John served 13 months in Iraq, with the USA military. He had numerous near-death experiences. Today he shares the most prominent one with us, and the effects it had on him.
After his time in the army, he was able to find his passion and created EntrepreneurOnFire, a 7 day a week podcast. He interviews top and successful entrepreneurs and has was awarded Best Of iTunes in 2013.
From there, John and Kate created an amazing forum of podcasters from around the world, called Podcasers’ Paradise, and were featured in Forbes magazine.
I listened to an interview he did with Ryan Holiday about Stoicism. I have been touched by learning about it, and although I could go on and on about all the good that John is doing in the world, I will let you hear in this interview for yourself. What a truly inspiring and amazing person John is, but most importantly to me, he was my first mentor in the business world, and I wouldn’t have created the podcast without his guidance.
Stay tuned after and I will share a review and a few words with you.
John was deployed to Iraq for 13 months. In his platoon, 4 soldiers gave their lives in sacrifice, to defend the U.S.A, and bring freedom. John saw first hand, “freedom is not free.”
John had a sense of foreboding before his very near death experience. At about month 12.5 of his 13 month period in Iraq, he was sent for training. He had a bad feeling about it. They were sent for training in a room, at a base, watching powerpoint slides for an hour, and he could have watched the information over skype from safety.
They had to travel two hours down a road, known as RPG alley. RPG stands for a rocket-powered grenade. They were going in a slow-moving convoy, which was very appealing to the Iraqi army.
John had to follow orders, and about halfway there, a massive explosion shook his Humvee, spun it around in a circle and blew the back-end off. The big convey truck behind, slammed into them at full speed, further damaging the vehicle. John had a big gash under his chin, the lieutenant next to him was basically unconscious.
It was an IED. improvised explosive device. The firing started and there were bullets flying everywhere. They had to jump to another vehicle. The lieutenant suffered a concision and had to be flown in a helicopter, all the way to Baghdad. Then his helicopter was fired at. He had a really messed up experience. This was all because one person high in command wanted to feel important, and forced everyone to attend this training in person.
From this near-death experience, the entrepreneurial seed was planted. It never lost its grip, and years later, still with the same mindset, John has turned it into a good thing, and taken control of his own life.
They proceed as nothing happened and continued their training. John had a bandage placed on his chin, still bleeding and continued as if nothing happened. Then they took the slow trip back to the base, about 5 hours round trip.
DEALING WITH TRAUMA
There is no special training, but they try. The military thrives in war, battle, winning and taking the fight to the enemy.
It comes up short re-integrating soldiers into society and the civilian world. It comes up short giving the soldiers support getting through these traumatic experiences and having a normal life after and post-military.
John tells me it is not really the militaries job. Their job is to take the fight to the enemy and win. If they dedicate a lot of resources to other things, you might not win. If you don’t win then nothing else matters.
John tells me, “don’t begrudge the army, especially not the US army, for being the most powerful military in the world. There is a lot of reasons why the US military is the best and is great. The reality is you can’t be perfect at everything. Just like being an entrepreneur, you can’t be perfect at everything.
ENTREPRENEURS AND VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
John has learned, with things he struggles at or is weak at, to bring in virtual assistants or partners into the business that thrive in areas that he doesn’t. This can be valuable for all entrepreneurs.
AFTER EFFECTS AND INSIDE THE EXPERIENCE
He was still employed by the military, still an officer for about a year and a half. He never had any strange dreams at a conscious level. He had unexplained night sweats. For the first 6 months, he was back, he would wake up drenched in sweat. The bed would be soaked, so much so that he had to take a shower and change the sheets.
In hindsight, it is so obvious that it was all that stress and anxiety and death that he saw over the 13 months, that he had to push off to the side in order to survive and remain sane.
At the time, he wondered what was wrong with him, he thought he may be sick or have a disease because he was having terrible night sweats.
John tells everyone listening, “If you’re going through a similar experience, it is probably your body trying to burn off and get rid of that unbelievably pent-up anxiety.”
HOW JOHN FOUND THE PATH TO ADDING VALUE TO THE WORLD
John was a traditionalist for so long. He thought his route to happiness and success was high school, college, army, law school and then corporate finance. By the age of 28 he found out that these things weren’t bringing him success or happiness because he didn’t have any passion or inspiration for them.
He spent the next 4 years of his life, (from the ages of 28-32) really struggling and trying to find that passion or inspiration that would allow him to pour his enthusiasm into something. It didn’t come easily for him. It was 4 years of failing and struggling trying to find what that thing was for him.
He started to surround himself with the right podcasts, audiobooks, and right people and the right mentalities, where he did have his aha moment.
Since then, he has been able to pour his enthusiasm, passion and his fire into something that is completely his own, and that he is completely passionate about.
He feels very blessed to have found his aha moment. He would like to impart to anyone listening or reading this interview, that it is not easy to find your aha moment. It is not easy to find your passion.
“Don’t worry if you are struggling, that is part of the journey, just know that it is so worth the actual aha moment, that you want to continue the struggle. It is worth it.”
PRAISE AND GUIDANCE
I am so grateful to hear my mentor tell me that he feels I am creating a podcast that fills an important niche. (Blushing now) He encouraged me to continue forward and take the next step.
This is an amazing benefit of podcasting. Here is some amazing advice about the next step, and you can use it too!
Create a tribe and creating a mastermind where people that are having these same experiences can come together and engage with each other. They can ask questions, give support, give advice, give guidance, share ideas and things that have worked as well as what didn’t work. That is how people are going to be able to grow and get past near-death experiences.
If John had something like this, he could have clung onto, back in 2004/2005 when he was really struggling with his near-death experience, it would have been amazing.
It is almost 10 years ago, and it is still easy for him to recall. It never goes away but it is really important for people who have just experienced it, to have a resource to go to.
You, fabulous listeners of our show, can take this advice in any niche, and apply it, and do it.
I shared with John, that when I was in the hospital with my heart issues, I couldn’t find any support groups on Google, and I could hear his voice, telling me I should start one.
That was his story with EntrepreneurOnFire. He wanted to fill the void, of needing a 7 day a week podcast, with new content to listen to.
SHORTCUT TO FIND YOUR PASSION
You need to work your creative muscle by doing this over and over again. It may not come the first few times, but keep on doing it over and over again, and you may be surprised by the results.
The army did have a reintegration program. They were voluntary, and John never did go to them. At the time he was a decorated combat Veteran coming back from a year of war, and he felt invincible. He regrets not utilizing them and wishes he did.
If you are going through this, John encourages you to look around. Go look at meetup.com, if there are no groups in your area, create a meetup, if only one person shows up then it is a success, “You can create a tribe with one!!”