There are two very distinct feelings: physical and emotional.
The physical feeling is easy to describe. Hold a phonebook to your chest, tape a baseball to it, and let Babe Ruth swing for the fences.
The emotional feeling is unexpected: Damn, I’m glad he aimed center-mass. Lucky me.
I was in downtown Baghdad, in the middle of the desert. The temperature was pushing 130, and the breeze was hot and full of sand and grit. It felt like a hair-dryer set to thermonuclear held two inches from my skin.
It didn’t help that I was wearing dress shoes and a long-sleeve, collared, button-down shirt under a dark suit.
As soon as the first shot rang out, those friends I mentioned earlier — my Team — went to work. 42 rounds were fired at the shooter; 39 hit him before he hit the ground.
In the blink of an eye, my life changed. For the second time, someone else’s actions would force me from a career I loved.
The first time, I was in the US Marine Corps when an IED explosion in Fallujah ended my military career. The Marine Corps was all I ever wanted, all I ever knew. I managed to forge another path doing what I loved, just without the uniform. After I was shot, I wasn’t sure how many lives I had left, but I knew I was pushing my limits. I had to get out.
I hate that term, by the way: “The Real World.” As if the world I grew up in and dedicated my life to didn’t exist, and if getting shot at for a living isn’t “real,” I don’t know what is.
I got fired from my first two civilian jobs, but let me assure you,
I was performing at the highest, most efficient level.
The first firing was the most difficult. A retired Sergeant Major was now Division Manager at a manufacturing company, and he wanted me to come on board. I was going to start on the floor and move up quickly. I was excited; I wouldn’t let him down. Sergeant Major put me in the welding shop. I grew up on a farm; welding was child’s play.
I just plowed through welding those panels. Week two, I was no one’s friend. Why? I didn’t smoke.
Every welder in the shop would weld a few panels, then step outside and smoke. They took twenty minute breaks every forty minutes. I didn’t.
A welder came to my workstation. He leaned over the panel I was welding and said, “You oughta slow down a bit, take a break with us.” I politely declined and motioned for him to step back.
He said, “You make the same amount of money whether you make 10 panels or 18. You need to make 10”.
I was fresh out of the military. Doing the bare minimum is a non-starter. You give 100% of what you have to give every single day. No excuses. If you don’t, people die.
At this point, I advised the gentleman he and his buddies could do more but were choosing to get paid to smoke. That wasn’t how I operated.
To which he replied, “it’s 10 or else.”
I politely explained if he didn’t want to pick himself up off the floor, he should go back to his own station and get back to work.
The next day I was told to report to this mystical place called “HR.”
You’re asking, “Where do I go when I get in trouble? Where do I go to complain when things aren’t fair?” In the Marine Corps, ass chewings happen anywhere and everywhere, randomly and often. As for complaining? I don’t even know what that means. Get a straw and suck it the fuck up.
I learned HR is the place you go when you’re getting written up for “bullying.” The nice, uncomplicated lady read out a series of events much like I just described.
She told me I better get used to how things are done in “The Real World.” Bless her heart. I looked that nice, uncomplicated lady right in the eye and said, “This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Which is exactly what you say when you want to get fired.
It was mostly easier because I didn’t feel like I let down Sergeant Major. It was also easier because I knew it was my last civilian job in which I would start at the bottom.
On my first day, my manager gave me a list of things to do. I worked as diligently as I could to get the job completed as thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
The next day I was told to report to this diabolical place called “HR.”
The nice, uncomplicated lady slid a piece of paper across the desk. In the top right corner, there was a red-lettered stamp reading “First and Final.”
I read the document, laid out in two simple sentences: I was authorized to work until 4 pm. I clocked out at 6:05 pm. I was being formally counseled for “stealing” 2 hours of overtime.
I looked that nice, uncomplicated lady right in the eye and said, “This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Which is exactly what you say when you want to get fired.
Marines never work for a clock. I thought “punching the clock” was an analogy for breaking it and working until the job was done. That’s all I’d ever known. Even growing up on the farm, we got up with the sun and worked until the job was done. Not a clock in sight.
In both cases, I was outperforming my peers and giving everything I had; it wasn’t good enough.
I was a failure, and didn’t fit in.
I was having a hard time making friends.
Everyone thought I was too intense, too motivated, or a kiss-ass.
My morale started to fade.
Depression started to creep in, and I didn’t know the signs.
When I finally got my shit together, I decided it was time to go back to what I knew. Enter the State Department.
I was back with my Team. My mind and body were healthy and active. I was a natural, completely in my element, and the definition of “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I was back to doing what I loved.
And then…well…I got shot in the chest.
What was I going to do next? I didn’t want to go back to “The Real World.” It wasn’t for me. HR is terrifying for Marines.
The way I see it, The United States Military is the largest corporation on the planet, with a mission that cannot fail. The military is also structured in a way that allows high turnover without losing the 100% readiness of the overall force. No Commander is needed on the front line every moment of every day, and that meant if I did it right, I would be able to deploy the company anywhere I wanted from my laptop.
And that’s exactly what I did. I realized there was no limit to how big an impact I could make. I finally found a game that felt infinite.
Today, I have 42 companies (certainly more by the time you’re reading this) and a continually growing number of exits. I’m just getting started.
I want to change the path by which Veterans leave the service. I want to change the way we think about business and finance. I want to change the world. My companies exist to create wealth and opportunities so I can give hand-ups — not handouts — for billions. I am not fuckin’ around.
It’s simple: I want to win.
I have a Champion Mindset. I love winning, and I hate losing. I want to win at everything. That doesn’t mean I always win; that means I take my losses with a lesson, and my wins become more frequent. I strive to be perfect and I expect others to be perfect too. That doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes, but I expect perfection using the information you have at any given moment.
My favorite win, hands down, is making meaningful deposits in other people’s lives. I am fully aware I was put here with a unique set of skills. If
I don’t use those skills to the fullest extent, I will have wasted my life. When
I die, I was sure as shit don’t want to meet the man I was supposed to be.
So I wake up excited to win and make an impact. It’s nice to be working with a Team, at a place where giving 100% to everything we do is rewarded. Where no one is trying to kill me, it’s not 130, and HR is not allowed to slow anyone down.