Such a fun discussion with Michael Bass regarding private equity, the way the business operates, and how people can get started. Beyond that we also talked a bit about transition and some of the things he’s noticed with transitioning service members. He shared a lot of wisdom related to networking, which is actually forming meaningful relationships with others. You’ll enjoy this fun discussion.
Shout out to Veteran Executives Network (https://veteranexecutivesnetwork.com)
So today, super excited to welcome yet another great guest onto the show. We have Michael Bass. Michael is a veteran US Marine. As you’ve noticed, I’ve had a lot of Marines on the show. And so we’re going to dive into a lot of things that he’s done post-military. We’ll cover a little bit about his military journey, but a lot of the things that he’s doing now. So he’s currently a director of mergers and acquisitions with US Endodontics Partners, and he’s done a ton of other work and he has a passion near and dear to his heart for helping veterans specifically as it relates to the transition story. So, Michael, I just want to welcome you to the show. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thanks, Aaron. It’s a n honor to be on here.
Absolutely. So you and I share the common bond as US Marines. So just one of the things I love to hear from people about their journey into the military, but then also out of the military, but what inspired you to join the military? Give me a sense of who you are, where did you grow up, what kind of led you down that military path?
That’s a great question. I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where I currently live. But I had a burning desire. I think just as a kid watching a bunch of war movies, that was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to serve our country. And that was a big part of it. And then I think my goal was really just to give back and to do something, especially around about the time that 9/11 happened. That was something that really pushed me in. So yeah, just kind of a mix, and my dad was in the Navy, so I had that where I wanted to be able to serve and follow in his footsteps.
Well, you and I’ve got way more in common than I realized. So yeah, I grew up in a Navy family also but I liked to go the dark route in the Marine side as well. So that’s really cool. So what did you end up doing when you’re in the Marine Corps? And then share with us a little bit about your journey and your decision to get out.
Yeah. So I was an amphibious assault platoon commander down at second tracks in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. And I did two deployments, one to Fallujah and then one to Afghanistan. The one to Afghanistan was a part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. So I did those two deployments and then went on to my b-billet and went up to Officer Candidate School where I served on staff up there, and it was great getting to serve in a lot of different capacities. It was a really rewarding time. Especially as I was contemplating getting out of the Marine Corps, it was a really good place where I could pass on the lessons that I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, things that went well and share those with the candidates to help them become better officers than I was. So it was a really amazing time and I miss it. I miss it a lot, but I’m happy to be back home in Nashville.
That’s cool. I mean, it’s a great way to just take it full circle. And so it’s like one, I can’t imagine what that was like. I mean, I know there’s thousands of veterans that have served in both theaters, but a lot of folks such as myself only were able to participate in one. So what was that like participating both in Iraq and Afghanistan?
That’s another really good question. So I was very pleased to have the opportunity to spend time in both countries. Iraq was different. We had the opportunity to take our amphibious assault vehicles over there. So we operated out of Camp Fallujah doing mostly patrols. But I think Afghanistan was completely different in the fact that we didn’t really have that forward operating base where we could go back to every night. We were in a small town called Garmsir, Afghanistan. And so we were the first Marines back in a good bit of time. And so we went into unknown territory where the British had been operating and we went to reinforce them. So we were sleeping in these combat outposts that we built on our own kind of all scattered throughout Garmsir. So it was very different in that aspect. Probably a lot more austere conditions in Afghanistan at the time. But I was glad to have that opportunity and then got back in to the states in late 2008 and moved on up to Quantico.
Wow. Okay. Yeah. So that gives me a sense of your timing then when you’re overseas. So yeah, fast forward a few years, , I was able to go to Afghanistan in 2011, spent the whole duration of the time there. And so I’m sure the Afghanistan that you knew and the Afghanistan that I saw were totally different things. I mean, by the time I was there, we had units everywhere. We had FOBs, we had camps, we had all sorts of things set up. So I can’t imagine the contrast there of just, hey, man, we’re roughing it right here on the edge of everything. And then fast forward to all sorts of craziness, man. That’s really cool. And you’re getting to finish it all up in Quantico where it all started. And there’s something really rewarding when it comes to instructor-type billets where you’re able to kind of take care of and shepherd people, but then also care for them. But you’re seeing and like you personally were invested in the lives of hundreds of people as they now made their way to the operating forces. So a great way to finish it all out, right?
Yeah, yeah. It was a great way to end my time, and you’d asked earlier why I decided to.
And it was a tough decision. I think that it was kind of a matter of just ready to get back home. I really missed my family and I had nieces and nephews who were growing up and I didn’t want to miss out on that part of their lives before they moved on to college and everything. So just ready to get back home. And like I said, I miss it, but I don’t regret my decision. I was happy to get back home so here I am.
Well, I think there’s a lot of people who share that sentiment, right? There’s a lot of people who love their time of service and there’s always a part of their heart that’s going to miss that and is connected to that. Because, I mean, there’s so much life lived. That’s one thing I was telling somebody the other day. You live so much life in such a short – you feel like it’s all compressed and then you get out and you realize like, oh, my gosh, that was only four years or six years or eight years of my life, or some people obviously serve much longer than that. But when you’re only doing the first four to eight years, you look back on it and then fast forward, as time goes on, you’re like, oh, my gosh, it felt like I did so much in so little time. And then now, here you are and you’ve got this longer career and I think longer vision for what’s happening. So it’s fascinating. It really is. It’s a fascinating discussion to have. So you moved back to Nashville, which is awesome. Shout out to Nashville. I got a lot of family out there. So how was that departure process for you coming out of the military? And did anybody help guide you on your way out? Were you networking on the front end of that? What was your process like?
It was really difficult. I think the military does a good job of putting something in place with the steps in TAPs to help kind of coach you as you’re getting out, putting your resume together, things to think about with different jobs. But I think that that was a very good entry level to kind of understanding that, but I had no idea. I got out with the intent of working with some friends as they were building up a company, a real estate company. And that was really a learning experience for me. And it kinda taught me and helped me shape what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. And so I got out and I did that, but I was still sort of in this limbo of what I want to do when I grow up.
And for me, it was kind of in my teenage years, looking forward to attain that goal of becoming a US Marine. And once you attain that, it’s sort of you feel like the dog that caught the car. Now, what? And you move on. And it’s a great first chapter of your life, but you’ve got a whole rest of the book to write in your life. So I did a lot of soul searching and worked in this real estate company for about a year. And then an opportunity came up with development and alumni relations at my alma mater. So I did that for a bit. And then Nashville’s a big healthcare company city. And so I went back and I got my MBA while I was working at Montgomery Bell Academy and then doing the executive program. And then that helped me transition and helped me really contemplate what I wanted to do.
And so that’s kind of how I made that really a leap into my professional career, which I felt was the beginning with Shearwater Health. It’s been still I think that now I’ve really landed into what I want to be doing and that’s working in private equity and mergers and acquisitions. And so I think had I not been through all those steps, the lessons learned, I don’t know that I’d be here. So it was a rocky road to get here, but it got me here. And so it’s all part of the journey. And I’m very grateful to be where I am today.
Man, well, so much wisdom that you just shared in just a couple of minutes. I just want to unpack because you hit on so many different things and I’m trying, like I’m desperately trying to make sure I remember and hit every single one of them. Because, man, there are some real, real challenges. And so to kind of share my perspective on that because you articulated that so well. Like the dogs that finally caught the car, I get that, I get that so much, and I’m sharing this because I feel there’s a ton of people listening to this that will relate to your story and mine as it relates to this topic specifically.
And so for me, I wanted to join the military ever since I could walk, right? I mean, just like you. I grew up in a military family, wanted to follow in my family’s footsteps, my father’s footsteps. And that was really all that I dreamt about, didn’t really think about anything much beyond that. And then I equate it to people who play professional sports, right? They were gifted from an early age and they want to go into the NFL, right? And so all they did is play football and they were really good, got scholarships, got picked up, all this, that, and the other. They get drafted and then they play for three seasons, four seasons, if they’re lucky, and then they’re done in their late 20s, and they’ve got an entire life ahead of them. And now, what? What happens now?
And so I relate to that so much because I was so lost coming out. There’s a thousand things that you can do. And I think that’s what’s overwhelming. You’ve got so many choices. How do you pare that down? So for you, when you were going through this journey, and it’s a very emotional process, by the way. There’s a lot I’m already feeling just talking about it right now with you. But how did you go through that process, that soul searching journey? Because it’s like, hey, Michael, you can do whatever you want, brother. What are you going to do? How do you go through that process?
Well, I think the first one, it was really following my gut. I’d come home over the holidays to be with family right around Christmas and actually ended up getting snowed in. So I couldn’t leave Nashville.
So I extended my leave a little bit. And actually on that night, the first night where I had to stay, back a few days later, I went out to dinner with some friends and they offered me a job kind of over dinner to help them with this company. And so I just jumped at the opportunity. I was kind of like, this is a God moment where he’s calling me back. And so I just jumped at that opportunity and I don’t regret that because it got me home. But I think that if somebody doesn’t have one of those opportunities come up, it’s really thinking through what are the things that you really enjoy doing? Do you enjoy being around people? Do you enjoy finance and number crunching, working in Excel, kind of keeping to yourself? Really thinking through that.
But I knew that I love the relational aspect of this real estate company but I didn’t enjoy certain aspects. So another opportunity came up and that was working in development and alumni relations where I got to connect with so many people. And so that was really a seamless transition. I just fell right in and loved it. But I knew I wanted more. And so it’s just following that hunger, wherever you want more, that’s what drove me to want to go back and get my MBA. And I did the executive MBA, and you just keep on working and moving up and following kind of where your heart’s pulling you. And then in that program, more education opens your eyes to what more is out there. And so if anybody has access to the GI Bill, I strongly encourage them to take advantage of that so that they can find and really contemplate what it is they want to do.
For sure. For sure. No, I mean, it’s a journey that can take people months, oftentimes it takes people several years to kind of sort through all that. Because again, you’re on the outside, you’re trying to make your way, trying to figure it all out. And so, I mean, this is where I’ve meant to – do you have anybody in your life that mentors you? Have you been able to develop – I’m sure that in the time you’ve been in Nashville, you’ve developed some semblance of a network, right?
Yes. Yeah. I’m a big believer in mentors. Finding somebody who is older than you that is maybe towards the end of their professional career and then finding somebody who’s like in the middle of their professional career and getting those different perspectives, as you’re thinking through what you want to do, asking them. If somebody really enjoys being around people and really trying to help come to a common solution, talk to somebody in commercial real estate. But it’s good to have different perspectives and those mentors. Because a lot of them have been there and they’ve done that and they’ve made mistakes and they’ve learned from them and they could share that with you so you don’t make the same ones. And I’ve enjoyed doing that with others that I’ve encountered, other veterans and then just younger people who are looking for advice. So yes, to answer your question, I do have mentors and they’ve been extremely instrumental in helping navigate my career.
That’s awesome. And so now you’re post MBA, you’re working on trying to figure out what it is that you want to do. And so walk me through then how you ended up to where you are right now?
Really good question. I had basically come to the end of really what I wanted to do at the previous company. It was a great company. I loved the relationships I’ve built there. But again, I knew that I wanted to do something more. And so I kind of had a conversation with then the president and CEO of the company. We had a pretty open relationship and he could tell that I wanted more. And so he said, “Let’s look internally to the company and see if we can find something within the company where you’d be a good fit and you’d really enjoy it.” And so we did that, couldn’t really find anything. And so I came back and communicated that to him a couple of weeks later. And he said, “Well, let’s see if we can help you find something outside of the company and we’ll help you network and really find the right people,” which is a very generous position.
So that’s rare, man.
It’s very rare. And I wouldn’t always recommend it, but in this situation, I felt that I could. I just prefer to be upfront and honest. And so it really worked out. It really put the heat on me at a compressed timeline to really find that other role. And I had another opportunity which was very exciting. And I was really toying with the idea. I had gone back and discussed with some of my professors about the idea. And I had a mentor of mine. An incredible man, a guy named Jimmy Webb, who passed away a couple of years ago, but he’s just really a staple here in the Nashville community. And I asked him about the opportunity and he thought about it. And he said, “I think that sounds really great. But there’s one more person I want you to talk to. You may have another opportunity that you’re interested in. He’s a Vietnam era Marine aviator. I think y’all have a lot in common and he’s looking for somebody to serve in this role in a mergers and acquisitions as they’re starting up a company.”
And so he gave me – he put us in touch and we met over breakfast. A gentleman named Pat Haynes also known as a Great Pat Haynes. So we got together for breakfast and basically he offered me a position at breakfast, and that was formalized over the next couple of weeks with an offer letter. And that’s really how I got into this. So really, it was a matter of sharpening my tool set, my tools for kind of having that finance background and business background and then also utilizing and gaining advice from mentors and networking. And that’s really what landed me here. So it’s just always trying to make yourself ready. And then when the opportunity arises, you’re ready and you can strike on it. It took me a while to get there, but it’s patience. And then not burning any bridges at all, gracefully leaving wherever you’re exiting and maintaining those relationships.
So that’s solid wisdom, especially when it comes to burning bridges and maintaining good relationships with everybody that you’ve worked with. Because it’d be a shame to miss out on other opportunities to either help them or them help you in some future opportunity that nobody’s even considering at the time. And it just keeps you classy, man. You’re able to leave classy and keep your head up. And it’s all a great thing. There’s something that you’d said a while back that I don’t think I ever was able to circle back to, and I think it’s important that people understand this as well.
You’re a great example, and this may not sound exactly the way you think it’s going to sound at first. But you’re a great example of how you took a bit of a bumpy road, right? You had a journey that maybe didn’t play out the way that you wanted it to, or maybe initially, there was some difficulties there as you’re kind of processing and navigating all this stuff. But the point that you made earlier, which I think is so critical because again, I think there’s tons of people I can relate to this exact journey you’ve been on, is that you have determined then to use all that experience as opportunities to learn, opportunities to grow. And so by doing that, you’ve given yourself an opportunity to step into something else where like, hey, I know what all that other stuff looks like. I know where I’ve been. I know what I don’t want to do. Or I know what I like about that. I know what I like about this. I know what I don’t like about this. And so it’s kind of helped formulate and craft your future to some extent. That way, when you’re going forward, you’re able to make clear decisions.
So I say that as like an observation because I feel like a lot of folks can get hung up and caught up on, crap, man, I just spent four years or eight years at this company and I’m changing industries. Or man, I didn’t make it to the level of that company I wanted to. Man, this really sucks. What do I do now? And your whole point has been, man, I’ve used any experience, positive or negative, to help propel me forward, right?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. And you talking about my career path being kind of rocky and bumpy and I think that’s just life.
I mean, you never know what it’ll throw at you and it’s really making the best of everything that comes your way and learning from it. So just an encouragement to anybody out there who feels like they’re in the wrong spot or they made the wrong decision, there’s definitely hope and it’s no reason to despair. Believe me, because I feel like I did that. I took a huge pay cut coming out of the Marines to take that first job. But I’ve been able to work my way up to exceed what I was making in the Marines well beyond that, and then the life experiences that came along with it. So if I can do it, I believe anybody can.
Yeah. No, it’s a great example because it’s important for people to understand they’re not alone, right? They’re not alone in their experiences and what is that they’re going through. And so able to look at your journey or career of like, man, this is what I went through to try to figure out what I was wanting to do and this is what I learned here. And so you serve a really good example is really the point I’m making. You serve as a good example for those that are on that same path, which I know is near and dear to your heart. You love helping other people. You’ve clearly got a heart and a passion for people and that definitely shines through. And so the whole networking piece, the mentorship, all of that stuff has just been critical and I cannot overstate how vital that is. Because I hear this time and time and time again how vitally important mentors and networking is. So when you go to network with people, are you focusing on people in your industry? Are you just focusing on geography? If there’s even a process – I hate to even say process, is there a little bit of a method to your madness?
Well, networking to me seems kind of like a dirty word. I’d see it more as pursuing genuine, authentic relationships and it just so happens to be networking. I think really a good way of doing it is if you’re at a juncture and just asking for advice. I mean, you’ve just meet a lot of people over the span of your life. Go to functions and just really just meet people because you enjoy meeting people, and not that you’re trying to get something out of them, but just build relationships and friends. And then when you come to a juncture where you’re trying to figure out what you want to do or what decision to make, just ask advice. I mean, people were happy to give advice and ask them about themselves. And that’s kind of where I think that stuff comes out where your network comes to help you. So I would start with genuine, authentic relationships and friendships and then you’ve built a network for when you need advice or steering into that right career.
Yeah, that’s so concisely said. Don’t turn this dirty word. I’m thinking, like, here’s all my watches I’d like to sell you, Michael. No, it’s pursuing genuine relationships with people. I absolutely love that. So when we get back from the break, what I’d love to do is then cover and go a little bit more into the weeds with what it is you do. So sharing with us a little bit of both behind the scenes, what your role in terms of mergers and acquisitions with the firm that you’re at. So we’ll cover that here in just a second.
So we’re incredibly honored and humbled to be able to have some amazing sponsors. So one, if you are looking for sponsorship opportunity for you, for your company, this is a tremendous platform to be able to do that. So I highly encourage you. Again, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But we are so incredibly grateful to be able to start doing this. This year in 2021 is running sponsorships.
So I would love to promote an organization I’m working with right now. So it’s Veteran Executives Network. It is a completely volunteer-led organization. So I just want to tell you about them really, really quickly. So what the Veteran Executives Network is it’s a group of veteran business owners and executive decision makers who strive to leverage each other’s networks to assist one another’s careers and business pursuits. So whether you are in the private sector, looking for another opportunity, maybe to crack into a different market maybe across the country, or you’re in public sector and you’re trying to maybe piggyback off of a prime contract, or team with somebody who has a specialty that you desperately need for your work, these are the kinds of things that we’re talking about here. So this is a great place for other people, other veteran business leaders, to work with each other, to network, again, to network with each other, and to see how you’re able to add value to each other. And in addition to that, there’s a few other things that are coming down the pipe. So Veteran Executives Network is going to also help point you into different resources and things out there. There’s a lot of stuff already made. So rather than recreate the entire wheel, help point you to other resources and then possibly hosting events and webinars and things of that nature. So Veteran Executives Network, you can check them out at veteranexecutivesnetwork.com.
So Michael, I want to just get right back into where we were when it comes to your career. So you’ve now jumped into this great opportunity now. So you’re director of mergers and acquisitions at US Endodontics Partners, and so help everybody understand who is US Endodontics Partners, what do they do, and then kind of what is your role there?
Yeah. So US Endo Partner is we call it for short, what we’re doing is we’re partnering with endodontist practices throughout the country. Really helping them continue to grow by taking a lot of that back office type stuff. They still keep their staff, everything stays the same, but we just help them from an accounting, really, you know, tax filing perspective and then also bringing more funding so that if they need to buy new equipment, we can help them with that. So we partner with them, we build relationships and we’re actually just building a network of endodontists so that they’ve got a community. As an endodontist, if you’re and working on your own, you really don’t have a network other than going to annual meetings. And so what we do is we bring all those doctors together, albeit virtually now. Basically on a quarterly basis, they get together and they’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and really just strengthen each other. So we’re partnering with them and gain kind of a share into their practice as we’re able to unite them. They keep their name, everything stays the same.
So my role is kind of on the development side of just having those conversations with the doctors, telling them about US Endo and then really gathering some information from them and really kind of putting together our valuation of how much we would pay them so that we can partner together. So there’s been that aspect of it. And then as we’ve grown, my role has actually evolved where I’m helping on the transition side. So really helping the staff and that section of time between when they close to two or three months down the line where they’re partnered with us, helping them transition and become kind of get into the routine of things. So that transition piece. So that’s kind of where I am on the development and operational side of the company.
No, that’s great. So help us understand for those that are maybe not as well-versed in the space as you are, right? So one, where does the funding come from? So the value prop for the firm that you’re working with, it was some of the things that you just spoke to, right? So it’s streamlining back office processes, helping them focus on what they do best, helping leverage a greater network and kind of taking some of the burden off of them, right? So I know I’m probably paraphrasing and butchering this to pieces, but that’s just my quick take on that. So that’s part of the value that you’re adding there. But then in exchange, are you buying them out completely? Are you taking a position within the company? I guess, yeah. And then getting back to my other question, but then how is all that funded?
Yeah. So they’re still equity holders in their practice and actually all of US Endo Partners. So they are just legitimate partners in their practice and then all of US Endo.
We are kind of buying into their practice so that we can have that relationship. So I’m going to oversimplify this. So think of with the private equity, that with this relationship that we have, we have the operational side, which is what I’m doing of actually helping build the company and then get it up and running, and so it’s a smooth running company. The other side of it is the financing side, so the financial institution that provides funding. So that other entity, that is private equity as well. And so whenever we have a deal or a practice that we want to close on, we go to that other private equity institution. We asked them for the money. We give them details on the practice, the ins and outs of the deal. And then they are the ones that approve and open up. And they maintain the relationships kind of with the big investors who have capital. And they want to see it grow faster than putting it into the stock market or an index fund. They want to be able to say, “Hey, I know this is a little bit riskier, but I want to put my money in something that’s going to grow faster.” And so that’s where we come in. We build that company and then they are – for lack of a better term, it’s not venture capital, but in a way, because these companies are already proven, the individual practices, that’s where it’s different.
It’s not a pitch.
No. Yeah, yeah. They’re proven models. Venture capital would be if I had a great idea on something, but I have no proven track record in this industry, no money, I go to them and ask for funding to help us get it off the ground. And really, we’ve already gotten it off the ground. So yeah. I hope that explained it.
Yeah. No, I’ll back brief to make sure that I copied all. So you and the firm that you’re working with, so you guys help with the operations, with the back office, with getting them integrated, getting things moving, helping a lot of the day-to-day f type of items. And then you’re reaching out to another PE firm that all they do and all they really care is just the investor relations piece and then the funding of those deals and how that whole transaction goes. And so then they are – again, I know we’re probably getting way too detailed for this, but they would cut you a check and then you’re then turning that around and using that within the business.
Okay. I did it. I got it. That’s awesome. That’s cool. So what’s been one of the things that you’ve learned in your time in that role that you just were like, man, I had no idea about this?
Yeah. I don’t know that we’d have enough time to cover all. I think really getting into profit and loss statements, familiarity with Excel, and there’s one thing to look at them or to study them in business school. But to the extent of where you’re looking at 80 different profit and loss statements, all from different geographies and seeing, noticing trends, if how much is this practice paying in rent as a percentage of revenue, staffing expenses? So really kind of getting your hands in an understanding of the profit and loss statement and what are the things that make one practice financially more successful than another and that aspect of it.
There’s really also the side of it where now that I’m in more of the transitions role of understanding HR and payroll and benefits, health benefits, 401(k)s, profit sharing plans, all of the things that the boxes that need to be checked for when hiring a staff member. Like if I want to start a company and I need to hire some people, what do I need to do if they’re going to be W-2 employees? And so all of that documentation that goes along with that. Because we are essentially hiring into our company all the non-clinical staff members. So we provide a service to them. We’ve actually kind of hired them. The clinical, the doctors are still making the decisions on how they manage their staff, but we are just supplying that to them kind of as part of our – and there’s a lot of reasons why we have to do that. It’s complex but understanding that. So it’s been really eye-opening and I could go on and on about the things that I’ve learned.
Do it. Come on, let’s go.
A lot of you have to learn kind of on the fly and it’s just jumping into it. You’re not necessarily gonna learn it in in business school or undergraduate school. But really, from a personality standpoint, not all doctors are the same, you’ve got different types of personalities. Some, they’re very outgoing and they just want to have a relationship and they’re more concerned about being a part of the community of endodontists. There are some that are really just concerned about the money and they take their money and they kind of keep their head down and they keep on working. And I think it’s knowing kind of how to tailor that message and how to meet that doctor where they are and what their specific needs are. So that you’re not trying to push a square peg in a round hole. You know, okay, they’ve got a round hole, so we’re gonna pitch our message in that way.
And a lot of it is – I mean, their incentive is that eventually they do want to retire and the need to sell their business. And so really looking at the map, does it make more sense to sell it 10 years down the road when all my equipment is appreciated and who am I going to sell it to? Is it going to be an associate who’s worked with me? Is that associate going to be able to pay me what this firm is offering to me now? And even if they were, would they be able to pay it to me all upfront or would they have to pay that out over time? So I’m not really getting the full value. And then thinking about the time value of money. They offered me a million dollars now. Or do I have the option to, like, I would rather take that and invest that in the market, pay off my mortgage and then continue making money on top of that while you’re watching your money grow and your investment, and at the same time, having equity in US Endo Partners and seeing that equity grow over time as we’re growing fast as a company more than the most publicly traded companies. And it’s easy to do when you’re a young company, you can grow fast and that’s why you can see that equity grow quicker over time. So I think that I’m tired of talking now.
No, you’re good, man.
That’s what I’ve learned in a nutshell, and I think you really can’t fully experience it until you jump into it and take a leap of faith and say, hey, I know this is going to be hard. I’m going to do everything that I can to prepare my myself for this. Take online courses on Excel. There’s a course called Teaching The Street. I think is what it’s called. It’s basically about pretty much preparing you to be an investment banker, investment banking. And I took that on my own and it taught me a lot.
I just found it. trainingthestreet.com
Training The Street, yep. So if anybody’s looking to get into investment banking, and the normal kind of flow this, a lot of people who get into private equity, they start out in investment banking and really cutting their teeth there, working really long hours up in New York or wherever it may be. And then they gain all that experience and then they find a private equity firm that they want to work for and then they make that transition. I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to jump right into private equity.
But if somebody is interested in private equity, I would encourage that class. And then also, applying for roles where you’re going to do grunt work and it’s not going to be fun in investment banking and do that for a number of years, and where you’ve now got a great skillset and a really good name on your resume for a company that you’ve worked for, and then you can go on and do a lot of stuff. But it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be glamorous. You’re going to feel like you’re starting over in the military at the bottom row but work your way up and then you’ve got that. That’s a very nice badge to have. Just take your time and just don’t ever think of any job being below you. If you’re starting over in a new career, just take it and learn and work hard, keep your head down. And then when those opportunities arise, you’ll be ready to jump at them.
No, that’s fantastic. And really, really interesting how you were able to go directly there instead of going the other route that you were mentioning. So I think that’s really cool. I think there’s a ton that I’m sure that you’ve learned in terms of – I mean, you’ve looked at probably hundreds, if not thousands, at this point of P&Ls from different firms. And so being able to kind of see quickly, you’re already probably picking up on different trends in their expenses and what’s the revenue and these different percentages and how all that’s working out. So I’m sure it’s been really fun to be able to see a lot of different businesses from a financial standpoint. And then I’m sure that you’ve learned even more, just a crazy amount of learning that’s gone on just in that process.
Yeah. And I’ll say this, Aaron, I could not have done that in a silo. Somebody handed this to me and said, “Go figure it out there.” I mean, there are people that I’ve worked with. James, one of my colleagues, and he was the first guy on this team. I mean, out of the gate, I was just drinking from a fire hose, but I think him being able to – his attention to detail and he’s younger than me but smarter than me. And so I’m a big believer in that proverb: As iron sharpens iron, so does one sharpen another. And I mean, as hard as he was on me, and if I got something wrong, letting me hear it. He was gracious about it. But that has enabled me to kind of pass that on to other newer members of our team. And people I’ve taught how to do this stuff are now teaching, you know, I’ll ask for their opinion on something because as I’ve transitioned out of that role, they’d taken more of it over. And if I’m going back and doing an evaluation, I’ll have him take a look at it and Brent, one of my other colleagues. So it’s all a team effort. And I would not be here on my own. It’s all of us working together as a team and getting better.
That’s cool. Well, that’s another thing I’ve learned about you just in our time talking. You’re very teachable person. And I feel like the people that are incredibly successful are those that are always studying, that are always open to receiving another perspective, especially when it’s from a qualified perspective. Let’s be clear there. But I think that’s how people get better. I mean, to throw in a really dumb football analogy, but it’s like watching tape. It’s like watching exactly what happened during that game. And so when you do that, you’re able to make yourself better. It’s not personal. And it helps some people deliver it in a way where you’re not getting beat up, but they’re really invested in you and try to help you grow and cultivate your skill set. And so that you can be a further asset for the company and also just for your own benefits.
So well, thank you for spending so much time there. That’s exactly what I want to do in terms of the finer details of that. So I wanna kind of shift gears now and kind of I was saving this last segment really for this final topic. So you had shared with me a paper that you’d written called Adapt and Overcome. And so the transition from military to civilian life for you is something that’s just very near and dear to your heart. And so I just want to kind of give you the floor and share with everybody who’s watching or those that are listening to this what that paper’s about and kind of what drove you to pen that.
Yeah. Well, you’re right. This is something that I’m very passionate about and really because of my own story. I knew how difficult it was to make this transition and so I wanted to be able to help anybody that was in that bind. I mean, a lot of people kind of can get at this moment of just despairing of I don’t know what I want to do or what I’m going to do, how I’m going to provide for my family. And I really put this document together. It’s nothing professionally written or anything. But it’s really just kind of my thoughts. I found myself working with a number of soldiers getting out of a fifth group out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was part of a nonprofit called The Legion Fund. So I was having these conversations with these guys that are just amazing individuals and special forces guys who just didn’t know what to do. And so I was having these long calls with them, and then I just thought I’m going to write this stuff down so that I can send it to them. They can read through it and then we can hop on a phone and make more progress more efficiently.
And so I mean, really, just that the topics in it are just having the right mindset, being humbly confident. You’ve spent time in the military and that’s amazing, but not having that chip on your shoulder of now the world owes me everything. They’re trying to run a business and they’re grateful for your service, but they need to know kind of what value you’re going to add to the team. And so that’s where you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to hone those skill sets and really know what you want to do, I think, is the main thing. And you may not know, but just pick something.
If you’re having a conversation with somebody and they’re like, “Hey, how can I help you?” Don’t say, “I’ll be willing to do anything just you in the right company.” Say, “Hey, I really love working with people. In the military, I was in charge of selling ideas to my commanding officer of what’s a good idea for a plan. And so that interpersonal, I love working with like my Marines and team effort. I’m from Nashville. I’d love to come back to Nashville and do commercial real estate, be on a commercial real estate team. I know the area, I know a lot of people, I love sales. I’d like to be in commercial real estate.” And just tailoring that with who you’re speaking to and kind of thinking through it that way.
So the right mindset, writing your resume. I could spend a lot of time on this. Keep it short, simple and try to keep it to one page. Once you’re done with it, save it in PDF. But break down the acronyms. People that are not from the military don’t understand all those acronyms. So really, just trying to break it down. So a civilian – think about it, your mom or your dad – can pick it up and read it and know, hey, this is what this means. So tell me how much time I have, Aaron.
No, you’re good. We’ve got probably another five, 10 minutes or so, tops.
Great. So there’s a lot of resources out there on writing your resume. LinkedIn and social media. Again, once you’ve written your resume, that enables you to really just put that onto your LinkedIn profile. And again, civilianized it. Make sure that somebody can understand what you did from a leading perspective, from an operations perspective, what you were responsible for, what were the outcomes. People are very interested to know what were the outcomes. So you did this, what did that lead to?
Every bullet point on your resume, talk about what you did and what it led to. So there’s that –
And you don’t use your board photos on LinkedIn photos?
You don’t use board photos for LinkedIn photos?
Yeah. So, I mean, you certainly can if you have a professional photo. I think in your transition, you’re looking for something to put there. That’s a very good photo to start with, but really look to find a professional photographer and have them take a picture of you in a suit, in a sport coat, nice button-down shirt, either wearing a tie, smiling. They know that you can probably be mean if you need to, but you want to appear approachable. So really take that photo, try to demilitarize even your civilian attire. I know that we always wore – I remember I always wore a white undershirt where you could kind of see the whiteness of it. I mean, in today’s day and age, see if you get a V-neck or something. Just look a little bit more casual. Just look through a number of LinkedIn profile photos and you’ll get an idea of some of the CEOs out there, kind of what they wear. Aaron, did you have something to add to that?
No, I’m cracking up because I’m thinking of just how outrageous we look in our promotion board photos. It’s in our military record. Or of the fully uniform with whatever, like on the main commands wall where you’ve got like the S1, the S2, the S3, you the first sergeant and they got all these very professional looking photos. And to your point, we probably don’t want to be using those. If we’re trying to gain civilian employment, I mean, unless you’re going to DOD, you’re going to be a defense contractor, then that’s like military light going into that world. Everybody’s known as their former rank and branch of service.
But to your point, I mean, smiling is definitely okay. I’s okay to crack a smile now, and in fact, it will help you because people feel, like to your point a minute ago, it was like you’re approachable. People can actually walk up to you, have a conversation. They’re not gonna get tables flipped over and chairs thrown at them because that’s part of the stigma, right? Unless you’re going to a company that has hired military in the past and they’ve already kind of got this long-standing relationship with that whole what that looks like, that’s a little bit easier. But when you’re going, and you’re maybe interviewing at companies that have never dealt with military veterans, or they don’t have any type of “veterans program” or whatever, the stigma, whether it’s fair or not, you could have been an admin guy, you could have been a cryptologic technician, whatever, they all assume that everyone’s a former drill instructor. They just assume that you’re going to come in and yell and scream at people and that you don’t play well with others. And so help yourself look like you can do that part.
And anyway, as you’re sharing all that, those are some of the thoughts I was having. But no, I mean, this paper that you wrote, though, I mean, you’ve been able to help so many different people through their own journey. And it’s this hard-fought, hard-earned wisdom and knowledge that you’ve gained. And so what’s been the feedback that you’ve gotten from people?
It’s been good. There are a couple of guys that have reached up and followed up with me and said that, “Because you helped me on this front end stuff and helped me network,” you know, that one of them drew kind of, gosh, one of those spider diagrams where it shows how everybody got connected. And then that was really cool getting to see kind of how I introduced that veteran to one person who introduced him to another person and just how it splits out like that. So it’s been positive, and I haven’t really distributed this a ton, but it’s just something – if anybody’s interested in receiving a copy, they can email me at email@example.com and I’d be more than happy to send you a version. Keep in mind, it’s just my scribble and just some notes. Take a lot of it with a grain of salt. But if this helps you kind of get on track, I mean, I’ve got beyond this, what I’ve covered, I’ve got 10 more chapters that are a wide range of things.
That’s cool. Well, no, I mean, I appreciate that. And on behalf of the greater veterans community, thank you for putting that together. And I mean, we all really do genuinely enjoy helping each other. I mean, it’s a great community. It’s a great network of people. And a lot of times, I mean, the only thing I do is ask, you just got to reach out for help. There’s no way that – people are not going to show up on your doorstep, knock on your door and say, “Hey, I heard you have a problem.” You’ve got to express that you’ve got something going on. You’ve got a need or you have got a challenge that you’re facing. So, that’s cool. So I flashed your email up there. If you missed it, just rewind 20 seconds, hit pause, and you can write Michael’s email down, michael.h.bass@gmail. But Michael, I just want to thank you, man. It’s been a blast. I’ve really enjoyed having you on here. Thank you for spending so much time with me and for sharing a lot of hard-fought wisdom.
Well, thanks. And an encouragement to anybody out there. If you’re going through a tough time, you’ll get through it. And there’s a lot of people that want to help. So Aaron, thanks for having me on today. I appreciate it.