106: How to Apply Warrior Principles To Your Business, Zachary Green

by | Oct 30, 2022

Succession
Stories
Podcast

106: How to Apply Warrior Principles To Your Business, Zachary Green

by | Oct 30, 2022

Much like a warrior, being an entrepreneur entails risk, struggle, grit, and bravery. How can you muster strength to push through even the greatest odds? On this episode, Zachary Green joins host Laurie Barkman to unpack how warrior principles can be applied to business. Zachary is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the founder and former CEO of MN8 LumAware/Foxfire. He grew the company from the trunk of his car to over $30 million in organic sales. His book, Warrior Entrepreneur, revolves around the science of growth that comes from challenge and adversity. These hardships prepare you for your crucible- the crisis that changes your life’s trajectory. 

Listen in to learn more about:

  • Growing from adversity
  • Market solutions to pain points, not the features
  • Founder stepping back from the business to let it grow
  • Value of advisory boards
  • Addressing cash flow challenges for small businesses

Show links:

https://www.warriorentrepreneurbook.com/

About Succession Stories Podcast

Succession Stories is an award-winning podcast hosted by Laurie Barkman, The Business Transition Sherpa– guiding business owners through the process from “transition to transaction.” Subscribe to Succession Stories and share a review if you enjoy the show!

Learn more at https://smalldotbig.com 

Book a 1:1 Advisory call at: www.meetlauriebarkman.com

_______________________________________

Become an Official Patron of Succession Stories Podcast: 

https://www.patreon.com/lauriebarkman

_______________________________________
 
 
Is this the year to sell your company?

Don’t leave your exit to chance.

Stony Hill Advisors works with owners like you to get ready and maximize value when you’re ready to sell.

Visit www.stonyhilladvisors.com/podcast for a complimentary business valuation.

 

Transcript

Zachary Green’s life experiences in the US Marine Corps, firefighting service, and as an entrepreneur helped him realize that these careers have a lot in common. They entail risk, struggle, grit, and bravery. 

Zachary is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and was a lieutenant with his local fire department. Zachary is the founder and former CEO of MN8 LumAware/Foxfire. He grew the company from the trunk of his car to over $30 million in organic sales. Zachary was selected by the Obama White House as one of 10 entrepreneurs to represent the United States at the Global Entrepreneur Summit. 

Zachary’s book, Warrior Entrepreneur, revolves around the science of growth that comes from challenge and adversity. These hardships prepare you for your crucible; the crisis that changes your life’s trajectory.  

I loved talking about this with Zachary because we all have our own personal crucibles. It is through those crucibles that we transform, change and learn. Many small business owners face adversities, especially in early years, and the challenges keep coming.

This is a great episode for every entrepreneur to inspire ways to release your inner warrior and accomplish your life’s mission. Enjoy this week’s Succession Stories to learn how warrior principles apply to your business with Zachary Green. 

Laurie Barkman:

Zachary, welcome to Succession Stories. This is going to be a really interesting episode because you’re so much about transformation and change. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re a military, veteran, and firefighter. There’s so many things in your experience that I want to talk about, so welcome to the show.

Zachary Green:

Thank you so much, Laurie. I’m a huge fan of yours, and it’s a real honor to be here today.

Laurie Barkman:

Thank you. Let’s start with your origin story. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Zachary Green:

It’s funny, I wanted to be three things. I wanted to be a Marine, I wanted to be a firefighter, and I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It took me a while to get all those checked off my list, but I’ve been able to nail it.

Laurie Barkman:

How did you know that as a kid?

Zachary Green:

It’s funny as a very young kid, the other kids outside would be playing soccer and riding their bikes and I’d be spreading mud on my face and crawling through the woods and my parents thought that there was something wrong with me, which obviously there is. I remember the mailman hit our fire hydrant in front of our house and set up a geyser about 30 feet high and the fire department came out and as a little kid, probably four or five of them are playing on the fire truck and it just literally and figuratively lit a fire inside of me and wanted to do that but the entrepreneur side is I get bored and steal stuff out of my parents pantry and then go door to door and try to sell it. Called my parents like, “You know, your son’s trying to sell your dish soap, right?” And they’re like, “Okay,” and they heard that in every single competition we had in school selling tickets or selling candy bars, or whatever. I always was the top one there and so I just loved the adventure, the flexibility, the opportunity of never knowing what tomorrow brings and it’s something that’s always been a North Star for me.

Laurie Barkman:

For the first thing you did, you graduated high school, and that’s when you joined the Marines. Is that right?

Zachary Green:

Well, growing up in an aristocratic Jewish family, the last thing they want their little bookcase to do is to join the Marine Corps but again no one in my family had been in the military. They were all musicians and attorneys and whatever and so yeah, my parents weren’t supportive. I didn’t care. I signed up almost the day I turned 18 and a couple weeks later, I found myself in Parris Island thinking like, “What the hell did I just get myself into? I want my mommy here.”

Laurie Barkman:

You had to tough it out and you probably were going through your own transformation at that time. What was that like?

Zachary Green:

That’s a great term because the Marine Corps is the only branch that you don’t just join the Marines, you become a Marine. That’s not like that in the other branches; you transform. One thing that was fascinating to me now at the time, but looking back, I found that just amazing is I had somewhat of an upper class upbringing. I had a mom that spoiled me so much. She literally laid my clothes on the foot of my bed, my senior year of high school, I had everything given to me and great supportive family, but yet I struggled so much down at Parris Island recruit training. 

What I couldn’t understand is the kids that grew up in West Virginia, that literally had dirt floors, they were telling us about the dirt floor, she’s dads died in their 40s from, you know, black lung or working in the coal mines, you only option was to go into the coal mines, which was basically suicide, or join them, the Marine Corps. The kids that grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia and New Orleans that didn’t eat every day, they literally went to bed hungry. They flourished in this environment. They’re like, “Hey, this is great. I got three meals a day, I got a nice comfortable rack to sleep in,” and here I am struggling.

I couldn’t understand that it just didn’t make sense, but what I started to realize is this concept of the warrior ethos in the warrior journey, and that is, the more adversity you have, the more challenge you have, the stronger you get. Now, if you’re not taking that warrior attitude, and by the way, a warrior doesn’t have to be a marine or a Navy Seal or ancient Spartan it can be that single mom that’s getting out of an abusive relationship and it’s just trying to hold her what together to get her kids into a good school and work two jobs and not get good sleep, a warrior is someone that has adversity and struggle and grows from it and that’s really where I learned what that warrior spirit was, and thank God because it really really helped me out. Not just being successful as an entrepreneur but honestly probably saved my life because the process during that journey of entrepreneurship is brutal.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, absolutely. How many years were you in the military?

Zachary Green:

I was in during a funky time from 91 to 99. It was during the Clinton years, there’s a ton of attrition, we did not have one single combat deployment. That’s the reason I left. I started out in artillery, went to infantry, and I wanted to kill people and blow stuff up and I never got the opportunity and so kind of disgruntled left the Marine Corps and then a year and a half later, September 11 happened and I tried to get back in. I was married that time, my wife wouldn’t want any of that and I kind of I guess you would say I’d have the opposite of PTSD. I have survivor’s guilt. Very deep survivor’s guilt, I lost quite a few people from my unit, went to a lot of funerals of 18 and 19 year old brothers. Now, I didn’t know them but I just at the back of my mind felt that I had left a hole. I had quit and they filled that hole and they didn’t make it so it was very transformational when I got out and looking back, it was the right decision but at the time, I felt bad.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, understandable. It’s a Call of Duty. You’ve had all that training, and it was important to you to serve. In the way that you are, I can tell you were motivated to do something. Is that when you got into firefighting?

Zachary Green:

Absolutely. So you know, the new frontline of the battle is no longer Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, you know, Germany, it’s, it’s our backyard. It’s New York City. It’s Los Angeles, it’s Cincinnati, Ohio and it’s funny, in the Marine Corps, we have a wonderful talent of taking things that are really fun and making them as miserable as possible. In the fire service we take things that are kind of miserable, and make them as fun as possible but the one thing that I was really impressed upon very early on as a firefighter is how they solve problems. We can’t dial 912 after you call 911 and we show up at your house, we’ve got to solve the problem and the creativity and the innovation of a bunch of 18,19 year old kids sitting on the end of a tail board of a fire truck is amazing. My full time job at the time was Eli Lilly, a multibillion dollar company, just tremendous. from an innovation standpoint, and I will tell you, there’s more innovation going on at a firehouse than there is in the labs in Indianapolis there.

Laurie Barkman:

Did you go to college in between?

Zachary Green:

I did, so I actually served in the Marine Corps Reserves while I was in college. I also went through the officer program. My degree was in sport administration and marketing. I wanted to work for one of the big professional sports teams and I got my dream. I got to work for the Los Angeles Raiders. When they were in LA, my family’s from LA so I was able to stay with them but I tell people, it was a great experience to intern there because it’s like sausage. It tastes great. It smells great. Looks great until you see how they make the sausage and then you’ll never eat it again and it’s amazing the facade of the NFL, and all professional sports put on of this big professional organization run by an absolute bunch of misfits, derelicts and not good people.

Laurie Barkman:

That sounds like that could be another episode so we’ll kind of leave that where that is.

Zachary Green:

By the way, I was working for the Raiders when the OJ thing happened. I actually got stuck in the 405 traffic when he was doing his famous slow speed speech and he had just gotten escorted out of an event a week earlier by Marcus Sal and a couple other ones for beating up one of his girlfriends so bad. It was horrible, so yeah, like I said, “I’ve got a pretty tight connection to that story and it was amazing seeing that firsthand.”

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, I can imagine. Can just imagine. S[o] the firefighting side, if you’re a firefighter, you’re literally walking into that battle, knowing what’s in front of you and I think that hearing some of the talks that you’ve given previously, there was an experience that you had that inspired you to become an entrepreneur, what was that story?

Zachary Green:

To kind of back up for a second, I think the most important thing an entrepreneur has to have, or a small business owner or innovator is solving a problem. When you think of firefighting, that’s really what it is. It’s problem solving. Sometimes involves putting wet stuff on red stuff and putting the fire out but other times it could be the proverbial cat in the tree, or somebody, a kid that’s head stuck inside the swing set or something along those lines. It’s all about problem solving. The first thing in problem solving is what’s the problem right? In my case, it was within a week or two. My first opportunity to actually get into fires and I’m working my way down the hallway and all of a sudden I find myself trapped. Now, if you go down a hallway, you should always expect that there’s a door or a staircase at the end of the hallway. What happened is, as I was searching now, you got 80 pounds of gear on your back, you’re breathing air in a mask, you’ve got no dexterity and when I say it’s black, it’s black. 

Now we’ve all gotten up in the middle of night to go to the bathroom. As long as you get that little light on the corner. That’s all you really need to orient yourself but when you see nothing, two steps off of you go in and out of your bedroom to the bathroom, you’re disoriented and what happened was, as I was searching down the hallway, I went into a bedroom and ended up in a closet and didn’t know it was a large closet and I was surrounded by three walls, I was trapped. Now, obviously, I found my way out and I was pretty upset. When I got outside. I started talking to my captain and was almost in tears. I was that upset and he starts making fun of me and he’s like, “Look, this is what happens every time you go into a fire,” so the little proverbial light bulb went off and I said, “Well, okay, there’s a problem and there’s an opportunity to solve this problem,” ad that’s really what started me on this 12 year journey to create Livermore.

Laurie Barkman:

What was Livermore? What is Livermore?

Zachary Green:

Basically, it’s a high output glow in the dark photoluminescence, think of it as glow in the dark on steroids. The problem is, to get it to glow that much you have to use certain rare earth elements, strontium, europium, all these really difficult things to not only acquire but also to manipulate. They are metal base crystals so when you manipulate them too much, they corrode and turn black so if you just take a bunch of the powder, you dump it into some silicone, you mix it up, it’s not going to work so I, not me, but I found some people a lot smarter than me, which by the way, it’s not that difficult and I got them to put it into different carriers such as silicone and epoxy and different types of vinyls. 

Very high temperature resistant, and we started using them as accessories on the gear helmet band wrapped around the tool of paint on the ladder and started selling another truck in my car. I made about 5000 bucks in six months and typically what I would do is I’d go to a fire station, say, “Hey, my name is Zach. I’m a firefighter from the Cincinnati area, can we go in the bathroom and turn the lights off together?” And if they didn’t beat me up, they usually like, “Oh, this stuff’s pretty cool,” and what I would do when I got in there is I would set up the scenario, “Okay. How many times have you been in a situation where you can’t see anything?” That was like always, then I pull the glow in the dark material, and they’re like, “Whoa, that’s incredible.” What I did is I never sold the features and functions. 

I never sold the glow technology. What I sold was the problems of disorientation, the problems of the lack of accountability and how this material helps solve that problem. After about six months of literally selling out the trunk of my car, I went to a trade show. I had a booth that looked like it was put together by Sanford and Son. I had an old tent that had sidewalls held together with duct tape and zip ties. We had cardboard signs that we wrote on black Sharpie markers. We looked like those homeless people on the side of the road but we had a line so long of so many firefighters wanting to go in that dark room and see the product that it was incredible. Firefighters respect other firefighters. Next to us is the multi $100,000 booth from Honeywell that had almost no one in it until our line got so long people backed into their booth and then they were thanking us for having people in there. 

I booked $100,000 In three days. The problem was I had no more cash because I spent on the booth. I had no way to fill the orders and people are like, “Hey, you gotta start returning this money and cancel,” I’m like, “Absolutely not. There is an opportunity here and I’m a marine and we believe in mission accomplishment no matter what,” and I ended up refinancing my home, maxed out my credit cards, borrowed against my 401k and eventually raised a couple million dollars in venture capital financing and with that we opened up so that first brand is called Fox Fire that was mainly just for the firefighters. We got about to the day we’ve got about 100,000 firefighters used in our products and then with the help of the investment firm we started going after the exit sign market because there’s 100 million exit signs in the United States. They all need batteries, light bulbs and electricity and what we were able to do is actually meet the code with our glow in the dark and not have to have that batteries, light bulbs and electricity eventually got in with three of our nation’s four largest retailers started getting picked up by Home Depot and eventually turned into about a $30 million company over the next couple of years.

Laurie Barkman:

Amazing. Literally started as you said, duct tape and cardboard and had success at that event and the pain point that you experienced, that your fellow firefighters experienced, that guidance that you gave to solve a problem. That’s so critical. Many times I see great technology coming out of the universities, and then they struggle with the product market fit, they struggle, they need to bring on other people who are more of that marketing and sales minded individual that can sell the quarter inch hole versus the quarter inch drill. 

Zachary Green:

It’s funny. In Big Pharma, we’re talking billions and billions of dollars, their innovative team is so detached from the sales team, so detached from what’s out there so they’re coming up with these, solving these problems that don’t necessarily exist and the sales team are the ones that’s out there that knows, “Hey, we’ve got a real problem with obesity, we’ve got a real problem with diabetes, we’ve got a real problem with Alzheimer’s,” and being able to connect those two and no one really did that. That was one of the projects I worked on at Eli Lilly, was helping to work with the research scientists to talk about what the problems were out there in the field and “That’s great that you’ve created a drug that stops the third eye from popping out of your forehead, but last time I checked, that’s not really a problem,” so like you said, there selling the hole instead of the drill bit.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, absolutely. We’ve skipped over a lot of years where the company, flash forward, became 30 million in revenue. Did you add some key people underneath you to the management team?

Zachary Green:

I got out of the management team. That was the key thing. It was brutal and I glossed over a lot of the really dark days and difficulty. There were three times I almost went personally bankrupt, almost lost, my house almost lost the company and if it wasn’t for what I learned in the Marine Corps of how to deal with that stress, and those coping skills, the company wouldn’t have survived and I probably would not have survived either. The transformational point happened and going back to that warrior journey that we started talking about in the Marine Corps is that at some point in time, the warrior goes through these trials and tribulations when they start to train and that could be anything from practicing for volleyball and going through the summer training, in the Marine Corps going through those rigorous rigorous challenges but eventually you face a crucible and the crucible is when the warrior gets to a point in their life that they’re just not prepared for the whatever’s happened up to them is not enough to get past that next point. At the bottom of that crucible is the abyss and the abyss is where darkness and fear and death lies. Now, the philosopher Nietzsche once said about the abyss, “If you stare long enough into the abyss, eventually, the abyss will stare back and consume you,” and what that means if you stand in that bad situation for too long, and a company that’s not working, because you’re not doing the right things and then abusive relationships, abusing drugs or alcohol, the harder it is to get out of it but if you can recognize the abyss and honor it for the fact that it’s a place you don’t want to be, and then you have to transform and change to get through that. 

To specifically answer your question when I got a call on vacation from my CFO saying that we were basically out of money, and I had a panic attack, and I thought I was dying and I made a time decision at that crucible, the best being the failure of the company that the transformation had to be me and I resigned as CEO, I got rid of most of my leadership team, brought in a very experienced CEO and told him, “Hey, you do what you need to do. I don’t want to know how much money’s in the bank. I want to know who’s getting hired and fired. But I do want to be the visionary. I do want to continue making sure that culture is where it needs to be in innovation.” 

That’s when we transform and that’s when we change and it’s interesting because looking back it was very clear at the time it  was very difficult. Most founders are really bad CEOs. The skill set to be a founder to be an innovator to be an entrepreneur is so vastly different from the skill set to be a CEO. The founders need to be innovative, they need to be visionaries, they need to work on 10 opportunities at once the CEO needs to be meticulous, focused on problem solving. Being able to step away from the business and look at the logic or an entrepreneur is all about the sizzle and the razzle and talking to people and it was so clear to me at that time that I was holding the company back so to your point that that’s how I made the change was taking myself out of the day to day.

Laurie Barkman:

If you were going to rewind on that situation where what you just described visionary versus someone who’s more of the integrator and more process oriented and kind of in that operational mode, would you have hired that person sooner now that you’d look back? Or was it a concern about cash flow that, like, was it ego that you wanted to be the main the main?

Zachary Green:

It was. It was ego, without question and it was probably a decision that my venture capital firm had some very difficult conversations with me to the point where we almost blew the company up. We were arguing so much, everyone around me, but I’m not giving up, it’s my baby. Think about your kids. When they get to a certain point, you’re going to hurt them if you allow them to stay at home with you. You have to eventually let them go and go off on their own, because that’s how they really transform and grow and change but it’s hard to drop the kid off to college or to be able to do those things, or eventually to kick them out of the house when they’ve got no place to go so I had to go through that crucible. I had to go through that difficulty, because without it, there’s no way I would have known. Now, of course, looking back, sure I would have done it differently but you don’t have that luxury when you’re in the middle of the fight.

Laurie Barkman:

At that time, you had the venture money, you had taken in some venture money. 

Zachary Green:

Speaking of venture money, I had gotten a second round and a down round where they really started to go from, “Hey, we’re here to help you,” to, “Hey, we’re gonna get this thing straightened out.”

Laurie Barkman:

Gotcha, so you had a board, you had governance you had, it wasn’t just you there, and some companies don’t have that, where they’re literally no entrepreneurs, a lot of times, they’re just in their own heads. Here, you did have some advisors, and they had a fiduciary role because they were investors. What about your family? Did your wife see it? Could she tell that this is where it was headed?

Zachary Green:

I try not to include them in that stuff. If anything, they were more of a side that, “Hey, don’t let this get taken away from you. Don’t give up the ship,” and that type of thing so they were not supportive of that, but again, they’re not in the business. They didn’t see it. I think it’s interesting what you talked about there, there’s two kinds of boards, there’s advisory boards that do not have fiduciary responsibilities, then there’s actual boards that do and I think it’s important to have both. The advisory board works for the entrepreneur for the founder, the actual board works for the company and makes those decisions that are best for the company and it’s important to listen to both and understand where both of them come from. It’s great when they’re aligned with each other but that doesn’t always happen.

Laurie Barkman:

Did you have advisors?

Zachary Green:

I didn’t have a formal board, but I had some really, really good advisors and it’s interesting, because as I went through my journey from being a guy selling out the trunk of my car and working on my garage to a pretty substantial operation, those advisors flexed and changed over time.

Laurie Barkman:

For how many years had it been from when you just had gotten it started, bootstrapping to when you left the role of CEO, how long was that?

Zachary Green:

The company started in 2010 and I think probably by 2007-2008 is when we had the big crucible, I guess you could say, and almost instantly, the problem that we got in trouble was in revenue, we were making more money than we can imagine. The problem was cash flow. We were getting these really big deals. I’m talking seven and in some cases eight figure deals, but we ran out of cash. The cash conversion cycle is what kills small companies. We had two or three major deals, we didn’t have enough cash for the raw materials, then we got slow paid, and that just kind of all kind of came together from there. That was the issue on that side of the house but yeah, I mean, it was just learning how to manage and get through that, that was the real challenge at that time.

Laurie Barkman:

Is there anything with cash flow that you think you could have done differently? With payment terms getting cash up front? This comes up a lot in conversations with, as you said, with small business owners, it’s either that or get a line of credit; how do they get the working capital they need? What could have been done differently in that regard for you?

Zachary Green:

You’ve got to do every possible thing you can do to get cash. I think the first thing I tell people is never mistake revenue for profit, because you can be more profitable at a million dollars a year than you can at 4 million because as a $4 million company, you now are adding these what I call non-revenue generating positions such as HR and additional finance and these other types of things. 

The other thing I think I’d done differently is you got to hire a really, really good CFO, not bookkeeper, not account CFO and the beauty is there’s a ton of these CFOs on call so a small company that’s making $5 million a year does not need a full time CFO, but maybe getting a couple hours a week or a day a week out of them that’s important, because they’re the ones that put those long term for looking performers out there to say, “Hey, we’re in trouble,” where I’m like, “Dude, you’re crazy. We just made a million dollar sale so how can we be in trouble?” He’s like, “The sale is not a sale till the check clears the bank and it may be six months until the check clears the bank between manufacturing lead times.” Or what happened with us is we’re signing these really large companies, and let’s say we sell them a million dollar deal. To us, that’s a tremendous amount of money. To them, that’s decimal dust and if somebody just filed the wrong paperwork, or didn’t sign something or was out of the office, they’re not going to pay you. Again, it’s just a million bucks, they don’t care, but to us that was do or die.

Laurie Barkman:

So transformation, change, your crucible moment had come, and you have now crossed that chasm, right? You’ve now transitioned to more of the board role, are you still involved with the company?

Zachary Green:

No. I’m still involved. I usually check in probably once a day or so, but I’ve really done a better job of delegating. It’s frustrating, because I know I can do better than the people that are doing the job, but I gotta let them do it and I always tell people, “No one will ever do as good of a job as you at your own company,” it’s just not going to happen. However, they don’t need to do as good of a job as you, if you can get them to do 70% as good as you and you hire two of them that’s 40% more than you can do just by the mere fact of quantity becomes a quality and its own over time, and just capacity and how much you have so that’s my goal now is trying to empower those around me make a much larger shift to distribution rather than to direct sales. Again, I was too wrapped up on the whole control thing, but realize we couldn’t control it so now, I have several 1000 sales reps rather than just three or four because I can empower these distributors but the challenge then becomes, “Okay, how did they pay attention to your shiny red ball and not the other shiny red ball in their bag?” 

Laurie Barkman:

What inspired you then to create your book and talk about this warrior journey?

Zachary Green:

It’s funny, the book started as an autobiography and as I was working with my editor, he kind of laughed at me, he’s like, “Look, other than your mom and your wife, no one cares about your autobiography. Unless your name is like Donald Trump, or Oprah Winfrey or something.” He’s like, “What’s your story? What is the lesson? What did you learn,” and that’s really why I developed this warrior story, this warrior journey, which goes all the way back to home or in the Iliad, and even the exact same story is replayed in Star Wars and most other great movies, and that is, you have someone thirsting for adventure, they eventually need a mentor. The mentor shows them that there’s a new way of doing things, they crossed the threshold. They go through their trials and tribulations where they battle the dragon and the evil VCs and all the other types of things along the way and then they get their crucible and that crucible is that point where they find their why, where they really transform and change to get past that next level and then once that happens, that’s when you get in that zone of success and then you switch more towards a mentor and then you find that young hero that’s thirsting for adventure and the circle starts again. 

That’s what the book ultimately became and talking about what are those principles? What are those things? Grit, tenacity, courage, teamwork. I go very deeply into the science of the neurobiology of sympathetic and parasympathetic systems such as fight and flight and what happens when you’re challenged, the warrior’s gonna lean into it and actually develop superpowers as a result of that fear. Or the non warriors going to curl on the ball and hide and that’s fine. That’s okay. I mean, either way, you’re gonna, that’s the defense either running from the tiger fighting the tiger but as an entrepreneur, you need to not only fight the tiger but come up with an innovative way to stop him from even knowing that you’re there and then finally, the metrics so that’s where I am now in my life. I am trying to make that transition and pretty much have made it to, “I want to guide that next warrior.” I don’t want to be the hero in my story anymore. I’ve had unbelievable successes. invited to the White House twice, testified in front of Congress, made money, I got to do all that fun stuff, but I’ve also been stabbed a lot and I’ve taken a lot of arrows and I took the arrow so that people behind me didn’t have to take them. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with my eyes twitching so bad, because I’m worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow with the company. I want to teach other people coping skills and my goal is that the book is a guideline and a pathway to help them unlock their inner warriors.

Laurie Barkman:

Wow, that’s powerful, really powerful. It sort of makes me feel like we’re saying entrepreneurship is his battle, which I guess in many cases it is. You feel like you’re in the trenches.

Zachary Green:

It’s harder than a battle because a lot of times, you’re by yourself, you don’t have the experience. In the Marine Corps, in the army, we’ve got hundreds of years of doctrine and training, we have unbelievable budgets but every entrepreneur pretty much starts from scratch with a blank playbook.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, and they’ve got to figure it out as they go. They’re in that dark closet, that proverbial dark closet, and they need that light to get them out. It’s a meaningful book. I’m glad that you’re sharing it with this audience. I’m glad you’re sharing it with other audiences. If people want to learn more, Zach, about you, about the book, and thinking about how this can help them through their journey, what’s the best way for them to find you?

Zachary Green:

Yeah, so warriorentrepreneurbook.com has all the information. You can jump on my Calendly there and book some time to talk to me. I’m launching a really interactive online training program. That’s not like your typical online course. It’s actually like an adventure series where you play a board game and as you go on each square, you learn a warrior trade and eventually that gets to how to read financials and how to do sales and marketing and those things. I’ve got a podcast myself called the Warrior’s Voice and then obviously, the book, Warrior Entrepreneur, book.com or Amazon, or pretty much anywhere we sell books.

Laurie Barkman:

I know that you love to quote things, you’ve dropped a lot of quotes today even, which are really great. Do you have one in particular that you want to share?

Zachary Green:

I’ve got about 15 but in the interest of time, I’ll share one, maybe two with you and my Latin’s very bad, but the quote, “Aut inveniam viam aut faciam,” and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that wrong, but it is a quote the general Hannibal stated in the Punic Wars. When he told his other generals, he was going to take 60 war elephants and go across Spain, France and attack the Romans from the Alps and they said, “You’re crazy. That’s not possible,” and the Latin response basically translates to, “I will find a way or I will make a way,” and I think that just sums up entrepreneurship better than anything. You either find a way to do it, or you just make it up as you’re going along there.

Laurie Barkman:

It really does. What’s the second quote?

Zachary Green:

The second one is from Teddy Roosevelt, one of my favorite people, if you look over my shoulder, I’ve got my favorite little Teddy Roosevelt sign, which is kind of a fantasy Teddy Roosevelt, but him holding a machine gun and all tattooed up and everything, but he said, “When you’re faced with a monumental decision, the best thing to do is the right thing. The next best thing to do is the wrong thing, but the worst thing to do is to do nothing.” Again, another great entrepreneurial quote, fail forward, it’s okay to make a mistake, what’s not okay is to not move because the big corporations that are going to spend millions of dollars and take years of analysis and market research all this stuff, so they can do one thing and make sure it’s perfect. We’re an entrepreneur, we’ve got the opportunity to do five or six things and as soon as we fail that’s great, that’s learning. We’re gonna recalibrate and say, “Okay, let’s not do this, switch that,” and the key is the speed and flexibility is why David slayed Goliath, and that’s the way that we need to think as entrepreneurs is speed and flexibility and failing forward.

Laurie Barkman:

Absolutely. Zach, thank you so much for coming on Succession Stories and sharing your story, the warriors journey and what it’s meant to you and how you’re helping other people.

Zachary Green:

Well, thank you so much, Laurie, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to host you and your family down here.

Laurie Barkman:

That would be amazing.

Laurie Barkman:

To our listeners. Thank you so much for your support. You can always catch Succession Stories on any of your favorite podcast players or of course on YouTube. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the show that really means a lot to us. If you want to maximize the value of your business and plan for future transition, reach out to me for a complimentary assessment at meetlauriebarkman.com. Join me next time for more insights from transition to transaction. Until then, here’s to your success.

Connect with us

Ready To Take the Next Step?

We’ll guide you through the process. Schedule an initial call today.

Sign Up For SmallDotBig Updates

Get updates on insights, events & more

More Succession Stories Episodes

107: Making Your Business Transferable, Rebecca Monet

107: Making Your Business Transferable, Rebecca Monet

Rebecca Monet joins host Laurie Barkman to share her story about building businesses, letting go, and tough lessons she learned along the way. Rebecca is the CEO and Chief Scientist of Zorakle Profiles. With her prior company, she developed intellectual property that fostered sales growth and a strong client relationship. What could have become a channel of growth unexpectedly became her biggest risk.

Find Clarity on Next Steps

Schedule a call to learn about The Strategic Exit Value Planning Program.