The After Action Review

Every Veteran business owner has a unique story to tell about their journey through entrepreneurship. Those stories can help inspire, educate, and motivate other Veterans who are either in the middle of their own journey or considering starting one. The After Action Review Podcast (The AAR Podcast) serves as a vehicle to create, promote, and support a network of Veteran entrepreneurs by capturing and sharing their stories with the Veteran community.

The AAR Podcast, is an audio and video podcast for Military and Veteran entrepreneurs, business owners, artists, and non profit organizations. We promote entrepreneurship and Veteran products, business, and service.

Filtering by Tag: Entrepreneur

Digital Mentor

by Rod Rodriguez


Almost every expert, best selling writer, or lecturer on the subject of entrepreneurship will agree that one of the most important and valuable things you can do for yourself and your growing business is seek a mentor. Mentorship can be a crucial part of your development as an entrepreneur as it provides you a person who has the experience to guide you, advise you, and motivate you to keep going on those when giving up seems so much easier than slogging through another day.

The problem with mentors is finding them. All too often for entrepreneurs who are outside of an academic institution, finding someone who will take time to talk with you is a real challenge. Not being able to find a mentor can make you feel discouraged and contribute to your justification for giving up on your idea. There are online websites and programs that can help you find a mentor but even then you might be keeping yourself from pursuing those options because your embarrassed or just so unsure of the whole thing that looking for that person makes you uncomfortable.

One option is, YouTube. One of the ways I’ve used YouTube in the past was to educate myself on different aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Although I was going to an academy and I had a black belt instructor, on YouTube I had dozens of high level world class instructors teaching me different exotic movements, sharing their thoughts and philosophies on Jiu Jitsu, and also providing me with their lessons learned and advice for training. There are YouTube Jiu Jitsu instructors I honestly feel like I know even though we’ve never met because I’ve consumed hundreds of hours of their material!

As an entrepreneur, I can tell you right away that there are dozens of high level entrepreneurs on YouTube with hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of lectures, tutorials, rants, and classes that will speak to you directly. Seek a YouTube mentor who is immersed in your market and consume everything they’ve put out. One of the guys I follow is Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re not familiar with who he is then do yourself a HUGE favor and YouTube Gary Vaynerchuk and click on any of his many videos. In a nutshell,  he’s a self made media mogul who started with an online wine business that’s expanded into a media company that he hopes will eventually lead to him buying the NY Jets football team. For months now I’ve been consuming his videos which are chalk full of inspiration, great social media advice, and some uncomfortable truths about my mindset and how I need to change the way I think in order to be the entrepreneur I want to be. His message is accessible to me day and night, I have a variety of topics I can cover through his videos that answer the questions I have at the time. Of course, the video version of Gary Vaynerchuk isn’t a replacement for the real person whose direct mentorship is valued at more money than I’ve made this year but compared to free videos on YouTube, I think I’m getting the bargain here.

There are lots of other personalities on YouTube you can explore such as Grant Cardone whose selling technique, energy, and over the top personality will super charge your desire to sell (WHO’S GOT MY MONEY???) or if you’re looking at developing your leadership skills by upping your emotional intelligence then Tony Robbins’ videos will inspire you to learn more about yourself and to ask some really hard questions. There are also interviews with business leaders such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and many others who share their lessons learned and give practical advice for anyone willing to listen. Tai Lopez, you might remember him as the YouTube “you know whats better than this Lamborghini…knoooowledge” guy, makes a great point about the autobiography of Sam Walton. He wrote his story, the story of how he became a billionaire and most people haven’t read it. Think about that, he left the blue print for how he made his fortune and most people haven’t read it! YouTube is kind of like that. The successful business people are sharing their stories, challenges, and lessons with you and its FREE! You just have to watch!

YouTube has a wealth of knowledge for you to dip into and sure some of these guys can get a bit cheezy or gimmicky. Here’s the thing though, use their knowledge and experience to boost your confidence and interest in entrepreneurship. Then use that to explore the option of finding someone in the market you want to break into for mentorship. You might even find that you both share the same interest in YouTube mentor! I promise you this, the ROI for your time on YouTube will be tremendous but only if you’re pursuing the right information.

So get on YouTube, find Gary Vaynerchuk and take him for a spin. Not your flavor, try Grant Cardone, or Tai Lopez, or all of them. Devote an hour in the morning to hear their message, get fired up, and let them guide you through the steps you need to take to get your business off the ground!

“Ideas are shit! Execution is the game!” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Seriously, don’t!

I heard a story today from a 9-5 coworker about a guy he knows who quit his job to become an entrepreneur. I want you think about that sentence for a second. He QUIT his job to BECOME and entrepreneur. Not that he was one and thus quit his day job, he quit to BECOME one. Someone hit the wrong answer buzzer because that ladies and gentlemen is the wrong answer. His excuse for doing so was time, that he didn’t have time to fully devote himself to his business therefore his regular job had to go, OH and he wanted investors so that he could use that money to sustain himself and this new business.

If your skin isn’t crawling from that anecdote then I’m glad you’re reading this. Everyone else can just hang tight because it’s that mentality that I want to address. Thinking that you must quit your job to really devote yourself to your business venture sounds cool in a way. It’s part of that entrepreneur mystique that can lure even the most level headed of us into making some serious mistakes. That mystique carries with it the legends of “all in” kinds of guys who threw caution to the wind and by doing so they could devote their time to the successful startup that launched them into the stratosphere of the worlds riches humans. That mystique is complete bullshit and I can not only point to some very prominent entrepreneurs who made their fortunes slowly but I can also point to a little thing called common sense, common in that everyone should understand the insane risk of expecting things to fall into place when you’re dependent on a very limited cash flow like your investors’ money to live and work off.

 Unfortunately, the Silicon Valley startup-venture-capital-angel-fund-multi-seed-round story of 20 something year old raising $25 million dollars has become the standard by which wanna-be entrepreneurs now hold themselves to. “How can you expect me to work under these conditions? I can’t concentrate on this while I work full time!”

Here’s the truth, many of us will not succeed. That is not an opinion, that is a fact. Most of us will fail for a multitude of reasons. Everything from poor planning to simply a terrible idea or we the aspiring entrepreneur are simply not good at what we’re trying to do at when we’re trying to do it. That’s it. It might not happen. With that in mind, your 9-5 job IS your startup money! That’s the point of the grind! It’s the training ground, the trial that separates ideas from become reality. There is no faster way to kill the “Good Idea Fairy” than with the swift bullet of working after WORK!

The other thing to consider is if you can’t hack working 12,16,18 hours then what makes you think you’re going to be able to do it with your business? The typical response to this is, “Well it’s different when its your own business…” Well yeah! It’s WAY harder! There’s no one there to tell you to get things done, or how it should be done, or how to get it all done. There’s no co-worker for you to BS with it’s literally your ass on the line at that point and if you haven’t set your foundation right when you were working that 9-5 then your whole enterprise will fall taking your investors down with you!

“There’s always a tipping point where you have to leave your job, but the point is, know where that point is before you quit,” said Blumenthal, the co-founder and co-CEO of online glasses retailer Warby Parker. “Because frankly being in the workforce, you’re probably more likely to see opportunities for innovation, opportunities for new businesses as opposed to just sitting at home in your garage.” – Matthew Patane, Warby Parker CEO: Innovators don’t have to be ‘crazy risk takers’

So DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! In fact, do the best you can do at your job and learn everything from it you can to make your side hustle even better! Use that money to buy what you need, put your skin in the game, show your potential investors that your idea has a foundation built from your blood, sweat, tears, and hard earned cash. That you can account for every moment you spend earning the money you’re about to risk on your business but because you know what that means, that you’re not going to fail without one hell of a fight. We quite the 9-5 when we have BECOME entrepreneurs. When we are successful enough to reach that point of critical mass where it’s time to move forward.