S1E1. We speak with Rico Miller, an entrepreneur, business leader, and pastor as he shares about pivotal moments in his life that has led him to where he is today.
Rico’s book, Undo Ordinary: Keys to Unlocking Your Purpose.
More information about Rico Miller.
AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE ERRORS AND TYPOS
Aaron Spatz 00:05
You’re listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys in business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show, we’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continuous self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, hit the subscribe button. You’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur. Rico, thanks. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for Thanks for agreeing to be on the podcast. So, so excited that you’re here, man.
Rico Miller 01:10
Thank you for having me.
Aaron Spatz 01:11
Absolutely. So you and I connected. We were doing a whole bunch of networking. We share the common bond that we’re both US Marines. It’s fun to see where guys careers have gone. So I would just, I would love if you just share with us. One. I mean, what did you do when you’re in the Marine Corps? And then how did your transition go? And how have you gotten to where you are today?
Rico Miller 01:36
Okay, great. Yeah, so I was in the Marine Corps in early, late 90s, early, late 80s, early 90s. And I went there after high school, because I wasn’t ready for college. Kind of like a lot of teens, when you’re going through a transition was really trying to figure out who you are and what life has for you. I figured school was my thing. And then I went on to the Marine Corps. And after going through the Marine Corps training, I figured out being at home, mom and dad and school didn’t seem so bad, after all. So it was one of the schools where I, you know, had an opportunity to kind of think about life and see life from a different perspective. So after going through boot camp, I did two years active and then candidates and reserve time. But what it taught me was it taught me to be at a point where I can now appreciate life from a different perspective and appreciate the the things of life from my parents to my family. And because it instilled a lot of that, and it’s still a lot of bonding, a lot of closeness, a lot of building relationships. And then I had to go back and kind of think about how important that was before and how I didn’t appreciate it before. So I kind of took some of those things. Granted, it just really was, you know, a tremendous experience and kind of coming back home, going to school, then started going back to school started working. So I started working full time and going to school full time. And then I had the within the service deals, so I was doing to my time reserve so that it allowed me to the Marine Corps actually helped out with my college as well. So that was one of the additional things that I appreciated from that experience also.
Aaron Spatz 03:20
That’s awesome. So how did you go about being able to like juggle your schedule? I mean, did you have any? Did you have any family commitments? Or did you have anything else going on? Or?
Rico Miller 03:28
No, at the time, I was in school to school working full time I got married while I was in my undergraduate studies. But what I began to do was learn how to do the, the balancing of prioritizing and being able to multitask, because that was one of the things that the Marine Corps did teach me was the ability to multitask. And it kind of helped develop my spiritual life is well because I was one of the spiritual leaders in my platoon. And I would do a lot of praying and studying with some of my platoon members. So that kind of gave me the foundation to be able to kind of do that in a broader setting with other people that I know, didn’t know. So as I began to do that one of my aspirations was always to go through seminary, but I wanted to get my undergraduate degree first because I was working for a corporation that wanted me to, to further my career to further my schooling, as far as a business aspect was concerned that I was going to go back later and do more from a biblical aspect. So I worked for at&t for many years and that allowed me to again kind of go on to get my bachelor’s and then I went on to get three masters. So yeah, so it was it was just coming from a kid that did not like college in the beginning. You know, now going to getting my bachelor’s and Business Operations, a master’s in human resources, and then went on to get a Masters of divinity and a master’s in biblical leadership.
Aaron Spatz 05:07
Man, you’re a monster man, I tell you that just just just being able to knock out the bachelor’s, and then maybe a master’s degree is one thing, but you’re just going, you just decided to go ahead and just, you know, may as well just go all in. And that’s that’s kind of what it sounds like.
Rico Miller 05:23
Yes, yes, yes. So, so now I enjoy learning now I love to learn and grow and just study. It’s kind of one of my passions now.
Aaron Spatz 05:33
Well, I mean, you made that transition out of the Marine Corps, and you’re able to really capitalize on the education piece, and really 00 down and double down on that. And just kind of look in the way that you timed that out. I mean, was that your plan from day one? Like did? Did you know that when you joined the Corps, and you’re serving the country did, did you know that you’re going to go back to school right away? Or was it just one of those things, as you were kind of just navigating life decisions, it was just, you know, what the military is gonna pay for this, I might as well just go ahead and take advantage of it.
Rico Miller 06:09
Well, you know, I did not know it right away. Again, because I was kind of lost when I went in, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But in the midst of the time that I was in, going through, I was doing my reserve studies, and I was the one who had a, it was a war going on at the time. And I was actually part of the ones that were processing people to go to the war as well as a handling their affairs, as far as insurance and dog tags, and all those intricacies that we had to do at, you know, 1920 goal. That’s this was so foreign to me, I never really thought about it. But what it did was it really kind of made me think and say, there are a lot more things to life. And at this age, I should take advantage of some of these opportunities. And I just pray to God if you get me at a point where I don’t have to go to war, but I will promise to do those things to help other people and whatever I can do to serve this country, and serve in ministry and help other people that will.
Aaron Spatz 07:09
I think that’s really cool how, and I think it’s important for people to note like, you don’t, it’s great to have a plan. But man, when you’re when you’re so young, and you’re you’re just trying to get things figured out, and you’re just kind of navigating things and figuring it out. You don’t you don’t always have a plan. And that’s okay. Because you’re just continually assessing yourself kind of understanding what your goals and your dreams are. And and then obviously, you have feeling like you’re being led down this certain path, and then it just taken advantage of those of those opportunities. I think that’s, I think that’s fantastic.
Rico Miller 07:46
Thanks, thanks. Yeah, that’s where it was, yeah.
Aaron Spatz 07:49
Well, then, then walk us through, you know, so you’re on the other side of not only a bachelor’s degree, but a couple of master’s degrees now? Or three of them rather? And then so where where is that taking you in terms of the business world? What, what kinds of opportunities has that opened up for you? Whether it’s through the vocational career? Or if there’s any other things that you’re working on? Like? How does, how has that looked?
Rico Miller 08:14
So it’s funny, you say that I’m actually in the, in the process of studies now to work on my PhD, Oh, nice. And the is in the areas of ministry, and from a sense that I want to be able to do more intensive studying, but be able to be properly equipped, and to a point where I can make sure that I’m giving, providing the right tools and doing the right type of assessments to really really help people in their personal and professional life. So going from business owner to in as well as ministry that has really kind of heightened my awareness and made me a lot more intentional about the things I do and how I help people. So I think that from a spiritual realm, I think there’s ministry needed in corporate America to anything that we do, as well as more education in the spiritual church route. So wow, I want to delay as high as I can in those areas.
Aaron Spatz 09:21
Yeah, so I mean, if you’re comfortable sharing, like what are like what are some of those goals and some of those aspirations that you’ve that you’re kind of striving for here?
Rico Miller 09:31
My my goals and aspirations from a from I guess from a professional realm of transitioning to the spiritual around, I really want to get my company I have a IT staff augmentation company, and we deal with we manage it applications and we do more staffing for companies in the areas Oracle SAP people saw applications AI Big Data Cloud Analytics, so we we help companies Staff for those positions, typically in a contracting type scenario. And in the next few years, what I want to do is get the company to a point where I can sell it and then be able to focus on ministry for now. That’s awesome. So, right. So that’s, that’s my goal, because I want to be able to one of my real long term goals is to build a school, and also do a lot more mission work, and to really be able to give out scholarships yearly to be able to fund education where people that would not have the opportunity, or in lower income areas as far as not being able to pay for college. So I want to be able to really, really help people in doing that being able to give them the full opportunity to go to college and things like that within within a community.
Aaron Spatz 10:51
Wow. Sounds sounds like it really staying connected with the community and giving back as very important to you.
Rico Miller 11:00
Aaron Spatz 11:03
What’s been some of the struggles, whether any area of your life or personal professional that you feel like you’ve really had to overcome, and these are maybe some lessons that you’d love to share with folks either transitioning out of the military, or just some life lessons, like, is there anything you’d like to share? Kind of on that side of things?
Rico Miller 11:23
I think one of the things that we we all kind of deal with is trying to understand into realize what our purpose is. We want to know, why did God put us here? What Why did he bring me here? And what am I designed? What am I supposed to do each day? And I think that one of the things that got me to the point where I really, really started to struggle and wrestle with that question was, I remember talking to my mom, one day, I had went through a nasty divorce and had my business was going down, and it was losing a lot of contracts and things like that. And I told my mom that I said, you know, I think I think I’m depressed. I don’t know, what my purpose is why I’m here. Why is God taking me through this. And she told me at that point, she says, when I was 18 years old, and I had you I was pregnant with you rather. And I was on my way. And I was at the bus stop to have an abortion. And God spoke to me and said that he has a greater purpose for my child, and that he wanted the child to be used for His purpose, and he doesn’t make mistakes. And at that point, when my mom shared this story with me, that changed my whole trajectory on my thought process and how I looked at life. Because the Bible tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. So I no longer was worried about what my purpose was, my purpose was to serve God and to do the things he wanted me to do. And ultimately, that would give me more definition on who I was. So my mom would want to ask me, she says, Well, who are you? I says, first of all, I’m, I gave her a litany of things. I’m a father, you know, I’m great man. I’m a business owner. And she says, and then at the last one, I says, I’m a child of God, and I’m blessed. And she asked me, she says, Why don’t you tell? Why do you say that as the first thing that you identify with? So I was using all these other things that were more priority than me identifying who I was as a man or a child of God. So that was what changed my mindset. So I now had to understand that my purpose was just to serve God and serve His people. And everything that I went through was for His purpose. So I think a lot of people wrestle with that, because they don’t have that really defining moment where they can say, this is what I’m here for. And this is what I’m called to do. So my challenge was getting over that, and now taking the next steps to, to get past that. And what, in the midst of my purpose in the midst of understanding that in the finding that inspired me to write a book, and I wrote a book, which is called undo ordinary. And undo ordinary focuses on ways practical steps that you can do to change and identify your what your purpose is, and how you can walk in it. So that was the thing that I think that one of my biggest challenges was trying to figure out what my purpose was, and moving in my purpose, and what are the tangible things that I can do? What does the Bible say about that? The Bible taught gives us one familiar story, it talks about the man at the pool of Bethesda. And Jesus asked him do you want to be made whole? And he says, Well, every time I tried to jump in the pool of healing somebody jumps in before me, or there’s no man to put me in the pool. What was funny about that story is a lot of times we want to know what our purpose is. And God gives us the opportunity to be made whole daily. But we make excuses. And we don’t really step into it, or take the extra step to move at it. So that was kind of one of the stories that kind of helped me identify with, now I really need to move in this and God is holding me accountable, because he’s already shown me that I have the power to help other people have the power to move in him. Because I am made of him, he’s covered me and protected me and we are the redeemed. So if that was the thing that really kind of helped me, that was the story that really kind of helped me move to the next level in life.
Aaron Spatz 15:49
And that’s such a story as especially as you’re dealing with, you know, some pretty severe personal and professional struggles. And, yeah, and how the timing of all that plays out. And that was a story that you probably it sounds like, you’d never heard that story before. Like, you didn’t actually know the background of, of, of that situation. Right.
Rico Miller 16:11
Right. Exactly. Yeah. But I heard it, but I never really looked at it from that, that those lenses. Yeah.
Aaron Spatz 16:20
And I’m sure stress and pressure, and you’re just trying to kind of figure things out, then it, then it’s like this big punch or this big jab. And, and all of a sudden, your eyes are opened in, you kind of have this moment where you’re able to see clearly now maybe for the first time and a very long time, you know, and that’s I mean, that’s such a powerful story.
Rico Miller 16:47
Thanks. Thanks. God be the glory.
Aaron Spatz 16:50
So the book is already available is available at Barnes and Noble or anywhere major books are sold.
Rico Miller 16:57
Yes. Well, it’s a it’s available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Aaron Spatz 17:01
Okay, great. So how has that project been like the whole writing project of just polishing a book, what was that, like?
Rico Miller 17:11
It was very transformational as well. Because what you have to do now is, is getting to a point where you’re able to pour out and help people understand your journey, because, for instance, one of the things that I found that people were dealing with was depression, a lot of people I was dealing with in ministry, had a lot of depression issues, anger, anxiety, generational curses, all those things that kind of held them back for years. And what I’m able to do in the book is helped them kind of unpack some of those things, and look at themselves and be able to kind of self reflect. Because a lot of times, it’s easier for us to point the finger at other people or my father wasn’t there, or all these other things that have happened to us in life in the circumstances that have happened. But now help them to see that God has taken him through certain paths and certain journeys. So they can now become a better person. And once he has taken them through those journeys, and everybody has their own unique path, and journey to go through, God now uses that for His glory. So I basically have put forth a book to help people to kind of take those hurt and pains and all the things they’ve been through and redirect that to a more healthy, mature person that can go on and help somebody else in the midst of the things they struggle with.
Aaron Spatz 18:37
That’s great. No, no doubt a great book, especially if you’re, if you’re in the military, and you’re trying to find trends, you’re trying to find your purpose and trying to understand what’s what’s next. And, you know, what, what are my next steps? And then obviously, with the application there, if you’re in ministry, or I mean, would that would that resonate? If, say, I’m a business owner, or somebody who’s never even served the military or has never, or faith hasn’t been a big part of their story is are what are other nuggets that they can glean from that still?
Rico Miller 19:10
Absolutely, absolutely. One of the things one of the chapters talks about creating and developing smart goals, and what happens there is in business, and in the midst of life, you typically have goals that you want to accomplish. And but you don’t know what to do or how to put those in perspective or to create a path or a plan to carry those out. So what I did was I helped develop those smart goals and smart goals are basically acronym stands for S is specific. So specifically, what do you want to accomplish? We want to be a millionaire multimillionaire 50 million. You want to become a teacher you want to whatever that is, be as specific as you can on that. And then you want to do something that you write down what is measurable. So you want to say, Can I measure this can I make sure that at the end love this, as I go through this, I can measure timelines, I can measure amounts, I can measure where I am in the midst of this process. And then make sure that the goals that you are writing out there are attainable. So you make sure that they are attainable in a relatively reasonable amount of time. And then you make sure that things that you put in that smart goal initially is relevant. So you want to make sure that everything that you’re writing down is relevant to the ultimate ultimate goal or the overall agenda that you’re trying to accomplish. And then the other thing is, you want to make it time specific. So in the midst of life, one of the things you always want to do is you want to be just like the Bible, there’s some accountability. So you want to say, Am I on am on track, or am I off track, and you want to get a prayer partners or people that can hold you accountable to those times, because you want to make sure that you’re focused in the midst of it. So from a business perspective, those are some of the tangible tools that I use, to develop where I want to take my company, where I want to go in ministry, even in writing my book, I wanted to I put forth a timeline and a SMART goal was to write my book. And people could have multiple SMART goals going on at the same time or simultaneously. But the thing is, is you want to make it clear and make it as plain as you as you can, in the midst of doing that and be able to hold in yourself and others around you accountable.
Aaron Spatz 21:31
I love the accountability part of that also, because that is that is so important. It I feel like having to be accountable to somebody, whether it’s a close friend or somebody you can count on and I guess somebody that you could trust to be straight with you and you can be straight with them. And and that just knowing that in the back your mind that you’ve got to, in some ways, kind of report to somebody what you’ve been doing, that alone can be some some fuel, because you don’t want to either a, you know, let your let your teammate down or be not break the commitment that you’ve that you’ve made. Tell us tell us a little bit more about universal technical services. So like what’s what, what are some big things that you guys are working on? And what’s I mean, have there been any challenges there in that space that you’d want to share?
Rico Miller 22:26
Yeah, absolutely. So Universiteit a good company Services is a company I developed about 20 years ago. And we have had a conglomerate of entities from we went through a series where we have on some good your automotive stores to we’ve done consulting for Comcast, we had sales reps to primarily staff augmentation, IT staff augmentation, that’s been our primary area that we focused on. One of the things that universal does is I’ve kind of transitioned it from a not only just a staff augmentation company, but we are at a point where we are, we deal more with a lot of the community type events. And what I mean by that is a part of our proceeds go to what we call our STEM initiatives. And our STEM initiatives are where we will pour back or give back to some schools or students in the community from either scholarships or sponsoring them to be a part of certain programs. And one of the things that we’ve done is, we’ve partnered up with my foundation, which is called Seven courts Foundation. And what we do is we have go to Title One schools, schools that may have as much opportunity as other schools. And we sponsor kids each year to be a part of what we call the GE through robotic STEM program. And what that is, it’s a long competition that happens naturally each year. But we sponsor teams to become a part of it. And what they do is not only do they learn how to build and fly drones, but they have to be a part of the competition, you have to present a you have to present a problem that you’re solving in the community. And then you have to present to the board. And what they do is not only does it help them, work it out with their Learn, learn more on a cognitive skills, but their presentation skills, as well as being able to understand how to solve problems that something happens with the drone because they built it from the ground up. With that being said, what we do is we now have sponsored and partnered up with several organizations throughout the communities where we sponsored over 500 kids to participate in this drone competition throughout the year. So as a company, we’ve kind of transition a lot of the things that we do from not only from the professional round, but we get give back to the community in those areas as far as being able to help those students in those areas. And one of the other things we do is we the organization deals with, like human trafficking, domestic violence and AIDS and HIV awareness, as well as transitioning veterans. In the middle of that process, what we do is we help them to learn computer skills. And we help them to learn, resume writing, to how to do cover letters, how to interview, how to dress for an interview, how to have eye contact during the interview, so we kind of teach them some of those skills so they can properly transition back into the workforce, but make sure they have the proper training to be able to do that. So universal technical was kind of, again, kind of transition a lot of ways from just not only just the IT staff augmentation company, but we also do things that are partnering with other organizations to be able to give back to the community and help people get trained in areas that they may not have the opportunity to do. So before.
Aaron Spatz 26:04
That’s absolutely incredible. I love the diversity of the things that you’re doing. And I love how you’re, you’re taking like this holistic approach to making sure people are ready to dive right in into whatever it is that they do. And and if you don’t mind, I’d like to transition a little bit into talking about the IT industry. To me, it seems like you’ve got a front row seat to what’s going on in terms of staffing. And so, you know, what have been like the toughest to fill roles, like what’s some of the hotter fill in and I know this changes, probably on a weekly or monthly basis. But what are you seeing from from the IT industry in terms of where the need is now and kind of where do you think it’s headed.
Rico Miller 26:51
So a couple different things. One is I think that companies are going more towards from the IRS, I’ve been dealing with more from the cloud perspective, they’ve been dealing allowed in the cloud arena. And they are basically it’s where they’re storing their data, if you will. So a lot of times before, in dealing with companies like Oracle, Oracle had their own premise or their ERP applications that they would basically a customer would have a lot of servers that the information or their data would be on. But now they’ve gone to more cloud stores. So Amazon, Google, Oracle, all those guys kind of have now more cloud automation that’s going on now, which is the only problem with that is it reduces a lot of the workforce as far as maintaining it. And you don’t have to have as many resources to to maintain it because you’re being maintained remotely. So companies are doing. But from a stem perspective, an app catalog data from that perspective, you got a $400 billion industry that has about 6% minorities in it. Right. So it’s a it’s a, it’s a area that needs a lot more attention and a lot more growth for certain communities. And part of my initiative is to help transition some of those things, we’re not some science, technology, engineering, math, and then they even have it where they sometimes call it STEAM now in the areas of art. So I’m trying to really kind of help kids develop in those areas, because it seems like that’s where the whole industry as a whole is, is transitioning to, and not just, you know, one particular area of focus, but now to give them a broader scope and, and helping them understand opportunities that they may not have had or may not even consider because they weren’t aware of them.
Aaron Spatz 28:50
Yeah, you’re gonna first person I’ve heard add the A and they’re so we’re calling it STEAM now. So let’s see if that one catches. But yeah, but no, but But certainly, stem seems to be a very, very heavy push now, in really trying to get people ready for that. And I love your, like the tenacity that you have for that and especially with with the diversity in inside of that also. And so like there’s plenty of opportunity there. And so I mean, if you’re a young guy graduating high school, and you’re trying to figure out what, like what some of your next moves are, like, what are what are some of your recommendations.
Rico Miller 29:30
For instance, one of the things that I typically do is I mentor, a lot of youth, even those guys that are coming out of college, and what I do is, I help them to kind of do what we do like an assessment on what your strengths are, what you like, what you don’t like, all those types of things. What’s what’s your passion. So, once I kind of developed that, and what I found is is everyone is not necessarily in cars materia, one’s not computer savvy or one doesn’t have a desire. Even in areas of medicine, that’s a part of STEM as well. But my point is, is that for I even have a curriculum where someone says, I don’t even want to go to college, I just want to be able to make, you know, money in the areas of STEM, what are some of the things I could do with that? Well, part of our curriculum is I can help you get just graduated from high school, I can help you get your pilot’s license, get your pilot’s license at 18 and get a job making her 1000 miles a year and a team with your pilot’s license. Again, those are areas of opportunity people may not have been aware of or may not have known about. But what I try to do is because everyone is kind of uniquely designed, I figured out what those areas of passion is, and then kind of use my network and kind of reach out to some people and help them to identify the things that they could possibly do based upon the skill set that they have. candidate or the path, they decided they kind of
Aaron Spatz 31:00
want to go there any last minute advice to the veterans in terms of their next move, or maybe they’re they’re having a difficult time, I would I’ll go ahead and shamelessly plug your book for you. And I’ve been I mean, I would encourage you to check out undo ordinary because I really do see this book being being very pivotal and important to people in terms of unlocking their purpose.
Rico Miller 31:24
If I could give some advice, my dad told me this as a child, and I would always ask him, because I when I was growing up, I wanted to be a truck driver one week, I want to be a truck driver, then he told me, Well, you know, if you do that you can’t be home for Christmas, eat your grandmother’s cooking. So I kind of scratched that because that didn’t sound appealing to miss grandma’s cooking, right? So I now said, Okay, now I want to be attorney, he says you could do that, then I would throw out something else. And what I was doing is I was basing what I was going to be or what I wanted to aspire to based upon his reaction. Because I think deep down inside, we always kind of want that affirmation for certain key people in our lives. And my dad, I said, I don’t think you’d give me the the answer the response. I was like, what do you what do you think I should do? And he says, you know, Rico, I told you to come up with the vision and whatever you want to do what you could do. And he gave me this, this one nugget, he says, what I want you to do is stop letting blind people proofread your vision. Right? He says, I want you to stop letting black people proofread your vision because whatever God has for you, or whatever your path is that you decide that you want to do. Nobody can validate that or, or proofread it more than you. So I would inspire anyone or encourage anybody to whatever you think you want to do in life, whatever God has for you, whatever you think you could you want to do, do it. And just do it was very intentional and very relentless. And don’t let anything or anyone hold you back or discourage you from what ultimately will make you happy.
Aaron Spatz 33:10
Don’t let blind people proofread your work. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show and very humbled that you join us.
Rico Miller 33:24
No, thank you. It was The pleasure was all mine. I definitely appreciated that. Just definitely always like just being able to share God’s word and all the things I’ve gone through that you really have someone else.
Aaron Spatz 33:37
Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course, you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us That’s a Ron at Bold media.us