How losing first, Taught me to Win Big Later
on March 4, 2019
Too many people I meet today want it all right now, the quick fix, tip of the week, fame, and fortune.
AND my all time favorite! “What’s the secret to Navy SEAL BUD/S training?!”, they beg me and my former SEAL friends.
“Work your ass off, and don’t give up!”, I always think to myself. What the fuck do you think? There’s some Nintendo hack? Christ…
It’s easy to blame this on the Millenial generation but that’s bullshit, I know plenty of Millennials who have worked their ass off and become very successful in life. I’ll get to what defines success in a bit, because it’s not all about the money.
I was sitting in my Toyota Tacoma four door truck on the cliffs of Torrey Pines La Jolla, CA glider port having a gut-wrenching conversation with my lawyer John. He was giving it to me straight. “It’s done Brandon, there’s no shame in walking away, many entrepreneurs fail at their first start-up”, he said. The problem is, I went “all-in” with my life savings, and put my wife (at the time, we’re divorced now but have a great relationship for our kid’s sake) through all nine circles of hell. Number one was leaving her 8 months pregnant with our son after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I deployed with SEAL Team three and was running around Afghanistan chasing bad guys while my son was born, I’ll spare you the rest but she had put up with enough of my antics at this point and wanted a divorce. That, and she took the kids to her family ranch in Paso Robles, CA because school was about to start.
So I sat, lonely, in a three-bedroom home in San Diego, CA and thought about all the uncomfortable conversations with neighbors that would fall on my shoulders, and a lot more. I also contemplated my life up to that point but I got clarity. Things became really clear to me, and the more I focused on the positives the more clarity I got, like the sun burning through the coastal fog.
I had just failed miserably and lost my first business and marriage. I could focus on the negatives but choose to focus on the positives, and I had my time as a sniper instructor and Gold Medalist Lanny Basham to thank for it. Lanny was a pioneer in mental management and his book, With Winning in Mind, is in my “go-to” library. He has an amazing story I’ll tell you about later, or you can go read about him in my first book, The Red Circle.
I thought about the positives, think about that for a moment. And think about how many people go straight to the negatives when they face problems in life. Bad leaders do this, and so do poor followers. It’s also why you’ll never hear a champion talking about anything but succeeding at their chosen profession. Champions of life focus on turning adversity into lessons learned.
I had raised just under $4M for my first business (an MBA in raising money), I chose incredibly bad partners (which taught me the importance of choosing good ones that fit with my own strengths and weaknesses), and I learned how to read all forms of business financial statements. I see incredibly smart people get so intimidated by financial statements when it’s just basic arithmetic. It must be why a lot of smart people let a lot of less smart people manage their money (another subject for another day). The list went on.
However, a big problem, I was flat broke. So I got a job, and I worked my ass off to save up enough money to start my first website (SOFREP.com) and the rest is history. I started SOFREP on a napkin and grew it into a digital publishing platform and e-commerce business. Today, we are a veteran owned company that employs over 50 people, most of them veterans.
There’s also another gift in going flat broke I didn’t mention, it shows you who your true friends and allies are, and this is incredibly powerful once you are on the podium again. So remember, sometimes losing gives you incredible value if you know where to look, and adopt the right mindset. Look for value, work your ass off, and you’ll come out on top eventually.
More to follow.