Why Listen: Elliot has a long history in startups and operations. In this interview, we talk about the hiring process on how to play competing offers off of each other in order to get the best outcome possible. We talk about a variety of ways to get a job. We talk about Elliot’s experience in the General Manager position, a role that may be appealing to many Veterans. We talk about changing one’s job title from a big to a small company and how to approach this. And we talk about operations - operations in a tech startup, as well as operations in the cost-driven physical products world.
About Elliot: Elliot Wilson is the Vice President of Operations at ZipRecruiter, which is the smartest way to hire and get hired. He started out at the Air Force Academy, after which he served in the Air Force for nearly three years. He has worked as a Senior Product Manager at Pictage, General Manager overseeing 250 employees at Lovejoy, and Area Director of Distribution at Sherman-Williams. He holds both an MS and MBA from Loyola Marymount University.
Why Listen: Mike had an incredible military career of 22 years, where he received the Purple Heart and where is exploits were chronicled in the movie, Black Hawk Down. His Civilian career has been equally impressive. He is the author of the book, In the Company of Heroes, which details the story after Black Hawk Down’s credits roll. He worked for six years and then started his own company, Pinnacle Solutions, which has nearly 400 employees and over $70M in revenue. This is a great interview for aspiring military Veteran entrepreneurs, as well as those who are interested in the Government Contracting industry.
About Mike: Mike is President & CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, which provides a wide variety of products and services to NASA, the Department of Defense and industry partners including aircraft and weapon system Original Equipment Manufacturers. In ten years, Pinnacle has grown from a home office-based startup to over 375 employees and more than 70 subcontractor personnel operating in fourteen U.S. and international locations, with over $70M in revenue.
He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a Blackhawk helicopter Flight Lead and Instructor Pilot. He retired from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 Master Aviator after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Gothic Serpent, during which he was shot down and held prisoner in 1993 after a raid in Somalia, which was chronicled in the movie, Blackhawk Down. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device and the Purple Heart. He was inducted into the Army Aviation Association of America Hall of Fame in 2008.
Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, who specializes in the theory of distributed algorithms. He previously earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age as a professor, Cal also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.He is the author of the recent book Deep Work, which I am reading next. The book we’ll discuss mostly today, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice. Inc Magazine listed it as one of the best business books of the year, and Cal’s related Oped in the NYT was one of their most emailed articles for the entire site.
Kelly Perdew is the Co-Founder and Managing General Partner of Moonshots Capital, which he founded with a fellow West Point grad, and exists to invest in exceptional entrepreneurs with world-changing ideas. He started out at West Point, after which he served in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer. Since then he has worked as a Founder, Board Member, CEO, COO, CFO, as well as in Business Development, and Sales. He has raised institutional financing, grown businesses, down-sized businesses, and sold businesses for 8-figure exits. Perhaps most uniquely, he is the Season 2 Winner of The Apprentice, after which he apprentice to Donald Trump and was involved in multiple real estate projects with Donald Trump. He holds both an MBA and JD from UCLA.
Kelly has such a unique background and has had so many different aspects to his civilian career. In this interview we talk about what it is like to be an investor, and advice for Veterans wanting to pursue this path. We also talk about entrepreneurship, and advice to Veterans who want to start their own company. We talk about work life balance, recovering from failure, what those final moments were like on The Apprentice, and so much more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(1) Franchises - we continue our deep dive into a career as a franchise owner - why this may be appealing to veterans and how to succeed at it. (2) Honesty about skill set - Eric talks about how vital it is - in franchising and in any career - to be exceptionally honest and reflective about your strengths and weaknesses. (3) Long-term investment - Eric talks about viewing a franchise investment as a 5-15 commitment (which, coin end tally is a great asset of veterans who often have approached the military as a long-term commitment). He talks about doing your homework - especially around culture, and making sure the business won’t be uprooted by technology in the long-term (4) Market Research - Eric’s career has been in market research and he provides some insight into what this sort of career is like.
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.
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.
John W Francis runs Next Level Franchis, Inc in Minnesot, 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 1' helping in his family business, The Barber’s Inc, which a the franchir of Cost Cutters, City Looks, and We Care Hair Salon. Over the next 5+ years he elped to grow he 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 any people and companies in the franchise world. He is known as “Johnny Franchise” and is a Franchise Expert.
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.
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.
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. Since that time the company has grown revenue from $210M to approximately $300m, and he was appointed as the CEO of Skullcandy about one year ago.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jon Boggiano and Chris Boggiano are the Co-Founders of Versame, which leverages technology for large scale impact to improve early childhood education and language development. Versame has raised $2.5M in funding and is a team of sixteen.
John Gossart is the Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of GoodWorld (www.GoodWorld.me), the FinTech startup revolutionizing philanthropy and social payments. GoodWorld was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2016 and D.C.’s Best Technology Startup. Prior to GoodWorld, John was an original partner at RideScout (www.RideScout.com), the tech startup acquired by Daimler-Mercedes in 2014.
Elijah Crane (Eli) is the Founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher, a company that creates hand crafted 50 caliber bottle openers made by Military Veterans. As President of Bottle Breacher, Eli has grown Bottle Breacher’s annual revenue to over $5 million in 2015, applied for and received 7 patents, and Negotiated a partnership with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. Eli started out in the Navy, where he served as a SEAL for over 15 years. He started Bottle Breacher while on active duty and has run the company for nearly five years now.
Alex Stone is the Founder & CEO of Athletes of Valor, who’s mission is to help veterans transition from service to career by leveraging the power of collegiate sports. He started out as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps, after which he worked as a Product Manager at Wellpower Sports Co, and then at Under Armour as both a Development Manager and then Product Line Manager.
Dr. Scott Washburn is a Radiation Effects Engineering Manager at SEAKR Engineering. He started out at the University of Colorado, Boulder, after which he served in the Navy as a Submarine Officer for five years. When he first left the Navy he worked as a Thermal and Project Engineer at SSL (Space Systems Loral), after which he returned to the University of Colorado Boulder for his Masters, and then his PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Since then he has worked as Chief Engineer at Geryon Space Technologies, as well as a research engineer at NASA. Scott was also one of the 50 finalists of the astronaut selection program.
Joshua Jabin is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Travis Manion Foundation. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served in the Marine Corps for 12 years, first as a Aviation Supply Logistics Officer, obtaining his MS in Operations Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, and teaching Mathematics at the Naval Academy. After his transition to the civilian sector, Joshua worked as a Senior Management Consultant at the ReefPoint Group, before joining the Travis Mountain Foundation about 2.5 years ago.
Justin M. Nassiri is the Founder & CEO of StoryBox, a digital marketing start-up that helps companies transform their customers into brand ambassadors. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served five years as an officer onboard nuclear submarines. After his transition from the military, he went to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, after which he started StoryBox. He started Beyond the Uniform at the end of 2016 in an effort to help military veterans navigate their civilian career.
Jacob Martinez is the President of Market Traders Institute, a trading technology and education company with over 200 employees. Jacob started out in the Army, where he served for 4.5 years in military intelligence achieving the rank of sergeant. He started out at Market Traders Institute as Vice President of Managed Accounts and has held virtually every position in the company.