#28 – A recap of the first five episodes of Season 2. We take a quick tour through a few select highlights from the first five episodes of Season 2! Be sure to go back and watch/listen to these episodes if you haven’t already!

E1 – Joe Scanlin; E2 – Ted Terrazas; E3 – JB Soles; E4 – Shane Foss; E5 – Elana Duffy

Aaron Spatz  00:05

I’m Aaron Spatz. And this is the Veterans Business Podcast. A podcast centered around the stories of US military veterans, and their adventures in the business world following their time and service. Its stories of challenges and obstacles. And then inside look at how veterans find their life’s work, their purpose, and their post military lives. Welcome to the Veterans Business Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in this week, this week is a slightly different format than most. So today, I thought it would be best to go ahead and let’s roll parts of the first five episodes of season two. So for those of you that have been along for the journey, you’ll know that season one was in audio form only. And we covered really, it was stories of maybe tragedy of incredible hardship, and incredible challenge, and just perseverance, and all those are actually captured in audio format only. And so that was a tremendous experience. I love season one. And it so many lessons learned. Season two has been the story of the entrepreneur, those that are in business that are either they own their own company, they’ve started their own business, they’ve sold a company, they’re trying to make it they’re trying to keep going keep trying to keep pressing on. And so I’ve had the privilege of interviewing a ton of amazing people so far of season two, and I want to just go ahead and just quickly recap for you, just the first five episodes of season two, and I’ll do another recap episode. It may not be next week. But But what I would like to do is every every so often recap five episodes at a time. I just so we can kind of summarize and get some of the points out. And I said this last season, and I’ll say it again. But make it a point, if there’s an episode that you really enjoyed, or maybe you haven’t listened to the other episodes in you here. Just want a little previews of what we have what I show you today, please take tunnels in the whole episode, there were so many great nuggets from these episodes. Doing these recaps are actually really, really hard for me to do. Because it is it’s excruciating, because there’s so many awesome points. And I have to pare it down to just a few minutes. So amazing lessons learned. So I’m going to quickly cover the episodes that you’re about to listen because they’re going to roll back to back to back to back with no break. And so so let me just kind of give you a heads up. So season two episode one feature Joe Scanlon. Just Caitlin’s the founder and CEO of sky analytics. scantlings is a technology company, you’ll learn a lot about Joe he is he really is like a tech startup founder. Really entrepreneur focus, real data, data driven guy. Really fascinating insights I love seeing just the way his brain would turn over problems and solutions and, and just seeing him process things is really fascinating to me. I really enjoyed his episode, Season. Episode Two was a TED Terrazas. Ted was in the Air Force. He got out he was working primarily in the medical on medical side, he was Medical Service Corps. And so what he did was he also focused on the TRICARE system. So when he got out of the military, then he focused his business on the government contracting, but in the health space, and so you’ll hear some phenomenal insight from him in how he did the government contracting role, which we all know is murky, but then to just navigating some of the some of the nuances of just business and how he grew it and how they were hitting 1 million and he was like, holy cow, like I can’t believe that we’re at this point now. And so very, very well spoken you’ll you’ll really enjoy his episode for sure. Episode Three, JB souls JB has a very interesting background and career so he was a Fast Company marine but then he also after he got out he was a he was a contractor did a lot of things that we can’t say a whole lot about overseas and Iraq Afghanistan or wherever the heck he was doing things. But what makes him really fascinating as he did a lot of life saving like medical medical based training with his with his company, Contra group, really phenomenal training. And so now they help law enforcement agencies and other groups across the country and probably around the globe. Think about life saving in a tactical situation in a different way. And his our conversation I had with him really was a pure delight. And you’re you’re sure to really take a lot of value out of his episode. Episode Four is a shame false. incredibly insightful. You hear the story from Shimkus Shane’s done at all. So he’s started a company. He’s bought a company. He’s been through bankruptcy through mergers, and so really, really cool perspective. from him and so I like I learned a ton. Listening to him speak I felt like I asked him some really good questions got some really phenomenal answers. And so I really enjoyed his episode. That’s when you’re gonna want to listen to for sure. Episode Five. To close out this first round up is with Elana Duffy. Elana was a human intelligence soldier. So she what was what was cool about her. So she got her Bachelor’s got her master’s degree was working as a civilian, and decided to go the enlisted route rather than go the Commissioned Officer route. So did some phenomenal work overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just got blown up in a in an IED parts of her team. And she was really on the front edge of the TBI trend that that a lot of US veterans know, know a lot about, we’ve either experienced personally or we know a lot of people that have gone through that. And so her story’s very unique. And she has a company that she’s that she’s working on and getting off the ground and getting moving related to data related to reviews of different types of companies. And so you really enjoy her her episode. And then so you’re gonna you’re about to watch last Listen, listen to these highlights, and then we’ll join at the very end.

Joe Scanlin  06:16

another thing is like the whole, like, it gets resiliency factor, which is something that I think a lot of veterans don’t give themselves credit for having like it’s built in typically, no matter what service you went through. Resiliency is something that Trump’s oftentimes out every time but Trump’s you know, intelligence, Trump’s resource, Trump’s it’s just can you you know, it’s cheesy, it sounds like, Yeah, can you keep Can you just keep going? And, and it’s just, you know, if you a lot of people don’t realize that they have a second man, right, because they, they, they stopped before it. And so that’s a big thing that I think I got, certainly, or maybe it was sharpened through the military was was just the resiliency factor,

Aaron Spatz  07:04

I like to touch on another topic related to just the entrepreneurial journey, just because I think it’s a lot of fun to talk about these topics. And you may not have an answer for this. And that is okay. And will, will, will, will, will march on. help me understand sometimes, because you’ll see business ideas, right that take time. So there’s a level of persistence, right? You got to keep going, you got to keep trying, like, you got to really believe in it, you got to believe in what you’re doing, and so on. Right. And then there’s the other side of that line. That’s delusional. So it’s like, yeah, right. You know, I think of like, the classic, like, you know, American Idol audition, and someone who cannot sing. And it’s like, okay, you’re a little delusional. So like, yeah, what does that look like? I mean, is you have any examples of that, or any, any, like, any opinion on that?

Joe Scanlin  07:52

Yeah, I mean, so I think it’s, it is really tough done to understand where, where that, where that line is. But I do think that, depending upon the type of company, at least, the way I look at it is through the lens of, of, you know, who else? Who are the other stakeholders in the company, that that rely on your clarity on whether or not you need to, you know, pivot abandon or persist. And, you know, was, for example, Scalix. Scalix, is a venture backed company, so we’ve raised millions of dollars from investors. And so, you know, what’s helpful for me, I guess, is I, I always use that as a litmus test to, you know, what we’re focusing on what we’re working on what we’re doing, as well as how I interpret feedback from the market, from customers from, you know, technology partners, all those types of things. At the same time, you know, I, the reason why I think we have gotten to this position the company has todays is not because we haven’t, not, because the journey hasn’t been sort of, laden with, with, with, you know, problems along the way. I mean, and we’ve, we’ve both grown too fast, I’ve, you know, and had to contract and then grow again. And so, I think, for me, it’s I, you know, part of the reason why the investors have sort of invested in the company is also for that conviction, the conviction that like, this will work, this is how it’s going to work. And of course, there will be, you know, some adjustments along the way, but you only really, you know, make it to the other side by making it to the other side, like there’s there’s not a, you know, there’s not a that’s why again, when I mentioned the whole like successful business, you know, leaders and stuff that you know, kind of go whatever go on stage and say all you have to do is this are you read, you see the articles that are like, you know, do these five things, right, the morning or Steve Jobs, you know, woke up like this, and it’s like that stuff isn’t, in my opinion that that’s not what it’s about. Like if you’re looking there for the answer. You’re not going to find it. It is It is very interesting this this blend between, you know, making sure that you are focusing on the right stuff with without, like you said, kind of getting to the point where you’re blinded for, you know, if it’s fog of war, its fog of, you know, whatever the equivalent of that in the real world so, so yeah, and again, I think that though, the, the biggest things that I’ve learned is that you have to you definitely have to have the conviction in the confidence. But you know, the smartest people I’ve ever met, are, are willing to change their opinion on something, you know, with new information. I mean, that’s the way it works. And so, your job, as I say that globally, like your job as a, you know, if you’re leading a business is to take in as much information as possible, the tough part is, you’re going to have people that you trust, who have had a lot of success, you’re gonna have, like, you’ll have many people tell you to go left or right. And both people in both of those camps are going to be people that you you trust and have been successful. It’s not like it’s, you know, all the people that are successful tell you to go right. And the people that, you know, are tell you to left, and it’s easy to go, right? Yeah, no, in fact, like you surround yourself with more and more people, you know, mentors and advisors and all those types of things. You know, yes, it’s helpful, but you have to be prepared for the fact that like, Whiplash is very real. And, and again, one minute, you’ll one of the guys or gals that you brought out to tell you, help you through something is going to tell you to do one thing that the next minute, someone else in that same position of respect that you’ve given, is going to tell you to do something else. And so I try to again, think about that and just think, okay, my job is to take in all that information and make a choice, a decision on where to go. And you know, and again, tying back to the military, like that, there’s a lot of a lot of that happens, right? Like you are, you’re, you’re getting a you have to gather as much information as you can be on the battlefield or be just in training, and then make a decision knowing that whatever, if you’re a team leader, or squad leader to leader, like you have people who are going to be impacted by the decisions you make, and that’s why you can’t get to the point where you’re potentially delusional and just moving towards something because, you know, the military, maybe it’s a little bit, you know, there’s there’s some, some parallel there with, you know, you’re responsible for life, you know, people’s lives, right. And it’s not that definitely mean a business, you’re responsible for people, if that’s where people get their paycheck and pay their mortgages and get their childcare, like, you’re responsible for that. So, yeah, no, I think like, specific to, you know, the, this this intersection of, of veteran and an entrepreneurship, it’s like, you know, I guess, remember to, like, if you’re out into the civilian world out, you know, remember to tap into the, the, the, I guess, military background that got you to where you’re at, because, you know, I think we tend to forget that if we’re not in the environment with other military members, we too easily think of them as discrete lives. And that’s not the case. Like, I really think that, you know, folks who are maybe struggling to make the transition back into the civilian world just need to remind themselves of, you know, what, what they did before and convince themselves that like, look that you went through, arguably, more times, that you went through something more difficult than what you’re probably thinking in the civilian world. And the only reason why you might think it’s more difficult civilian world is because of, you know, maybe have been in the civilian world for a while, or it’s that level of uncertainty. But like, yeah, for me, I just like to hear veterans remind themselves of that, because I’ve worked with I’ve hired I’ve, I’ve, and I hope to continue to work with veteran groups from many different, you know, services, and that almost every single time, it’s a great experience when they started when that sort of clicks for them. So

Aaron Spatz  14:03

share this little bit more of the detail in terms of like, you know, when you, you formed the company, what were your first hires, what did that look like for you? Like, what was your, what were some of the challenges that you dealt with, as you’re, as you’re trying to grow it from, you know, from zero to wherever it, it ultimately ended up? Well, let

Ted Terrazas  14:22

me start with the end. And I’ll bring it to to your question. So in the end, I was able to grow a company with a payroll of about $2 million a month 400 employees in 32 states, approximate revenues between 45 and 48 million at the time that I sold it in 2009. Now what basically my operandi was, as always a surround my people by surround myself by people smarter than me, so I was able to get some, some really good staff that was able to really propel the company, and there are different stages. Just once I can talk about that you go through a company. But initially, I was turned down by seven banks, I couldn’t get funding, I had to go to a micro lender in San Antonio, which basically is people that are not bankable and have a business, you can go ahead and get a get a loan. So my personal loan was $10,000, which lasted one week. My second loan to another micro lender was I think, 50,000. So that lasted two weeks. And from there, I found out about a relatively unknown, but known within the staffing world have a mechanism for funding, and it’s called factoring. And a lot of companies don’t know or struggle with it a little bit, because although I ended up with a traditional line of credit with a bank, you have to make sure that the stipulations allow you to do to do factoring to. And it’s important that you have both the traditional lines of credit with a bank offer you the best cost of money, it is more more expensive to use factoring. So factoring, for example, what they do is, well, let me go back to the line of credit, without with a bank, you get a line of credit. And let’s say you get 100,000. Man, that sounds really good. But it’s not when your company is growing, and then you hit that $100,000 limit, you go back to get an increase, because you say, hey, banker, man, I want I want a contract, I I’d like to have some I need some more money. Well, the banker says congratulations, what are the collateral we have, they don’t always look at the the contract as an asset factoring companies do, okay, they will, they will factor that invoice, meaning that you have an invoice, you can factor it within 24 hours, you get paid 80% 80 to 90%. So 100,000, they’ll give you 80,000 and put it in your bank within 24 hours. And then in in 30 days, the after you pay back or you get paid by the government, then you get back the residual. If not, and you don’t get paid within another 15 days, then you can add another percent, the factoring company could add another percent. So the incentive is you got to go, you got to ride the government to get paid. So factoring will cost you roughly about 3% of that invoice, which doesn’t sound like a lot as a small company, you can vary it into your into your costs. But as you start growing, that that’s a very expensive resource of paying for money. Because if you have to factor for a year, you can roll it out to you know, that’s gonna cost you somewhere between 36 and 40%. That’s it, that’s a lot of money. So walk us

Aaron Spatz  17:40

through like some of those some of those first hires, like, you know, for those that are watching this, I mean, there’s a lot that it’s a diverse audience, right. So you’re gonna have people out there that are just watching because they just love to see, to veterans and business, there’s gonna be other folks out there that that want to start their own business, or their or they are in the, you know, in that journey of starting their business and but they’re more on the front end the journey, whereas you’ve, you’ve, you’ve walked that trail, you’ve been down that trail, so like, share this a little bit of some of those challenges of like those early days of when you’re you’re trying to balance hiring people, but you got to get a contract. But if you get the contract, you got to have the people and so like, walk us through some of those issues, those problems that you faced, and like, how did you grapple with those? And how did you overcome those?

Ted Terrazas  18:26

Sure, and I helped a lot of companies today, and most of them are better known companies. Just because, you know, we help each other? The I wish I knew where I did today back then. But because there are a lot of resources and a lot of tricks to the to the trade, if you will. And there’s there’s some pitfalls that people don’t realize, especially when government contracting in any company when you’re trying to start out at the very beginning and people will say hey, I want to work for you. I had a guy that who became a partner who came to me when I really needed some help, cuz I was wearing all the hats in the company. This guy came to me a better by the way Army veteran artillery, if I remember right, and he says, Ted, I believe in you. I heard I heard you’re starting a company, you’re doing some really good stuff and I know you need help. And I said, You know I do need help. The good news is I could use your help the bad news, I can’t afford you. So he said I just was laid off because he worked for.com company at the time, and he says I will work for you. And as we make money you can pay me. So he did that. And he showed me that he could that he could help my business and really help it grow. And he became a cornerstone and I made him a partner while but what we have to be careful of in the beginning is a lot of companies will hire family which you have to be very careful and we don’t have to get into all the the issues that could happen with with family. You hire people that are maybe not an A player, and later on you got to replace them. And you had to be careful not to over promise them or give them stock or give stock in a company prematurely, because you want to hold that stock for when you really need a strategic hire. In my case that came later as a company grew. And I needed a CFO that understood how to operate like a large company, and prepare my company for a sale. That’s a different skill set. If I kept my company as it started to grow and wanted to continue, then I would have probably had to hire a new team that it was more attuned to mergers and acquisitions. But I didn’t want to go that route. And there’s a lot of decision points that you make in your different stages of growth. At the very beginning, you know, it stem, that’s how you pay them how you access cash, right, I explained, you have to have a traditional line of credit, and factoring, if you’re a services company, it really helps the other than that, the next one is your hires, you know, you want to hire triple eight people, but you can’t afford them at the very beginning. So you have to keep that in mind that you’re going to have to have a strategy at some stage in your growth, that they mean, with people you start with me, that’d be the same once you end with, there are a number of different lessons learned. In the very beginning, one of the mistakes a lot of contractors make is they say, Well, you know, I got a company, I can be very cost competitive, I can beat everybody in cost. Well, that’s true when you’re working out of your home. But then when you start hiring some employees and you need to have benefits, then you need to have an office. And so So then at the end of the year or the next the second year, you find out those contracts are no longer profitable, because you didn’t do forward pricing to anticipate the costs that you’re going to need to continue to run your company. So yeah, there’s a lot of lessons learned.

Aaron Spatz  21:48

Some really powerful statements, you know, to back back up just slightly, but you know, as you’re talking about suffering, and I mean, I, I could not agree more with that statement. And you know, and obviously, suffering is relative, right? So some people’s, like, my suffering is not yours, and yours isn’t mine. So it’s, it’s intensely personal. And, you know, we all go through some, you know, extraordinary circumstances in our lives, whether it’s in physical danger, whether it’s through, you know, family or financial hardship, or whatever, I mean, you name it, there’s, there’s plenty of suffering to be had. And it’s in those moments that you, you find opportunities to kind of find out who you are, where you stand, you know, if you’re a person of faith, it really, it really brings that home to reality. And then if you’re in a team situation, you know, obviously, from a military background and some of the greatest bonds, I mean, some of the greatest memories. Yeah, I mean, we celebrate the wins, and some of the fun things we did, but what I mean, what do we talk about often the most is like, now remember back when that situation when it really sucked.

JB Soles  22:57

Now those are, those are the things that you remember the most, and you get on the other side of it, and you you can laugh and joke about it, but it also it created a scar, and you healed from it. And you remember that and, and like you said that can be emotional, it can be psychological, it can be even, it can be financial, you remember, like, you know, it back in the time of the, you know, the genesis of Team extreme, I was putting in most of my savings to try to get that off the ground. And I was pretty, I was pretty, pretty broke. And you know, that was in my late 20s, early 30s. And I was like, What am I you know, what am I what am I doing? On one side? I was like, What am I doing? And on the other side, it was it was like this, it’s absolutely clear, I don’t care if I have money for the rest of my life. I’m making a difference. And you can really put that into perspective by visiting. At the time it was Walter Reed now it’s now it’s over in Bethesda. But the the Wounded Warrior award, I would I would go up there at least two three times a month and visit with the Warriors returning and you know, it there you see, you see the suffering, you see the the beginning stages, and then you see guys who are refusing to quit, they’re refusing to settle. I don’t have legs. So what I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that and, you know, I had to, I had the pleasure of spending Christmas Eve with Corporal Peck. And, and, and, and Walter Reed, and at that particular time, he didn’t have his family there with him or really anything. And, you know, this young Marine is laying in bed in his early very early 20s with no arms and legs, and it’s Christmas time is approaching and it’s just those are absolutely heart wrenching to see you know, that the stage he was at at that time, and then to be a part of his journey and to be a part of his empowerment. To really where you know where he is now, um, I would like to think that I had the ability to give back to some of them, but I took away from them far more, far more than than I gave to them, they’re there indomitable will, and their spirit is just something that’s will be impressed on me, not only, you know, not only from a personal standpoint, but really even from a work ethic standpoint, there’s guys face challenges that I’ll never, I’ll never have to face and they, they overcome them. So I would say that, you know, cold calling, having a list of police departments or contacts and saying, hey, you know, we have this great product, we’d love to come out and train you that, that may be a way in, but that’s not going to be a sustainment mechanism. And we thought it was at first we were like, we have this superior product, we have it all packaged up, we have our curriculum, and we have an ability to capture it, to show it to advertise it, so on and so forth. And, you know, we’re really using social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube as a mechanism for advertisement. And, you know, looking at all of those, those can be great resources, a if you know how to manipulate them be if you understand the algorithms, because there’s definitely algorithms out there. And it just takes a lot of time. And we weren’t outsourcing the that. Those that tasking, we collectively did it, one of one of the guys that founded the Oregon company with me, he was great on Instagram, and he, you know, really dug in and figured out some of those algorithms and, and help help us get a foothold there. You’ve,

Aaron Spatz  26:40

you’ve been able to be a part of, you know, the, the sales transaction of our business. And so like, like, what is it? What does that experience like, you know, either as the owner or as, like one of the chief executives, like, how does that? How does that process play out? And like, what did you learn through that journey?

Shane Foss  26:58

A great question. So I’ll give you a couple couple exams. So I’ve had, again, really, you know, blessed with great experience. So I’m the first the first exit I had was, that was my business, and the company had come back and said, We’re going to buy back your business, and we want to, because now you’re profitable, you turn this business around, we want to, we want to bring it in house. And so that was a little stressful, because when we bought the business, there were obviously you know, we were one of, I think 30 to what they call distributors. And, you know, obviously, this is a $7 billion company, they’ve got a lot of little loopholes in there. And it was just, it was very stressful during that transition. But you know, we ended up okay, everything ended up okay. And financially, we did well. So that was it was it was a good experience. The next one was actually we were in a stalking horse bankruptcy. So we had gone into this business. And basically what had happened was sales, we were driving revenue, and we’re doing great. But on the back end, I learned a very valuable lesson, we had these young guys that were a part of the private equity group that said, hey, you know what, you’re paying 5% to collect, you know, all of the billing for this neuro monitoring company. And we can do that in house. I was like, Well, wait. We don’t have any experience, and oh, no, we can do this. Well, the problem was, they couldn’t do it. They went from collecting, you know, 5 million a month to 500,000 a month. Right. And so we spiraled quickly. And so anyway, long story short, we had what was called a stalking horse bankruptcy. And it was, but it was a really good experience, because we had our whole, you know, he, I think one of the things that the military does for you is it gives you the sense of purpose for people. And I was I got on a call and, and it was I’ll never forget this, it was our CEO, CFO, controller, and chief legal officer, and we get on this call, and the CEO goes, Why Shane? You know, we just it how he talked, it was kind of it’s really weird. Not. I literally said, Are you firing me? And he goes, No, no, no, but we’re all quitting because we’re going through stalking horse bankruptcy. And we feel there’s some legal obligation here and data. And I was like, he goes, Are you quitting? And I said, No, I’m not quitting. We got 230 people out in the field. Plus, we got another 60 people in the house. And you know, what’s going to happen? Everybody are like, well, you know, we don’t know. At this point. They’re, you know, they’re bringing in a consulting group to do the stalking or bankruptcy. So we, we met with the lead, the lead guy, and, and my sales team. We had townhall meetings across the United States. We met with everybody. And we kept that whole group together. Work with the acquiring company. And it was a fantastic learning experience. I mean, look, it wasn’t my fault. But I was I was helping with that transition. And so we, we made that specialty care was the name of the company that bought us and, and they’re a fantastic organization, and they took great care of the people. And we ended up keeping about 80% of the business. And so they made, they had a great transaction for a very low cost. But all the people went with them, except for 20% That did something different. And so I thought it showed a lot of character for our sales team or organization do that. And, you know, we got a lot of people that were would call us and say what’s going on, and there’s so there’s so a lot of trepidation that goes on in a in an exit, you know, whether it’s a positive or negative acquisition. And so it’s, you know, that military bearing has always stayed with me, how do you how do you keep your cool, hey, let’s, let’s not go histrionics and go left or right, right, let’s what’s our mission, let’s make sure that we keep people focused on you know, the positive, and let’s keep the front moving forward.

Aaron Spatz  31:12

And that’s amazing for, for me, and for anybody else listening or watching this, like, give us the quick two sentence definition of that flavor of bankruptcy.

Shane Foss  31:23

So basically, what happens is you put all of your financial sales, all of your information in the share drive, and companies will come in and they’ll they’ll sign an NDA, they’ll look at all the details. And then what they’ll do is there’s a bid, that’s first specific date, and then they have to have their five first and final bid in, right. So the stalking horse is the first bid that goes in, then everybody else is stalking that first bid. Okay, but it looks like so it’s, it’s a very, you know, it can be a huge winner a huge loss, right? So if you go in and you bid, let’s say $5 million, and another group comes in and bids five and a half million, and it could be a complete windfall. But if you go in and bid 6 million, and you win, and you end up with 2 million in revenue, I mean, it could be a complete dud. Right. Gotcha. So but our, you know, our business, we went for that a few years now. So it’s, I think it was just over 5 million, I think they kept at least we kept 80% of people, I think we kept at least 60% of the business, which was fantastic. So it was a huge win. Yeah. For for that organization.

Aaron Spatz  32:42

So that’s, that’s, uh, yeah, I mean, that’s amazing. Tell me about the, you mentioned. So yeah, tell me about when you mean, you bought when you bought the business, because that was your that was your first foray into, into like, ownership, right. So like, is that like,

Shane Foss  32:59

stressful? You know, your your writing, you know, you’re writing a really, you know, big check, and then here, you’re signing for a lot of money as well. You know, we were, I think at that point of 58 million, so close to $60 million in revenue. So it was a big business, you know, we had over 60, we had 60 employees, and the business was broken. They hadn’t hit their number sales objective in five years. Matter of fact, every other business is growing by 10% a year, they’re losing 20% of their business here. So functionally, it was a broken business, which is, you know, honestly, that’s what I love. That’s, that’s my specialty. I love going into broken businesses. You know, rallying the troops, looking at it from a strategic standpoint, looking at it from a financial standpoint, but also a sales strategy standpoint, start executing on that, getting the right people in place. So but yeah, it’s a it’s a it’s stressful. Yeah, very stressful.

Aaron Spatz  34:05

I can only imagine because you’re, I mean, like, I imagine going into that, like you gather as much information as you possibly can. You’re trying to get a sense of the polls and the p&l balance sheet, just really trying to understand what makes that company tick. And, you know, like, and then you’re going through all the possibilities of how you could turn around, right, and maybe some key hires and some key people that you want to bring in to kind of turn the ship around. But yeah, like I can understand how that would be, that would be so exhilarating. Especially when it works. But like when it’s but when you’re like, you’re the one signing for the loan. You’re the one signing for all this money, and yeah, I can’t imagine I just can’t imagine that that stress level.

Shane Foss  34:50

Yeah. Yeah, it was hard because the, you know, the first three months we lost a bunch of salespeople and we lost business. And you know, we had To make up that business, and then we had, you know, it was, you know, the culture was just toxic. I mean, we had some really bad apples in the in the group and, you know, you have to, you have to work through it. And when it’s your money, it’s even harder. But yeah, it’s good. You know, I think that, you know, you have to be positive. And, you know, when you look at stuff, you have to be realistic, but you have to be positive. And, you know, you have to have confidence in yourself. You know, I think, you know, again, I was going back to the military, you know, I remember the my first night when we get off the bus, and I know the Air Force’s doesn’t compare to any other basic training, so we’ll use this lightly. But yeah, but what was funny was, we get off the bus and, you know, it’s like, midnight, it’s, it’s, you know, mid midnight dark, right? And light under this one, even ever, we get out and we’re all you know, rainbows at that time, different clothes, haircuts. And I remember this drill instructor sitting there with sunglass, and I thought, oh, here we go. And, and he starts yelling at us that second and we’re, we’re running out, we go upstairs to our dorms. And you know, they put these locks around your neck and you got a key and a lock, and you get to lock your locker. And I just remember sitting there with him screaming in my face, trying to unlock that darn lock. And I’m like, son of a gun, and I can’t unlock it. I’m thinking, How dumb Am I that I can’t even unlock a basic lock right now. Right? And then you come out of there, you know, 10 feet tall and feel good about yourself? Yeah. So you know, it’s, yeah, business is the same thing. You start, you got to learn from your mistakes.

Aaron Spatz  36:43

You’ve already kind of started to answer the question before I even had a chance to ask it. So I’ll just attribute it to your  background, but the like, so what I mean, what advice would you have kind of get like as your your road has been very unique in the way that you’ve, you’ve gotten there, but But what advice would you have for those that are contemplating starting starting their own business or things that they’re thinking about doing in the veteran space?

Elana Duffy  37:09

And surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and learn everything you can from them? Find people, it’s the same way that you would build a team anywhere, it’s, you know, find people that are great at what they’re doing, and who care about the mission the same way that you do? And the adage of hire slow fire quick, is 100% true. And remember that not all not all people are good people. And you know, but when you figure it out, it’s not. It’s not personal. Yeah, they’re probably just not a good person. Yeah. So don’t take it personally just move on, get get rid of it, move on. Same thing goes for a client’s resources like you’ve like, there’s got to be an amount of resilience. It’s not going to work. If all you’re doing is saying, but I’m a veteran, or but I’m a woman or I’m an amputee, or but um, uh, oh, yeah. Cuz, yeah. Like, it’s not gonna work for you. You got to you’ve got to build a team, and they’ve got to be passionate, and they’ve got to know what they’re doing. And no, I love that you gotta be open to learn.

Aaron Spatz  39:00

Yeah, I will. And I love what you just said. So like, you would really what you’re getting at there, there at the very end was just dropping, dropping all the labels and the excuses. And let’s, let’s form the best team, the best people on our own merit. Like, let’s like, let’s be great. And, you know, like, I mean, I could see situations where people are wanting to get hired, and they play a card or you’re trying to do a business deal and you play a card and you’re in you’re saying it’s like, no, like we’ve got, we’ve got to do a great job, or the person is going to be a great fit for the team. And we’ve got to have a great product.


Bottom line. Yeah, exactly. I, I mean, it’s funny because people have said to me, they’re like, I don’t get it. You are a woman. You’re a veteran. You’re an amputee, you know, you and you have you have an Ivy League engineering background. How are people not like Like flooding your your gates and I was like, and especially a couple years ago, I was like, well, we don’t we don’t have the system properly built yet. So I’m, even when people would walk up to me and say like, Hey, we want to work with you. We’re not there yet. Like, we need to like, give me another month because we’re building this thing. Like, we want to make sure that this is going to do everything that we say it’s going to do. Yeah. And I’m not going to go out there and sell something, and then be like, Oh, by the way, give me a million dollars in two years to build it. Right. I’m gonna say, No, I’ve put together this team that has, you know, slept on couches for the last two years so that we can build something awesome. That’s not being done elsewhere. Yeah. I mean, I really think I think it’s, I think it’s awesome that people want to bet people have great ideas, and they’re willing to go out there and put themselves out there and do it. Stick to it, find a way to stick to it. Make partners go and don’t quit your day job until you know that you’ll be able to eat tomorrow. But you know,

Elana Duffy  41:30

yeah, no one’s gonna hand it to you. And no one should you’ve got to still work for it. It’s and because you know what, it’s gonna be more rewarding on the back end anyway, that you know that you built that. And you got it, because it’s awesome.

Aaron Spatz  41:49

Well, thank you so much for listening and watching. I hope you really enjoyed that recap, if you haven’t. Again, if you haven’t had a chance to listen or watch those episodes in their entirety, I’d encourage you to do so phenomenal. And if you really do enjoy the show, and if you enjoy a particular episode, simply share it out on your social media profile or or send it to somebody in a in a private message. It’s been really cool to see some of the feedback that I’ve gotten from folks of how they’ve enjoyed certain episodes and how the unlikely is episodes end up being the ones that are real zingers. So anyway, I look forward to bringing some more exciting content to you. There’s a lot of exciting developments in the Veterans Business Podcast world, and hope you have a great week. I’ll see you next week. See ya

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