Surviving the Front Lines of War with Rob Robinson

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Rob Robinson is a survivor.

Rob joins Travis and Carol to share stories from the front lines of war. He talks about the importance of networking to help soldiers once they leave the military.


{01:11} What makes Rob a Titan

{11:30} Stories from the front lines of war

{20:41} The importance of networking

{42:40} Relationships, and your identity after military

{55:11} Mental health issues

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Rob Robinson Bio

Rob is a tropical Ranger, born and raised in GA.  Well, at least that’s what he calls home since he was an Army brat.

At the Academy, Rob was a 150s player (now Sprint Football) all four years, and when he was not on the field, he was in the press box covering Army Sports for WKDT. And when he was not in my Barracks Room, he was on the road covering some Patriot League Action.   Rob got to see my classmates, BEAT NAVY many times on the fields of friendly strife.

Connect with Rob

Hey, welcome to the show. I’m your host, Travis Johnson, here with my fabulous co-host, Carol Carpenter. Hello Carol, we have a special guest today who is, Rob, Robert, and Robinson. That’s a lot of Robs

Yeah, the department of redundancy department.

Rob is a retired infantry officer. He’s got a couple of podcasts. As for football, focusing on Army football and college football, how the heck are you, Rob?

I am still recovering from the hurricane this weekend, of course, because my backyard is right in the path of the wind flow in my neighborhood. So, I have about four panels on my fence that I got fixed, but again, Lowe’s delivers, so it makes it a little bit easier, so I don’t have to go run around the hardware store. But yeah, I’m glad to be here, and hopefully, I can share something of interest with you and your audience, but like here, it’s

Let’s do it.

Well, I guess we’re going to find out, huh? The audience let us know and send this message on social media. Let us know if Rob delivered. If Rob sucked

Yeah, no pressure, no pressure at all.

No pressure, no pressure. Rob, I’ve got to tell you something, man: what makes you a Titan?

So, what makes me a Titan, uh? 

Kind of like great white sharks or sharks that stop swimming and die, and so that’s basically how I am right now. It began many, many moons ago when I was a young kid growing up around the military. One of the hardest things that I had to realize is that when I finally ended my service, I ended 47 years of being in or associated with the uniform. 

So, my dad was in the army for 27 years. I grew up as a Sergeant, a kid moving all over the country. I got to see a lot of different places and a lot of different things, and then it was like, hey, I can do that too. One is always trying to one-up the old man. I went to college. You know, for four years, graduated, and then commissioned as an infantry officer, I spent 23 years in the infantry.

I made five operational deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. I got shot at in both countries and survived. I have all my fingers and toes. I would say that makes me a Titan. So that makes me at least a survivor. And so, you know, I have some experiences that I can share with people, and the other part of it is, and I tell people this all the time, like, if you meet another veteran, what’s important to you may not be the same thing that’s important to them, but as part of your service you know being in the military. Make sure you have the most *****. shadowbox that you can. Because it’s only going to matter to other veterans. But if you have a ****** shadowbox, people are going, OK. That guy probably did some things.

So ultimately, you know, that’s why I tell all the young guys that I run into these days. It’s like a look. You know, don’t worry about picking and choosing the jobs that the army would tell you to choose. Pick and choose the jobs that are going to build you the most ****** shadowbox ever. So then when you’re retired and you’re old, you have something to look at. You know when you’re in your wheelchair and your body is failing you.

That’s hilarious because I retired seven months ago and I don’t have a shadow box built, so it sounds like it’s on My To-Do List

Yeah, I mean, get after that.

Thank you both for your service. I appreciate it. It is because of guys like you that we have the freedom and get to enjoy all the privileges we have.

Yeah, yeah, I would agree with you on that, but I would also say, you know what? It is what it is like. Like I said, I came from a family of service. My grandfather served. He was an engineer in World War Two. My dad joined the army in the 70s and then I followed suit, so it’s kind of a family tradition.

So, for some people, it was a legacy of service to the nation, which is kind of what happened. Not everybody is like that. You know, there was a period before, you know, 9/11 where most people didn’t know anyone that served, you know. Or maybe they had a cousin or distant relative that was in the military you know what? It is what it is like. 

Like I said, I came from a family of service. My grandfather served. He was an engineer in World War Two. My dad joined the army in the 70s and then I followed suit, so it’s kind of a family tradition. So, for some people, it was a legacy of service to the nation, which is kind of what happened. Not everybody is like that. You know, there was a period before, you know, 9/11 where most people didn’t know anyone that served, you know. Or maybe they had a cousin or distant relative that was in the military, and then two towers went down and then everybody served because of the call to action that the whole country received, and so by having that kind of changed the dynamic but Fast forward to today, 20. 22 some kids grew up after 911. I had no idea that it happened. And that’s a scathing indictment on us as leaders for not passing that on to the next generation, you know, but it’s also, you know, the current state of play. 

You know, we only care about what’s current because that’s the only thing that I could sell. You know, I can’t sell history. I can sell, you know, grievances, and so that’s what we do.

Yeah, it’s kind of sad. 

That’s what it’s come to, and you can’t have it. Children that learn from our mistakes If we don’t discuss our mistakes

Yep, it’s a true statement and you see it everywhere. You know, you see it everywhere and so, like, one of the things that were difficult for me was, you know. I was deciding where I wanted to go to college. I was, uh, you know, as a high school athlete playing football, I was undersized. You know, I’m not the biggest dude in the world. I look bigger in the pictures. I guess that’s what everybody is like. Oh, I thought you were taller. Well, you know.

I thought you were more polite, you know, like…

right? You know, deciding what I wanted to do and nowadays, kids don’t have to worry about making that decision. Like, do I want to go to college? Do I not want to go to college? Do you know what is experimental with everything? Because we’ll just continue to pander to you and tell you to achieve success. 

Like, no, like the real world doesn’t seem to work that way. It’s dollars and cents, you know. Hey, if I don’t bring anything of value to the table, guess what? I’m not getting any money like if you don’t work you don’t eat, and that’s something that has been lost by lots of generations, you know. 

And it’s typical in the army that we talk s*** about the guys behind us, like all those guys ******* suck. You know, because, like, oh, they didn’t have Is it as hard as we did? You know, and that’s why everybody says that, right? It’s generational, but there’s also some truth to that. 

Right, so if you go back and you look at, you know, the military, my dad served in, coming out of Vietnam. There’s a lot of alcohol and drugs. It kicked all those guys out. We had an all-volunteer force and, you know, today. It’s the 4th of October, so if you guys don’t remember, yesterday was Black Hawk down day.

For those of you guys who don’t remember, it was freaking 30 years ago that you know, Rangers went into Somalia and, you know, I watched Black Hawk. I go down every year to remind myself of that situation, because I can remember in college, picking up a newspaper and seeing a kid with a, you know, head wrap on and some Size 17 Nikes that were way too damn big for his feet to take a shot at Americans.

And those were the formative years of my life, and everything was going well as if Black Hawk Down were a movie for me. It was an experience that I have a fond memory of, and I think that’s part of it, you know, is figuring out what you want to do. 

So, kids these days… and I say kids these days. But that’s probably true. I’m old enough to be a dad, which is awesome. It’s also ***** frightening. But they couldn’t decide what did they want to do? You know, because everybody has received a trophy, so I don’t have to work for anything. 

And you have parents that, like we used to have helicopter parents, that would just hover over their kids. Now they’re lawnmower parents. Do you know what I mean? I’m going to plow the roads and my kid has it easy. Nothing in life that’s worth having is easy. And you guys can speak to that too, you know, even if it’s something building. Do you know what I mean? Starting your team, starting your own business, or whatever it is If you’re not putting the effort in to make it happen for yourself, then it’s not worth it. It’s just not that it’s not as exciting as it should be.

The sad part is, they’re not used to hearing any either, you know, because, oh try everything so first, no they get. They automatically think, “Oh, I’ll fail and just walk away,” but there are hardships to be had with those lessons to be learned from that you know. 

OK, so I got a “no”, was my delivery good or bad? Was I unclear? You know about my message. You can, after all, look at it in a variety of ways. I have to reframe it and go OK. I have to know. Why did I get an Oh yeah, I know, right? And then try to get a “yes” because it’s in learning during that adversity. That you develop and transform into the person you want to be so you can consistently keep learning and keep changing, but you’re not learning in the process. process, you are just. Keep getting trodden down to the point that you just don’t want to continue. 

And that’s the difference between what you said is true. You know, your reason for being a Titan is to survive. Getting through those hardships and that’s what you know. The best definition for you is survival. That’s what’s putting one foot after another.

And it’s always too easy to fall into the grievance culture, you know, and that’s what we promote these days, right? And you know, we talked about this before we got online, but I’ll talk about it because this is kind of part of my story about who I am. 

So, when I was a kid at West Point, they got me well before I was good at West Point. The dude that came to recruit me said, “Hey man, when you get to school, you need to pick a branch that’s going to teach you a trade,” a black military officer says. You need to be a common guy or a quartermaster, or somebody that has a trade because there’s no way that you’ll be successful as an infantry officer. 

Well, 23 years later, I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. I wouldn’t say that was the pinnacle of mediocrity in my career, but I think I did OK, and the reason for that was that I chose to. So, it’s a difficult path. You know, the 800 or so odd folks that I graduated with? I think we only had four or five black infantry officers that were commissioned into the infantry branch, and I was the only one that did a full career.

Did it have an impact? I don’t know. There are times when it’s like, “Man. I don’t know if that was the right decision, you know, but there are also times were, like literally, I’m running down the street in Mosul, Iraq in 2003. I have 172 people around me that want to kill the bad guys. As bad as I do, and it’s like holy **** man like I am in one of the most powerful positions I have ever been in. 

And that rarely happens for human beings, like, hey, look, bad guys are shooting at us, blow that building up, and there was no hesitation or thought process about it. Like you took those guys out and it happened and you’re like oh **** like that. That’s a crazy, scary feeling to have at 26 or 27 years old. 

Yeah, and that’s the truth, you know, and so why would you not continue to pursue opportunities like that? That to me, is what people are interested in, like, hey, what’s your back story? Like, hey you? may not be good at. At all the things that I’m good at. 

That’s OK because everybody plays their role, and I think that’s one of the things that we all struggle with, just as humans in general. You know, what’s our identity, and where do we fit in with the rest of this? You know, Big Blue World. That’s what we’re kind of living in.

It’s interesting when you’re in charge of a team and your life is threatened by that different level that you have to play at just to make it through, let alone any of the other stuff that’s going on. You have to be so focused, people have to know

Get it done like there’s no tomorrow, there’s no room. They talk about orders in the military, and I was largely in aviation, so there’s room. There’s wiggle room. There’s room for error. There’s room for second-guessing. 

There’s room for discussion most of the time, during critical phases of flight, you know, takeoff or landing. Not a lot of time for this. But when you’re in the country, when you’re through the buildings, through the alleys, there’s no hey. Do you think that’s a good idea? You get shot, you’re dead, and you’re done. You’re out of the game.

And… that’s the big part of my story. And I hate the month of August, and I talk about it in some of the other stuff that I’ve done. But the month of August is always bad for me, so like. When I’m in the month of August, anywhere in, you know, Konus. It’s like a relaxing feeling because I know I’m not going to get shot at unless I’m in Chicago or DC or something. Someplace like that, but. For the most part, the heavy lifts in combat for me, like most others, were in August, so in 2003 and 2004, big, huge firefights. I spent 18 1/2 hours outside of the wire running gun battles with dudes trying to kill me. I was trying to kill them.

My guys were trying to kill them all trying to survive, and one of the things that came from that is, you know, there are times and moments in your life where you’re going to contemplate your mortality. And when it happens, it’s always weird. 

So, when we get back after this firefight, I’m covered in blood and sweat and smell like cordite. I’ve got two guys in the hospital. Get back inside the wire. I talked to the bosses like hey. You need to go take some, get some sleep. I can’t, Sir. I got dudes in the hospital, so I go over and check on my guys. You know, he got shot in the engagement. Come back the next day or the next about 30 minutes later, we’re sitting down, and I can’t sleep. Of course, I can’t sleep well. I’ve been shot at for 18 hours. 

I wake up, look outside, and every light in the house. So, every last one of my soldiers that were involved in that firefight, we’re just sitting there contemplating their reality. This is it, dude. We’re just in a running gun battle for 18 hours. The scary part about it is that you won’t hear about it because nobody died. Right, and that’s the part that we don’t talk about, particularly when you look at soldiers, like part of the invisible wound redness that soldiers have in post-traumatic stress and everything else that’s part of the problem is People have been through some ****. But it’s not televised and it’s not live and it’s not like it’s not on the ticker on CNN or Fox News or whatever, so there’s damage there and people just don’t know.

For many years, the army, you know, and probably even today, you could still argue that the military is still not good at this, because if you look at the veteran suicide rate… When that firefight was over, what did we get the next day? I got a female sergeant and a specialist who were school-trained psychologists to come to talk to my dudes. 

It’s like you got 170 stone ****** killers that have been in a firefight for 18 hours. The last thing I want to do is sit in a room and talk to this person. It doesn’t matter your qualifications are fine. I just don’t want to talk to you. You know because you’re not the right fit. You’re not part of my tribe. You’re not part of my team.

That’s one of the things that I’ve always tried to do as a leader, regardless of where I go. You know, Bloomer’s planet, but also build your tribe. So, you have to have people around you that you trust and people that you know are willing to go to the mat for you and you’re willing to go to the mat for them. 

And if you’re not willing to do that, and you’re not in that environment, you need to change, you know. The sucky part about the military is that sometimes you can’t change your tribe, so you have to bloom where you’re planted, and then you have to train those folks to be better than they are at that moment. 

And so, you know, it’s. It’s always been that way, you know. And then again, I had this one. It sucks because you know the next August. That was a bad day for me in 2007 or 2008, when our first classmate, David Todd, was killed. 

The Dude was the strong, silent type. Fantastic individual. If you needed anything, he was like, “Hercules. That didn’t talk. So, it’s like he’s this big, musclebound tanker guy. We’ve got to firefight. You know, we assaulted this compound with a bunch of Taliban dudes on it. It was like we had a battalion plus with us and somehow only eight of us…13 of us roughly ended up on the objective, we’re like, hey, where’d you? Everybody goes, you know, so we’re in the belly. From the beast’s two-way shooting match, we come out. Sergeant Todd and maybe six or eight other people were the only ones to come out of the wire to support us. There are 400 people on the Fob.

I am not going to call those guys that were inside the Fob cowards because half of them were international dudes, and they had regulations. And if you’ve ever deployed, you guys know for a fact that there’s a stack of national caveats. It’s as big as a phone book and prevents our sister nations from doing anything right. It’s like, “Man, these guys got tanks. There are helicopters like where the F and a portion of it are like, “They just can’t because of their country,” like they will go to prison for the rest of their lives. It’s not like the United States. You know, if you make an audacious choice like, yeah, you might get yelled at or smacked around a little bit afterward, but you’re not going to lose your life or your livelihood, and that’s a huge difference.

Sorry, we got too far in. Use some military jargon that I’m familiar with, but Carol is like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. So, for those in our audience and Carol, they don’t know what a fob is, what is outside the wire. What do you mean by “international guys”?

All right, so Fob means forward operating base. That’s, you know, the place where you kind of hang out. You’ve got your large bases and then your forward operating bases are just smaller places where guys will operate out of. 

Outside the wire means you’ve got the inside of the wire, which is where all the people are, and the outside of the wire, where the people are not usually unless you’re on a patrol or whatever, so when you go out. On patrol, you know that’s what happens, and the whole scenario stinks from the very beginning, and it’s a very, very funny story. I don’t remember it as well as some of the guys that were with me.

I had a 6-foot kid named Salvatore Galgano with me, and Galgano is like the biggest goofy kid in the world. You should probably get him on the show because it’s his funny show and he tells way better stories than me but go. Outside the wire, things pop off. We’re in this firefight, and we’re like, OK, what is it? What are we going to do when these guys are on the far side of this cornfield? 

So, if you’ve ever seen Platoon, we did a skirmish line. They walked across this platoon and assaulted this compound, and somewhere in this four-and-a-half-hour firefight, we took Iranian detainees killed about 35 people, and walked out with two casualties: one Afghan and one American. Either way, it sucks because of the loss. The loss of life is the loss of life.

I heard somebody say this the other day and it was kind of like, it’s kind of tragic to hear somebody say that, particularly a young person. But they’re like, “Oh, it’s trauma bonding. So, you guys are friends for the rest of your lives because of that traumatic situation,” and you’re like That’s kind of messed up, but it’s true, you know. But I hate to hear a person under the age of 30 say something like that because it’s like, “Wow, you have a super bleak outlook on life. If you’re thinking about trauma bonding at 22

Well, they’re, I think they’re understanding that right. So, the reason that you didn’t want to talk to a psychiatrist with a college education is that you don’t have that trauma bond. You don’t have that much as if they understand what’s going on in their head but not in their heart. They’ve never experienced it. So that gap, even though it’s not that far away, is big enough to miss most of our service members. First responders are 911 operators because they do not have experience in it. They miss what they need to connect with.

They do not have psychiatrists in the military.

Yes, they do, but once again, it’s hit or miss on whom you get. You know, some guys are more school trained. Some guys are like, uh, dude, that used to be a combatant. That guy that went to school could do it like I have the best chaplain in the world. If I’m a name, drop him because Derek Gooding is the man. If you’re ever in Louisiana, go to his church because he’s standing up at church in retirement. 

But like I always kept a chaplain with me at all times because I’m a ******* **** show. And so, I need spiritual direction. And so, by having the chaplain with me all the time, you get to know those guys and that. Derek Gooden was the best chaplain. You know, I can’t say the best chaplain, because I’ve always had good ones, but one of my better chaplains was Derek, and this guy was a former Marine. 

So, when he showed up, it wasn’t like, “Oh God, here comes the chaplain”. It was like, “Oh hey, here comes the chaplain”. You know, and it’s that different introduction to the soldiers that makes the difference. And like being on objectives in 2003 with him, he’s like, “Hey Sir, I got this hooligan tool and you’re like, you OK with like popping locks and breaking stuff, and he’s like,” There’s nothing about me being able to do stuff like that. My God, if you’re cool with it, I’m cool with it. But it made him part of the team, so again he became part of the tribe, and so when there was a need or an issue,

Yeah, yeah.

The soldiers weren’t afraid to approach. And I think that’s, you know, for me, that’s one of them, and we talk about it all the time. And then we say this. And it’s a cliche, and you’ve heard it a billion times over. You’ve got to survive the piece, right as a soldier. That is it. 

So, like, if you can’t find your tribe inside the military because you’re out, you know, you’re medically discharged, you’ve retired or whatever, then you have to build your outside tribe and whether that is, you know. Jujitsu, fishing, guns. Whatever you know, whatever hobby floats your boat, go do that. 

Because so many people struggle to find that connection after they leave, and that’s not to say Rob has it all together. Like I said, like what makes me a Titan is surviving, so I’ve survived a whole bunch of other **** that I’ve gotten through, you know, but even counselors need counseling, so like if you don’t get help. When you need it. You’re going to struggle.

Yeah, and absolutely, and I love that you talked about the chaplain. They had done so previously. One of the biggest tools that I had was that I had 11 years in the military before getting commissioned, so I wasn’t just the, you know, the hotshot in a flight suit. He’s going to know stuff like I know how it works and I know a lot of the guys from when I was enlisted. So, like, for me to get integrated into that scene was super easy, so I had the enlisted guys come and tell me all sorts of stuff because I knew exactly what they were going through, how to handle it, how to help them navigate that. 

This is where the other officers you know are straight out of getting commissioned without prior experience. They’ll have They might know some of that stuff, but they don’t. They know up here, but not, you know, they don’t know. So, it’s excellent.

They may intuitively know it, but they don’t have what they don’t have the application of it, yeah. And that matters so much, you know, like if you ask me. I like jujitsu. Yeah, I can talk to you about that army stuff. I can talk to you about that. You will know if you ask me to rebuild an engine… All right, we’ll be at YouTube and probably in the garage for like the next three years, because Rob is just not going to be able to do that without a little bit of assistance. And I’m not one of the others. Part of it is that I’m not going to you, and I will tell you. I can’t you know and be right. That’s you know, and that’s one of the biggest problems I see with people in business and life. And you know the military. It is what it is like. Somebody’s decision when in the army, you just ******* ignore him. Look at that guy. I’m not going to deal with him, you know? That makes it easy in the military.

Fake it ’til. You get the right attitude, and it’s like, “Oh please, everybody knows you’re faking it.”

Yes, people can smell it from a mile away. You know, disingenuous people like everybody else, like, oh, don’t hang out with that. And if other people are telling you that like OK, well maybe my intuition was correct, but I’ve seen it both in and in business too. 

So, I’ve dealt with small businesspeople a lot in the last two years of retirement. And one of the things that dealing with those folks is, it’s like, “Look man, know where you’re good at, know what you’re good at, and for God’s sake, have a good story, man. 

I used to work for a guy whom I won’t name because he’s pretty well-known in the Department of Defense’s research and development community. But the dude? I was a C-17 pilot in the Air Force, and he was like, “I don’t understand why army guys don’t like me” and see some of our teams are big. Ask the cargo plane. Right, so if you’ve ever seen a big cargo plane in the army and you’re an infantry dude, you’re either jumping out of it or you’re flying someplace undesirable. 

So, at the end of the day, that guy is a ******* bus driver. And so, you’re like, “Look. Dude, I don’t want the bus driver to tell me **** about how you know how to grow your business because it just doesn’t work that way.” Find a better pitch, you know. And this is one of those things, like, from a developmental standpoint. It’s like, how do you convince people that you’re worth their time? You know what I mean, and I think that’s something that some people have. You know, some people have the gift of gab. 

Some people are charismatic like you know, there’s a reason why everybody likes Dwayne Johnson should run for president. Because the dude is a super charismatic guy, right?

Do you think he has the chops to run a ******* government? I doubt it. He may be able to run a business pretty well, but I’m sure he’s got a laundry list. A list of folks that helped support him

Take a look at Ronald. He was correct; he became the President, and he was an actor, and everybody was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that happened”. Maybe that’s the reason people brought it up well. Dwayne Johnson. I mean, he is very charismatic. He reminds me of a giant teddy bear, right? Because he’s this big, strong dude, but he’s like all soft and mushy inside, so you’re just like, “Oh, maybe he would be a great thing, but could he? Could he run a nation?

Right, well, it goes back to the simple point, man. One of the greatest quotes ever made and, you know, people you know are mixed about this dude’s political stance. 

Aaron Sorkin wrote a show in the 90s called Sports Night. If you’ve never watched it, you have to. And the reason why you have to have it is to watch it. It’s because it’s a third-rate television show. That’s trying to stay on top against Fox Sports and ESPN, so their work is already cut out for them. But one of the things that the boss said, and it was Robert Gilman, said to him: He’s like, “Look if you’re smart. Surround yourself with smarter people that disagree with agree with you, and if you’re not smart, surround yourself with smart people that can do your job for you. But either way, you’re surrounded by smart people.”

I think too many people these days want their egos stroked rather than their egos checked, and so having somebody that’s like, “I don’t think that’s going to work. You know, and deep down inside, you probably know that it doesn’t, but you don’t want to have that little poke.

Conversation, yeah, that’s the challenge. You’re being challenged to grow, and if you need your ego, shocked by that. badly, I mean ****. You’re not going to grow.

I love feedback, but I never initially.

Travis. You suck at this. 

I’m like no, I don’t. I’ll stomp around for like 20 minutes and then like I’ll cool down and be like, yeah, I needed that, but like initially I’m like

What you’re talking about is that you’re a bad person. If you’re a, then you’ll know. By the end of the day, I’d be like, “Hey man, that was a good talk. I appreciate that. I knew that you needed

Have your temper tantrum first

A little mini tantrum like I’ve never had feedback before and then the older I get the short version of the tantrum. I need it. I’m just not ready to hear it right away, but I always come back. I always come back around and am like “Yeah, about that, you’re right.”

And I believe it is simply its wisdom, right? 

It’s book smart again, it’s head smart versus heart smart. That’s how you know to use Travis’s description. It’s like, hey look, I have all this stuff in my head like I could sit down and read books all day and I could be the smartest person in the world when it comes to a particular topic, the application of that particular topic may be completely different because I can study all day long how to be a welder. I’m probably not going to be any good at it until I do it for a while, right?

It’s practice.

There’s a huge part of our society that just doesn’t want to do the work. And you know, since we’re talking about Titans and wanting to be one if you want to be a Titan in whatever industry that it is, be a master of your craft, right? Whatever that is, I don’t care what it is like. If it’s podcasting, be a damn good podcaster so If your audio sucks, figure out how. To edit the video prison if you know what I mean. Patients figure out how to do all the droppings. and make it. It looks cool, so it’s compelling to the eye. And there’s science behind it, right? So, study the science of attracting people’s eyes to what you’re trying to get them to look at. And so, I think that’s part.

Of that, the show is my co-host. I needed someone to attract the eye.

Oh, look at you are complimenting me again.

There you go. Do that.

I’m sure she wants something from me.

Doing the talking after absolutely

Oh ****, oh ****. I’m in trouble.

So, to Rob’s point, the reason is like in the professional setting. We’re not talking about business, but there’s a reason for doctors, lawyers, therapists, dentists, engineers, and accountants. I get paid so much. It’s because of the endless study, application, and mastering of their craft. There’s a reason why those have degrees. There’s a reason why they get paid so much. Business, of course, can crush them. Maybe if you do well in business, but it’s the research and the application and the constant tweaking and refining and all of those things that makes that skill so valuable. 

So, if you’re listening to this and you’re not getting paid, which you prefer, chances are you need to put in more study hours and more application hours to make that thing worth something more than you’re currently getting paid.

Well, you need to add value, right?

So, you must go to any length to be valuable enough for them to want to pay you more. If you do become invaluable to your company, if you’re an employee, don’t think they’ll pay you top dollar to be there. 

Absolutely. And it’s not based on a degree. There’s a guy right now. I wish I could remember his name. He’s a senior VP at Dell Computer. He has one skill. He’s not there to talk to people. He’s not there to run the show. He can do anything and everything using Excel and building algorithms.

So, while they’re on the board, he’s back in the corner with his laptop, listening to describe the problem. And he gets paid because they’ll come out of this, like, how much do we need to develop this thing? And they’re like, yeah, 1.22 point $2,000,000 He’s like, “Well, I just wrote an algorithm that solves your problem. Do you want to just use it? Do you intend to spend the $200,000? 

And he’ll sit there and write it just sitting there. He’s got one skill. And he crushes it. What else do you need?

Oh, guess what? He can probably write his paycheck, right?

He does write his paycheck, though.

Exactly, that’s cool.

You know, but I think most of us don’t like it. To challenge, we want to believe hey, we’re at the pinnacle. We, you know, hey, nobody can tell us that I can do this better. But everybody has some advice, even if it’s unwarranted.

If you just listen closely enough, there could be some truth to it, and you could do some tweaking to be better no matter what. We can always be better, but I mean, we always say we’re striving for perfection. Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as perfection, however. It doesn’t mean that we can’t aim for it

And I think those are all valid points, right? It is about creating a mutually beneficial environment, and I think that’s one of the things that people forget, right? So, it’s like, hey, I’m going to go in. I’m a plow and I’m going to. The most in my organization, she is a valuable asset. 

Cool, but guess what? If you’re not bringing people up again and again, and this goes back to the mentorship piece, right? I can say that. With no reservation, I wouldn’t be where I was if I didn’t have those people around me that were like, “Hey look, come talk to me about this.”

You know you know how to create that environment where I had that two-way dialogue and so, like, if I was talking Korean outside of my neck, I could have somebody be like, “No man like you’re screwing. Go sit down. Thumbs up. We, you know, re-evaluate what you’re thinking and then. Come back and talk to me. That’s one of the things that I felt was kind of lost in the military for many, many years, and I don’t know if you could speak to this, either Travis. But, uh, there weren’t a lot of good mentors. That would be like, “Hey man, I’m going to pull you aside and let’s talk about your five-year plan. And like, honestly, talk about your five-year plan. Not OK. I see you. You know you’re going to make it. Lieutenant, you’re going to be a captain, and then what’s your plan? As a captain?

It’s like, “No, what’s your plan? What if you don’t get a company command or what’s your plan if this doesn’t work out? Are you going to try and do something else? Are you going to separate it by five years, 10 years, or 20 years, or are you going to try and do something new? Or are you going to stick with this to see if it’s the right fit for you for a couple more years and we won’t have those honest conversations.

Success in the military has been a path that’s been carved and re-walked 1000 times. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for Rob or Travis, Carol, or anybody else that may be listening to this show. And that’s the same for the corporate environment as well too, right? 

So, I’m going to come in and work at the entry level. I’m going to be in the mailroom or I’m going to be, you know, the standard cubicle clerk. And then I’m going to move up to this regional manager position, and then I’m going to move up to this position. And then, you know, by 2025, when I’m 48 years old, I will be, you know, the CFO of this company. Well, that breathes well, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s true, so having someone to go back to the previous discussion about having someone give you feedback is a plus. 

Honest feedback is the hardest thing to do, and sometimes the first step of that honest feedback is, “Hey, I’m jacked up. So, I have. To come to a halt and look for that outsider. To prevent me from being screwed up, and you know, sometimes that comes in the form of, you know, the significant other goes, “Hey, dummy, it’s not like we have not sat down and had dinner as a couple This month, you know.”

Oh, oh ****, I probably need to. Schedule a date night, and that’s something simple, right? Is it maintaining relationships? Whether that be internal within the house or external outside the house, Like, hey, I need to call this person that you know has always given me solid advice, or hey, you know what?

I haven’t talked to that dude in three or so. How are you doing, man? Right, and those are the things that we can all do, and it costs you nothing. And I was talking to a guy yesterday about starting his own consulting business, and I said, “Look, if you’re serious about starting a consulting business, you need to do it. One to three contacts a week on LinkedIn, and I say this, and like completely unvarnished, this is just Robb’s opinion. You could throw it out with the freaking toilet paper if you want, but my opinion is that if you’re trying to develop, you know your network and keep it in your network current and fresh, particularly for military people, because like If your flash bangs on, how good is your network? About two years, unless you’re a go-getter like if you’re a dud, you’re done in 18 months. 

Nobody is going to call you back or answer your calls.

Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot. There’s a lot to unpack there because you talked about things like mentorship and those things. 

I had a couple of guys in the military that helped guide me. They pulled me aside when I was out of line, which I needed, especially when I was younger. I didn’t have those mentors growing up. I had some other ones, but then when I got back from Bahrain, Bahrain was big for me. When I was reading, I discovered how to podcast. A lot of business books and did a lot of things when I got back there. I was focused on my transition and making sure I had probably 18 months or so left, and I had been building the things I needed to build for the transition. When I got back, I had been mentoring people my whole career, but I was like, “If the Navy is done with you tomorrow, what’s your plan? 

And they were like, what skills do you need? That is, that is a degree. Is that a skill? Is that, uh, whatever? What do you want for your ideal day to look like, and who in your network do you need to know? What people do you need to meet that is going to get you to where you want to go? And they’re like, oh, people, you know, networking is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word, right? 

I’m friends with Carol, and we build each other up, and I say, Carol. I’m looking for this, like, is that something you do? You know somebody, she’s like, “Oh my God,” right? You have got to meet this person over here because I’m meeting this way instead of meeting this way. It’s a guaranteed win. 

It’s when people know, like, and trust you that you get it. They have meetings with their peers instead of trying to apply for things. That’s where all the doors open on their shoot. There aren’t even doors in most of those things.

It comes down to whom you know. That networking is extremely important, and people don’t understand it. 

I will talk about this book. People look at me like I’m crazy, but it’s so true, you know. So, there are two ways that you can explain networking, and Ken Coleman does it in a very fancy way in his book called The Proximity Principle. But to boil it down to make it boilerplate, it’s like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? If you want a job in a certain career field, then you need to know somebody that is at least 6 People removed from the person that you’re trying to get to.

The LinkedIn tactic that I tell people is all right. Every week, connect with one to three people. You know, somebody that you used to work for, somebody that used to work for you, and somebody in the industry that you’re trying to enter, and so if you can connect to one of those three people every week for a year, that’s 52 new connections. And I can assure you that those 52 new connections are probably going to spiral 3 or 4X just based on people saying, “Oh hey, those guys. Let me connect to him on his network. Hey, let me get to know you. The reason why I am on this call right now is that somebody reached out to me on LinkedIn and was like, “You need to meet Travis. He’s doing a lot of podcast stuff. You’re doing a podcast. The stuff you guys should and here we are. You know, six months later. Talking about how we got to this point, and it is the power of your network, so if you’re I’m not willing to overlook networking because it’s like looking OK. If you don’t like networking, you know. I’ll hire somebody to do it. 

Well, they don’t, they don’t.

Like what networking they’ve seen? Is that what they’ve seen people walking around with a bunch of stupid cars that no one ever reads right? They don’t, they go. In there, they just talk about themselves. Or they talk about only their business and don’t talk about… You’ll have to write this down for those listening… They’re not talking about the people or the person. If someone, if I’m in networking and I’m meeting someone new, it’s like, hey, you know, tells me about like how you spend your weekends like, what do you do like? What do you do for fun on the weekends?

Getting to know the person builds a connection like a real person. One-to-one. Not a connection. I’m pitching you about my business, and now you can pitch me about yours. That’s just an exchange. That’s nothing.

It’s gross.

You know, you’re not going to know that individual. Do I trust you? Probably not. Because you’re handing me a *** **** business card.

After those kinds of meetings, I’m supposed to shower, right? I’m disgusted. You know, right now I’m developing a relationship with somebody and this person, the way they operate, what they do, and where they rent and do business. I’ve seen them once online and twice now in person, and I’ve only gotten to know them, asking them what they need to be delivered, what they need. They don’t even know if they do. I know what I do. for a living because if it’s about me, it’s never going to work.

Yeah, and I think that’s one of the hardest things that everybody has to kind of get over Is selfishness the selfishness aspect of it? 

Because yeah, you want to be successful. There’s nobody that doesn’t want to be like if you start a business or go into business, you’re like, hey, I want to start this business and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and lose my shirt. 

No one wants to do that.

But from a perspective of development, yeah, there comes a point, like I’ve had somebody say it in a business meeting, like hey, you might not like that guy *******, shut up and have him help you solve the problem. Whoa, like that’s brutally honest, but it’s the truth because sometimes there’s going to be people that you can’t get along with that you have to work with or folks that you have to work with that. They just aren’t the right types of folks for you, and that’s OK if it’s initially right, but once you kind of get your legs underneath and get your company established, then you’re like, I’m not going to deal with that person because I don’t have to, you know, and I think that’s one of the difficulties a lot of small business folks see it, and I don’t know. If their target audience is more geared toward those people, or people in larger corporations, or whatever, then don’t matter, but there comes a point where you know you can only accept so much before you have to move on, and then when you move on, make sure that you know everything is amicable because you don’t have to…. 

You don’t have to end things in a bad way.

Of course, exactly. 

At the end of the day, it’s just that I believe people come into your life for a season or a reason. right, and I truly believe it. I don’t believe the people that I meet are accidental. I mean, I believe they were put in my path for a reason, you know. And so maybe it’s a season, maybe I have something to learn from them, right? Maybe they’re around for a lifetime. We don’t know, right?

You just have to walk the path with them and some. I have the best friend ever. had since I was 15 years old. So now he sees me through, you know, a marriage and several relationships. You know, having two kids, all of that. And that person has my back. He’s my brother, literally a brother that you know, just became a part of my family because he’s been there through the tough times and through the good times. Those are the people you want to surround yourself with. 

Now there’s going to be There are some lessons to be learned. Where you learn it and then they have nothing else to contribute because you didn’t connect any further in your relationship. So, then you can end it amicably and justice part ways and still stay connected, but they’re not going to be part of your life. So, you’re going to cycle through people throughout your lifetime. Depending on where you are in your growth.

Yeah, I think there’s that inherent fear of that. I think there’s a lot of people, you know, at least in the veteran community that I see that are afraid to kind of be like, “Oh well, I don’t know what this person is doing in my life anymore, but I’m going to keep them around just so I’m not alone. 

Oh, that’s the wrong reason.

Yeah, but it happens more than you think, and I think that’s one of the difficulties, the service is great, so spending 20 years in the military is an awesome thing. But it also completely undercuts a lot of parts of you that you don’t know you’ve given up your youth to the US government, usually part of your health or the vast majority in terms of your health and relationships, right? 

Because there are some relationships that you had to abandon, like high school or college, that just would not work with your service. And then there are relationships that you have that you don’t want. When you leave. But some of those are necessary to continue to do what you need to do because I’ve seen so many people. I struggle with things like, what’s my identity after I hang the uniform up and. Like I tell people all the time, that’s hard to do. Yes, like that. I’m the guy who runs around wearing a veteran’s baseball hat or a jacket or whatever at times. But the truth is that we could tell I was in the military based on the way I spoke, addressed people, and treated them. So that’s not going to go away. And some people try and bury that part of who they are. It’s like, why? is that who you were, that you are?

You, I mean, do not. That is denying yourself.

Yeah, I tell people all the time, “I’m going to be in a wheelchair before I stop being a soldier, right? Because I spent 47 years around the uniform, and guess what? I’m right outside of Fort Bragg, so I’m close enough to see the helicopters and airplanes fly over, but I’m far enough away that when that alert comes in, like at 2:00 a.m., it’s like, “Hey, we’re shipping out.” I don’t have to get up, you know, so that’s the best benefit of it, though. I’m still close enough to help

And it’s finding purpose. After your service, I think that’s the difference between you and me. Somebody that grew up and turned into a corporate person versus somebody that grew up in the military and is now trying to become that corporate person because the military is a Fortune 100 company. Like, nobody will ever admit that, and we won’t talk about that openly. But when you look at the amount of budget money that gets dumped into the government, you realize that it’s a Fortune 100 company. I would say it’s probably a Fortune 5 if you look at the Department of Defense as a whole, 400 employees, and you know, $60 billion. To be honest, I don’t know very many companies that are managing that kind of cash.

That kind of money, those kinds of people, has an impact on the supply chain and the humanitarian effort.

Yeah, so when you look at, you know, when you look at the D.O.D as a whole, we don’t do a good job at educating our leaders and saying things like, “Hey man, look, you have a whole bunch of corporate skills like if you can manage your budget, you can do that whether that be in the uniform or out of the uniform. But is that something you select, to do this, I had a call with one of my old NCOs this week, and he was like, yeah. Man, I’m interviewing for this DoD job. Yep, not commissioned. Yes, sir.

(Non-commissioned officer OK, thanks.)

Yeah, so he calls me up and he goes. Yeah man, I’m interviewing for this job on post. It’s not what it appears to be. I wanted but it kind of fits into my skill set, so it’s like OK, a man you’ve got to decide. You know, is it worth it? Is it worth your time and money to see what he’s like? Well, it’s going to let me see my kids more often. I have a more flexible schedule. There are things that I can do that allowed me to spend more time with my family. 

The army is not going to let you do that, right? So, there are enough missed birthdays, and my wife and I were newlyweds for the first five years of our marriage because I was out of the house for three years. Of them, you know

By having those things happen, it’s now time to contribute back to your community, to your family, to your church, to whatever social organization or group that you belong to. I don’t care, but at the end of the day you have to contribute back, and so giving of yourself is the easiest way to do it, and it’s hard to do in the military. We teach you to be selfish. Hey, this is my assignment. I’m going to my next job. I’ve got to get my oh ER, I’ve got to get this good evaluation. I’ve got to get all these things, and so you’re constantly in that pursuit of the “I”. All of a sudden, that stops. You know, when that escalator ends and you’re at the end of the road and you go, “Oh crap, like what am I supposed to do now? 

It makes it difficult for some people to transition. Others I’ve seen land super easily, and it’s like those people have charmed lives and they are not me, but I think there’s, you know, there’s a lot of parts and pieces of just, you know, making it through service and serving and. And I think that’s, uh, one of the things I always talk about is, like, as a former military person, you have a jaded perspective. Because 98% of the people that you serve when they wake up in the morning, they’re trying to do the best job that they can, and then there’s 2% that’s just evil that we try and kick out anyway, but.

Well, that’s true in every organization, mind you. OK, it’s not just the military. 

I mean, even in relationships, friendships, networking, organizations, businesses, and companies, all of that is very true.

Yeah, and I think, for me, I always use the bell curve as an example, so if I’m underneath the bell curve, we can operate. If you’re outside of the bell curve, then we probably have some work to do, but for the most part, it’s just like again for relationships, I want to be on the higher end of that percentile. Do you want to be in the 70th or 80th percentile? If I can get underneath that bell curve, but then what if they’re outside? To that bell curve, because we’ve all met those people like, “Wow, you are way too smart to be doing this job. We’re managing this facility or doing whatever that is because we like this person.

I’m not sure why they’re doing it as well. You know, there could be a reason that these overqualified people are doing that job, and it satisfies a need.

They don’t have to explain it to everyone, and everyone else is saying, “Man, you don’t.” You do not belong here.

Again, and usually, if we use it again, we go back to the head-heart thing, right? So, most people, wisdom-wise, would be like, “Well, why were you doing this? But who cares if it meets that need right there, right now? 

I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to, you know, finding your tribe. Find people that will support you and then do that. As I said, I can’t stress that enough. You know, it took some of my friends to run into some brick walls going off. Hey man, I haven’t heard from this guy in four or five months. Then he calls me and 90 days later he goes. Hey bro, I was in jail! Like, why were you in jail? Isn’t that a stupid little thing that happened? It was just a minor disagreement that turned into full-on incarceration for months.

And then it turns out Fast forward to today. Hey, I got to make sure I’m on the right medication and I’m making sure that I’m doing all the right things for my health. And then the underlying issue wasn’t, you know, the dust-up between him and the police officer. The underlying issue was undiagnosed medical stuff that had been going on for years that he never checked out. Why? In the military, what do we do? I just freakin’ hunker down. I bite down on my mouthpiece and turn into the fight like that’s what I do. That’s because that’s who we are. 

We’re programmed to just blunt force trauma our way through bad situations. And sometimes it is like that. Dude, go sit down. Talk to a counselor. Get the right prescription. And change your life in that one minor tweak that’s going to flourish afterward.

But that’s scary because it means being introspective and diving into the root problem, which is that many, they’re first of all they’re not sure exactly what it is; they just know it’s big and scary and they don’t want to uncover it. “Cause that’s a little monster that they have to tame.

And I can only imagine. Hearing from the military and from people who have discussed their military service It’s dumb. I can’t imagine what you’ve seen or experienced. I just know that that’s stuff that you guys can never forget. So, to uncover it, I can only imagine how emotional that is for these individuals. 

So, if they can get, you know, help? And get through that. I mean it, it’ll make their lives so much easier and better so that they can be productive members of society. And what sucks is that there isn’t… I don’t know if there is a lack of resources for that or…

It’s really fun in the right circumstances. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy works for a lot of people. That shouldn’t work for everybody. DR. It’s like eye movement…. something or other like that works for people, and for some people, it doesn’t work for them. It’s the top thing the VA recommends, but they also don’t promote that they do it. 

Some people need to get on plant medicine, or ayahuasca, or marijuana, or there are all these other options, but really, there’s no way to be sure. What is it? You need it until you try all this stuff. So, someone who’s been going to therapy for 10 years and it’s done nothing. You say we’ll just try one more visit and you’re like, “It doesn’t work for me”. Like, why would I go? You know what? 

Unless you figure out how to dive deep down into that trauma, I went to therapy for years trying to discover different things. And because of the rules of the therapist, in that community, they couldn’t ever get uncovered because they couldn’t tell me the things that they needed to tell me, but I did a program through Janet Hogan. I went through her program. I found out in four days what my problem was. because it was the right way. 

This is the right approach for me, right? I’m sure there’s still some other stuff out there. I’m sure there’s something else I can try. I’m sure it’s not all solved, but I had to find the right methodology for me, and then wears people out going through all that stuff. Your set of deployments is covered by your insurance, but you’ve got out-of-pocket costs. I know this is what I need. But I can’t afford it. Oh, my goodness, it’s like there’s so much to deal with. 

It’s not like you can just go to Walmart and be like, “No mail health boost, just something off the shelf.”

Right, right?

I got it. I’m good now.

Moving to an instant society where you pop a pill and solve a problem right away is so much easier than that because it’s the culmination of your experiences in life. That cannot be put into a pill and expected to work. It must be removed, and then your life is great. It just doesn’t work. That way, you

Yeah, and it goes back to what we talked about earlier.

Anything worth having is worth working for, right?

You know, do the work.

If you want mental health, it’s not going to be something that’s going to be Cured overnight, you know. You see it all the time. It’s people like Oh well if I just go ahead and do this, it’s going to work out like this.

 No, like, hey man, you can smoke all the weed you want. Yeah, it’s probably going to kill some nerve endings and synapses. You know it’s going to slow you down. You’ll probably feel good for a while if you get the right stuff, but at the end of the day, you’re not solving the problem. 

It may be available to treat a symptom, you know, and that’s OK, right? I know tons of folks that are in the, you know, exploratory cannabis and CBD fields, right? And the reason why they’re doing that is that, hey, there’s science behind it that says, hey, look, this is good for information. It’s good for anxiety. It’s good for all this other stuff is cool. Not what I would do. 

But again, as a person that, you know, wants to continue to learn, then I have to be like, OK, well, we’re in this aperture. Among these are medicinal plants. You know the earth tones are going to help me or someone else that I may know, and it may not be the prescription for me, but it may be a prescription for someone else, and one of the things that we have to shake off of the mental shackles of being in the military is like, “Well, that guy was smoking weed with a terrible human being” and it’s like, “Well, no, that’s probably what his doctor prescribed him because he’s in one of those states that allow for medical marijuana.

And again, that’s a small mindset shift, but like, imagine living your life regimented for 20/25 years and then all of a sudden going all this stuff that used to be like boating is now on the table. Why is it now on the table as well? because the environment changes. 

You know, and it’s usually something very simple, but it’s usually it. It hurts a lot more people than you think. You know, and they’re like, “Oh well, well, I don’t want to take that stuff because people will look at me like. I’m a druggie. Like dude, like you’re not sitting on a street corner in torn-up bass clothes smelling like weed and booze. 

You know, there’s a marked difference between your friend going to smoke some CBD oil out of a vape canister versus, you know, unfortunately, the homeless veteran that’s on the street hasn’t had a substance abuse problem, you know. There are two different categories of people. Guess what? Both of them probably need help, though.

Yeah, absolutely, and we can’t do it alone. 

I’ve retired more recently than Rob has, and I am. I don’t think it’s fixed, but I think it’s going in the right direction. We’re being encouraged to go seek mental health options. We’re getting encouraged, so we take care of our medical stuff, and some people are still of the old mindset that I can’t go like the place needs me and they’re going to go whether you’re ready or not. They’re going to grab someone else and throw him in the slot. And they’re going to do what you do. If you’re not good, you’re not good to go. Whether it’s in your head, whether it’s emotional, whether it’s physical, whatever the thing is, are you going to go out and cause a problem because you’re not 100%? 

Are you going to get in the way because you’re having problems with your wife? Are you going to get in the way and cause an airplane to crash because your finances aren’t, OK? Are you going to go get someone killed because you haven’t been sleeping for the past five weeks? So just because you want to “go” doesn’t mean you should go.

Yeah, and that’s huge … there are so many different companies that I work with that are doing AR and VR training for soldiers, like whether that be, you know, trauma recovery, whether that be, you know, sexual or military, sexual trauma recovery, whatever it is, right, like there are all these different therapies and all these different things out here. 

But the common denominator is, you know, a willingness to do it. Right, and that’s where 51% of soldiers get themselves into trouble, which is because they’re not willing to try. So, if you’re not willing to try it, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage because it’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to do that.” 

So, for example, maybe hypothetically, there’s a company out there that has a device that monitors your heart rate. You know your sleep cycles and your respiratory system. Your respirations We hook this thing up to you. This device and then it gives feedback to the commander, and the commander goes ho… Rob hasn’t slept in two days. Hey man, you’re not mission ready. 

But if I did that here at Fort Bragg, I could probably get away with it with like a conventional unit or a support unit. If I go down the road to the guys that have the highest, you know, national security missions and try and give it to that group of folks, they’re like whoa. No way, man. I don’t want any artificial intelligence algorithm to decide whether or not I can go on a mission.

So, it goes back to Travis. The point is access to that stuff and the willingness to use it, and willingness is just as dangerous as you know the technology being available to do that stuff. 

Look, nobody wants to be fallible. I mean, that’s the truth. Everyone puts their best foot forward. I’m Teflon. Nothing hurts me. Nothing bothers me because I am, you know, the manliest man on the planet. And my beard is longer than everyone else’s, you know like that’s kind. How does this thing work?

Hear the beard swap.

Yeah, no. I’m just making a statement. But from the perspective of getting people to understand that, and particularly in certain communities in the military, it’s getting better with modernization. But it is also getting worse because we continue to inject these…. We continue to inject the society with the military. 

The military should reflect society, but not so much to the point where it’s detrimental to our ability to fight wars. Yeah, I legitimately think that if the balloon were to go up tomorrow, Travis and I would not be on these calls very often, I’m sure that we would probably get recalled out of retirement status because of the current state of the military. Right, and that’s a problem.

So, what is the current state of the military? You’re alluding to the fact that there are not enough experienced people in the military currently.

There’s, well, let’s say this. 

There are not very many able-bodied people that can come in. So, when you look at the generation that is currently between the ages of 17 and 30, those guys. Those guys and gals. They’re just not volunteering for service; those that want to volunteer for service are not physically or mentally capable.

 So, here’s the thing about the military. You had two parties. You come in not physically fit enough, but you’re mentally fit enough to serve in the military, and so we’ll get you there or you’re If you’re mentally fit enough but not physically fit enough to get in, and then we fix you in your basic course or whatever, but either way, it’s like you’re either mentally prepared or not. Fit and you can. We’re physically fit but not mentally prepared. 

Either way, their army has a training program for that, but now we’re getting to the point where it’s both rights because again, you know, you go back and you look at the statement that everybody thought Tom Cruise was a genius a couple of weeks ago when he was like, hey look, you know what all this medication for ADHD and all this other stuff doesn’t work. You know, it’s anecdotal like he’s a Scientologist. They don’t believe in medicine anyway, but when you know, Tom Cruise says, “There’s something not right with this” and then everybody kind of recognizes or says, Yeah, well he was right. You know, we have scientific evidence to prove it, but guess what? We now have an entire generation of people that have been overmedicated that can’t qualify for military service.

And not just from being overmedicated. 

We’re far overmedicated to the point where we’re changing our genes and how we’re able to even function.

It’s a hot-button issue for me. It’s just one of those things where it’s like, “Look honestly, I have nephews that are turning 18 this year. They have to register for selective service. If some **** pops off overseas, they’re going to get drafted. Because there are not enough able-bodied people that want to serve in the military, and that’s unfortunate, and it should never be that way. 

It should never be We should never have to look anywhere to find someone to do anything, because we’re one of the greatest societies ever. Consider this call. We have three different backgrounds on it. You know, different nationalities, different personalities, and different places in the country where we live and where we grew up. But guess what? We’re all on this call together. Like, why? Because we can communicate openly about what’s going on in our lives and we have got to create communities like that everywhere. 

So again, I say that all the time spent building your tribe is so important because, like, it drives me crazy. Because, like I go to church on Sunday and I tell the people in my church, “Look, I can go from zero to 60 in about 30 seconds and. It takes a while. It takes a lot of willpower for me not to be. The person that everybody in this church would be like “Oh, don’t talk to him because he’s crazy, you know. And it’s like, “No, it’s not that. I’m crazy, it’s just like the look I’ve got. You know, 20-plus years of experience, dirt nap, and bad guys for the US government. So, my perspective on how people should interact is completely different. 

And if I throw that switch, that’s going to be a game changer for a lot of people. Guess what? That goes for a whole bunch of people that I know, right? I did an event a couple of weeks ago. My really good friend came out. And we’re hanging out with a whole bunch of former special operations dudes. And you know, what is the most commonly heard phrase when you’re hanging around a bunch of people that used to kill folks for a living? 

Oh, excuse me. Right, excuse me. Sorry man, I didn’t bump into you. I didn’t mean to excuse myself.

 like why? Because at no point do we have to record. Check anyone, because we all know that we all went to the dance and did something at some point. And so that’s the difference.

And they don’t have to compete anymore.

Yeah, like I don’t have to. I don’t have to show you how good I am; like hey, I may not. I may not be the best at shooting, but I could be the best at planning, and so having a group of people like that, that kind of has mutual respect for everybody Skill sets… It goes back to building your tribe, so if I build a tribe and everybody has the right roles and responsibilities, then life becomes easy, and part of the reason why we have so many struggles in our society today is that people can’t find their niche.

We’re all trying to one-up each other, so in that particular situation, everybody is elite. So, there’s no, hey, let’s do a **** measuring contest and find out who’s ***** bigger. It’s like no. Everybody’s got a big packer here. We all agree on that, right?

And it makes it so funny because, like, literally, some of the people that I’ve been hanging out with in retirement are like giants of the military. You know, former guys in special operations, and these guys were tremendous human beings, and they’re the nicest people in the world. Why because they think?

Do you know why?

I would because they probably killed more people than I shook hands with.

Why can’t we be? Secure people instead of, oh what? Do you do it because I have to be better than you? And it’s just like, what? What the **** is this all about?

I used to be that way when I was younger and when I was first in the military. I came from nothing, and I wanted to be the one upper. Whatever story you told, I had a better story, and it wasn’t until someone told me, “Hey man. You’re in. We like you. You don’t have to. You don’t have to. Lie to kick it with us.”

I finally understood that I had to let go of all those stories because I don’t have to have a fantastic story about whatever the thing is to be relevant, love is accepted. part of the group, but it took me a while to learn that.

Acceptance is the key, right? All of us, as human beings, want acceptance. That’s why people try so hard. That’s why teenagers are always trying to fit in. 

You want to be accepted into a group. Then you want to be praised for who you are as an individual.

Yeah, and those things sometimes don’t work in conjunction.

It doesn’t.

Yes, you’re kidding me right now, Rob.

Well, I’m not, but that’s. Part of it, you know, it’s just, you know, it truly is an oxymoron, right? Like, hey, I want to be accepted for who I am, but I also want to be part of the group. And you know, and. That’s hard to do. You know, the military does it. 

OK, right because we thought you were all in the same uniform. You march all in the same direction, and you do all those things, and there’s. There are probably some benefits when you look at countries that have mandatory service, whether it be in a civilian or military capacity. 

Those countries have different attitudes towards the population than we do in the United States. Because when you look at the numbers, less than 2% of the country has ever served at any level. Given time. So, when you look at that, 98% of Americans will never be touched by, you know, combat or even law enforcement. 

I would bump that up to, say 5.0% of the population works in law enforcement, teaching firefighters and military personnel. And here’s the sad part, right? The people that are responsible for the health, welfare, and security of our communities and our nation have the lowest paychecks. And that’s a problem. 

If we want to attract, you know, younger, more talented people, right? It’s not the messaging that we use, it’s hey look, I’m going to pay you $100,000 for you to go overseas and not get shot. We hope that you don’t, but if you do, we’re going to take care of you on the back end of that. 

And I think you know, the promise to veterans has been broken in many senses, and the fact that our society doesn’t I’m representing, and I’ll leave you guys with this. 

This is kind of like one of the heaviest comments that I’ve ever heard in many years. So, right before I retired, this was.

In 2020 guys went overseas for the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, and all these paratroopers ran around in their berets looking all cool. We’ve got the guys in Selvidge uniforms and everything else running around, but there’s a couple of those old-World War 2 veterans that were still, you know, alive and kickin’ around. They’re probably in their early to mid-90s. At that point, one of my buddies is walking around, and you know, everybody is like, “Oh, thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service. “Thank you for your service,” someone said. And he looks at him. And he goes. You were worth it. And you’re like, “holy **** man,” like, how do I come back from that? 

So that’s one of the things that I like as a veteran or even as an American citizen. It’s like, hey? It will be worth it for those guys who jumped on a boat, flew on a plane, you know, landed in This foreign country fought for 4 1/2 years. And I’m sorry they did not come back. You know, they didn’t fight that war to protect the world so they could come back and have people. ******** on them on Tik T.O.K, telling people that you’re stupid. You joined the military because you’re dumb. Do you know the laundry list of things that our generation of soldiers got when they came back?

Yeah, yeah.

You know, I mean, I had somebody ask me if I killed any babies while I was overseas, and I was like, “Yeah, only the ones I ate.” 

Oh my God.

Yeah, and I was like, “Hey, I’m kind of. I was hungry and I started reaching for you, you know.

Oh my God, you’re a monster. How could you?

How could you possibly make such a stupid statement?

But, but that. But that’s part of it too. “You knew it, didn’t you?” Rudyard Kipling You know, I said it. You know, there’s always got to be rough men that are willing to go fight for the cause. 

You know, I completely butchered that quote, but I know you know what I’m talking about. Hey, you know, there’s always going to be someone who has an opinion on that. And whether it’s from your experience in a particular industry, it does not normally have folks like that, so you can use it. There are thousands of examples. 

Your NFL fan likes to look at all the black quarterbacks in the NFL, right? 10 years ago, 20 years ago, what we’re talking about Oh, black quarterbacks will never be successful in the NFL. Well, *** man, I’m looking at freaking, you know. What’s more, guess what? Is nobody saying, “Oh, it’s because he’s black? It’s like, “No, Patrick Mahomes is super, super skilled. Do you know what I mean? Like we’re looking at Lamar Jackson and everybody’s like, “Oh, that guy is super, super skilled. It doesn’t matter the color of their skin, but what those guys could do to help us break the freaking stereotype is stop running around with dreadlocks. Talking like you’ve got marbles in your ******* mouth, right?

I was trying to think of the 90s you had, like Randall Cunningham. 

I don’t remember when Michael Vick started, but then you had the guy, oh who was his name again, more moon? Yeah, he ended up playing for the Vikings too, so you had a couple of guys and that was it. Two or three. Can anyone point it out now? You’ve got people out there, killing it.

Yeah, and so. You look at the paradigm shift thing, but in the same breath, what happens? You have a black quarterback, and I’m going to get political for just a second. Yeah, the black quarterback that is kneeling for police brutality. 

You know, I’m Colin Kaepernick, and I’m coming to take a knee because of police brutality. Hey ********, your parents were white. Right, so how can you talk about racial inequality and white privilege when your parents were white? Dude, like you, was adopted? So, if there was systemic racism in the country that wouldn’t allow black people to get an advantage, you would never have been adopted by a white family.

You know, and that’s like, that’s one of the hardest things for me to not just call out BF hypocrisy in the face, and I think, as human beings, we’re hardwired to spot it. But we’re not hardwired to call it out.

Or afraid of standing out to call those things out, though, and it requires people to have courage.

Find your voice and, again, build your tribe. Got a fence around it?

Yeah, do you know? Do you know why? Do you know why Colin Kaepernick kneeled?

No, he couldn’t tell me.

So, he sat for the national anthem one game, and I want to say it was a green beret that told him that kneeling was more honorable. I don’t agree or disagree with you. I don’t personally give a ****, but kneeling was more honorable as a way to say what he wanted in an honorable way.

 I found it interesting that he still respected people but also did a protest, and I found it interesting because a lot of guys in military combat didn’t personally care. I didn’t feel like it was disrespectful because I can’t think of another time. Then kneeling has been disrespectful. You need to get knighted. You kneel to propose. You kneel to pray. So, I don’t understand why kneeling was a big deal Personally, I think it was there. I got quite a bit. a lot of people were agitated

I look at it this way. I don’t think it was Neil. I think it was the intention. 

Right, and so I think intentionality has a lot to do with it. So, for example, if I put a picture of Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick next to each other kneeling, which one of these guys is right?

 It depends on which side of the spectrum we are on. Which one do you hate?

Correct, but if you’re an honest person, you’re like, huh? Well, I never thought of it that way. You know, because he’s doing it and that’s considered honorable, then that guy is doing it. And it’s considered the worst thing was known to man.

What about rioting, you say? We had the January 6th right that people had a problem with. There were riots all over the country before that. One side was promoting it, and then when they got to the capital, the other side promoted it. 

It’s all, it’s all. It’s all about context, right? It’s political, and they’re upset, right? They’re disgruntled like it’s disgruntled when it’s in favor of a political stance that I have, and that’s it. 

And that’s the reason why, you know. Our country. He has to take a step back and look at the 30,000-foot view Here’s what I know. There wouldn’t be every year, tens of thousands of people try to cross the border or immigrate to America. If it wasn’t a great place like if it sucked so badly, people would not be coming here like that.

It was like jumping ship for me.

Just common sense.

As if we truly believed that America was a cesspool in the way that people talk about it now and then.

This is one of my favorite arguments.

Like, why are you here? You know, guess what? I haven’t seen any of that ***** move to Canada.

Yeah, right exactly.

Ha ha ha.

By the way, I love the family and we visited them in Taiwan. They were laughing about the presidency before the entire pandemic. They were like, you guys realized, and they were very opinionated about who should be president, and I was like, OK, why do you feel that way, and they were telling me, “Have you ever thought that? Maybe your news source is skewed.” like you’re being given perspective, that’s not true, so I sat there and talked. I feel like I believe that whatever is going on is because you’re being fed. This person, like this person, is evil, and I go. You should be doing some research to find out for yourself before you speak

I research my stuff. I only have to listen to one person tell me everything in life.

Hey, the key. The key to winning a debate is not raising your voice; it’s attacking the other person’s POV with facts, right? There’s a loser. 

There is a reason. There’s a reason why you know a lot of the new media sources that are out there. You know, when you look at Ben Shapiro and David Crowders. Yeah, I think it’s David Crowder.

Steven Crowder

Steven Crowder Yeah, so when you look at Steven Crowder and guys like that, the reason why those guys are influencing people in the way that they are is that they show their receipts, right? 

So, they don’t say sources, they say, well, what are your sources? Well, go to my website and pull down the laundry list of sources that I cited. And you’d think that people who have lived and grown up in these academic institutions where plagiarism is feared would know, right? That they would show their work because if I write a paper in a U.S. history class and I blatantly plagiarize somebody else’s work and I don’t cite it, guess what? I’m going to fail that class.

So, as a consumer of information, if they cannot cite their sources, regardless of where they come from. They’re probably not being truthful. At the very least, they’re plagiarizing an idea. At the very most, they’re lying to you.

You and they’re cherry-picking.

Well, you’re probably being opinionated more than anything. Do you know what? We live in the age of Google. You can Google everything if you want. You want to do your research. Ask a question on Google. You’ll get a ***** answer.

Yeah, you carry access to the Library of Congress in your pocket.

I’m a Christian, and there are a lot of people angry at Christians right now, especially the ones that are angry at me. Those are the ones that I like to forget there was a New Testament writing that was all about love, grace, and forgiveness. They forget there was a New Testament.

Wait, wow, it’s all edgy now, everything is extremely negative. extremely edgy. What if we turned to our softer side? What about just treating everybody with love? 

If it comes from a place of love and good intentions, you should have no problem. I have no problem with people being so negative that they immediately shoot people down. 

I don’t know. Don’t even get on social media anymore because he is opinionated. Everybody has a negative perspective on me. That’s ******* poison to me because I’m a positive person. I don’t need that *** in my life.

What I tell people all the time is that you know the problem with religion…people… people It’s not a religion. When you sit down and you look at every major religion in the world, it says to be a good person and good things will happen to you. Be nice to your neighbors. Treat people with respect and decency. Every religion says that what perverts it is this right. 

The heads there are like you can read all the scripts that you want, but the intention of our hearts is what makes it worse. So, like, if you’re going to be a charitable person, you don’t have to be, you know. I don’t have to be I don’t have to be Tony Robbins in a mega church to give money away to somebody that’s starving. Do you know what I mean? 

I don’t have to be Franklin Graham or Samaritan’s purse. I just have to say that person is starving. I saw this guy standing on a street corner. I’m going to hit the drive-through at Burger King and buy this guy lunch. 

You know, that’s a simple thing that you can do. You don’t have to preach to them. You don’t have to share a religious message. Nothing like it’ll make it. You feel good about yourself, but guess what? It’s going to make that guy feel even better because he probably hasn’t eaten in two days and those are things that we can all do as part of a community. You know, some days, there are days where I just unplug. It’s like, you know, I’m not even going to rise to the bait. You know, because 90% of our existence today is just batting ideas back and forth and trying to find people that are going to support your idea. 

Rather than going back to how we talked about this like an hour ago, having somebody that’s going to give you honest feedback and be like, “Hey, that’s not right. Or have you considered this?

Back around what you’ve always said, find your tribe. Those people are right. Those people are the ones that are going to help you get to where you want to go.

Yeah, and the folks like that, the cool part about having good people in your tribe is they’re going to give you that feedback and, like no dummy, you’re missing the target here, right? And that’s helpful

Yeah, it is. It is. If people wanted to add you to their tribe, Rob would add you to their tribe. Rob would go to them. They find you.

I am everywhere, but more than likely the best place to find me is on LinkedIn. I use that quite often, and I can send you all my information. I think you have it. But that or you can find me on and here’s time for the shameless plug, so if you don’t like that part of the show, cut it off now.

No, no time for the ads.

No, no go.

The ads

Yeah, yeah, we want to pay some bills, but so yeah, you can find me anytime at We do 2 college football shows. We do an Army football podcast. It’s geared toward West Point graduates and people that are just fans of Army football. We do a College Football Roundtable, which is us waxing philosophical about what’s going on in college football. 

We may or may not have meant to talk about some betting lines and what games we were watching, and maybe that we would lay money on them if our state would allow us to. But we talk about stuff like that and then one of the other things that I do, and it’s something that I’m passionate about, and this is really how I got linked up with Travis, is I do a podcast called Philosophy from the Front Line, and so basically what I do is I take my experience in transition, which I thought I was super, super lucky and blessed to have everything that happened to me happen because it’s put me in the position where I am today. 

And I try and take stories from different veterans of all different walks of life and background and then tell people their transition stories. So maybe they can gain a nugget of wisdom, whether that be from a book that they read, a situation that they were put in, or something to that effect. Because at the end of the day, your transition story is as unique to you as your DNA is, so I can’t. I’ll take the same lesson that I learned and say, “Oh, Travis, you should just do this” because it’s not going to work for him, why? because he’s in a completely different position. I’m in a better place than I was when I transitioned from the army, but there’s probably somebody that’s similar enough to Travis in this situation or my situation that they can benefit from it. And again, the last question that I always ask everybody is what’s a good book that you read that helps you transition, and so that part of it is like, “Oh, here’s the book”. Go find it, look it up, and do some reading again. Do your research. 

Again, that’s why I encourage people to listen to his stories. Do your research and then come up with it. With whom you want to be.

So, you wanted people to miss the part of the interview where you told them all about their future in great detail and logic. I don’t get it. But if you want to hear me talk on the Rob show, I’ve been a guest, and you can go check out what I had to say about my transition story and philosophy from the frontlines, Carol. Do you have anything else you want to add to this before we log off?

No, it’s been an It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show, Rob.

No, I try my best, and again, I think it always helps to have good company and to know people that you can commiserate with and genuinely talk to and be open with and I think that’s one of the biggest. The failings of our communities today are that we just can’t walk over to our neighbor’s house and say, “Hey man, what’s going on in yours? because either that’s considered too intrusive or it’s like I’ve got this nosy neighbor that keeps coming over and asking me how I’m doing. You know, like you figured that would be OK, but it’s 2022 in times of change.

Thank you so much for being our guest today. We’ll see you next week.

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