How to Make a Difference with Dean Wegner

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Are you a cog in the wheel? Do you want your life to make a difference? Dean Wegner joins Carol and Travis to share his story of leaving the military and joining the corporate world only to find he needed more. Dean wanted his life to make a difference. This led him to adopt a son from Ethiopia and start Authentically American, an apparel company made in America. 


{03:15} Adopting a son from Ethiopia.

{06:42} What makes Dean a Titan?

{07:41} Moving from the Military to the corporate world.

{12:15} Why corporations want to hire veterans.

{15:20} Dean’s journey

{24:20} Taking the entrepreneurship step.

{42:10} Overnight success in five years 

{52:15} How to overcome.

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Dean Wegner Bio

Dean is a dynamic and fearless leader, Veteran, entrepreneur, and highly sought-after keynote speaker. His journey to build an iconic American brand in Authentically American has captured the attention of national media outlets such as Fox & Friends, Forbes Magazine, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance, Newsmax TV, and SiriusXM Radio.

Dean graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rotary Wing Flight School, and the Army’s Special Forces Ranger School. His education, training, and 7-years of active-duty service in the Army have personified Dean to be a passionate and values centric servant leader. Post Army, Dean served in leadership roles in business development, marketing and strategy at Procter & Gamble and Mars, Inc.

In 2017, Dean founded his current company from a blank sheet of paper. Authentically American is a Veteran owned, American made, premium apparel brand. They are a company that celebrates patriotism, believes in the American worker, and honors our American heroes by intentionally donating 10% of profits to Veteran and First Responder charities.

Dean speaks transparently and intelligently about the challenges and rewards experienced through entrepreneurship and pursuing one’s passion. As a former Division 1 ice hockey player, Dean is highly competitive and possesses a tireless work ethic.

Dean is a man of the deep Christian faith, a family man (married 26 years), and a father of 4 children (youngest adopted from Ethiopia). He is active in his church and community, serving on the boards of both for-profit and non-profit companies and organizations.

Connect with Dean:

Hey guys, welcome back to the show. I’m Carol Carpenter and that is my co-host, Travis Johnson we have a special guest on the podcast today. Dean Wagner.

Dean is a veteran and entrepreneur in 2017. He launched an Authentically American, veteran-owned American-made premium apparel brand, donating 10% of the profit. To veteran and 1st Responder Charities, Dean and Authentically American have been featured in Forbes Magazine, Fox News, NASDAQ, Newsmax TV, and SiriusXM radio. Welcome, Dean.   

Honored to be a guest Carol and Travis. Thank you very much.   

Thank you for being on the show and making time.   

Absolutely, my pleasure and, you know, given the stories I’ve heard about this podcast and the dialogues you have, I’m quite excited, but also a little nervous.

Toby is just. Really, coffee with friends, right? Travis is just coffee with friends.   

Yeah, in that I have friends, but I don’t drink coffee. Is that what you mean?   

I’ll drink enough for both of us.   

I’m sure you will. I’m sure you will. I’m one of those.  

Today, so yes, I will be with you. You, even though Travis is abstaining. 

Thank you.   

I’m abstaining. There’s a good portion of the world that’s not interested in coffee, and usually we, just keep that to ourselves, and then the follow-up question is always do you drink tea, or what kind of tea you drink them why must I have A hot caffeine option in my repertoire it’s not needed. 22 years in the Navy, and never needed it. I don’t know what it is about you guys. That is weak that you can’t get yourself through the day going without coffee.   

Oh, dude, don’t you even start, we’re going to.   

I just don’t get it.   

Start throwing daggers first thing this morning. Seriously now yeah.   

Well, for me and Dean, it’s afternoon so.   

You guys are **** heads.   

There were shipped away two of the caffeine, so.   

Oh, that’s perfect.   

Low caffeine hey I’m from Seattle let’s just say. We know our coffee. We love our coffee.   

Well, my youngest son, Carol he’s only 12, but he claims that he should have a right to drink coffee because we adopted him from Ethiopia and that’s the birthplace of coffee.   

Ask you yeah about that so. That I find that extremely interesting. How did you come about adopting your son from Ethiopia? 

We’ll give you a quick background, Carol so. My wife Kelly and me. We’ve been married for 28 years and our priorities in life align with God, family, and country. And we’ve got four amazing kids, so we’ve got two daughters, 24 and 21. We have an 18-year-old son and a 12-year-old son we adopted 10 years ago from Ethiopia. And here’s a shocking statistic. There are 150 million. 150 million orphans in the world who don’t have a mom or dad. 

Oh jeez.   

We don’t have a loving home and my wife Kelly, and I talked to and prayed about it. And we couldn’t adopt all of them, but we could adopt one. And it’s amazing. He’s been with us for 10 years. And what an incredible blessing he’s having. And it’s amazing. Just the domino effect because we are stretched with four kids and can’t imagine having anything else on top of life. 

But you know the number of people that have adopted after meeting him after hearing his story just being a part of it and it’s Incredible just to see the impact and even my oldest daughter who’s not dating anyone right now. You know, she’s told us that she’s planning when she gets married at some point. Wants to have kids to also adopt.   

That’s just so sweet, so your son sounds like he’s a negotiator.   

He is and he has these big bright cue ball eyes, and it is hard to say no. 

Yeah, yeah.   

And we found this out. I forget Caroline, it was three or four years ago we were on a family cruise. And you know the daughters had their room. Our sons had their room, and my wife and I had our room, and we walked in one morning. And if you’ve been on a cruise, you can order whatever. You want in the room. Service he was there just sipping a cup of coffee, and this was.   

Oh, dear God.  

Like his second or third one. And he does not run short of energy, so you can imagine he was just bouncing off the wall all day long, so we had yeah so, we had to put in a special request to the staff to say no caffeine, no coffee.   

Pinging all over the place.   

Come to this room.   

Just like Americans oppressing other countries I can hardly believe it.   

Oh, stop.

You know, as a five-time foster kid, I really appreciate the fact that you would reach out and extend your home. Extend your family. To a kid from another country. That means a lot.   

Yeah, I remember you and me talking that before Travis and you know I made two trips to Ethiopia when we adopted him and the first one was to appear before the judge and the general message was Dean and Kelly, you do know this is a lifetime commitment. This is not just six months a year, A couple of years, this is a lifetime. And I cannot imagine in any other way it’s been an incredible journey. It’s not been easy because he’s super busy and you know it’s enough for two or three kids on his own, but it’s been an incredible journey.   

Yeah, it certainly has been. What’s the gotcha day on that when someone adopts a kid, they call it a gotcha day and something to be celebrated and remembered.   

It is so that is. June, I’m sorry. May 29th of 2012. Not many people know that gotcha day history.   

Yeah, I know. I know that’s what we going to talk about, things that people don’t know about shows like this. You know, opening your home is a big deal, and that means a lot. 

And what else would you say makes you a Titan?   

So, I think that’s a personal example, Travis, but I am really embracing the idea that one of the things that drive me is this insatiable desire to know that I’m making a difference. And that was a personal motivation. My wife Kyle and I said here is an opportunity for us to make a difference in a scale’s life. But that’s what ultimately drove me to be an entrepreneur. You know, going from big business Fortune 500 companies to being an entrepreneur to ultimately make a difference. And to me, that’s a big part of being a Titan. How you step up. And how you know and everything you do strive to make a difference.   

Yeah, I love the phrase showing up. You know when you show up and you’re present and you’re there and you are persevering, that is amazing. 

So, when you got out of the military, then that’s when you went to work for Mars and Procter and gamble like immediately after. 

It’s funny Carol because I tell everybody now, I’m a veteran and an entrepreneur. But when I left the army in 2000, couldn’t even spell entrepreneur.   

I’m having a hard time with it now, yeah?   

Hey guys, they’re spell check. I’m just saying you know.  

I still use it to this day, but you know, I think back to those days and what I’ve realized is so often we’re a product of our environment and had an amazing family growing up and my dad was a 30-year engineer for Alcoa. And most of his friends, and most of our neighbors worked for big companies. 

And when I left the army in 2000, what did? I think I was going to. Do work for a big company. That was the only. World I knew and that is what I did. I worked for Procter and Gamble, worked for Mars and both are incredible companies. They’re both world-class marketing and branding companies that worked on brands like Crest and Tide and M&M’s. 

But what I realized Carol, at one point, you know? Procter and Gamble is an $80 billion company. 80 billion. Mars Travis is half the size, but still a $40 billion company. And what I realized at one point is that although I had big jobs and was well paid, if you pull me out. The next guy steps right up and the machine doesn’t skip a beat, and that’s the way it’s designed, and I truly wrestled with it. Am I making a difference? Am I truly making a difference if I am that replaceable and that was the initial catalyst to become an entrepreneur?   

I like that. Did you have that same feeling leaving the military that you weren’t making a difference?   

I think it was less so there is Travis. I think I had a feeling that. Sense of pride in making a difference by serving our country. I mean, you served in the Navy and I’m sure you felt this too. It was a higher sense of purpose. It wasn’t, you know you are part of a machine, part of a cog in the machine, and as part of it, but you know ultimately, you’re serving a higher sense of purpose. 

And I thought back my seven years were a relative period of calm, but I thought back to the first Gulf War while I was at West Point. And you know, it really hits home on why they wear that uniform, so I wasn’t really missing that there. It’s a long story on a, you know, the opportunity to really step up and be rewarded for performance, but that was not missing there. But it really started to be missing in big companies.   

I can see that in the part of the Navy. That was in a Report to US Starcom, which is for people listening who don’t know that they take care of all the nuclear weapons and all the systems involved with that. It’s a fantastic place to be. It’s a fantastic system to be in, but someone that’s geared for entrepreneurship like you or like myself. Or like Carroll, it doesn’t make a lot of sense because the Navy that reports to Starcom just follows what the procedures are. There’s no room for growth there’s no room for creativity. There’s no room for that. 

And when I started podcasting when I started learning about entrepreneurs. And I realized the Navy didn’t have a place for me anymore. It was nice to find out that after I’d already done 22 years and I could retire and get a paycheck right away, right? 

But like as soon as, I learned that stuff as learned it and knew it applied to me like I couldn’t. I couldn’t be in the Navy any longer because… Yes, I get paid on the 1st and 15th, but there’s no room for me. There was no room for Travis. There was only room for whoever was in that uniform. Didn’t matter who they were if they were that uniform there was room. But the person inside the uniform didn’t matter, and that bothered me a lot.   

Interesting to hear the say that Travis, because this was after I left Procter and gamble after I left Mars. But I learned about the word entrepreneur. And I realized after hearing that word, that was what I was within those big companies. Because Carol, you know so often I would hear people say, Dean, what are you doing? And like what do you mean? And they would say, well, that’s not the Proctor way, or that’s not the Martian way, and I would hear stories like, hey, we’ve been doing this for 10 years, 20 years I’ve been doing it forever and it works, and I never did things just to go ahead and shake it up. But sometimes you know you look at things a little bit differently. You look at things creatively and didn’t know it back then, but that was that. The entrepreneurial spirit within me just waiting to get out.   

Well, did you guys find being in the military too? Like so many big companies hire you to know veterans, and typically if you’re in the military, you follow orders really well, right? And so maybe there’s a reason why they pick veterans because they know that you know there’s a great deal of them that will just follow orders, not ask questions. And did you find that they did that in these big companies that there were quite a few hires that were veterans?   

That was absolutely the case, Carol to your points and Travis you remember there were SOPs, and there were checklists. There were upwards. I mean, it was a very structured plan, and in a big company like Procter and Gamble you know they had a whole military recruiting group. 

And that was a whole, you know, program. How do we bring in, you know, people that have great leadership experience in the military? Have the incredible commitment, character, and work ethic and then apply that in business and teach them what they need to know so it was very much to your point. Carol pronounced recruiting strategy, you know, to bring in a lot of junior military officers into these big companies.  

Yeah, the three things that I’ve heard were leadership, discipline, and knowledge of systems, because that is exactly what the corporate world uses. 

A few years ago, I can’t remember when I read this. They had a stat that said that there was a naval officer that served in some capacity on the board of every single Fortune 500 company. Because if we what we had to understand about systems. 

If you want to know something specific about this plaque right behind me right here, right? You would ask the Air Force because whatever that one thing is, they go 10 miles deep and they know all about that. But if you want to know a system you would talk to the Navy because we were always out on our own. We had to do everything without other people, right? You’ve got 5,000 people in the aircraft carrier. You got to fight your own tires you’ve got to cut hair. You’ve got to place the area you have to paint you. Must do everything right? The plumber plumbing brakes on a ship. You’re not calling a plumber to fly them out to the aircraft carrier. You have people on board that know how to do those things. Plus run the reactor right.

The corporate world found out about these things long ago and I don’t know. I don’t understand why small business hasn’t figured this out yet, but big businesses know without a doubt that if they get naval officers, army officers, and Marine Corps officers to come into their company, whatever department, whatever section they have, they’re going to basically hand off and let them run that because they know we know how to do it.  

Very true. You and I have both lived that firsthand.   

Yeah, absolutely Dean absolutely. So, tell us a little bit about your background. What does someone that’s meeting you for the first time on this show? What do they have to understand about Dean in the past to understand Dean now and in the future?   

So, one of the things that were also part of what I mentioned army related was you know. Incredible work ethic. And drive and perseverance and commitment. And I had a lesson in that thanks to the army Travis back after graduating from West Point.

And Carol, one of the things you do your senior year at West Point is you. Choose which branch? And I didn’t realize it back then when I first entered, but there are 18 different choices. There was infantry, the heart, and soul of the armor. There was the army. There’s armor, driving tanks, and field artillery. All these combat arms. But then there are also all these combat support and combat service support branches, so whether it’s transportation or finance or medical service logistics, there are a lot of choices. 

And I narrowed it down to two. You know one was infantry, which is the heart and soul of the army. The other one was aviation. And carry remember the 1st. Top Gun in that movie. That was one of my favorite movies growing up. And I thought to myself, I would look ultra-cool in a full suit. 

And that is ultimately the route I went. But part of me during flight school kept wondering, did I make the right choice? Because if you want to be a general in the Army, the best route to go is the infantry. There is the most you-know group there and that is the legacy of the army, and that’s where it started. So, I kept wondering, did I Make the right choice at flight school the commander made an announcement and said guys once it a lifetime opportunity we’re going to have a competition. And send one of you to Ranger School. And I thought Carol here was my chance to see how the other half lived. And I was very fortunate, won that competition and found out just how miserable it is. Thanks, Jeff.   

I’m careful what you wish for.   

You’ve got it in. Travis, I didn’t know it back then, but Ranger School was such great training for leading a startup. And here’s why. So, on day one, there were 340 of us. And there’s a lot of military doctrine and tactics at Ranger School, but at its core, it’s a leadership school. And what they do is deprive you of everything you think you need to survive, namely food and sleep. And then puts you in an incredibly stressful situation. So again, on day one there were 340 of us, so for 72 days straight, if you make it straight through. You live on one meal a day. And two to three hours of sleep a night. 

Good God.   

So, we’ve lost over 80% of our class there are only 70 of us left on graduation day and Travis here was the tie to being an entrepreneur because, Ranger School is all about no sleep and incredible stress, and that’s the life I’m living now.  

It sounds about right.  

really relate.  

That sounds about right, you know.   

As I say that that’s one example of just the commitment and work ethic and drive, and you know, I was also a hockey player at West Point.  

But I really wasn’t that good. I was a fourth-line grinder and I had to work because I didn’t have that great of skills. But you know that something that is just a big hallmark of mine is that I may never be the most talented. I’m not the smartest one, but, you know, by golly, I’m going to outwork.   

You’re not going to. Give up.   

Mm-hmm, that was one of the great things about Michael Jordan because he wasn’t the tallest. He wasn’t the fastest. He wasn’t the strongest, and when he finally got a sidekick and Scotty Pippin when he finally had someone else to take a little bit of the pressure off him. 

You know that’s what turned him into the greatest player ever because you were never going to play with more ferocity than Michael Jordan played with. 

I love that series. Oh my God. The last dance was so beautiful.   


Oh my God.   

See the shack one on HBO.   

Yeah no, no.  

Now Oh my.   

God that is great.  

It is good. 

Yes, it’s.   

Like OK, what’s it called?  

I think it’s just called Shack, but it’s four-part series. And they talk about him and his personality because Shaq was an army brat his dad when he started playing basketball was in Germany. And his dad was enlisted in the army. 

And a lot of people don’t know that stuff about him. And like Shaq today you see him in all these commercials because he partners and does joint ventures with all these different brands. And he’s an owner. He owns something like I don’t even…. I’m just making up a number at this point… but it’s north of 30 brands that he owns or is a major partner within. That’s why you see him everywhere doing everything. He’s a big jokester. My big, big joke Sir yeah.   

Really big literally.   

One of Papa John’s commercials right now, and he Is it, you know, entrepreneur himself?   

Absolutely he is absolutely, and he credits that to Magic Johnson. When Shaq joined the Lakers, he was mentored by Magic Johnson. Even though Magic was no longer playing the game, one of the first things he taught him is this, you know, going to be over someday, how much you going to be worth, how much many assets you’re going to have, what business is going to be involved in when this is all over. Because it’s going to end someday, we’re going to have when it’s done.   

He obviously listened.   

He obviously listened. I’ve got a few people that have mentored me over my time and I’m sure we all do here, and they give me a lot of credit for the things that I showed them. And all that stuff. And it feels good. But if you’re listening to this right now, all the advice in the world doesn’t make a bit of it. The difference is if you never take any action on it.   

Yep, the whole adage. Of lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.   

So that was what I found, the hardest step is the first step. You sound like should I go? Should I go? But then when you take that first step you know then the momentum starts building. You start going from there, but the hardest one is that very first step. That very first big. League Leap of faith.   

Well, speaking of a leap of faith, how did you get involved in yours? You know, the development of your company and creating your company, and was there a reason you chose this industry?  

So, Carla, it ties back to my DNA and that insatiable desire to know that I’m making a difference. And authentically American we are in the apparel business. We’re an apparel brand and we’ve got an amazing product. And it’s all made here in the US. And to give an idea of how rare American made is when I graduated from West Point 93, / 50% were made in the US. Today it’s 3.5.   

Oh, that’s so sad.   

3.5 is all that’s made here. 

And that was the vision Carol had five years ago when we launched in 2017 from a blank sheet of paper. You know we wanted to be in the apparel business, but we wanted to ultimately make a difference. We wanted to create American jobs and after five years, I’m exhausted.  

I had no idea.  

It’s hard to be a leader.   

And you know, part of the reason ties back to the days at Procter and Gamble and Mars. Everything I took for granted in those big companies, you know, supply chain systems, you know, process team, cash flow, everything you know we’ve had to build from the ground up. 

But as exhausted as I am, I am even more energized because I truly feel like I have an opportunity to make a difference.  And it’s interesting, we just recently got some macro numbers, but you know, playing the numbers out a little bit more detail in 2017 when we launched authentically American from a blank sheet of paper. That number made in the US was 2.7. 

So, five years later, it’s now up to 3.5%, so a 30% increase in the industry is not in our business. The industry. And if we go from 3 to 6%, I mean that will more than double the industry and put that in perspective. Think of any industry that doubles. I mean, that’s what we’re excited about. 

And you know, Travis, I love that you’re rocking one of our polos, and you know that you’re wearing American-made, but you know that Ultimately, Carol is the vision that we build this iconic American brand is truly an amazing product and people have a sense of pride wearing it because they know that it’s helping create American jobs. And we’ve got a long Rd ahead of us? I mean, it’s been an incredible grind with COVID and everything we had to do. Deal with it, but I feel like we’re having an opportunity.   

Oh yeah.   

To make a difference.   

What a wonderful story.   

Yeah, I fully agree when you were taking that entrepreneurship step, you talked about a few of those things, but what drove you to start your own business and then to choose apparel as your specific industry?   

Well, Travis, no one has ever accused me of being a snappy dresser. So, it wasn’t the apparel I wore, but you know, back to not being able to spell entrepreneur. I didn’t think. I had it in me to start a business from scratch. And you know the catalyst about wanting to make a difference. So, the path I chose initially to be an entrepreneur was acquiring a business. So, in 2012 you know, bought my first business. And Travis will be one that you’re familiar with because it was a government contractor that produced dress uniforms for the military. So, Travis, you remember the Navy broad fall trousers.   

Yeah, yeah.   

So, Carol, that was one. Of our contracts. Know we also.   

You didn’t say that enthusiastically, yeah?   

So, Dean might know this, but something most people don’t know. That, especially outside the military, is not actually in control of their uniforms. They have contracts and different things like that, so even if they want to change, they might have a contract that goes for 12 more years to produce something that’s out of date and something that’s hated before they come out with something new. 

So, then they change the contracting system to allow for more flexibility and then you have new uniforms coming out like every two years so. In the Navy, I spent 22 years in the Navy, and when I joined. There were still people walking around n these dungarees, these old-school prison uniforms, as they would wear in the Shawshank Redemption. That’s what the Navy Dungaree was, was that light blue shirt, dark blue jeans and they had like boondocking boots like the short rise, and they went to utilities, which is just a cloth version of the jeans style that it was. I’ve got 18 different uniforms.   

Oh my God.   

It’s disgusting, the expense is obscene, especially when you get down to the individual and they give you something like a clothing allowance every year if you’re enlisted. If you’re an officer and they change uniforms, you don’t get clothing on. It comes out of your pocket, and some of these. Some of these uniforms, like the dress uniform, cost hundreds of dollars each, and if you’re supposed to have 1/5 or 10 sets of them. This is all coming out of your pocket, and it’s not being controlled by the military. It’s being controlled by the clothing manufacturer tracks to tell you what you’re going to get and what you’re going to wear, what and why, and to go through a change is an enormous process that takes years sometimes to get all the details done to create one.   

Oh my God.   

It’s obscene.   

Well, you could tell from his reaction. There was a story behind it and then.   

Yeah, every time I look over and I see his face and he does something I’m like oh there’s something going on there.  

We must go down that Rd.   

Be a great poker player because you can tell.   

You know it’s funny you mentioned that because I actually have made thousands of dollars playing poker I use. To host a poker league, I used to win tournaments. The ring my wife is wearing is the one that I want enough money to buy her an upgraded ring for her five-year anniversary. 

That’s a great story there, but it sounds like there’s the podcast Travis that is full of facial expressions and emotion. And then there’s the poker playing.   

There, there’s at least there’s at least 2. Travis’s like as much as this little raw, real uncut story. The uncut me has facial expressions and emotional reactions. The poker Travis and got none of that.   

puts the shades on   

He shuts it down, yeah?   

It’s scary, Carol.   

If you’re not watching the video right now. You were just cheating yourselves out of a great time.  

Oh my God.   

You’re missing out.   

You really are.   

Yeah, yeah.   

So, Dean, I got to know something, tell it, tell us something about yourself. Then most people don’t know. Do you have some hidden abilities? Can you like cut a deck of cards with one hand? Can you solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute? What is it about you that most people don’t know?   

What’s your superpower?   

So, I’ll just share a fun little factoid that goes all the way back to. Let’s see, this would have been 1994. So, Travis, I was a guest on the price, right? So come on down Dean Wagner, you’re the next contestant. The price is right.  

Yeah, that’s.   

No way.   

Did you make it on stage?   

How fun was that?   

What’s that?   

Did you make it on the stage?   

I did it on stage, so it was literally Dean Wagner. Come on down, you’re the next contestant and I was Carol, the second person called.   

That is awesome. How far did you go?   

So, this is both a fun and exciting story, but an embarrassing story because. We that show set a record. For the altering number of global bids.   

Oh, all the first contestants. Three of them stayed. Put all the whole show.   

Not all of them, but. I did Travis, I was there. So, this is an example of who the winner in the family is and who the loser in the family is. So, I have stuck in the contestants’ row the entire show and we set a record for over biz, and I was one of them. Helping drive it so. My parting gifts were women’s sportswear and garlic tablets, so I had those nice parting gifts.  

Yeah, I can see that working for you, Dean.   

Yeah, so then a month later they were back, and my wife Kelly.   

Garlic tablets Oh my God. Remember them selling those.   

My wife Kelly was called so Kelly Wagner come on down and I was the 1st 4 contestants of the second one called. She was the very last one to call. So, she had one chance to get up there, and sure enough, she did. And she did the dice game, so she had a. Chance to win a car. And she won a Dodge Dakota truck. For us so.  

No way.  

So, Carol, you can see who the winner and the family is and who the loser and the family is.   

That’s funny, I really don’t take kindly to you talking down to yourself, but it is funny.  

Oh my God, that.   

Is funny.   

And Travis this was, you know, I was wearing, you know, my military uniform, and when it’s funny because Bob Barker if you remember Bob, I mean just fun and folksy.   

It’s all in jest.   

And after the show, he’s just, you know, entertaining. Having a little fun with the crowd and we’re standing up. There, and he’s like Dean. When you came up here, you looked like such a winner. And here you are at the end of the show, still hanging out with me. So, he had a little bit of fun, but he was a great guy and just had an incredible experience. And Travis. It was interesting because. You know I had an opportunity to go ahead and do some fun things. We were right there in the high desert of California, and I got on the one time my wife got on. So, we brought three other trips where we brought, you know, our unit there. You know our company. And each of those three times you know if somebody from our unit was able to get on stage, and the story was going around was like, well, Dean’s best buddies with. Bob Barker because. Every time he goes, somebody gets on the show.   

Does somebody get called? Yeah, that’s funny.   

Somebody calls. Yeah, that sounds like a great time, except for you know you standing in the contestant’s row, just not getting it. You find yourself like you watch the show, and you like to yell. At the people be like. No, don’t do what I did do this instead.   

I have not. A long time, but back then it was fun to watch and just think you know what I was in there. Shoes I was there. It was fun just to. The real experience.   

I know from watching the show myself that I have no idea how much those. Things cost. I’m either way over or way under. I have no clue. I don’t know like is it based on like California prices. Maybe that’s why I don’t know. Is it based on? The national average, I don’t know. 

I have no idea, but it is a fun show, and that’s what that Carol was my very first national TV appearance. And you know, it wasn’t until launching authentically American. It had to be an opportunity to be. Back on national TV.   

Nice, it’s the funny price is right was the one thing that my grandmother would watch nonstop she didn’t really speak English, and she would sit in front of the TV and yell. And it was so hysterical. I just she was adorable, and I would just sit. There and just laugh my *** off. Because she didn’t speak a wording, you know, a word of English, and she’d be yelling in a different language. Like you dummy.   

My grandma was the same way, Carol. She did every day.   

It was entertainment for them for sure.   

No doubt about it.   

I’m waiting for you, Travis.   

I’m waiting for you, Carol.   

He’s got a poker face. On there. He does, he does. He’s waiting.   

He looks at her he’s looking at something.   

I’m looking, I’m looking for full transparency. I’m looking at the price right on Wikipedia right now because I don’t think Bob Barker was the first host. Or was he? Was he the first guy?   

I don’t know if he was the 1st. But he was. The longest running. 

I don’t know. Yeah, yeah.   

I don’t know why I care like the only one. The time I ever. 

Yeah, I don’t know either. 

Watch the price is right like when I was. Sick at home. You know on the couch eating terrible, like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup in the 80s and you’re like what’s on? Daytime TV? It’s all these soap operas and a couple of game shows and just bad television.   

But you couldn’t choose. Right, because it’s whatever was on at the time, it’s. Not like we have nowadays where we can. Just dial it. Up and, you know, put it on.   

Well, I never had cable either, so. Like it was like. You channel U at the top of the dial. Or sometimes I would get like one other channel. So, it was either that or nothing and we didn’t have.  

You needed the Bunny ears.  

Yeah, yeah, we didn’t have a library, right? We didn’t have like a lot of books or anything. I had either terrible crappy daytime TV or I could like play with Legos. Which wasn’t a bad option, but like that’s that was the end of my options.  

Hmm yeah.   

Nathan thinks back to those days. Claire with the rabbit ears and you’re playing with. The antennas now.   

Oh, I remember you would stand there. You lift a leg, you lift an arm, they’d say stay so everybody could watch it clearly so.  

And I and so many other kids were the original remote control. I mean back to the old knobs and. My dad would be like a son. Switch it and I’d stand up there and keep switching and switching it.   

I swear to God like the young folks that are listening to this. Don’t remember the Rotary phone. Don’t remember any of that stuff, right? If you talk, I have a Discover Card that I use and it’s. In it. Looks like a cassette tape. No joke, only the people when I’m using it, you know that are old enough to know what it is. Love it. The Youngins I don’t even think they know they don’t even recognize what it is.  

Then you know it is.   

They just think it’s a design and it just makes me laugh. I’m like, oh wow.   

I’m old, they showed Superman the original Superman too. A group of second graders. And they liked it. It was, it was exciting, but there was a question that they didn’t expect to get asked. At the end of it. But the question was. What’s a phone booth?   

No ****** way.   

Yeah, they don’t know what phone booths are. How many payphones you see around town?   

You don’t do you, yeah.   

If you do see one, if you do, see.  

You don’t pay attention. 

One it’s a little cubby. Right, but it’s not a booth. You can’t open the door and go inside and shut the door. It’s a little cubby or something on the wall. It’s not a. It’s not a booth. They just don’t know, because they’ve never.   

So funny, I didn’t even think about that.   

Seen it before.   

Yeah, little nuances.  

Little nuances.   

Well, like when they came out with cell phones. One of them asked a question they had never been asked before on the telephone where in order to call someone before you had to know where they were to dial the right number to get them on the phone. When cell phones came, you can. Be anywhere. So where are you right now? Because you weren’t at your desk. You weren’t at home. 

True, true true 

I’m in the grocery store in the grocery store on your cell phone. It’s amazing, it’s mind-blowing. 

We take.   

Like, how is this policy?   

That for granted, now you know like you’re, you’re talking with headsets walking through Costco, having a conversation, and getting you to know the food for your family, right? I mean, nowadays we don’t. Even think about it. 

Now they get. Like these little implants that sit inside your ear and gals with like hair that comes over. I was having dinner on the way back from Florida this last. Time and there’s this girl over at the end of the park talking to herself. And I hear something, and I see where she’s looking and I’m like she’s on the phone. You cannot tell by looking at her. So, if you walk by and just hear you like you just think this. The woman’s talking to herself and back when.   

Yep, she’s insane.   

Back in the 80s like that was cause for concern. Did you? Did you hear that that old man Witherspoon was talking to himself again at the grocery store, and now it’s commonplace?   

Hence the origin of the name mobile phone.   


We go anywhere.   

Will we go anywhere?   

So, what’s next for you, Dean?    

So, I’m pretty boring right now. It’s, you know, God, family, country, and then being an entrepreneur. So you had mentioned you know being present earlier, so that’s one of the things I’m very intentional about. You know, in the midst of you know the long, long hours Carol that you know being an entrepreneur, that you can put in, you know, we still make sure we make time for date nights with my wife. We still make sure that we are present and coaching and being there with our four kids. So that will always be there, Travis. 

We also keep the daily PT routine going. They’re not an hour-long workout. So, as you know. They’re quicker 20-30 minutes, so you know take care of the personal side, but as exhausting and as tiring as the last five years have been incredibly energizing because we have just been grinding away and we’ve been slowly growing 20 30 40% a year. So, in Tamarind, we were pleased. With that, but. I feel Carol and you’ll relate to this. Being an entrepreneur, we’re about to be. An overnight success story. Five years in the making 

Yep, everybody thinks it’s an overnight success. But Holy cow man, it takes years to get there.   

And I’ll show you one innovative product. And Travis, I think you have one, or at least seen it so. Our sweat-activated.  


This is my least favorite demonstration that he does because he’s going to pull out an army shirt right now and he’s going to spray water on it because when you go into the workout and you sweat, it’s sweat activated. There are words that. Show up that isn’t that you can’t see right now.   

Well, I had to do this given the army to be here.   

Yeah, yeah, I’m not going to spoil it. I’m going to let you give the demo and I’m going to turn my camera on. 

Carol, I’m sure you’ve got it.   

come on.  

So, we’re going to have a little fun with this now with our friend Travis, the Navy veteran because this is part of our collegiate license so you can see the GO Army printed and. One thing to highlight Carol I. I Wish you were here in person because if you could feel this. You would be like that’s got to be the softest T-shirt I’ve ever felt.

And that’s by design because who doesn’t love? A nice soft shirt. The other thing is the print. These are the ones that you’ve bought in the past, most of them in your closet. They have that heavy plastic salt ink. And on a hot summer day, it will stick to your chest. Washed a few times will crack, and ours are designed to be soft across the board, so the fabric of the print to include tagless because nobody likes A tag, but here’s now the innovation that Travis loves. This sweat-activated innovation. So, the Great Army-Navy rivalry. So, Carol watches what happens when I spray the shirts.  

For those of you not watching the video, he sprayed the shirt, and it said Go army on the front and then the sweat activation says to beat the Navy. 

That’s hysterical.   

So, Carol, all in honor of my good friend Travis we had to do this.   

You know it’s. It’s funny that the rivalry between services because my daughter was 15 before she ever saw the Navy lose to the army. Army Navy game. Because we had 14 years. 

There was quite a run there. It was a painful one.   

14-year winning streak they have a satire site called Duffel Blog where they make fun of all the things in the military and there was an article that came out probably about the 12th win. It says that the army football was losing on purpose, so the army officers would know what it would be like on the battlefield.   

Now I don’t like that story as much, but.   

OH, what’s wrong, Dean, you don’t like it when she was on. The other foot, Umm, weird.   

My God digs it in.   

Here, here’s where we’ll tie to, you know, back to being an entrepreneur and being an overnight success story five years in the making because we have just been grinding away and you know this shirt that everyone loves. We have done hundreds of custom designs. And the minimum is only 24. So, we’ve had prostate gym.   

Oh, that is such a low minimum.   

It is and that was an intentional choice because the most common business in the US is the small business. So, on the client side of our business, we now have Fortune 500 companies. We’ve got big veterans’ charities that Travis knows like Wounded Warrior and Tunnel to towers, which Travis has made that introduced team Red Wine Blues. We’ve had over 150 veteran cherries that we work with, but you know the minimum is 24, but we are literally. Had a top ten accounting firm order of 27,000. 27,000.   

insane yes, freaking insane so is that technology. The sweat-activated is that you know something you guys developed or was this just? 

So, it is.  

How did it come about?   

So, it is not proprietary. But I believe business is the ultimate Team sport I mentioned how I’m a hockey player and still playing a men’s beer league now. But even if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re going to need a banker. You’re going to need an attorney. You’re going to need a CPA, and we have contract manufacturers across the US and 11 states. 

Carol, this T-shirt we make in Texas, so the raw fabric, but we have somebody else that helps us with the printing that we contract to and provide the specs. And two years ago, I was at his shop. And he’s like Dean, I just came across this incredible technology and he described it. It was sweat activated, and you know, a hidden message magically appears like would you like to do some testing with me? I’m like I absolutely would. That’s incredible, you know, I love to exercise, love to get after it and it has been a home run because apparel is ubiquitous. 

Carol, I joke that unless you live in a nudist colony, you can make a choice every day on what shirt you’re going to wear, and this has been so unique and so innovative you know it’s something that is a part. But the technology has been around for 10 years.   

Oh, I’ve never even seen it before. Now the question is, does it only work on light fabrics, or does it work on dark fabrics too? You know, is there a certain range of colors that you must get those shirts for work where? You can see it.   

Well, Travis as advertised you told me Carol is sharp because she’s picking up on, you know the technology because it works great on medium colors and the two that we’ve found work is the athletic Gray and an olive color.   

OK. Oh, interesting.   

Because the way this works is if you can see. For example, you know the V. Here in the Navy. You know, think of that old Scotch guard technology. It’s oversimplified, but in that sense, you know where you see the light letters. You know, Scotch guards are applied so the moisture doesn’t penetrate, so if this is a black shirt or on the opposite end of the spectrum of a white shirt, you don’t see that contrast, so the letters don’t appear.   

Right, right? So, it must Be of some color.   

Yes, so the medium tones work out well.   

Yeah, the water’s got to turn it dark.   

Yep, and then athletic Gray since you know, just like the name implies, athletic, you’re there working out. That works out well, but we’ve also had the olive color be very popular because we serve a lot of veterans and Travis, you know that all the pretty popular colors that olive green with the military.   

I don’t get it. That must be an army marine Corps thing because the Navy and Air Force prefers blue.   

I love how he is just kind. Of rolls, his eyes like guys.   

Well, we’ve been. Rolling our eyes for a couple of years already, so this isn’t new for us.   

I love it. I think that’s amazing technology. I didn’t even know. About it, so cool. 

And Carol, that’s really, ultimately, what’s most important because we are a consumer brand. And we talk extensively about being better known. We highlight how important it is to choose American-made when you can because you helped create American jobs. But at the end of the day, nothing else matters unless we deliver an amazing product experience.   

Got to be quality.   

If Carol, if you said, hey Dean, that looks so cool, I’m going to order one for my boyfriend and your boyfriend gets it and you had hyped up how this isn’t a Great American-made company and how it’s all American-made and he’s like Carol the shirts. Thinks I mean, who cares where it’s made? Because he’s never wearing it. You’re never buying from us again.   

He’s never yeah. Yeah, well, he’s Canadian so he. May not feel as…   

So, we’ve got a whole bunch of different designs, but the whole point is, you know whether it’s a T-shirt, socks polo. You know that’s what’s most important that we deliver an amazing product experience. That’s awesome.   

See, I think you can sell this in Canada, right? Like Buy American made to support the military that protects you.   

That one I don’t think he’s going to buy that one.   

That’s all right. He’s not in charge of buying dollars for anyone. Is he just his stuff? I don’t know, does he have a company? Have no idea.   

He does, and he does well. He used to have three. And they got shut down by COVID.   

I’ve got a couple of friends in Canada, and I’ve got the head of my production team just outside Toronto, and the stuff that she tells me about how Canada is going. I’m sure he feels the same way, it’s just. It’s almost like a totalitarian state.   

He’s suppressed about it.   

Yeah, it’s.   

He’s suppressed about. He used to be so like proud. To be Canadian and then some of the stuff started happening politically and he’s just like I don’t know anymore like it. It’s changed so much.   

Carol, being a hockey player, you know I spent a lot of time in Canada growing up, you know, driving over the border to play a lot of tournaments. But COVID is one example because have some friends that are in Canada that are also business owners, and it was a tough business environment. The one friend I’m specifically thinking of, was in the event business, so because there was no.   

Oh God, bad. 

No events happen.  

Yeah, and one of these businesses was social media. And when they shut down, nobody could work because you couldn’t go anywhere, you know? And it was bad. So now he does, he does software designing development. He creates systems for businesses and he’s freaking good and efficient because I use them.  

Them, Travis this is. The serial entrepreneur couple with Carol and Ollie.   

Yeah, and he is well.  

What you don’t know is. He is a championship worldwide motorcycle racer as well.   

Oh wow.  

You should have Carol back on as a guest.  

Well, we’ve had. Carol is a guest and we’ve had. Me as a guest, yeah?   

Yes, yes, we. We interviewed each other.   

It’s two of our best episodes. We’ve gotten more downloads; I think from our interviews with each other than just about anything else.   

I had no idea. 

Oh yeah, Oh yeah.  

No idea.   

Get the story behind the host.   

And the story behind the host. What is the matter? How? Does he? How does he have that deep sexy voice? Have no idea. God-given Dean as we’re getting ready to wrap up here. What’s the one place you want people to go find and connect with you?   

So, our website if you want to learn more about Our brand AuthenticallyAmerican.US is the best place. And whether you’re an individual consumer that wants your favorite army Navy, we’ve got all the military schools. If you want authentically American branded, you know, didn’t get a chance to show these fun socks. Travis, think you’ve got a pair?   

And they are my favorite pair of socks to wear. I wore those at the Miss Oklahoma pageant when I was emceeing.   

There we go  

And that’s the second time now on a national broadcast. Because Carol, the last time we were on national TV. In front of 2 million people on Fox and friends, the host said these are his favorite pair of socks.   

Oh wow, that’s awesome.  

And you can imagine. That’s like in traffic. You can imagine the sales and you go back to the earlier point about the consumer experience. It was interesting because he didn’t say anything about him being American made. He said they’re so soft. They’re so comfortable. Just like Travis said they’re his favorite pair, but we have an experience like that you read the fine print where it says designed in Nashville, you know, made in North Carolina.

So, we make our socks in North Carolina and our T-shirts in Texas, so the Polo Travis is worn in California. So, 11 states across the US. So, whether you want some of our collegiate items or whether you want something Authentically American branded like socks or T-shirts, or polos, you know that’s the best place if you are a business; If you’re a fellow entrepreneur, Carol like yourself, if you run a charity, you work for business because every business and every charity buys polos. Buys T-shirts so no matter what area you are in, whether you’re an individual consumer or more of an organization, our website is the best spot, and then if you want to connect with me, LinkedIn is a great spot, that’s an easy way for both of us.   

That’s fantastic Dean you talked earlier about perseverance. What would you tell someone that’s going through a rough time right now?   

So, it’s tied to perseverance. Travis, you got to be willing to get up each day, and you know, being a hockey player, get in the corners and fight. Or just being whatever, it takes.

But the other piece of advice I would say. Don’t go alone. And I think that’s hard, especially for veterans like you’re trained, you know to be strong, you’re trained to persevere. But you know what life a team sport is. And if you’ve got something challenging, if you got something you’re going through. I mean, don’t do it alone. I mean you know and engage your spouse. Engage your boyfriend. You know. Call a friend. Call somebody being and it’s been humbling for me on this entrepreneurial journey. 

Carol had never been an entrepreneur before. You know, the number of people that I’ve I have reached out to, and I reached out sheepishly. Saying they would. You be willing to help me out? And they were just blown away. That one I would ask, and they went out of their way to help me. So that’s what I would say.

Travis, if you’re really struggling. If you’re challenging, I. Mean, don’t just. Isolate yourself, I mean phone a friend. And we talked about game shows before, so you know. That whole game.  

Yeah, phone a friend, yeah?  

Yeah, a mentor, you know, find a mentor. Find somebody that will guide you and find one that has gone down the road before that can keep you from all the obstacles you know and sometimes, we do need to go through those obstacles. But at the same time, if somebody can help you out and teach you a few things and therefore you can give back to somebody else.   

I know I personally love sharing my experience because every time I do, people are so shocked to find out the things that we all go through and I’m willing to talk about them. It’s like once you talk about it the first time, you give other people in the space permission to be open and honest, and forthright with whatever’s going on in their world. And it makes it just that much easier for everyone involved.   

Yep, they’re not alone. 

You’re not alone. 

Hey, Dean from Carol and I thank you so much for being our guest today.   

Honored to be a guest and Travis is always honored to call you a friend and Carol, you’re. My new friend 

And we have all the way out in Washington.  

that’s right.

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