A fun conversation with Veterans Franchise Group CEO and Founder Gilbert Saguid. We discuss his interesting journey of military service and the family culture he comes from while pursuing opportunities in this great country. We discuss his career in recruiting but also the often-not mentioned option of franchise ownership for military veteran entrepreneurs.
Some great book options:
Stop Living on Autopilot – Antonio Nieves https://amzn.to/3lFO8To
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki https://amzn.to/3vSKU3G
The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss https://amzn.to/318Wh9c
Awaken The Giant Within – Tony Robbins https://amzn.to/31bleRC
Profit First – Mike Michalowicz https://amzn.to/3lJlXmu
And I’m excited to welcome this week’s guest. We have Gilbert Saguid. Gilbert comes to us from the Navy side of the house. I’m excited to learn more about his journey and all the things that he’s doing. But most recently, as the founder / CEO / franchise broker for Veterans Franchise Group as well as the founder, CEO and lead technical recruiter for TLD Recruiting. Gilbert, I just want to welcome you. Thank you so much for being a part of the show.
Hey, Aaron, thanks for having me.
Absolutely. It’s a sincere pleasure. So help us get a little bit of context, a little bit of perspective, a little bit of history on you. So help me understand how you came to grow up and go into a military family. What was your upbringing like? What was your decision to join the Navy? What did that look like for you?
So why I’m born in LA, grew up in Chandler, Arizona, a little suburb of Phoenix. And when I graduated high school, I was definitely a very mediocre student. And so I always thought in my mind that I was a very smart, but I just somewhat of a slacker. And when I graduated, honestly, it’s funny because now I have a master’s degree and pretty accomplished now, but I barely graduated high school. And going to a four-year university, even though my parents saved money for me, wasn’t even an option. I had to go to the community college route because I just couldn’t get in there because of the grades.
So when I was really looking at what I wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to get out of Dodge. It was suburbia. It wasn’t that bad, right? But I knew that there was just something more for me. And my parents migrated here from the Philippines. So there was also a part of me that I wanted to do something for, you know, a little more. I wanted to give back to our country for all the opportunities they provided us. So I ran into a recruiter, an army recruiter, because it’s the closest station around and, you know, just curious. I was just talking to him. He was all about, yeah, you gotta go take the ASVAB, go do whatever you need to do to get into the army. And luckily, I stumbled into a Navy recruiter and I took on the journey of joining the Navy because he saw – once I took my ASVAB and everything that I scored really high – that there was an opportunity for me to work on nuclear power plants on submarines. And it’s regarded as one of the most technically difficult jobs in the military. So I was all about it.
And the recruiter was really good at what he did because he took all us, baby nukes – that’s what they call us, a nuke – to the local nuclear power plant at Palo Verde in Phoenix. And everybody there was ex-Navy. It was funny because we went into the turnstile coming into the power plant and they rang us in like we were going on a ship because everybody there was ex-Navy. And so, got into that program, was on a submarine.
And there was a defining moment where I knew that, okay, great, I’m now in the military. I like what I’m doing. Granted, I was a junior sailor peeling potatoes, which we literally do. We peel potatoes and do all those things for hours on end when you first joined on the submarine. But I ran into an officer and he kind of shared more about what the opportunities are available. And I applied and I got into the ROTC program where they discharge you and you may go to college for four years. So that was a delight going from an all-male submarine underwater to now being in sunny San Diego going to a four-year college. So yeah, that’s my start into my military career. My parents, my family were in the military. It was more of I wanted something more.
Wow. Well, it’s a fascinating journey. And help me understand. So your parents came here from the Philippines, so you’re a first-generation US?
Yeah. My parents came here when they were 25 years old. My dad has a funny story where he worked at the Ralph’s, the local grocery store, as his first job, and this was early 80s and he just wondered what this loudspeaker was calling his name. And he thought it was somebody and he didn’t realize that there was an Intercom because he’d never really seen one before.
It’s just funny the struggles that immigrants have when they first come in and just to be able to make it this this country but provide opportunities that my sisters and I have. It’s really great.
Well, I mean, I’ve got mad respect for folks that make their way here that way and raise their families and the sacrifices that are involved in that. And so it’s something that certainly is important to not overlook. And I think it’s great that you still pay tribute to them in terms of the opportunity that they provided you and your entire household. And one other point, and I know we’re going deep already, which is fun. This is what I do, man. This is a blast.
So what I find really fascinating about your story because you just encapsulated about an eight or 10-year cross section of your life pretty quickly. And I think it’s fascinating and it should be an encouragement to folks when they understand like, look, this dude had a hard time in high school and then look at the choices and look at the decisions that you made that have gotten you to where you are. And so was there something that changed? Was there something that clicked in your mind that helped you to unlock more of that drive? And this is just outside looking in here, but it seems like maybe you weren’t as driven in high school, but then maybe the Navy kind of gave you something to sink your teeth into, maybe they challenged you more than you were getting challenged in school. And so it just kind of fed you something that you maybe hadn’t seen before.
Absolutely. So there was a defining moment in bootcamp. I know we weren’t Marines, so it wasn’t as long and as hardcore, right? But there was a defining moment. They call battle stations where you’re up all night basically. And you go through all different battle station scenarios that you would in the Navy, like fighting, floods, and we’re just running everywhere all night. And the defining moment was when we finished that. And it was probably like nine in the morning and we’re standing there in attention and the defining moment is they were playing Proud To Be An American, right? And you’ve got all these like 18 to 25-year-old guys in our division, all 100 of us and we’re just like tearing, right? Because the hard work and stress that we were put through in the last two and a half months. And at that point, they take our recruit hat and they put on our Navy hat and it’s like we’re now part of the family, right?
And that defining moment was just so real for me because not only just the hard work, but belonging to something bigger than myself, right? Because high school, it was just kind of like going through the motions and hanging out with different people. But I never really had that something, that I was working to and having that passion for something and that’s what it was. And that really like it just clicked. At that point, I couldn’t stop.
So when I was on the submarine, qualified, got my officer program. Granted, I got into a private university with barely graduating high school. And I know a lot of that was because University of San Diego really supports veterans being in San Diego. The director of admissions was an ex-commander. So I think that helped out a lot, but a lot of it was just showing my hard work and my performance in the military that got me into college. And I knew that I couldn’t take that for granted, right? I could not take that for granted. I wasn’t able to stop in my performance and things that I accomplished in the military from that point, even onto my career.
Yeah. No, it’s a really fascinating study. It’s really cool to see that transformation take place and then you just keep moving that forward, right? And so you’re continuing to challenge yourself and you’re continuing to grow and to take on different responsibilities and different opportunities as they present themselves to you. So it’s really neat. I appreciate you spending a couple of minutes parking there with me. So you leave the steel tube full of dudes and you go to a college campus in SoCal where the scenery is much different, and now you’ve got a lot of different opportunities to you in terms of careers. And so you embarked on your Navy career as a junior officer. So explain to me then what the rest of your Navy career, how that played out for you, and then a little bit of your decision-making process as to why you punched out and where you ended up landing?
Okay. Yeah. You know, into the Navy as a commissioned officer, as a surface warfare officer, I knew that I only wanted to serve four years and take on my civilian career, right? And so had an opportunity to get stationed in Sasebo Japan, what they call Sasavegas, which is a really amazing opportunity. Because just living in sunny San Diego and traveling the country as an enlisted guy, I never had a chance to go to Japan. So I wanted to take on that adventure. So spent a couple of years there, qualifying, learning how to lead and manage, being on a ship as an officer was a lot different from my enlisted days. You know, at that point, now as an entrepreneur, I saw how I was pretty entrepreneurial back then because the normal jobs and duties that we had, a lot of times there were just somewhat uneventful for me.
And so I was that guy that when they say NAVY (Never Again Volunteer Yourself), I was always volunteering for the odd end roles and jobs, right? The things that were kind of broken. I got a kick out of getting in there and getting my hands dirty and probably my prior enlisted background, but I liked fixing things. And so I saw that that was very entrepreneurial now, but that allowed me to get a really cool opportunity on my second tour, where I went from being on a ship to working in mobile security, Coastal Riverine security type things, where they actually taught us – we went through some extensive training – how to shoot a gun, which most Navy guys don’t get, a little bit of tactical training and learned how to provide security for our assets in the narrow straits and also in the harbors. So I got to ride in fast boats, little fast boats, and shoot a lot of guns. And that was a really fun and awesome experience because I had a great first tour.
Yep. And then yeah, served four years and then transitioned out and couldn’t cold turkey. I couldn’t go straight jobs. I went into the reserves after that.
Gotcha. Wow. Okay. So you didn’t go cold turkey. You did the reserves. And so what was that like for you then in terms of the transition out? What opportunities were you pursuing? What kinds of roles were you contemplating? How did that all play out for you?
Yeah, yeah. You know, the way I was able to get exposed to being a recruiter was because I used a recruiter when I got out. Everybody goes to the big three, right? Orion, Lucas Group and there’s that other one I forget, but they really helped me learn how to – oh, Bradley Morris. They really helped me learn how to interview, which was one of the biggest things, right? Us, veterans, a lot of times, it’s hard for us to explain our experiences and the contributions that we provided. And that was one of the biggest benefit of using those recruiting companies and also being able to put myself in front of hiring managers and have interviews. That’s a big challenge for most veterans. And so I was able to find an awesome opportunity. I’ll tell you the truth. My motivation was I wanted to make as much money as I can and stay in Southern California. It didn’t matter what I had to do.
Sounds good to me, yeah.
You know, cause it’s like as a SWO (Surface Warfare officer), you know, you’re put into these weird, odd jobs that you have no experience in, but you just use your drive and your ability to work with teams and stuff like that to succeed. And that’s the way I saw it. And so I got into tech industry and really cool opportunity as a technical trainer where I got to travel the world teaching engineers and technicians how to operate and the theory of these advanced microturbines. Really cool opportunity.
Wow. Yeah, no. I’m taking a peek at your background here. So you’d gone into that, but then at some point then you circled back into the recruiting space. So what drew you back into recruiting? Because that has definitely obviously played a huge role into where you ended up now. So what caused that?
Yeah. So a couple things. Huge milestones, actually. So I would say that I had a pretty crazy transition.
Okay. Tell me more.
Yeah. I’d love to share because one of the things about my experience is that everything I’ve learned, I’d love to be able to share that and share the reality of a transition. Because as a military officer, especially a prior enlisted military officer, I felt as if I had everything I control and I can figure out everything I needed to figure out. The thing I couldn’t figure out though really was just mentally the struggle of transitioning, of having such an important job in the military and feeling so significant and important and having a lot of responsibility and defending our country is pretty extreme, right? And going into the civilian world, although I have these lofty goals of just making as much money as I can and having a career and starting my career, there was just some things that were not complete for me in regards to, okay, I’m a civilian now, what is my mission in life? What is my purpose in life? And at that point, there really wasn’t. I didn’t have purpose. Life felt as if it was better in the past in the military. Because I had such an important job and now I’m pushing paper and, you know, it just seemed meaningless what I was doing, right?
And what’s interesting is I joined the reserves and I actually got deployed for a year. So it took me out of my realm for a year and I was so excited about it because I did miss being active duty. I missed the importance of being in the military and that quickly faded after being in the military. And so there was this mindset of I’m always just chasing something, always chasing what’s greener on the other side. And what I realized is that a) I always wanted to be an entrepreneurial, but I just didn’t know what it looked like, b) a lot of times I wasn’t grateful for what I had so I was always chasing the next thing, right? And so living that type of life professionally, obviously, it’s gonna end somewhat badly. And it did for me.
And so a defining moment in my professional career is when I got back from deployments that the transition was even worse. Because I was coming straight out of one-year deployment and the second time around. And I actually got demoted. I got promoted quickly when I got back at a high level manager, worked directly for the VP and I got quickly demoted. Because it was about a year, right? And I thought that was the end of my professional career. You know, this successful military officer, I’ve worked hard to accomplish so much. See now, you know, I was in charge of like five people. And all of a sudden, I got that call into my boss’s office on a Friday afternoon, letting me know that, “Hey, Gilbert, it’s not working out.”
And that was really the second defining moment. The first moment was that time of bootcamp. Second moment in my life was when I got really punched in the face professionally. And I really needed that though, Aaron, because what I realized – and you know, I wanna thank my really good friend, Dustin. Because he shared with me the whole world of personal development and coaching and all this whole world of what it takes to develop yourself professionally. He introduced me to that. And that’s when I drove into reading more, taking seminars and things like that. And what I realized is that I kind of stopped living when I was at that point in my life. Meaning I was living in autopilot and I stopped developing myself and stop learning and wanting more. And because of that, I kind of just stalled and my performance wasn’t great and all that, right?
So really, long story short, that’s where it kind of ended. And I’m reading this really great book, Antonio Neves’ Stop Living on Autopilot, and he shares this question that he wants professionals to ask themselves or even parents or whatnot. If you look back in the last 30 days, you want to ask yourself, would your boss hire you again based on your performance, right? Or if you look at being parents. If you look at your last 30 days of your performance as a parents, or as a husband or a wife, would your spouse want to marry you at this point? It’s a gut check, right?
Yeah, for sure.
Because at that point, man, my boss should not have kept me employed. I was just going through the motions and stuff like that, but that was a defining moment because that’s when I started taking Landmark Worldwide, which is this personal development program, reading Tony Robbins and reading all these great books that allowed me to really discover my new self, my new self as a civilian and as a professional.
Wow. Well, I just pulled the book up while you’re talking. So yeah, Antonio Neves’ Stop Living on Autopilot: Take Responsibility for Your Life and Rediscover a Bolder, Happier You. And it was just released. Crap. It was like two weeks ago, about a month ago. Late January of this year. That’s crazy.
I tell you the truth, Aaron. I’m in college as a biochem major, you know, read textbooks and all that. But I literally have not read a book since college all the way to 2015 when I started that journey. And now I read every day in different genres and whatnot.
Absolutely. Well, you just laid a whole lot out there. So I want to take it and start poking and examining this whole thing. One, thank you for your authenticity, your willingness to open up about that because the struggle of transition. I’ve spoken with a lot of people whether it’s on the phone or in person about the emotional toll that the transition has. It is a big move for a lot of people. And you articulated it very well because you are responsible for the lives and the wellbeing and welfare of a lot of people. Maybe it’s a team of three, or it’s a team of 3,000. It doesn’t matter. Or 30,000 or more. And you may have millions of dollars with the assets that you’re managing on top of that. And you’re being given sensitive missions or responsibilities that are definitely well beyond the scope of a 20-something. You wouldn’t see those opportunities until well into a professional career maybe.
And so you have this amazing sense that there’s a lot that you’re able to do. You feel so significant. You feel so important. And it’s very rewarding. It a very fulfilling thing because you’re able to go out there. You’re like, man, I’m making it happen. I love my team. I love what we’re doing. This is so, so cool. And then you go, and as you described with your transition, the way that that feels when you start to realize, man, this is way different.
I remember seeing a reflection of myself at Starbucks one morning. I had a coffee in my hand, I was business professional. I had my little security badge on. I was just looking at my cell phone. My 22 years old self would probably punch me in the face right now because I’m not what I thought I wanted to be. But it’s funny. What I equate to that is just like having that ego that you really have to disappear when you are transitioning, when you ARE pursuing different things professionally as a civilian. The personal development side and the readings and coaching all that, that’s what it allowed me to do is really get rid of that ego and create my future, right?
For sure. What’s some other books that you’ve read? Because I think it would maybe help other people. And for those watching, listening, I’ll link this up in the show notes so that you can reference this later. But I mean, so I’ve got Stop Living on Autopilot, but what have been a few other really important reads for you?
Yeah, no, no. The very first one I read was Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki. That was just mind-boggling to me because I really saw how mindset is so important. And it’s not your fault. The way that you’re raised and grown up. I had the mindset of, you know, my uncle Oscar, my dad, my parents, everybody in the family epitomize the guy because he was an engineer. It’s funny. They would throw out numbers. We knew that he made a hundred thousand a year as an engineer working on nuclear power plant. And that’s like what I wanted to be and pursue and stuff like that. And the whole mindset of being an entrepreneur and going those four different quadrants of being an employee to being self-employed to being a business owner and an investor, I just never knew, right? I just never knew that was possible. And I just always wanted to see how to get there. And that really opened up my eyes of how you can actually change your mindset to be who you want to be in life.
And other books. We call it The 4-Hour Workweek. Mind-boggling too. So those were like the start. And then I started going and getting to different Tony Robbins’ books. And then I started into different business entrepreneurial books that really helped me grow my business. Because I have a very successful recruiting business. And a lot of that was based on me going on YouTube and reading books on actually how to do accounting, how to do different things, right? And so that was a whole different adventure. And, oh, I forgot to mention to you why, how I got into recruiting into the business world, kind of veered the other direction.
It’s all good.
So when I got demoted, I was just like, you know what, I’m out of here. How dare you let me go a year after being deployed and all this, you know, being a victim. And so I reached out to the recruiters and I wanted to get into sales because I liked being with people and working with people and I worked a lot with the sales teams in my company. And the recruiter asked me, “Well, hey, you have a great technical backgrounds and you have this passion for sales and working with people, recruiting is basically the same thing.” And so that’s how I got into recruiting. And then while I was in recruiting, I worked at Orion and then I got into technical sales. My ultimate mission was to get into technical sales.
And that’s the point where from all the books and everything that was reading and support, I was able to build a business, a recruiting business on the side, while I was working in sales. And it was the best thing because I knew that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Well, I tried different things, but recruiting just clicked for me because of the fact that I knew the right people, all my clients were friends I served with I worked in the tech industry. I knew it in myself because my clients and the companies that I recruit for, I actually did the work. I actually turned the wrenches or I worked in that profession so it was easy for me to recruit. And I had a passion for it as well. Because I love helping people write resumes, improving their interviewing skills, and also find the right job, which I focus on the tech industry and I always focus on finding a veteran to get into that role. But sometimes the roles are pretty specific that it won’t be a veteran.
And you know, I go a lot into when I share with people how to start a business and get into entrepreneurism. The recruiting business, it clicked and it worked because I had those three means. I knew the right people, I had the knowledge and I also had a passion for it, right? Their study is that if you don’t have those three means, that a lot of times it’ll be very difficult to start the business or you will not be successful.
Wow. Wow. That’s incredible. I’m enjoying just sitting here listening to you, man. This is great.
Oh, no, it’s good.
Yeah. So, you know, when we come back from our short break, what I want to do is I’d like to then dig more into a little bit more of the specifics of how you got the recruiting business started off the ground. How were you able to juggle those two things? And then ultimately, now I’d like to hear how you then added onto all that Veterans Franchise Group and the whole story there. So we’ll dive into that here in just a second.
So I’m incredibly grateful for our amazing sponsors and the folks that support this show. And so one organization that I’m actually a part of and that I help promote is Veteran Executives Network. You can go to veteranexecutivesnetwork.com. It’s a network of networks meant to help veteran business leaders, business owners, do business with each other. And so whether you’re a public sector company looking for a subcontractor opportunity with a prime, or you need a team together and do some work together, there’s opportunities there. Whether you’re in the private sector, or you’re a nonprofit, there’s things for you there. And then beyond that, resources. There are thousands upon thousands of resources for veterans out there. And so one of the initiatives that Veteran Executives Network is working on is compiling and being a hub from where you go find those other resources, but we’ve done a lot of the homework for you to go find those. So anyway, go over there, register. They’re also active on LinkedIn. So it’s a great, great group of people. So look forward to seeing you there.
Gilbert, again, thanks for sharing so much of your story. And it’s a fascinating study in terms of just seeing you, where you came from high school and then now we’ve seen you more over the years and grow and develop and the journey that you’ve been on, ultimately on this personal self-discovery, motivation, purpose, all these things are kind of starting to converge on you all at the same time. And now you’ve kind of been lit, this fire lit in you because of the setback at your job, coupled with all the stuff that you’re reading. And so it’s all kind of hitting you. And now you’ve started this recruiting business on the side. So tell me one, how that even got started and how you’re able to make that profitable and a little bit of your methodology behind all that.
Yeah. So when I was working in tech sales, I was working from home. I had a lot of time, which is important, right? So I not only work on my job out, getting out there and building sales for the company I was working for, but I also had the mental energy, the physical energy and the opportunity to build a business on the side. And you know, those were pretty crazy, crazy, a crazy time when it comes to how many hours I did work. But what was really cool is that I was very efficient and really great with technology that I was able to truncate a lot of my hours at work to a shorter time span, you know, half the day where usually it’d be more eight hours or whatnot.
And the way that the recruiting business came about was I had a friend, who actually when I was working as a recruiter, I helped the recruiting company I worked with create a contract with that company that he worked at, my friend worked at. And it was a guy I served with. I was pretty happy with my sales shop, but I knew I wanted something more and I wanted to get into business. And my buddy, he was like, “Hey, you know that the current recruiting company, we’re not really using them much, but I know you know a lot of people. So do you know anybody that who can help me put into this role that I’m hiring for?” And I was like, “Well, yeah, I know a couple of people,” helped them out. And then I realized, like it just clicked in me. It was like, I should actually create an LLC and be my own recruiting company, right?
Because the hardest things, the biggest challenge that most recruiters have when they break out of the big companies and do it on themselves is being able to find the right clients that will trust you to find them the right people. Because when you’re dealing with big companies, a lot of times they’re not going to want to deal with a one-man show. They want to work with reputable companies that everybody knows and things like that. And so when it comes to like knowing, having the right context in growing a business, that’s huge because it was my buddy who said, “Yeah, I trust you. Of course, I served with you. I know you’re great at what you do. I’m the final signer on this contract. I’ll do it. I’ll go from there.” And that’s really where it grew. He gave me the opportunity. I actually started working while I was figuring out how to set up an LLC and using YouTube and using Google Sheets to organize a business and he gave me one opportunity to start it, you know, now a handful of opportunities.
And then I started thinking, well, hey, I can do this with another friend and client. And then I also worked now, calling my other colleagues that I used to work with. The first company I worked at, I had a lot of contacts there. So I reached out to them and that’s when I started building my book of business. It was really great because the biggest struggle that people have, again, is finding right the right clients. And you know, it was easy for me because I had friends in high places from my experience in the military and in corporate role.
So that’s how I grew my business. We came to the point where I was building it. And you know, what interesting was after about eight months of doing that, that tech sales company I worked at, they changed my commission structure, which anybody in sales, that’s common, right? They want to change the way that you get paid and stuff like that. And there was a point where the support of my fiancé and my book of business, I knew that it was time for me to just do it myself and go 100% being a business owner. And so that was a really surreal moment to talk to your boss and let them know like, “Hey, this is not working out. I’m actually going to do this my own.” But it was at least comfortable instead of just quitting and starting a business to be able to have that revenue. And I was actually making more with my business than that job.
So that actually worked out. But it was really cool, though, to be able to have the resources online or to go into the books. I have a book here called a Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. Really great book when it comes to small business owners because his whole deal is break up your bank accounts so that you’re profitable right off the bat. And the way you do that is every check you get, throw 5% into that bank account, throw 30% into your operating expenses. There’s different little techniques that it just worked out, that at the end of the year, I already had money into a savings account for my taxes. And it was really great.
There’s Profit First. There’s other books that helped me along the way to help organize myself when it comes to building my business and growing a business and whatnot. But it really was having the experience and expertise in that field that I grew my business that helped me become more successful in that.
No, that’s amazing. That’s an amazing story. And I’m jotting notes down that way I can share with everybody who’s watching, listening, the books because those are great resources. But it’s really cool to see your journey of just kind of discovering all this for yourself and just a lot of hard work, man. I mean, you’re out there just hustling and working your face off. And so you’re able to make that leap to where you’re now, it just did make any more sense. And I think that’s an important distinction to make. And there’s people that will disagree with me on this point, and that’s okay. But there’s this notion that I’ve heard and I’ve seen from some folks that you’ve just got to jump off the cliff and go for it. And though that may work, sure.
But then there’s also this other approach, and I would argue it’s similar to the way that you did this, where you had your day job, you’re able to cover down on all your responsibilities. You weren’t stealing from the company. You were doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. No question about it. It was all good. And then from there, you’re working with all the other available hours to build your own business and it got to the point where now you owed it to your clients for your own business to give them more of you because they’re demanding more of you and the revenue is there and it’s starting to make a lot more sense. So now the scales have tipped. And you’re like, you know what? This is really actually – now it’s holding me back. It used to be a nice little safety net, little cushion. Now it’s screwing me over. So I need to offload this so I can go further in. Am I articulating that okay?
Oh, 100%. And what I like what you said is that I owe it to my clients. And I really did because they were my friends. They put their butt on the line.
It’s all about relationships.
Oh yeah. It’s all about relationships. I’ve been able to grow my clients book of business and my clients a lot more than just my friends and colleagues. But what I found is my best clients are my friends, the people I worked with professionally. Because of that relationship, they are going to make it a point to get back to me, to work with me, to not go with another recruiting company and I owed it to them to provide all my 100%, my energy and my time to them. So it’s all about the relationships.
How are you able to maintain that relationship? Because I know that could get a little awkward or a little sideways. Let’s just say you guys had a dispute about something, right? Maybe it’s a performance issue or a price issue or a contract. Well, it doesn’t really matter, but just something. How are you able to address those problems and still keep that relationship intact?
A lot of it is just going to be your communication. I’ve had a lot of training in communication courses and things like that. And a lot of it is just not how to speak in public, right? A lot of it is your mindset when you go into a conversation. Are you bringing a lot of baggage into the conversation? There’s always gonna be challenges, right? You know, I had a candidate who all of a sudden had this big rap sheet. I had no idea. And my client was like, “Gilbert, I googled this guy.” And I’m like, oh, man, I forgot to google the guy.
Yeah. What I’ve learned is that when you come into a conversation, just bring nothing to it, right? Don’t bring all your emotions, not your baggage or anything like that. And just try to see how we can fix the problem. And that’s always helped me in the past of coming in there and being of service, like, hey, things are going to happen, but I’m going to be here to support and figure out how to fix this.
Wow. Okay. So you just kind of broke open something there that I think is a great opportunity, not just for me, but for everybody. And so when you say not bringing anything with you to the table, would that then include the – I’m thinking of both ends of the seesaw here. So you come in and you’re on fire, you’re hot about like, “Hey, I’m sorry, we’re screwed this up. Well, I’m gonna move everything to make this happen and make it right.” And you’re very emotional. Or you’re coming at it with the other frame of mind where you’re just like, “I’m so sorry.” You’re almost like tail between your legs. You’re defeated and have just a negative vibe about you. And so kind of what you’re implying here is don’t come with any of that. Just come with the intent to listen, to understand and solve the problem.
And it reminds me of, you know, as a surface warfare officer, the top qualification is being officer of the deck, where you are driving the ship, you’re in charge of the whole team, the engineering team, everybody, right? You’re the the guy helping the navigator get where we need to get. And I was selected to be the battle stations’ officer of the deck, right? And it wasn’t because I was the best navigator. And what that means is when something happens, when you go into battle or there’s a contact or something like that, there’s a special team that goes on to the pilot house to drive the ship. It wasn’t because I was the best driver of the ship. It was because I came in there cool, calm, collected, right? When alarms are going off, everybody’s freaking out, I was like, okay, all right, guys, what are we going to do to fix the problem, right?
And that’s important for military officers, right? Military officers don’t need to be people that are just head on fire, screaming, motivating people. No. The better ones are the ones that just have things under control and know how to communicate and make a rational decision. And that’s how I try to get into conflicts in conversations with my clients and whoever.
Yeah. No, I mean, it’s a great visual in terms of being able to stay calm, cool, and collected where the client doesn’t feel like you’re holding something back, the client doesn’t feel like they’re dealing with a beat dog either. It’s like, can we just talk? But I really do think this is a great, great, great point to take away from this conversation. Because it’s a great way to remember. I’m sitting here desperately trying to connect, make multiple connections to what you’re saying here, because I think what happens – and again, feel free to take an opposing position on this, because this actually could get kind of interesting. But the approach or the tendency might be to either you’re overplaying your hand because you’re so embarrassed or so frustrated or you just so desperately want to help and make it right. And then the other approach is, and I feel like this could happen more than probably people would let on, is you’re used to this rank structure, right? So you’re used to having to report to someone who’s senior to you and so there’s a little subservience that comes with that.
And so oftentimes I think I’ve even seen it where people are kind approaching a problem almost like I don’t want to get punched in the face because I know. I’m sorry. What can I do to help you? And I know I’m not maybe saying that very well, but it has a whole another attitude and a whole another presence behind then what you’re describing, where it’s like, okay, let’s leave the emotion off of it as best we can and let’s just talk. And so I’m just kind of curious. Do you think some of that comes from just a person’s natural desire to please and/or their military background? Because of just understanding the whole rank structure.
Well, what I’ve learned from a lot of these communication courses, and I really see how a lot of it is true, is that ingrained in us the way that we communicate is survival mode. A lot of times we’re defending, right? We’re protecting. We’re just trying to survive a conversation a lot of times, right? So when you really look at that of, okay, we’re just naturally meant to communicate that way and you realize the situation you’re in, it’s like, okay, well, I get it. That’s how I’m just naturally wired. That’s how I’m going to communicate. If I can just put that to the side, whatever is creating that, whatever situation’s making me try to survive a conversation, whether it be my way of surviving the conversation is to be meek and be a victim or if my way of surviving conversation is being angry and overtake the conversation. You gotta to be present to that. And that that’s really important to be present to the way that my mind works and operates, but it’s an automatic thing, right? If that makes sense.
And so there’s a lot of times where I’m just like, argh. I want to just take over, right? And so what I do is I really have to – it’s kind of like seeing a train pass by, I just let it go. I let go whatever is holding me to that, to be right, to be righteous, to whatever it is. And just let it go. And what’s available to you is just nothing, right? It’s just like, okay, well, the space is clear between me and you. Let’s just have a conversation. And if we need to fix a problem, let’s fix the problem. But it’s still those emotions that get in the way of being able to communicate effectively.
Sure. And then because your demeanor and the way you’re holding yourself, you’re also helping disarm the other person. So they may come into it with a lot of emotion, and so them seeing you, it’s going to cause them to kind of mirror your demeanor and your presence at the same time.
Exactly. What you were saying about the military and everything, yeah. That’s that all has to come into play because it’s all about your experience in life, right? If in the military you had to survive a really tyrant boss then you probably weren’t the guy that was going to overtake that person, so you learn to become more meek and whatnot. Yeah, you’re definitely on point.
Oh, it’s fascinating. I enjoy this. This is fun. So let’s go ahead and kind of pivot a little bit to the launching and the birth of Veterans Franchise Group. Where did that come from? I suspect it had to do with while you’re doing recruiting, understanding and seeing another opportunity kind of presented itself. What was that like?
Yes. So I signed up for grad school to USC Marshall. Fight on. And so there’s an awesome program called the Master of Business for Veterans. And it’s a veteran exclusive master’s degree program for business. And I took that program to really launch my new business, Veterans Franchise Group. All the marketing classes, all the entrepreneurship classes, I took my new business into that program to create this new business. And the reason why I create a Veterans Franchise Group is because I was at a job fair and there was a booth of somebody selling franchises. And I was like, oh, cool, I’d love to diversify, have a business, learn more about franchising. And I realized that, oh, a franchise broker’s like a recruiter. My clients are all these different franchises and my job is to look for the right candidates to start these businesses.
And so it just all made sense. But there was something more though. It was in line with my passion of having veterans become entrepreneurs. Because when I first got out in 2009, I wish I learned about franchising. I wish I ran into a broker consultant because I knew I would’ve gone a different route. Because back then I was coming out from multiple deployments so I had a nice nest egg to be able to invest in a business, had the background, the credit, everything that franchises look for to start a business. But I just didn’t know about it, right? What I thought about franchising was Subway or restaurants or whatever, right? I just didn’t know what I didn’t know and all I knew was go to school or go get a job when I first transitioned out.
And so I create a Veterans Franchise Group to provide that third option for veterans, to provide them the education and also the connections to be a business owner. Because I feel as if the whole world, even the word entrepreneur has connotations of, okay, let’s get some seed money, let’s do a startup. Let’s come up with this crazy cool app. I didn’t even tell you about this, though, but my first business venture back, back a long time ago was the create shirt stays for civilians because I always had to dress up and I used to wear my shirt stays.
Yeah. It was the worst because you know how it pulls on your hairs and it’s just really awkward and I wanted to create something. But I realized that that ended quickly because I realized I didn’t have the means. I didn’t know anybody in the fashion industry. It just wasn’t built in me. But franchising provides an opportunity for veterans to just like, hey, I want to be a business owner. I want to run a business. I want to have all the opportunities that are available as a business owner, whether it be time, freedom, financial freedom, or whatnot. And I just want to be able to do that, right? And I don’t think we know enough as veterans that there are opportunities available to do that. Because when you first get out or even after a career as a veteran, why not get into a business where you know you’re going to work hard at it because it’s just built in it to us, right? We have the teamwork, we have the drive, we have everything that makes us successful in the corporate world. Well, why don’t we just do the same thing in a business and just take the full cut of the cheese, right? But we just don’t know about what’s available there, right?
And so I created the business, I did the customer discovery, did all this stuff in business school and then launched it fully when I was in business school. And so it’s really my passion, right? You know recruiting? Yes, I love recruiting. But Veterans Franchise Group is my passion because you know, Inc. Magazine 2016 did a study that 45.5% of veterans from World War II became business owners, right? After 9/11, only 4.5 of us veterans became entrepreneurs.
It’s crazy, crazy statistic, right? And you know what, the GI Bill back then, you were able to use that to start a business for real estate and stuff like that. So there were opportunities available for veterans, but why not now? And so what I focus on with franchising is that there are businesses out there that we can get qualified for a loan. It doesn’t have to be a $500,000 or $1 million restaurant. It could actually be a business where we can get qualified for an SBA loan. And we can do all the great things that we did in the corporate world to start a business. And so the industries I like for veterans are the service-based businesses, such as commercial cleaning, pet care, other types of restorations to service businesses. Because it’s a lower investment, lower overhead because you can have a home-based business and you can actually create a great revenue stream that you would never think you could.
Wow. Well, it’s an option. I mean, you’re 100% right. It’s never talked about. I mean, you’re not going to hear it in a transition assistance class. You’re not going to even hear it really in any entrepreneurial track. It’s like it’s this forgotten opportunity. And to your point, I think it’s a fantastic opportunity, especially when you’ve got the work ethic, you’ve got the upstanding person factors working for you. Okay. So we know you’re going to go in there and work really, really hard, but what you may be not have as a veteran going into this is all the business experience, the training and all this other background. And so you’re able to kind of step into a system that is working, that is proven that it’s functional and it’s a winning formula. And it gives you a chance to learn about business while stewarding a replica of something else. I mean, it’s a great option.
It’s similar to, you know, as a junior officer, you go to a new ship. Or even as a brand new officer, right? You have no idea what you’re doing, right? But you have the right people there to train you, you have the standard operating procedures because hundreds of thousands of ships have done the same exact thing that you’re about to do, whether it be pulling in a port, refueling or whatever, right? And you have those means, and it’s just like franchising. And so that’s why it’s so natural for veterans to start franchises because it’s very similar to what we did in the military to be successful. I’ll bring my drive and my passion. Just give me some SOPs and I’ll make it happen, right? That’s what franchises are available.
Well, I mean, it makes total sense, especially if you were a process and procedure, you know, TTPs, SOP person, I mean, boom. It’s right there ready for you. And I think you already mentioned it but being able to get funding for that. Because I know that’s always the next question. It’s like, well, crap, I can’t afford the franchise fee. And so you’re saying that there’s opportunities available to you through the SBA. And I don’t know what the caps are on those loans. But what you’re saying is there are options. You don’t have to come into it with a 50% down payment or something of your own money. You can go grab outside funds.
Yeah. Yeah, no, there are. And the key there though is you have the banks for the SBA loan or whatever loan you’re going to get. They want to make sure that you have a specific amount of liquid capital. So, you know, a lot of veterans, we don’t have the whatever percentage, whether it be a 30%, 20% liquid capital for a $500,000 business or $1 million business, right? But when you start looking at businesses that are $50,000 to $100,000 to $200,000, it gets back into our wheelhouse.
Makes sense. Yeah. No, that makes total sense. So how has that business been for you? Because you’ve launched it. I guess it’s been about two years now. So what’s that journey been like for you?
It’s been lot of trial and error, but very rewarding. So I’ve been taking different approaches to find the right candidates that are interested in business ownership. So I’m not in the business of trying to convince somebody to be a business owner because obviously that’s a hefty investment, right? But there are people like myself in the past that if I just learned more about business ownership, I would’ve gone for it, right? So it’s been a really great. I’ve helped a couple of veterans. COVID kind of threw a wrench in everything, but they’re about to open up their business very soon. And done a lot of live events, webinars, and just educating.
Because not only am I excited about helping somebody start a business right now, but I’m also looking long-term. How am I going to increase that veteran entrepreneurship statistic? Well, I feel as if I got to get ahead of the fleet. I got to talk to the young, old ones, the young, the guys that are about to retire. Hey, you know, this is actually available. Make sure you save this certain amount of money. Here’s the education, here are the opportunities. So that when you are ready, then this option will be available to you. And that’s my goal. I mean, this is long-term.
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s great. And I think it sounds like you’ve already identified your biggest challenge, which is going to be having – I don’t mean to sound so mercenary about this but having a source of leads for the business. You’re going to need that. But how do you get there? And so realizing, well, man, there’s definitely a knowledge gap there when it comes to the military because we are completely clueless as to that being an option. Unless you knew about it before you went in. You certainly didn’t find out about it while you were in. And so getting access to those people and understanding how to help them realize, hey, this is an option to you. Here’s some information of things to consider. Here are some things that you’d probably need to think about. And what’s cool, though, is you can leverage your past military recruiting history and the expertise that you’ve gained through that to kind of help speak to this group of people that you think would be the ideal candidate for a franchising opportunity.
Yeah. No, it’s been good and it’s been a lot of education for myself because I have access to over 500 different franchises, and which is a lot, right? If you go online and look for franchising, there’s hundreds of thousands of different franchises. But my goal is to build those personal relationships with the good franchises, the ones that I can sleep well at night, that I’m going to put a veteran into that business and they’re going to mitigate a lot of the risks to be successful in that business. So it’s been taking a lot of time, but it’s been great and eye opening and I’m very excited about the future.
That’s fantastic. Well, I appreciate you spending so much time with me. How can people learn more about you and about these opportunities? What’s the best way for them to reach out and learn more?
Yeah. I know my website got some really cool videos in there. veteransfranchisegroup.com. You can reach out to me on there. And there’s also a scheduler link on there to set the time for us to talk.
Oh, that’s fantastic. So I think I did that right. I jammed that in there really quick veteransfranchisegroup.com. So yeah, be sure to check it out. So man, I just want to thank you, man. It’s been a blast. I really appreciate you taking me along with you on your journey and just kind of seeing where you started and where you’re going and the story is far from over. And so it’s just really, really cool to see the journey that you’re on. And I appreciate you sharing that with us today.
No, no, thank you very much. I love sharing my story and this year is going to be great. My intention is on Veterans Day to be able to link up with a good franchise to be able to provide a franchise to a worthy veteran. So hopefully, I’ll be on this call again and we can talk more and have that veteran online as well.
Oh, man. That sounds awesome. That’s really special. Really special that you’re able to go and kind of help create that opportunity. So yeah. But no, thanks a lot. This has been great.
Yeah. Thank you very much.