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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 9
Feb 19, 2018

Usually, give an intro giving you a few reason to listen... not doing that this time Just listen to it. One of my favorite episodes, can’t imagine a job more different than my own, but also can’t imgagine a single career path that wouldn’t benefit from hearing Charley’s story.

Feb 15, 2018

Sean Ponder is an Associate Broker at S&G Realty, where he assists home buyers, sellers, and developers in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC areas. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a submarine officer for five years as part of the crew of the USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716). He worked at Lockheed Martin for nine years before joining S&G Realty.

Why Listen: 

Real estate! How buying a house and binging on HGTV led to a career in Real Estate. I have been trying for the last several months to get a Veteran in real estate on the show. Sean is the first person I’ve had not the show to speak about this career path. We also talk about a lot of other topics relevant to any career path. We discuss the Pros & Cons of working with headhunters, and how this may set your salary starting point lower than if you are able to go directly to a company. We also briefly chat about Lockheed Martin, where Sean started the first nine years of his civilian career. We also touch on the Reserves.

Feb 12, 2018
Rob Shenk is the Senior Vice President for Visitor Engagement at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Rob graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating from Aviation Officers Candidate School and Intel school, Rob joined Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (The Argonauts) as their strike intelligence officer, where he deployed to the Far East and Persian Gulf onboard USS Nimitz. Days after leaving the Navy, Rob joined a then-relatively small company called America Online where he rose through the ranks to become the Vice President of AOL’s Personal Finance Channel. After leaving AOL, Rob joined E*TRADE Financial where he eventually rose to manage all the online banking services and cash management products. Rob left E*TRADE to join the Civil War Trust as their first Director of Internet Strategy and Development. He holds a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia. His son is currently a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.

Why to Listen: 

This is a terrific episode for any member of the Armed Forces. Rob joined Aol as their 500th employee and was there for their growth to over 10,000 employees. He went through a similar process with eTrade. But he got his foot in the door, directly out of the military, by applying to be a customer phone support person! His story is one of failing and taking risks, or being part of an internet revolution, and continuing to change his career path over time. I found his story inspiring and hope that you do as well.

Feb 8, 2018
LaRue Robinson is an associate at Jenner & Block, one of the 50 most profitable law firms in the United States. He started out at Cornell University, after which he attended Columbia Law School. He served in the Army as JAG Corps officer for four years, prior to starting his career as an Associate at Bryan Cave.

Why to Listen: 

LaRue managed to find a role at one of the most profitable law firms in the United States. He talks about what it’s like to work at a law firm, the common career paths associated with this sort of roles, and advice about the interview and application process. LaRue served in the JAG Corps while in the military, so some of his advice is tailored to JAG Corps Officers. However, if you’re considering a career in law, he provides some exceptional advice.

Feb 5, 2018
John Allen is the CEO & Founder of Elite Meet, a Non-Profit organization that connects high performing, transitioning veterans, like Navy SEALs and Fighter Pilots, with companies who are looking to hire. He started out at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, after which he served in the Navy as a Navy SEAL for seven years.

Why to Listen: 

There are so many reasons to listen to this episode. First of all, John faced an unexpected transition from Navy SEALs to his own civilian career. While had been planning on going to business school and then doing consulting work, things changed and he found himself with just eight weeks to find a job. Through that process, he started Elite Meet, which is a fantastic resource for transitioning veterans. We talk about Elite Meet, we talk about starting a non-profit, we talk about how to present oneself in the hiring process, and much, much more.

Jan 31, 2018
Anne Meree Craig is the Executive Director and Co-Founder, The COMMIT Foundation, which is changing the way highly talented veterans think about transition and creating serendipity for them by fostering mentorship, networking, and inspiration. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Bunker Labs.

Why to Listen: 

The Commit Foundation is a fantastic and free resource to help veterans get where they want to go… just a whole lot faster. They take a very individual approach with each veteran with whom the work, and tailor their approach to help instill veterans with information, confidence, and imagination. Having worked with so many veterans over the years, Anne Meree has some fantastic advice for listeners about interviews - it’s some of the best advice this subject I’ve had on the show.

Jan 29, 2018

This is a book review of Seth Godin's book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). I think this is a great book for both Active Duty members of the military, as well as transitioned veterans. It talks about figuring out what you want to be the best at, and going all-in on that one thing. Anticipating the setbacks that will come along the way, and also recognizing when a fight is un-win-able (or not worth the effort).

 
Jan 26, 2018
Aaron Milledge is the Co-Founder & Chief Compliance Officer of Targeted Wealth Solutions, an independent Registered Investment Adviser that provides comprehensive wealth management across all stages of their clients’ lives. Aaron started out at Emory University, after which he served as a Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Air Force for over 12 years. After his service in the Air Force, he founded Targeted Wealth Solutions. He holds an MBA from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Why to Listen: 

Many guests on my show in the past have advised those on Active Duty to take care of their finances so that they have the time they need to find their ideal career. Well, today’s guest, as a financial advisor, has made it his profession to help people take control of their finances. He talks about financial advising as a career path, as well as what it has been like to start his own company.

Jan 24, 2018
Timothy Cochrane is the President, ACP Citizens Program at American Corporate Partners, a non-profit that offers free mentorships for long-term career development to the veteran community. He is also the Senior Managing Director at Prime Executions, an agency only broker dealer located on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.Tim served in the US Marine Corps for four years.

Why to Listen: 

American Corporate Partners is a resource I have mentioned on - literally - hundreds of episodes. In this interview, we dive into everything a veteran needs to know about ACP and why EVERY veteran should use their free service to find a mentor to help them further their career.

Jan 22, 2018

In the last 149 interviews, a common theme that comes up in interviews is the importance of self-knoweldge: of knowing what one is good at, knowing what gets one energized, and knowing what one wants out of a career and life. For today's Skills episode, I wanted to share my experience with a powerful tool: Meditation and Silent Meditation Retreats. While the benefits of Meditation is well documented with respect to concentration and increased productivity, I wanted to share four different ways in which this may help veterans. The episode covers (1) the basics of meditation, (2) why a veteran may be interested in a silent meditation retreat, (3) an overview of silent meditation retreats, and (4) resources in case you would like to learn more.

Selected Resources:

 

Jan 19, 2018
Patrick Cleary is the Chief Operations Officer at Alpha Architect. He started out at the University of Pennsylvania, after which he served as a Platoon Commander in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. After his active duty service, he received his MBA from Harvard Business School, worked as a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group, and worked at the global business service provider, Algeco Scotsman Group.

Why to Listen: 

This is a must-listen-to episode. Patrick covers so much ground in this interview - we talk about choosing a team that is lean and mean; we talk about his experience not being sure of what to do for 5-6 years, wandering from business school to consulting to ultimately finding a place he passionately calls home; we talk about work and life balance and how to think about this as an entrepreneur; and we talk about finance and entrepreneurship. There is so much great advice in this interview!

Jan 17, 2018

Bill Angeloni is the Founder & Director of Tenzing Consulting, a global management consulting firm he co-founded that now has over 850 experts and works with Fortune 1,000 clients and private equity. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as an officer in the Navy for five years (while also earning his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management). After his time on Active Duty, he worked at United Airlines doing strategy and operations work, was a Manager at AT Kearney, and a General Manager at FreeMarkets, Inc - a startup where he opened Europe and helped grow to $200M and then took public. After that, he co-founded his own Management Consulting firm, which he has co-led for seven of the last 15 years — he took an 8-year leave of absence to lead a tech company turn around, and start a couple other companies. He has worked with over 30 start-ups over his career and thinks of himself as a bit of a start-up junkie.

Why to Listen: 

Bill has had an eclectic career and covers a lot of ground in this interview. In addition to talking about how to find and join a high-growth startup, he also talks about his experience starting his own consulting company. He also has fantastic advice about networking - how to approach it and why it's so important for veterans to learn how to do this effectively.

Jan 15, 2018
Gordon Logan is the Founder & CEO at Sport Clips Haircuts, a company that he started back in 1993 and now has over 1,700 locations in the US & Canada. Logan started out at MIT, after which he served as an Aircraft Commander in the U.S. Air Force for seven years. After his military service, he worked as a financial planning and control consultant with Price Waterhouse & Co. in Houston, Texas. He holds an MBA with Honors from The Wharton School of Business.

Why to Listen: 

In the past I've interviewed veterans involved in Franchises. Gordon started a company that has become a franchise with over 1,700 locations, and many of their franchise owners are veterans. He gives an incredibly vivid look at what it is like to start and grow a company, how to remain fresh and grow with your business, and how failures are never final.

Jan 12, 2018
Andrew Neuwirth is a Private Wealth Advisor at Goldman Sachs. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a Submarine Officer for seven years. After his military service, he transitioned directly to Goldman Sachs.
 

Why to Listen: 

Andrew never considered a career in the Financial Services industry until a friend contacted him and told him he should apply for a position... where the application was due in just 18 hours. This led Andrew to learn everything he could about Goldman Sachs and a career as a Private Wealth Advisor. Andrew does a great job of explaining more about the Financial Services industry, and why this may be the ideal career for a military veteran.

Jan 10, 2018
Clay Othic is the Director of Outreach & Special Activities at the Three Rangers Foundation, a non-profit that works to provide deserving veterans with opportunities that will empower them to achieve lifelong success. He served in the US Army Special Operations for over 13 years. He also owns F3 Pursuits, which provides training and consultancy, primarily in the tactical operations and law enforcement community.

Why to Listen: The Three Rangers Foundation is a free resource to help veterans achieve lifelong success. 

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: 

Jan 8, 2018
Kristen Sproat Colley is a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in their D.C. office. She started out at the US Naval Academy and earned a MSc from Oxford University in Forced Migration. She served as an officer in the US Marine Corps for eight years, prior to making her transition to BCG. At BCG she has worked on blockchain integration with the global supply chain for a technology company, economic and social strategy implementation for a Middle Eastern government, and foreign business development for a US defense company.

Why to Listen: For those interested in a career in Management Consulting, Kristen does a fantastic job of breaking down what the projects and day-to-day life are like, as well as very tactical steps to prepare for your interview. But even if you're not interested in consulting, Kristen has great advice on how to explain your skills and make a connection with the person interviewing you for whatever job you pursue.

  • 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: 

 

Jan 5, 2018

Trevor Miller is a Consultant at Bain & Company in their Boston office. He started out at the US Naval Academy, after which he earned his Master of Public Administration at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He served in the Marine Corps as a Force Reconnaissance Officer for six years, before transitioning to Bain.

Why to Listen: 

Trevor managed to go directly from Active Duty military to Bain & Company, something that less than 7% of military veterans in Management Consulting are able to do. He talks about preparing for one's transition to a civilian career as early as possible, and also being willing to take a step back and take the longview on one's career.

Jan 3, 2018

In this episode, I review a book that I know will benefit every veteran, John C. Maxwell's Failing Forward. Nearly every person I've interviewed on the show has talked about failure - and many, many failures - that they have experienced in their career. This book does an exceptional job of talking about how you can shift your relationship to failure, build up resilience towards it, and how vital this is to achieving great goals in life.

Selected Resources:

Dec 30, 2017

This is my final episode for the year of 2017. In this episode, I talk about three topics that are very top of mind for me with the Veteran community, and I share a handful of resources related to each topic. I also look back at where Beyond the Uniform has gone in 2017, and what lies ahead for 2018. As always, I greatly appreciate your feedback, and look forward to a great 2018 with all of you!

Selected Resources:

Dec 20, 2017
Why to Listen: Today is my third and final data post about Veterans in the field of Management Consultants. Today, we dive in specifically to look at the top three Management Consulting Firms - McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain - and what characterizes the veterans who work there. If you're interested in consulting, this will be an interesting look including the most popular schools people go to, how long they serve, and how they get there.
  • 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: 

Dec 18, 2017

"Learning in a classroom is much different from actually doing it. And so I thought I had all this great knowledge coming out of my MBA program but then when I actually became a startup CEO, I found it really was a different world. While textbook knowledge can be helpful and important, it’s really not ultimately going to determine your success as an entrepreneur.”
- Charlotte Creech

Why to Listen: 

Long time listeners know that typically on the show, I interview military veterans that have transitioned into civilian careers. Today I’m doing a resource episode and my guest is Charlotte Creech, a military spouse and current CEO of Patriot Boot Camp. Many active duty military members, veterans, and spouses can take advantage of this great resource. We cover many things in this interview including starting a business, the Patriot Boot Camp program, many misconceptions veterans have about starting a business, and advice Charlotte would offer to those wanting to start and grow their own business.  We also talk about how ruling out what you don’t want to do in your civilian career can be just as important as what you do want to do. Finally, we talk about challenges unique to being a military spouse and how you can support your spouse through your transition out of the military.

  • 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 is Episode #137 with the CEO of Patriot Boot Camp, Charlotte Creech.

“Learning in a classroom is much different from actually doing it. And so I thought I had all this great knowledge coming out of my MBA program but then when I actually became a startup CEO, I found it really was a different world. While textbook knowledge can be helpful and important, it’s really not ultimately going to determine your success as an entrepreneur.”             –Charlotte Creech

 

(0:55)

Long time listeners know that typically on the show, I interview military veterans that have transitioned into civilian careers. Today I’m doing a resource episode and my guest is Charlotte Creech, a military spouse and current CEO of Patriot Boot Camp. Many active duty military members, veterans, and spouses can take advantage of this great resource. We cover many things in this interview including starting a business, the Patriot Boot Camp program, many misconceptions veterans have about starting a business, and advice Charlotte would offer to those wanting to start and grow their own business.  We also talk about how ruling out what you don’t want to do in your civilian career can be just as important as what you do want to do. Finally, we talk about challenges unique to being a military spouse and how you can support your spouse through your transition out of the military.

 

(2:30)

A couple quick admin notes. Don’t miss our Veterans in Consulting seminar on January 17th. We have three speakers locked in that are veterans who went straight from the military into consulting. If you have any interest at all in consulting, this is worth checking out. Also, if you haven’t had a chance to leave Beyond the Uniform a review on iTunes, please do. It really helps us get the word out to other veterans.

 

(3:40)

Joining me today is the CEO of Patriot Boot Camp, Charlotte Creech. Patriot Boot Camp is a 501(c) non-profit that aims to equip active duty and veteran military members and their families with the education and resources needed to build the next generation of impactful companies. Prior to Patriot Boot Camp, Charlotte co-founded Combat 2 Career, a technology start-up that matches veterans with higher education opportunities. Charlotte holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Bentley University.

 

(4:50)

Anything to add to that introduction, Charlotte?

 

Well most importantly, the reason why I feel so strongly about serving the military community is because my husband is an Air Force veteran. He was enlisted in the Air Force, serving two years in the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Then he went to Fire Academy and subsequently after leaving the military, began serving in a GS role. So now he is a full-time firefighter at Fort Hood in Texas. I also have two siblings that served in the Navy and the Army.

 

(5:29)

How would you describe Patriot Boot Camp?

 

We’re acutely focused on advancing veterans as entrepreneurs with a specific focus on technology entrepreneurship. We help veterans grow scalable tech ventures. Anything ranging from software to hardware and mobile apps. Drones also fall within that umbrella.

 

(7:15)

I think it’s fantastic that you also support spouses in this program since all of us who have served know that spouses are just as impacted by military life as the service member.

 

I was able to go through Patriot Boot Camp myself when I was beginning a tech start-up because I was a spouse of a veteran so I know how important it is for the military spouse community.

 

(7:55)

Could you share a little bit more about the three-day course that you offer?

 

It’s a three-pillared approach focusing on education, mentorship, and community. It’s a three-day intensive course that you attend in person.  Over the course of the three days, we recruit 50 early stage entrepreneurs. By early stage we mean anything from you have an idea that you want to get started to Series A (early stage fundraising). People come to Patriot Bootcamp looking for a community and resources. That comes in the form of mentorship from other veteran entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs in general. These mentors are able to offer participants insight on pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to take advantage of. We believe this helps participants achieve more.

 

(9:47)

Over the course of the three days, participants are exposed to lectures and discussions on a series of topics relevant to veteran entrepreneurs. For mentorship, we bring in anywhere from 30-50 subject matter experts including engineers, software programs, marketing experts, and successful entrepreneurs. These mentors are there to have individual meetings with participants throughout the weekend. Participants are able to receive tailored feedback specific to their own start-up or idea.  On the third day we have a mini-pitch competition which is meant to be more of an academic exercise. Participants aren’t actually pitching before investors but it’s a great opportunity to apply the skills learned throughout the three-day course. The hope is that by the end of the weekend participants leave with 2-3 strong mentorship connections that they can continue talking to in the future.

 

(12:00)

I’m listening to all of this with a bit of envy because in my own journey, I went straight from the Navy to business school. But it seemed like a lot of business school was preparing students to eventually be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Less of it felt relevant to the issues faced when getting a start-up off the ground. I think this is an incredible opportunity for veterans to gain training and mentorship in the tech field.

 

I had a similar experience. I have a business background as well and had gone to school to earn my MBA. I felt like I had the textbook version of how to start and grow a company. But of course learning it in a classroom environment is very different from actually doing it. I thought I had all this great knowledge coming out of my MBA program but then when I became a startup CEO, and was trying to raise capital and build a product, I found out that it really was a different world. I discovered that while textbook knowledge can be helpful and important, it’s really not going to ultimately determine your success as an entrepreneur. One of the key takeaways from Patriot Boot Camp is that entrepreneurship is not a linear pathway. You may need many different mentors and advice throughout your entrepreneurship journey. This can help you navigate through all of the obstacles you face.  It’s for this reason that we make Patriot Boot Camp really mentor driven and bring in a wide variety of mentors. Our participants are also welcome to come back to Patriot Boot Camp more than once so we see many participants coming back multiple times to increase their knowledge and grow their mentor network. As you begin to grow your company, your needs and challenges will change and we want to continue to provide support and mentorship for these veteran entrepreneurs.

 

(16:30)

I love Patriot Boot Camp’s focus on mentorship. Having mentors to provide advice and feedback can save an entrepreneur hundreds of hours of time and millions of dollars of capital.

 

Yes we hear that same feedback all the time and that’s why we feel so strongly about the program’s focus on mentorship.

 

(16:52)

When is the next three-day course happening and what is the cost to attend?

 

Applications are now being accepted for our February 16-18 session. Those that are interested can go to www.veteransbootcamp.org to apply.  It will be held in San Antonio, TX. There is no cost to attend, it is completely sponsored and paid for. However, if you are coming from out of town, you would need to cover your transportation and hotel costs.

 

(18:55)

What is the typical mix in the program between those that are serving on active duty and those that have transitioned out?

 

There really isn’t one size fits all. We’ve seen Vietnam Veterans, we’ve had post-9/11 veterans and everything in between. We’re open to everybody. As far as the most common profile? Most commonly we see veterans that have separated within the last five years. Usually less than 20% are active duty. Most people are veterans but it really varies by program and location.

 

(20:31)

We’d actually love to see more active duty take advantage of the program because I think it can be a really pivotal learning experience. There are few consequences other than having to take a day or two of leave. But to be able to build that network while still on active duty is an important opportunity. Of course we want to see as many successful start-ups as possible grow from Patriot Boot Camp. But if someone comes to the program and realizes that this lifestyle or work environment isn’t for them, it can be just as important because it saves them down the road from investing time and money into something that isn’t a good fit for them.

 

(22:30)

One of the best pieces of advice I received while at Stanford Business School was that you shouldn’t look for what you want to do but what you don’t want to do and then start closing those doors. I really like that sentiment of being able to get a taste of the tech industry through Patriot Boot Camp and being able to decide whether or not it’s a good fit.

 

We’ve had some interesting stories of people coming through Patriot Boot Camp and through connections with some of the mentors there, they discover that joining a startup already in existence is a better fit for them than beginning their own startup.  They might make a connection with a program or software engineer during the course of the weekend and realize that they want to be involved in those specific functions rather than have their own startup.

 

(23:40)

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about starting their own company?

 

One of the biggest misconception is the lifestyle. If you think you want to start your own business because you want more time and flexibility, this is probably not the right way to do this. I have experience being a small business owner myself and I can tell you it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. When there’s nobody to delegate work to and nobody you’re working with, you’re on call 24/7. You breathe, eat, and sleep your business. There’s lots to worry about and although it’s very exciting, it can also be incredibly stressful. Don’t go into business because you want to be in control of your time because the honest truth is that you’re going to be a slave to your business. I don’t say this to discourage anyone or be pessimistic. But it is the reality of starting and growing your own business.

 

(24:55)

The other hard realization that comes along with this is that usually being in business for yourself does not come with a salary on Day 1. I went about two years without taking a salary because we were investing all of our capital into product development. If you’re not a programmer, it can get very expensive hiring someone else to build the technology.

 

(27:12)

I echo all of what you just said. I had the same experience in my own entrepreneurial journey. Do you have any other advice for someone on active duty that is thinking about starting their own business?

 

I think the important thing is to start now.  Entrepreneurship may or may not be the right fit for you and your product may or may not have market viability but you won’t know until you try. The earlier you can start the process and start narrowing down, the better off you will be.

 

(29:10)

So many times I hear people say, ‘I’m still figuring it out’ or ‘I’m writing my business plan’.  I always advise them that execution is really all that matters in entrepreneurship. So if you have an idea, start talking about it now. Don’t keep your ideas to yourself. Just start executing. I’ve been told before that there is someone out there in the world with the exact same idea you have.  The only difference is who gets out and starts executing the plan.  So don’t sit in seclusion, keeping your idea to yourself. Get out there and share your ideas with others, find mentors, and don’t be afraid to start experimenting.

 

(33:20)

Do you have any resources you would recommend to active duty members and veterans that are thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship?

 

Sure, there’s a whole litany of resources. First, look into programs such as Patriot Boot Camp, Bunker Labs, and EBV. All of these organizations host free entrepreneurship training programs.

 

Books

Lean Startup

Do More Faster

 

Podcasts

A16oz - Andreessen Horowitz

How I Built This

 

Blogs

FeldThoughts

Fred Wilson’s AVC

 

It can also be really helpful to follow different entrepreneurs through social media and just see the kinds of things they are talking about.

 

(35:10)

I love ‘How I Built This’ as well. It’s inspiring to hear about the wild and crazy rollercoaster that some startups have gone through.  Another thing I’d like to ask about is your experience as a military spouse. I’m curious to hear if there are any unique challenges faced by military spouses during the military members’ transition to a civilian career?

 

My husband had separated from the Air Force by the time I started my company so I wasn’t a true military spouse at the time. However, my business partner was a veteran of the Coast Guard and her husband was still currently serving on active duty in the Coast Guard.  In the four years that we ran our business, she PCS’d three times.  It was an unbelievable hurdle for her to get over because every time she got settled somewhere, she PCS’d again. So even something as simple as finding a co-working space can be really challenging when you’re moving all the time. One of those PCS moves was to South Bend, Indiana so her husband could attend graduate school at the University of Notre Dame. But for her, it was difficult, because she was surrounded by cornfields and very few resources. That was a big hurdle we faced as a business. It made me realize how important it is to provide service to military spouses as well because they’re along for the journey too. 

 

(39:00)

Spouses face a lot of adversity not only in terms of their job but also in losing their community and network. All the while they’re juggling work life, home life, having to find new schools for the kids, etc. I think the more we can build a connected network that doesn’t rely on a physical location, the better we all are. I want spouses to know they can come to a Patriot Boot Camp workshop and meet 50 other like-minded people that they can keep in touch with once they return home.

 

(40:58)

Now is better than it’s ever been in terms of the ability to remotely build teams that achieve success even if you’re not in the same physical location.

 

(41:10)

Do you have any other thoughts for active duty military members on ways they can support their spouse as they transition out of the military?

 

A lot of it is just being conscious of the concept that as you transition out of the military, your spouse is along for the ride. One thing we saw with one of our Denver community members – her husband was active duty in the military and she had always done freelance work. Most of her gigs came from her husband’s connections inside the military. When he retired, he immediately got a really great consulting gig without missing a beat. But with her it was different because when her husband transitioned out, she lost her network, her connections, and the support from the community. She came through our program wanting to find a community. It was a good reminder that as you transition out, your spouse is losing access to the resources and community that they’ve had while you’ve been in.

 

(44:00)

I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t thought about it much before but it’s absolutely true that the transition out of the military can be just as challenging for the spouse as it is for the member.

 

Right. And I don’t think anyone has come up with a resource guide or playbook but just being aware of the issue is half the battle.

 

(44:50)

Any last thoughts to share with our listeners?

 

Just that you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s ok. It’s more about learning and growing your network. Be open mind to new opportunities and meeting new people. Even if you don’t have what you consider a stellar business idea yet, it can still be extremely beneficial to just go and meet new people. You might be surprised at the outcome and where it leads you.

 

(46:14)

The other thing is that there is no one size fits all and I encourage people to take advantage of many different programs. Of course I want people who are interested in Patriot Boot Camp to take advantage of our program. But these programs aren’t mutually exclusive and you can take advantage of many different opportunities. Get involved in as many things as you can.

 

(47:20)

If anybody would like to contact me directly, they are more than welcome to do so. My email is charlotte@patriotbootcamp.org

Dec 13, 2017

Why to Listen: 

In episode #133, I dove into original data about how veterans manage to secure a job at the top rated Management Consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Today, I take this 100 steps further by analyzing data about how veterans enter into a top 10 consulting firm. I look at salary information, as well as how branch of service, length of military service, and length of civilian work experience all impact your future career as a consultant.

  • 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 this episode I looked at 4,300 LinkedIn Profiles. This includes people who served in the United States Armed Forces, and then worked at some time at one of the top ten Management Consulting Firms as defined by Forbes. We’re going to look at a tremendous amount of data - how long people serve in the military, how long they work prior to consulting, how this affects which consulting firm they work with and at what level.

At the end of this we’re going to get into a lot of salary information. So I always want to provide a disclaimer at the start that there are SO many factors that go into selecting a career - location, fit, community, opportunity for advancement, fulfillment, and work life balance just to name a few. And yes, salary is one of those factors. It is the simplest for me to quantify, so I think it is worth discussing. However, my intention in going through this data is simply to provide you - the veteran community - with more information so that you can make the unique decision that is right for you and for your family. If you have not listened to the first episode in this series - I recommend you check that out. It’s not necessary to listen to that prior to this, but it has other great data relevant to veterans interested in consutling.

More importantly - if you have not pre registered for January 17th online event, Veterans in Consulting - stop what you’re doing right now and do it.

  • Pull over 
  • Get someone to relieve you as Officer of the Deck
  • Go to periscope depth and get a satellite connection
  • Do whatever you have to but go to Beyondtheunifom.io
  • Click on events and Veterans in Consulting
  • And pre-register

That way you’ll get notified as this event comes together. It will be a 75-minute, video conference where I interview 3 different veterans who went directly from Active Duty to a top tier consulting firm. I will be asking about how they got there, what life is like, what work is like, what pay is like, what the snacks are like. Everything you could possibly want to know about a career in consulting, and quite possibly 1-2 things you do not want to know about it.

Additionally, I will open it up to the group for a live Q&A session. You do not want to miss it, so pre-register today. This will be a  paid event - something between $10-15 depending on if we find a sponsor. The reason for the charge is because (1) there is a large body of research showing that people value more that which they pay for, and (2) it does help offset the cost of the BTU show - this is a side project for me, and I’ve managed to rack up quite a bit of expenses in bringing this to life. I want to continue to offer the podcast nd data for free to everyone, but having paid events will help me continue to do this.

Ok - so let’s dive in - to some data

  • Agenda
    • We’ll start by looking at the firms - by total number of veterans - where folks end up
    • Second, we’ll look at the breakdown by branch of service - what that indicates about where veterans end up
    • Third, we will look at time in service - how that impacts one’s career in consulting
    • Fourth, we will look at civilian work experience, and how that affects where one ends up
    • And lastly, we’ll look at titles - which titles veterans tend to gravitate towards at each specific firm
    • If you are interested in how I assembled this data, post in the show notes - i do not want to bore you here
    • But special thanks to mTurk - people who for $0.05 a task, helped me assemble and analyze this data.
    • They save me hundreds of hours, and also cost me hundreds of dollars
    • But it’s very likely that money would have gone to Larkburger’s delicious though not too nutritious burgers, fries, and shakes
    • So it’s not too unlikely that by using this money for this data analysis, I have saved myself years of life, and avoided unnecessary pounds of weight

Let’s start by looking at the firms and where veterans end up. To do this, I’m going to use that Forbes list of the 10 Ten Management Consulting companies:

  • The #1 firm is McKinsey & Company, where 2% of veterans who go into Management Consulting end up
  • The #2 firm is Boston Consulting Group - or BCG - only 1.2% of veterans are able to get in the door there
  • Bain & Company is #3 - where just above half a percent of veterans end up. This was the lowest number of veterans of any of the top ten firms
  • #4 is Deloitte, where there are a lot of veterans. 12.2% of all veterans in consulting end up at Deloitte
  • But that is NOTHING - it just a drop in the bucket - compared to the #5 firm. Booz Allen Hamilton took the lion’s share of all veterans in consulting, with 42% of veterans in consulting working at Booz Allen and Hamilton. 
  • #6 is Price Waterhouse Cooper or PWC, which has about 6% of veterans
  • #7 is Ersnt & Young, also with 6%
  • #8 is Accenture, with 10%
  • #9 is KPMG with only 1.5%
  • and last but certainly not least is IBM, which was the second highest employer with 18% of veterans in the management consulting industry

What should you take away from this 

  • Well less than 4% of all veterans who go into Management Consulting end up at a top 3 firm
  • If that is your aspiration it would be worthwhile to study those who have gone before you and learn from how they got there
  • that was my intention in part 1 of this where I looked at the rare birds who made their way into McKinsey & Company
  • If you are playing the odds, I would be sure to add the more popular firms to your application process - Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture and IBM are all great firms, and have a large veteran population
  • Not only does this mean - statistically - that you have a better chance o working there, but it also means that there is a wealth of knowledge, so many veterans at each of these institutions that can help you understand what it’s like to work there as well as how you might get a job there too

Next, let’s look at branch of service. Of these 4k+ veterans who are working in Management Consulting, where are they coming from:

  • The most - 39% - are coming from the Army
  • followed by the Air Force - at 31%
  • Followed by my team - Navy - team navy is 28%
  • and then Coast Guard and Marine Corps, with 2% and 1% respectively
  • Don’t read too much into this - Coast Guard and Marine Corps are smaller branches in terms of population, so it’s not surprising that their representative number in any industry will be smaller.

I did find it interesting, amongst the branches, to see where each branch spiked in the population of a firm

  • At McKinsey & Company, the Navy is actually the largest population - 44% vs. the Army’s 40% - so take that, Army
  • That was the only deviation that stood out - for the most part, Army is the largest population at the different consulting firms
  • Of note - it is pretty equal distribution at IBM, where it’s pretty much 1/3 1/3 1/3 for army / navy / air force
  • Bain is 51% army - so pretty lopsided
  • And BCG & McKisney had Army & Navy pretty comparable - just about 5% apart, but Air Force represented to a lesser extent here with 18% at Bain and 15% at BCG

Let’s look at length of military service and how that affects one’s career in management Consulting

  • Army leads the charge in terms of numbers in consulting, but is at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to length of service
  • the average Army veteran served for 7.1 years - that was the least amount of service 
  • Navy, Air Force, and Coast guard were pretty event - with 10, 10.3 and 10.5 years of service resepctively
  • And Marines are inspiring me with their patriotism - they serve for 12.3 years on average
  • I do think it would be VERY interesting to look at how length of service correlates to starting title an salary at each company
  • For that I would need a lot more mTurkers and more money so for now - that one will remain a mystery

I also looked at how length of military service affects the Management Consulting firm. Again, using that Forbes ranking of the top 10 let’s look at the numbers:

  • #1 McKinsey - the average veteran served for 6.7 years. This was the 3rd shortest length of service
  • #2 Boston Consulting Group or BCG - this was the 2nd lowest amount of military service, an average of just 6.4 years
  • #3 Bain was the LOWEST length of service - or 5.8 years of service
  • One can theorize as to why this is, but it is clear to me that those veterans working at a top 3 management consulting firm got out of the military earlier than those who did not
  • I have some hypothesis about this
  • One is that - from my McKinsey research it’s clear that an MBA is the most efficient route to a role at one of these three companies
  • I’m guessing that this is easier to do earlier in ones life, where the opportunity cost is lower to go to business school
  • And I’m guessing it is more difficult to do later in ones life - after one has become accustomed to a higher salary in the military, has accumulated more personal life obligations, and is less able to forgo a salary for two years than earlier in life
  • But of course, that is just a theory
  • #4 Deloitte - 8. 1years of service - this is actually the third highest length of service
  • #5 Booz Allen Hamilton - this is the longest length of service 12.8 years on average. So it seems to attract those who have served longer in the military
  • PWC was #6 on Forbes list and the average service here was 7.5 years 
  • EY #7 was 6.8
  • Accenture #8  was 8.1
  • #9 - KPMG was 6.4 years of service
  • and IBM at #10 was 8.4 years of service, which places them as the second longest length of military service
  • What to take away from this
  • I’m not quite sure - share your thoughts in the comments section of the Show notes - would love to have greater minds than mine take a crack at this
  • But the only theory that jumped out to me was about the top 3 firms

Next - I looked at how much civilian work experience veterans had prior to working at in Management Consulting. Again, first we’ll start with branch of service and then break this down by firm

  • Marines had the least amount of civilian work experience prior to going into Management Consulting, that is 3.3 years on average. You’ll remember that they also had the longest length of military service so maybe this accounts for it
  • the US Army had the most civilian work experience prior to consulting time - or 6.6 years of work experience
  • In between was the Coast Guard with just 3.9 years of civilian work experience, the air force with 5.3 years of work experience, and then the Navy with 7.1 years of civilian work experience
  • This made me think - what is the total amount of experience someone has before going into Management Consulting - between military service and then civilian work experience. 
  • So I cut the data one more way and found
  • That the Army has the least amount of combined experience pre-consulting - 13.7 years
  • Coast Guard closely behind that with 14.4 years of exprience
  • The Air Force had 15.6 years
  • The Marine Corps about the same with 15.7
  • and the Navy bringing up the rear with a whopping 17.1 years of experience

I then looked at years of civilian work experience by Consulting firm

  • I found the results comparable to the years of military experience
  • that is the top 3 firms had the lowest amount of service
  • Specifically McKinsey, BCG, and Bain had 2.1, 2.2 and 1.3 years of experience respectively
  • Which, coincidentally is highly correlated to the length of time it takes to obtain an MBA
  • Doillete averaged 7.2 years
  • Booz Allen was surprising - just 2.7 years of work experience. You’ll recall that Booz Allen had the longest length of military service, at 12.7 years. So I would guess that people spend more time on Active Duty prior to working at Booz Allen, but more often go directly from the military to work there. Just a guess.
  • PWC was 4.8 years
  • EY 7.1 years
  • Accenture & KPMG were 7.5 and 7.9 years, respectively
  • And IBM was the longest at 11.1 years of civilian work experience
  • My main takeaways from this were the velocity with which people enter a top 3-firm, and how it seems like it is easier to make a direct transition to Booz Allen than any other firm
  • But again - let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section of the show notes, and I’ll dig into this further
  • One last thing I wanted to do with this, just as we did with branch of service is take a crack of combined experience - both military and civilian - for each firm.
  • So, looking at the shortest amount of combined experience - both military & civilian - by firm
  • The lowest, with just 7.1 years on average, was Bain & Co
  • Silver medal goes to BCG with 8.6 years
  • and Bronze is McKinsey at 8.9 years of service
  • This is consistent with my hypothesis - the average candidate at these top three firms gets out earlier, and goes to graduate school. Again that is just a theory.
  • the next subset with 4th, 5th, and 6th place goes to PWC with 12.3 years, EY with 13.9 years, and KPMG with 14.3 years of average combined experience.
  • Delloite has an average of 15.4 years
  • Booz Allen at 15.5 yeras
  • Accenture at 15.6 years
  • and finally IBM with the most combined experience, at 19.5 years of combined experience

How are we doing? I know this is al to of numbers to be doing by audio. Before we dive into the final category, I would LOVE to hear your feedback on this sort of information - if it’s helpful, and if it is, how to dive deeper in a way that will help you out. If it is not helpful, any tweaks that would make it more usable.

So finally I looked at Titles and their corresponding salaries according to Glassdoor. So much information here - go to the show notes to see all of it. Note on salary - I looked at total compensation, not just base. Base is what you’re guarantee, total includes performance incentives like bonuses. I also used San Francisco as the office for my search - salaries will obviously vary by location. But this should provide a basic benchmark

Ok - so there are so many different ways to slice and dice this data. Here’s what I did:

  • I looked at the most common titles for military veterans at each of the top 10 consulting firms
  • I then cross referenced this with salary information that is available at Glassdoor.com
  • Then I ranked each firm - by salary, highest to lowest

Take all of this with a grain of salt - there are so many factors that go into this, but here’s what I found

  • The highest salary went to Accenture - the most common title there is Senior Manager, which is $207k
  • Next was McKinsey, BCG, and Bain - these are all comparable around $180k
    • The corresponding titles were Associate at McKinsey & company, and Consultant at both BCG & Bain
  • Next was IBM, where the title was Managing Consultant and a salary of $144k
  • Then Booz Allen Hamilton, the most common title there is Associate and a salary of $132
  • Deloitte was next, with the most common title of Senior Consultant, and a corresponding salary of $127k
  • PWC was 8th, where the most common title is Senior Associate, which has a salary of $104k
  • EY was 9th, the most common title there for veterans is Senior Consultant $102k
  • And last was KPMG with a most common title of Senior Associate and a salary of $91k
  • one final way to look at this data is by looking at those combined years of experience - both military and civilian - and seeing how much money in salary you get per year of experience
  • Seen in this light, the best deal is with Bain, which is the highest at $24k per year of experience
  • With BCG & McKinsey both providing $20.5k per year of experience
  • And Accenture at #4 with $13k per year of experience
  • You can view the full breakdown in the show notes

--comments--

 

Dec 11, 2017

Wes Gray is the CEO and CIO of Alpha Architect which is a research intensive asset management firm. He started out at Wharton where earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics after which he served as a Marine Corps Ground Intelligence Officer for 4 years. After his military service, he earned both his MBA and his Ph.D. from the Chicago Booth School of Business. After which, he started Alpha Architect. I was introduced to Wes through a Wall Street Journal article which started out, “Wesley Gray’s value-focused fund is beating all of its rivals over the past year. For him, it’s almost beside the point.” He is also the author of the book Embedded: a Marine Corps Advisor Inside the Iraqi Army.

Why to Listen: 

There are so many reasons to listen to today’s episode. First, finance. Wes was introduced to me by a Wall Street Journal article that my brother-in-law Matt Dankner sent me and said basically, ‘Check this guy out, you need to get a hold of this guy’. I’m still blown away that Wes has taken the time to speak with me. The Wall Street Journal article talked about how successful Wes has been in starting and growing his own asset management firm, which is extremely difficult to do. We talk about so much in the episode. We talk about how when Wes was in the midst of his Ph. D. he joined the Marines. We talk about how that experience has helped him get this far. We talk about why vets are well-suited for fundraising. We talk about how to sell with a passion and how to find a mission you’re excited about. And most importantly we talk about the very simple secret to create success which is to grind every day. I think you’ll find Wes’ experience motivating and inspiring.

 

  • 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 is Episode #133 with Wes Gray.

 

“I remember in Barwanah, in that base camp there, there’s this huge mortar shell that had smashed the side of a wall out. And under it in red letters, it said, “Complacency Kills”. The idea was to remind you that every time you went outside the wire, the minute you think you’ve won, you’re dead. I think that’s a good attitude to have in business as well. We’re just lucky, and quite frankly blessed, that the #1 competitor in our entire industry, is in our backyard. So every day, I’m looking down a Bazooka and I know if we think we’ve won anything, we’re going to get destroyed.”  -Wes Gray

 

(0:58)

There are so many reasons to listen to today’s episode. First, finance. Wes was introduced to me by a Wall Street Journal article that my brother-in-law Matt Dankner sent me and said basically, ‘Check this guy out, you need to get a hold of this guy’. I’m still blown away that Wes has taken the time to speak with me. The Wall Street Journal article talked about how successful Wes has been in starting and growing his own asset management firm, which is extremely difficult to do. We talk about so much in the episode. We talk about how when Wes was in the midst of his Ph. D. he joined the Marines. We talk about how that experience has helped him get this far. We talk about why vets are well-suited for fundraising. We talk about how to sell with a passion and how to find a mission you’re excited about. And most importantly we talk about the very simple secret to create success which is to grind every day. I think you’ll find Wes’ experience motivating and inspiring.

 

(2:18)

A couple quick admin items. First of all, mid-way through, there’s a little bit of sound distortion in the audio. Power through it - it’s very temporary and definitely worth hearing the rest of the episode.

 

(2:32)

Secondly, at the events section at www.beyondtheuniform.io, you’ll find two events that I’m launching in January. I just locked in second speaker for the Veterans in Consulting seminar. In that seminar, we’re going to talk about everything you could want to know about the field of management consulting. How to interview, what life is like, what work is like, etc. Sign up in the events section if you haven’t already.

 

(3:20)

If you haven’t had a chance to give us a review on iTunes yet, please do. It will take 30 seconds of your time. It helps us get the word out. I want to be able to share these incredible stories with as many veterans as possible.

 

(3:37)

Finally, after the episode, there’s a little stinger that you want to hear. Wes talks about an event he is organizing for next year called March for the Fallen. The New York Times has written about this. I’ll have links in the show notes to all the different articles talking about this. It is an incredible event, I plan on being there. It will be an incredible time and I hope to see many of you there as well. And with that let’s dive into the episode.

 

(4:15)

Joining me today from Broomall, PA is Wes Gray. Wes, welcome to Beyond the Uniform.

For listeners, I wanted to give a brief background. Wes is the CEO and CIO of Alpha Architect which is a research intensive asset management firm. He started out at Wharton where earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics after which he served as a Marine Corps Ground Intelligence Officer for 4 years. After his military service, he earned both his MBA and his Ph.D. from the Chicago Booth School of Business. After which, he started Alpha Architect. I was introduced to Wes through a Wall Street Journal article which started out, “Wesley Gray’s value-focused fund is beating all of its rivals over the past year. For him, it’s almost beside the point.” He is also the author of the book Embedded: a Marine Corps Advisor Inside the Iraqi Army.

 

(5:46)

How did you go from the Marine Corps to starting Alpha Architect?

 

Just to take a little bit of a step back, I was in a Ph. D. program before I joined the Marine Corps. I started the program at the University of Chicago in 2002 and started by doing two years there doing finance and math 15 or 16 hours a day. I had passed all the tests and for me, I wanted to try something different. So I joined the Marine Corps for 4 years and then came back to the program after that.

 

(7:00)

What kind of a response did you receive from your advisors and from your family when you made that decision?

 

You’d be surprised - there’s actually a lot of a military personnel in the program. The Ph. D. program attracts a lot of very disciplined people. So when I was thinking about joining the Marine Corps, half of the other people in the program were very on board with the idea. And I think the other half might of thought it was a little weird or different.

 

(7:50)

My mom was pissed off because nobody wants their baby to go into the service but I think she understood. My girlfriend, who ended up being my wife, thought I was insane but she also knew me so she wasn’t too surprised. Then I talked to my advisors who were both Nobel Prize winners. One was immediately supportive and the other initially thought I was insane but then came around to the idea.

 

(9:36)

So then you took a break from the Ph.D. program and went into the Marines from there?

Yes so basically you are allowed a one year sabbatical but I had received approval to do a four year sabbatical. The husband of the Ph.D. director at the time was a former member of the Navy so she was very open to the idea. So I did my four years and then basically showed back up to the program. I re-enrolled and picked back up with the program. I started doing research and started grinding every day and eventually graduated.

 

(10:37)

When you started your Ph.D. program, did you have an idea you wanted to start your own fund one day?

 

Yes, I had always wanted to start an asset management fund since I was a little kid. My late grandmother had me reading Warren Buffett and Ben Graham at age 12. I just always liked finance and was interested in the idea of starting an asset management fund. So I tried to just get as smart on the subject as possible and hoped that luck and circumstance would come together for me.

 

(11:50)

My original plan was to have Warren Buffett call me up at age 18 and give me a billion dollars and retire at age 20 but that idea didn’t pan out.

 

(12:12)

How would you explain what an asset management fund is?

 

It’s kind of like in the Marines how we had various processes to accomplish a mission. With Alpha Architect, our mission is to try to build an algorithm, system, or standard operating procedure that will allow us to buy stock that will hopefully generate returns. In the securities market we identify through various means stocks that meet a certain desire. For example, we have a value algorithm and using it, we buy cheap stock that has a good indication of a future positive return.

 

(14:15)

What was your focus in your Ph. D.?

In my program, I wrote a paper focused on why smart investors share information. I was wondering why a really smart stock picker would share information with other people. So I wrote a paper basically proposing that smart people like to share good ideas with other smart people because sometimes that other person might give you an insight that you hadn’t even thought about.

 

(15:35)

There is an organization called Value Investors Club. It’s basically a fancy message board for hedge fund managers and stock pickers. People would submit really complex pitches on different stock ideas. It was like an awesome research lab. I thought it was really interesting that within these message boards people were open about sharing good information with each other.

 

(17:26)

How did you then go from your Ph.D. to starting a fund?

 

Typically you have to be born into a lot of money but unfortunately that wasn’t me. So I had to do it the old fashioned way which is to get lucky. I had always been into reading source journal literature. I used to have a blog and still do that I used to share my thoughts on what I was reading in various finance journals. I had plans to become a professor but at the exact time I was becoming a professor, I got cold called by this billionaire named Eddie Stern. They were getting rid of a lot of their hedge fund managers and were looking to bring into some new people. He had been reading my blog and approached me to provide consulting services to his real estate firm. So I did that while I started my career as a professor at Drexel. A guy named Jack Vogel was assigned as my research assistant. We got along really well and were doing a kind of consulting thing on the side.

 

(20:16)

I told Eddie Stern, ‘Hey if we work really hard and do a good job for you, do you think you could give us a shot at the asset management business’. In 2012, they ended up giving us a $20 million account to manage and that was quickly ramped up to $50 million. And then we just kept doing what we had always done - did research, did blogs, did education. Somehow, someway, people would just find us. From there, we built the business.

 

(21:45)

I love that you started the blog as a way to continue doing research and sharing your thoughts with other people. You used it as a way to sharpen your skills but it was an also a way to build a reader base that ultimately lead to some incredible opportunities.

 

Yes, absolutely, It was good timing too because we were doing it at a time that blogs weren’t that cool but we were doing it anyway. Normally, you can’t get into asset management or finance without previous work on Wall Street. But the internet has really disrupted that. People can now find you on Google. Just writing a blog where you’re being authentic, being genuine, trying to add value, that can make the difference. So we just got lucky that we were able to scale without any salespeople.

 

(23:33)

What does your day-to-day usually look like?

 

My schedule is very odd and not normal. I am anal retentive when it comes to productivity. So I built an office, a compound, at my house because I hate commuting. I’ve tried to maximize my opportunity to both spend time with my family and focus on my work. I’m literally here all the time.

 

(24:40)

I get up early, usually at 6:00, and start grinding. It’s the time of day when I just like to focus and write and think about stuff. Once the day starts, I’m usually getting pulled here and there putting fires out. We grind until about 4 or 4:30. We do PT, do laps around the block, kettlebells. Then I’ll come back and keep working until 6:30. Then my wife yells at me to come eat dinner. Then I hang out with my kids, put them to bed and then use from 8:30-10:00 to finish up whatever needs to get done. And then I just basically do that everyday.

 

(26:00)

Do you work during the weekends?

 

Usually I work during the weekends. I try to be able to mindful of giving myself a break from time to time. But honestly if something needs to get done, then I need to get it done.

 

(26:30)

I’m trying to wrap my head around the compound. Can you describe that a little bit more?

 

It’s difficult to explain unless you’ve been here. There’s a grizzly bear here in the office. When you come here, I take a picture of you in front of the grizzly bear and post it on Twitter. Essentially I got this place from a guy who had terminal cancer. He was a former big game hunter. He had this house and then a separate trophy room which was about 1500 square feet. And then he also built a man cave. So when I bought it, we turned the man cave into an office, we turned the trophy room into a conference area. And then there’s our actual house here too. And then we have another structure in the backyard that we use as a gym.

 

(29:11)

During the morning before everyone else shows up, what does that time look like for you?

 

Usually in the morning I’m reading through academic papers. I dig a little bit deeper into what seems interesting to me. And then if it seems like something that would be helpful to other people, I’ll write a quick blog post on it. I’m also doing a lot of editing because we have so many guest writers from my team that a lot of times I’m doing more editing than writing my own content.

 

(30:30)

What are some indications that a veteran would either really like or really dislike a job in this field?

If you like challenges and you’re good at just grinding it out until you reach success, this would be a good field for you. One downside is that nobody is telling you what to do. You have to figure out what needs to get done each day. For some people that’s extremely nerve wracking but if that’s something you like, this could be a good fit for you.

 

(32:07)

Not to be a Debbie Downer but the finance industry is changing very dramatically. If you don’t have a niche or specialized skill, it’s going to be tough for you. The days of throwing up a plaque and saying ‘I’m going to start a hedge fund’ are over. Unless you have a niche skillset, going into finance can be challenging. As a veteran, tread lightly getting into the asset management business unless you really know what you’re getting yourself into.

 

(33:30)

What was that like to see that Wall Street Journal article? That had to be great getting such that recognition?

 

At this point I’ve done every podcast, been on the cover of Barron’s, had an article in the New York Times. I don’t let it go to my head, I don’t feel like I’m that special. I’ve got a story but everyone has a story.

 

(34:30)

How is life different now from when you were just first getting started with this?

 

It really hasn’t changed. We’re still in the same office. We have newer computers now. We’re better at making money now. So that’s nice. But we have a cockroach philosophy. There’s a firm called Vanguard in our business and they’re the 800 pound gorilla. They happen to be 10 minutes up the road from here. So I know where the 800 gorilla lives and I what I need to do to survive. So we try to be a cockroach - live way under our means, grinding everyday.  We don’t do anything different from when we first got started, we just have a few more people and nicer equipment.

 

(36:45)

I love that idea of not stepping back and coasting but continuing to push with everything you’ve got.

 

I’ll never forget when I was deployed to Barwanah. I remember in Barwanah, in that base camp there, there’s this huge mortar shell that had smashed the side of a wall out. And under it in red letters, it said, “Complacency Kills”. The idea was to remind you that every time you went outside the wire, the minute you think you’ve won, you’re dead. I think that’s a good attitude to have in business as well. We’re just lucky, and quite frankly blessed, that the #1 competitor in our entire industry, is in our backyard. So every day, I’m looking down a Bazooka and I know if we think we’ve won anything, we’re going to get destroyed.



(38:10)

Do you have any advice for veterans that are interested in this sort of thing but don’t want to start their own firm?

 

The problem with the business is that it’s getting so computerized and automated. You just don’t need as many humans anymore. You need humans that know how to program computers in this business. More and more, you have to be really careful about that path you pick. Because you don’t want to put time and money into learning a job only to realize it’s being phased out.

 

(39:10)

If you want to get into asset management on a bigger scale, you’ve got to be extremely tech savvy. You need programming and technical skills. Another route that veterans are well suited for is the fundraising side because they are usually extremely good at dealing with people from all walks of life. All asset managers will always pay huge dollars to hire a good fundraiser.

 

(41:40)

I hate selling unless it’s something that I’m extremely passionate about. Because then it’s not selling, it’s spreading the gospel. So I think that you can find a firm and culture that you are excited about, you’ll have that passion to sell that product to people.

 

(43:40)

Are there any resources you would recommend?

 

Blogs and podcast are probably the best.

 

Blogs -

A Wealth of Common Sense

Alpha Architect

 

Podcasts -

The Investor’s Field Guide

Meb Faber Research

The Investors

 

Also just get on Twitter. There is a great community of young, up and coming folks that are looking to help people.

 

(45:25)

Do you have any final words of wisdom?

 

I don’t have any special advice except grind every day and work hard. The one thing I would say after being around people in this business is that if you’re not eating right, sleeping right, making time to exercise, then you’re not going to feel well and you’re life is going to suck. Always find time to eat right, workout, get a good night’s sleep. That will keep you efficient and keep your mind clear. Focus on the fundamentals and the rest will be all right.  

 

(46:00)

There’s a 28 mile ruck march hosted by the Pennsylvania National Guard every year called Honor the Fallen. The idea is that you’re out there working hard and being thankful that you can still feel pain. It’s a great event and only about $30 to be involved. What I did last year and what I’m going to do next year is to get a bunch of barracks during the event and host some movers and shakers in the world take part in the march too. We’re all in to to win it regardless of our background. It’s a great event, it’s next September. It’s a great opportunity for vets to reconnect to your roots and honor the fallen.

(48:50)

It’s a great event and a lot of fun. Especially if you’re not from a military culture, it’s a very eye opening experience because there are gold star families out there too. It’s just a bunch of people looking to do right.






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