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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 joining America’s entrepreneur. I’m so excited that you’re that you’ve tuned in this week. And yet again, I’m I’m incredibly delighted to just bring another just amazing guest onto the show, you’ll notice a trend in my guest lineup a lot. A lot of folks have military service, I’m very well entrenched in the military veteran community being one myself. And so I’m incredibly excited to introduce Zachary green to you. And we’re gonna dive into a whole bunch of topics. But let me just let me just kind of give you a quick rundown about about him and what he’s all about. So He’s a graduate of Roger Bacon, high school, bowling, Bowling Green State University. He was a Marine Corps veteran. And in following his time in, in the Marines, he was a former lieutenant with his local fire department. What we’re really going to dive into is a lot of his business background. So he’s founder of two startups, ones gross, close to $30 million in products are now used nationwide, with firefighters and some really large retailers. And I’ll let him fill in all the details. So he has a late, one of his latest ventures deals with Department of Defense. So we’ll see how much of that we’re able to talk about. I’m gonna brag on him for just a second. And just so just so that you’re tracking so he’s received the the president united states II award in DC from President Trump for exporting and has been honored as Exporter of the Year by the Ohio Small Business Administration. Zachary was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, the front page of yahoo.com msn.com and USA Today along with numerous other local national media outlets. He’s testified in front of us house representatives, Small Business Committee and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Governor John Kasich. Zachary was also selected by the Obama White House is one of 10 entrepreneurs to represent the United States at the global entrepreneur Summit. So quite quite the the impressive background and so I’m just incredibly excited to welcome him and Zack, thank you so much for spending some time with me today.
Zachary Green 02:23
Aaron, thank you so much. It’s a real honor to spend some time with you.
Aaron Spatz 02:28
For sure. So let’s let’s let’s go back to where it all started for you. Where like, where did you grow up? What was your upbringing? Like? Were you in a family that that really that that was entrepreneurial minded? Or is that been something that’s kind of just You’ve nurtured along just throughout your career.
Zachary Green 02:45
So you know, I grew up in a family, my mother was a professional ballerina, my father played in the symphony. My grandparents, most of my other family were either lawyers or something along those line, you could not get more opposite of you a future US Marine in the family makeup that I had. The when my friends were outside playing soccer and, you know, kicking the balls around and riding bikes, I was spreading mud on my face crawling through the woods trying to reenact Marine Corps battles. So for me, it’s something that it’s always been a passion of mine, specifically the Marine Corps. I had posters of the Marines up on my wall when I was a little kid, as a lot of us jarheads do. But the entrepreneurship, it’s interesting, my great grandmother was born in 1884, at a time when women weren’t even supposed to leave the house level on had businesses, and she became a very successful entrepreneur in Atlantic City. pass that on to my grandfather. And unfortunate my grandfather passed away about two or three months after I started my first business. So I feel like, you know, he’s been along the way and along the journey here with me helping me out. You know, the Marines in the entrepreneurship. I feel like that was my destiny.
Aaron Spatz 03:57
Wow. Yeah, that’s it. It’s really neat to hear people’s backgrounds and their stories as as a as they navigated the the decision making process of whether or not they want to join the military. You know, what, what just pique their interest and so it’s neat hearing from you just like, for you is like a foregone conclusion, you knew it was gonna happen. It’s just a matter of timing.
Zachary Green 04:17
Yeah, I mean, I My dream was to become a general in the Marine Corps. That’s what I want to do. Since I was a little kid. There’s some people that joined the military for college money, some because they got nothing else to do some that want to learn to trade and then there’s just some of us that just love our country. And I knew that nobody’s better than the Marines and I wanted to join the Marines because that because I know it was the hardest challenge and the most difficult process out there. And, you know, that’s that’s just kind of how things worked themselves out. I
Aaron Spatz 04:47
guess. That’s awesome. Well, help me understand then your, your, your post military world and in that transition, you’ve done you’ve done a lot of really, really interesting things. I mean, Have you worked for a number of companies for for some years before getting involved in your local government and some of the things that are going on there locally before you moved, but kind of walk walk me through that?
Zachary Green 05:13
Sure. So I got out of the Marine Corps 99, I actually graduated top my platoon from OCS, I was already a corporal at the time. And that was during the Clinton years, we were in major attrition mode. And it just wasn’t a pleasant time to be in the military. And I wanted to be deployed. It’s kind of funny, because now we have so many deployments, you don’t want to get deployed. But back then, I served for six, seven years learning to, you know, blow things up and kill people, I never got a chance to do it. So I ended up declining my commission right before my commissioning ceremony a couple weeks prior to that, like, suddenly didn’t make my OSA office very happy. But it was a great decision. You know, at the end of the day, I’m Marines, the Marine doesn’t matter if you’re a private or Forestar, you’re still a Marine. But then two years later, September 11 happened. And you know, we just are two days past the 911 anniversary 20 years can’t believe it’s been that long. And for me, I went through a lot of guilt. After September 11 happened because I knew my brothers and sisters, were taking the good fight to the enemy. And here I am, you know, getting fat and laying on the couch and be coming a good civilian. So that sense of purpose that I missed from that brotherhood, that esprit de corps, that sense of service, I found it the fire department. And the beauty is in the Marine Corps, we take stuff that’s really fun and make it as miserable as possible. And the fire service, we take stuff that’s really miserable and make it as fun as possible. So for the next 15 years, again, volunteer fire department, my full time job, I was in high end software sales, selling million dollar software packages to billion dollar companies. But then my wife who at the time was in residency as a physician, got introduced to the world of pharmaceutical sales, which is a bunch of really smart, beautiful women that take you out to dinner and do all this stuff. I’m like, I wanna hang out with those guys. So ended up joining Eli Lilly, and worked my way up from sales to sales management to training. And then when I really found my groove was when I got on some work with the brand teams, and learning how to build a brand of what that represents. You don’t sell a product, you sell a solution to a problem. And I think that’s the most basic foundation of entrepreneurship is you have to solve a problem. That problem for me, happened about two weeks into my job as a firefighter where we’re going through a live burn. A lot of times people will instead of tearing their house down, donate it to the fire department will train on it for a couple of weeks and then burn the puppy to the ground and it saves them money on demolition gives us a great training opportunity. Why got lost in the fire. I’m crawling down the hallway, I get to the end of the hallway. And you’ll always know at the end of the hallway is going to usually either be a door or there’s going to be another stairwell, there’s usually a way to get out hallways typically don’t end up in just a wall. And this one did, there was no door, I checked all three sides. And I realized oh my gosh, I’m gonna walk in closet, I’m not in the hallway. And I had no idea how to get out, got 6070 pounds of gear on my back, can’t see my hand in front of my face. It’s so dark, I panicked. I look out I got 20 minutes of air left before I am gongga. And obviously figured it out, got my bearings fell my way out. And as I was talking to my lieutenant, I was somehow upset I was in how scared and he starts laughing and making fun of me. He says, Look, bro, that’s how it works in the fire service, you have to get comfortable with being disoriented and not having accountability of your tools or accountability of your crew. I was like, That’s unacceptable. I can’t accept that. That was the problem I had to solve. And that’s really what led me on the journey that over the last 10 to 11 years.
Aaron Spatz 08:59
Wow. You know, and that that story, like, as you’re telling, I can sense some of the just the power and the emotion from it. Or I mean, I know you’ve told that story probably 100 times at this point. But the the reality for you in that moment was I mean, it was it could have turned into a life or death situation. I know you had plenty of time and your bottle and you know things things were looking okay for you in terms of timing, but still you got a burning freaking house that’s coming down around you. It’s like it’s not a place you just want to kick back and hang out. And so thinking about that, but thinking about accountability, and I mean you and I both being US Marines knowing just what kind of headaches we can put ourselves through when it comes to gear accountability, right and and people but so kind of taking that that mindset and applying that to this business idea I mean you’re you go it goes back to what you said a couple minutes ago which was you’re not selling the product you’re you’re in I may be Miss Miss Miss quoting you but you’re you’re solving a solution to this problem. And so you you You found that problem and you like sunk your teeth into it. So like, tell me, tell me what, like, what happened in immediate days, weeks after that?
Zachary Green 10:09
Sure. So I tell people, there’s three successful pillars to an entrepreneurial success. The first one is you have to solve a problem in a unique and elegant way. The second one is you have to have an unfair competitive business advantage. I didn’t say unethical, I didn’t say illegal, but unfair. And the third one is you have to have kick ass sales, marketing distribution, you can have the greatest product in the world, you don’t have good sales and marketing. And the way for people to buy it, you’re not going to be successful. So let’s let’s back up to that first one, solving a problem that unique way. Back when I was in the Corps, you probably remember the little cat eyes, we had on the back of our Kevlar helmet that glow in the dark. I was like, I remember that, because that’s all you can see when you were doing these long humps was these little two green dots. And I saw a special about September 11, where they actually talked about using that material in the stairwells that help those 17,000 people find their way out. Matter of fact, it was mentioned six times during the 911. Commission report that this technology helped people find their way out on the steps and on the handrails. So I started doing some research and I found out that it’s not the glow in the dark that we had as a kid that little novelty stuff this is actually uses rare earth elements called strontium and europium, and a couple other ones, and it will glow for literally 20 to 30 hours. And the first couple seconds, it was so bright, it’s like a flashlight. So I found a couple of really smart people. Now I’m a firm believer that you’re a good leader if you’re the dumbest person in the room. And I say that because you should always surround yourself with people that are better than you. So that way, you all regress to the mean, you let everyone live shot. So I’m working with these brilliant scientists, we found a way to embed these crystals into silicon, which is a great heat resistant material, I make a band that goes around my helmet go into a fire couple weeks later, and all anybody can see is this green Halo going down the hallway. And my brother behind me decides he’s going to take my helmet off to take a better look at it. As we’ve got burning conditions above us and I turn around a slug. And I’m like, bro, let’s put the wet stuff on the red stuff and not mess around with my helmet. He’s like, this is incredible. All I can see is this green Halo. So we get outside, obviously got the fire knocked down. And guys start throwing $20 bills at me and they’re saying I want one I want and so I make another five or 10 of them. And then the neighboring fire chief calls you up and says, Hey, he wants 50 of them. And this started this big challenge, I think that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t know. And that is you can grow yourself out of business. Because one of the most important things in entrepreneurship is cash, not money, cash, there’s a difference. Money is like a form of accounting cash is how much money you actually have in your hands. And if it takes me six weeks to produce product, I have to buy it in bulk. I have to prepay because I’m a small company, no one’s going to give me credit. And then I got to wait 60 days to get paid that float can be almost three months. Now that’s a couple 100 bucks, it’s no big deal. But if you take an order for $100,000 or a million dollars, you can literally be put out of business almost instantly. So I slowly grew that company over the next six months just driving from fire station, a fire station, going in there said Hey, brother, my name is Zach. I’m a firefighter from the Cincinnati area. Can we go in the bathroom and turn the lights off together? And if they didn’t beat me up, they usually like Okay, that’s cool. And that was the only place that was dark enough for me to show the product and literally would sell it. So maybe about 5000 bucks in six months, my fire chief sat me down and said, Look, Zack, you have a product that’s going to transform the fire industry. You need to stop treating it as a hobby. And I remembered a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. He said, When you’re faced with a monumental decision, the best thing to do is the right thing. The next best thing to do is the wrong thing. But the worst thing to do is nothing. And it’s kind of the same thing. You know, Aaron and the Marine Corps that, you know, hey, a lance corporal, great initiative, bad judgment. We’ll never bust somebody for good initiative at the end of the day, fail moving forward, keep progressing. Same thing with entrepreneurship. So I ended up booking a trade show at this world’s largest trade show for firefighters. I got a bunch of my firefighter brothers to come and help me out in the booth. We built a tent out of like a soccer tent with sidewalls held together with duct tape and zip ties. We had cardboard signs and next to us is Honeywell with their big billion dollar company and $100,000, booth and mes and all these big companies. We had a line of almost 100 people deep at times. Wow, we sold so much product that the people from the other boosts were coming over to thank us because as people are waiting to get into our booth, that was the only way they were getting traffic in their booth. We booked $100,000 In three days. The problem is Excuse me, all right, I didn’t have enough money to produce the raw material. I didn’t even even if I had the money, I had no capability. But I’m just taking orders. They’re like, You got to slow down. I’m like, No, that’s not the Marine Corps way, we will figure it out. Even if we go ahead and we advanced too fast, leave out, run our supply line in our logistics lines, we’ll figure it out. At the end of the day, Marines are all about mission accomplishment. And that’s what I did, I was able to refinance my house maxed out my credit cards, started to take in my 401k, to kind of get some cash to fill his orders, we filled them. One thing led to another, we kept getting more orders, it got to the point where I was making good revenue, but I didn’t have cash, because I was spending money faster than I was making it. So then I did a basically a shark tank I didn’t do the actual show shows. Well, I’ll get into that story another time, maybe. But, um, I raised a couple million dollars in venture capital financing from a couple different investors. And my goal was the unfair competitive business advantage, which is the second pillar of that three pillar goal was I would get the firefighters that were using my products, who are also the guys that did the inspections of exit signs, there’s 100 million exit signs in the United States, every one of them needs batteries, light bulbs, and electricity. So if I can get the firefighters that are already using the technology, aware of it, they know that I’m a brother, firefighter, at the end of the day, I’m going somewhere exit signs, because that’s gonna save more firefighter lives. If we know that everyone’s out of the building, we treat that very differently than if we know someone’s trapped in the building, someone’s trapped in the building, we will make decisions that could alter our life. But that’s the right thing to do. That’s what we do. But if everyone’s out, and no one does what they’re supposed to, we should never have to put ourselves in that situation. So batteries need or exit signs and batteries, light bulbs electricity, I can use the same glow in the dark material from the firefighters to make exit signs out of them. And actually, the code does not talk about the light source, it just says it has to be visible for 90 minutes. And that’s what we did, we started making exit signs that glow in the dark. And before you know it we got in with Kroger’s got in with Home Depot. And then all of a sudden Home Depot said we don’t want to sell it, we don’t want to just buy it, we want to sell it. And that’s really what finalize that third part of that pillar was getting our product available through Home Depot.
Aaron Spatz 17:28
And that is a that’s a heck of an accomplishment. And again, just what what an amazing story as you’re like the product was selling itself, you didn’t have to strong arm anybody into buying it, you just simply needed to show them what it was the problem it solved how it worked. And there’s nothing else to say. I mean, they were just like, holy cow, like, Where Where has this been. And I really do appreciate you taking some time to share what I think is a pretty common entrepreneurial problem, which is, which is the whole cash The cash issue, I mean, trying to get favorable terms, like you’d said, as a new person, I mean, you’re you’re dealing with, you know, orders, you’re dealing with suppliers, and you’re dealing with terms that dictate that you’re going to have to pay before you get paid, which can be incredibly, very problematic. So like, what do you feel like for a lot of a lot of companies doing a capital raise is probably like, I’m sure there’s plenty of other financing vehicles, whether it was a business loan, or, or, or private money or something else, but just but getting, getting some type of capital injection was really what made a huge difference for you.
Zachary Green 18:39
You know, I can’t put my finger on one specific shirt, I think it was a combination of a bunch of them. I mean, the money certainly was great. But also with that capital infusion, I got the the professionalism of that firm. So when I was interviewing VC firms, this probably wasn’t the best deal. But it was a father son team, they sat me down, they said, look, at some point in time, at two o’clock in the morning, you’re gonna have a crisis, and we’re gonna get out of our pajamas, put our clothes on at 230 in the morning, we’re gonna sit down in the office or at the waffle house or wherever, and we’re gonna solve this together. And they joined my board. And you know, it wasn’t easy. And we’ve we certainly have had our fights and stuff. But at the end of the day, it’s not just the money. It’s that team of people that you bring with you. And I’ve gotten to the point now, where actually I have hurt the business from growing. And the reason why is I do everything in the early years. I waited in line at the post office to mail the packages, I mixed up the the pigment into the silicone epoxy. I did the sales orders, I did the accounting. That was fine when we only had 10 or 15 customers. But as the company grew, I would hire people and unfortunately a lot of people I hired weren’t really good quality people. They had a lot of passion and love for our mission. But I couldn’t afford to pay for the people like I had When I worked at Eli Lilly that at literally, you know, company of what, 20 30,000 employees, every person that worked there that I touched over that 10 years absolute studs, I mean, every person there was amazing. Wow. And so eventually, we got to the point where business was coming up, it was all getting funneled to me. And I had to step away. And I made a very difficult decision to resign as CEO and hire a CEO. So here’s my company that I started my baby, still on the most shares of the stock in the company. And now I’ve got somebody literally telling me what to do. But that’s what freed me up and allow me to get away from working in the business, and start working on the long term vision and the strategy and the PR and all that other stuff. I’m at the point now where I’m, you know, I’m working, you know, maybe at the top half hour to an hour a day, probably on that business. And now I’m starting my next journey, which is helped me to work with entrepreneurs and advise and coach them on how they can not make some of the same mistakes I made and grow themselves.
Aaron Spatz 21:05
Amazing. Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s a really amazing story. And you’ve you know, you’ve and we, I didn’t even mention it at the, at the top of the show. But I mean, one of the things that we really want to get down to talking about, too, is obviously, your book, like, this is a huge, huge week for you. Tell us about warrior entrepreneur.
Zachary Green 21:24
So I really appreciate that. And the timing of this is pretty awesome. This is, you know, within the first year to the business, everyone says, Zach, you got to write a book. The problem is, is nobody wants to read about you, unless you names Oprah Winfrey, or you know, or something like that. So what I want to do is be able to tell my story in a framework that’s going to help other people. And what I realize is there’s kind of three phases that a warrior has to come through. And when I use the word warrior, it could be the traditional warrior that we think of that’s kitted out in military gear, or maybe a knight in shining armor, or samurai. It could be an entrepreneur, that just grinding it out at two o’clock in the morning at the local incubator, or could be a single state home mom, that’s working three jobs, just trying to hold everything together. And that warrior spirit goes like this, it starts with resistance, you have to have challenging resistance to grow. You can take a little kid and carry him everywhere. Never let him crawl, never let him grab anything, that kid will never be able to walk, you have to let your kid fall down. It’s very difficult to do. Same thing with sports, we can’t have these safe spaces in these coddling of our youth, because we never get them a chance to really grow. And when you look at what happens in the military, you get that resistance and ultimately culminates with a crucible. Now in the Marine Corps, there is a physical crucible for you TPS, you know, it was you know, the final part of the PLC seniors it quickly it’s rough stuff. And at that point in time, the warrior takes all that challenges they’ve had, that have made them grow, you know, in order for a muscle to grow, you have to provide resistance with the weights. And that’s what causes you to get stronger, your muscles get bigger, the same thing happens with your character. And in that crucible, you realize that you cannot make it through that event, if you continue to do the way things used to be before. And at the bottom of that crucible is that abyss the famous abyss that Nietzsche talked about that if you stare long enough into the abyss, the Abyss will basically stare back at you. And there’s some people that never make it out of that abyss, they get put in a difficult situation at work, they get in a traditional relationship with somebody. And they kill themselves as a result of drug or alcoholism or some other type of unhealthy behavior because they’re stuck in that abyss. But that’s not the warrior way the warrior ways take resistance, they get ready. They look at the Abyss they recognize it’s there. They appreciate and they honor it, but then they move for. And at that time that they move forward. You have to shed your former self you have to get rid of those bad habits, those bad relationships, those bad things that you did before, and transform into a true warrior. And that’s exactly what happened to me in the Marines. When I came down to boot camp. I was, you know, had a lot of rough edges. I went to six or seven different schools growing up, I had really bad learning disabilities. It’s funny, I was diagnosed at an early age with ADHD. But now in my normal life, it’s called multitasking. Everyone’s like, Oh, he’s such a great multitasker. They can do these things. But in school, I’m going to detention because I can’t pay attention. So what happens is is you you get through that you have that event. You move forward and you you’re transforming your change. And in my case, it was when I ran out of money in my business. I had a situation where the company was failing. We were about a week away from being completely out of that valuable resource cache. I had a straight up panic attack. I thought I was having a heart attack. It was the darkest, most difficult moment of my life, I had a decision at that point to quit. But if I quit, the bank was going to take my house, I was going to file for bankruptcy. At this point in time, my wife that was doing real well as a doctor had already quit her job because she had to support me emotionally and physically by allowing me to travel and she couldn’t do that working. And I was like, Well, honey, you know, you were my backup plan. She’s like, No, there is no backup plan. We’re gonna do this. And so what happened is over that event over the next five or six days, we were able to figure it out. The only way you can fail as an entrepreneur, there’s only one way not is to give up. And it’s okay to give up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly okay. Eventually the bullshit is way higher than the what your tolerance level is. And that’s fine, pop smoke it out. That’s all right. It’s admirable that you were able to make it that far. But there is a solution to every problem. A lot of the solutions on pretty one of my solutions was to put my house up on as collateral for mortgage, one of my solutions was having to spend time away from my family and travel 150 nights a year for almost five consecutive years. Wow. But when you make it through that, it feels so much better. You’ve accomplished so much more. And that’s what happened to me, I changed that point, I was able to get through that. And that’s really when when I said you know what I got to step back in the business, I need to hire a CEO, I can’t do this myself, it is gotten bigger than what I can handle. And then the company’s pretty much flourished ever since. Wow. So that’s what the books about the book is about that concept. We go into the science of adversity. We talk about the neurological systems that happen when you’re challenged. And then I go through a series of interviews with everyone from the CIA, to the FBI to a presidential mission to Sudan. I interview the first ever female infantry men in the Marine Corps, naval aviators, and we talked about that process of resistance, crucible and kind of that new Warrior journey, I interview, people like Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, obviously not going to be them personally, but their stories and share the same journey as they go through. And we split it up in a couple of categories where you’ve got, you know, resistance, you’ve got courage, you’ve got grit, you’ve got teamwork, you’ve got passion. And then I wrap up with serenity, which I think is one of the most important chapters, that’s my finish with it. There’s 30% of the US military says they struggle with depression. We know PTSD is a bigger problem than combat deaths. All right, now we’re losing 22 of our brothers a day to suicide. But in the entrepreneurship world, it’s 70%. It’s unbelievable. It’s more than two and a half times larger than our guys that go into combat, but nobody gives them, thank you for your service, we appreciate you, we do all that type of stuff. So entrepreneurs need to know that there is a network out there. And then if you can’t take care of your emotional self, there’s no way you’re going to be able to take care of that business too. Because it can get really dark, it is almost equivalent to losing a child when you lose your business because you’ve grown that thing from where it is to where ends up.
Aaron Spatz 28:11
Wow, that’s a that’s a really scary statistic. Because there’s, you know, I feel like we’ve we’re living in a time where, and I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. But you know, the whole idea of entrepreneurship is much more celebrated today than it was 1015 20 years ago. And the same thing with capital raising, right, like Shark shows like Shark Tank, I’d love to circle back to that, because you made a made a comment, I want to see what that was about. But, but, but shows like Shark Tank have championed the the American business, the American dream. However, you define that for yourself, right. But there’s been there’s been so much put into that. And I think, again, this is Aaron’s personal opinion, this is not that related to what we’re talking about necessarily. But there’s there’s been so much emphasis put on a you need to go start a business or you need to go be a an entrepreneur to be quote unquote, successful. And there’s a whole nother world that gets overlooked. And in terms of corporate America and nonprofits and a whole bunch of other things that are available to you. But then there’s also now there’s this new pressure, and like it just gets concentrated to the nth degree and I think that’s what you’re kind of expressing earlier is there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes as an entrepreneur, it’s not just, you know, go raise go raise money after you roll out of bed yesterday after you decided to start a business right it’s there’s a
Zachary Green 29:41
much better chance of becoming a professional athlete than you do becoming what’s called a unicorn which is the top of the number so unicorn is a company that has a billion dollar valuation. Okay, um, those things of the guy at Napster and Twitter and you know, all those other companies that came out but those are They’re not gone, they’re pretty much close to being on the average entrepreneur. Again, I didn’t make it salary my first three years. Matter of fact, I lived off a credit card debt. My next three years I was in business, I was paying myself a salary that was probably equivalent to what I made 20 years earlier, right when I got out of school, you get paid last when you’re the entrepreneur, and a lot of times, you will forego your salary just to make sure your employees can continue to get paid. Now, eventually it will pay off. And it did for me about two years ago, it became extremely lucrative, and not only was able to pay back all the debt that I had accumulated everything else, but it was also able to, to finally reward myself with all those great, you know, challenges that we had before. But that doesn’t always happen there. And for me, my biggest path I look at money is real simple. It’s a scorecard. If you do really well, you make a lot of money. If you don’t do well, you don’t make a lot of money. That means how many people you touch. So a teacher does really well, they do incredible work. But at the end of the day, they’re touching 15 kids for one year, a professional athlete touches millions of people, 10s of millions of people, their value is very low. But when you multiply into that formula, it’s the amount of value by how many people you can touch. And for me, that scorecard is money. And the way I look at it is when I drive down the street, now I see a fire truck go by and they got my product on. That for me means more than anything because I know I’m helping my brothers out. I go to the Kroger is right around the corner here and Bluffton down here in Hilton Head. They’ve got my exit signs up in the Kroger’s, it’s the greatest fear in the world. Because I know if there’s an emergency and a hurricane comes through in the power failures, people are gonna see those exit signs. And so that that’s really where the success is, I always tell people, and again, Simon Sinek, if you haven’t heard of them, get his TED talks, amazing, amazing videos. But it’s this whole thing about it starts with why most companies focus on what they do it, some of them focus on how they do it. But the ones that are the best focus on why and that’s the key is gotta start with the why for me, my wife, my firefighters, for firefighters in those they protect.
Aaron Spatz 32:12
That’s so good. Yeah, and that’s a great, that’s a great. I mean, I’d say like, that’s a Simon Sinek like top three video right there. Like all the stuff he’s produced. I mean, that’s the start with why, video, and I’ll make sure I link that up here. Make a note, make sure that I link that up. So that if you haven’t seen that, you can check it out. Okay, awesome. Oh, that’s Yeah. So what advice then would you have, you know, looking back to the beginning of the journey now, like now, it’s like, to two very different men. And there’s also two very similar people at the same time, right? There’s a lot of things that you’ve done, and you’ve grown since the beginning of your journey, what what advice would you have for yourself going back to the start?
Zachary Green 32:59
So, I mean, I didn’t know at the time, but I did take the correct path in the correct order. I didn’t know that I was just kind of live in life. And it just kind of happened. entrepreneurships becoming really cool now. And it’s being taught in classes in college, which is amazing. They’re teaching that. And you got a lot of kids that go right from high school to college, get a degree in entrepreneurship and start their own company. That’s the worst thing you can do. Because you have to have that life experience. You have to build up that adversity, you have to build that resistance up. So what I did is I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur one day, I mean, my dad, when I was six years old, I would steal soap from my parents soap dispenser, put it in a Ziploc bag and walk door to door and try to sell people liquid soap. It was something I was ingrained with. But what I did was is I started my first job in finance. So I learned a lot about numbers, which is important, obviously, I then moved into software where I learned all about the different interactions with ERP software, enterprise resource planning, so we covered everything from supply chain to HR to financials to scheduling. And then when I got into Eli Lilly, I absorbed everything I could I took six sigma classes, I did all these additional leadership classes, I did a lot of extra work around brands, I volunteered for extra projects. So soaking all that up. I knew at some point time, I’m going to call on that. And then when I started my business, it was at a point where I already had all that background. So my advice to other people is Wait, if you’re young, if you’re under the age of 30 Wait, you can do a side hustle. That’s all right. And our community our society’s really opened up to the side hustle opportunity. You know, buy a greatness carton of something from China, break it up, put it into little boxes, sell it on eBay on Amazon, you can make a bazillion dollars at the night time. But when you’re really ready to jump in, make sure you get to experience so that’s the first one. The second one is which is a mistake I made is you got to surround yourself with a great team. Just because someone loves what you’re doing just because they’re friends of yours. or whatever doesn’t mean they’re going to be good in business. The end of the day, it’s not show Friends, it’s show business. So constantly hire people that are better than you that a quality you need a player’s because of a players will pull everybody else. If you got a C player, they’re going to pull everybody down, a B player is probably going to just keep everything where it is. So I mean, I think like I said, it’s experience resistance, go through your crucible a couple times, because I guarantee you as a Marine, never saw combat, but I’ve been in many fires, where I’ve had my life very close to losing it and really scary situations, nothing has been harder than what I’ve experienced as an entrepreneur. Nothing even comes close.
Aaron Spatz 35:42
Oh, yeah. That in that, that seems to be some, to be honest, that’s, that’s, that’s been some common feedback I’ve gotten from other folks in your in your same type of position where you’ve, you’ve been through the wringer multiple times. And that’s and that’s the thing that people maybe they don’t understand or fully appreciate, at the as a part of your story, because all they see maybe now, right is they see the successful side as they see the fact that your product is, you know, all over the country, right? They see all the things that you’ve done, but what they’re what they haven’t done, those obviously close to friends family have seen this, but the majority people don’t see that struggle, they don’t see all the, you know, all the sleepless nights, the frustrations, you know, all like, the stress. I mean, holy cow, like the amount of stress that you were under, where I mean, it was really impacting your health, you know, just the anxiety portion of that, where you’re like, Well, how do I cope with this cash? I mean, those are very real problems. I and I think one of the things and I love to see what you think of this, but like Don’t, don’t allow any opportunity that that you’re in right now to go to waste. Like try to find something out of it that you can grow from even if you feel like it’s monotonous or mundane figure out a way to grow through that. Like, would you agree that disagree with that?
Zachary Green 37:03
Oh, absolutely. Again, lean into it, you know, take a harder path, take that, that resistance, because that’s where you’re gonna learn. That’s where you gotta grow. And to your point. Yeah, completely agree.
Aaron Spatz 37:17
What’s What are like some common myths that you think that that people have surrounding just the idea of entrepreneurship? Like, do you get the same are there like a few basic, common questions that you get time and time again, you’re like, man, that that is not at all what this is all about.
Zachary Green 37:35
So, so read the book, the book is got all those in there. That’s fair, I share very raw story, I get very personal in the book, and I share stuff that I have not shared with some of my dearest friends. But I felt I owed it to the other entrepreneurs to do that. So that that’s the that’s the first one I talked about. It’s just those the stories and being wrong and being vulnerable. Knowing that there’s other people out there that have gone through the same challenges. You got to understand that it’s not about the money, it’s about the why. And if you can put the why out there first, if you want to be doing anything for money, there’s a word for it, it’s called a whore. You don’t want to do that you want to make a difference, and the money will eventually come. But you got to pay yourself last. And then the Marine Corps that you and I both learned officers eat last through lowest rank goes first, and then you eat laughs The second thing is, is when we’re doing like a hot wash, we’ve got after a exercise and we’re doing a combat debrief, the general never starts, you start with the lowest ranking person first, and then you work your way up, because that leader needs to absorb all that stuff and be able to find out what’s out there. And again, I think it’s the exact same thing in entrepreneurship, you have to be able to, to be open that criticism that feedback and putting yourself last in the business first.
Aaron Spatz 38:52
Yeah, for sure. Well, you know, the word warrior entrepreneur, where where can people get a hold of it? Like we’ve got warrior entrepreneur? book.com? I’ll throw that up here on the screen, or is that the most direct way that
Zachary Green 39:08
actually the easiest way right now is Amazon. Matter of fact, this week, going up until let me get the date we are doing a special national launch starts this week. So up until September 17. If you go on to amazon.com, the Kindle ebook is going to be a significantly reduced price. You know, the goal here is in that first week, we want to try to get to bestseller status. So that that’s the first one Amazon that’s the Kindle ebook. Then a couple weeks later, we’ll have the audio book will be coming out. And then finally the paperback should be coming out sometime in October. Once the paper books relax, released, then we’ll have the option to buy it off of my website, in which case I can get a personalized inscription in those. But Amazon right now is the easy way just type in Word entrepreneurs, Zachary green and they’ll come right up.
Aaron Spatz 39:57
Yep, I got it right here yet. We’re in spare lessons. The battlefield of the boardroom by Zachary green, sold by Amazon, you can get it on Kindle, which is, which is awesome. So I appreciate you making that available to everybody. And, you know, like, really, I’m probably like the best way to kind of close out our time together. Zack would be just like, Are there any to borrow Marine Corps phrase into? Do you have any save rounds? Like, is there anything here that you’d you’d like to share that maybe we haven’t had the time, or we haven’t gotten to quite yet. And you’d love to just kind of share another another bit of your story.
Zachary Green 40:32
Yeah, and then kind of going back to the Marine Corps, it’s, it’s one of the absolute tenants of the Marine Corps, and that is mission accomplishment before troop welfare, we will sacrifice our men’s lives, we will sacrifice our lives to accomplish that mission. And that’s the same mindset you need. My life wasn’t really good for several years, they’re worried about money, stress, travel, all those issues, but I had to put the mission first. And I did everything I could including selling part of my company, giving up control of my company to investors, bringing in a CEO doing all those things that were not about troop welfare, that was about accomplishing the mission. So I think that’s the easiest thing to do. The other thing is, is, I had some great mentors when I started. And my goal now is to pay that forward. So I would ask anybody to reach out to me on LinkedIn, reach out to me on my Facebook page on my company’s called warrior enterprises. And my goal is to use this book to launch my next career, which is ultimately helping our fellow entrepreneurs, be successful and not make some of the same mistakes that I’ve made.
Aaron Spatz 41:41
That that’s, that’s fantastic. And no doubt, thanks to all the hardship and all the struggle and all the things that you’ve gone through, but also the successes, you’ve you’ve seen what it takes, you’ve been there, you’ve done it, personally, you’ve been through, you’ve been through the crucible literally a couple of times now. And and so you’re able to, like, draw from that experience that I had no doubt, I mean, absolutely invaluable. Being able, you know, to have you to, to pick apart ideas to brainstorm to to mentor and guide people. So I think that’s, I think it’s absolutely fantastic. And I just want to thank you, I would encourage you, if you’re watching or listening to this, go pick up a copy of Zach’s book, we there’s so much more that we would like to sit here and talk about today. But that would ruin the whole book. So like Go Go get the book. And he’s in he’s offering it at such a such a generous price. Just to kind of help promote and celebrate this launch. So jump on there, grab it after you’ve had the chance to read it, I’d highly encourage you to leave to leave a review reviews are as you know, cuz you buy stuff on Amazon all the time, but incredibly valuable. And it would it helps get just wider reach wider, wider audience grab it just like just like with with a podcast, right? Like I asked you guys at the end of the show, to please leave a review. If you’ve enjoyed the show, just again, it helps people get it helps get more people aware of what’s going on. So I’d encourage you to do that for Zach and his book. And Zack, I just want to thank you it’s been a true sincere pleasure. I really wanted to say thank you for spend some time with me for sharing some of these insights. I’m actually gonna go grab a copy of the book myself and consume it. And I And again, I wish you nothing but the but the very best. Thank you.
Zachary Green 43:30
Well, thank you, Aaron, and thank you for what you do for our fellow entrepreneurs. You know, in the Marine Corps, we have a saying Semper Fidelis always faithful and you’ve now obviously served a country valiantly. But what you’re doing now and being faithful to your next group of brothers and sisters, which are your fellow entrepreneurs. It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing and I’m truly honored and appreciate to be a guest on your show today.
Aaron Spatz 43:53
Exactly. 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 Till next time