Journey through Foster Care, Naval Officer, and Podcasting with Travis Johnson

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Travis talks about his experiences growing up in foster care, enlisting in the navy, and eventually starting his own business. Travis urges us to live without excuses. You can always start afresh at any age. Start your adventure by challenging the status quo.

Highlights:

{03:30} Travis’ journey from foster care to navy to entrepreneur 

{10:27} No more excess, and moving forward

{19:30} Serving in the military

{36:15} You are never too young to start again

{46:00} Questioning conventional thinking 

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Travis Johnson Bio

Keynote Speaker | Work shops | Emcee | Panelist

*Working through Trauma | The Power of Choice | Setting Boundaries to Help you Grow

Travis Started life with 36 moves, 12 schools, 6 states, 5 different foster homes, surviving 2 murder attempts, and being homeless. Now he’s a retired Naval Officer and Top Rated Podcast host speaking on his journey from trauma to triumph.

Podcast Titan

Helping you get to your next level through podcasting as a host or as a guest through education, production services, and mentorship. Travis is the only professional podcaster with an accredited college course on podcasting. His courses are available at the Forbes School of Business and Technology, the University of San Diego, Bellhaven University, and online for those not enrolled at these universities. Check out his Podcast Titan book series and course at https://podcasttitan.com/

Podcast Host

Titan Evolution Podcast Top 10% globally

How refreshing it is to have real, raw conversations with no masks, no rules, and no holds barred? This is exactly what you will get here at Titan Evolution Podcast! We get rid of all the nonsense floating around that blocks our judgment and perception. Here, you are invited to be vulnerable and let your thoughts flow freely.

This enlightening show features real stories from real people. They discuss today’s issues without barriers and answer difficult questions without filters. Find out how they shaped their opinions, how they differ from yours, and how they can help you gain a better perspective on everything. Challenge your opinions, reevaluate your outlook, and see the world from a brand new, much clearer point of view. https://titanevolutionpodcast.com/

Nonprofit Architect Podcast (Not recording new episodes) Top 5% globally in previously ranked #4 in the US. https://nonprofitarchitect.org/

Veteran Podcast Awards
VPAs was started in order to provide recognition to our amazing community of Veteran Podcasters. Awards are given based on popular vote by service and overall. https://www.veteranpodcastawards.com/

Naval Officer ret

He joined the Navy as an aircraft mechanic on F/A-18s and the E-6B Mercury, attended the University of Oklahoma, and was commissioned as a Naval Flight Officer. He received his wings, accumulated nearly 1,500 flight hours on the E-6B Mercury, and served as the Fleet Command Center Director in Bahrain for the 5th Fleet Commander. He retired after 22 years in 2022.

Connect with Travis:

https://linktr.ee/travisdjohnson

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Full Transcript

Hey, welcome back to the show. We’ve got something geared up a little bit special for the fans today. Carol is going to interview me and answer somebody else’s questions today. It’s kind of behind the scenes, like telling us more about Travis in a role reversal. Here, Carol is going to kick it off and interview me.

Just a little bit of background: I met Travis at… I wouldn’t call it a retreat so much as a mastermind. We spent about 6 days together, and I remained number 1. I remember we were going around the room the first day and making introductions, and Travis introduced himself and said, “Hi, I’m Travis Johnson.” I remember saying, “I’m not interested in anybody else here.” You have my attention. And only because I believe people who say that about themselves have many layers beneath the surface. I want to be one of those people to get to know you better because there’s a reason you said that, and so that caught my attention. I remember sitting down with Travis over there, and we had six days to get to know each other, and every day I was there.

I liked him more and more and more, to the point that by the end of the week, I had never met Travis before. It was never the first time, and all I wanted to do was, “I don’t know how in the world we would ever work together or collaborate on anything together.”

But I like you. As a person, you’re so genuine and kind and giving, even though you want everybody to think you’re in *******. He truly is not.

But he is a good human being, and I rarely see that in people. Because the majority of the time, I feel like if people are being nice to one another, it is because they want something from you. I have not experienced that with Travis, and he is just that giving guy. I mean, the whole time you told me your story, my mouth dropped open because I couldn’t imagine someone going through some of those things, especially as a child. After all, as children, we were shaped by our parents and the examples that were set around us. And yet, despite those examples, I’d say pretty normal.

So, let’s talk less about your military experience and your upbringing, like how you ended up—maybe going to the military, so everything up to that point, because you have a very interesting story.

Yeah, thanks, Carol; I appreciate the lead in there. It’s very bizarre. Those who are familiar with me or listen to my other shows. The nonprofit architect podcast: I have got to hear some of these stories, but for those who haven’t heard, childhood was not easy, despite all my obvious white privilege. You know, white guy, 36, relocates 12 states away. No, that’s not right. 36). I know these numbers: 36 moves, 12 schools, six states, five different foster homes, eight total. I had two family members try to kill me at different points. I’ve got a mother with bipolar disorder.

There was bullying, a criminal record, and all sorts of craziness that happened, but there were so many people that helped me along the way. Someone is always willing to keep us sheltered, clothed, and fed. Even though it was tough, someone was always willing to pour into my life. And I’m not sure how this happened, but I could largely remain objective when these things happened and so many times. 

We hear stories like his about how his condition is one of childhood, and the research backs you up. Yet, from birth to 7 years old, you are essentially in receiving mode without any filter. It’s not till around seven years of age or second grade that we, as humans, develop a filter. And everything that we’ve been conditioned with is, you know, the lens through which we view that filter. Whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. I don’t know how exactly this worked out for me, but I was able to remain largely objective through all the nonsense. My standard operating procedure was downloaded with the saying that I was smart and handsome, but we moved a lot. Moving wasn’t a disaster for me because that’s what I was.

But why did you move a lot?

My mother has bipolar disorder, so we moved a lot because she needed full-time treatment, and I think her father, or my father divorced when I was three. Whenever we needed full-time treatment, she would go into a full-time facility when those were available at State Hospital, and then my sister and I would go home. Go into foster care with a family member. When we were very young, we often went to live with my grandmother, Joanne. She was an amazing woman, and when she got out of treatment, my mom got out of treatment, and we had to go live elsewhere. She wasn’t paying rent the whole time; she was not being held captive. That’s probably not the right word. She was getting treatment. 

You know, she wasn’t paying rent, so we’d live in a place, move in with Grandma, have to move into a new place when she got out and got custody. The rules in You know, in the first part of the 19th or the 20th century, you could be held against your will at a mental health facility, and I don’t remember the rule that broke that thing, but the pendulum swung the other way, that said. If you were only able to be committed against your will if you were a danger to yourself or others, and since she largely was a nonviolent person, she retained custody throughout the whole time. Whether it was when my sister and I were living with someone else when she was in treatment,

Well, so the question is, if she was mentally able, right? Why was she continuously allowed to come back and get you from your grandmother? I would have thought that that would have been an absolute no-go.

Because she always went of her own volition. She was never forced to go because he couldn’t force anyone to go unless they were putting themselves or others in danger. So, when she got to that point where she was either through self-discovery or someone pointed out that she was not doing well, she checked herself in. She was never forced. If it had come to light that she was a danger to herself or others, with us being the kids, she would have lost custody.

So just because she’s admitted, she could get you back. It’s a shame because I was such a good person.

I also don’t know if that was the 80s or the 90s. I don’t know if that was the rules at the time or the area. I’m not sure why it worked out that way, but that’s how it worked out.

Yeah, it’s just a disruption in your lives, especially when your children are involved. It is horrible if you have a stable environment, and someone tries to pull you out of it and throw you back into chaos.

It sure was not the best.

Yeah, so do you. Did you have a relationship with your dad at any point in all this?

Or did he just pretty much bow out?

It is very hard at any level to maintain a relationship with someone with an unmedicated problem, especially a mental illness as severe as bipolar disorder. My mother also experienced the joyous wonder of hallucinating, both auditory and visual, which is more of a schizophrenia diagnosis.

But she had those as bipolar, and she didn’t have depression. It was essentially mania or not. But she would also hallucinate and try to be in a relationship with someone like that. There were a lot of challenges, even though he wanted to be in our lives and be our father and do this stuff. It was so difficult between his alcoholism and her bipolar disorder. It’s really hard to make any kind of relationship work. He ended up working for the state of Minnesota. I traveled as a boiler inspector all over the state all the time. worked. I worked a lot of 16-plus-hour days, which isn’t an excuse or anything like that, but it wasn’t until I decided to move out of my family house at 16 and move in with my grandmother full time that that room was made. In my life, to build that relationship and foster that relationship, my dad and I now have a great relationship.

Oh, that’s wonderful.

At least something positive came out of it, right?

Geez, OK.

So sorry.

But I didn’t mean to interrupt you about your whole dad thing, but so far, so good from your mom being checked in and out of your relationship with your sister.

It is completely severed at this point.

From childhood?

We’ve made attempts over the years to try to rebuild their relationship. Unfortunately, she has not managed to take care of her mental well-being. I don’t know how it is that I was not affected by bipolar disorder. It runs in her family on my mom’s side, but it only affects women for whatever reason. So, like my great great grandmother, I’ve met my great grandmother, whom I’ve met my grandmother, my mom, and my sister, and have not confirmed diagnosis, but my sister’s daughter as well, all seem to suffer from some kind of mental health challenge.

I have a relationship with my mom now because she’s willing to try to work on staying mentally well. Most days, when my sister is up, I know she’s getting treatment right now. But up until now, she hasn’t been willing to do that, and she’s 38 or 39. Whatever the math is, I think she’s 39. I’m 40; she’s 39, has four kids, and has largely been unwilling to take responsibility for anything. Terrible things have happened to her, and terrible things have happened to me. But here’s the big secret for all those people going through something terrible. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Identifying the fault doesn’t help anybody. Not in the least. It’s taking responsibility for your current situation, seeking healing for whatever that may be, and having the responsibility to move forward with your life. And I can say that easily, but it’s much easier. Then it is. I’m not under any delusions because it rolls off the tongue; I’ve said it many times. Does that make that thing easy?

It’s simple to define but not easy to implement.

Yeah, I think the hardest part is taking accountability for it, and I think that’s probably our issue as a society these days because it’s easier to just copy. You know, place blame on other people. This is happening to me because somebody else is doing it, versus just saying this is happening to me. After all, I allowed it to happen, or this is happening to me. It’s because I’m not recognizing my condition and getting help for it, right?

You can make excuses for it, but at the end of the day, when you finally can, you know, be accountable for it. And then recognize it and then move forward. It’s the only time anything is going to change.

Yeah, we see this, especially in American culture. Quite a bit. Do you know whose fault it is? Is it the president’s fault? Is that the economy’s fault? Is that the weather’s fault? Is it black people or white people or Mexicans or immigrants or whatever? You know, whatever. Oh, it’s Christians. Whatever the label, whatever the thing you’re mad at is, it doesn’t matter that you’re mad; it doesn’t matter that you’ve assigned blame to them. It only matters if you’re pointing the finger at them or the finger at you and pointing the finger at you is not a fault with responsibility. Even though this situation may exist in these conditions, it may be real or not real. I’m not saying that at all; it’s still up to you to decide what you will do with your life.

I remember being in trailer parks and foster homes. I remember the terrible things I experienced and have been through. But none of this absolves me of the personal responsibility of healing, which is a slow and painful process. I’m sure some things still bother me. I’m sure there are still things that would trigger me. I mean, I’m sure there are sights or smells or people or situations where I would suddenly be back in that situation and have real fear and real problems resulting from that. Still, I had to take the responsibility to search out that healing and work on that to become a better person, a husband, a father, a human being, and a guy.

Like, that’s not easy. Regardless of the circumstances,

No, it takes time and it’s also self-awareness. You know, so then did you? Did you have ambitions and dreams once you moved in with your grandmother? There was a particular path. I’m not sure if you wanted to go to

Moving in with her was the stability I needed to have a chance. Right, you know, foster care. There’s a lot of stuff floating around about foster care. My foster parents were amazing, and their home situation was better than mine, right? I was never left in weird people’s houses for uncomfortable lengths of time around people like, you know, kids have no business being around like that. It didn’t happen in foster care. I was in loving, stable homes that were clean and had food every mealtime. These things, like being in foster care, were great for me. I had wonderful parents and still keep in contact with many of them, but you know, getting moved out of a place where I knew I wouldn’t be forced to move again. To have that stability, I knew Grandma would be there every day when I got home. And be able to, you know, provide those meals and those things. I was 16 when I moved out. “Look, if you love me, mom, in any way, shape, or form, you’re going to let this happen,” I said. You’re not going to say anything about it, and she never did. She let me move out and build my life as a person. I graduated from high school. I thought I would take a year off to find myself. I found that working three minimum wage jobs all over town, even though working three jobs’ sucks because you could never make any real money, right? I’d get up and open the Burger King like a shift supervisor. It was like, right down the street from me was a 5-minute walk, and then I’d go across town and work at the bowling alley lunch counter. Because up in the north of Minnesota originally, there’s great food at bowling alleys like handmade pizzas and malts.

I heard that. That’s so crazy to me, though. Like at a bowling alley?

Most places, other than the Midwest bowling alleys, are like fried food, and no one cares. But like in the Midwest, especially the upper Midwest, things like food and bowling alleys. It’s like it’s a destination like I still go home and go there for lunch. I get a Philly steak or Philly chicken or something. The most delicious soup of the day, all that stuff. But then I would see my girlfriend, who is now my wife, for a couple of hours, and I would unload the truck at Walmart from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM.

I did those five days a week. Yeah, yeah, I could do that at 17. That is something I can no longer do. I’m not interested in that kind of behavior, but my dad approached me with a job offer, and by the numbers, I’m a complete fool for turning it down. He got, I guess, one of my cousins on his side, and I never really had exposure to his side of the family. A couple here and there, but nothing that is ingrained in his side of the family. In 1999, one of the cousins was in charge of maintenance at the local community college and could get me a job at 18 dollars an hour.

Oh my God, that was big money back then, dude.

Yeah, the minimum wage is like $5.15. Or six bucks, or five hundred, or something like that. so like. Essentially tripling whatever my income was at the time, I was like Dad. He’s like, “I’ve got three jobs.” Get rid of three crappy jobs. I got a good job.

I heard the words, which impacted me, but I didn’t feel like the job he was putting me into; he could see the whole path. I couldn’t see the whole path. I felt like he was getting into a dead-end job. What I didn’t know, and now I know later, is that with him being a boiler

You go work on this job, get your boiler inspector lights, your boiler license, and then you go through the training, become an inspector, and then you can essentially write your ticket because there are six steam engine shows, and there are boat inspections, and there is commercial.

There are all these different ways I took the advice of getting rid of three crappy jobs, getting one good job, and joining the Navy. And at this point, I had made some. Good choices. I had found Jesus. I had found my wife and I had joined the Navy. All of them didn’t care where I came from. They didn’t care about my family name. They didn’t care about my criminal record. They didn’t care about any of the other *** in my world.

What criminal record?

Yes, a criminal record. Yes, it’s expunged. No, I’m not going to go into details of all the things I’m willing to talk about. I’m not willing to talk about what happened, and I’m not willing to divulge classified information. Everything else is open to discussion.

Well, we’re OK. Gotcha. Yeah, yeah. I was like, dude? I could never, I would never, in a million years, guess that.

Right, because that’s not who I am, right? That was a situation that happened, and we didn’t have the money to defend it properly with the proper attorneys. And if I had told my father that I needed an attorney, the thing would never have happened. It would never have. It happened and never would have you know that it doesn’t, right?

It doesn’t meet the sniff test, but the thing happened. And it was on my record for over a decade. As a naval officer, I had to go back later to show what a good person I was to get this thing expunged. And removed, right? Because anyone that knows the story is like, “Let’s be ridiculous, everyone does that.” I still refuse to say what it was. “

No, you don’t have to. You don’t have to. Yes, we’ll respect your confidentiality, and that’s OK, so you join the Navy.

I did well. I proposed to my wife and later joined the Navy without telling her. Who takes over? Look at the flat-out only thing. You need to know that my wife is amazing, and that’s why it worked out because she came home from work. I said, “Hey, I joined the Navy,” and she was “engaged to me.” She was like, “Well, OK, because what can you say at that point? There’s not a lot you can say.

I get. Yeah, no, you’re not going to. That doesn’t work that way. So, how many years have passed? You are married now.

We have been married for 21 years. But we’ve been sweethearts since 1999.

It’s just so cute.

Yeah, I stole his sweetheart line from someone because I heard it, and I was like, “This is a great way to describe the whole situation.” So, how many years has he been my official sweetheart since 1999, without doing the math? I am 23 years old. or something, but yeah.

So, tell us a little about the military service you did. There was nothing classified there.

Yeah, I’m not going to. I’m not going to jail for that. Stuff: I’ve been to jail. It was not recommended, so I went with the offer. To the recruiter, by the way, the day he showed up to take me to boot camp, I had a friend-like walking boot on my leg and the crushes, so when he walked up, I saw his.

My face dropped because I’m just that person, and he got to the door, and he’s like, “What is going on is like nothing.” I was just messing with “My my,” he says, and my heart drops; I couldn’t believe it, but he’s an aviation guy. And I asked my father, “What?

What should I do? He’s like, I don’t know what he should do. He’s like how they treat those in aviation. I knew the boys well, so I signed up to fix ejection seats on F-eighteens and went to boot camp.

I went to my school in Pensacola, FL, and then took off for my first duty station in Lemoore, CA. I got a chance to go to Lemoore. Go ahead and pass it on that it is the armpit of humanity. Of course, I haven’t been there in 20 years, so that might be better, but it’s like It’s all cotton fields and situated between two mountain ranges. So, when they spray for bugs like the pesticides never leave, it’s dark and dreary. It’s got two seasons: disgustingly hot and this fog. You could, like, take a knife and cut the fog out. It’s so thick you can’t. See, you can’t see the hood ornament on your car. It’s like that thick fog. It’s insane, and I joined. I joined in July of 2000, so I was in for a year when 911 happened.

This is crazy because many people we know, our veterans, joined after that. I joined before 911 but before that. A quick story aside, they filmed the movie behind enemy lines at my squadron’s Owen Wilson. Gene Hackman got to mount a movie camera on an F18 for the photo shoot. When they’re doing the movie, which was pretty cool,

And then 911 happened. I ran into you in my apartment. I’ve now been married to my wife. I graduated from high school. Ninety-nine joined the Navy in 2000, married my wife in 2001, and so we had just gotten married. A couple of months ahead of time, right? So, we’re at peace. When I joined the Navy, I got a phone call from my dad at 5:30 in the morning, whatever time that was from New York to California. Whatever the time difference is, my dad’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, it’s 5:30. I work the night shift.

I get off at like 10 PM. I’m sleeping. He’s like, turn on the TV, and I’m all groggy and like. Turn on the TV.

He’s like, “Turn on the TV.” I was like, what channel is he’s like, any channel? And I only turned it on in time to see the second plane crash. The towers and I said, “What is going on?” It’s like we’re under attack. We’re at war. And here I am, barely a year into the Navy, not knowing. What’s going on or what’s going to happen? And all the bases were on lockdown. Every car was in full search. It took hours to get on base that day. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but bases used to be open to civilians, such as young ladies looking for a good time, up on the clubs.

No way. Are you serious?

Yeah, all the ladies from the local towns would come party at the base club to find a husband or company for the weekend and then, you know, take the bus back out of town.

I am waiting for a recall.

That changed after 9/11 when people without military IDs were barred from entering the base.

Yeah, I’ve never tried to get on base, but I’ve always heard that it requires people to have ID to get on there, and you have to be approved.

So, I was like, “Oh.”

It has for the last 20 years, but before that, very trusting people could get on. Most people just didn’t. But the girls out in town knew where they were. I could find someone with a stable income.

Oh my God.

That’s what it was.

So, how long have you been in the Navy, and how long have you been out?

Twenty-two years I did my first 11 and listed, so I started at the very bottom as an E1. I made it up to E6 within seven years. I was really at a big point in my life. Where? As for young men, most young men are pretty cocky, and they like to run their mouths. I got to a point where I stopped running my mouth. I was focused on my family’s finances and wanted to surround myself with the right people. In my life, people were doing good things. Who was taking care of their career? Who was taking care of their family? Who is going to college? I started to do the good things that I wanted there, and I started. I shut my mouth and started hanging out with those guys; within two years, I was named instructor of the year, and I got accepted to a program called the Seaman to Admiral Program. They would take you from the lowest ranks and get you commissioned so you could climb up the officer ladder, which many people don’t even attempt to do. I’m not sure why they don’t attempt to do it. The pay difference is astronomically different.

Because possibly they might not want to put in the work, is it? I mean, it’s got to be hard work, right?

It could be.

It could be the work, or it could be their opinion of officers. It could be life circumstances without a point in their career where they just can’t swing it. Fortunately for you, you know my wife, Megan. Whenever I had a career thing come up, I’d ask her, “What do you want to do?” And she’s like, “Whatever is best for your career was always the answer,” which is wonderful.

It’s so helpful because, you know, we knew when we decided on our roles in the relationship early on that I would be working full time with them for the military. No matter what we chose, she wanted to, and that was what she decided. She wanted to take care of the house and maybe earn supplemental income.

And then, when we had kids, she recalled that we never had daycare, so we were on target. Hey, whatever is best for your career is what we’re doing. She’s like, I’ll fill whatever support role you need, and this is how we’re going to do it, so at like my nine-year-old, I asked people. I asked, “Did you guys ever think about doing this?” I asked many of the old timers in the Navy and the old timers in the military. Is anyone over 30?

Oh my God.

Most people get out of the military before they hit 23, and when you’re 30, you’ve most likely spent 12 years in the military. I have a 20-year career like that’s just the age range until you unless you’re a commissioned officer and you hit Captain 06 or some kind of flag level or general where you wear stars 123 or four stars on your collar, you know you have been in for 30 plus years. Most people don’t reach their 22nd birthday in the military. They just really don’t pee for two to three years. For the vast majority of people, you’re done. So, I was talking to my elders in their 30s, you know, like do you guys ever want to do this and someone like Yeah, but I wanted to fly, so I went through the flying program, and by the time I got back around to considering being an officer, I was too old. I kept hearing that it was too old, too old to last. My dad, who was in the Navy in the 70s, always had time requirements because they were primarily aviation, right? You have to be a pilot by the time you’re 25 or a naval flight officer by the time you’re 27, based on the years you’re able to give back to the military. Fortunately for me, having the last listed time, I can move those years out a little bit. So, you had to be commissioned as a pilot or a naval flight officer by 27 or 29. And there isn’t any chance. Or is it 29 and 30 or whatever I’d be commissioned by 31 to do the program I wanted to do? And my dad’s like, “Look, if that’s what you want, apply and don’t let anything stop you.” Yeah, you know, he was told yearly that he should be an officer, but he always wanted to be made chief, first in the Navy.

It is a big deal. It’s a huge milestone list, and he just kept feeling like every year I was going to make it, and then I was going to apply. On the other hand, I was never made chief, and then he just never applied for the other thing to be an officer. Oh, which is heartbreaking, right? Because I, when I was in my career, really wanted to be chief. And that was one of my biggest regrets, not hitting that benchmark. But he’s like, if this is what you want to do, he’s like, do it and don’t let anyone stop you. You don’t want anyone else to derail you, change your mind, put their stuff on you, whatever that is. And so, I did this because I was going to college at the time. I said I’m going to apply for this. I’m going to apply to be on limited duty. I’m going to finish my degree and apply for OCS for the Navy Officer Candidate School, and if they say no, I will apply for ODST or OTS, whatever this is for the Army, and I’m going to go that way.

So, once I determined for myself and my family what I was going to do, nothing could stop me. My first application, one of 850 applications for 29 slots, was selected. I got selected for my first application on my first try, which is

Wow, and how many times do you? Typically, people have to resubmit these applications to

be even looked at.

Generally speaking, it’s about four times on your fourth application. Or accepted. You can’t expect to get picked up. And I did my first. I had a gal in that program who was on her 12th application. She was accepted.

Oh my God.

So, if you’re certain about what you want to do with your life,

I had to wait for my military record to hit my arms. You know, I got my criminal record to drop off before I could apply. And then, I had only one shot to apply to the program so I could graduate college before my 31st birthday. Right, right, right.

Oh, he’s time sensitive.

It was very time-sensitive, so I applied. I got accepted, then I went to college because I had to have a degree and I had to have graduated on the same day, so I had five semesters.

I had summer, fall, spring, summer, and fall. I had to get finished, so I did my degree in a year and a half.

I got my degree completed. I got commissioned. I had been 30. I got commissioned to complete my degree with a wife and two kids, and it was like, yeah, it was nuts. Bananas, and then I had to go to flight school. So, we moved. In 2012, the family relocated to Pensacola for a year.

because we had no idea how long flight school was going to be. No one can tell. You know because there are so many differences. It’s like, it’s like a tree. There are all these different branches and pathways you can go on, and depending on how well you do in school, what you qualify for, what your desires are, and what the needs of the Navy are, you’ll determine your path.

So, like, this path is so complicated, so from the time that I decided to apply for this in 2009 to the time I got into school to complete my degree, I was commissioned to break through flight school to get my wings.

That was four and a half years from 2009 to 2013. I got my wings.

Somebody is an overachiever and a fast learner.

Yeah, I do.

I guess you could say that, but many people don’t know that the dropout rate or the attrition rate for aviation is high.

Well, I’m sure, yeah.

Yeah, we’re the only ones with special horses. For example, when I started my class, I was rolled back a class because in aviation, an “A” is for average, and a “B” is for barely passing because a “79” means you fail.

And you can only have three failures in the Navy before they kick you out of the program, and the Marines only have two, so I got like a 76 on an exam. Navigation, of all things. That’s something I’m good at, and you had to retest like the next morning when you went in for remediation.

You could retest the next morning if you wanted. didn’t pass that time. Get at least an 80. You were rolled back 22 times, which equaled 22 failures. I only had one more shot left, but the next, I guess I only needed one more day, because the next day, I got a 96, so it looks like I got to stay with my class and keep moving forward. But you know, at this point, it’s already like six weeks into school, but you already had private flying time, so I have like 13 hours on a Cessna, and I got to fly solo. That’s by myself. With no, you know, 13 hours of flight time. It’s all it takes for you to let them take an airplane by yourself. And I thought that was completely bizarre because I was terrified the whole time.

But there’s a big blocker. Yeah, yeah.

I was completely terrified, but at that point, I still had another 18 months before I got my wings. It was winged. Aviator, before you made it right, I’m only three months into this thing.

Yeah, yeah.

It’s just absolutely nuts. However, anyone who has attended flight school will tell you how it is. You have to dedicate a lot of time. Most people go to flight school when they’re 22. And here I am, 30. UH-30 with a wife and two kids trying to support me and my wife working and going to school. Plus, you’re swimming. You have to swim a mile with your flight suit boots and helmet. You must swim a mile without touching the walls in under an hour.

Oh, in the event of a crash or something, you can survive. Oh wow, that’s a lot of gear.

Yeah, so you’re going to school, and then you’re working. You have swimming periods throughout the day where you’re going to swim in the pool, and they make sure you can do all these things simultaneously, like they said, yeah.

Well, that’s probably why the age range is so much younger, right? and giving back to the military, I would assume because this is… this suck. You know when you get pregnant. Depending on your age, you know when they start. Considering you and when you’re in your 20s, that’s the best time to have children. When you hit 30, they start calling you a geriatric mother, and you’re like, “Oh, so don’t worry.” So, my ovaries are now geriatric. Thank you. But only in this country, because in places like Hong Kong.

Where are they?

Healthcare is terrible, and they keep getting pregnant back-to-back-to-back as long as they can do it because of all the hormones your body produces to take care of the baby, and they also have a term. I can’t read what the term is, but it’s the whole village mothers because women continue to feed. Other people, kids, and there’s a word for it; it’s like, “team, team, Mom,” whatever that is.

As long as you keep producing those hormones, it keeps building. Keeping the estrogen high is strange, but here it’s like you have your kids, and you’re like, “ping, you’re off,” you know, and then you move on. You know, probably a billion-dollar business for beauty and anti-aging, right?

Right, yeah?

I’m just saying, but, interestingly, you would go from the military and then go into something, you know, like your nonprofit architect, so you know, segueing into that, like how did you? How did you get involved with that? It did. Had you always suspected it was you?

Did this just happen to fall into your lap, you know?

Well, it was. It was really weird because I had never called a place home before, and I was in my 30s when I got stationed back. You know, so I went from F-eighteens to Oklahoma City. I was working on E. 6B, and I’m with your flight school and came back to the same community in Oklahoma City on the E6B, and I got to a point where I was like, “What’s this feeling?” I was trying to identify a feeling. I was like, “What is it?” What is this sensation? Home feels like I was in my mid-30s. Before I could ever say someplace was home for me,

And then once, I was like, “This is home.” This is home.

I’ve been here for a while. I feel safe and secure like this is home, and it was my mid-30s before I could have that feeling, which I know breaks your heart. But then my next question was like, “Well, how do I be part of the community?” I didn’t. I didn’t know what that took, so I asked. People say, hey, what does it do? It takes being part of the community. I asked people at church, and they were like, “Well, people in the community show up.” for community things. They get out and vote. They help them. You know, they volunteer. They clean up the stuff they’re on. They serve on boards and committees, and they help. People in the community And I get a discussion like, “Well, how do I find people that do this?” And he’s like, “I’ve got a friend for you to meet.” I went to this network meeting. I don’t know anybody. I just knew I could show up, have a great attitude, and be willing to help. And I showed up, had a great head. They should be willing to help, and it’s a long, much longer conversation, but you know, get hooked up with some people doing some great things. We helped build a memorial for someone whose daughter was doing great stuff and got killed in a car wreck, and we built the memorial for her out of the first site she volunteered at to clean up Crystal Lake in South Oklahoma City. On Friday, the 13th, Crystal Lake was full of tires and debris like this: Crystal Lake in Oklahoma City. They cleaned it up, and then we ended up building a memorial out there for her. It was just wonderful, but then it led to volunteer time, and, you know, I’ve got over 1500 hours. My wife and I have given over $40,000 to nonprofits. And I’m serving on the boards of a few nonprofits in Oklahoma City. And then I got stationed in the Middle East and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and they said, “You got to do something positive.” I was doing all this great nonprofit work. Well, how am I supposed to keep it? I got myself out of trouble by doing something positive because my family stayed in Oklahoma when I went over there, and, well, we just sort of podcast.

I was like, “Podcast.” I don’t know much about podcasting, like, well, you kind of have a podcasting voice. And you know, we always hear ourselves differently than other people here. So, it’s like I don’t have a podcast in which he had to set a trap to trick me into recording myself so he could play it back for me so I could go. Who’s that lovely voice that says, “This you, dummy,” like, “This is what we hear is like, “That’s what?” You have to be kidding me. That’s great. And you know, they convinced me to start a podcast, and I had looked into all of the top shows, like nonprofit shows, and none of them at the time were sharing how to do something. So, I set the intention of wanting to help nonprofits do it better. Nonprofits helped me immensely growing up, and I couldn’t just pick one to support. I wanted to help all of them do it better, and the best way I thought I could do that was by interviewing experts. I think of someone who makes their living in a certain field doing something. So, I had a bunch of nonprofit leaders doing this full-time. I had business leaders that were doing it. I had consultants and specialized people. You know, to help you run your e-mail and get the Google ad grant for all this stuff. I invited him on, and I was like, hey? How do you? How do you do this thing? And the requirement was that everyone comes on and shares how they do the stuff.

And so, I’ve got 140 episodes and counting of experts coming in to share how they do the thing that they get paid full time for in the nonprofit world, which is wonderful. A lot of leadership and stuff that applies to regular business, not just nonprofit business. So many wonderful conversations.

Wow, that is quite the transformation from foster care. all the way. To bring a successful entrepreneur to what you do, and to be honest, when I found out that you did a podcast, I was like, “God, I would never have guessed,” because I just figured military, and then, you know, you do something aviation-related, like even outside of the military, right?”

That’s what most of the guys I work with do. They’re working for Boeing, Lockheed Northrop, and the FAA’s headquarters here in Oklahoma City. We’ve got a huge nonprofit sector here. There were many things, and I was like, you know, what? I don’t want to get dressed to go to work for somebody else. We might make a transition later in life. I mean, we talked about, you know, staying objective. And then I talked about finding Jesus and my wife in the Navy. And then, I talked about learning how to shut my mouth, taking care of my finances, and surrounding myself with good people. Then when I was over in Bahrain, I listened to many business books—and built myself up with the knowledge that you can educate yourself. Right, we’ve got YouTube University. We’ve got audiobooks and all these different things that you can learn, so everything is available to learn now. It wasn’t available in the 80s and 90s when you had to pay to go to school or go to a library and check out or buy books you couldn’t afford. But now, great podcasts like, obviously, this one. exist without charge? People are telling you how to do everything on YouTube for free. They’re sharing on Tik T.O.K, and then we’re publishing audiobooks and all sorts of stuff.

There’s an overabundance of information for sure.

There it is, but later in life, I learned what you know about it. Community in business and podcasting changed my trajectory, like all the other points in my life. But this one projected me out of the military, which I couldn’t pursue. I didn’t feel like I could pursue the things I wanted in business and podcasting and serve in the military like this podcast. Right here, the Titan Evolution podcast. There’s no way I could do this show and still be on active duty, right? The disclaimers would have to go through the illicit content, you know, cuss words. And sharing some of these stories and opinions, I didn’t feel it was right to do while I was still serving, so I waited. Until I retired, you know, after 22 years of service. I was about 11 enlisted and about 11 on commission. I had to turn it down.

And by the way, thank you for your service because, you know, we just celebrated July 4th, and many people forget that we have this freedom because of all the individuals that gave their time.

Well, hey, you’re worth it. And just for the record, I don’t celebrate July 4th. I celebrate Independence Day, which happens to be on July 4th. But I don’t celebrate a day of the month. I don’t celebrate. Uh, December 25th. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but all kidding aside, I know everyone just refers to it as the Fourth of July.

Yes, Christmas. Yeah, they do. It’s just fireworks party day.

Is it that day for fireworks? This is the latest, you know, revelation in my life. I’ve always been a questioner, who is tough in the military. I’ve always had different thoughts because of my upbringing and how I experienced it. Life was so much different than so many people thought. I never really fit into the military. I was able to do this stuff and do good things, and people love me.

forward, but as far as fitting in, they were like, “Oh, Travis, that’s our guy.” He’s a company man. I’ve never been a company man.

You don’t know this; I have to say. But more and more, we talk to other entrepreneurs, right? The one thing that seems to be, uh, a similarity Besides the fact that they overcome these hardships and adversity, I’ve heard every single one of them say, “which I’ve always said you know also.”

And it’s a commonality that I see things differently. It’s interesting to me because the more I hear it, I’m like **** Yeah like I said, I say the same thing, but why is it we’re all seeing it? Our perspectives are very different from what you know. The conventional way of thinking would be to question it.

Yeah, absolutely.

And you know, one of the things that I experienced growing up was that I was in so many different places. I always get to see people doing the same thing differently. Have you ever told me if you’ve ever heard this? It’s my way or the highway.

Oh yeah, my dad.

Yeah, a lot of people, dads. I don’t know if this same generation if you know, generations, ears are listening to this. I don’t know if they heard that. I don’t know if they did or not, but you know people 3540. Plus, as you’ve heard, I thought it was very peculiar to see. Three different people in three different locations were accomplishing the same thing. Still, all three of them were doing it very differently, and all three said it was my way or the highway, and I thought that was very peculiar because I had seen it done differently before, and the job still got accomplished. They did it in a very specific way, but they were not interested in doing it any other way.

So, there are ten or more ways to skin a cat.

Yeah, yeah, and I could only think of five. right?

Well, you know what I’m saying at the end of the day: We’re all we. You’re talking about the end goal. And there are so many ways to get to that angle.

Craig Hanley, our mutual friend, posted today about the various ages. People started their businesses. as well as their careers. I was like, “Oh, I’m 30.” I can’t do this. ” Or I’m 40. I’m 50 years old, and I can’t do it. Hold up.

Dude,

People say this, right? But Colonel Sanders didn’t start KFC till he was in his 60s, right? There’s no time requirement based on your age to do something. I see people in their 80s that do slalom water skiing. I see people in their 70s that are bridge jumping or doing bungees. There’s no age record. There’s no limit to this stuff. Who is it?

Who puts that limitation on that mindset? right into everybody’s minds. That said, hey, this is when you reach this. You know, you should know better. It’s like when I reach out, I want to be doing ******** because then I’m living.

But there are no limits, right? We live in a no-limit world, and the only way people think they have limits is by being conditioned or told. And then they believed it and onboarded it like we had some kind of limit. There are no limits. If you look at my history, my stat sheet says I’ve moved all these times. And all his foster care people in my family tried to kill me. Like, what would you think of that person? They get a criminal record.

You were doomed for that life, literally due to that life, right?

Oh, foster, just foster care, right? Oh yeah, we don’t expect anything from these kids, and that’s just it. It’s a point of contention with abortion rights in whatever country they’re in. We’re in America, you know, they say, “Well, quality of life will be quality of life, not on abortion.” It’s a decision to have the kid. Now what? But people talk about how all this can end up in foster care and how it’s almost always Almost every time I’ve heard it explained, it’s like whoever’s in that situation. They are simply rejected by society, which has no expectations of them. Well, if you don’t expect anything from people, you’re not going to get anything from them.

Yeah, you have to expect whatever the standard is, and then once everyone hits the standard, you have to push that standard higher, and you’ve got to push it higher again and again to get the amazing things we’ve created.

Yeah, but if you expect very little to happen.

If you speak very little, you’ll often be disappointed.

Yeah, yeah, true true true, wow.

Well, you’ve had quite a life story, and I know it’s not always easy to share, especially since you know we sometimes have to talk about ourselves. And I think people want us to fill in the blanks because they hear little sprinklings of our little voices. I want to call him our little gold nugget, but that’s their golden nugget to latch onto because it came from real hard life experiences, and we can laugh about it now because we’ve overcome it. But it’s when you’re going through it. You are not ******* laughing about it. Let’s just put it that way.

Yeah, yeah.

And if we can save somebody else from going through the depths of what we had to go through, God. I hope we can.

Yeah, absolutely, but it’s so important to have these conversations because, as you said, when you first heard my voice, your jaw dropped to the floor. Sorry, because when you look at me, I’m a happy-go-lucky person. You’re a fun, engaging, average-looking white dude. Don’t expect that story to be attached to this.

I know I won’t agree with the average-looking one. But yeah, I’m going to say something a little sweeter. No, you’re not average-looking, honey. You’re above average. Oh, thanks; I think you are above average too. Also, the whole point is that everyone goes through a mountain of ****. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are, how much money you have in the bank, or what’s parked in your driveway; none of those matters. It matters because, at every level, what everyone does is hard. Especially if you’ve never done it before. Do you think it was easy to go through college for a year and a half? No, it was impossible. And then when I did it, I was like, “Oh well, it was easy.”

as soon as I complete it. Almost instantly, you feel like it was nothing because you made it through it, like well, if I made it, I’m like it can’t be that hard.

It’s great that you have a child, right? When you have a child, you know what you’re getting into, and then when you’re in it, you’re like, oh ****, I’m making it out of this, right?

But then, when but then you know. I raised two boys, and when you get out the other end, you’re like, “Wow, you know, I’m so glad you mentioned this earlier.” You guys had each discussed what your contribution was going to be to the relationship, right? And you know, she would stay home and be a mom. And please do not discount that, because that is one of the hardest jobs for rails, right? And the amount of stress that you’re under because you know you. When you’re a first-time mom too, you want to do it right, and I mean, you ****** up that.

But, regardless, you know you learn well. The second one doesn’t nearly get it as.

So first one, but baby, at your leisure, you’re less nervous and a little bit more casual and, well, like my wife. My wife deserves a lot of credit. A lot of the time, she was a single mom because I was deployed or at some school somewhere where I was going to be. I was in the Middle East during COVID when COVID started. I was. Two months before coming home, they talked about stopping everyone’s orders. To where people weren’t going to be able to transfer, and you know, transmit COVID, like she thought I would stay for another six months or longer. And you know, families, especially military families, where the person is gone for weeks, days, weeks, months, years on end, is just insane pressure. Because the paychecks were coming in, I wasn’t there to hold them. I could send her a note. I could call her or facetime her.

Then Let’s say yes, as we discussed with IRA. One thing you can’t ever get back is the time you know, and that’s the most precious commodity, but you know you have great relationships with.

I think that’s it. I think that says it all. I honestly did not know your whole story because, as I said, I put everybody like I generally just go, “oh, OK.” OK, OK. And then when I hear stories, I’m like, “Holy.” Falk did not see that one coming. It was a total blindside. Because you’re so naturally calm and serene, you’d never guess you had that type of chaotic personality.

You remember your childhood. And how could you have that much chaos in your life and still be happy? He’s so different now. You know, you just seem to have it all together.

Thank you; it means a great deal to me. This is because I spent years working on my healing—years of working out. I didn’t have the good examples that my mom and I had.

I had two stepdads during that time. You know, my dad had two other wives. My grandmother had four husbands. When we get the examples and every single bit of it. Life provides us with examples. Sometimes it’s an example of what to follow. Sometimes it’s an example of what not to do. There’s a little anecdotal story out there that talks about twins who had an alcoholic father. One twin was an alcoholic; the other one was a Fortune 500 company CEO, and they both had the same answer. When they say, “Why are you the way you are?” The alcoholic says, “Well, my father was an alcoholic.” I had no choice. And when he asked the other kid, the successful kid, what he attributed his success to, and you see, my father was an alcoholic,

I had no choice. He had no choice but to reject the example he was given, and the other twin did not. And the reality is that we all have a choice. Is it difficult? It is. But if you’re in a situation where you’re listening to this right now and you’re not happy with where you are, you’re not where you want to be.

You have to decide. You have to get visceral. You have to get emotional about the decision to break away from the programming you received from birth to 7 years old. You have to realize that unbeknownst to the person telling you. People have lied to you. They have projected their fears onto you. They told you you couldn’t do something when you could because they didn’t feel like you or your teachers could do it. Your pastor, friends, family, or whoever didn’t have the experience to tell you that something else was possible.

Here’s the deal: We all have the opportunity to design what we want our lives to look like.

Is it a fast process? It’s not. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I found the holy state of forgiveness that Dave Ramsey taught me.

I didn’t know that I shouldn’t have BS consumer debt because I never got taught, but I sought it out. The solution I was like, how am I supposed to get out of this? I asked the question. I said, “Hey, I’m in a place I don’t like. How do I get out of it? ” It took us a little more than ten years to pay off all our debt, and we did so when I retired from the Navy. My retirement plus the VA means I don’t have to earn any other money. But I earn a lot of money through podcasting, speaking, and a few other things, and we get to live the life we wanted because we took the time to design the life we wanted. Covid did a great thing for humanity and showed us that we don’t have to be tied to an office building, which means you can get hired at a New York firm and live there. Prices in Oklahoma City

I know it isn’t that fantastic.

It’s so fantastic. If you were listening to this right now, you would have to know that you are more than you think. You are more than you were told and are capable of doing anything. anything as possible. By the end of my life, we will probably have a colony on Mars. We’ll have teleportation as an option for travel because people are actively working on these things. What’s the thing that you’re going to solve? Are you going to be who you are and not be who you were meant to be? Or are you going to do what other people told you could do and put yourself in this tiny little box on a shelf? That said, you could only do this and nothing else. Who else are you going to believe?

So, we could.

Put people in cages and, you know, let them survive there because there’s this big, vast world out there, and you have a choice to decide what you want to do.

You don’t know what you want to do. Find a podcast dedicated to something you might be interested in. If you want to be told you’re more than you’re worth, you should probably listen to the Titan evolution. I guess. If you are interested in cryptocurrency, find a cryptocurrency podcast, and learn about it. If you want to get into business and don’t know how it could apply to you, listen to jailed entrepreneurs on fire and let them make all their money. Doing things tells you about a different way to do business. You can catch most of my shows if you want to learn about podcasts. Or you can go check it out. Titan podcast, titan.com, and see what we have available there. There are many things out there, but you have to pursue them. It’s probably going to cost you some money. Do you? What else costs money? Waiting costs, your money. Going to college costs your money. Working at a job cost you money because you’re not in the career you’re supposed to be in. You’re not learning the things you’re supposed to be learning. It’s going to cost you something. But if you do nothing, that will cost you even more. Because that means you might not get a site. for five years, for ten years. For 15 years from now. It just delays your progress, literally. It just delays your progress.

When I started listening to audiobooks, it changed my world because I could go on a bicycle ride for 13 miles and hear some expert in some field download their life experience into a few-hour audiobook that I could listen to while I was working out.

I was commuting. While running errands or cleaning the house, I listened to more than 60 books a year for three years. Do you think that changed who I was?

Oh wow.

You bet your life on it. You bet your assets on it. Yeah, you were coming down, yeah. I learned about the things that were possible. You learn about what’s possible. You understand some things. You learn a little bit more here. A little bit more there. You’re getting a group of like-minded people. They are dedicated to helping each other grow, develop, and do great things. Oh man, the ******* Beware, world. It changes. your life tremendously. I think that’s the problem. We get into a rut when we hang around the same people, and we expect things to change, but they never do. Is it because you’re not broadening its scope? You’re surrounding yourself with individuals. That is something you must do. If you’re around people complaining about their minimum wage job, they come home and get enough pot or beer for the weekend, and they spend all their money. Then they go back and do it again. They complain about it again, get enough money for a pot of beer for the weekend, and then do it again. What do you think it’s going to be? What is your life going to look like? It will look exactly like theirs if you’re hanging around with people. You are not in shape if you want to be. Start hanging around with people that go to the gym. Guess what? You’re going to wake up one more time to find your apps in the gym. Yep, and then it’ll be a daily occurrence. Yep, absolutely. Yeah, if you want to be more. Educated: Who’s educating themselves, who’s reading books? Who’s listening to audiobooks? Who’s listening to podcasts? Who’s going to college? What about those people? You’re going to find yourself. Being encouraged, you learn things he didn’t know you needed to know. If you want to lose your money, find people who play slots at the casino every day. You’ll find yourself in a casino and losing money every weekend. Like, who do you want to be like? What kind of person do you want to be?

Find those. People hang out. Is it easy? Because you have to give up on the security of what you have. Even if you complain about it every day, what we’re going to do is encourage you to let go of that mask. It costs way more energy to be who you’re pretending to be instead of who you’re meant to be. Oh God, a good way to end it. A great way to end it. Welcome to my Ted Talk. This was Travis Johnson.

Oh, Travis, thanks for sharing your story.

Hey, thanks for asking to hear my story.

I appreciate that, Carol, and thanks for being my partner in this endeavor as we co-host the Titan Evolution Podcast.

No, it’s been my pleasure and my honor. And I’m enjoying this because it hits home for me. I’m so glad that we’re able to do this together.