Ryan “Birdman” Parrott joins the show to discuss his time in Naval Special Warfare and his transition into his continued service as the founder of Songs of the Flag (https://sonsoftheflag.org) and the Birds Eye View Project (https://www.birdseyeviewproject.org). You will absolutely love his story and the purposes he is working on through these organizations. 

Auto-generated transcripts / may contain 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 they 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 into America’s entrepreneur this week. I’m just so delighted that you’re here. And again, I’m more excited to just bring yet another amazing guest with a really awesome story. And so cannot wait to introduce to you Ryan Parrot. So, Ryan comes to us from a background in the US Navy, he served about eight years in Naval Special Warfare before transitioning out and he’s he’s got his hands on a number of different things right now. So he, he’s a co founder or founder of Sons of the Flag. He has another organization called Bird’s Eye View Project, we’re gonna get into all of that here shortly. And he’s got some other things that he’s working on too. So really excited to hear his story. And, and I’m more just Ryan, I just wanna thank you, like, thanks so much for making some time to be with me today.

Ryan Parrott  01:05

Oh, I appreciate you having me. You’re risking it all by putting me on your podcast.

Aaron Spatz  01:11

Well, that’s the beauty of not doing it live, by the way. So if this is a crash and burn, then no one will ever know. But that’s what makes this fun. So but no man I, I really, I really appreciate us getting linked up. You’re doing a lot of really, really awesome things. And so first and foremost, would love to just kind of rewind the clock. Take us through just a little bit of your upbringing, like so like, you know, where you’re from, what inspired you to join the military, and then start to kind of give us a little bit of a tour as to what you did while you were in.

Ryan Parrott  01:45

Sure. So I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, actually in the heart of Detroit. And a lot of people say I’m from somewhere in this region or this region. So I’m actually one of the real native Detroiters, and, you know, in Michigan, it’s all about ice hockey. So that’s what I played and played every sport except football. And so both of my family’s big background in sports, and that was it academically, I always tell the story that I was just failing almost every subject in school, certain things in school, like motivational psychology to PE physical fitness, those were ones that I really liked. And then history, everything else kind of took a backseat, and I could care less. And it got to the point where I was failing multiple subjects in school, or my principal said, hey, you know, we’re gonna put you on our work release program, just get you out in the field, because you don’t care to be here. And it didn’t matter. I didn’t care at all. And it was funny, because I had a teacher, it was junior high school. And I had this teacher was a Marine in Vietnam. And it was about motivational psychology, it was the class. And essentially, if you wrote down everything you had on the whiteboard, and then use that as your notes for the test, you would pass and get an A, and I would write down the notes, but I never would use them or study. I mean, just didn’t care. So fast forwarding to junior year, he jumps in front of everybody in the class, and he’s just very vibrant guy, real, real vibrant, boisterous guy. He says, there’s only one thing better than the Marine Corps. And that’s US Navy SEALs. And, you know, for a Marine to say, that’s a huge deal. Number two, what are the SEALs? I don’t know anything about those. So it makes it sound like these dudes do these things that are just on imaginable legendary, and I was drawn, and I was like, wow, that’s cool. So instead of a class like Mr. Barnes, I’ll be a Navy SEAL. And he violently laughed in my face and a dude, you’re not even passing my class. And it’s an elective? How are you gonna get to do this? Of course, no answer. But he kept his word. He said, Are you serious about this? If you are serious about I’ll get you some literature. And the next day, when I went to his class, there was a Reader’s Digest magazine sitting on the table, talking about the making of an American warrior. And the story was so simplistic because it was a Marine who got out honorably and then enlisted in the Navy to see if he had what it takes to survive in SEAL training. That right there told me everything I needed to know. Wow, this is, this is high level stuff. And so, of course, I’m back to just basically being an idiot, you know, failing every subject in school, didn’t care, talk and talk, no walk. And then I remember sitting in class, I was we’re doing typing. And I watched the second tower explode on 9/11 on TV. And I immediately thought to myself, that, yes, they were murdered. And something’s got to be done about it. And I can’t fix what just happened, but I can. I could sure as hell get back into the car, get into the fight, and do my part. And what was really interesting about that day, was I got up right I got a class right then and there after I saw that on TV and I went right to the recruiter station. And I said, I don’t care what it takes, I want to join the Navy figured out become a SEAL. And what was really cool was I wasn’t the only one there. And that just shows you the pure spirit of America that there were so many kids my age that were right there with me saying, Hey, I’m gonna do my part. So, you know, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on today, there’s a lot of garbage on the news, and there’s all this stuff. And we can all talk about this, that and the other. But at the end of the day, there’s that deep rooted spirit of America, that’s gonna always be here that will never go away. And God forbid we ever have something happened like that, again, we’ll have Americans step up to answer that call. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  05:44

Wow. Well, that’s, I mean, that’s a really interesting contrast, you know, you’re going through school, don’t really give a crap, you’re just there to be there in something that he says, just really spoke to you. And then, and then it was just cemented when, you know, when you saw what happened on TV, right? And then so like, it drew something out of you, it pulled something out of you that and so, like, tell me what that was? Because like, there’s a, I mean, they’re like, that’s a massive difference in your life. Right? Like, up until that point, I’m just going off what you told me, right? Like, you’re very, you’re just kind of laying low. And you’re just there. And then but what like what about that really pulled on you? Like, what, why didn’t you have a I don’t care kind of attitude about that, too?

Ryan Parrott  06:29

Well, I think, for me, it was the first time in my life that I could actually bite into something that I felt compelled to want to move forward. And something that I knew would take extra work in order to achieve. School to me just didn’t do it, you know, it’s boring. I go to understand the math, I understand it understood all that stuff. But it just was boring. And I didn’t have great communication skills growing up, you know, kinda, you know, going from my parents divorced when I was five. So I’d go back and forth from my dad’s to my mom’s and you know, meet kids in the neighborhood, but really never developed major skill set of communication skills, it was just so vital. So important. And as I started to go on that journey, and learn more about who I was, as an individual, and grew up into being able to have these communication skills, I realized that, you know, always playing on a team, I felt really comfortable on a team as opposed to doing something on my own. The seal is called the SEAL teams. And so wow, that’s the best fit. And by the way, this is the ultimate team, in my opinion. So why not go for that? And just the way that he said it, I mean, I he should have been a recruiter. They recruited me that day. But I think I was tired. You know, I think the simplest way to put it, I was just tired of being an oxygen Aryan. I was tired of just being a guy sitting in the room doing nothing, just taking up oxygen and not giving a crap about anything. And it was time for me to figure out what I could do.

Aaron Spatz  07:56

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s really powerful. And it’s really powerful. how that all came together for you. So I mean, let’s, so let’s start to fast for the clock a little bit. So obviously, got a boot camp. I’m assuming you got you got orders directly to buds from there. And like, what was your What was your whole experience through all that?

Ryan Parrott  08:14

Yeah, so they didn’t do orders to buds directly, right after boot camp when I went through, so you had to strike for boot camp. And then you had to go to a school afterwards, after boot camp. So that would be your MO s for Marine Corps and army. So I went to aviation ordnance school after boot camp, which was basically putting the bombs in the bottom of jets had to take the test at the end of it had no clue what anything was because it was like I don’t care, just four weeks, the shortest course in the Navy to get me to buds, but somehow passed it and got my chance to go to buds class 245 and 2003. So it’s unreal. It was that was kind of a mind blowing experience for me, too. I always like to mess around with when I give talks, which I used to give speeches up until COVID. And all shut down. But I would always tell the audience, you know, hey, I’ll submit my resume to you. It says, printer of photos at Walgreens 2001 or 2002. And then right under that 2003 US Navy SEAL. So it was major upgrade, right kind of funny to go from just working, you know, as a printer in Walgreens to that. But that’s just how it is right now. None of us in the SEAL teams or for that matter in the military. None of us come from royalty. You know, we weren’t predisposition or pre destined to be something unique or special it was how bad do you want it? It’s there for the taking. It’s a volunteer program. It’s awesome. Go for it. So, you know, just very few very fortunate that I had the understanding when I did to enlist?

Aaron Spatz  09:52

Sure. Well, I mean that. Like again, it’s such a huge contrast is like what you were doing a year before and then you know fast forward to that. next year. And so, you know, as you’re going through training and all the different challenges associated with that, like, what, what was going through your mind in terms of like the talks that you’d had, you know, with your, with your teacher in school and the drive that you had your post 911? Like, what was the like, was the atmosphere of the place? Pretty serious, given the fact that like, it was an absolute certainty that everybody going through that class was is definitely headed for combat zone at some point. So like, what was that? Like? What was that? Like? I guess, going through the training during that particular time?

Ryan Parrott  10:38

That’s a great question, because that was very pinnacle moment for the SEAL teams. Before the war kicked off. It wasn’t nearly as busy. But everybody knew they were going to war. And they knew that they were training students to go to war. And so there wasn’t any of these useless games just to have fun with you. They took the responsibility on saying I got to train them, right, we’ve got to do this, right? Because I’m going to send that young kid into combat. And if they don’t do it, right, they die. And so I think there was a very heightened level of what am I providing for the students. For us, we were all knew we were going to war, we didn’t know what that meant, though. None of us know what war is until we get there. But you know that you’re going to a very dangerous area. And you’re going to be with a bunch of committed men that have already seen it have already been there, done that. And so you have to prove yourself to them. So there’s a lot of weight. And of course, I was 20 years old. I couldn’t even legally drink a beer. And I’m now in this position. I’m like, wow, this is crazy. Getting back to my teacher, I learned that he was a giant a liar. And in a fun way. He knew nothing about the SEAL teams, nothing at all the talks that he would say about them. I mean, that’s read in a book somewhere, Vietnam era style stuff. And I’m like, boy, this is not anywhere near what it’s like. But one thing that you do learn, and I think this goes anywhere in life is we were training to be professional students there. You know, that’s all we knew was buds base, go to water demolition, SEAL training. That’s all we knew, we didn’t, we weren’t training to be on a team in the platoon. Not yet. And so you have to become a professional students to learn to be good at that’s why doctors are professional students to become really good at it. And then once you get to that point where you have finally finished all your academia, doctors, then you start your first day as a new guy again, even though you’ve done all that same thing, the SEAL teams like, Oh, I’ve done this, and that man is like so. And now what have you done for us? You’re right. So that was a very cool experience. Because, you know, we I was very blessed to go through an awesome class and motivated individuals, unfortunately, got roll to 246, but still a great class and partnered up with them, and then finished my class graduated in 2003. And then I would eventually go into SQ t, which is the final phase of training, seal qualification training, and then head over to Seal Team seven and 2004. And start my new guy experience and learn what it really meant to be a seal on a SEAL team. That’s the real taste. And it’s fast. They the guys at seal, Team SEVEN Alpha just got back from deployment. So every one of them was a combat veteran, every one of them that were messing around, and they demanded excellence. And it’s a good thing to learn as a new guys, like you don’t know anything, to just shut your mouth and listen. And if you do that, and you can pick this stuff up fast, and you’re going to do great. So I don’t know how I fared out, I don’t want to ask the question to my brothers, like how was I really, as a new guy, I just want to move on? Well,

Aaron Spatz  13:50

I like to circle back to that, because I don’t think there’s a lot that gets talked about in terms of, you know, you had just, I mean, if you’re coming off over a year, probably close to a year and a half or a year and some change of training, whether you know, from boot camp to a school to buds to sq T and any other you know, any other specialized training, jump school, anything else that you’re doing through that time, and then you finally get to first team like, like, really like what, what is that like, like, you’ve got all this knowledge and you’re ready to go but then you’re realizing like, Man, this is, this is like Day Zero all over again, like what is that?

Ryan Parrott  14:27

It’s, you know, it doesn’t really matter. You know, you know, you’re prepping yourself mentally. It’s just like any evolution, you know, you prep for that evolution, and then you gotta execute on that evolution. And then when you’re finished with it, and you start mentally prepping for the next evolution, it’s the same thing you know, so you, there’s no hierarchy and in training, everybody’s a student, when you graduate, you graduate as a team. And then you go to your prospective places, and you know that you’re going to show up to being a new guy. So nothing was kind of eye opening on that front and You know, what am I gonna say to a bunch of, you know, I just joined the SEAL team and I considered a Navy SEAL on paper, however, I gotta earn that right by the Brotherhood. What am I gonna tell these guys like, you know, check me out, they’re gonna just throw me out and tell me, you know, you’re out of the Navy, you know, it’s just so. But you haven’t, I think what, for me, at least for what what SEAL training did and how specifically and seeing some of the guys and the way they were and then seeing the legends on the wall, some gave their life for this country, it humbles you in a way that most things can to understand that, that that weight of being a Navy Seal is a lot of weight. And you have to carry it with the utmost respect. There are far better men that, you know, they soar through this course. And they became an amazing seals, and then they died for this country. And it ticks me off at times when I hear you know, you know, things about like, who’s better. It’s the Green Berets or the seals, I’m like, It’s not about that. It’s about the fact that we’re all blessed to serve, number one. Number two, the best are sitting are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Rosecrans cemetery, and all these other cemeteries, some military, some not, those are the best. That’s what we got. And that’s a continual proof that we need to keep doing our job to the best of our ability to honor their legacy. So there’s a lot of weight that that name carries. And I’m continually humbled by it.

Aaron Spatz  16:26

Yeah. Well, thank you, thank you for sharing that. And so you checked in, they just come back off off the deployment. So again, as much time as you want or not in for these next several years of your life before you before you punched out, like what was your what was the OP tempo? Like? Like, what were you up to? Like, what was that whole world like for you?

Ryan Parrott  16:47

Busy, and it’s, I always say this to newer cats coming in, it’s good to stay single. So you just don’t complicate your life any more than it already is. Being a team guy, especially a new guy, Team guy is very complex. It’s busy, you’re gotta be first one, there you go. The last one out, you have so much obligation between training and the deployment, you’re gone so much, it’s not fair, not fair, yourself, not fair to your wife, or whatever, or girlfriend, and it’s just one of those days where I knew I was gonna stay single, I didn’t care. And I devoted myself to the team and just enjoying and soaking up as much training as I could. But it was so busy. So busy. And it was cool. Because it was always different. It was always new everything. When I got to the team was brand new to me. We don’t know that stuff. And so it’s just this new learning style, which exciting. We’ve already been training for a year and a half. So it’s continual training. And it was fun. And the coolest thing about it was we trained so hard to go deploy. And then we got to test all our tactics, actual real world, you know, as opposed to, you know, not being able to, you know, go to the shots, I trained to be a professional athlete, and never making the actual game just sitting on the sidelines whole time. That’s not a fun thing. So being able to test these theories and do it was cool. So for my eight years, we didn’t slow down. That was 2003. I mean, 2002 to 10. Really, until I exited service in 2010. We didn’t slow down

Aaron Spatz  18:23

thing. Yeah. I mean, and that was, you know, now I’m thinking like, conventional army Marines Navy like that. I mean, force wide, right, that was a the OP tempo then was incredibly high. But especially for, you know, special operating forces of all flavors, right? You’re I mean, you’re up tempo has had have been insane. I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re deploying, you’re coming back. I don’t know how much the recovery time was between post deployment and workups for the next round, but I imagine it was pretty be pretty nuts. And so yeah,

Ryan Parrott  18:59

we don’t have anything. We didn’t have anything to compare it to either, right? Because I had a friend, I had a friend who was a genius. And I asked him, What’s it like to be a genius? And he’s like, I don’t, here’s the best way I can answer that question. He said, I know what I know. And you know, you know, and that was like, that’s quite an interesting thought, in fact, because the same thing like I jumped into this team, we had a heavy up tempo, but what do I know? You know, I don’t know if the Marine Corps busier if the army is busier. I mean, this is just what we do. And so you find out later that wow, you guys were really turning and burning. You’re like, well, holy cow. That’s cool. But you wouldn’t take anything back. So you just know what you know.

Aaron Spatz  19:39

Yeah, yes. True. Like he didn’t know any better so I mean, it was for you that wasn’t that was normal. Right. So yeah. So take us through then like your your eventual decision to get out. Like, what did the timing of that look like for you? What What were you contemplating? As you’re, as you’re thinking about leaving like what was What? What did that environment that situation look like for you?

Ryan Parrott  20:05

So the real, the real story on why I got out was, I started to feel like the world was dying down around 2009. I was on my last deployment in 2009. And I was not seeing the operational tempo used to have. Now most guys would sit there and say, Mama, go be an instructor for a while, and then come back to the team and see what happens. But for me, I just saw a trajectory that was going down. Well, around that same time, I had a dear friend that offered me a position at his company in Texas. So those two components together, I said, Okay, this is this is do the punch deal right here because I met eight years. If I reenlist again, I’ll be over at 12 years. And once you get past 10, you got to finish off your 20. So kind of just simple math. So I decided to pull shocks plus I was burned out, I was tired. I mean, I spent my my years deploying, deploying, deploying, and it was awesome. But I was tired. And, you know, I don’t, I don’t know that I was necessarily built to be a 20 year sail. But again, I don’t know what makes that. But I was just I wanted to try other things. So I took the position, and Texas moved out here in 2010. And it’s been an interesting ride.

Aaron Spatz  21:22

Well, tell me about that. What’s what’s what has been so, so fascinating about that.

Ryan Parrott  21:29

So the first and foremost is, I never ever, you know, when you go home during Christmas time, when I was in the service, nobody outside of my extended family knew what I used to do. And all they knew is that I was a veteran, or military knows it. And I always had that pride in my heart, knowing that that’s what I did. And when I got out, I didn’t have that anymore. I had a pride that I served, but I was not a seal. And so this becomes the game of every single military, going into being a home and becoming a veteran is that transition phase of understanding? Who am I now and understanding that you’re not defined by your job. And so it’s all defined by your actions and multiple other things. So that’s a hard road, I don’t care who you are. And I, I find it hard to believe that some people just get out have no issues with transition whatsoever. But I did make a fatal mistake that some should here and most shouldn’t do is isolated. So I moved to Texas, didn’t know many people here didn’t have any team friends here, it was quite hard, because then I couldn’t just express the way I was, you know, there’s a certain tribal effect that the teams have on you that helped shape you. And now I’m gonna go say, to a corporation, you know, piss off when they’re, you know, telling me I’m doing something wrong, or grab them by the neck or whatever, then work. Not that that’s what I’m looking to do every single day, but just different. There’s no real trajectory to push you out of something as high tempo is that so it was a learning curve for me, for sure. And it wasn’t a fun one. The one thing that I’ve always looked at, though, is I’ve always had mentors, and I continue to have mentors, and those are the things that they set you up for success, you have to ask for help. You have to ask questions all the time, you have to surround yourself with people that you know are damn better than you. And there are always people better than you. And so I’ve tried to do that. And through that, I’m taking their advice, I’m listening, I’m learning and I’m growing through it. And I don’t care about being excellent anymore. As you know, you know, whatever, I care about building my team outside of the SEAL teams, and making it an elite team so that we could go execute on projects that we put forth.

Aaron Spatz  23:50

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s a it’s a common struggle, I think for a lot of veterans is that is that transition out? And, you know, like, I mean, especially for you, right, you’re coming from super high op, tempo, super close, tight knit group of people, things that will only make sense to that community, right, there’s like a certain tribal illness that is, you find these little pockets inside the military. And it’s a, it’s a culture and a lingo, that even these little sub communities have their own cultures in their own lingo and their own way of life, apart from just the military. And, and so like, and then and then and then you take the military, like, just on a whole, right, there’s a there’s a certain baseline culture there that we all kind of get accustomed to at some level, right? And so when you when you make a transition out and like, I mean, you said it really well, like I actually liked the visual that I had, as you’re explaining it was just like, you’re you’re in this tight group, and then you’re going to corporate America. And you don’t necessarily have a ton of allies or a ton of people they’re in a totally different you know, just totally just totally different, right? I don’t want to make like disparaging remarks about that. But it’s, it is just it is a very different culture. And so like, and then with you, it’s like you were you are on the cutting edge, right you are you are on the edge of a lot of things. And it’s like a massive downshift in terms of just speed, and a whole lot of other things that I’m sure you’re grappling with. And so how did you? Like, I mean, you mentioned mentors, right? But like, how did you find rock bottom and pick yourself up through that and empower through that whole situation.

Ryan Parrott  25:41

So I never let myself get the rock bottom, because I can’t even imagine what that is what that feels like. And I try to see that side of it. Because I’ve met so many veterans who’ve been there. I’ve listened to their stories, but I can’t say that I understand it fully, because I haven’t been there. Sure, I noticed that I was going down very fast, though. And that’s when I made some changes in my life because I wasn’t gonna let that happen. And a lot of people around me spoke up and said, Hey, we gotta we got to get things going. I think the the cool thing for me was, I’m a big believer in God, and God puts everything together. So you can say it’s math. And this is just the timeframe. And it’s just a coincidence or whatever now, not for me. Because what I started next, I had no trajectory to doing didn’t think about him twice. That’s not the reason I got out. Let’s go and start a charity. That just I mean, for me, when I looked at Charity, the town’s Yeah, okay, cool, I’ll give you 10 bucks. And then I move on my way, I don’t care and realize now how hard it is to run one, let alone found one. And the constant effort and then how you actually transition that into helping people, not just theory, but actual practices. I was sitting in a room with a bunch of veterans, we were talking, we’re just hanging out having fun. And, you know, we all needed it. And then there’s one Army Ranger who is in this room who was blown up by an IED. And he had major disfigurement, he still had our considerable injuries. And I asked him point blank, what are they doing for you guys today, and he said, This is as good as it gets. And, you know, I’m obviously not a medic, I’m not that highly trained Special Operator medic. But I’ve seen enough, I’ve seen my teammates blown up, I was blown up, I understand that you need to jump on certain things quick. But burns wasn’t one of them that we paid attention to. So to see his disfigurement and ask him and he says is as good as it gets. For me, I’m like, That’s BS, we got to do better. So I went home that night studied, couldn’t find anything, he called me the next day and said, Hey, man, I was gonna try to give you something, we go raise some money, and then we’ll help you out and get you on your way couldn’t find it. If I were to start something on your behalf, would you join me, he’s like, brother, I’d be honored. I was a cat got it. New mission. So serve the vet. And that was, I think, what a lot of guys, you’re seeing like constant effect of that. Now, soldiers service members getting out. And joining a cause, you know, either starting a cause or joining a cause. Preferably, we’d like them to get out and join a cause, as opposed to starting soon that auto duplicating but because they want to serve, that’s what is ingrained in us now. So I started sons of the flag in 2012. And it was purely for burns. Because it’s just under, it’s underfunded, it’s under talk under utilized. Nobody knows about it. And when people see a burn survivor, they don’t know how to respond or react to it. So it’s a niche area. But I figured, if we really focus our efforts on this niche here, then we’ll make a massive impact within our lifetime. And so we started out to be a foundation or an organization for burn survivors. And that was in 2012. And happy to report that COVID can’t do anything to us. We’re still around, and we’re in over 30 states now. And we are growing this organization to all 50 states, and we’re going to have every Burn Unit and every patient we can

Aaron Spatz  29:09

and that’s amazing, Ryan, I mean, that’s a that’s a that’s an amazing story. And you hit it on the head is like veterans just have this desire to serve. And I agree with you, preferably join something that’s already that’s already in motion. That way we’re not we’re not reinventing the same wheel. But I mean, what a what a compelling story though, as you know, you’re you’re you see it, you’re seeing a need that was not being met, and you simply went out and figure out a way to meet that need. And so, it tell us a little bit more about like, what, what like what all the organization does. Like, how how has it been able to grow, I guess is what I’m trying to ask also.

Ryan Parrott  29:52

Certainly so we started 2012 had no idea what we’re going to do but just knew it was going to be focused on burns and and by the way, we have no We’re never going to expand that mission pass burns, it will always be burns and burns only. So I put it out on LinkedIn. And a week later, after we created it, I got reached out to by DC firefighters a legend and Anna legacy firefighter DC. It says, Hey, man, I love your mission. I got three boys in the military. Currently, I’m a career firefighter in DC. I’d love to be your team leader out here. And I’m like crap. We don’t even know what we’re doing in Dallas. And now we got a team leader in DC. But it instantly triggered this effect of wow, we didn’t even serve firefighters here, which is a huge component to this up or to somebody wants to be a part of this already. There’s something here. And so it expanded in our eyes right out of the gate. And then through meeting, Greg turnout is his name. Now I’m happy to report that, you know, nine years later, he is now a full time employed. Sounds of the fly. He just retired from the fire service. So it’s really cool full circle. Guys like Johnny Walters rescue one FDNY rescue to Liam Flaherty, rescue to rob Wiedemann, rescue three, Jeff cool, these are legendary firefighters that adopted us right out of the gate brought us to a firefighter convention in Indianapolis called FDIC, under the direction of Bobby Horton, who introduced us to everybody. And it just goes like that, it just continues to expand, and then we use that model. I’m a big iron maiden fan. So Iron Maiden, his idea was you just continue to show up just like cast just like the stones, you know, you continue to show up every year, and you’re going to get noticed, and they become so brilliant. And for us, we just continue to show we try to go as many conferences we can to spread the message, we were good at networking. And that’s how we’ve expanded. So everybody on our team across the nation, they’re all firefighters active duty, some have joint military service, it’s really cool to see this growth. And now we’re using that to leverage trying to develop teams underneath them. So you can really hit home in that state. They’re going to host an event, they’re gonna raise money, they’re going to get with their local Burn Unit, and then the money they raise goes to that local burn unit. So we are feeding all these different burn units and helping them expand and grow. And it’s given us a bead or a pulse on what is happening nationally, we burn care.

Aaron Spatz  32:21

Wow. So I mean, again, I’m gonna try to summarize that, to make sure that I understand this. So you’ve created a you created a organization where people can, can volunteer to help to help raise funds for burn relief for burn victims, and then you’re taking the funds raised through those efforts, donating those to local burn care centers, that so that they are able to do an even more robust job of beyond which they’re already doing today, right?

Ryan Parrott  32:55

Correct. Yes, three ways that we put funding out the door, when our team leaders around the country raise funds, 100% of that money goes to that local Burn Unit to where they raise the funds. When we raise money from the headquarters, we have two pools really three that we actually push to one is our fellowship program. So we hired doctors to give them a scholarship, or it’s called a fellowship program to become burned surgeons. So we’re continually doing those every year. This year, we funded 50% of all new burn surgeons in the nation. Wow. And then we also raised capital so that any burn survivor who comes to our door, we can help them get to pre and post surgery. And we set them up with a unbelievable team of reconstructive burns, surgeons who will attack their wounds, help them get better. And we take care of all the financial side for that the logistics and financial side for any burn patient. And let me be clear, when we talk about burns, it’s not veteran and active duty and first responder only it is everybody from pediatric to adult. If you were burned, you were born, you’re our family, we’re going to help you. And so our funds go to the patients and their families as well for surgeries and outcomes. And then we have a pool of money that we choose from for other things like burn garments, creams, things that they may need parking, traveled to burn camp pediatric burn camp, things like that. Wow,

Aaron Spatz  34:13

man. So what what’s the primary funding source? Like how were you able to raise so much money? Like where’s Where’s, where’s the majority of that coming from?

Ryan Parrott  34:22

So I asked a bunch of my teammates to do black ops at nights to go rob banks and that, and it’s been pretty successful.

Aaron Spatz  34:31

Outstanding. I wish great so.

Ryan Parrott  34:36

So honestly, it’s about persistence. It’s about being able to show the proof and then going into meeting donors, taking those meetings going to you know, asking those donors do you know anybody else that might be interested by hearing about our cause and not being so pushy, but just letting everybody know what we do? You know, it’s everybody’s choice on so it’s, but we’ve built that into not just individual now but corporate and Corporation. they’re sponsoring us and funding us, which has been a huge blessing. Oh, that’s

Aaron Spatz  35:03

great. Yeah, it’s great. It’s great to get a corporate corporate sponsorships as well, just because they can. I mean, they can, they can bring a lot of resources to the table immediately, and really be a tremendous injection of funding, you know, and so I think that’s really, that’s really cool. But I mean, but I mean, I see like, I’m on your website right now. So I mean, if anybody who’s listening to this wanted to donate, they could.

Ryan Parrott  35:30

Absolutely. Go ahead. Right now. That’d be great.

Aaron Spatz  35:34

Outstanding, outstanding, awesome stuff. Well, man, I really, I like I really appreciate what you’re doing on that. Ryan, like, that’s really, I mean, that’s really, really impactful work. And you’d see you’d mentioned that you’re doing that. But your man who’s got a lot of things going on. So share with us. Beyond that, like, what else you working on?

Ryan Parrott  35:56

Yeah, so we, one thing we realized that signs is that there’s so many different components to an injury. So you have a burn that typically has pretty bad amputations along with the higher level of burns. There’s mental health issues, there’s family advocacy, there’s so many different needs. There’s post apps with PT, there’s OT, there’s all different things that come from an injury. Well, if that’s coming from a burn injury, imagine what happening to a patient with an amputation or a concussion, a major TBI, there’s so many different things that shoot off of that. So do we do all of that at sons of the flag? Or do we go and find partners who focus on those specific areas so that we have a well rounded organization. So our deal was partner, the Will the real way to get partnerships today, it’s not just about, okay, we’re doing a good job, you’re doing a good job, let’s just work together and see what happens. My belief is, I’m going to fund you, I’m going to help give you money. And I’m going to give you awareness, and then we can work together. And I’m going to prove that we mean business. And I’m coming to you with something here so that the next time I come to you and I say we got a patient, can you help, they’re all in and we really do have a partnership saying vice versa. So we started an organization called bird’s eye view project. And the idea is I do a lot of extreme sports. I’m not a professional, extreme sports athlete, I’m not sponsored by any of those big companies or whatever. I’m stunt guy. And I love doing crazy stunts. And I love testing the human performance, human performance capabilities. So I started doing these and everything that I do is you know, I don’t I don’t have one trophy from anything post service on, you know, winning an Ironman or a triathlon or that but I do have cool pictures of accomplishing missions that have raised tons of money for these different causes. And so the idea was, let’s form another team up crazy thrill junkies that believe in the veteran of for spider communities, and let’s go out and choose and select honorable, vetted organizations that are doing incredible work that are lower level, we’re not interested in funding any, they’re massive organizations that we give them 100,000 bucks, and you can’t even tell where it goes. We’re interested in the ones that you give $100,000 or 50,000 to a cause, and it’s going to change their world for their patients. So we focus on those and then we go out and we every couple years, we design out a crazy stunt, which we’re working on right one right now for 2023. That is so mind blowing. And yes, I will be performing it. And hopefully, we can garner a ton of awareness and a ton of funding for the causes that we’re going to support. And so that’s partnership, and then that becomes that holistic approach of being able to send a veteran into the middle of the bird’s eye view project circle, and then let them go to each organization if should they need mental health, physical health, you know, whatever it may be, there’s an answer for them or a place to go. So that’s a bird’s eye view project. And so that organization is a pass through. So basically, money comes in the door goes out to the beneficiaries we support, or as opposed to sons of the flag money comes in the door stays in the door to support our programs that are 24/7

Aaron Spatz  39:08

I gotcha. That makes sense. So without I was wanting to navigate and check out some of your, like the past work that you’ve done and on on bird’s eye view project, but I don’t want to risk dropping our connection. So would you mind sharing us like what’s what’s been some, some of the more notable, like, what’s what have been some of the stunts that you’ve done in the last and last few years of that?

Ryan Parrott  39:33

So yes, the first that was a we call it 100 400. And so the idea was, can we raise $100,000 for a cause? That was not our cause? If I were to run 100 miles in 24 hours, and I had never tested that capability, but I do know that you know, you got to try so I threw it out. I threw it out about three months before the actual day. And I’m like, getting closer to the event. I’m like, Dad, why don’t I get my stuff in these situations, and very blessed, you know, to be turning a burden. And I had it, you know, we had 100 miles. And it was just one of those feats where it felt really good about the hard work that we put in. Because you’re earning it. It’s not like you’re just sitting there saying, Hey, can I get some money and then you go give that money to somebody and you feel like you did something. You know, it’s great that you’re being what do you call it out concierge service for the donor to the patient. But at the end of the day, I want to give something for this effort here. Anyway, so the 100 mile run turned into a dear friend of mine who runs another organization, they were having a roping deal. And I was like, how you gonna raise money roping, and they said was fair bit amount of roping in Texas, I said, I don’t see it financially, you get yourself a PVR bowl there, and I’ll challenge you to ride, see if we can raise some money that way. And that was a stupid, stupid decision as well. But it consistently became this thing, extreme sports for extreme needs go bigger, badder, better. And then that ultimately would lead me into BASE jumping and Wingsuit Flying, which is the the crazy hierarchy of what’s coming up with this next one, which I can’t fully talk about yet. Because we are putting it all together, all I can mention is that we’re calling it 7x. And it’s one of those ones you’re gonna want to tune into. I have no clue if I can complete it, but I am going to give every bit of my effort towards making it happen. That’s a follow on that.

Aaron Spatz  41:25

That’s awesome. Roger that. Yeah, yeah. It wingsuit like wingsuit jumping looks absolutely just amazing. Because it to me is it seems like you’re able to prolong your, your air time, as opposed to just a standard jump. Right. So like, how much like how much different is that experience?

Ryan Parrott  41:45

Oh, I mean, totally different. Yeah. When you’re actually have a glide ratio. And yeah, I mean, you can track and skydiving, but when you put a suit on, and you actually are moving contouring the mountain, they call proximity flying and then terrain flying. Yeah. And you’re seeing that ground fly underneath you and you’re getting close. I mean, that’s heavy duty stuff right there. So yeah, it’s a whole new world, it’s, I mean, up there is the playground for so many, there’s no traffic. So it’s a pretty cool scenario where you can kind of close your brain off and just enjoy the ride. Yeah, but yes, when you can leave a drop zone altogether, and then fly back to it because you have a wingsuit on that’s a pretty cool feat.

Aaron Spatz  42:22

That’s pretty crazy. Yeah, I mean, I’m sure a lot of people watching this have seen you have seen many of these same videos of just like, you guys, again, like doing Yeah, doing terrain mapping, you know, shooting really tight gaps or going, you know, going underneath arches, or really tight mountain passes, valleys and stuff. And I’m just like, man, like, it’s a, that’s a whole, that’s a whole nother level of risk, you know, that takes that takes just regular skydiving until just to the nth. Literally, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty cool.

Ryan Parrott  42:57

One of my coaches calls it primal. So those primal thing you can do, and you know, for that matter, and he’s never been to war, so I’m gonna defer on that, but now being have done both. It’s definitely primal. You know, I’m very conservative when it comes to jumping, I’m not trying to be, you know, just a jumper in life. That’s not my deal. Plus, I’m not nearly as good as the pros. So it’s just I love and I watch them. And I’m just in awe of what they do. However, I keep it more conservative. So I do it again.

Aaron Spatz  43:24

Yeah, for sure. We would like to keep you around for a little while, Ryan, that’d be great. Appreciate that. Well, I mean, you’re making, you’re making a tremendous impact. And again, I mean, just from, from the community at large tea, I really do, I just, I just want to thank you. And, you know, thank you for your service. Thank you for the time that you’ve in, and the sacrifice and you were very, very modest about the things that you’ve done and seen and your experiences, both good and bad. And, and I just, I just want to acknowledge and honor you. And, you know, I really do just want to thank you. There’s a lot of folks out there that you know, they’re able to sleep peacefully at night because there’s been a lot of people that have signed up being willing to go do violent things. And so So I sincerely appreciate it. I not just that but I appreciate the work that you’re doing through sons of the flag and bird’s eye view project. I think it’s just really awesome. You’re, you’re showing like you’re showing the veterans community, how to take your life post military and invest it into things that are purpose driven. And I mean, in your in your you’re living that and so I think it’s I think it’s really really awesome.

Ryan Parrott  44:37

I appreciate your your your comments here and I just appreciate you having me on and letting us have a platform to tell our story.

Aaron Spatz  44:45

Sure thing. Yeah, so I mean, the best, best place that people can get a hold of you we got sons of the flag.org his website again, my computer’s being a little crazy right now. So I don’t want to like clip anything here. But Then we’ve got bird’s eye view project.org Also, so check out more information. Ryan, is there? Or is there any other way that you prefer people to reach out to get get in touch with you?

Ryan Parrott  45:11

Yeah, so we have a website called Ryan Birdman. parrot.com. And that’s purely everything that’s going to be developed here soon. It’s already out, but my opinion sucks. So we’re gonna rebuild it. So it makes it look better. But that way you can get any of these organizations you can get directly to me. We don’t have massive staff. So everybody’s getting the information and, you know, get a hold me pretty quickly. Yeah,

Aaron Spatz  45:37

perfect, perfect. Well, if you know for those watching, listening, I highly encourage you to go donate to sons of the flag, go check out everything that Ryan and his team are up to with, with both those organizations and, and to stay tuned. So but Ryan, again, I just want to want to thank you for spend some time with me. Thanks for sharing your stories has been a this has been a true blast, man. Thank you.

Ryan Parrott  45:59

Yeah. Appreciate you. Looking forward to the next one. Absolutely.

Aaron Spatz  46:05

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 aaron at bold media.us. That’s a a ron at bold media.us thanks

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