Many of my friends and acquaintances know that I spent some time serving our country in the US Navy. However, I have never been able to fully explain what it’s like to be a tech founder on top of being a military Vet. So I thought I would put some thoughts down as we celebrate the brave men and women who have worn the military uniform.
The most frequent question I get when someone asks about my service is what I did in the Navy. During my short time in the Navy I actually did quite a bit. Most of my time was spent traveling all over the globe to places like Bermuda, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and the Persian Gulf. During my time, I spent it in “Deck” chipping paint and chasing rust, but was fortunate to spend some time doing Navigation which I learned to love the more I learned about it. Sadly I left before I could spend a tremendous amount of time mastering my navigation skills, but it taught me a lot about how past sailors navigated the seas without the modern technology we rely on today.
Besides the great trade skills I learned during my time, I was also able to learn more about different cultures, hear stories about their everyday lives, and experience things I have taken with me as I’ve gotten older. Some of the experiences have been life changing in the best possible way. While other experiences have been ones I would love to forget.
While all of these have shaped who I am today, it’s the camaraderie I was able to build with people I still talk to today. We’ve gone through events that have forever changed who we are, but have connected us in a way no other experience could have. It’s this parallel that I most commonly associate with building a startup. It’s stressful, frustrating, and met with a lot of challenges you’re faced with every day.
One of the most important skills I think that helps guide me the most is my ability to find perspective during times of great stress. It’s been able to help me in my career in so many ways and often separated me in competitive situations in which I’m applying for a job with another individual that may not have gone through the same experiences. As a founder in a tech company, it has also been a tremendous asset as I learn to navigate the stressful milestones many other co-founders are faced with. It’s this discipline, perspective, and patience that has taught me that growing a business is really about how you approach the problem. I have learned that my skills as a Vet are very much valuable and needed to ensure the company has multiple paths for success without losing our core focus.
In the end, being a Veteran founder in a tech company has made me stronger and more resilient to the every day challenges we as founders face which can be daunting, stressful, and often lead to an inability to find perspective in the overall capsulation of the problem. So as you spend the day reflecting on what you can do to honor the men and women who have worn the uniform, be sure to thank them for their diligence and find a path to glean from their experiences. I am sure you’ll find a perspective you likely wouldn’t expect to find.