AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – FORGIVE ANY ERRORS OR TYPOS
Aaron Spatz 00:00
You’re watching America’s Entrepreneur on Youtube. Welcome to the show. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And each week we interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers as a detail their personal and professional journeys. Before we jump in, hit the subscribe button and be sure to hit the bell icon so you’re notified every time we release a new episode. Thank you so much for tuning in to America’s entrepreneur. So excited that you’re joining us this week. Really, really delighted to bring on a special guest to the show this week. Brandon Webb, Brandon is a is a is a absolute treasure to our country. And just a lot of the work that he’s he’s doing, you’ll know his name from soft rep. He’s the founder CEO of soft rep calm and suffer media. You can learn more about that by going to soft rep calm I’ll I’ll have a link for you there, down below. But Brent has spent his time in the Navy, he was with the team’s work work as a seal for about nine years before transitioning out and working for other government agencies for a handful of years before He then began his ventures in into the business world. And so like already mentioned, you’re familiar with soft rock. But he’s also started and sold crate club group, which which is tremendously successful with which you may also want to take note of is that Brandon is also an author. And so he just barely released a book recently, just within the last month called Steel fear that’s available everywhere. So I’d encourage you to go pick up a copy of steel fear today. And so Brandon, I just want to welcome you. Thank you so much for being on America’s entrepreneur.
Brandon Webb 01:29
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Aaron Spatz 01:32
100%. So let’s, so let’s let’s go through just a little bit of your journey. For those that are maybe not as familiar with the military. Most of this audience is military affiliated, but they’re when I’m growing an audience of folks that are not military connected. So take everybody through a little bit of your military background, your career kind of what what caused you to join some of those things.
Brandon Webb 01:55
Sure. So you know, my, I don’t have anyone in my family who served the military before me, I was the first. My parents were hippies. They didn’t know how that translated into Navy SEAL. But you know, I had grown up on boats after leaving Canada. My dad was an entrepreneur, he lost a business during the Canadian financial crisis of the, I want to say in the late 70s. But they decided to pursue their dream, my mom and dad moved my sister on a sailboat to kind of grew up on boats. Getting a job in a scuba diving boat, at a young age, amazing experience. Probably the first time in my life where I realize that work can be fun. Because I was working as a janitor at a bookstore before that job, which is not a fun job, mopping and sweeping, but character. All that background to why my dad and I gotten this huge argument on a family sailing trip in Tahiti when I was 16. And he kicked me off the boat and said, Alright, you’re independent, you think you know it all. And there’s only two captains or only one captain on the ship. And it’s Neguin maybe to think about getting off the boat. So I left home at 16. I had always wanted to be a fighter pilot even before a Top Gun came out, which just made it worse for me. But then kind of having this experience with growing up on a scuba diving boat. I ended up reading a book called rogue lawyer which is the founder of Seal Team Six Deke Marcinko, the book amazing, amazing story. And having had this like weird academic record, realizing I probably didn’t have money for college, didn’t have the grades to get into one of the service academies to fly jets. I said The hell with it. I’m going to be a Navy SEAL. So I enlisted in 93. And at the time, you couldn’t go straight into the SEAL teams, you had to pick a job. You can kind of pick a seal source job, which was an easy kind of quick way to SEAL training but those jobs were terrible. They were like cook. But it was a nice job. I don’t know if that’s yeah, I really have a recruiter that knew much about it. When I went to the the in Processing Center at Bakersfield, California that I remember this little Filipino guy it’s like oh, you have the great asset score via search rescue former aircraft. My recruiter was a those made on ships. It’s like Man, that’s a great job. So I took that was a rescue swimmer trainer, the rescue swimmer airplanes. And helicopters did a couple of tours with HS six out of San Diego, which actually, we can get into later with my first tour on a drone, Lincoln. We had a sexual predator on the boat that was never caught was right when they integrated women into this kind of combat ship environment. And that inspired still fear, the whole plot behind my book now, so fears is inspired by that experience. But eventually, I got my package, my second package approved, they denied the first one to SEAL training, graduated with buds class 215. I think 98 graduated. And then yeah, we started like 220, guys, and I think 23 originals graduated. The training has a pretty high attrition rate. Oh, yeah. And yeah, so that’s kind of how I could, I could go on, that’s kind of like my entry into the shirt, to the Navy. Had a great career. I did a duck and Santa, which is kind of sad today see what’s happening. But my deployment in 2001 cell very purposefully destroyed the training camps and put the Taliban out of power. And you did that very quickly. And then I came home. And now what’s happening is scratching my head, you’re like, What the hell do we do for 20 years? Kind of feels like my generation Vietnam with a better homecoming, that’s really disappointed. And in this government foreign policy, regardless of what, where you fall politically, I think it’s an epic failure on many fronts across many different presidencies.
Aaron Spatz 06:56
Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s very well said. I mean, there’s just, there’s so much that happened over there in the course of 20 years. And regardless of political affiliations and positions there, I mean, it’s just, it’s an absolute mess. And, you know, obviously, my, my heart goes out to a lot of the folks that are on the ground there currently that are trying to get out, like trying to get the heck out of town. Because of the, you know, of a very quickly changing climate there, that’s going to happen for the people that live there. Not to mention, as you said, I mean, all the countless deployments, all the, you know, 1000s of people that have, you know, that have given up themselves over there. And so it’s, it’s going to be interesting, I don’t know if interesting is the right word for that, but to see what you know, in the coming days, weeks, months, what what happens to that place, but man, I appreciate your I appreciate your service, appreciate, appreciate the time that that you did, and then that you serve, serve this nation. And so at some point, though, you you had to have kind of thought about or looking ahead of like to your future. So like, where, where did that decision point come into play? Or like what, what inspired you or kind of motivate you to go ahead and take an exit I know, you worked for some other government agencies on the outside before, before, like completely hanging it up. But what what what led to all that
Brandon Webb 08:20
I would say the main I hadn’t the main driving factor would have been family, I was I had a struggling marriage, young, young family. And I kind of looked to the future and said, if I do another, you know, 10 plus years and get my full retirement, I’m not gonna have relationship with my kids that maybe won’t save my marriage. So that played into it. And then that gave me more kind of perspective to kind of see, you know, what was happening in the world, I saw this, like big, you know, defense machine at work, where you were in Iraq, and I saw guys getting over deployed and over traumatize and that that it sucks to talk about because that this was at a time when America you know, Navy Seals and the military was just Americans heroes, and nobody wants to hear about this kind of over deployment. traumatization that was happening. I think we’re at a place now where we can talk about it. But like Americans just like too busy waving the flag and cheering everybody on because I saw it happening and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I was fortunate enough to and I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just did the the agency contracting because I had a good friend of mine was able to bring me into that and it was a very made my transition very easy to deploy for three months and make, you know, almost a year salary by by normal standards. Allow me that kind of time flexibility to kind of put my first business plan in Other, take some courses on business. I remember being very intimidated by just looking at a p&l or balance sheet. And that’s basic arithmetic, but it’s all foreign. You know, you’re reading a sniper range card one day, looking at p&l The next so you know that, that kind of and I was doing the math, I was fortunate enough to take some, I was finishing my undergrad at night with Embry Riddle, and eventually achieved my dream of being a pilot, I got my pilot’s license, I think when I was 28, in the team, instructor, and I was taking college courses. And I think I took a class on business planning or something. And I started calculating out, you know, my retirement and realize it wasn’t that great besides medical, and I, I was thinking, okay, I can I can get into business. And really, you know, do yourself put myself in a better situation financially, then I would just kind of hanging out, waiting for a retirement check. And when you look at the income distribution world, the majority of the top income earners in the world and businesses like it’s something like 70% That’s what kind of really made up my mind that I was gonna pursue business entrepreneurship.
Aaron Spatz 11:34
That’s really cool. So like, what, what was kind of like, what was your first idea, like, what was really kind of getting you excited? Like, I mean, so. So actually, before jumping that, like one, I just want to point out, like, I think it’s really neat that you, you decide to pursue these things. So like you were you knew that you needed education, you knew that you needed to gain upskill your understanding of certain things. And and so you, you devoted yourself to that to getting smarter at certain things. And you’re facing something that you’re that you’re obviously going to be uncomfortable with that first. But then as you as you jumped into it, like what what did that look like for you? Like what what was that first was the first business venture I mean, I’ve read about on your website, but I just want to share it with with the audience here.
Brandon Webb 12:19
I was, I still am today passionate about real estate investing in real estate, I had done some investing in small apartment buildings, that during when it was at a time in California, where it’s hard to lose money, you know, everything was booming. But I did live a very practical lifestyle. I remember, I we had bought four units in Ocean Beach, and we live in the back unit and tenants pay their mortgage. Which was, which was like really kind of a lesson for me. And you know, when your income goes up, I like to reduce the expenses, not rise, raise expenses, I think a lot of people are high income broke, they just get a bigger house, bigger boat for your car, or nicer car. So I had a little bit of that experience. But my first concept was I experience the Navy SEAL sniper program moving from Camp Pendleton. Actually, we were doing it in central California. But we’re graduating valley fever, which is a terrible, terrible sickness and ruin a couple guys careers, so they can’t train here anymore. It kind of Inland Valley, California. So Camp Pendleton and the Marines ended up kind of politely kicking us out, Pendleton. And then we moved our entire program to Indiana. Then I’ve noticed as I was looking for areas to train, Southern California had this massive shortfall of training areas for police and military. So that was my business idea. At the time. I said, Well, let’s buy some land on the southern border, and build a racetrack and some training facilities. And so that was a concept. And it, you know, today, still, I think would be a successful plan. But, you know, California has always been a challenge to develop to be a developer with environmental issues. So the short version is, you know, got got a couple partners. I was the founder original founder we raise 3.8 million, we bought 1000 acres, went through a very challenging entitlement slash permit process and up getting the permits, and then the 2008 financial crisis happened. Our initial investors were like too busy kind of hunkering down protecting their own assets to put more money in the project at the time where we really needed capital. Then, the local chapter of the Sierra Club sued the county for approving our project base on what they said was a was a BS in environmental product environmental study, which we paid a quarter million dollars for and had no input. I think the county chose who did the report, we just had to pay for it. So it was just kind of a mess and, and kind of collectively, along with some partner in fighting, killed the whole project. So it was a tough pill for me to swallow because I, you know, almost four years invested in this really tough for me to take. And I just had to realize, I just need to move on and chalk this up to a learning experience. And once I kind of made that realization that I had now essentially a street street MBA. I was like, I knew how to raise capital, borrow money from SBA. I knew you know much more about this. So that that day, the confidence to kind of think about what my next opportunity was, but in all practical matters, I got the bores, I had to get a job, I ended up getting a job with L three communications, it was incredible opportunity, more money that I made in my, my life at that point, I did allow me to kind of build up my nest egg. And then my side also became blogging, I got into digital media, through through writing and blogging, and then got the idea for software, through working with military comm. And then I realize, okay, I can do this and, and kind of did it on the side enough to get to a point where I can step away from, from my executive job at L three, and start software, because that the initial idea for Sofra was there was all this interest in the world of military special operations in 2012. But there was really nothing on the internet, you could play the video games by the books that were starting to come out. People were fascinated with what what was happening outside of a few obscure military forums where they would kind of like yell at you if you didn’t get your, your terminology Correct. They’re kind of like the average Joe. And I was like, that’s no way to be. So Sofra started as kind of a site that would cover historical missions, interviews, and then we did start breaking news as well. Because we had, we had all the sources that were everywhere. And we beat the New York Times on certain stories. So that that was an interesting kind of transformation that I didn’t expect. Still kind of, we have a healthy balance of kind of, you know, I’ve called Story interviews, op eds, and occasionally we will break a big story. But that’s, that’s kind of my, what got me into to Sofra.
Aaron Spatz 18:13
Yeah, that’s, that’s incredible how it started, it started off as one idea. And then just because of the nature of the sources that you’re that you have access to, sometimes coming across information or things that are developing sooner than most other outlets. I think that’s, that’s, that’s a pretty fascinating angle. And to go back to the original to the first business concept, it’s, I think that’s, that’s an experience that a lot of people can’t you can either, like, weather from, and they and they withdraw, and they never want to go have another shot at something else. Because they because they had a really tough experience. But your your, your mindset shift there in terms of like, hey, like, like you said, like, I got a got a st MBA is a learning opportunity, growth opportunity. And once you’re able to kind of reconcile that mentally, then you’re able to kind of move forward and then and then in the midst of having a job and side hustle, writing, then it just kind of it just kind of grew. I mean, how did it even grow? Like what was the like, what was the mechanism behind all that?
Brandon Webb 19:21
I would say I owe a lot of it to my time as an instructor, the sniper instructor, we had transformed the seal sniper program and had access to some of the best and brightest minds and performance for it’s a good friend of mine light Basham, who was a gold medalist really taught us about mindset and he built the whole mental management program that he won gold. And that was really centered around positive psychology. And so I would say that that was a huge influence on me. Not not throwing in the towel on, because it was that moment life savings God, wife left me. Now what the hell do I do with myself? It wasn’t, I was a lower, low point for sure. And I think the only one of the things that really helped me was was just understanding how positive psychology is address your your thinking and performance. And I just made a decision, I had a taste of the freedom of entrepreneurship, that was the biggest thing. I went back to corporate and was like, This is not for me, I’m going to be an entrepreneur. So that was a kind of a pivotal moment. For me, I did write a book called total focus, which talks about detail, my my journey, in kind of into entrepreneurship and starting to have some success, because I think a big part of what I what I was struggling with, you know, as a kid that probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD. I was all over the place. So I was citing all these opportunities I was chasing. Yeah, as a seal that was out early and kind of people were wanting to put me on board and start this company and that company and I was getting pulled all these different directions. And I realized I got to focus on on one opportunity and see that as to that success. And I think it’s possible to pursue multiple things, once you have had some success and kind of a strong foundation to build off of perfect example that is Elon Musk, right? But when you have hundreds of millions of capital to deploy, you can buy a lot of resources, and capacity. But when you’re starting something out chasing 10 things at once, it I think it’s a real tricky situation to manage, and in most cases will probably fail miserably. And I’ve got a bunch of examples in that. Poll focus.
Aaron Spatz 22:09
Yeah, well, I’ll link that up below as as recommended reading because I think that is a I think that’s something that plagues a lot entrepreneurs, especially first time young startup entrepreneurs, where it’s like, you’ve got a million different ideas. But then I think in again, this may go into the book, I apologize if it does, but like is this Do you see this also happening on the other side, like on the reaction as an entrepreneur as you’re going out pursuing business? And you have people asking, Well, do you do you also do this? And then like, before long, you’ve like you’ve added, like, an entire buffet of things that you maybe didn’t really intend to?
Brandon Webb 22:45
Yeah, I mean, I think that that, that always is a challenge. And that’s why I think it’s so important to invest into strategy, spend most of the time on strategy, then the rest kind of becomes much easier because you just learned to decline. Those, those kind of distracting opportunities that come up. And now having, I mean, I remember we did a whole exercise. I’m in this program at Harvard Business School for entrepreneurs, and executives. And you know, we did a whole exercise on you know, we were stranded in a simulation where stranded fellow Canadian wilderness and, and it really taught me how important strategy is because we were so like, we spent all this time on this meaningless crap. And we realized we never had a planet the other day, and we had we ended up all dying and the simulation strategy is so important. And I think that’s, that’s a goal planning as well. Right? If if something an opportunity comes up and it’s not aligned with your, with your goals, you just got to comes in easy to climb, you’re like, Okay, this, this either is aligned with my plan or not aligned? And if it’s not, then hey, I’m gonna pass an opportunity. That’s just just how it is. Yeah.
Aaron Spatz 24:18
Yeah, I mean, it because what you’ve done is you’ve already pre made that decision. So it’s like, okay, yeah, this this doesn’t line up with what I’m with what I’m pursuing. So, okay, this isn’t this isn’t gonna be a great fit. So, I mean, that’s solid advice. So So let’s so let’s let’s read, refocus our attention on to soft wrap. And so as that as that begin to grow for you, like, what did you see there in terms of like, okay, like, things were starting to get, like, get a lot of traction you have Did you find yourself in a spot where you were like, needing to hire people to help you edit and write and do all sorts of different things. Yeah.
Brandon Webb 25:00
I’ve had the business now eight years, I have learned so much from the software experience. Mostly, I would say one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is about hiring like, everyone. Now it’s personality Taz, we’re very, you know, pretty strict on, you know, just process the process of hiring, to make sure that we don’t have a bad hire. Because in the beginning, I made a ton of bad hires, like, when I I’ll be totally honest with your audience, we ended up hiring two drug addicts, like one guy ended up overdosing and dying, like left and like, really bad stuff. And total, totally disruptive to the work environment and morality. Imagine, you know, somebody that you invest, the company invested in the team invest in, everyone finds out this person has a real substance abuse problem and, and ends up overdosing. And that’s not a morale booster. So yeah, these are all things that I really, we just kind of naively going so I going along with but learned a ton of lessons about hiring, not necessarily putting people in the roles that you want them in more like, are they suited for this role? That sort of these, there’s a variety of different personality tests that that really measure people’s strengths and weaknesses. We all have them. That now is a backstop for us to make sure okay, this person is the right has the right character set for this this role. So that yeah, a lot of a lot of lessons learned around hiring. What else I also yeah, I’ve still struggled with, with a little bit of focus issues, because there was a time where crate club came on the scene about I want to say like 2015, or 16 just took off. I mean, it was an eight figure business in two years. And then we just shifted focus to crate club and then software kind of took a backseat, which I think in hindsight, a huge mistake. Now the mistake I made was, we didn’t raise capital, like I Bootstrap, both companies. But Cray club, in hindsight now clearly needed a big injection of capital. Because we we ended up becoming a victim of our own success, we were, we ended up having a massive subscriber list. And having running an asset like media company and carrying no inventory, all of a sudden, we’re managing a complex supply chain, and, and having to purchase product and really manage cash flow tightly. And, and we really needed to, like hire more people. And that was a lesson for me. Either you grow a little bit slow, or you slow down the growth, or, like many companies hit fires, these days, they get this injection of capital so they can hire, kind of stay ahead of the growth and hire the people and get the resources they need to manage the growth. Ultimately, you know, crate club, it was at a point where I needed capital, or I needed to sell it and fortunately, I was already in competition with a competitor of ours. And when the pandemic hit, I knew we’re gonna have even bigger supply chain challenges. So I ended up selling it 2020 The job and then now really refocusing on okay, what what what makes software great what are people really love us for? And really investing back into this business which is nice because you know, we do an online store we carry no inventory, everything’s dropship
Aaron Spatz 29:10
huge way not really nice, man. Yeah, that’s wait.
Brandon Webb 29:14
Yeah, yeah, to look at $2 million of product in the warehouse that is just sitting there with crickets chirping, gone. What the hell do I do with this stuff
Aaron Spatz 29:26
that’s a that’s a problem that you don’t have to worry about anymore. So it’s that and I mean that that’s a whole nother a whole nother set of just complex complex issues. And so I know that I really appreciate you kind of providing some of that contrast because it’s those are those are very different, like ways that the businesses were run is like you’ve got you got something that doesn’t require any tangible assets and you got another one that’s completely supply chain dependent and very, very heavy there. And so I can imagine how difficult that is to like maintain focus between the two because there’s just there’s a lot, there’s a lot going on there. But going back to your hiring, like that, I think is I think that’s something that a lot of people have to learn. And unfortunately, maybe it’s the maybe it’s a hard lesson to learn. But my, my question for you, though, is like when you’re bringing somebody on, and they they take a personality profile, and you’re looking at that is, are there any instances where they’ve applied for this role, but you’re like, man, like, love this person, but not for this role? They’d be great for this role. Yeah. Does that happen?
Brandon Webb 30:33
Yeah, that happens. It happened to us recently, we were staffing up our writers and we just happen upon a guy that was a good writer, but also had an incredible marketing background. And I just promoted my cmo to CEO, and we’re kind of like, he could do both jobs. But you know, we found this person, we’re like, Okay, we’re gonna, and actually they’re drinking looks like to do much more than just right from the site. So it worked out for both of us. But that that was an instance where we’re like, okay, is this this person is super talented you can do it can help us with all sorts of merchandise, branding, marketing efforts, social media. And so yeah, we’re, so I think it’s good to kind of keep an eye out for that. And, you know, there are cases where you have really smart people and are, and they’re, they’re willing to kind of like pitch in and do other things until that bright spot opens up for them. And that that’s a possibility, too. I do believe in promoting from within the organization. I I’ve read enough case studies to understand, you know, the companies like Southwest versus United Airlines, Goldman Sachs versus JP Morgan. Like a McKinsey Boston Consulting, it’s like amazing cultures that they’ve built within these organizations. And it’s because of a train and hire and promote from within. And there’s this like, culture of performance, but it’s it’s about the whole team. Whereas like a JPMorgan compared to Goldman’s it’s very, like Doggy Dog. Everyone’s out for their own thing. And you don’t you don’t you end up with a culture. That that’s not a very good team environment. You know, I think that that’s, that’s super important to think about also, that I’ll tell you this, I think, yeah, my I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My grandmother owned a collection agency in the 70s. In Los Angeles, my mom became an entrepreneur, she was always kind of a side entrepreneur, like opened a restaurant sold the restaurant with doing side gigs and ended up building a nice size Coffee, tea manufacturing business with her with her best friend that they sold was like SBA Woman of the Year and she’s amazing inspiration to me, my dad as well. But having said all that, I think there are so many opportunities out there as there’s different ways, different paths to entrepreneurship. If I was giving advice to myself, getting out of the military, I would say go educate yourself on the basics of business, and go get a business broker, apply for an SBA loan and purchase a cash flowing, existing established small business and grow it because there are tons of businesses for sale that have been around for years and years. It just D risks the whole process. You can in most cases, you can borrow the money from the SBA and get owner financing and not even put money out of your pocket and you can buy a business that will generate you know, probably 100 200 300k and owners discretionary income boom, you’re in business and a lot of these businesses the the parents on it, kids don’t want to do it because they went off to college doing their own thing. And the parents just want to like owners just want to give it to somebody they’re ready to retire. Yeah, that’s something not a lot of people are talking about cuz everybody wants to go raise money and start some sexy tech business and I love these like boring businesses. My friend from Harvard, Xavier. He owns this gasket manufacturing business out of France, and Switzerland. They make these tiny little rubber gaskets for like all the luxury watch companies. All sorts of like engineering business it like just the most boring business but it’s a problem. For a bowl, and they have such a niche, because they’ve been making gaskets for years, it’s like I don’t care about the sexy tech business and ping pong tables in the lobby. Anyway,
Aaron Spatz 35:20
that was a phenomenal perspective. And I’m just I’m, I’m dying over here, because you’re like, you’re nailing it right on the head is like, there’s this, the, there’s been this culture that’s been created amongst entrepreneurship community that I’ve that I’ve noticed. And I think and I think even like, you know, a lot of the big names and business I’ve even pointed this out is like, you know, going, going and raising a ton of money and taking like, a massive, massive gamble on a, you know, on a tech idea is not all that it’s cracked up to be. You know, there’s, I mean, there’s tons of winners out there. Thank God for them. But I think to your point here is like it’s real, it’s, there is something to be said for taking something that’s that’s in existence. proven track record, has a has a solid customer base, solid employees, and it’s just it’s just, it’s just chugging along, man, it’s like, I think that’s a, that’s a great, great idea for people that are curious about the idea of this, because you don’t have to stay with that thing forever, right? I mean, you could you could buy one of these companies operate it for five to 10 years. And if you’re like, you know what, I think I think I’ve run this as far as I like to run it and cash out. I mean, like, is that your perspective on that?
Brandon Webb 36:28
Yeah, I think that’s an option. There’s many years, I remember this guy met, when I was just getting out of the military. He um, he started with one White Castle franchise, and now he owns like, 150.
Aaron Spatz 36:42
So, or you start gobbling up your competitors, and you know, your horizontal or vertical integration.
Brandon Webb 36:48
200 million plus, like the guys, you guys rockin it. So there’s all sorts of directions, take it grow, wrote it, sell it. Maybe it’s the kind of things for you can you kind of now learn the business and you can go start acquiring small companies, by assembly? Take it from a small business to very, very big, medium or large? Business? So yeah. Yeah, I just think it’s, you know, America, all of our, you know, all the ugliness aside that, that we’ve seen in the last few years, it’s still an incredible place to build a business, the opportunities still there, the freedom to, to build or buy businesses still here and the marketplace, everybody in Europe, and the rest of the world wants to be in two markets. Its its North American market and China. And so, yeah, we’re, we’re in a great, we’re in a great time. And especially for these military folks coming out, they have such good skills, leadership management skills, that if they just do a little bit of homework, they can be great, great owners and operators.
Aaron Spatz 38:10
That’s solid advice. And perspective there. I’d like to like to should focus. Before we jump to your book, I actually want to there’s another question want to ask you, which was, you know, we talk a lot about our challenges, we talk a lot about lessons learned. And I’m telling you, you’ve been you’ve been shelling out some some pure gold here, and I really, like I really appreciate all that. But now, I want to, like actually kind of turn attention to like, some of your proudest moments and your biggest achievements, I don’t think we, I don’t think we talked enough about some of those sometimes. And it’s like, there’s, there’s, you know, for every, I mean, it’s like, we can do 10 things, right, in any given situation. But there may be one thing that we screwed up on and we’re gonna we spent a lot of time focusing on that. I think, I think that’s great, by the way, I mean, there’s, there’s something to that, to always get better. But no doubt, there’s been a lot of things that you’ve done, right, Brandon, like through your career and through these ventures, and I’d love to understand some of the some of these things from your angle, like, Hey, these are some things that I’ve seen other people do wrong. And I either learned from them or, or I just or I was just a great calculated, you know, guests here and in following my intuition and like, really happy how this worked out. We’d love love to understand little bit more about that.
Brandon Webb 39:24
Yeah, so I would say kind of two things that come to mind recently was the credit club exit. I was involved with investment bank. They were brought in and hired to help me raise capital, but when I realized with COVID, capital, climate was changing, that I needed to sell, and I had a relationship with a potential buyer. I fortunately knew I had some experience with bankers in the past and they provide a great service For, you know, doing whether the selling or helping you raise capital. But in this case, they really pushed to kind of get involved with with the sale and I, I knew that they would slow me down. And I already had a great relationship going with with the potential acquire at the time and I had enough confidence and know how to make that decision. Very tough decision to tell a bunch of alpha alpha bankers back off, you’re out of it, you’re out of the deal, like I’m doing this myself, and ended up selling, you know, with help from my, my finance guy, Randy. But we did the deal ourselves. And we had done a very simple contract lawyers out of the mix, other than reviewing file doc, so that that I see is a really good accomplishment that I’m proud of. And then, and then on the topic of the book, like steal fear. I had a lot of success as a nonfiction author, my friend and editor at St. Martin’s Press, Mark was like, Hey, why aren’t you doing fiction to stick with nonfiction? You’re good at it. You got a pretty good fan base. But I had this I, I think I’m also a creative person. And I wanted to, like explore this, this creative streak in me and I said I can I can do this. So I started writing a book and a guy that I write with, written we can pass John, I brought him in, when I was about, I think just under 20,000 words, in the book, I think finished is close to 90,000. We turned it 100,000 words, but you know, a good quarter way through the book. Then when I asked John to help me because I just I just wanted to get it done. So again, like we finished the book, people were like, Oh, what do you guys know about writing, you’re both of you are nonfiction guys. But then we just pushed forward and thankfully, our agent leaves the house. And we started getting some really good feedback. And we ended up selling steel here for record advance in the middle of the pandemic. We sold it, I think, May 2020, for more money than you’ve ever made. project before. And, and, you know, and then we sold the TV series of peacock right behind the book. The Random House. Yeah. So NBC Universal as a peacock is our streaming network. So I just think it’s it shows you that if you’re persistent, and you believe in something that it can pay off. And so I’m really proud to kind of bring steel here and in the world. The thing that I didn’t expect was, we ended up with a with a series like this is kind of an ordered like a Jason Bourne slash Jack Reacher origin story. So our, our character Finn lives on, like, he’s, we’re already in book two and finding book number three. So yeah, pretty, pretty excited about this. And what’s to come?
Aaron Spatz 43:18
That’s super cool. That’s a I mean, that’s a great those, those are two really, really awesome accomplishments. And it’s, it’s really neat to see the pivot, I mean, because that’s, I mean, that is a big leap going from nonfiction to fiction. And so I was gonna, I mean, the perfect segue was like, you mentioned it earlier, in our conversation, a little bit of the origin story of steel fear, but kind of, if you want to elaborate a little bit more on that, feel it feel free to but just love to kind of understand the the genesis of that and, and what like just what inspired you to go after this specific type of genre?
Brandon Webb 43:51
So the other thing I would say that, that we did in the book, kind of not thinking about but because it was based on such real events like steel fear, you could teach a leadership course off this book. And I’ve had I was on James, all the jurors podcast, and we talked about, he said the same thing. So that’s an element that we want to carry for the series. I’m a huge iron Rand fan. I love her kind of, you know, philosophy on entrepreneurship and, and free markets. And so that’s something we’re going to continue to kind of carry on, you know, as a theme as we go forward. But so then, what inspired the book I was on the Abraham Lincoln, which was a nuclear aircraft carrier, my first deployment on a carrier you know, outside of our squadron and some of the folks on the ship who are great the Lincoln was at the time of very like draggy environment it you know, the the captain never spoke to anybody on the one end see, which is kind of the main intercom ship, we had the highest accident rate I think in the fleet, we had a ATSI collision, we lost an F 14 jet approach, pilot pilot died. And we just played with all these issues then to make it even more interesting we it’s the first time the carrier is supporting with women and and we have this pervert on board running around like assaulting women at night. And they never caught the guy. And then I remember finishing that deployment, getting like, being really bummed out because my, my buds package got denied my squadron like, No, you’re too important. You have too many qualifications, which is a lesson I learned later. As a leader, sometimes you have to reward your high performers, you can’t punish them because they’re so good and so qualified, because that’s what happened to me. I ended up having to do another deployment, and applying to SEAL training all over again. And I did this deployment on the Kitty Hawk. And I remember thinking to myself, great, I’m going from like this terrible ship. That’s one of the newest in the fleet. Now I got to go on this conventional aircraft carrier, which is, you know, I think I think it was built in the 60s. quote me on that. He was old, conventional, and like this is kind of suck. And I get on the PTR. I was like blown away. It was so much nicer. The ship was cleaner. The morale of the crew was high. And we had this great captain on board. And it was instant. Lee recognizably like this guy is just a good leader. He’s talking to the crew every day on the one NC telling us Oh, this is where we’re going next. This is what we’re doing and that the communication was there. And morale was high. And thus you had this like old ship that was incredibly well run and a great, a much greater work environment than the Lincoln. And so that was like a big lesson for me in leadership and that’s something that we talk about is or becomes very apparent steel fear is the main character Finn’s noticing this kind of leadership dynamics good leadership value ship, and in a guy that’s in charge the captain of the Lincoln and steel Fear, he’s this careerist guys kind of mediocre. He wants to be the smartest guy in the room. And he’s like, creating this environment where the serial killer because I that the sexual predator behind gave me an idea like what if it was a serial killer? Yes, how Hannibal Lecter like character. And so but his bad leadership created this environment where the serial killer could just kind of thrive and wreak havoc. And that’s what happened in steel fear. That’s the whole thing. What inspired the book. It’s kind of cross genre. It’s a military thriller and kind of a crime. Almost like Tom Tom Clancy and Agatha Christie had a baby. That’s that’s kind of like, so it’s a little cross genre.
Aaron Spatz 48:11
That’s cool. Well, that’s good. That’s a good company. And I’m, I’m excited excited for you with the one we’re just getting such a great advance. I mean, on Book One, it’s already turning into a series. So no doubt there’s a there’s plenty more of the story to be told. And I’m and I’m so so so excited for you and the way that that’s heading and and I just I think you you really are like you’re a great example, for those that have exited the service. No doubt, there’s challenges. We all we’re all going to face challenges, there’s all good, there’s always gonna be headwinds and in life and in business and so it’s like, you’ve no doubt gone through plenty of those, you’re gonna go through more, I’m sure but also being able to rebound from those reassess, re attack and you’re continuing to move forward. And so I think it’s I think it’s really neat to kind of see your story. And I just mean like looking at you and like hearing your talk like I still feel like we’re like early like I still feel like there’s so much more for you out there that’s that that you haven’t gotten to yet that’s gonna happen and I’m I’m excited to see where where all this goes for you. So yeah, yeah, but but so what’s the what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to follow you follow? What’s what’s going on? I’ll throw the book title up here as you’re as you’re sharing this with me, but
Brandon Webb 49:32
this is a UK cover.
Aaron Spatz 49:34
Kind of go. That is cool. Yeah, that’s a super clever.
Brandon Webb 49:40
Brandon Tyler web.com Just my full name calm. I’m on Instagram at Brandon T web and Twitter branded T web i i very active on Instagram. I don’t have one unanswered damn if it’s a respectful Question I typically will always answer back and get to it at some point. I think that’s kind of, I mean, maybe that change but if I become too successful for now I can manage it and maybe I get someone to help me but I do like that I feel like obliged to to answer back if it’s a person asking me advice on entrepreneurship or about the book I don’t mind I did have a funny guy even wrote to me, he’s like, Hey, I think I’m gonna be in jail. Like can you tell me what happens and Book Two I was like, I think they have a library
Aaron Spatz 50:42
that’s awesome. Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, Brandon, this has been a it’s been a been a true delight. I really, really do appreciate you making make some time to spend with me sharing a little bit of your little bit your story and wish you nothing but the best can’t wait. Can’t wait to see how how the rest of story plays out. But thank you again so much. 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 So next time