Jason Van Camp – Pitfalls of Working with Friends, Pitching to the New York Jets, Military Officer to Entrepreneur

Jason Van Camp is what Malcolm Gladwell would refer to as an Outlier; an exceptional person who is successful not just because of his personal accomplishments but his will to win and unique ability and willingness to unlock the potential of others. A decorated Green Beret, world traveler, and loyal friend, Jason has mastered the art of storytelling that reflect many of his own life adventures.  Jason is honored to be the Founder and Chairman of Mission 6 Zero as well as the Executive Director of Warrior Rising.

[00:00:00]Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.

[00:00:23] As everybody listening to this podcast knows, starting a business is really, really hard, managing employees and having difficult conversations. Those are some of the hardest things that you can do in business, but that can get even harder when you build a team that consists of close friends, former colleagues or family members.

[00:00:47] I think a lot of that difficulty can come from a number of areas. Maybe you make some assumptions about those people because of things in their personal life. Maybe it's just awkward to have difficult conversations with them, because maybe they've seen you at your worst in your personal life at some time before, but either way it's a big challenge to build a business with family members, friends and colleagues.

[00:01:14] Sometimes when you go into business with people like that, it can have unintended negative consequences with those personal relationships. So today, we're going to talk with Jason Van Camp. Jason Van Camp is kind of a big deal. He's a former Green Beret and he started a company years ago.  A consulting business that's consulted for the New York Jets and some major corporations.

[00:01:39] Then a few years ago he found it in his heart to start a nonprofit that exists to help veterans. Learn how to start a business from the ground up, and not only start a business, but connect them with funding to connect them with a community of other people, other entrepreneurs that can help them.

[00:01:58] Then to connect them with mentors that can help them, you know, kind of deep dive into their business. So we have a really information dense episode today with Jason Van Camp, where we're going to talk about some of the mistakes he made by hiring close friends and former colleagues in his consulting business.

[00:02:15] We're also going to spend a little time talking to him about his nonprofit and how he's working to serve his fellow veterans. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Jason Van Camp.Jason Van Camp, thank you so much for joining today.

[00:02:30] Jason Van Camp: Hey, Michael, thanks for having me, brother. I appreciate it, man. I'm excited to join you.

[00:02:35] Michael King: Yeah, this is exciting. I think you're the first, military veteran that I've had on the show other than myself, obviously, so this'll be exciting. But you're an army guy, right?

[00:02:45] Jason Van Camp: Yeah, that's right.  Green beret you know, that's kinda what I did with my military career.

[00:02:52] Michael King: All the usual stuff, right. No big deal.

[00:02:54] Jason Van Camp: Yeah. You know, tons of us out there and I'm proud to be a member of the community.

[00:02:59] Michael King: We'll talk a little bit more about your background, but before the call you were telling me one of your big business lessons was it can be dangerous to get into business with friends.  That some of the things that inevitably come up in business can really change friendships and sometimes not for the better.

[00:03:17] Before we get into the details of that. Jason, can you kind of take us back a little bit, touch on your military background maybe a little bit more in detail, and then when you came out, how did you get into business? How did you get in business with a friend and walk us through what happened?

[00:03:32] Jason Van Camp: Sure, so my military career, I graduated from West Point in 2001, 9/11 occurred when I was at OBC officer basic course, and it kinda changed my perspective on what I wanted to do in the military instead of, you know, continuing on. In the field artillery branch. I wanted to do more. I wanted to be at the tip of the sphere.

[00:03:51] So I volunteered to go to ranger school. Then I volunteered to go to the special forces selection qualification course, and now ultimately became a Green Beret commander, deployed three times to the Middle East. Not really interested in a career. You know, I had a lot of fun, had a lot of tough times.

[00:04:08] We took the fight to the enemy. You know, we did some great things, so I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish.

[00:04:13] Michael King: Awesome.  When did you decide to transition from the military to the civilian world?

[00:04:18] Jason Van Camp: So I enjoyed my military career a lot and I didn't think I was going to go 20 years, but when I was on a JCET, a joint combined exchange training with the Malian echelon-teak, and to RNA.

[00:04:31] So kind of indigenous forces in the country of Mali, I got really sick.  I'm on a mission. We were fighting Tuareg rebels and I was checking the security of their patrol base and we were out in the jungle. You know, crazy area. And, like I said, I got sick and ultimately it was better I get back to the embassy in Bamako for a few days.

[00:04:53]I recovered, I went back to my team, and then shortly thereafter we deployed back to the States. When I got back to the States, I had a tonic clonic seizure. So I kind of woke up in my bed and there were paramedics, firefighters and policemen, probably 12 people, and all standing in my room in the middle of the night.

[00:05:12] Now it was kind of like, who are you guys? Like, what are you doing in my house? What are you doing here? And they informed me that I had a seizure. My body was sore. I bit my tongue really, really hard. I could taste the blood in my mouth.  Unfortunately, ever since then, I developed a seizure disorder.

[00:05:29] As a result of that, the military wouldn't let me stay. Let's see, three years after I had my first seizure I fought it. You know, I went to all the top neurologists and ultimately the army said, listen, we don't know what's wrong with you, you can't deploy, you can't shoot, you can't jump. Hell, you can't even drive yourself, you know? So, we're gonna give you a medical retirement.

[00:05:52] Michael King: For me and a lot of other people, the transition from the known of the military with a guaranteed paycheck, you know what to do every day, you know what to expect for the most part, then transitioning into the civilian world and having to find a job and a career,

[00:06:08] can be really scary. I imagine for you it was probably even more so the case because it was kind of the medical thing that led you in that direction. How did you work through the next steps figuring out what to do next?

[00:06:23] Jason Van Camp: You know, I never let that condition bring me down. I never let it bother me.

[00:06:29] I always kind of felt in my heart, like I would figure a way out, to kick it, and you know, the doctors gave me medicine, which kind of made me totally loopy, changed my personality around it. Whether it worked or didn't, I have no idea. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. And I take that medicine as well.

[00:06:47] I was like, you know what? I don't want to live my life like this. I want to choose my own destiny. Choose how I live my life. So, I said to myself, when I got out of the military the same question everybody asks, what's next? What am I going to do with myself? I looked around and I saw.

[00:07:04] A lot of my friends joined medical sales companies and I said, you know what, I don't really want to do that. God bless them, they're doing great work. They're making a lot of money. It seems like they're really happy. I don't feel like that's my fate. I saw other friends that were starting their own businesses and they were really successful, and they were making a lot of money and they were having a great time.

[00:07:26] And I said, that kind of feels more like what I want to do. And my mother told me when I was young, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. So I started a business and I started a business knowing that I wanted to do something that I was knowledgeable about and passionate about. I was very passionate about leadership.

[00:07:45] And I was passionate about relationships and friends. And I always thought that life isn't about trophies, it's about people. It's about the relationships that you have with those people. So I started a company called mission zero. I started it, initially because of the people that I served with, my former commanders and my bosses

[00:08:08] I thought they were the most amazing leaders I've ever met in my life. Just guys I looked up to, wanting to emulate. I wanted other people to emulate it. I wanted my kids to, and the same thing with some of my peers, just amazing people, amazing leaders.

[00:08:22] and some of my subordinates as well. So I got all the commanders and subordinates together and I said, guys, what do you say? We create a company where we provide leadership consulting services to corporations, businesses, and so forth. They all agreed. The guys that I had on the team were medal of honor recipients, you know guys that were navy seals, Green Berets, delta force, rangers, marines, unbelievable people.

[00:08:49] Then we combined sciences, PhDs, researchers, experts, behavioral researchers and we combined forces. So we took the special forces and the science together, and we created a curriculum that we deliver to corporate clients as well as professional sports clients. That's what I did with myself.

[00:09:09] I created a business.

[00:09:12] Michael King: I think that most of our listeners are wondering, how did you do this successfully without having somebody from the submarine force on your team?

[00:09:19] Jason Van Camp: Well that, you know, and the coast guard. So I'm not sure how we were able to do this without those guys. No idea. Dumb luck, I suppose.

[00:09:29] Michael King: It sounds cool conceptually. Like, oh, we're going to just go grab this group of, you know, special forces guys and oh, let's grab some scientists too, and then let's just  go start a company where we talked to corporate clients about leadership. How did you do that? I mean, it sounds cool, but I mean.

[00:09:47] Tactically making that a thing. That sounds challenging.

[00:09:51] Jason Van Camp: Oh, it was incredibly challenging, especially when I had no idea what I was doing. I had received my MBA before I started the company. But I had no experience. I had absolutely no experience and the people on my team just trusted me to get the job done.

[00:10:07] And because I had their support, it gave me a lot of confidence to figure things out. Now, I kind of joke with my dad that the Van Camp family motto is cart before the horse. You know what I mean? And so I feel like we were kind of building the plane as we were taking off, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel the same way as Simon Simek said, I believe this was Simon Sinek.

[00:10:30] He said something like, if you're not embarrassed by your first attempt. You've waited too long, put together a curriculum and we went out there and we  landed an opportunity with the New York Jets. I started cold calling NFL teams. I found a list on google of phone numbers and I just started cold calling alphabetically.

[00:10:53] I finally got to the New York Jets and they picked up the phone they heard my pitch, my elevator pitch, you know, 30 seconds. And they said, you know what, we really like your enthusiasm. You seem like a great guy. We'll let you come up here and pitch to our head coach, and our GM. But just so you know, we're not going to hire you.

[00:11:10] This is only for practice. No expectations. You're going to have to pay for your own flight, hotel, car and everything else, and you'll have 30 minutes tops. We need you to be up here on this day. So I thanked the gentleman that gave us the opportunity and I told him we'd be there. I got together with two of the members of my team and then went up to flood park, New Jersey and pitched to the New York Jets.

[00:11:34] That was crazy because our car got a flat tire on the highway, in the pouring rain, so we're changing this tire, we're drenched, we hope to get to the jets compound early so we could practice and set up and everything. But as it turns out, we got to the location soaking, dripping wet, two minutes before we were set to present.

[00:11:57] They met us in the lobby and then just ushered us into the conference room where the head coach, Rex Ryan and the GM, Mike Tan and all the coaches were ready for us. We weren't even prepared. We just had to go and do it. I think that kind of helped us in a way because we had nothing to lose.

[00:12:15] We laid our hearts on the table, exposed our hearts, and we won the contract. That was our first ever client was in New York Jets.

[00:12:24] Michael King: That's awesome.

[00:12:30] Jason Van Camp: Nothing glorious about that. It's soaking wet and just looking like a bunch of rugrats.  Go in and have crazy fun.

[00:12:33] Michael King: That's awesome. So let's talk a little bit more about the team that you put together to start this thing, where you buddies with any of these guys, where they, people that you had served with that you knew really well, or was it just a bunch of people you connected with over LinkedIn?

[00:12:46] And. Just said, Hey, who's interested in this? And those were the ones that happened to raise their hand.

[00:12:52] Jason Van Camp: man, they were all friends, not just friends, but close friends. All of these guys I trusted, I served with in combat, guys that I served under as far as by commanders. And you know, guys I served alongside with and guys I commanded in combat.

[00:13:07] So, you know, they were all my friends. Looking back on things. It's so tough to start a business with your friends cause it's all about communication and it's all about, you know how people view you. When they view you a certain way as a friend, it's tough for them to view you as a boss or as a commander or somebody who's, you know, writing them a paycheck every, every month.

[00:13:32] Or, you know, making decisions and in a business sphere, whereas they know you're not as experienced as other people are, and in the military, in combat, they know you've gone to the training, they know you're an expert, they know you. You've kind of proven yourself in a way, but in a business sense, there's a lot of trial and error,  and it's tough because every time you fail, you know you're losing money in some form or fashion.

[00:14:04] Michael King: How do you handle that? What kind of things maybe came up along the way that put that to the test and how did you handle it?

[00:14:12] Jason Van Camp: You know, looking back, hindsight is always 2020 as they say. Looking back on things like, it really comes down to communication, setting expectations, having those tough conversations before you even start, you know?

[00:14:26] It's really tough to have those conversations, especially when you don't know where you're going with your business. If you're going to make money, if you're going to fail.  A lot of times my attitude is let's just do this and see what happens and then afterwards we can talk about it.

[00:14:41] Whatever it is that we need to talk about, that's kind of setting people up for failure in a way. Like I said, communication and setting expectations, there's certain things that you need to discuss with your guys before you try to create a startup company or you bring people on as new hires, find out what their personal motivations are.

[00:15:01] Find out what their vision is, what their dream is, what they want to accomplish. I'll give you a story that is not necessarily a business story.  A really close friend of mine, his name is Cameron, about four years ago, I was getting ready to get married for the first time, and he had been married for 10 years or so.

[00:15:20] I really looked up to him and I thought he and his wife had a great relationship and I asked him and other people for advice say, what advice do you have for me? Like, how do you guys create a great marriage? What do you think? Cameron was like dude, listen, it's easy man. Marriage is easy.

[00:15:38] Here's what you gotta do. He told me a few things, some pointers and everything. I took it to heart, and you know, I got married and my wife and I had been married for four and a half years now, and it's been fantastic. Cameron and I had lunch about two months ago, we were sitting down, we're eating, and I could tell he was not happy.

[00:15:57] I asked him, what's up man? He seemed different. Men see things that are off, you know? And he said, well, Jay, listen, I'm getting a divorce. I was shocked. I was taken aback. I was like, bro,  you're getting a divorce? I thought everything was going so well, man.

[00:16:11] I'm shocked, you know? And he's like, yeah,  so am I, I didn't really know what to make of it. I said, well, do you mind if you tell me the story? He said, well, I came home a couple of days ago, kids were playing in the house, I walked in, my wife was in the kitchen, and she said, Cameron, matter of factly, she said, I'm leaving.

[00:16:33] You want to get a divorce? Cameron thought she was joking, he kind of looked at her, laughed a little bit, picked up the controller and was about to sit on the couch. Then she said, no, I want a divorce. I've been cheating on you for a year and I'm leaving tonight. Cameron was completely surprised.

[00:16:56] He had no idea how to react to this. Like completely caught off guard, reverted to begging. He was like, please stay, can we talk about this? We've got kids, just stay and you know, what can we do? I can work on this. I can get better. I can do this; I can do that. She didn't care. She was emotionally checked out.

[00:17:13] She had her bags packed, by the door. She picked up her bags and she was walking out and you know, Cameron was begging for her to stay. She said, you know what, okay, I'll give you one shot. She turned around, she dropped her bag, she looked at him and she said, okay, I will stay.

[00:17:31] If you tell me one thing, tell me what my dream is. Tell me what my vision is. What do I want to do with my life? Cameron looked at her and he just shrugged his shoulders and he said, I don't know. She picked up her bags and she left. She's never been back. As Cameron and I were having this conversation over lunch, he says, you know, Jay, remember when you came to me?

[00:17:55] He said, you know, help me have a successful marriage.  I told you marriage was easy. I was like, yeah, man, I do remember that. He said, well, it was easy for me, but it wasn't easy for her. We ended the conversation like that. Immediately I went home, I went to ask my wife, what's your vision?

[00:18:16] You know, what do you want to accomplish in your life? Because I wanted to make sure that I never got put in a similar situation that Cameron did. So I tell you that story because everybody has their own agendas and you can't control that. A lot of times you can't know what those things are until you actually sit down, and you communicate on a deep, intimate level.

[00:18:39] Michael King: Thinking back to the friendship issue that you had when you first started, was it that kind of communication that was lacking? Do you think that caused the riff?

[00:18:50] Jason Van Camp: I do. I think it was me not knowing what questions to ask, you guys are joining me in this startup. What are your goals and aspirations?

[00:19:01] What do you want to do with this company? How long do you want to be here? How much money do you want to make? What do you want to do with yourself? Those kinds of questions I didn't ask, you know, I didn't think to ask, I just felt like, hey, here's my top goal that we need to accomplish.

[00:19:18] Let’s all band together, accomplish it, and then we'll move to the next step. But I didn't realize that all these folks had different goals. Hovering around nebulously, you know, in their own psyches and auras that I wasn't aware of. They were kind of doing their own thing in a way.  I'll tell you another story.

[00:19:37] When we worked with the New York Jets,  I had a guy there named Matt Slawson who was a left guard, phenomenal All-Pro guy. He had been at GE with a team for about four years. After we finished one of our events with the Jets players, I asked him, I said, hey man, like how did it go? What do you think now?

[00:19:54] Did you learn anything? He said, yeah, Jay, I learned a lot. I'll tell you what he said, see that guy over there, and he pointed across the way, there was a gentleman there named Jeff Cumberland. He was a tight end, with the Jets, and he'd be on the VLDL on the team for maybe three years. And he says, Matt says, you see.

[00:20:15] That guy and I said, yeah. He's like, that's Jeff Cumberland. You know, we've been on the same team for now for about three years, and I'm a left guard. He's a tight end. We're on offense. We played virtually next to each other, and the first time I've ever said a word to Jeff was five minutes ago, and I said, wow, man, you guys have been on the same team for three years.

[00:20:35] I just walked out of a meeting earlier today. With the Jets coach, Rex Ryan, and he was motivating the guys and yelling at them and shouting at them and saying things like, we're a family. We're brotherhood. We fight for the meds where our left and to our right now, how can you fight for the man? See your left and see a riot if you don't even know who that person is.

[00:20:55] If you haven't even had a conversation with this guy and you only care about him, like why would you fight for him? And we had a great discussion about that with Jeff and Matt. And we were actually able to get them to communicate and to become friends. And Jeff, that season was the best season of his career because he felt more comfortable in the environment.

[00:21:14] He was in the, you could fight for the meds was left on his rep because he knew who they were, and he felt like they had his back. That started to develop leadership skills based upon that conversation and the training that we gave him. So much so that later on in his career, you know, other NFL teams would bring him on, not because of his play on the field, there's a left guard, but because he had such a great reputation as being a leader.

[00:21:38] A leader in the locker room, a guy that could bring people together and things like that. And so that's so critical and so critically important to succeed as a team, to communicate. You know, the guys that might seem kind of the same thing, like, you know, you gotta communicate, you gotta get on the same wavelength.

[00:21:56] If you're not, you're just going to shoot yourself in the foot. You know, for me, we're working with friends. My biggest pet peeve, bugaboo, you know, issue was whatever I felt like guys were taking advantage of me. You know, I've got a huge heart and I'll honestly, I'll give guys the shirt off my back. I'm loyal as the day is long and I pride myself in those things.

[00:22:19] I value those things. I love being loyal and I love to receive the feeling of loyalty back, you know? But whenever somebody on my team, whatever, I feel like they seemingly took advantage of me in some way. You know, it's, it's hard for me to, to deal with that, you know? And that's an issue that I've had to overcome.

[00:22:40] Michael King: I was leading a strategy planning session with a nonprofit that I work with this weekend, and we're trying to get some clarity around the direction of the nonprofit and who exactly who we want to serve and how we want to do it. I used Patrick Lencioni's.

[00:22:57] The Advantage as the framework. To walk through this in the first part of that process, Jason, is just to go around the room what's your name? Where are you from? How many siblings do you have? Where do you fall in there and what was the challenge that you had growing up? And as I was preparing for this, the strategy session, I was a little bit reluctant to put it into the format, because I said, well, most of these folks have been working together for years now in there.

[00:23:27] It's a really tight group. Honestly. there's a lot of camaraderie. And I said, I think this will probably be a waste of time. And you know, it will probably just take a couple minutes. And interestingly enough, everybody learned something about everybody else in the room that day. It was such an eye opener that even teams that have been together, just like you talked about, like the jets teams that have worked together side by side with each other sometimes for years.

[00:23:52] You don't stop to ask those kinds of what in hindsight looks like fundamental questions to get to know your brothers and sisters so that you can develop those more meaningful relationships and have it been more like a family. So I think it's a good reminder that we as leaders, we need to take the time and ask those questions and don't just assume that you know that the guy or gal to your left and right or that everybody else does as well.

[00:24:15] Walk through that exercise and really get to know each other even with some really basic questions so that you can move the needle forward on the relationships.

[00:24:25] Michael King: I’m wondering, do you think that because you knew some of these men and women going into business with them together.  Since you knew them ahead of time.

[00:24:36] Do you think that it's easier in that situation to not ask those questions? Like you talked about with what are your dreams? What's your vision? What are your aspirations? And I'm going to add a question in there that I found to be a good one to ask. What is your risk tolerance with this thing so that you think it's easier to avoid those questions because you just assume you know, because you were friends?

[00:24:58] Or a coworker  ahead of time.

[00:25:00] Jason Van Camp: Yeah. I think it is easier not to ask those questions because like you said, you feel like you already know them, you know? And it might be awkward to ask them those questions. What is a little bit out of character? You know? And then it's also. Probably when you were in that situation, you'd probably be asking yourself or think to yourself, why is this relevant?

[00:25:19] Why is this necessary? Why do I even need to ask these questions? You know? But it's so critically important to really get to know people around you, what makes them tick, what motivates them, what drives them. And you'd be shocked to find out how deep some of your friends can get, you know, like with their goals and aspirations and their motivations and what's happened to them and their lives.

[00:25:44] I grew up in Washington, DC and, when friends of ours, relatives, family members would come into town, they'd want to get a tour of DC, and we'd take them on a tour, and we'd drive them around. And it's kinda crazy. When you drive around and they're like, Oh, what's that? Oh, that's the department of the treasury.

[00:26:02] Oh, can we go there? And you think to yourself, actually, I've never been there. I've lived here my whole life and I've never been there. I've never been to, you know, this Memorial. I've never, you just kind of take it for granted, you know what I mean? And you don't really get a chance to experience. The place that you live or the people that you're around, unless somebody new comes in and challenges you and gives you a different perspective and a fresh set of eyes, you know?

[00:26:25] And that's what we do at mission 600. That's why consultants are important because they offer that fresh perspective.

[00:26:31] Michael King: I want to talk a little bit more about warriors rising.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on why you started warrior rising. Who do you serve, how you serve them, and why this is such a passionate endeavor for you?

[00:26:48] Jason Van Camp: Yeah, definitely. I'd be more than happy to. I'm very passionate about it. So it's a labor of love that really is, it's good for the soul, you know, and it's good to give back. but you want to spend your time doing something that, you know, offers real value. And so the genesis of more your rising really occurred when my company missions zero was trained in the Oakland Raiders a few years ago, and, brought out a lot of injured combat veterans to be my instructors.

[00:27:19] To share their stories. It's cathartic for them to share their stories is powerful for the clients to hear these stories about the zillions and overcoming adversity. We did the event after the event and we were kind of hanging out celebrating and we were talking and I was an officer in the military as you guys know now, and it's been internalized and all officers to make sure your guys are taken care of you know?

[00:27:40] So I started asking questions about their lives and you know, making sure that things were going well for them. And I just asked, you know, how are things going guys? Tell me what's new. And, guys were telling me, Hey, you know, like we get a large disability check from the government. There are all sorts of charities out there that take hunting and fishing charities to build homes for us.

[00:28:00] They've got one guy who is a triple amputee. They got a $500,000 home bill for him in Montana where it's handicap accessible, it's fantastic. And I said, okay, great guys, I'm happy to hear that you guys are being taken care of and everything is well. And it was kinda quiet and guys were kind of looking down and I could tell something was up.

[00:28:22] I said, well guys, talk to me like, what's going on? You know?  And they said, almost collectively, they said, Jason is not that great man. And I said, okay, well this sounds pretty good, man. Well, what's not so great about it? And they said, no, we go on this holiday, did fishing trips, and we had a good time.

[00:28:38] And then we come home and nothing's changed for us. As a matter of fact, things were actually worse because we'd rather be hunting and fishing. You know? And when I would just sit here, and we wait for the next opportunity where someone can take us out for free to go hunting and fishing. And it kind of demotivates me in a way.

[00:28:56] It kind of prevents me from doing things on my own, you know? I said, interesting. And the guy that had the home bill for him, he's like, you know, J I was grateful for somebody to think that they could build a home for me, and now looking at it like, I kind of resent this house. You know, I don't feel like I've earned this house.

[00:29:15] I don't feel like I did anything to get a chance to live in this house. And, you know, I don't like living here anymore. And I sit outside of my front porch and I don't want to go inside, you know, because I don't want to feel bad. I sit outside, I smoke weed all day, and that's not me, man. And I never aspired to be like that.

[00:29:34] I never wanted to be like that. I said, okay. I talked to him just like I would before they got injured. Just like brothers. That's how they want to be treated, how they want to be talked to? That's said, okay, what are you going to do about it? And they said, well, Jason, we joined the military for a reason, man.

[00:29:48] We're disciplined, hardworking, patriotic, wanting to do more, wanting to give back, wanting to serve other people, and everybody serves us. Man. It just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel good. And I said, okay. Again, like, what are you going to do about it? And I said, well, Jason, it comes down to, you know, having a purpose again in the military, we had a very clear purpose.

[00:30:08] I said, okay. And I said, well, Jason help us. How did you find your purpose when you left the military? I said, guys as you know, I had this seizure disorder and it kind of forced me out and I guess the first thing I did was I started this business. And whether or not it succeeds or fails is completely on my shoulders.

[00:30:26] I get a chance to bring you guys back out on the team. We'll get a chance to make money and add value to our clients, and we get a chance to, you know, hang out and have a great time. And I guess that's my purpose. Again, this is how I serve. So I continue to serve. This is my purpose. And they said, well Jason you know, we've kind of noticed that and we want to have that same experience as well.

[00:30:47] And I was kinda confused. I'm like, what do you mean? And they said, well, we want to start a business too. And I said, okay, well how many of you guys want to start businesses? And they all kind of raised their heads. And I was like, wow, like you all do. You know, I was kind of shocked. And I said, well, how many of you guys have ideas?

[00:31:04] And most of the guys' ideas, I think all of them had an idea. And so I said, okay, well, cool man. Let me, you know, let me hear it, what ideas you got. And we kind of went around and one by one guys were telling me their ideas. Most of the ideas were horrible, terrible ideas, you know, and, I would just tell him that bluntly, guys, this is no, don't do that.

[00:31:26] This is dumb and here's why, you know? And they would thank me, and I thought to myself, okay. Yeah. I just saved this guy years of his life that he would've spent pursuing this idea. And I saved him his life savings. And he, you know, like I'm helping this guy out. And some of the ideas that I heard were really good.

[00:31:42] And I said, you know what? That sounds good. You should do that. Show me your business plan and your proforma and your operating agreement, your SWOT analysis. And they were just like, what the hell are you talking about, man? And I said, listen, if you don't know what those things are you shouldn't start a business.

[00:31:59] And they said, well, Jason, do you know what those things are? And I was like, well, yeah, like I got my MBA. And they're like, okay, well if you have that stuff, could you just give me your stuff and I'll just copy it? And I was like, bro, guys, you know, like, that doesn't work like that. You don't have to create your own stuff.

[00:32:14] And I'm like, well, how do I learn about this? And I said, well, I got my MBA. I guess, you know, you could get your MBA as well, or you could go just YouTube some videos or Google some stuff. Man, you know, you guys are smart people. Just figure it out. And I just kind of left it like that. And, we had a great rest of the night.

[00:32:30] We hung out and we left.  I went home and those would go by weeks. We build bonds in months. We build bonds. This conversation kept coming back to me and I couldn't kick it. I just kept thinking about this and I kept thinking, you know, I was really short, really Curt with these guys. They really reached out to me for help.

[00:32:50] They really wanted to have purpose again. They needed my help. I could do more; I should do more. And finally I said, I will do more. And so I reached back out to those guys and other guys, veterans, and I said,  is this a problem guys? This is something you want to do. And we had long discussions about it, and I decided that at the very least, I could start a nonprofit to help veterans, in the most charitable way.

[00:33:15] I know how to help them help themselves. And so we created Warrior Rising in 2015 and we really started getting it going in 2016 and last year we raised close to a million dollars and we helped 40 veterans every single week for a total of over a thousand veterans served in 2019. So we're really, really proud about that.

[00:33:42] Now we help veterans in four very specific ways. One education, and you know, we've created an online trading platform or curriculum called the Warrior Academy that translates the military operations order into a business model. And I've gone through several iterations of that and we've received tremendous feedback and, we're really proud of what we've traded there.

[00:34:05]The second pillar that we have is mentorship. And so we partner a veteran up with a one-on-one bedsore. Together they create a go to market strategy. Third thing is financial assistance. So we give grants, loans, and investments to veterans. And fourth, we have a community. So we have chapters, we call them platoons all over the country, and veterans and veterans’ supporters can get together.

[00:34:29] It doesn't matter if you're a high-level CEO or you're a startup company guy, like we don't, you know, separate by class, everybody can come and hang out and enjoy each other's company and help each other out. And, you know, we do networking events and we do guest speakers. We do fun events, like we'll go to an NBA game or we'll do some shooting at the range.

[00:34:52] So we build camaraderie, we build those that work, sustainable, meaningful relationships. And, and that's what we do at warrior rising.

[00:35:00] Michael King:That’s absolutely amazing. So it's really what I'm hearing you say. It's kind of about educating and empowering veterans that want to start a business with a pretty like guided, legit curriculum, in process that's going to help them kind of flush out the idea and put together a no shit, go to market strategy and then put them in a community of others that can help them succeed.

[00:35:23] And then, it is necessary to plug them in with the various forms of capital to help them fund their dreams and take it and get it off the ground. Is that right?

[00:35:33] Jason Van Camp: That's right. That's right.

[00:35:34] Michael King: How can people that want to get involved with warrior rising, find out more.

[00:35:38] Jason Van Camp: Thank you for that question. So you can go onto our website warriorrising.org and find out everything that we do.

[00:35:46] You can see all of our finances, our bylaws, you know, you can get our nine 90 is on there. So you can really take a look and know that we're legit. You know, you can find out how if you're a veteran that you want to start a business, you can find out how to do that by applying, you know, we'll have a special intake manager call you within 48 hours to have a conversation with you about your business and why you want to start.

[00:36:11] And then if you're a supporter, there's so many things that you could do to help us out. Of course, we need donations. We need money. We need foundation support with the company, donations to support our growth and so forth. 82.4% of every dollar goes back to the veteran. That was our percentage  in 2019.

[00:36:31] You can be a platoon leader and your location and host events and help us sponsor events. You can sponsor a fundraising event. You can be a mentor to a veteran. You can be an investor to a veteran. You can be, somebody who can give a loan to a veteran, you know, and then most importantly, just be a good dude.

[00:36:50] Just be a good person. You know, join us in our community. Attend events, help however you see fit. You know, feel good about yourself. Feel good about helping veterans, seeing them, helping themselves, you know, giving them a chance to learn how to fish rather than just giving them a fish. Right? So that's a very sustainable process that we've created, and we're very, very proud of that.

[00:37:16] And we're always looking for people that want to help. They're of the right mindset and they are passionate about the veteran community.

[00:37:25] Michael King: Now, I know you've also got a book coming out, right?

[00:37:29] Jason Van Camp: I do. It'll be out one week from today, February 11th

[00:37:32] Michael King: what is deliberate discomfort all about?

[00:37:36] Jason Van Camp: Okay, so a deliberate discomfort.

[00:37:38] The subtitle is how U S special operations forces overcome fear and dare to win by getting comfortable being uncomfortable. It's a leadership book for businesses and a self-improvement book for individuals. It will be out officially on February 18th so you can buy it on Amazon or wherever books are sold, and it contains our company curriculum.

[00:37:58] Contains leadership lessons from veterans, Bentyl, Vata recipients, Green Berets, Navy seals, Marines, Rangers, unbelievable stories, true stories, true accounts. And then we have a scientist that takes those. Stories and the lessons in those stories, and they translate them into relatable and digestible action items.

[00:38:20] So you can understand what is behind each chapter. So it's not just a motivational, inspirational story about a veteran, it's about lessons that you can take and apply it to your personal professional lives. And then at the end of each chapter, after you hear the veteran and the scientist, we come back in and we say.

[00:38:40] Listen from a business standpoint and missions are zero. We've been in business for eight years. We worked with a number of clients, celebrity clients, professional sports clients, and here are some examples of how those clients took the lessons in this chapter and applied them to their own businesses for their own benefit.

[00:38:58] And I figure, you know, to be the best. You've got to learn from the best. And who better than the guys I mentioned above the medal of honor guys, Navy seals, Rangers, Green Berets, Delta force guys who better than these heroes, you know, and I call them heroes because in my mind, heroes don't get a vote.

[00:39:14] You know? And, and what people don't understand is when we say deliberate discomfort. You know, discomfort is not a negative thing. It's a positive thing. It's a growth mindset. And what we're trying to start a mission six zero is a deliberate discomfort revolution.

[00:39:29] Michael King: I think it's going to be an amazing book.

[00:39:31] In fact, I would love to connect some people with this book. So the first 10 people that go to kfesolutions.com/discomfort I'm personally going to FedEx you a hard copy of Deliberate Discomfort. That way we can get the book out to some people and get the word out on how amazing it is. That link will be in the show notes.

[00:39:52] So the first 10 people that come by kfesolutions.com/discomfort give me your information and I'll send you a hard copy of the book, Deliberate Discomfort by Jason VanCamp. How about that?

[00:40:04] Jason Van Camp: I love that, man. Thank you. Keep coming. Keep it going. This is awesome.

[00:40:08] Michael King:  I'm all out. So, Jason, this was an education for sure.

[00:40:13] I really appreciate you coming by today and sharing some of your stories. thank you very much for giving back to the veteran, entrepreneur community, and thanks for all of the amazing work you do.

[00:40:24] Jason Van Camp: Thank you so much. It's been an absolute honor, a privilege and a pleasure to be on the show.

[00:40:30] Absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much.

[00:40:40] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.