I had to get on the road today for a quick round trip drive to and from Central FL, so I jumped on my work comp pretty early this morning to get some things done before I became indisposed. After responding to some emails and Friday work hangover, I jumped over to Linkedin for a couple minutes to peruse my newsfeed.

Scrolling down, I happened across some excellent comments from some fellow business founders! I found one particularly inspirational, to the point that I decided to type up this brief synopsis of my own journey to founding Rhenium Capital.

I have military experience plastered at the bottom of my Linkedin resume (and I’m the only guy smiling in the Class 10-01 class pic above :), but my story begins far before that. My dad was also in the army, so I moved around a bit in my childhood. I was also a bit of a troublemaker and rabble rouser as a kid (sorry dad!).

I ended up joining the army after a couple years of rousing additional rabble at Penn State. Without getting into too much detail, I served four years, and did a pair of tours in Afghanistan.

I actually became interested in real estate on a random evening on my 2nd deployment during an 8 hour overnight radio watch shift with a SEAL. He was reading a thick 3 ringed binder on real estate investment. He let me go through his materials as well, and what I read over the next 6 hours intrigued me enough to research colleges which had real estate majors to learn more when I got out. When I found Georgia State, I switched my state of residence from PA to GA, applied to the school using the slow internet that we had in the MWR tent and got accepted.

Seven-ish weeks after that, I ETS’d from the army and drove from Fort Lewis, WA to Atlanta, GA. I got a job at Circuit City installing car stereos to help pay my bills, and used my GI Bill to cover the rest of my expenses.

I graduated, but didn’t find full-time employment immediately, so losing my GI Bill hit particularly hard. As a result, I went from sleeping under the stars in Southwest Asia a few years prior to sleeping in my car behind CCity for a little while. Fortunately for me, a friend of a friend who was renting property eventually had a vacant room that fit a part-time CCity budget.

We had many a colorful saying back in the army as it pertained to Ranger school. The most relevant to my situation was that success is, “80% luck and 20% suck.” I happened across a business card from a friend’s trip to a job fair and eventually scored an interview and a great job after a blind resume email.

My first job was the best learning experience possible. Then the downturn happened, and I saw some friends and colleagues laid off. For some time all kept our heads down pretending to be busy despite some VERY slow months. As the market defrosted, I ended up jumping on a unique opportunity with an up-and-coming CREtech firm, and eventually founded and ran my own department within the company, getting my first taste of independence and leadership in the civilian world.

So long story short, here I am running my own loan sale advisory shop, which in itself has been the hardest, most educational and most fun experience of my life!

One of the comments I particularly liked on Linkedin stated:

“Everybody wants to found their own business.

But there’s no way you can be a successful founder unless you appreciate:

  1. Risk
  2. Uncertainty
  3. Repeated failures”

My personal journey to entrepreneurship can be traced directly back to my history. I always been a bit of a non-conformist, maybe because the structured life of a military dad creates an unstructured life for military brats with no roots. Professionally, learned my CRE technical skills at my first job and found my entrepreneurial confidence at my second. I also learned during the downturn that what you consider as a safe corporate job just may not be quite as secure as you perceive it to be…

Addressing risk, uncertainty and repeated failure, I’ve come through some extremely stressful situations in my adult life which prepared me for this grind – i.e., there are much worse things that can happen to you than failure in business or temporary financial strife.

So despite this long-winded way of expressing it, my point is this:

There is NOTHING holding you back from taking THAT chance that can lead to your fulfillment of your personal vision and eventual success. This can pertain to both stepping out and founding your own business or in your current line of work (I bet you already know what THAT chance is…). Your biggest obstacle is your own mindset.

Figure it out, man/woman up and complete your mission objective!

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

― Winston S. Churchill