RTFU

Nick Rant: Veterans Make Great Entrepreneurs

By
Updated: November 19, 2010

*Photo by Kelly of ShootMePretty.com

I just read Steve Tobak’s article entitled “Why Veterans Make Great Entrepreneurs”. Mr. Tobak is a consultant, advisor, former top executive, writer for CBS, and likely an expert on a great many things.

I am pissed off.

It isn’t that Mr. Tobak meant any harm. In fact, as the title suggests, Mr. Tobak claims that veterans are pretty good at this entrepreneurship thing, owning 3.6 million or 13% of all small businesses. He goes on to highlight how amazing that feat is while crediting us with leadership, decision-making, and organizational skills. So far so good, right? Then I got to this little backhanded, pat-on-the-head-for-you-simpleton-barbarians-who-try-hard ditty: But something else is highly counterintuitive about veterans being suited to entrepreneurial life. Discipline, duty, and strict regimen are major factors in military life. In the business world, and especially for entrepreneurs, focus is indeed important but so is flexibility and adaptability. And managers can’t successfully motivate employees the way officers “order” their troops. That’s a whole different ballgame.

Gosh, Mr. Tobak, that is how I remember military service – especially the infantry! Officers would give an order and they’d never be questioned! The guys would just execute, no matter how dumb it was or how perilous. Even the worst officers would never be undermined. After all – it was the RULE to obey them! And plans NEVER changed. We’d write an operations order and everything would happen exactly as we said it would. We’d always let the enemy, weather, and Murphy know the plan well in advance so there couldn’t possibly be an issue. Rigid discipline and the following of orders – that’s the secret to military success. Ideally, we’d just have robots, but we don’t quite have that technology yet.

If it was just this one ignorant writer, this article wouldn’t be worth responding to, but I have heard time and time again since leaving the military from multitudes of people who have never served and never tried to understand those that have that military people aren’t flexible or adaptable and that we rely on a strict hierarchy and providing orders. I’ve had this conversation in several interviews with well-meaning people all across corporate America. To be brutally honest, when I look at their life experiences and juxtapose them against mine and those of the people I have served with, I feel like what I imagine Peyton Manning would if a fifty-two year old ex-high school backup quarterback was giving him a critique of his passing motion or Michael Moore would feel if Mother Teresa was giving him tips on how to be a bigger douchenozzle.

I had just turned 23 when I took my first platoon into Kosovo. I had 39 guys under my command, four Bradley Fighting Vehicles, worth a kajillion dollars, and eight up-armored HMMWVs. We lived in an embalming station next to a Serb church that was a high value target for the Albanians. When it rained, rat and bird feces rained down on top of us. My Platoon Sergeant actually got tuberculosis from it. I saw my company commander no more than once a week and had complete autonomy over multiple towns in my sector. At the beginning of our time there, there was significant violence between the Albanians and Serbs, including a grenade attack on a kindergarten. There were riots, we were shot at, and generally had a terrible rapport with all parties involved. It was almost as challenging as having a really big PowerPoint presentation due for the VP of It-Doesn’t-Matter-I’m-Not-Going-to-Do-Anything-That-Will-Place-Any-Risk-On-My-Career-Even-If-It-is-a-Brilliant-Idea-So-I-Will-Sharpshoot-Anything-That-Comes-Before-Me and you just didn’t know how you could possible finish it in time. Well…maybe it wasn’t quite that serious, but close…

So given that we were inflexible military guys we simply stood around festering in our feces shower and awaited orders so we could follow them…or not. Our mission was to quell violence and restore peace to this province and the two ways to do that were: 1) Kill everyone here or 2) Start figuring out what the major problems were and work to find a solution.

We opted for column B. We determined getting to know people was critical, so we cut down on our mounted patrols and started doing a whole lot of walking. My guys figured out pretty quickly that the kids liked us the most, so we’d get a lot of information from them. We identified who the town leaders were, and more importantly, who was reasonable and who was respected. We immediately started building relationships with those people. When they asked for something on behalf of the town, we made it happen. When the radicals on either side asked…well…maybe we missed it. This gave the leaders that didn’t want everyone on the other side dead a whole lot of power. Hell, we even let these guys use our generators and provided security for their weddings. I made it a point to have coffee with each one of them a few times a week. They started solving many of our problems and helped us spot the troublemakers in the population, as well as become more vocal about their real concerns.

One of the big gripes that everyone had was the lack of jobs. You know what military-aged men do when they aren’t working? They drink. You know what drunk, angry, military-aged guys do? They get brave enough to act impulsively. Impulsive behavior often involved guns. We liked to be the only guys running around with guns, so we, along with our sister platoons in the area, requested the resources to fix up some of the old factories and businesses in the area so people could get back to work…and there was much rejoicing.

Even with the increase in jobs, there was still a lot of tension between some of the Serb leaders and my guys. I spoke to the new mayor (a moderate – go figure?) and asked for his recommendation. He thought a weekly soccer game between the soldiers and the locals would be a good idea. This was Kosovo, not Iraq or Afghanistan, so this was entirely reasonable. Another unit would come in and pull security and every week we’d play (and generally get our asses kicked) by the locals. Soccer, after all, is a silly game. Nevertheless, now we had something to talk about with all of them throughout the week, and we became more human to them. Again, things got better for all parties and violence in our area truly went to zero. In our spare time, we taught ourselves how to do roof work and refurbished and re-shingled our little embalming station.

None of these decisions or actions came from anyone’s orders. They came from my guys and me working together, bringing up ideas, and focusing on solving problems in order to successfully complete the challenging mission we had been assigned. Not bad for automaton droids. Perhaps, much like R2, we malfunctioned.

I’m very proud of what we did on that deployment, but my challenges and the challenges of my platoon then pale in comparison to what a 23 year old has to accomplish in Iraq or Afghanistan now. Imagine yourself assaulting through Baghdad, “winning the war”, and then realizing you had to completely change tactics from an army-on-army desert mounted war to a door-to-door fight against a local insurgency, then a few years later, completely change tactics again and move out further from the FOBs and get to know the people even more and start to work with the locals, and then change tactics again and have to rely increasingly on the locals for a great measure of your own security. Not only that, but you have to learn the culture and customs for as many as four vastly different groups, act as warriors, police, diplomats, builders, all while trying to balance a constantly changing set of directives from higher up and increasingly restrictive rules of engagement. Sound fun? I have friends with over ten deployments, and they’ll tell you each one was markedly different with even more diverse challenges.

So yeah, while I fully admit that one has to be a regular Reed Richards to maintain the flexibility necessary to graduate college, get an entry level job in a large corporation, and move up the ladder at a virtually predetermined rate in jobs that are often pretty-much spoon fed to you, I still kinda think that those of us who spent a day or two in the military may know a smidgeon about adaptability, but hey I don’t write for CBS, so I may be wrong. As for the giving orders bit, I guess I have no real response to that one. After all, as I recall that in my military days most of my leaders spent every day giving orders and micro-managing, as opposed to providing a mission and a loose commander’s intent and then allowing their subordinates to devise their own plan and execute it. Conversely, if my time working in corporate America taught me anything, it’s that every single manager that I encountered was a great leader who always presented good reasons for his or her orders…errr…I mean requests…yeah, orders sound friendlier when they’re called requests, right? Each one of them really cared about their people and always tried to see our perspective and help us succeed and would selflessly take one on the chin to protect us. They were never small-minded people who clung to the tiny bit of pathetic power they had and used it to belittle their employees to make themselves feel superior. Honestly, I wish more military leaders modeled themselves after corporate managers. I think we’d really get somewhere. Well played, Tobak. You’ve cut to the core of me. I can see why CBS has you on the payroll.*

*The only sarcasm in that paragraph was between the words “So yeah” and “payroll”.

Let’s really look at the numbers: The Kauffman Foundation, as well as many other well-respected firms and President Obama’s own staff, have recently concluded that job growth comes entirely from startups and small business. Companies in the first year of business add three million jobs to the U.S. economy. In their second year, they add one million. Compare that to large industry, with a well established bureaucracy and a focus on cost cutting and outsourcing, and you’ll find that since 1965, America has lost one million jobs a year from big business. So yes, the growth of our tax base comes entirely from entrepreneurs.

Hmmm…but how much business can small business really produce? Well, in 2009, entrepreneurs accounted for a paltry $22 TRILLION in revenue, with veteran-owned businesses producing $2.85 trillion of that. According to the census, there are 154 million working Americans. There are 9.8 million working age veterans, but 1.5 million are still in uniform. That means we have 8.3 million / 154 million or 5.38% of the working population, but yet deliver 13% of the growth. In point of fact, a veteran is 2.5 times more likely to start a small business than a non-veteran. We start more businesses (and succeed in them I might add) than any other population.

So while I agree with Mr. Tobak that Vets are the Beatles of entrepreneurship, I disagree starkly on the why and certainly don’t see our success as counter-intuitive. In my anything-but-humble opinion, I believe vets succeed for the following steely-eyed, freedom-loving reasons:
1) Nothing I will ever do in my life, unless I am elected President, will ever be as important or have as much of an impact as my time in the military. Every decision matters. You learn to operate at a very high level.

2) We don’t quit…ever…even when reason tells us we should.

3) If we’re not getting shot at, get to eat every day, and sleep every night, we’re generally pretty happy. This perspective helps a ton in the stressful world of entrepreneurship.

4) We’re the most flexible, creative, and adaptable people on the planet…except for maybe those guys at Apple – those bastards could create an iPooFlingingMonkey and we’d all buy it and brag about it.

5) We have been forced to operate in demanding, high-stress, non-artificial environments and succeed. In the military, things are often crystal clear – we know whether we won or lost – whether we did well or failed instantly. We don’t have a boss arbitrarily deciding if the mission was completed. This makes us our own harshest critic, which is essential as an entrepreneur, where blaming others (including luck) is a quick path to failure.

6) We’re team players. We like to succeed together. It actually makes life more rewarding and fun.

7) We care about our people. They aren’t just cogs in the big machine. We spend tons of time making sure we know them and are meeting their needs and not just rating them on how they perform for us.

8 ) And all that other nice stuff Mr. Tobak said about us.

So in short, after we serve our country as warriors in the most extraordinary situations imaginable while often getting criticized by academia, social elites, and others of their ilk, we shed the uniform, enter business, and kick their cowardly asses by producing more economic growth and national wealth per capita than any other population.

You’re welcome.

This article is not meant to bash those that haven’t served. Far from it. I owe a lot to entrepreneurs who have reached out to help me learn, to many of the brilliant civilians who serve on the boards of the military charities that Ranger Up works with, and to a lot of great friends. I’m just tired of having the majority of the population treat us like we’re automaton droids who do a job “anyone can do”. My point is simple: Vets kick ass, and while I will never criticize anyone’s decision not to serve (I love that we all have a choice here), I will not let anyone believe for an instant that their lack of service makes them superior in the business world. It’s condescending, academic, elitist drivel and the facts simply don’t support that contention.

Comments

comments

28 Comments

  1. Judd

    November 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Aren’t you on fire this morning?! You fucking tell’em, brother! And send that douchebag the link to this!

  2. Andrew

    November 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Touchee, good sir.

  3. Bradley

    November 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    HOLY SHIT! Someone has been doing their homework.

  4. Just A Grunt

    November 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Agree with all you said. I can only speak for my personal experience 22 yrs retired Infantry NCO but it doesn’t come close to detailing what I did in those 22 years. I served as everything from rifleman to acting first sergeant. I did a stint in a MI battalion as the S3 NCOIC and even a bit of time with division G2 doing BDA (Battle Damage Assesment). I was an instructor. If you came through Ft Benning anytime between 95-99 you met me, whether you were the newest private, an NCO going to BNCOC or ANCOC or an officer in OCS, IOBC or the Advanced Course.

    After getting out I worked at auto parts store, changed oil at Wal Mart, and finally what I do now which is IT work for a Fortune 50 company.

    In between field exercises and often while on them I attended college. You want to find out how flexible or innovative you can be try to write computer code or an English assignment in a pup tent with a pouring down rain and then explain to the professor what the little red flecks on your crumpled up paper are.

    Yeah we are just a bunch of rigid, inflexible mindless myrmidons who simply salute and obey.

    Finally, has any plan ever survived first contact?

  5. BloodSpite

    November 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    HOOOFREAKINAHH!

    As beginning entrepreneur Veteran from your lips to Gods Ears!

  6. Tantor

    November 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    In the Air Force, I was a navigator on F-4E Phantom fighters. When I got out, I got my MBA and started interviewing for a job. Mostly, I met with twinkie HR chicks just out of college who looked at me like I just dropped from Mars.

    I recall one twenty-something recruiter who was interviewing me for a job managing a crew of union guys in a plastic plant. She said, “Well, with all your time in the military, you have experience leading unmotivated people.” There was a pregnant pause at this point, then I softy explained to her that the fighter world was competitive and everyone had to compete to get a place in it. I’ll never forget her looking at me like I was the biggest liar in the world.

    I’ve been in the military and the business world. The business world is like a high school football team compared to the military NFL. The civilians have no idea how much more professional the military is than their business world. The fact is that even in big corporations, each department is run like a mom and pop shop. Most of the business world is struggling to implement new practices that were implemented by the Air Force fifty years ago.

  7. Kanani

    November 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Writing as someone who with her husband, ran his private surgical career for 23 years –12 of them in solo practice, watched as he was chief at two major metropolitan medical centers, taught medical students, and them has seen him give it all up to become an active duty surgeon in the US Army, I’ve now had time to observe the settings in both.

    In private practice, decisions that effected the practices and livelihood of physicians were top down from large insurers, hospital boards or CEO’s, mid-level medical managers for HMO’s. We’d usually get a letter, fax, or email detailing why a certain service would no longer be approved, what drugs had been moved off the formulary, or some kind of approval process that would only add to our small staff’s already difficult process. The policies really couldn’t be tweaked. If we protested, they could cut us out of their programs at the drop of a vaguely worded form letter.

    Why? Inflexibility –due to a lack of organizational structure and most importantly, their fiscal needs came before ours. Each group had their own set of fiscal goals, and the actual providers were never taken into consideration. We specialists were at the end of the line when it came to getting paid. And we also had to continuously put up with more time consuming mazes in order to get patients the treatments they needed.

    So, flash forward. In 2007, after taking a 25% cut in fees, plus another 20% due to be cut due to an act of Congress, we decided to call it a day. I was involved with weekly arguments with a combination of insurance admins, and even the CFO and CEO of a major L.A. medical center. Either I was going to end up committing some really bad Christmas Party voodoo on a CEO, or we were going to find a better way to carry out our mission of providing quality care to people who needed it.

    Knock knock. One day this big guy wearing Army ACU’s comes through the door. They’d been looking for surgeons with 20+ years of experience. A head hunt deluxe. They offered us the sun, the sky, the moon, MREs, substandard sleeping conditions, the possibility of PTSD, crowded airplanes, and war. We took it. He’s never looked back. It’s the best work of his life. Now, I’ve had a bit of time to observe it from both sides. So what do I say to Mr. Tobak?

    All I’ve seen and heard about is flexibility. When he was the lead surgeon at an FST in Afghanistan, it was functioning in a haphazard manner. Using the skills he had doing administrative in our small office, he changed the way they did things. Suddenly, no one was shouting, MASCALS were unfortunate, but everyone pulled together and in his words: “Worked quietly, quickly and professionally.” He found all of the techs, scrubs and nurses wanted to learn and were so motivated, he created a weekly lecture series –even with bombs going off. At night, these same young individuals would hit the computers and take long-distance learning courses via a creaky internet computer beamed from Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Norway and off the roof of Steve Job’s Porsche. All he found there was motivation, a willingness to try things. And it’s no secret: the team often saw as many locals (setting up a pediatric burn unit) as they did servicemembers.

    Even now when they’re greatly changing the way the hospital functions where he is posted, he has found a lot of team work. Sure there are the groaners, as there would be in any business situation. But the team meets to review, evaluate, implement, and tweak. Their bottom line is: are the patients getting taken care of in the best possible way? Is the system functioning so that people are getting what they need quicker? Believe me, we would have liked to have thought this was the goal of every insurer and mid-level overpaid health care administrator we worked under in private practice, but it wasn’t.

    Are there growing pains? Sure there are, as there will be with any public or private institution. But are they mired in the inflexible mindset stereotype foisted upon them? No, they’re not. They don’t have the time to be, the patients all have similar but different needs. Not only do the hospital staffs have to be flexible, the entire system is constantly evolving as well. For instance, some Warrior Transition Units and Intensive Outpatient Programs for those with PTSD are incorporating a triad: psychiatry, psychology and movement therapy in the way of yoga, yoga nidra, tai chi and other forms of exercise. Yoga? Military? Yeah, it already adapted ages ago. More changes are coming, because success of a practice is in proof whether patients get better. We have a long, long way to go, and it’s only going to happen if flexibility and adaptability remain benchmarks.

    Any thoughts of us ever going back into private practice where rigidity is seen at every level doesn’t appeal to us. We’re here, we’re staying. We’ll be crickety crackety old people when we are done.

  8. JC

    November 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    An amazingly well written and insightful post. You sir, deserve a metal.

  9. NoLongerAn11Hotel...

    November 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    This is one of the best pieces I have ever read.

  10. Vic

    November 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    If there’s any justice Steve Tobak will read this and a good helping of humble pie.

    What am I thinking. guys like him with his snarky attitude will believe he’s perfectly right. “But i was giving a compliment.” is his MLCOA.

  11. Hank

    November 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Nick, I really don’t know how your writing and observations keep getting better but they do. A very impressive piece of work. Well said, yes indeed, well said. Observe, orient, decide, and act. Ranger Up is leading the charge. And we’re in your debt. Semper Fi, Hank

  12. Alaska Paul

    November 19, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    This is a great read! Isn’t it ironic that the military, at least in the medical part of it, has more innovation and flexibility in its mission than in the private sector? Today’s military is a learning machine, and they run circles around most any other part of the Federal Government. Again, thanks for some real protein of the mind. Loved the article.

  13. MARGE DUNNING

    November 20, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Thank you Sir. .Well said for all of us.When I applied for a supervisors job in a computer reservation center they said I was not qualified as I had only military background.I got up and walked out.
    Marge dunning MSGT USAF RET
    Air traffic control and warning

  14. john mosby

    November 20, 2010 at 7:57 am

    How can I get on the waitlist for the iPooFlingingMonkey?

  15. Vargas

    November 20, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Great counter-article Nick! I’m retiring in a year, can’t wait to pass on some of the bizarre stories I’m sure I’ll have when I start looking for a ‘real’ job.

    Usually, just being dependable is enough to get hired as a vet these days. Back in 2002, one of my guys, ‘Shoe’, a MSgt Flight Engineer that had flown on SOF helicopters for 15 years, decided to retire and help take care of his Dad. He also figured on getting a job in the Albuquerque area and one of his interviews was with a recruiter from Intel, who have a massive operation in ABQ. As Shoe was telling him about his education background (he had a B.S. in Ops Management) and talking up the whole ‘flexibility/self-motivated’ thing you have to do with headhunters, the guy interrupts him. As Shoe told it, it went like this –

    Intel Recruiter: “Yeah, yeah, that’s all great….let me ask you something. Can you show up to work on time?”
    Shoe: “Uh, yeah, sure can, been doing that for 20 years, no problem”
    Intel Recruiter: “How about passing a drug test every month? Can you handle that?”
    Shoe (even more confused now): “ummm, yeah, of course, that’s pretty much standard for the DoD these days, been doing that for the last two decades too”
    Intel Recruiter: “Good! because I’ve been having a really hard time lately recruiting people that A) Show up to work on time and B) Pass a goddamn drug test on a regular basis!”

    The guy pretty much offered him a job on the spot at that point. I can’t remember if Shoe took it or not, but that little exchange always stuck with me. Apparently, showing up to work on time and not smoking dope every weekend were insurmountable obstacles for a lot of the non-vet 20-somethings that Intel was hiring 8 years ago.

    Keep it up, I’m sure there are other ass-hat writers out there just itching to take us vets down a peg or two. No mercy!

  16. Robbie K.

    November 20, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Well said, Nick. I have been a small business owner now for 10 years and it has provided me a great life. I credit my success to things I learned while at Fort Benning’s Harmony Church and the 3rd brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
    I learned people skills, negotiating skills, focus, dedication, commitment to the mission and to never, ever, ever, ever quit.
    The lessons I learned while a 11HE9 have carried me through damn near 20 years and in fact my default salutation is “Sir” or “Ma’am” in most business situations.
    I watched great leaders operate and vowed to emulate their positive traits.
    I have always believed and in all honesty have been mocked for my opinion that a student in business school should do a year or 2 of ROTC on their college campus. I know what the military did for me and I think any entrepreneur would benefit from skills acquired from a military background or experience.
    Again, great work, sir

    Oh and one last thing…soccer is certainly not a silly game.

    Rob K.

  17. Mew

    November 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Great article! Besides all that working with Veterans is FUN!!! They always have such a great sense of humor:)

  18. Tantor

    November 21, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Just to build on previous posts, I was mystified by managers commenting that I showed up to work. At first, I thought they were kidding but after a few years I realized they weren’t. There are a lot of kids out of college who think they can ditch work just like they ditched classes. They party hard during the week and then just take the day off. Maybe they call in, maybe they don’t.

  19. Bob Mulroy

    November 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Only 13% of all small businesses? I think they should own more!

  20. Steve Tobak

    November 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Folks,

    Let me clear up a few things. I am a conservative. My dad was a war veteran. My wife and I feel deeply indebted to those who fight on behalf of America. In years when we can afford to, we donate to the Wounded Warriors Project. I pay an annual fee (that goes to a fund for wounded veterans) for a special license plate with an American flag and a caption “We Will Never Forget.” I wrote a piece about veteran entrepreneurs that was intended to be a tribute, written on Veteran’s Day, because the facts supported it.

    You should all actually read the piece: http://www.bnet.com/blog/ceo/why-veterans-make-great-entrepreneurs/6046

    Of the entire post, the one thing Nick chose to go off on is that, to me, certain things were counterintuitive. And in that statement, I challenge you to find anything that isn’t true. Lots of things are counterintuitive, but they’re not negative in their meaning unless, for some reason, you choose to take them that way.

    For example, it’s counterintuitive that someone who flunked electrical engineering in college became an electrical engineer. It’s counterintuitive that someone who couldn’t write a product spec 30 years ago, who his boss called iliterate, is now a writer. Those are things that are counterintuitive about me, but they don’t mean I wasn’t a great engineer and I’m not a good writer now.

    The next sentence after the “counterintuitive” quote above was: “But numbers don’t lie.” Indeed, they don’t.

    Here’s a comment from someone who, among all the positive comments and emails I’ve received from veterans and veteran groups regarding the post, took exception with the same observation you did, but responded in a completely different way:

    “I have to take issue withe the author’s comment concerning the lack of flexibility and adaptability on the part of veteran small business owners. This is so far from reality. Veterans are trained to expect the unexpected and plan accordingly. “No plan survives the first contact with the enemy” is an oft heard dictum. So all planning involves looking at both “branches” (changes brought about by a change in situation) and “sequels”(follow-on actions once the initial objective is achieved). The entire planning process is anticipatory, adaptative and dynamic. Yes, there certainly is indeed a laser-like focus on “the mission”, but there are many different ways that it can be successfully completed. I am speaking from experience as a veteran (21 years USN) and the Vice President of Small Business for a Chamber of Commerce and as the Executive Director of a Small Business Development Center office. I have seen quite a number of small business owners who are veterans and who have enjoyed much success in the business arena as well as in their past careers in the military.”

    This person educated me and my readers and did a very good job of reconciling what I thought was “counterintuitive” with the numbers that I observed “didn’t lie.” You can see that as “setting me straight” or you can see that as explaining why what appeared counterintuitive, in reality, isn’t.

    After 30 years in business and 21 years in marriage, I am humble. I have succeeded and failed at many things. And I readily modify posts where I have erred. This is not one of them. I stand by my observation and I’m ecstatic that someone responded with a comment that explained things so well and did so without anger and vitrial from reading into it something that wasn’t there to begin with.

    I took the time to respond to this because I care deeply about America’s military men and women and the critical role they play in our freedom. And it saddens me that anyone somehow managed to take my post – a tribute written on Veterans Day – in a negative way. I invite you all to read the post in its entirety: http://www.bnet.com/blog/ceo/why-veterans-make-great-entrepreneurs/6046

    Steve Tobak

    The Corner Office: http://www.bnet.com/blog/ceo

  21. DefendUSA

    November 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

    “In the business world, and especially for entrepreneurs, focus is indeed important but so is flexibility and adaptability. And managers can’t successfully motivate employees the way officers “order” their troops. That’s a whole different ballgame.”

    Mr. Tobak completely misses how he has insulted many of us who are indeed self-made. TObak implies that surely we must all be fucked, because we can’t “order” people to be motivated.

    What Tobak fails to realize is that while the collective “we” are more inclined to follow orders than not, there is a bigger picture. Does the phrase “lead by example” ring any bells?

    You see, “we” followed orders because of the leaders…the majority of whom have set the example. And when someone sets a great example, others tend to want to live up to that expectation…And that, you SFB “journalist” is all it takes for anyone of us to be MOTIVATED to move on, get the job done. It’s the reason why we don’t have to be told how to achieve something if someone is not ordered to do it! It is why we can create something and bring it to fruition. It is the reason we are successful entrepreneurs.

    My “leaders” deserve thanks for that, because I would not be who I am today.
    CPT. Ledesma, SGT. Parrish, MSG Kringel, 1SG’s McIntyre, Perez, Amundson.

  22. Brian

    November 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

    WAY TO F’ING GO NICK!

    The people that he addresses blow my mind. How ignorant they are. Here is my testimony… I’m just a dumb former grunt apparently. And my co-workers are apparently just dumb, robotic grunts as well… But somehow, we must have gotten lucky because we started a company just over two years ago. We raised millions in institutional investment funding; and here we are today after having just hired our 53rd employee. We’ve gone from nothing to roughly $20 million in revenue, and have become one of the fastest growing data center companies in the country.

    But we’re dumb, inflexible, only able to follow orders… Now I need to go and find out who the hell is issuing our orders…

    The arrogance we’ve experienced along the way from people who’ve told us that we shouldn’t do what we are now succeeding at doing, is staggering.

    But while they are faltering, and telling us why we shouldn’t succeed; we’re on the way to the bank, and the business is booming.

  23. dgh

    November 23, 2010 at 8:31 am

    THANKS!! Now I’m angry too. “ABC bans lapel FLAG pins” ABC(translation)POS

  24. dgh

    November 23, 2010 at 8:34 am

    THANKS!! Now I’m angry too. LOL
    “ABC bans lapel FLAG pins” ABC(translation)POS

  25. Monte 7

    November 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    HUZZAH!
    Too bad all of that wont fit on a T-Shirt, I’d wear it! The academia/social elite/ douchenozzles whos eyes it intended to open probably wouldnt understand the point any ways, they are all way too wrapped up in their falsely fulfilling lives.

    Again, simply put: HUZZAH!

  26. JG

    November 24, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Hoo-freaking-yah there Nick!!!

    The majority of those pukes that Mr. Tobak in my opinion should be shipped to the Great Lakes, FORCED to paris Island & for the leave, go to BUDS!!! Then they will have some feeble attmept of understanding of what it is to serve, not taking into account actually going on a tour of 2.

    Def would make a badass T. Thank God for our military, for all of those who are serving & for those who have; past, present, & future. God bless & Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. Bob Mulroy

    September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Every six months or so, I come back and read this again.

    Fine job.

  28. Leslie Taylor

    June 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Great post. Where is that “Share” button?

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