You’ll enjoy this discussion with Warrior Rescue’s Tony Perez. Tony is an accomplished businessman with a tremendous heart to engage with veterans. We cover a variety of topics!

#48: Veterans helping veterans with Tony Perez

December 23, 2020 • 49:49

Aaron Spatz, Host, America’s Entrepreneur
Tony Perez, CEO, Warrior Rescue

Aaron  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 in service, its stories of challenges and obstacles and an inside look at how veterans find their life’s work, their purpose in their post-military lives.

Welcome to another edition of The Veterans Business Podcast. I’m Aaron Spatz. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you have any feedback about the show, feel free to drop me a line at podcast@boldmedia.us. If you enjoy the show, feel free to leave a review or rating either on Apple Podcast, or if you’re following this on YouTube, go ahead and like and subscribe.

It’s been a phenomenal journey hosting these stories and getting to meet just some absolutely incredible people. And so once again, here we are one more week. And so as we’re closing out the year, starting 2021, I’m excited to welcome to the show this week, Tony Perez. Tony is an Army veteran and an astute businessman with a career spanning marketing, consulting, and leadership roles at a variety of companies. We will dig into a lot more of those details here momentarily. But most recently, he’s serving as the CEO of Warrior Rescue. And Tony, I just want to thank you so much for joining the show.

Tony  01:32
Well, thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here.

Aaron  01:35
Awesome. Awesome. Well, why don’t you share with us just briefly about your background, your upbringing, and then what compelled you to join the military?

Tony  01:46
Well, I was actually raised in a Baptist environment, didn’t smoke and drink, didn’t do anything other than go to church. And my first year in college, I’m watching the news about Vietnam and never fired a weapon in my entire life. And all of a sudden, there was this motivation that I needed to enlist, which I did. And I’m one of these type of individuals who if I do something, I’m going to go. For war and love behold, I went into the Army.

And initially, I ended up – I was going to be an attorney. So I signed up for a court reporter’s course so I could be a court reporter in the US Army. As fate would have it, the course was full. And so they diverted me to AIT. So I became a grunt. And then lo and behold, I just ended up going to a unit in Germany and the main emphasis was infantry. And so I enjoyed it. At that time, they had a course in Germany, which was the advanced course for Special Forces, which I graduated from. And then right after I graduated, I was number two in the class, guess where I was? Vietnam. And I served 12 months in the jungle with the 1st Air Cav.

Aaron  03:12
Wow. Now, that’s quite a difference between working in a courtroom versus going the grunt route and then ultimately going through the Special Forces pipeline. So I mean, incredible story. And so you spent a full year in Vietnam. And then what was your remaining time like with the Army? Did you punch out?

Tony  03:37
Yes. so what happened was I actually ended up going out to the field and I was there for about two months. And then they pull me back in to corporate headquarters at the 1st Air Cav. Then my initial had been is I ran the war room for the 24th Division. And so I had a top secret clearance and then I had about 20 different accesses. So I was on one of these 18 beacon special nuclear weapons team. And because of all the accesses that I had, they pulled me from the field and I ended up being in charge of all the tactical air for the 1st Air Division 1st Cav.

Aaron  04:19
That is a really wild ride or wild journey. So you’re coming back with your clearance and with your credentials, now you’re accessing information, you’re running different plans and teams and so forth. And so, I mean, what was that journey like for you then? The point, I guess, I’m trying to get at is you’re coming from a very high stress, high up tempo, no doubt. I mean, we could spend probably three hours just talking about Vietnam by itself. But contrast that against then when you come back stateside, the general public perception of our military and then rolling into that role, what was that like for you?

Tony  05:08
It was difficult only as I landed in San Francisco after leaving the US Army. When I landed in San Francisco, I had my summer khakis on and you have to realize that even though at 21, having traveled all over Europe, having been in Vietnam, becoming a real man because of me and all of a sudden walking down the aisle at San Francisco airport and people spitting on me and calling me a baby killer. At 21, I don’t care who you are. You’re still a baby. I mean, I was young, and fortunately, the principles of my faith were very strong. And I don’t know how other veterans feel, but inwardly, I’m thinking out loud. If you only knew if you pushed me to a limit, you have no idea what you’re going to get yourself into. And yet, you swallow your pride and you say, you know what, I need to move forward. They’re small. And I did.

Aaron  06:26
Wow. Well, I mean, thank you for sharing that. And I know you’re not looking for this at all, but I mean, I’m sorry that that’s how people were treating you in your entire generation coming up after the war effort. And I just want to sincerely thank you for your service, for your time over there. I mean, it’s something that I don’t think gets talked about quite enough, obviously with the ongoing war efforts that we’ve had for the last 20 years. But I think it’s important to highlight Vietnam as often as we’re able to. So I just want to thank you for that.

Tony  07:00
And I want to say in spite of everything, for anyone who has served in the military – Army Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy – I learned a lot. Whoever, whatever I am today, and not that I am anything, but whatever I am today, it’s the discipline that I learned, and above all, most of us know, this is not talking about a mission, but if a mission is given to you, you go from point A to point B no matter what, you’ll finish the mission. And if there was a storyline on my part, that’s exactly what it is. I finish everything I do.

Aaron  07:49
Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest contributions that veterans have in the workplaces. There’s a persistency there. And so I think that’s fantastic. So kind of going ahead and little bit of fast forward here. So share with me then the journey post-military. And you’ve done a variety of things inside of the business world. And so starting off from just setting your background, a lot of marketing work, consulting work, and then over time then, you’re finding yourself in higher levels of leadership within a company. So talk us through, I guess, some of the challenges that some of the businesses faced earlier on in your career and some of the problems that you were helping people solve.

Tony  08:41
My journey has been a combination of factors that have arisen because of having served in the US Army. So Warrior Rescue was not an epiphany out of the sky that said, you know what, I’m a veteran and I want to start a nonprofit. I had plans when I came back to become an attorney. So I went to the University of Washington. And it was there that I became a little bit ill, which eventually, I became very ill. And so the military has this edict that says that if you have any medical issues, you have to respond to them within the first 12 months after you’ve left the military.

My issue did not start until 13 months after I left the military. Needless to say, from there on, it was a struggle. And I don’t blame the US Army, but at that time, I started out with paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, which are PATs, the development of PVTs (paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia), which are deadly. And the Army did not recognize that our issues were derived from Agent Orange. It isn’t until the last year and a half that they have admitted publicly. Yes, it is. And so during that period of time, I fought with the VA and they never gave me a disability until about three years ago, which was partial disability.

And again, I don’t blame them. I think the military, especially the US Army, is for those of us that have been in combat, we know no matter if you have an ache or pain or if you’re ill or whatever it is, for lack of a better word and probably the best way that I could articulate this is you suck it up. You just say, you know what, I’m not in pain. The only time I’m really ill is when I’m crawling on the floor and I can’t go any further. And that’s been the attitude that I’ve had throughout my lifetime. And it’s paid off for me. I must’ve been close to death rebellious four or five different times. Eventually, in 1996, I had a doctor who eventually gave me an ablation and cured me from ventricular tachycardias. So I’m very thankful for Dr. Bruce. And from there on, it’s been just recouping over last years that I had as a useful person.

So I’m looking at this now. And the last part of my journey is what can I do to reciprocate back in kind to veterans. Because in general, if you look at veterans, not everybody has the same constitution as perhaps you and I. Some veterans are set up whereby if you say no, they stop. No more. I’m one of these type of guys that says, you know what, you can’t do this. I’ll say, why not? And go either to the right, to the left, get a new vector, move forward. Not everybody can do that. And so I want to be able to say, what can I do for you? What can I do to empower you? What can I give you to make you go forward? This is just the first stepping stone for you to become better. That is exactly what Warrior Rescue is about.

Aaron  12:45
Wow. No, I absolutely love that. And it’s a great way to take care of our own. And so I just thank you for doing all of that important work. And so it’s neat being able to see the body of work that you’ve completed during your career and then how you’re kind of taking all that forward and moving that into this nonprofit space. And I think it’s interesting the whole disability process. Again, we could probably do an entirely another episode strictly on that, a whole just debacle that that can be related to getting disable service-connected, medical issues documented, and how that whole thing goes. I mean, speaking for myself, when I left the military, my military record was like paper thin. And so that made that whole process for me pretty much impossible, but that’s a story for another time.

So going back into the topic of business. So you’ve had the ability and you’ve had the opportunity to serve at variety of levels within different organizations. So for those that are listening and watching, and I’m talking to those that are either starting their own companies, so they’re either getting ready to start something and they’ve been percolating on an idea or they’re in the early stages of it, so they’re just getting it off the ground. What have been some of the things that you see really slow businesses or really weigh a business down from being able to get off the ground successfully and continue to grow?

Tony  14:25
My career started, first of all, is I spent about eight years with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. And it started out as a regular insurance agent, became an agency manager. And from there, by accident, I went into the banking business. Again, started out as a loan officer and then worked my way up the ranks until I became the senior management. One of the things that I think all young people have or expectations perhaps that should be tempered with time. And by that, I mean, is you have to pay your dues. And those dues come from experience succeeding, failing, succeeding, failing, eventually, you’ll get to where you need to be.

And so the best example that I can give you right now is that Warrior Rescue is in the midst right now of putting together a huge single-family development. I’ve been at this now for about two years. And as you become a little bit older, I think you become a more patient, not necessarily wiser, but you’ve learned from experience that you need to let the process flow. And so we’re getting closer and closer and closer. I strongly believe that once this project is completely funded, that it will put Warrior Rescue on the map. We’re looking about 40,000 homes. We’re looking about affordable housing. We’re looking at housing for veterans in conjunction with a senior military housing home for veterans.

So it’s a lot huge project. But all of this would not have come to fruition had I not been in business for sufficient period of time. And had I not known that in any endeavor that you undertake, it’s never instantaneous. It’s never “you know what, I woke up, and all of a sudden, I’m the CEO of the company.” It is a process and you have to pay your dues. So I’m thankful for that. I think in my lifetime, I’ve had more failures than I’ve had successes, but I think that it’s given me the personality to continue to move forward in spite of having had a failure.

Aaron  17:13
No, I mean, and I can’t pretend to be in your spot because I’m not in your spot. And I’m earlier in my own journeys and I can relate to that. So I can relate to the struggle of iterating ideas, trying out new concepts, examining what the market is responding to, trying to understand where exactly the fit is most appropriate and really narrowing in on focus.

And so I think what you’re saying here is staying persistent, staying consistent with what you’re doing, but being able to understand when there are victories to acknowledge those and understand where the victories are. But then also at the same time, you’re going to fail a lot because you’re going to make a lot of decisions and things are not always going to go the way that you wanted and so being mindful of that and learning from those mistakes or from whatever those business challenges are. Would you care to share if there’s any notable things that you’ve gone through?

Tony  18:24
I don’t know that I’m that type of individual that says I accomplished this, I accomplished that. I don’t know that that’s certainly within my personality. I would probably say is, you know, I’ve been to CEO of a couple of other companies. I’m certainly not rich but certainly not poor. On the other hand, if I were to look at my learning experiences and as a father, I assume you’re a father as well, I look at my son and I look at the fact that growing up, he said, “Dad, never, never, never in my life will I ever do what you do. Never in my life will I ever joined the Army. Never in my life will I ever put on a uniform.”

And so God gave me a very intellectual, very smart son. Lo and behold, he got admitted to Cal, Berkeley. He is very smart. And in his senior year, after I paid for everything, he calls me up and says, “Dad, guess what I did?” I said, “I don’t know. Tell me.” He said, “I signed up for ROTC.” I said, “Why didn’t you do it before?” So he signed up for ROTC. My son was also going to be an attorney and he loved it. Of course, he went airborne. He’s an artillery officer. He’s a lieutenant colonel today in the US Army.

I want to frame everything as a word of encouragement to all of us who have been in the military is the hardest thing to really have in life and I think we need to frame success in life not in terms of your P&L, how much is there, but more so in – perhaps if we were to follow Maslow’s theories – the good that you’ve done. And so I have two grandsons now. From a prejudicial perspective, I hope they go to West Point, right? But you never know. But I think the success comes in the legacy that you leave behind in terms of integrity, in terms of principle, in terms of those things that could stand the test of fire and not necessarily how much money is in the bank.

Aaron  21:22
No, I think you hit it right on the head with what you’re describing as defining success. And so understanding how each of us defines what success looks like. And we could take a hard right turn here and enter into this philosophical discussion about your responsibilities as a husband, as a father, as a citizen, as a friend, as a brother, with any number of these different roles – oh, and by the way, a business person or a leader, a manager, or whatever your role may be inside of an organization.

And so I think what you’re pinpointing here is I think it’s important to – and please correct me if I’m not characterizing what you’re saying properly, but it’s important to examine the entire situation, the entire macro, and knowing how you define success. And so is my family worth the price of working 80-hour weeks for 15 years? Am I going to decimate my marriage or my relationship with my kids? I mean, again, there’s a hundred different ways that we could discuss this, but I believe that’s kind of what you’re getting at, right?

Tony  22:35
That is absolutely true. So as I look at this now is, obviously, I’m alone. And so my passion right now is serving veterans. My passion and my drive and determination is how do I help veterans in a couple of key areas. We have about 22 million veterans in the country right now. We have about 22 veterans that are committing suicide. So my goal is how do I impact those veterans of being able to provide them a senior military housing, being able to help them with PTSD. So sometimes on my board, I’ve got four medical doctors. And just to give you – I know you want to elicit the points of how do I become successful or what are the points that are valid points that build you up to be whatever it is that you were able to do. So other veterans can follow that.

But I want to take a different approach to this. And so in my naivete, let me give you an example. I decided, you know what, because we’re going to have a program for homeless veterans. I said, “God, Lord, guide me, Lord. I want to be able to help veterans and be able to put them in a veterans’ home and surprise them with all the needs that they’ve got.” And I’m patting myself on the back, and I say, “Tony, you’re such a great guy.” And so I decided, you know what, you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to talk to homeless veterans. I did. And lo and behold, to my surprise, I asked myself how stupid can you be? I talked to veterans that were homeless. Guess what? They were unhappy. They didn’t want to come back.

And so that’s what pushed me to have medical doctors and psychologists and they have a word. And so it’s not as easy as it seems. So the first platform is to be able to have a home. The second is to be able to have those individuals with the academic credentials to be able to do the diagnosis and be able to help these veterans. I don’t have that. Not a medical doctor or a psychiatrist or a psychologist. But what I can do is I have the business knowledge to be able to go out and build. I have the business knowledge and we’ve got four MBAs that have an emphasis on financial analysis. And I have those individuals that we can do the analysis to be able to construct.

So when you look at if there’s any success in my part as the CEO of Warrior Rescue, I would say it isn’t because of me, but I have surrounded myself with a lot of individuals who are much smarter than I am, who would know what it takes to be able to provide the perspectives on this field, which is a medical field, and this field, which is a construction of the business, and this field, which is the financial side. And I’m more of a macro kind of guy flying up way up high. And just saying, you know what, I don’t know anything, but if I hire this guy and this guy and this guy, and they know what they’re doing, we’re going to get to where we want to go.

Aaron  26:18
I mean, I think that’s the definition of leadership. And so you obviously have a very well-developed skill of assembling a high-octane team of people that are filling specific spots or specific roles within the organization that is what the organization needs and where the maximum value add is going to be as a whole. And then you’re kind of orchestrating, you’re getting these two or three or four or five or however many you ultimately end up with, on the same page heading in the same direction that is in alignment with the vision of the organization. So I suspect that might be the answer to this question I was going to ask you, which is kind of a blend of a couple things. So what are the first things that you focus on when you assume the role as a CEO? And so, is it personnel, is it a business problem? What generally are you looking at when you are fresh into a brand new situation?

Tony  27:29
When I initiated Warrior Rescue, I tend to be a very email guy. So in the Army, and again, I thank the Army for the educational level that they provided me. So when I was in the war room, I didn’t write them, but I helped in writing them, and that was EDPs (Emergency Defense Plans). As you well know, those EDPs are comprised of a myriad of factors from logistics, food, health, you name it, you put it all together. But one of the things that you have to know in a very precise is what is the mission. So is that EDP for a particular country, for a particular event or a particular occurrence, what is going to trigger that EDP to take place? Once it’s triggered, what are the resources of TOD, everything that’s required, to be able to handle the situation?

So in light of them, when I started Warrior Rescue, I spent about a year putting together my business plan, and I knew exactly what I was going to do, how I was going to do it, and who was going to do it with me. And I spent about close to another year putting together the board of directors. And it’s very difficult. I have a very large board. It’s very difficult sometimes to manage a lot of people. God has given me the ability – because I’m not that smart – to not have an ego. And so I don’t have any ego. I know that anytime you have a lot of board members with so many letters behind their names and they all want to bring them into the board. And the first thing I tell them is, “Guess what? Hey, we all put our pants on the same way. Whatever letters you’ve got, leave them outside. I don’t want to hear them, okay? I just want to find out what is it that we are going to do today and how are we going to do it.” It’s a very difficult thing to do. But those egos, you have to massage them. And sometimes some people are verbose and I let them rant and rave for a while, then you bring it back in and you focus everybody together.

And so it took me that period of time to be able to put Warrior Rescue together. Now we’re in the process of actually implementing it. So for those people that are out there that want to start a business, humbly, what I just tell you is, take your time. Know what is it that you want to do. Know what is it where you want to go. And then once you’ve defined that, what are the tools that you are going to need to be able to accomplish that?

So I don’t know if you were ever in combat, but most people don’t know is if we have a search and destroy mission or if we have any kind of a mission, we plan this mission and we practice it before we ever go out and do it, right? Most people don’t understand it. Hey, these guys are going out on a patrol or they’re going out in a search and destroy and they’re just going to do it. It doesn’t happen that way. There’s a lot of planning that’s involved into it. Making sure you’re got the right ammo, you’ve got everything. There’s just lot of moving parts.

And so I understand that if you’re going to be in business, you have to plan to say more and don’t go off there and just all of a sudden, drop 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and say, you know what, I’m going to start a mortgage company, or I’m going to start a delivery company or whatever it is that you’re going to start. You have to analyze the market. You have to look at the demographics of where it is and understand the dynamics and understand the competition and understand how are you going to be able to delve into that marketplace and then be able to say, “Is this a one man operation or am I going to have to hire other people?”

And if you’re in that position, it’s to understand, too, in the hiring of people – like for example, my board is it’s not always having the superstar in your board but having that superstar that actually fits in and compliment the entire team. Because what happens is this is everybody can have an opinion, but at the end of the day, when you’re the CEO, guess what? We’re all marching to the same tune. We’re all moving forward. If you have somebody else that doesn’t want to move forward, the hardest thing to do, but it’s something you have to do, you have to get rid of that person, okay? You acknowledge that they’re smart, they’re astute, they’re successful, accomplished, but they have to be part of the team.

Aaron  32:58
Yeah. I think a challenge that a lot of companies face is recruiting the right people. For whatever reason, as you’re referring to, your board people, you’ve got a lot of egos and how to navigate that whole thing. And then it’s got to be unsettling for them when they encounter a leader who doesn’t have an ego. And so they’re probably wondering like, okay, when is this guy going to snap? Because he’s handling everything so calm and so cool. But you’re also able to get everybody back on task, back on track. And so I think that’s phenomenal advice specifically also when it comes to offloading, offboarding somebody that you know is not a right fit. And like what you alluded to, you need the right stars on your team. Just because they are a star doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a star for you or for your organization. And so very important to keep that in mind.

As you were talking, you had a couple of things that you said that really jumped out at me, and I had to jot them down real quick because I was going to forget. But as you recruited your key players and you said it took you over a year, I want to say you said a year and a half to recruit your board. I think this is a very fascinating topic that does not get talked about in enough depth or substance, especially in a startup company. What does that recruitment process look like when a) you are still trying to figure out the entire business model and the direction you’re going, and then b) when you’re bringing on board members? I mean, I’m assuming you’re either not paying them ever or you’re definitely not paying them upfront or on the front end of this. You’re trying to get people aligned with the mission. So how are you identifying the right people that you want to have on and bring into the mix? And how are you, I guess, getting them interested and bought into your vision?

Tony  35:06
That’s a very interesting question. And so I would say to you is I have three multimillionaires sitting on my board and I’m not a multimillionaire. And needless to say, they are absolutely great people. They’re having the ego problem because they can say, “Hey, this is what I’ve done.” And I understand it. But the first thing that I did is I actually decided is there has to be a direct contribution of that individual to sit on the board. If you cannot contribute, I’m not going to have you sitting there just to occupy a seat. So you have to be able to contribute. Second of all, once you know that they can contribute, you need to be able to look at their strengths and say, “Where is it that they best fit in to the board?” And be able to take that and understand that that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

So I can give you a couple of examples. On one hand is I have a gentleman that is used to work for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. He’s the marketing guy. Just a super, super nice guy. Everybody knows him all across the country. But he’s the type of individual that sits on the board because he opens up a lot of doors. And so I brought him in and I kind of have him focus on the actual acquisition of funds throughout the country because that happens to be his level of expertise.

I have another lady who is a very well-known philanthropist, who is very, very successful out of New York City. And like I said, very wealthy. But she brings ideas and she’s connected with Harvard University, John Hopkins University. And she’s connected in the field that I want, which is PTSD for veterans. And so I brought her into that field and I give her a lot of leeway because, I mean, obviously, she’s very astute, very successful, and she does bring brilliant ideas.

Now if you go to the other side, again, you have to understand, I know where my mission is and I know where I’m going with this, and I know that we’re going to perform good things and we’re going to do a lot for veterans, but sometimes, for example, we will have an annual convention, an annual legislative conference in Washington DC. And so I’m not one of these type of guys that is very good at event planning. I don’t have the time. At this age, I don’t even want to learn it, right? It’s not me. But I have another gentleman that’s very successful in another field, but his side gig, if you will, he loves planning events. And so I have him sitting on the board for one specific reason only: to plan everything that we do because he’s good at that.

And the other thing that I’ve got as a nonprofit – because I spent 13 years with NAHRE, and this is critical whether it’s a nonprofit or whether it is for-profit. Every one of my board has the capability of writing a check. Now I’m going to tell you something. We’re not a tree hugging organization. I’m a P&L guy. At the end of the day, I can wish all I want, but you need capital to be able to move forward. If you don’t have that, you don’t have access to it, you don’t know how to create it, guess what you’re going to do? You’re going to wish for the rest of your life and it doesn’t work that way. And so every one of my board has that wherewithal. If I ask for a check, they can write the check because that’s what you need when you first start out. It’s the same thing with starting another company. If you can’t write checks, you’re wishing and hoping.

Aaron  39:28
That’s a great punchline. Wishing and hoping. And we don’t want to wish and hope. And a former colleague of mine used to say that that’s not a strategy. Wishing and hoping is not a strategy. And so I can definitely see where you’re coming from with that point. And so, yeah, I mean, if you don’t mind and if you’re not comfortable going this deep, that’s fine. But I think it’s insightful for those that are curious about this whole process. So I’m going to ask the question on their behalf and out of my own genuine curiosity. So when you’re bringing in your board members, what process, what formalities are you going through to accomplish that? Is there any type of agreements, non-disclosures, non-competes? Is there anything that you’re putting in place – expectations, any type of “job description”, so to say, and compensation structure or whatever that may look like? What does that whole process look like there?

Tony  40:29
As a nonprofit, you walk a very fine line between – especially when you first start the operation, in terms of compensation because you don’t have any funds right now. You’re waiting to get everything going. I have told my board that, eventually, they’re all going to get compensated. Now you have to define compensation and not all compensation is monetary. So when the organization becomes highly successful, just the fact that you’re part of the board, you’re going to get – as a by-product – additional business through exposure, meeting other people, everything else. And the business comes out of that.

And so if you’re sitting on the board and your particular ulterior motive happens to be strictly financial, you’re sitting on the board for the wrong reason. So yes, I have a job description for every individual. I have a responsibility that they have to adhere to and they know it. It’s an art to be able to sell a dream, but that art of selling a dream comes not from what are the accolades that I’m going to derive from being part of this organization, and as much as if you don’t have a passion to serve being a veteran, guess what? We’re never going to get there.

So as you well know, whether you’re a platoon sergeant and you’re a second lieutenant out there assisting your CEO, whatever it is that you’re doing, guess what your role is? You’re are a servant and you have to get that implanted into your mind. You’re a servant until maybe perhaps where you become a brigade commander. I think brigade commanders have got it made. I mean, they’re there at the top, right? I think they’re a better fit than a commanding general, but that’s just my personal opinion. But you have to understand the concept of serving. You have to understand the concept of giving. And you have to understand the concept of saying, “Well, follow me.” Well, no, one’s going to follow me unless you’re willing and able to be in point, right? You have to be willing to lead by example.

And so I’ve invested money in this. I’ve invested a lot and I don’t expect anyone to do something I myself would not be willing to do. I would not want somebody to follow me into combat if I myself was not willing and able to go. And I think you can take those same principles either not only in starting a company, but in maintaining the company. Because there’s definitely a huge disparity between a startup, and then once you’ve got the startup is how do you maintain that high level of performance. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but I mean, I could go on and on and on, and I’m speaking from experience because sometimes you can matriculate from any major university, but I will tell you this. What you read in a book and what you actually do when you go out and do it, it’s like night and day.

Aaron  44:01
Yeah. No, this has been fantastic insight. My only regret is that we don’t have more time. And so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and I’m incredibly appreciative of the insight and the perspective, and I appreciate you steering it a slightly different direction. I mean, again, let’s compare our experiences here. I mean, you’ve served at the executive level of various organizations for quite some time, and a lot of us, myself included, are on the front half of that journey. And so I really do appreciate you opening up and sharing some of this insight.

As we’re winding down, getting here to the end of our time, I know we’ve covered a variety of topics and we have covered a little bit of Warrior Rescue, but are there any other things, anything else that’s lingering in the back of your mind that we have not gotten around to talking about? I would love to give this last segment back to you as we close out.

Tony  45:05
On a professional level, I’ve got one last hurrah that I’m doing, and that is opening up a title insurance agency. And so just to give you an idea. In California, it takes a year to be able to open that up with a ton of money. I don’t have it, but my partner has the money. So if there was anything that perhaps all of us that are experienced CEOs would understand is that everything takes time. If you’re not willing to invest the time, you’re not going to succeed. So in opening up an insurance company, you’re at it for one year. I went through the laborious process with the state of California. You’re spending money, spending money, spending money, and your ROI is in the negative. But now you wait until once you get your licenses, you would say, “I did it,” and then you’d get compensated.

It’s the same thing with Warrior Rescue. It’s the same thing with other companies that I’ve been with. It is you have to be willing to say and commit to one year, two years, or three years and say, “I’m going to learn this business. I’m going to master this business. I’m going to be the number one person in this business. Not because I’m the smartest, not because I’m the brightest, not because I’m better than everybody else. It’s because I have taken one more step than anyone else was willing to take.”

Aaron  46:57
Powerful words. I think that’s a perfect way to close out our time. And so, again, Tony, thank you. Thank you for joining the show. Thank you for sharing all of your insight.

Tony  47:08
Thank you, Aaron.

Aaron  47:09
Man, what a fascinating discussion with Tony. I so appreciated the way that he kind of helped steer and guide some of the discussion. And I just found it really fascinating. So this is a guy that obviously knows how to not just take a problem and dream up a plan or an idea, but actually take the dream and a plan and the idea and go and execute it and go make it happen.

And so depending on what part of the interview you listened to and whether or not parts of it made the post-production cut, I wanted to recap really quickly his kind of methodology of how he worked into solving a problem. So it starts with a need. Identifying a market need, identifying a problem that needs to be solved, backing that into then a vision of how you’re going to do that. So maybe you’re wanting to solve it, but maybe you want to do it with a slightly different emphasis or focus, but then getting more micro than going into a business plan, so then addressing some of the macro level stuff, but going way more micro into the tactical level execution of how you’re going to achieve that vision.

And then lastly, understanding that this is going to require capital, either your own, investors, banks, whatever that looks like, and then also people. And so on understanding how to recruit, identify, and attract the right people to the organization, that you can then orchestrate and move forward in the right direction towards achieving that goal. And the last point to that was then understanding that the plan is going to change. Any one of us who’ve spent any time in the military understand that plans change constantly. There’s all sorts of slogans and cool phrases I could use, but you all know them already. But understanding that it’s going to change very, very quickly but it may still result in the same vision, the same end state that you’re going after. But the methodology of getting there may look slightly different. So having the intelligence, the wherewithal to understand when to change versus slightly or when to address maybe a slightly different angle, a different approach to solving that problem. But as I’ve heard said on so many of these other interviews, having a love for the problem, solving the problem, not falling in love with your solution, your plan, but understanding what problem it is that you’re trying to solve.

So, anyway, I’ll leave you with that. Again, I just want to thank you for watching, for listening. Again, I’m going to encourage you. Subscribe, like, comment, share. I really do appreciate that. And I really appreciate your personal comments and emails and messages to me. You can find me anywhere on social media. And again, podcast@boldmedia.us. And we’ll be back soon for more. Take care.

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