a veteran went directly from the military to McKinsey, the average length of service was 9.7 years. This was interesting for me because an MBA is 2 years. So if you went from active duty to some sort of graduate program such as an MBA, on average you end up getting to McKinsey one year sooner than someone who goes straight from active duty to McKinsey. However if you’re part of that small group that goes directly from the military to McKinsey, while it does take one year longer to get there, you need to keep in mind that you’re saving yourself at least $120,000 in school tuition. And you’re not sacrificing two years of not getting paid. For me, I took the route of getting out earlier and going to business school. I liked it, it worked out well for me. But there are advantages to staying in longer.

 

(26:30)

When broken down by service, Navy vets tended to have slightly more military service - about 7.2 years. Compared to the Army and Air Force which were both at about 6.2 years. For the Marine Corps, they served about 11 years on average.

 

(26:45)

My head is now spinning from going through all this data. Please let me know if this is helpful. I can imagine that this might be difficult to take in via podcast. If it would be easier for you, I can create an e-book and put all of the graphs in there. It does take 10 or 20 times longer to go through all of this data than it does to interview a veteran. I do it because it’s data that I would have wanted to have if I transitioned today. But it would be really helpful to me to receive your feedback, whether you email me, message me on LInkedIn, write something in the show note comments. Please let me know in some way. If you’re not finding this helpful, I can let the Excel spreadsheet cool off a bit and go back to focusing more on the traditional interviews. But there is a tremendous amount of material available. I’ve got all this data sitting here, I just haven’t prioritized parsing through all of it. But if you would find it helpful, I will suck it up and make it happen! Either way, don’t miss out on the chance to sign up for the January 17th Veterans in Consulting video panel session. This is a fantastic opportunity to talk to three veterans that went straight from the military into consulting. We’re going to talk about everything including lifestyle, interview prep, and career progression.

 

(28:50)

One last plug to leave an iTunes review. Your review helps us get in front of more listeners and having more listeners lets me know we’re having a greater impact on the veteran community. If you’re not on our newsletter, please sign up at www.beyondtheuniform.io. I always love hearing from you if there are particular people or careers you would like to hear more about. Have a great week - I will be back next week with another interview with a veteran now working in the civilian sector.

 

--comments--

 

Dec 4, 2017

"I thought it was a good idea to get a truck delivered at 4:30 in the morning because I wanted the truck put away before my restaurant opened and if my drive-through was busy for breakfast, it would be hard to get the food out of the truck. And that was a huge mistake because you are not getting 19 year old to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the truck. It takes some time to find people that are adults and are able to get to work on time. So I found myself at 3:00 in the morning picking up frozen docks of chicken and throwing them in my freezer. And that process with 3 or 4 people is an hour and a half. And when you’re talking about yourself, maybe with one other person, that’s a 2 to 3 hour process.”
- Marlon Terrell

Why to Listen: 

For those that listened to Episode #129 with John Francis, you know that I’ve been thinking about how veterans that are interested in entrepreneurship should really consider a franchise. It seems to be a business with training wheels. It helps bridge the gap between someone’s military strengths and what’s necessary to grow and run a successful company.

My guest today is Marlon Terrell, who went straight from the Navy into owning a Chick-Fil-A franchise. I really enjoyed this conversation. Marlon provides just the right amount of detail. I walked away feeling like I understood what it’s like to be in a franchise owner’s shoes in terms of pay, career progression, and hours. He really painted a vivid picture of what life in a franchise looks like. I also think it’s helpful because Marlon was really articulate in discussing exactly how what he learned in the military was applicable to his work as a franchise owner as well as how he went about selecting a franchise. He also talks about why a franchise may or may not be suited for you as a veteran.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 


For those that listened to Episode #129 with John Francis, you know that I’ve been thinking about how veterans that are interested in entrepreneurship should really consider a franchise. It seems to be a business with training wheels. It helps bridge the gap between someone’s military strengths and what’s necessary to grow and run a successful company.

(1:50)
My guest today is Marlon Terrell who went straight from the Navy into owning a Chick-Fil-A franchise. I really enjoyed this conversation. Marlon provides just the right amount of detail. I walked away feeling like I understood what it’s like to be in a franchise owner’s shoes in terms of pay, career progression, and hours. He really painted a vivid picture of what life in a franchise looks like.

(2:20)
I also think it’s helpful because Marlon was really articulate in discussing exactly how what he learned in the military was applicable to his work as a franchise owner as well as how he went about selecting a franchise. He also talks about why a franchise may or may not be suited for you as a veteran.

(2:58)
A few admin notes before we get started.  In January 2018, I’m going to be hosting two different events. The first is called Veterans in Consulting. It will be a panel interview with three veterans that went to three different consulting firms directly from active duty.  If you are in any way, shape, or form interested in consulting, you do not want to miss this.

(3:35)
I’ll also be doing my second session of Reprogramming. The Reprogramming Seminar is a six-session video seminar where we cover topics related to a successful military transition. I’m very excited to offer this again.

(4:04)
Apple iTunes seems to be the most effective way to get the word out about Beyond the Uniform so if you are enjoying the show, please take a moment to leave a review. It really helps get the word out and reach more veterans.


(5:00)
Welcome to Beyond the Uniform, Marlon. I want to give special thanks to Charlie Mellow who is also a 2002 Naval Academy graduate. A couple weeks ago, I spoke with John Francis about franchising. And now I’m excited to talk to Marlon, who went straight from the Navy to owning a franchise.

(6:20)

How did you transition from what you were doing in the military into your civilian career?


I was on submarines in the military so I have a mechanical engineering background and I had the opportunity to go back to the Naval Academy to get a Master’s degree in Leadership Education and Leadership Development. During this time, I taught a class in leadership at the University of Maryland College Park as part of my degree program. Around this time, I also realized that I was really interested in going down the entrepreneur route.

(7:04)
During my time at the Naval Academy, I was learning a lot about leading a group of people, I started to work on some different businesses. I got out of active duty in 2010 and I went into a Campus Recruiter position. This allowed me to stay as an active duty reservist and recruit in the area of Maryland and DC. I did this for five years and during that time I continued to work on entrepreneurship and gain experience in this field so that I could eventually get to where I wanted to be.

(8:20)

What did you learn during that time that ultimately lead you to join a franchise?


I didn’t have an MBA but I took the opportunity to educate myself on business. I looked for an opportunity that would be a good fit for a veteran. Through meetup.com, I was able to connect with other veteran entrepreneurs and that opened doors for me. I had the opportunity to be around a group of entrepreneurs and share information. Through this I heard about various free courses and other opportunities such as Kaufman, Vet to CEO, Syracuse Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans, VEP.

(10:10)
When I thought about the expense of starting a business, I decided that a franchise would be a good fit for me because I would have various resources available to me. What lead me to that is that I was working for a non-profit called Lead for America and I was going into schools and teaching philanthropy as a discipline. That lead  me to another organization called Repay Vets That helped veterans raise money to start their own businesses. Doing these two businesses, I realized how difficult it was to build a brand and get capital. So I started to look at franchises. I worked at Chick Fil-A in high school so I decided to go back and research what kind of franchise opportunities they had.

(11:55)
If you’re going to go the route that you’re thinking about a franchise, walk into one and see if you can schedule a meeting with the owner or general manager to see if you can get some knowledge that way. For me, I did think and then started looking at the numbers and compared their model to other restaurants. For me, financially, it made the most sense for me.

(14:05)

I love that idea of going from franchise to franchise as a way to learn more about the business and see if it is a fit.


Sometimes veterans can be very humble and they don’t want to bother people but you would be surprised how many people are out there that would love to help you. I wasn’t sure if I should go the MBA route or if I should go the “school of hard knocks” route and learn by experience. That was a difficult decision for me to make but I finally decided that instead of investing that money in school, I was going to hold on to that capital and start gaining experience. I think as veterans we all have that in common – a drive toward achievement.

(16:50)

Can you give listeners a sense for how much money is necessary to start a franchise?


That’s a loaded question simply because each franchise is different. Each franchise has a different model. Depending upon how much capital you have, I would recommend Google-ing veteran friendly franchises or inexpensive franchises.

(17:40)
For Chick-Fil-A, our franchise fee is minimal. We only have to put up $10,000 to start a franchise. I decided that Chick-Fil-A was a good model because first of all, I had worked there before so I kind of understood how the restaurant was run. With it being so little capital up front, Chck-Fil-A is putting up all the money to find the building and create the restaurant. The caveat for me and for other similar franchises is that I don’t have ownership in the building. If Chick-Fil-A decided they no longer wanted to partner with me, they could make that decision. But I have a great deal of trust in this organization that they would not do that to someone unless something had gone seriously wrong.

To go back to your original question, Chick-Fil-A is around $10,000. FedEx is more like $50,000. Subway is probably up around $100,000.

(20:50)

Once someone has started a franchise, is there additional money that they will need to support themselves while the franchise gets going?



That’s a great question because although there is the price tag of starting the franchise, you could also be looking at a full year before you’re able to start paying yourself.

(21:25)
One great thing about Chick-Fil-A is that as soon as you open your restaurant, Chick-Fil-A will allow you to start drawing an income of $2500 per month. It usually takes 2-3 months beyond that to where you can start earning a decent income. I say 6-12 months because I left the military in May but my restaurant didn’t open until September. But commonly building openings can be delayed for various reasons so that opening date could get pushed back. So the timeline for you drawing an income also gets pushed back. It’s just safe to have 6-12 months of money saved that will keep you going.

(23:50)

What does life look like in the 2-3 months before a franchise opens?


Every franchise is a little different but for most franchises, you will go through a training process. This consists of going to the corporate office and spending 3-8 weeks there going through their training. The franchise, typically, may decide to partner because of what you bring to the table for veterans. For example, some franchises require franchisers to have experience in the restaurant business but many franchises will waive this for veterans because they expect that, as a veteran, you will have that drive and commitment they are looking for.

(25:39)
For Chick-Fil-A, they don’t necessarily look for restaurant experience. They are looking more at character and competency. So for them, they teach you the basic operations of the restaurant and then once you finish the school, they set you up with a current owner. From there, you go back to the area where your restaurant is open and figure out the specifics for your restaurant such as number of employees, ethos, etc.

(27:40)
For the first week of the restaurant being open, they send you a group of trainers of about 20 people. When you compare it to the fleet, imagine having a group of 150 people and you’re charged with a mission that you know little about. All 150 people are being trained for a total of a week and then it’s all on you after that.

(30:50)

I love that you made the point of how veterans can be a great fit for franchises because of their drive and commitment.

 

Yes, Chick-Fil-A loves veterans. All those things that we were frustrated with on the submarine, the training and administration, are the things that I now use today to be successful as an operator at Chick-Fil-A.

(32:00)
I can remember being so frustrated by training during my time in the military. But now, I can see how valuable it is and I go out of my way to find different training opportunities.

It is definitely important. It’s also important to maintain talent. If you hire 90 people but 40 leave within the first week, things can fall apart quickly.

(33:00)

How did you learn to hire and evaluate the right people?


I had a unique background because I came from recruiting. For five years, my job was to go do interviews and figure out if a person was a good fit for the Navy. But I think it goes back to one of the things we do and know as military veterans and that is to prepare. I expected turnover and I prepared for it. So I continued to interview even after my initial team was hired. I also immediately but in a training plan because I know how busy and chaotic a Chick-Fil-A restaurant can be.

(36:05)


At this point you are two and half years into being a franchise owner. What is your perspective on all of this now?


It has been amazing. Chick-Fil-A does a great job of supporting the owner/operator. Chick-Fil-A has always been there to coach me through different decisions. That’s another reason why choosing the right franchise is so important.

(37:29)
I’ve also been able to positively impact my community. I had a young woman working in my restaurant that graduated from high school a couple months ago. Two weeks ago, she left to join the Marine Corps. I have a couple other young people that talk to me about joining the Navy. Leading a group of so many people has many unique challenges and is similar in many ways to the challenges I faced as a Naval Officer. It’s all about really investing into the crew and the vision. I always tell veterans that if leading people and supporting a crew is something they miss from being in the military, owning a franchise can be a great opportunity for them.

(39:35)
I’m extremely envious that you are able to reach back to the corporate offices when you need to. Because they have seen so many franchise locations go through similar struggles in their early stages, I’m sure they’re able to offer extremely valuable advice.
Absolutely. Even something as simple as leadership courses that I can bring my management team to. I set my restaurant up similar to the military.  I have my team members which are like my E-1s to E-4s. Then I have my key holders who are like my E5s to E6s. From there I have a group of team leaders which are like the Chiefs. And then I have my Electors which are like my Junior Officers. And then there’s me, essentially the Captain of the ship.

(41:50)
And that’s where I am now. I have my team trained up pretty well. We have our challenges, we always will. We’re a great team and we work together. It’s given me everything I was looking for in owning my own business. I have freedom and flexibility, I’m able to take care of my family, I’m able to have fun.

(44:00)

What’s your sense from when your Chick-Fil-A first opened to when you felt like you could step back a little bit? And how would you know that you’re ready to open a new franchise?


It was like boot camp for the first three months. I thought it was a good idea to get a truck delivered at 4:30 in the morning because I wanted the truck put away before my restaurant opened and if my drive-through was busy for breakfast, it would be hard to get the food the truck. What I didn’t know was that Chick-Fil-A sales for breakfast are extremely low.

(44:40)
And that was a huge mistake because you are not getting 19 year old to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the truck. It takes some time to find people that are adults and are able to get to work on time. So I found myself at 3:00 in the morning picking up frozen docks of chicken and throwing them in my freezer. And that process to unload that truck with 3 or 4 people is an hour and a half. And when you’re talking about yourself, maybe with one other person, that’s a 2 to 3 hour process.

(45:40)
Every year in May, Chick-Fil-A has a conference for all of its franchise owners. My Chick-Fil-A opened in September. The conference happening the following May forced me to leave which was my first time away. For the next six months after that, I was working 10-12 hour days. By one year after the opening, I had cut back to whenever I needed to be there.  Now I’m in a position where I can get a lot of my work done at home. I go to the restaurant when we have an operational challenge that we want to overcome.

(47:27)
When Chick-Fil-A builds a restaurant, it builds it with the capacity to handle three times as many sales as are projected. So we have a lot of growth opportunity and I can keep my team with me because as the franchise grows, I can promote them into new positions.

(48:29)
It’s often said that it takes three years to get a business to exactly where you want it to be. And with Chick-Fil-A, once you’ve gotten to that point, you begin to open yourself up for the opportunity to open a second restaurant. What I’m doing now is preparing my team to open a new restaurant.

(50:05)

It seems like you’re poised, if you wanted to in the future, to open many more franchises. It sounds like franchising has been a great opportunity for you.


Yes it’s definitely a business that works for me and was what I was looking for. You definitely need to find the right fit because there are some franchises that offer more independence, or more autonomy. And maybe you want that, or maybe you don’t. For example, if I wanted to raise my prices, I’m unable to do that whereas in other franchises, that might be allowed.

(53:30)

Is there anything else you would add as a pro or a con for someone looking to start a franchise?


The pros are the tremendous amount of support, same feeling of commitment you got in the military, a service oriented business. It provides the freedom and flexibility you are looking for, not immediately but over time. For Chick-Fil-A it was these things that sold me. And I think many of these are the same for many other franchises.

The cons would be that you’re limited with branding and ownership. But one of the great things about Chick-Fil-A is that they truly care about their owners and take care of you.

(57:00)

I am extremely appreciative of your time today. I feel like I have such a better sense of what it means to be part of a franchise. I love that you’ve been able to carry over so much of what you learned in the military into your civilian career.


Yes that’s true. For example when someone at my restaurant is up for promotion, we do a walkthrough of the restaurant to test their knowledge, similar to a board. I encourage all veterans not just let go of everything you learned in the military. Much of those things that you learned can apply to owning a franchise or being an entrepreneur.


Nov 29, 2017

Why to Listen: 

In over 13 interviews, I've heard a lot about great resources available for veterans, as well as how difficult it is to be aware of all of the free resources available to Veterans. That's why, in this interview I go through 15 of the resources I've interviewed people about on the show, or have heard about from other veterans. While this list is by no means exhaustive, my intention with the new Directory section of the Beyond the Uniform website is to make it easier for veterans to identify and utilize quality programs aimed at veterans.

If you know of other great resources - or would like to weigh in on the ones that I mention here - please feel free to add them in the Comments section of the show notes, or in the Directory section of the website.

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps: 

 

 

--comments--

 

Nov 20, 2017

"I was trying to put myself in a position to meet as many people as I could that I could learn from to help with [my transition from active duty]. And while you're making those connections, you're also - in parallel - refining your own story, so that you're finding ways to tell your story in a way that resonates."
- Francis Ebong

Francis is the Director, Global Operations & Partnerships at Facebook. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a Supply Corps Officer in the Navy for six years, while also earning his MBA at the George Washington School of Business. After his transition to a civilian career, Francis worked at Deloitte as a Management Consultant, at Apple as part of their Global Business Operations team, and the startup Postmates as their Director of Business.

Why to Listen:

Francis went directly from the Navy to consulting at Deloitte, and has worked at Apple, in startups, and now at Facebook. He talks about each of these career paths, why veterans may love operations, and advice to help in interviews and finding your ideal career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Show Notes [typed hastily while interviewing... please apologies misspellings or grammatical errors]

  • As someone on Active Duty thinks of transitioning to a civilian career, what advice would you have for them about the interview process?
    • There's a lot of publicly available info - blogs, publications like Bloomeberg, businessweek, NYT and Business Week), as well as using your network. The Naval Academy was a great resource, as was the broader military community. It really helps to see other vets and hear their stories. I try to make myself open to sharing my experience as well.
    • It can be a scary transition. A lot of the time we spent at the Naval Academy during the summers learning about leadership, our peers have been working in the corporate sector. There's a completely new world - understanding how to interview, where to get information, the best resource can often be another veteran
    • One of the best resources out there is LinkedIn.  It's a great research tool and understanding different paths to a career. You see people working in industries and try to understand how someone went from the military to one of these jobs. Just understanding those pathways can help you understand how to make different ways to get there.
    • There's also a tool called ISABER for those who have gone to a Service Academy. You can share your skills and experiences with people looking to connect in different markets.
  • How to explain a military background to a hiring manager
    • this is the biggest challenge - how to explain your military experience to a layman.
    • Our unfair competitive advantage is the life and work experience we have. You are placed in situations that cannot compare to  civilian workforce in terms of intensity. Many people shy away from talking about their impact in their military experience.
    • Really trying to find a way to articulate your experience without a lot of acronyms and military terms. the biggest challenge you have is explaining your background. Watching CNBC to learn these terms through osmosis.
  • What advice would you have for someone on Active Duty as they try to figure out what they would like to do in their civilians career?
  • What led you initially to Deloitte, and why might this career be of interest to a veteran?
    • My last two years in the military I was at business school, trying to meet as many people as possible to learn from for the transition. I went to every networking event I could find, and tapped into every network I could think of. Heard experiences of their transition and continued to make these connections. This helped me refine my own story - find a way to tell it in a way that resonates.
    • At one of these events I met Ed Vanburen, who was a Naval Academy graduate at Deloitte. And this led me to Deloitte, where I worked for 2.5 years for public and private sector clients. we helped them think about doing a digital transformation in Oil & Gas and different industries.
    • I always endorse consulting for veterans. For me it gave me to exposure across a bunch of different verticals and see typical prblems that companies see. It helped me to learn as quickly as possible from as many people and companies as possible.
    • With Deloitte you pick up a lot of structured training that helps you learn very
    • It's actually ver similar to an military environemtn - you're working with a small group of people in a tight time frame to accomplish something. You're exposed to so many different challenges that require different skill sets for each problem you face
  • What led you to Apple?
    • With consulting you get a lot of exposure to different companies. YOu also have time to think about what you want to do next and to train for it. I was General Science at the Naval Academy and was always interested in the intersection of technology and business. I wanted to get that on-the-ground operational experience.
    • So I looked at companies, and Apple was at the top of the list. It was an opportunity to join their BD and Operations team at Apple. they were focused on developing and launcing displays for all Apple products. we would work with suppliers and engineers.
    • Apple is a large company but it's run like a startup in terms of working with different teams
  • How would you explain Global Business Operations to someone on Active Duty?
    • Operations & Business operations means something VERY different at each company - it's different at Apple, Facebook, Postmates, etc. It at Apple was about negotiations, supply, and bringing things to market.
    • This may be appealing to veterans:
      • you work with teams outside of your function, just like you did in th emlitary. It's all about relationships. The lead up to a product launch and hte stressful situatiohns that lead up to this are similiar to my ilfe in the military. We had to set our goals, communicate them, and execute against those goals. It may be a different industry or technology, but the guiding principles are all the same
    • What led you to Postmates, and how would you explain this startup to someone on Active Duty?
      • I was at Apple for a little over 3 years. It was a very intens time of launching iPHone 4, 5 and 6. I was in Asia for a lot of that time, and I learned a lot very quickly. I was looking at cojmpanies at the center of technology and supplies and logistics, and Postmates was near the top of that list.
      • Postmates is an on-demand delivery and logistics platform. you can order from any business and it'll be delivered within an hour. It's the Uber for delivery. It was an experience in helping them grow - joining as employee #75
      • Operations was launching new markets, growth marketing, the supply side of the marketplace, and our strategic partnerships. You have to be an "Athlete" - come in and do anything. No task is too small. you're leading a team and also doing data analysis and everythign you can possibly think of
      • It was such a good and intense experience. that intensity really drives a lot of rapid learning
      • There is nothing that is another person's problem - they are run lean (there are not a lot of people) but there are a lot of problems. It can be very stressful and you'll have to build a lot of things from scratch with very few resources. But you always find a way to win. This makes veterans well suited for startups.
    • What led you to Facebook?
      • Postmates is still doing really well and is still growing. The Facebook opportunity was a great personal opportunity for me. they were looking for someone to lead operations for some of their new products across: New Media Products, Marketplace, Workplace, Messenger, and AI for Messenger. Across these there are new products that each require a new operational approaches.
    • How would you explain your current position at Facebook?
      • The team I started with was 150 people and focused across each of the five verticals. We were helping each one grow and each of them were at a different size of growth and development. We focused on translating the consumer experience back to our engineers so they could build better products.
      • For the Artificial Intelligence product we launched for Messneger, we had a team of 90 people who worked with the product and eningeering teams, and also focuwed on the consumer behabior and how the platform connected people with businesses. So we looked at the data to see what people were doing, how often they were doing and the opportunities there.
      • Now I work more with partners - people building on our platform to connect with businesses. Every day is different - size of team, type of team, sometimes working with a global team.
      • Two months ago I traveled for one week to Singapore and then London.
      • The key is to be flexible
    • What resources - books, programs, websites, etc - have been helpful to you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
      • I work with a lot of resources that help veterans
      • Breakline has a structured program to help veterans transition through case studies, office visits, and different techniques they need to learn. this is really helpful.
      • I also advise the Commit group - they help veterans transition to the private sector.
      • Blogs & podcasts where you can hear about people's experience - no one's path will be the same as yours; a
    • What was one of the most difficult parts of your own transition to a civilian career?
      • The entire process is a challenge. Every conversation you have is an interview
      • 32:02
      • There's a lot of doors that will be shut in your face; you'll say something you regret in an interview. Its the process that will get you where you need to be, but it can be very discouraging. Understanding that in the end you will make it.
      • Even if 50 people say no, one will say yes. A veterans advantage is their grit - the challenge is more of a technical piece. Learning to go through the gauntlet of understanding how to interview. How to do research. how to speak the lingo.
        35:15 You are hunting for your next meal evert day; there is no net. You really are out there on your own.
      • Relationships, relationships, relationships - it's how you'll find and get those opportunities. ERvery discussion you have is an interview - do the research before the meeting.
      • It is tough but with high risk comes high reward. You'll learn something new to take on the next opportunity. As you build up these new industries you'l l
    • Final words of wisdom?
      • We are more powerful than we think.  You have this insecurity starting out; you don't know that your skills will relate to the civilian sector and are intimidated by the competition. Once you realize the strength of your experiences and the relationships you've built - that's when you really become powerful. There will be failure and disappointment - you will get SO MANY no's but you only need one person to say yes. It's going to be tough but it does end up in the right p
Nov 15, 2017

"There are 3-4k brands in America that franchise, and there's hundreds of new brands every year. Which is wonderful, but it's also a little bit dangerous because a lot of those new brands really don't know franchising. You may have a great concept - a pizza shop, a coffee shop, a shoe shine stand - I don't care what it is, you can franchise a lot of things. But once you do that you're in a different business - you're no longer in the haircutting business, you're in the franchising business and it happens to be haircutting."

- John W. Francis

 

John W Francis runs Next Level Franchise​, Inc in Minnesota​, where he helps franchisors, franchisees and supplier companies with their business issues by offering perspective, experience, advice and connections to help move them forward. He started back in 19​80​'s​ helping in his family business, Barber’s Inc, which ​was​ the franchis​or of Cost Cutters, City Looks, and We Care Hair Salon. Over the next ​15+ years he ​helped to grow ​the business internationally, eventually selling to the Regis Corporation in 1999. Since then he has directly worked with franchises, as well as served as an advisor, board member, consultant, and speaker to ​many people and companies in the franchise world. He is known as “Johnny Franchise” and is a Franchise Expert.

Why to Listen:

A while back I had Matt Miller on the show, and in episode BTU #60 he talked about his experience starting the franchise School Spirit Vending. In episode BTU #115 Ray & Sam Allen talked about Direct Marketing and how it is business with some training and assisting to help people like veterans.

Both of these got me thinking about franchises, and how this is really well suited to veterans who want to start a business and have drive, determination, and discipline, but may not have a killer business idea or a background in business.

So, I took to Google and it did not take me long to find at the top of the list when it comes to franchises, my guest today, John W. Francis. John is not a veteran, but he has an immense amount of experience with and knowledge of franchises, and has graciously offered to come on the show to help me - and all our BTU listeners - better understand franchises and why this may be an appealing entrepreneurial vehicle to veterans

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • Let’s start with the basics - if you were taking to someone who is in the military, and they don’t have traditional business experience, how would you explain what a franchise is?
    • It's an opportunity - it can take on a number of different dimensions. You've got a model or a brand that you want to operate - McDonalds and Burger King are well known. But there is franchising all around in the US because it works well.
    • When you purhcase a franchise a lot is included in it - do your homework and take your time. YOu don't want to make a decision ilke this in a hurry.
    • Usually a franchise is a brand (name) that has some value and a series of systems. A system of operating and marketing and training in that business. Often times, there is vendor benefits and relationships with suppliers and otehr companies to reduce your cost since you're buying on a group scale.
    • It leverages people motivation and ability - if everyone does their part, it creates mutual success. Franchising wins at all levels when done properly.
  • What goes wrong in franchises?
    • It happens at different times in the growth of the franchise.
    • Oftentimes people convince themselves to buy something that doesn't fit
    • I used to sell hair salon franchises - it's a great business - it's been the same for 5,000 years. It's consistent. You wont' get your hair cut at Amazon. Resistant to technology obsolesce.
    • If you run a hair salon, there's regulations, licenses, etc. But as an owner if you don't understand the business you're in and what makes it work, you get in trouble.
    • There's a lot of things you need to operate well, and it requires different skill sets.
    • First - can you afford it? Cash, equity in your house, lending, etc
    • Part was the personality fit - will you be successful selling in this environment; they may not have the skills so it may be more difficult for you.
    • 8:25 - thousands of franchises, but also dangerous, you may have a great concept
    • Is this a good system? It boils down to relationships - do they have integrity and a plan and know how to be successful? It is economic Darwinism - the stronger and faster and the ones who adapt and take care of their people.
    • It gives you a great platform for success - people pick the wrong one or for the wrong reason
  • You have worked with thousands of individuals who work in a franchise - are there any characteristics you’ve found in the people who succeed as a franchise owner?
    • The ability to work hard - when you're the owner, you have a different attitude about things. You can't just work there. Ownership is a lot of responsibility and opportunity and liability. When you have others investing in your deal and you have employees, it raises the bar. You have to have a lot of commitment to never give up.
    • The other trait that is often underutilized is the connectivity. In a franchise brand, you can connect with the Franchisor. They've got marketing, training, leadership, etc. You can connect with these people - you're part of the family, part of the network. There are people running this company all over the country and you want ot do what they're doing in a way that makes it successful. Asking for input on what to change - a different attitude and approach.
    • Worst mistake is when someone wants to change something - they want to change the part of the brand. We don't sell tires at the hair salon. You don't change the model. When a franchisee starts to adjust things or they say "my market is different" - that's a red flag. You need to talk to people at this point - share hte idea and talk about it before you start doing this. You have to do all of it - not just parts.
    • The third thing is hiring people. You need to make sure you get people, it always comes down to people. Often times franchisees have never hired or trained.
  • How much capital is typically required to own a franchise?
    • Franchises - there ar ebig ones and small ones; they come in all shapes and sizes. There are ones that are $50,000 or less, which is where most brands begin. That would be a total investment - a onetime franchise fee, legal costs, training, travel, contracts to sign, setting up a corporation. If it's a $50,000 investment, many times you can finance the equipment, and for a lot of franchises that are veteran friendly there are discounts on those fees. VetFran is organized through the International Franchise Association. You usually pay the fees in cash and the rest are in financing.
    • Good advice is to have half of what you borrow - otherwise you're just working for the bank. Try not to borrow more than 50% of the investment. So you'll need some cash - savings, earnings, sold something else, or people go to friends and families and ask for investments or a loan. A loan is easier than an investment, but you need to make sure you write it down. you can borrow from a friend or family member, and when you pay it off that goes away. but an investor, they get equity and they get a say in what decisions you make and may feel entitled to participate at a level you didn't expect.
    • Vending machines are common. People will do it for a year or two and then sell it and buy a franchise. You can start with a single vending machine, and it's a lot of hard work but it's a starting point. Then you can sell it and buy and franchise where you're managing employees.
    • The ideal is to eventually hire someone who can do the day-to-day activities, but at first you'll likely be doing all of it. You can eventually own the place and not work there.
    • Many times starting a franchise can be like buying a job - it takes a lot of work and feels like just a giant obligation. But if you can grow it you can be the owner and hire a manager, and then your job is to own the place. Do the advertising, maybe some sales, manage cash flow, and maybe even start a second or third franchise. But they usually start somewhere much smaller.
    • Because veterans are used to systems and checklists this is a great fit for franchises. If you have the right attitude and it's a fit - there's a lot of examples of success with veterans in franchises.
    • A lot of franchisees get stuck thinking they have to do everything - that is the beginning of the end. When companies cut back advertising because cashflow is tight, it's the worst you can do. When things are tight financially - who doesn't get paid is a tough decision. This is when a franchisee needs to call the corporate office or another franchisee to see where to go from there.
    • "If it doesn't make dollars it doesn't make sense." This is such great advice. You have to know hwat you're spendign and what you get for it and if it's the right trhing to spend on. Ideally you can pay yourself sooner or later, and you have to be careful about continiung to invest all your moeny in the business indefinitely. Some people will use a franchise as an inheritence vehicle - the parent can make the investment nd the child does the work and over time the child buys the franchise from the parent, or the parent gifts shares to the child.
    • Find something you're passionate about, and something you can get excited about. If you don't like people, you shouldn't get into a hair salon. But other business I work with have different skill sets. The good news is there are lots of franchises out there, but you hae to know yourself and what you would be interested in.
  • If someone is interested in opening a franchise what resources - books, movies, etc - would you recommend they check out?
    • Franchising is a big area today. There are over a million franchise outlets and over 3,000 franchises. There are groups who work as a match maker (a broker or agent) just like a real estate agent sells houses. There are companies that sell franchise this way. They don't charge the franchisee - the franchisor pays a referal fee to the person who brings the deal in.
    • Fran-choice is good
    • Fran-net is great too - their consultants are all over the country
    • Entrepreneur Source has been around for a long time
    • There are 5-10 more who are like this. Their speciality is to get to know you as the buyer and line you up with brands they know and trust and think will be a good fit. They help you understand what you have and educate you on why it is a good fit and you'll hvae to decide.
    • They'll turn you onto three concept and then sell you the franchise. THey prepare you and if you buy they get a referral fee- it's a fair deal and a good value.
    • It does take time and takes a committment and the consultants only really know a handful of brands. They are afmiliar with 20-30 - how many can you really know? So there may be others out there that would be a better fit but you may never hear about them.
    • The risk is manageable because it's a helpful way to see what's out there, find their strenghts and weaknesses. Just be very careful and make a good choice - do your homework on the brand. You want to validate the idea - check it out and make sure the franchise works the way it is supposed to.
    • Before you write a check - go spend a day with someone running the unit and shadow them for the dya and make sure you're co
  • Final words
    • There are a lot of great people and great opportunities. Find a good brand with good people and a business you really, truly enjoy. You're willing to work harder for somethign you believe in and people you like. Get to know the business and really take the time to know what it will take to be successful.
    • My blog has all sorts of things on it
    • There are books and magazines - the Franchise Times, Franchise World - all sorts of Expos and shows and seminars. Take as much time as you can. It's a great way to go - ifyou get into a good one follow the model, ask for help, pay attention, and follow the system. Engage fully in the brand.
    • Franchise Adviory council - get involved in it. If they host a workshop go to it, never miss an annual convention. Most brands have a big conference for all the owners to come togeterh every year - you need to be there. Make that investment in yo8urself andyour business.
    • Fully immerse yourself and follow the good ones. Meet the people who are successful - find the last Franchisee of the Year for the last 5 years and go talk to them. You want ot be the enxt one. SUccess comes in a lot of differnet ways.
  • Father's Eve
    • This is my giveback project. I'm a dad of two girls and I'm lucky that I can do my fatherhood the way I'd like. THis started as an accident - I got together with other fathers the night of father's day. Then we turned it into a charity event and raise a lot of money. Then we licensed it - everything is a franchise to me - we did it in 12 cities last year. This year we expanded and we did it in 42 cities. We had sponosrs and raised more money for charities.
    • Next year we're trying to turn this into a celebration for dads. Father's day is for dads and their families -we don't want to change this. Father's eve is just for the dads the night before, a dad night out. We do a countdown - we can't stay up tll midnight, so at 8pm we do a local toast to the dads.
    • Some places we do charity funcitons and auctions, and bag tosses, or poker or golf. One person did an archery event. It's hosted all over the county
    • It started in my garage and there are people who do it in their garage
    • Connecting dads to each other to celebrate being a dad and connecting them and learn how to be a better father is so important.

 

Nov 13, 2017

In this episode, I go through a framework for looking at the needs that are met for most veterans by serving in the military, and the needs that they will most likely miss immediately upon their transition from Active Duty to a civilian career. This is a different take on Skills #1 – Empathy & Non-violent communication (NVC) that may be easier to apply in you civilian and military career.

If you haven't yet had a chance to leave a positive review in iTunes, please take a minute to do so here

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Nov 8, 2017

"I really thought that a cornerstone of my business development plan was to take advantage of my ability to retire from my final duty station - to look around my community - and find ways to build relationships over time that I could then build upon when I started [my business]."
-  Forrest Baumhover

Special thanks to Ryan Guina at Cash Money Life and  The Military Wallet, episode #61, for introducing me to Forrest.

Forrest Baumhover recently retired from 24 years in the Navy, first as a hospital corpsman, then as a Supply Corps Officer. While on Active Duty he became a certified Financial Planner and started a fee-only financial planning practice, Westchase Financial Planning. He also runs the site, Military in Transition.

Why to Listen:

Forrest anticipated his transition very early on and prepared for starting his own company in a very proactive way. This is also my first interview with a financial planner, and may be an interesting career path for other veterans.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • You have taken a very proactive approach to planning for your transition - can you tell us more about when that started and how you’ve gone about it?
  • What drew you to financial planning?
  • Could you share more about what you do at Westchase Financial Planning?
  • What was your experience like at the College for Financial Planning?
  • How do you balance Active Duty with preparing to transition?
  • What advice do you have for listeners about their personal finances and preparing for the transition?
  • Good resources for finances
Nov 6, 2017

In this episode I share advice from the Beyond the Uniform community about how Veterans can best prepare for and excel at a civilian interview. 

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes:

  • Jon Anderson - network!
  • Meg Potter: Two things: actually wear your interview outfit to ensure fit/comfort and work with a friend to rehearse/drill possible interview questions. Oh and actually familiarize yourself with the company and position.
  • Mark Mitchell: Read PCS to corporate America
  • Aaron Burch 
    • Learn how to interview: Watch sample interviews on YouTube. Learn the STAR method. Look up lists of behavioral interview questions. Prepare a mental list of 10-15 examples from your past experience that can be tailored to answer most of the behavioral questions you can find, and memorize those examples. Practice interviewing with someone, and record yourself, then watch with them and someone else and ask for feedback. Repeat this. 
    • Learn about the company: Google the company, their competitors, suppliers, and customers. If they are publically traded, read their annual report and listen to their latest earnings call. Research common interview questions and scenarios used at the company. 
    • Learn about your interviewer: Look up your interviewer on LinkedIn. Find out how long they've been with the company and their previous roles. Find them on Twitter or other social media and look for anything relatable. 
    • Learn about the position: Read and re-read the position description, noting key skills and experiences, then think of ways you fit the bill, either directly or indirectly. Look up the position on GlassDoor, TransparentCareer, etc. Try to find a loose connection with someone at the company who has or previously had the job you're interviewing for, and talk to them. 
    • Make yourself memorable: Depending on your skillset and the position type, make a "leave behind" to give your interviewer. Maybe it's an infographic. Maybe it's a book of previous projects. Ideally, it has some parallels to the types of work products you might expect to produce in the position. 
    • Execute: During the interview and where appropriate, sprinkle in anecdotes you uncovered during your preparation. Maybe it's a commonality you share with the interviewer. Maybe it's an idea for a new service. Demonstrate that you're already thinking of real ways to cut expenses or grow revenue, before you even have the job. Show genuine interest in the industry, company, and position. If you can't find genuine interest after all of this preparation, it's probably not a good fit for you. 
    • Follow Up: Depending on the size of the company and the industry, send an email or handwritten thank you card within 24 hours of your interview, thanking the interviewer for his/her time and expressing your continued excitement. 
    • AAR: Doing everything above isn't reasonable for every interview. Take what you learned, having done it all, and tailor your approach next time to what seemed like the most value added activities.
  • Richard Herron 
    • WRT the interview, be yourself. 
    • Think more about what career you want to interview for. A big help for me was finding a mentor to chat about options. Most people we dealt with were also on AD and hadn't seen the other side. Go on LinkedIn and cold email people that have the career you're considering. 
    • Thanks for BTU. I wish this existed when I was transitioning.
  • Jared Wymer 
    • In military terms, treat each interview as a mission. Just as you tailor your resume for a role, you should also tailor the way that you talk about your experience, the role, and the company. For instance (and get used to using the phrases "for instance", "for example", and "and by that I mean"), the same work that an active duty service member put into writing the resume that got them the interview (ex: SCOUR the company website so you understand [1] culture [2] business objectives [3] how you fit into the mix [4] how you add value [note: this is much easier with public companies who are required to disclose certain information]; look on websites like Glassdoor, O*Net, etc. to make sure you understand the breadth of what you can bring to the table; make sure you can speak to every line of the job description in a PAR or STAR format. I could frankly provide a whole layperson class/presentation on this, but these are some of the key actions.
  • Lee Haney: What we learned in the military still applies: nothing beats a Leader's Recon before a tactical movement! In this case, that means learning everything you can about the company and the role before the interview, including informational interviews with people who already work at the company with which you are interviewing.
  • Michael Beard: find veterans in the civilian industry you are targeting, and spend time with them in an informational interview. ask for blunt feedback on your resume and interview skills. use them to get the debriefing and feedback that most civilians are too cautious to give. An HR person will not tell you that you are coming across too stiff, or using too many acronyms, or not smiling enough.
  • Charlie Mello: Discuss how your skillset will provide and drive value to the company. It doesn't matter as much what you have already done....it matters more what you are willing to do to help the company grow
  • Brian Henry: I actually have 2 of Orion Talent's podcasts I'd steer them to that we did to address this question. Episode #5 addresses beginning the preparation process and Episode #7 hits a few of the most important questions to be prepared for and how to answer them. https://www.oriontalent.com/podcasts/
Nov 1, 2017

"At the end of the day no one is ever going to come to you as a veteran [with a job offer] - they're going to thank you for your service, but they're not going to make a job for you. Nor do you want them to make a job for you. The trick is getting in as many people's rolodexes as possible. And I kind of did that - unwittingly - while I was at West Point."
- Nicholas Loudon

Nick Loudon is the Chief of Staff for Eastern Air Lines. He started out at West Point, served in the Army as an Infantry Officer for 8 years before going to the Teachers College at Columbia University to earn his MA in Organizational Psychology and Leadership. He’s worked at the E-learning company, Rowan Technologies, as both a Program Manager and COO, and joined Eastern Air Lines about a year and a half ago.

Why to Listen:

In this interview we discuss a variety of topics relevant to veterans in any industry. Nick has great advice for veterans about checking one's ego at the door, rolling up one's sleeves and doing whatever it takes to improve whatever task you're given. He shows how a willingness to learn has allowed him to transition - and be successful in - wildly different industries. And how a mindset of happiness, learning and humility can make all the difference.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Show Notes

  • How did you approach the decision to leave the Army?
  • How did you decide to go to TC?
  • What led you to Rowan Technologies?
  • How would you describe what Rowan Technologies does?
  • What was your role like as a Program Manager?
  • How did your work change when you were promoted to COO?
  • What led you to Eastern Air Lines?
  • How would you describe what Eastern Air Lines does?
  • What do you do as Chief of Staff?
  • What resources - books, programs, podcasts - have helped you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
  • Final words of wisdom
Oct 25, 2017

"We were sitting in one of [my wife's] guest rooms in her house in Abidjan, and I was trying to figure out what to do next with my life. And Emily said, 'You should do the GoRuck thing.' I don't think she knew what that meant and she certainly didn't have the vision for what it's become, and I certainly didn't at that time either. But that was the happy accident of - I need something to do and this could probably be it."
- Jason McCarthy

Thanks to Jared Wymer for the recommendation for this show.

Jason McCarthy is the Founder and CEO of GORUCK, a company he started nearly 10 years ago, a retail company that builds gear, hosts events, builds teams and strengthens the community. He started out at Emory University, after which he worked as an Analyst at Milestone Merchant Partners before joining the Army where he served for five years as a Special Forces Communication Sergeant. After the Army, he started GORUCK and has grown to a team of over 30 people, and over 100 Special Forces Cadre who lead our events.

Why to Listen:

  • Jason gives a very raw and honest assessment of his entrepreneurial journey that will be a huge resource if you're considering starting your own company, but also an exhilarating story no matter what your intended career path. 

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • You had a career before the Army - what led you to the Army?
  • How did you decide to leave the Army?
  • What was the genesis of GORUCK?
  • In the early days, what was your life like?
  • How did you finance all of this?
  • How would you describe GORUCK to veteran listeners?
  • Where is the company at now in terms of it’s growth?
  • What has been the hardest part of starting GORUCK?
  • What advice do you have for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs?
  • What can someone on active duty do right now to start preparing to start their own company?
  • Any resources (books, podcasts, programs, etc) you’d recommend to listeners?
  • Final words of wisdom?
Oct 23, 2017

In this interview I dive into an analysis of thousands of LinkedIn profiles to better understand how the length of someone's military service impacts what industry they go into, as well as where they live for their civilian career.

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

  • The full e-book that I'm using for this episode can be downloaded here: http://beyondtheuniform.io/how-time-in-service-affects-navy-veteran-careers-ebook/
  • The full list of LinkedIn Industries - and the sub categories I created for my analysis - can be viewed here: http://beyondtheuniform.io/industry-category-explanations/
Oct 18, 2017

"With all of these practices, if we drill down on what's actually happening with them, it is just a shift in your nervous system. Being able to connect the mind and the body and the breath via this system in your body that is designed to succeed and live inline with your values and goals."
- Dr. Dan Libby

Thanks to Tim Avery, btu #12 for the intro to Dan.

Dr. Dan Libby is the founder and executive director of Veterans Yoga Project (VYP). He has empowered veterans and their communities to access healing resources and find resilience both within themselves and through connection with others. He has also enabled yoga teachers and healthcare professionals to share these practices. He's a licensed clinical psychologist, and holds a B.S. in Psychology from the The University of Montana and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Clinical Psychology from St. John’s University.

Why to Listen:

  • Veterans on the show often talk about meditation as a ay to stay grounded and be more productive at work. This is a great episode for exploring that and other helpful practices to keep you at your best inside and outside of work. 

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • What was the genesis of the Veterans Yoga Project?
  • How would you explain VYP to someone on Active Duty?
  • Is there an experiential part of this we could start with to give listeners a sense of the sort of tools you provide?
  • In your work with Veterans, what are common objections or reserves you see about this sort of work?
  • What are aspects of your work that you have seen be most beneficial to veterans?
  • What other resources - books, programs, podcasts, etc - would you recommend to listeners
  • Final words of wisdom to audience?
Oct 11, 2017

"For example, we had a $180 headphone that wasn't working - it wasn't the right price point or form factor. Once we stopped trying to win there, and just focused on being great under $100, it was amazing the power that focus can bring to the team. Not spreading yourself too thin, but giving your team the one objective, the one hill - because if we can win here, a lot of other things will just take care of themselves."
- Jason Hodell

See the full show notes and more veteran interviews at http://www.beyondtheuniform.io

Jason Hodell is the CEO of Skullcandy, which markets headphones, earphones, speakers and other products. Skullcandy was founded in 2003 and acquired in October 2016 by Mill Road Capital for $200 million. Jason started out at West Point, after which he served as an Infantry Officer in the US Army for five years. After the Army, he picked up his MBA at Wharton. He had an impressive career prior to Skullcandy, which we’ll discuss in the interview, and joined the Skullcandy team initially as their CFO & COO, the company grew revenue from $210M to approximately $300M after 3 years, he was appointed as the CEO of Skullcandy.

Why to Listen:

  • Turnaround work at companies - Jason talks about the turnaround work he's done at companies, which may be well suited to many veterans. It involves rolling up one's sleeves, getting your hands dirty, and "improving the unit that is not the best in battalion."
  • Take the long view - Jason talks about taking the long view on your career and investing in learning domain or market expertise
  • Finance - Jason started out in finance, and talks about how this gave him the mental framework to think about companies and evaluate them as well as understand the nuts and bolts of any business
  • General Management - Jason has been CEO, COO, and CFO of some incredible companies and talks about why veterans may enjoy (and be well suited for) these roles.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

  • Resources for finance
    • Can check out syllabus for corporate finance class at Wharton and see textbooks (or at any leading finance business school) - here is on example.
  • Book

Show Notes

  • Jason's background
  • When you left the Army, you went directly to get your MBA - how crucial was that decision in your career path, and what advice would you give to veterans considering an MBA?
  • What was one of the biggest challenges you faced when leaving the military, and what advice do you have for those on active duty listening?
  • I’d like to focus on your role at Skullcandy, but what would you want listeners to know about your career path from Wharton to Skullcandy?
  • How did you first come onboard the Skullcandy team?
  • How would you describe your role as COO & CFO to someone on active duty? What did your day-to-day life look like?
  • You achieve an incredible turnaround - how did you go about this?
  • How would you describe your current role as CEO - what does your day-to-day look like?
  • How do you grow and get feedback?
  • What were the gaps you needed to fill in from the military until the CEO role?
  • What advice do you have for veterans seeking to be CEO of a company one day?
  • What resources - books, programs, podcasts, etc - have been helpful to you in your civilian career that you would recommend to veterans listening?
  • Final words of wisdom
Oct 9, 2017

In my interviews, we often use business jargon and terminology without explaining it. As Jason Hodell (BTU #122) said, "you've got to know the lingo." So, in this episode I dive into some of the most common civilian business terms I've had on the show. This is Part 1, so if there are other terms you'd like explained, send me a note about what terms you'd like me to cover for Part 2.

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books
Oct 4, 2017

"I thought I was a big shot traveller until I met these people and I realized that I was nothing, and they were incredible. I've read books and seen movies and TV shows where people take their motorcycles around the world. It's easy to think  - that person's crazy or that person has a personal fortune or that that person has some unbelievable life circumstance that makes that possible. But when I met people in real life who had done these long-distance motorcycle trips, and I realized they're just ordinary people who and they're just really passionate and excited about what they do. And it's possible for anyone to do it."
- Tim Patterson

Listen to the full interview here

Tim Patterson started off at the Naval Academy as part of the mighty class of 2002. He served as an officer onboard nuclear submarines for 8 years. After his transition from the military, Tim spent over four years traveling the world. Two of these years were done by BMW motorcycle, where he rode over 28,000 miles along the Pan-American highway, from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. Studied Spanish in Guatemala. Survived Arctic weather, flat tires, and Colombian soldiers.

Why to Listen:

  • Time to reflect - many of my guests have talked about how they rushed into a career or into school and did not have time to consider what they wanted to do or take time to decompress after their military service. Tim took 4 years to travel the world, two of which were spent traveling more than 28,000 miles by motorcycle. He had more than ample time to think about what he wanted to do next.
  • Freedom - Tim is different from nearly every interview I have done to date. He is an example of complete freedom and autonomy after the military. He talks about it in a very real and personal way that shows that any veteran can do this too, and any veteran can pursue whatever dream they want to achieve.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • Tim's background
  • What did you do while on Active Duty to make this journey possible? How much money does someone on Active Duty need to save up to make this possible?
  • What led you to travel - was the certain moment when you knew you were going to travel the world? How long did you initially think it would last?
  • Could you give a high-level overview of what those four years looked like?
  • What was one of the most challenging moments of the trip?
  • Did you have a favorite location along the way?
  • Why might someone listening who is on active duty benefit from taking time to travel instead of going directly into a job or school?
  • How did you travels shape what you want to do for a career?
  • What resources recommend for traveling?
  • Could you talk about how you became involved journalism?
  • What is a typical week like as a journalist?
  • Where are you headed from here?
  • Final words of wisdom?
Oct 2, 2017

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career: The Slight Edge. Special thanks to Ray & Samantha Allen for recommending this book to me in their interview.

The Slight Edge is a great book about how small, repeated actions on a daily basis can lead to massive changes in your career, personal life, and relationships. In this 15-minute episode, I dive into some key takeaways from this book that Veterans and Active Duty Members of the Armed Forces can use to advance in their professional and personal lives. 

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Links

Sep 27, 2017

“I'm not sure that I'm the best necessarily at starting a business from scratch - figuring out a business model in my garage, making this thing work, and taking all the risks there are in the startup phase. But I was pretty sure that I could take a business that had cashflows, infrastructure, and a business model and make it a lot better."
– Jim Vesterman

Jim Vesterman is the CEO of Raptor Technologies, which is the nation's leading provider of integrated safety technologies for K-12 schools. He got his undergraduate degree at Amherst College, after which he worked at both the Monitor Group and for a software startup. He deferred his MBA to join the Marine Corps as part of 3rd Force Recon Company. After he got his MBA from Wharton, he started an entrepreneurial vehicle called a search fund - which we’ll get into - called Liberty Place Capital. Liberty Place Capital ultimately purchased Raptor Technologies in 2012 and he has been running that company for 5 years.

The top two reasons to listen to this episode are:

  1. Perspective - Jim is the only person I've interviewed so far who had career before the Marine Corps. His look at re-entering the civilian workforce is compelling
  2. Search Funds - this is a great entrepreneurial vehicle well suited for veterans. Rather than coming up with an original idea, you can raise money to buy an existing business, which you can grow. Jim talks about how this process works, and why it may be appealing to veterans.
  3. Balance - Jim used used 5 vacation days and nights and weekends to raise money for his Search Fund - it's a great example of using one's extra time to further their career.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Links

  • Stanford has an incredible library of information about Search Funds that you can find here
Sep 25, 2017

This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career: Empathy. This has come up in many episodes as something that veterans have needed to develop to progress in their civilian career. A tool that I have found to be extremely helpful in my own life in building up empathy is something called: Non-Violent Communication (NVC).

In this episode we'll talk about how to build empathy (just like a muscle), and how identifying feelings & needs can uncover strategies to meet more people's needs (your team, your co-workers, your spouse, etc).

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox – People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Links

Sep 20, 2017

"I was a Signal Corps Officer trained in telecom - I managed switches and all those kind of things, so I really understood traditional telecom infrastructure. These engineers who became my co-founders developed a soft switch - basically, using a computer, you could control a big piece of hardware somewhere else to make a phone ring. What I knew was that was massively disruptive. And what we didn't know together was where that disruption was going to lead us.  And that disruption led us, eventually, to LiveOps."
- Patrick

Patrick is the Founder and Managing Partner at High Ridge Global, which is a private investment and advisory firm. He started out as a ROTC student at the University of Southern California, after which he served as a Signal Corps Officer in the Army for four years. After his service he got his MBA at Georgetown. He has worked at JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, was part of the Founding Team of LiveOps (a company that now has over $100M in revenue), and has founded, invested in, and served on the board of multiple companies.

Why to Listen:

  • Networking & Preparing for meetings (~43:00) - Patrick talks about how one of the best things you can invest in is your network. His personal story illustrates how his network led from one incredible opportunity to the next. But he also provides tactical advice about how to prepare for meetings that we haven't covered in other interviews.
  • Building expertise - although Patrick rotated between industries (finance, tech) and companies (JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, LiveOps, and more) he consistently built up expertise that he was able to leverage in his career. His thoughts for veterans about building up expertise and taking a 10-year time frame approach are incredible
  • Resources - Patrick has been part of incredibly successful startups and has started his own investing and advisory fund. He has coached many entrepreneurs and business operators. His advice - and recommended resources - are really priceless in this interview

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • Patrick's background
  • For someone on active duty, how would you describe High Ridge Global?
  • In terms of whereHigh Ridge Global is at today - what would you want listeners to know (head count, investments, etc)
  • Advice to evaluating an idea/
  • Skills veterans may need prior to starting a company
  • Many listeners to the show are interested in the world of finance - how vital is an MBA in this career path?
  • What was your experience like at JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, and how has that helped you in your current role?
  • Lifestyle differences between finance and startups?
  • What lead you to make the shift to startups and Live Ops?
  • What would you want listeners to know about your career path from Live Ops untilHigh Ridge Global ?
  • How did you go about starting your own investment company?
  • What did your day-to-day life look like when you first started?
  • What skills did you need to develop to start your own firm, and what advice do you have for veterans seeking to do the same?
  • What resources have been helpful to you that you would recommend to veteran listeners?
  • Final words of wisdom?
Sep 13, 2017

"We always say that you earn while you learn in this business. So even though we were both full-time active duty when we started this business, you can really build it into the nooks and crannies of your life, while just learning the process. Because there are people who are willing to hold your hands so that you can walk and then run in this business."
- Samantha Allen

Ray and Samantha Allen are both 2009 Naval Academy Graduates. After graduation, Ray went to flight school & became a Navy Helo pilot while Sam became a Marine.

Samantha served as a Marine for 5 years at Marine Special Operations Command (2nd MSOB) and weapons training Battalion. Ray is an HSC pilot now instructing at the Naval Academy.

The two live in Annapolis, MD with their three daughters, and have been building their business together for four years.

Why to Listen:

  • Direct marketing / network marketing - this is an often criticized & misunderstood space, but may be a great match for many veterans, as it: 
    • Is a people business (where vets typically thrive)
    • Is a business with training wheels (you get the support and mentorship you need as you grow)
    • Has a strong sense of community (which vets often miss post-service)
    • Includes a sense of purpose (which vets also miss post-service)
    • Has a lot of autonomy (to afford a flexible lifestyle)
  • Working with Spouse - if you're considering working with a significant other, they've got great advice.
  • Self-learning - they include a TON of incredible resources to check out, and the motivation to go with it

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources:

Show Notes

  • 4:00 Ray and Samantha's background
  • 4:47 - How would you explain to someone on Active Duty what LifeVantage is?
  • 7:58 - How did you both get started working with LifeVantage?
  • 12:00 - What was the starting point like?
  • 14:54 - When you first started what was the time commitment?
  • 17:16 - How do you spend your time today on LifeVantage?
  • 22:15 - How long does it take to make an income from Direct Marketing?
  • 26:30 - What is residual income and how do you make residual income in Direct Marketing?
  • 35:05  What are negative things that you hear about Direct Marketing and how do you respond to this criticism?
  • 38:08 - How is it working together as a husband and wife team, and what advice do you have for couples thinking of working together?
  • 41:51 - What resources - books, programs, websites - would you recommend to someone considering direct marketing?
  • 49:20 - What advice do you have for a veteran considering entrepreneurship?
  • 55:05 - Final words of wisdom?
Sep 6, 2017

"Working for this company, we started outsourcing to the Philippines, and we started doing more and more work with the Philippines. Eventually my buddy and I said, 'Why don't we setup a company in the Philippines to do the outsourcing for our employer?' So we pitched out bosses and they loved it. And so that kind of got our foot in the door."
- Justin Cooke

Justin Cooke is the Founder at Empire Flippers, a company that helps others buy, sell, and invest in profitable websites and online businesses. He started out in the Navy, where he spent 6 years as a Sonar Technician 2/C (STG2). Empire Flippers is an INC 500 company - Justin runs a 22 person team and has $27M+ In Online Businesses Sold.

Our Sponsor:

  • StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

Show Notes

  • What is your remote lifestyle like?
  • What would you want listeners to know about your path from the Navy up until starting Empire Flippers?
  • How to form a good business partnership
  • What was the Genesis of Empire Flippers
  • How would you describe Empire Flippers to someone on Active Duty
  • You have seen a lot of success stories of people buying online businesses that they've then grow. What advice do you have for someone on active duty thinking of going down this path?
  • What skills do you think someone we would need to develop after the military before considering going down this path?
  • You had an incredible growth trajectory for Empire flippers. What advice do you have for other veteran entrepreneurs seeking to grow their company?
  • What resources, that could be books, podcasts, courses, have helped you with your startup that you would recommend other veterans
  • Final words of wisdom
Aug 30, 2017

"No matter what job you're doing or where you're going, you always want to be the best at your current role. I never imagined that I'd be in the sports industry, let alone the President of an NHL Hockey Team. I never imagined that I'd be at Goldman Sachs. When I was in the Army I just worked really hard, and then identified that my next step would be getting into the best grad school, and then I just focused on that. You just have to have this balance of short term and long term planning."
- Matthew Caldwell

Matthew Caldwell is the President and CEO of the Florida Panthers and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment. Matthew started out at West Point, after which he served in the U.S. Army for five years, conducting combat operations in Iraq and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo. Matthew worked as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in their Investment Management Division, and then transitioned to Chief Operating Officer for the Panthers before being elevated to President and CEO. Matthew holds a JD/MBA from Northwestern University School of Law and the Kellogg School of Management

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • A guy that I most recently have really started following and has been Simon Sinek. About six months ago I found him, and he's done so much research and it's not specific to sports, or finance, or technology. His TED talk is: Start With Why - it's why great leaders inspire people to take action. It's a simple kind of concept but it's all about understanding why you exist. Whether you're working at Apple or wherever you have to figure out why... your purpose... your vision for the future. These are things we kind of did in the military but it's so important. A company like Apple, they exist because they're always challenging the status quo.  The book is fascinating because he covers sports teams, Martin Luther King, Google, Apple... it's very interesting.
  • He also has another book - Leaders Eat Last. I think people in the military will appreciate it.
  • iv'e gotten into sports books - culture and how people operate is so important to them. I read recently the Real Madrid Way - its the most valuable sports franchise out there. Steven Mandis is a Goldman alum too, and i reached out to him and we talked for an hour about why Real Madrid was so valuable and what they've done in the community.

Show Notes

Please note that I type these notes during the interview so there are likely to be misspellings, grammatical errors, and misquotes. This is not meant to be a verbatim account of our conversation, but a VERY basic text transcript of our discussion.

  • How did you approach the decision to leave the Army?
    • It was the toughest decision I've ever had professionally. I went back and forth on it a bunch of times. I was in the Army for five years - the first three I was deployed, in Iraq, Kosovo, or a build up for that. It was very high tempo. Ironically, when I was deployed, I actually really enjoyed it and felt like I was making a difference and serviging a highe rpurpose. When I got back, I was stablized for a year, the garrison lifesytle at my base in Germany. I went back and forth for a year but realized I enjoyed teh Army most during dpeloyments, and that's not all the time. I didn't know if I wanted to go special ops and sustain that op tempo for long-term. Ultimatley I decided I wanted other things besides the Army. I didn't think I could deploy every year even though I enjoyed it. I thought graduate school was a natural next step and then se
  • How did you decide on a JD / MBA program?
    • I always liked business and reading the Wall Street Journal and hearing what companies are doign and reading Good to Great. I thought an MBA was very suitable in opening me up to different industries. When I started researchign schools Noerthwestern was my top pick - I love the Chicago area and their culture. They ahve this very integrated, but also very exciting JD/MBA program that was in three years. I thought I'd get a taste of both business and law. I applied to a bunch of buisness schools and thought if I could also get a law degree it'd make me better at busienss or maybe I'd like law instead. Most programs are around four years and it's a lot of money. For me it was a good fit.
    • For advice for other veterans, it really did work out for myself. I had all this leadership experience, I had lived overseas and had a good world view. So I had a good view of what was out there - for me to come home, as much as I had an interest in business I had no idea if I would be a consultant, a lawyer, finance - I was all over the map. For me it was a three year reset. And the networking aspect was most important. If you go to West Point for four years and then five years in the army, that's nine years of uyour life (one third of your life at that point) where you're just with a mlitary segment. It's a secdluded world. To get out and meet people from different backgrounds, hear about what they did and what they did in the workforce, that experience was very eye opening to me. I learned what they did and they were a great resource. It was the perfect transition point for me.
    • Some of my friends got work experience before grad school and I can see the value of that. When people were talking about a case study, i didn't have any context for what they were talking about.
  • What lead you to Goldman Sachs?
    • Most people in business school go to all the networking events, take classes, talk to people and build from the bottom up. I want to be in Private Equity, in the MErgers & Acquisition world. They identify an industry and then start interviewing in certain geographic areas. I looked at I knew I wanted to go to business and enjoyed those classes and then - what company do I want to be most associated with. I did an exhaustive search and talked to consulting companies, and General Electirc, Proctor and Gamble, etc, but I felt like I connected with the banks. I like JP Morgan & Chase, Goldman, etc - I connected with the people at Goldman. They were diverse, hardworking, and wanted to be in an environment like that.
    • There were three areas: the trading side of the house, i enjoyed that mentality but didn't know long term. Investment banking house where working on big deals with major institutions. But ultimately the investment management division was a good balance between working with big institutions on how to invest their capital but also resonate with me long term.
    • There were a few West Point guys who mentored me.
  • For someone on active duty, how would you explain the work you did at Goldman Sachs?
    • It is a great firm - over many generations they've produced great people who have done great things for the country.
    • My every day life there I worked on a team with about six individuals managing thirty or so accounts. Big families, foundations, non-profit, another company's assets, etc. We were the intermediary between the client - what are their needs, what are they trying to do - and then sit with all the experts at the firm (in research, or investing in Europe, or Latin America, etc). We'd be the intermediary between them and the resources at Goldman. A lot of my job was listening to my clients, hearing their needs, running around and talking to different departments and then making recommendations.
  • What advice do you have for a veteran aspiring to work at Goldman Sachs?
    • The banks or any firms on Wall Street generally like military. They appreciate the tenacity, the hardwork, the comraderie - the characteristics of many service men and women. You put the organization first. The company is more important than the individual. That's not common everywhere. A place like Goldman really values that. It is a tough firm to get into - they usually only hire right out of college or an MBA or other graduate program. They value talent and intelligence and very diverse backgrounds.
    • If you have an interesting story and they think you can add a lot of value at the firm, they know they can teach you all the finance technique. It's just a matter of hustling to get in front of the right people. I've gone through a job search a lot of times - it's a matter of reading and talking to the right person. Sometimes you do 20 coffee chats and yuo don't feel like you're making any progress, and then the 21st meeting and it's the perfect meeting. but if you didn't go through all the reps before that you don't know how it would have worked out.
    • I was at school in Chicago and was interested in going to New York. And I wasn't able to get a time to meet with anyone else. I sat at Starbucks all day emailing people and calling them and I figured since I was in NY I might as well try to meet with people. And that got me in touch with someone who was at Credit Suisse who was West Point, he had a few minutes available and I sat down with him. I was open and honest that Goldman was my first choice,; and he introduced me to someone at Goldman. 30 interviews later I got a job there.
  • What lead you to make the transition to the Florida Panthers?
    • I was at Goldman and one of the unique aspects of their culture is that the junior people are the ones who are encouraged to get out there and kick up new business. Typically in firms more senior partners are trying to drive new client relationships. At Goldman they send out their more junior folks. So I was out there talking to institutions and big family offices trying to get them to invest at Goldman. So I was out there hussling and same thing as I did whe ntrying to get my first job. I started a relationship with another West Point grad, Vincent Viola. he ended up becoming a client at Goldman, and was great at investing his capital. We built this great report with him over time and he took a liking to me as a younger West Pointer who got his start on Wall Street. It was very familiar with his background. He went trading and came from Brooklyn (I'm from Staten Island). After a few years he asked me to come and join his family office. So I jumped at the opportunity. As much as I loved Goldman I thought it was something I couldn't' pass it up.
    • I was dreading going to the guy who hired me and probably got ten seconds into my pitch and he said, 'I would love for you to build a career here, but you gotta jump on this.' So i started working directly for Vinnie. He had purchased the Florida Panthers hockey team. He always wanted to get into sports - it's hockey in South Florida, which is tough. We knew there would be a big challenge, he said, I'm a very hands on operator and could use someone I could trust.
    • I signed up for it, and moved down to South Florida. I live in Miami, started off being an ownership representative giving him advice on how to improve the franchise. how to sell season tickets and get the stadium packed. They ended up giving me the COO role as a permanent role. As the franchise turned around 1.5 years later, and he named me the CEO and President.
  • How would you explain your role as CEO?
    • I was a huge sports fan of every sport. There's actually another West Point graduate, Eric Joyce, who was an Assistant Captain for the West Point hockey team. Eric was his guy to help out on the hockey side. And he's done a great job and is the assistant GM. Initially I focused more on the business side - it was more selling the team and keeping the budget straight and sending reports to people about our marketing plan and sales plan. everything that happens off the ice.
    • Right now there's different periods where things change dramatically. We're in the office season so things aren't top of mind for people. However, for the business side of the operation its an important time to knock out some long-term projects. A big thing we're doing right now is formalizing our marketing plan, getting feedback from all the different departments on what will be our slogan this year, how to attract more fans, how to get a big excitement around opening night. It comes on October 7 and so we hit the pause button and think about our identify, our team and how to tell our story to our fan base.
    • We're also very active in our grassroots - sports aren't front of mind - we go door-to-door and go to local boys and girls club events and anything to support our team and show our presence. There's more of an emotional presence between the team and the community
    • After labor day the whole coaching staff and players and hockey side comes and then its about supporting the training camp. And it's ver intense and we want to make sure the fans have a great experience. Visiting suites and clubs and showing them a great time in the stands.
    • Additionally, I'm President of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment that operates  - we got Bruno Mars and John Mayer coming through. All the ushers, all the ticket tapes, all the people who run food and beverages. We want to make sure they have a great experience.
  • What advice do you have for a veteran seeking a career in the sports industry?
    • I don't know if it differs much from other industries. a lot of companies value how interested you are in something, and if someone is leaving the military in six months you need to start reaching out to sports teams or anyone who has any connection there. Go on LinkedIn or Facebook see who you know - give them a call. Start hearing things. See if that sounds interesting. Do you know anyone in the NY area? Get introduced and start having that conversation. Any industry will respect a veteran reaching out. It's not that you have to prove anything. They won't hire you because of your specific job in the military they just want to know you did a great job. No matter what job you're doing or where you're going, you want to be the best at your current role. You can fall into the mistake of coasting or thinking of what you'll do next. The problem is you never know where your career will take you, and it's important for recommendations and when you want to tell stories in interviews and why you did a great job in the current job where you are. Just worked really hard and identified my next step and just focused on that. You gotta have a balance of short term and long term. Research industries, do a great job.
  • What resources - books, programs, seminars, conferences - have helped you in your civilian career that you would recommend to other veterans?
    • A guy that I most recently have really started following and has been Simon Sinek. About six months ago I found him, and he's done so much research and it's not specific to sports, or finance, or technology. His TED talk is: Start With Why - it's why great leaders inspire people to take action. It's a simple kind of concept but it's all about understanding why you exist. Whether you're working at Apple or wherever you have to figure out why... your purpose... your vision for the future. These are things we kind of did in the military but it's so important. A company like Apple, they exist because they're always challenging the status quo.  The book is fascinating because he covers sports teams, Martin Luther King, Google, Apple... it's very interesting.
    • He also has another book - Leaders Eat Last. I think people in the military will appreciate it.
    • iv'e gotten into sports books - culture and how people operate is so important to them. I read recently the Real Madrid Way - its the most valuable sports franchise out there. Steven Mandis is a Goldman alum too, and i reached out to him and we talked for an hour about why Real Madrid was so valuable and what they've done in the community.
  • Final words of wisdom?
    • Taking a risk. Quick anecdote, when I was in business school I was able to sit with the student admissions team. I sat in the room and heard right from the Director of Admissions who was letting people into Kellogg. And they said they see resumes from veterans and have no idea what it says. As much as we try to dumb it down and not use acronyms, it still sounds foreign to people. It's difficult to pull info out of veterans. We're trained to always put the organization first and focusing on the unit. We're trained not to self promote. It's a tough thing to do - you've gotta spread the needle about promoting yourself and clal someone and explain why they should take your call or why they should get on the phone with you.
    • As a veteran you don't want to ask for favors - you want to be rewarded for performance without pounding your chest. It's this difficult balance. IF you feel like you're self promoting you probably arne't- it just isn't. if you don't do it, no one will.
Aug 23, 2017

"I spent about $1,800 buying bags and thinks, built my own website and started trying to sell coffee online. So basically I started Black Rifle Coffee from a passion that I sought to test out."
- Evan Hafer

Evan Hafer is the Founder & CEO of Black Rifle Coffee, a small batch coffee roasting company. He started out at the University of Idaho, after which he spent 14 years in the U.S. Army as an infantryman, a Special Forces soldier, and a CIA contractor.

I came across Evan in a 2016 Forbes Article about the Top 25 Veteran Founded Startups in America.

Our Sponsor:

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books

Selected Resources

  • Forbes Article about the Top 25 Veteran Founded Startups in America.
  • Coursera is fantastic. It has an online catalgoue from Penn State, Stanford, Michigan. I signed up for courses from Wharton. It's a great outlet. YOuv'e got a lot of access to Coursera.
  • Udemy is another great online learning - courses from specific personalities.
  • Lynda is a fantastic resource - it's amazing.
  • The first thing I do is google it and then take a course on it. How do I built a dashboard with my KPIs based on division. I can't tell you how to do that based on military experience - but I can google this and find classes on how to plug this in. It may take a few days - you can't be too impatient.
  • One of the best books I've read - Good to Great and Built to Last. I've read Good to Great - listened to it or read it, probably six times. These are some of the best books that I've read.
  • Podcasts: every day I can get into a half hour on marketing, or leadership / management - any time I can spend 30 minutes listening. It might not be the most sage advice at that time, who knows what type f

Show Notes

Please note that I type these notes during the interview so there are likely to be misspellings, grammatical errors, and misquotes. This is not meant to be a verbatim account of our conversation, but a VERY basic text transcript of our discussion.

  • How did you make the decision to leave the Army?
    • Jioned National Guard in 1995 while in College. Was still in 2015. 20 years in active duty or in the reserves, and 8 years with the CIA as a contractor
    • Had been thinking about it for 2 years. I had another business in Idaho - fly fishing, white water rafting, etc. I was planning on getting out and going to grad school or something like that. I was burnt out on deployments, coming up on 20 years of military service and wanted a change
  • What was your first job search like out of the Army?
    • I didn't really have one. I knew I was going to start my won business. I had been roasting coffee for ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had purchased another company a few years before. I wasn't thinking of doing an online roast to order coffee company. My wife and I were thinking of opening a coffee shop. We had gone back and forth on what he had wnated to do. Ultimately we wanted to try to test the market. Didn't want to spend $100k trying to get a coffee shop. Ultimately, I wasn't sure if we could make it work. I could build a website and invest a limited amount of capital - I spent about $1,800 byying bags and thinks, built my own website and selling coffee online
  • What was the genesis of Black Rifle Coffee?
    • I was roasting enough coffee at the time for a few different restaurants and few friends. When I stood up the website and started selling online, after my first month I repaid the money I paid into the company. I was fairly convinced at the end of first month
  • For veteran listeners, how would you describe Black Rifle Coffee?
    • A lot of people say, I need a full blown business plan. Well, I'm a military guy and we go through a lot of planning and cycles around the planning. Every plan doesn't survive first contact. It's fine to do a five paragraph mission order, but the mission statement can't be around the idea - it needs to be around your life. My mission statement was: I will become economically emanicapted from the government and be able to feed my family through my own endeavor. Then I put out a combination of things I could do iwthin this operatino order. A lot of guys become wrapped around a tactic - I have to be THIS. I didn't I was just attached to the idea of being free from the US goverment and drove into marketing and branding and tact. If I can market one of the skills I have - I was roasting coffee and doing outdoors-e stuff. Black Rifle COffee was built out of these two things. Then I started to get a positive Return On Investment really early. If I spend $10 I can make $20... i can actually make a profit. Especially if I start to scale. I started in my garage with $1,800. I didn't hire any employees for my first year. Just me and my wife (part time for about 6 months of that firs tyear) . I was doing customer service, packaging and shipping, photography, social media, website. I was a one-man show. A lot of guys thought that seemed fairly difficult. I only slept about four hours a night for th efirst year of the business - 7 days a week. I had a thermarest in my office. I hired employee #1 after the first year. After the second year I ahd 26 employees. Now I have 84 employees. I've never taken out any debt in my company - no investment. I run it completely off it's own profit margins. I've scaled the company, continued to purchase everything and anything through the profit.
    • I can beat up my employees over $0.03 and a box. If I'm going to buy 12 tonnes of cardboard from China I know exactly how much that will be. There is nothing I wouldn't tell you about this business. I can tell you down to the cent for the last 2.5 years.I'll spend an hour or two in fulfillment, and hour or two in purchasing. Just packing a box and understanding exactly how I want the product to be displayed when it hits their doorstep. The customer needs to understand that no detail can be overlooked. I try to drive a detail oriented ship. We miss things but it's not because we're not trying it's because when you send out a few thousand shipments a day, you miss a few things. It's not as precision as I'd like it to be.
  • At what point were you able to start paying yourself a salary?
    • 14 months - it was a few thousand dollars a month. Now, we'll do over $20M annual this eyar, and I still only pay myself $70k. I went from $2k to $4k in increments. But I've only paid myself for over one year in the last two and a half years. The more money you take out of a business the less it will grow. A lot of guys make this mistake really early. We sold two houses, and my wife and I went from making $250,000 per year as a high paid contract for the government to making NOTHING. For over a year nothing. I had sold two houses, a truck, all my guns, just to keep going. My wife was ready to kill me. It's definitely worth it. I've got a 40k square foot building a 60 kilo roaster - all of them are
  • What did you do on Active Duty to help in startups?
    • I was doing payroll in mission planning and our budget for our small indigineous force. I thought, if I can run this Afghan with a third grade education, if I can train them to do these multi-level kinetic operations this can translate to business. I thought of it as a small business. If you don't run your budget in a strict and proficient way you're setting yoruself up for your own failure.
    • I had the unique opportunity of working with some guys who had run a small business. My original mentor was a SpecOps guy and he transitioned to a small business. It was always in the back of my mind - I was going to be a business owner. Every part of my service - how does this translate into the business world. When I transitino out I need to be able ot translate this into something I can monetize.
    • Not - I need to be able to tell these stories. How do I take these skills and use them on the outside? They're very unique skills that very few people acquire. Military people are some of the most complex problem solvers in the world. When I look at my service - always look tot ranslate what you're doing now into what you're doing
    • Seek professional development opportunies. Seek some skills that the military can pay for but it might not be translatable to your MOS right now but how about your future. I went to a lot of schools when I was in and would come back when I was home and take professional development training. There's this total access to online learning There are so many different ways you can learn that you don't need the US military - but you have the ability to have the military pay for all the training you want to do. I've sat in on university classes to learn about economics
  • Resources
    • Coursera is fantastic. It has an online catalgoue from Penn State, Stanford, Michigan. I signed up for courses from Wharton. It's a great outlet. YOuv'e got a lot of access to Coursera.
    • Udemy is another great online learning - courses from specific personalities.
    • Lynda is a fantastic resource - it's amazing.
    • The first thing I do is google it and then take a course on it. How do I built a dashboard with my KPIs based on division. I can't tell you how to do that based on military experience - but I can google this and find classes on how to plug this in. It may take a few days - you can't be too impatient.
    • One of the best books I've read - Good to Great and Built to Last. I've read Good to Great - listened to it or read it, probably six times. These are some of the best books that I've read.
    • Podcasts: every day I can get into a half hour on marketing, or leadership / management - any time I can spend 30 minutes listening. It might not be the most sage advice at that time, who knows what type f
  • What has been the most challenging moment to date?
    • WHn you have 80 people who work fory ou you develop personal relationships with them. It's an ecosystem - people rpovide the balance in the ecosytem. Terminating people or repurosing them - having really frank discussions with people in general about work performance. These are incredibly difficutl things to do. A loto f business owners avoid tough discussions with employees, and I know why. I want the best for people - however, some people will never conform to the environemnt you're trying to build. You may love them and appreciate them - but they may not be a good fit for the ecosystem. The ahrdest part is managing people - it's very difficult. Knowing you like people but they don't fit into your company this is a really difficult challenge. Because the company's ecosystem always has to be in balance. Hire slow, fire fast. It doesn't mean firing will be easier but yo have to do it to grow the company.
    • A redwood grows really well in a redwood forest. It doesn't grow really well in Sonora. Just becasue they don't fit in in your company doesn't mean they won't fit in somewhere else. They'll be good people wherever they go. It might not be a good cultural fit. We tend to over exagerate people's failures - it may not be a failure on either part it may just be confomring to the envirnonemnt. It's a difficult part for managers - you're done here. I try to say this sin't a good fit how do we make you succeed somewhere else.
  • What has been the most rewarding moment to date?
    • Not just one moment - I always tell people when I was in the government it wasa  pleasure to serve the country. But I got to the point where Iw asn't enjoying my job or my profession. Here right now in my life, I go from my house - two little girls 3.5 and 8 weeks, a beautiful wife and a loving household. And I go to my place of work, ten minutes away, full of people who are competent and they love me and I love them. Every corner of my life - even though there is stress - there is great people and nothing in my life doesn't insprie me at this point. I don't drag my feet going anywhere. I've never had that before. It's very strange to look forward to every day or every minute of my life. I think that's the greatest achievement I've had - I've been able to rapidly change my life. A lot of my professional life i was unhappy - now every day is a challenge. The people around me are fantastic and excellent people. It's so rewarding to know I looking forward to it.
    • I started with my goal of economic freedom. Everyone needs to define what happiness looks like. I love to work, the art of business. But I love rolling up my sleeves and going to work. So happiness - I'm emanicipating myself from government service. I need to create enough welath to become happy. A lot of people say happiness is about wealth or a means to an end. If you're not happy along the way - yo have to enjoy the mountain climb not just the summit. YOu can't just look back - oyu have to enjoy the climb.
  • What advice do you have for veterans thinking of starting their own company?
    • You have to be dedicated to being a business man. Even though you served you country and that's an admiral thing, the people of the United States don't owe yuo anything. I'm not trying to be negative - you have to be able to translate things into a new profession. You need to concentrate on the future not what you've done in the past. You need to find what you've done in the past you can leverage to be a better busienss person. You have to be humbled at the alter of business - the world doesn't owe you anything. It doesn't owe you anything. It helps you've got dedication and complex probelm solving skills. You need to be more committed to this than anythign else you've done before. Themost stress I've experienced wasn't being shot at - it was having a wife and child at home and knowing they have to be fed and what I did on a daily basis was going to provide a good or bad life for them. That's the most stress I've had in my life - it's constant and heavy. You have to dedicate yourself, and humble yourself. You have to take it on like you've never taken on in your life. you have to be so committed to it - you have to prepre for the worst and hope for the best
    • In many ways you're discounted because of your service - you don't have any business experience
  • What does the next 12 months look like for BRCC?
    • We're going to move out of Salt Lake to another state. We're moving the corproate headquarters to Colorado Springs. The enxt twelve months we'll open up 12 brick and mortar stores, logistics in different states and state specific roasters. And we'll have some joint projects going on with some veteran companies. And I think the next twelve months will be really big.W e launch our franchise initaitive in 18 months. Th enext twelve months will be a lot of work, we'll expand quite a bit. The big expansion is september of next month.
Aug 16, 2017

"It was like an apocalypse movie and it was the day we launched Plated - the worst day in the history of the internet. And then our cargo container got picked up in the storm surge and sucked out into the river. The only thing that kept our business from getting flooded out of business was that thumb width 220V electricity cord that got tangled around a phone pole and didn't get sucked out to sea. It was just a lesson in perseverance."
- Nick Taranto

Nick Taranto is the Co-Founder & CEO of Plated, a company whose "Mission is to Help People Eat Better, and Live Better." Plated has raised over $55M in funding, and been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NYT, Wired Magazine and more. He started out at Dartmouth College, after which he worked at KOMPIP Microfinance before going on to Harvard Business School. After HBS, he graduated from the Marine Corps' The Basic School, where he Drilled as an active reservist for 3 years. He also worked at Goldman Sachs as a Private Wealth Advisor prior to starting Plated.

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Selected Resources

  • There's a great book by Ben Horowitz at Andreesen Horowitz - the hard Thing About Hard Things. Before becoming a VC, he was an entrepreneur and started a few businesses. He talks through his experience and takeaways for aspiring entreprenerus.
  • A resource I go back ot again is entrepreneur.com - you have to sift through some of the news, but there are a lot of great articles about building a business. raising money, hiring, firing, building out a sales team, operations, different contracts and negotiations. Entrepreneur.com is free and a great resource
  • Wired Magazine's article on Nick

Show Notes

Please note that I type these notes during the interview so there are likely to be misspellings, grammatical errors, and misquotes. This is not meant to be a verbatim account of our conversation, but a VERY basic text transcript of our discussion.

  • You joined the military later than most - what lead you to join the Marine Corps?
    • My career has been very non conventional. I didn't have a big picture plan when I was 21 or getting off active duty about startups. The idea of "living in beta" or testing hypothesis for your business and your life and career as quickly as possible
    • I was 26 years old when I commissioned in the Marine Corps. I had gone through OCS and was looking at either going into consulting, which most of my peers in business school were doing, or accepting a commisison. I thought long and hard about this before graduating from graduate school. It was hard because no one coming out of HBS had gone active duty since World War 2. When I asked people for advice they thought i was crazy for "throwing my life away." None of that feedback made sense to me. It wasn't until I talked to David Gurgain, who is a professor at the Kennedy School and a politial commentator on CNN, and he served in four different White Houses. Most importantly he went to Law School and then commissioned in the Navy after law school. he said "you should go do it and you'll never regret it." That's how I feel about itt. I was older than almost everyone in my platoon. But i saw it as a Now or Never proposition and knew I would regret it if I didn't answer the call.
  • What did you learn in your time in the Marines that has helped you as an entrepreneur?
    • I specialized as an Infantry Officer before going the Reserves side and serving iwth a few different companies all over the East Coast. In my Infantry training in the early days of getting the business off-the-ground was incredibly useful. Operating under ambiguity. Being able to preserve emotionally, psychologically and physically. We had a lot of challenges getting the business up and off the ground. Putting one foot in front of the others and having a big mission ahead of us. When yo're growing an organization it's important to make a mission crystal clear so that people can internalize it and get the big picture. So the day to dya may be a slog but you're getting out to work something bigger than yourself.
  • What aspects from the Marines did you most need to leave behind as an entrepreneur?
    • I've thought about this a lot.When you don't have a miltiary background it's easy to romanticize what goes on in the miltiary. The Marines has the best brand in the United States - they haven't missed their recruiting qouta in a long time because their brand is so strong. There are definitely live of martial life that do not extend into the world of entrepreneurship or starting your own business.
    • The biggest is dealing with beauracrcy. So much of the miltiary is waiting for the mission to come down. In startups, especially in the early days, it's all on you to figure out what th enext plan is, what the risks are, make those assessments, prioritize the entire world that is in front of you and develop an action plan. I tend to do best when there is no structure. Where it really is incumbent on me to develop and hold myself accountable and develop a plan. I do less well when given a plan and need to execute it. I was pretty happy to leave behind the beauraucy and think creatively and operate independently.
  • Between USMC & Plated?
    • Coming off active duty I didn't know waht I wanted to do with my life. I spent time Active Duty with the Marine Corps but was feeling a little lost. I was in my late twenties, had a fiance who had been working "Real jobs" and I hadn't yet had my first "real job" outside of the miltiary. I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do. The thought of working 7am to 7pm in a job I didn't care about depressed me pretty fundamentaliy. I went to Wall Street for about six months and reinforced how different life paths could be. I saw my bosses on the desk on Wall Street who by all measures were successful - making a ton of money, had families, were running books of business - but many of them seemed to be lacking happiness, a bigger mission, and I knew that I didn't want to put my head down, grind it out, put up the periscope ten years later with  acareer I wasn't satsified with, beholding to a very large paycheck.
    • That's when I really started to look around and see that the world of startups exsited. This was 2011 so back a bit, when the fad for entrepreneruship hadn't really taken off like it has today. There weren't as many resources in New York i could go to and ask about what their path to building a successful multi-million dollar business was. I was able to team upw ith a business school friend of mine in New York - he had built a data storage company straight out of college (Josh Hicks, my co-founder at Plated). We did this Founder Dating thing for three months - figured out if we'd worked well together. We did volunteer work togetehr in Hataii for a couple of weeks and had been through some tought stuff together. I approached him as a mentor of sorts, and we figure d
  • How to vet a partner
    • There is so much that can and will go wrong - it's like developing a battle plan, everything looks great until it makes first contact with a customer. It's really improtant to decide - are you up for starting something on your own. Do you want a co-founder? If it's tough to ride the ups and downs alone, a co-founder is very helpful. If the answer is yes, it will be the most dillutive decision you make in terms of your equity. You're giving half the company away before the company even exists - so it's a ;big quesiton. But the way I've always thought of equity is you're going to reduce your total stake in the enterprise, but it's worth it to take that hit if you're increasing your probability of success by an equal or greater ratio. You're giving up 50% of business, but are you increasing probability of success by more than 50%? For me the answer was yes. I needed a co-founder, to go into battle together. The next question was who and what sort of skill set. It's a really important question - human nature is to work with people similar to us. Who talk and think the same way. It can actually hurt your probability of success, especially in the early days. So finding someone with complementary set of skills was important. It started with diagnosigin myself and fiding where I  was weak and strong, and where I want to spend my time, and where I want to complement this. That self examination is really crucial.
    • I knw I didn't want to do the coding or financila modeling. I wanted to be out selling and hustling. Developing the mission and vision and hiring employees and generating business. I needed someone who was more comfortable workign behidn the scenes, making sure the website worked, making sure we had the right spreadshets and wharehouse management point.
  • What was the genesis of Plated?
    • Josh and I had been working on a totally different idea and it wasn't working. It was going nowhere fast. We were working out of a friend's office and went for a walk in Central Park - a mile around, we would just do laps and laps talking and bouncing ideas off of each toehr. We came to this realization that this idea wasn't going to work. We knew we were going ot work together - we had been through months of intense work nto killing each other and actually liking it so we asked: what comes next.
    • We had been thinking through this meal kit concept for some time. On this walk around the resevoir at the end of a couple of miels of walking we turned to each other and said - this is what we need to do. This is what the next attempt at starting a business will be.
    • One was that food industyr trend in general. And out of personal need - our own experience
    • On the food industry side we had done hundreds of case studies in business school, but only one case remotely related to food - a cranberry manufacturing case. So we didn't really understand the size of the market, what they looke dlike, what the opportuniteis were, what the weaknesses were. As we explored that we realized (1) food is an ENORMOUS industry. Healthcare is bigger but incredibly regulated. While food is regulated it isn't nearly as tough to build a business as in healthcare. (2) as we looked across the landscape we realized that no one had built a large business in food with data. There had been big failures in the 90s and 2000's like WebVan - one of the first e-commerce companies, an online grocer who raised almost $1 Billion dollars from the best investors and now a case study as one of the worst failures. So fast forward from their failure to 2012 there really hadn't been data technology and innovation in a long time. It didn't make sense why that was the case.
    • The other realization for us was that we were both athletes - I'm an Iron Man Triathlete - it was hard, complex and expensive to get good food into our tummies. It took a lot of time to figure out what to eat, especially when it came to cooking. We found the more you cook the happier you are, the cleaner the food, the more control you have - this mattered to us in a big way. There was no way to make cooking to work for us, esepcially in NY  - the lines at stores can take an hour to get through. Working in Wall Street I put on 20lbs in six months, just sitting at my desk all the time and felt like crap. It was the first time I felt I lost control over what I was eating and what was going on in my life.
    • So between it bein ga huge market without a lot of data and technology and that problem we thought we could build a better food business with data and technology at the core DNA
  • For an active duty listener who is not familiar with Plated, how would you describe Plated to them?
    • We deliver everything you need to cook a chef designed meal at home in about thirty minutes. All the spices, meat, protein, kale, basil, plus a chef designed recipe card with an image of the final meal and some really easy to follow steps that anyone can use to get a good meal to your table in thirty minutes.
    • We've got over 15 options each week, the menu changes every week, our recipes change based on what you like and don't like and we deliver it directly to your door.
  • What has been the hardest moment since starting Plated?
    • We had a really tough time getting the business going. Five years out its easy to tell a success story, but the first year we ran into obstacles and a literal flood at every turn. First, Josh and I had been working on different ideas for six months prior to starting Plated. We had burned through our savings, our IRAs... we were out of money. it was go and raise money from other people, or go and get jobs, and neither of us wanted to do that. Which meant we had to raise money from outside investors on Day 0. Neither of us had done anything in food or e-commerce or building a consumer brand. You imagine we found people to pitch for our fledgling company and they would say - you've never done anythign remotely related to this! Why should we give you money!?! We quite literally had doors slammed our face. We talked to 200 people in three months and the only yes we got was from my dad, who was by no means wealthy. I grew up in a very privileged household where eduction was always first and foremost but he wasn't in a position to fund the business. He gave us enough money for ramen but it wasn't enough to get the business up and off the ground. It was incredibly humbling as we tried to convince people that we were going to accomplish this thing in the world but got rejected at every turn
    • Eventually we cobbled together some funds. I met this group of Angel Investors - people who fund very early stage businesses. They were former Israeli defense commandos. They had moved from Israel to Silicon Valley and had built two very succesful businesses and sold them for hundreds of million of dollars. They liked the Marine Corps story, our hunger and passion, and we raised our first money from those Angels. They took a big chunk of the business in exchange for the cash they put in - very dilutive, but we didn't have an option. Either stop our dream or keep going. So we had a little bit of money, but it didn't get easier from there.
    • I'm putting a book out later this year or early next year. I tell some more stories in there - The Evolved Eater - a quest to eat better, live better and change the world.
    • I tell the story of having a little bit of money to run the business, but we were working out of my apartment on my couch. I was going to the local grocery store and buying chicken by the pound and we'd pack it and hand deliver around Manhattan, really hustling. We realized we needed a professional fulfillment center if we were going to growth the business.
    • We looked all over NY for space that was refrigerated. We couldn't find anything. But we found a refrigerated cargo cater that they used to ship bulk goods across the ocean. We rented one of these things and parked it in Brooklyn that we rented on a month-to-month basis. This 40 foot long cargo crater we plugged into a 220V yellow cord the width of my fund and we started taking our inventory and run our operations from there right on the East River. Beautiful view of Manhattan right on the water. It was all fine and good until Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012. It was also the date we officially launched as Plated. When Hurricane Sandy came down - it was really something to behold. The city shut down for DAYS! No electricity, elevators not working, traffic lights not working. It was like an apocalypse movie and it was the day we launched Plated - the worst day in the history of the internet. And then our cargo container got picked up in the storm surge and sucked out into the river. The only thing that kept our business from getting flooded out of business was that thumb width 220V electricity cord that got tangled around a phone pole and didn't get sucked out to sea. It was just a lesson in perseverance
  • Was there a point at which things changed - where you knew this was going to succeed?
    • It took a year of just grinding it out. Then we got some press - just through hustle, telling reporters our story, asking them out for coffee. That early coverage led to the folks from Shark Tank reaching out to us. We didn't apply, they reached out to us - the Producer said we love your story and think you'd be a great fit. They flew us out to LA in July of 2013 - one year after we officially incorporated we were at the Sony lot filming for Shark Tank. We filmed thought it went well - didn't hear anything from eight months! Now we're starting to get nervous because the whole idea was to raise money but also the publicity of getting in front of 10 million households on a Friday night.
    • To make al ong story short, we got a call an producers gave us one week that the show was going to air. We were two years in business and not seeing any breakaway velocity. A few hundred orders a week, just grinding things out. Then our Shark Tank episode aired and it was an inflection point - we had sprinted to get a nation-wide system in place. We wanted to take advatnage of the nation-weid media. We saw 1000X increase in traffic to our website - even with all our planning, th esite still crashed. It was great. We saw more revenue th emonth following the airing than we had seen in the entire history of the business leading up to that point. That coverage and demand it generated validated that this is not just an idea that works ro in San Francisco - this appeals to folks all over the country in every zip code. That gave us the confidence to raise our first "real" money - our Series A, which was $15 million. It also validated that we could go then build TV advertising and investing to really grow the business faster. It wasn't until two years into the business that we had that validation
  • What advice do you have for someone on active duty who is thinking of starting a company when they get out?
    • It might be hypocritical advice, but it's a really hard transition, going from the military straight into a startup lifestyle. Goign from having a persribed routine of what to wear and eat and then having complete and total freedom over everythign you do. It can be completely overwhelming. The advice I would give is - if at all possible, go try and work at a startup (fi you want to be an entrepreneur) at another startup for 3 months, 6 months, a year. See how startups succeed or fail and try to learn on someone else's dollar before hussling on your own. There's no susbtitute for doing it yourself, but there's SO much to learn and it is so incredibly hard that you want to give yourself as many advantages as possible. If you can find a team taht will give you a shot - that you can learn how young businesses operate, what financials look like, what building out a team means, what hiring and firing means in the private sector, getting those skills and expereinces - it'll be invaluable when you go out on your own
  • What resources have been helpful to you - books, podcasts, classes, etc - that you would recommend to other veterans thinking of starting a company?
    • There's a great book by Ben Horowitz at Andreesen Horowitz - the hard Thing About Hard Things. Before becoming a VC, he was an entrepreneur and started a few businesses. He talks through his experience and takeaways for aspiring entreprenerus.
    • A resource I go back ot again is entrepreneur.com - you have to sift through some of the news, but there are a lot of great articles about building a business. raising money, hiring, firing, building out a sales team, operatinos, different contracts and negotiations. Entrepreneur.com is free and a great resource
  • Final words of wisdom?
    • Whether you go or build a business on your own or join a team that is already operating, there is such a hunger out there for veterans. Especially post 9/11 veterans. Everyone is looking to hire vets both for waht they can bring to the table and it's also a great story to tell to everyone. There can be challenges in translating what it means to how you can help build or run a busines,s but don't give up if at first it's a challenge
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