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Combat search and rescue vs Entrepreneurship

Lou Haack and Tactivate team Advisors and guests at the Tactivate HALO wing suit world record attempt for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Below is an excerpt from a note I received from Lou Haack, one of Tactivtes advisors about transitioning into the private sector after many years of service in the US Air Force. This man was responsible for leading one of the worlds most forward leaning and advanced combat search and rescue units and he has recently stepped into the private sector. Lou, in my experience in almost every sense is more qualified to be a successful entrepreneur than most. Managing risk, leading men, making life or death decisions on the fly – these are things that were common place in Lou’s job description as a commanding officer. Does that experience translate into the private sector, 1,000% yes. But just as we civilians wouldn’t last long stepping off of a helicopter into a combat situation with no training, transitioning military personal need a little training to be successful in the private sector. As is the motto of Tactivate entrepreneurs have a tremendous amount to learn from our returning veterans, and there is a lot of valuable experience experienced entrepreneurs can impart to veterans to increase their chances of success when making forays into the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship.

From Lou:

“I know that you entrepreneurs live in world of financial doubt and potential great reward. There’s no shortage of stories (apocryphal no doubt) of how the latest billion dollar acquisition had maxed out all of its credit cards and was about to be evicted when lightening struck and the world couldn’t live without their proprietary search aggregate for indexing share-point collaborativeness in the cloud. All heady stuff if you buy into their jargon and other exclusionary verbiage…and boiler room antics. I am no entrepreneur. I’m a risk taker to be sure but I’m a big fan of managed risk. Moreover, I have a mortgage and I like where I live and I want to continue living there. Nevertheless, I want that job …. So whether I like it or not, I’m now swimming with entrepreneurs.

The Coast Guard has a great motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” No truer words were spoken in my line of work. At the heart of their motto is preparedness. PJs are known for their planning abilities. Stepping out of an airplane at high altitude in freezing weather wearing hundreds of pounds of equipment, swimming in shark infested waters before dawn amid angry lobstermen, walking over untested glacier routes or talking your way past Turkish secret police takes courage. It also takes careful planning and rehearsal and the right team to execute. It’s best not to panic if your goggles ice over at 24,000 ft, or if something bumps you in the dark, or if you hear that horrible cracking sound on the ice or if you see yourself in the lead role of the movie Midnight Express. PJs don’t panic. They might get excited, anxious or unsettled but never panicked. That’s for the other guys.”

Replace the word PJs in the last sentence in the above paragraph with entrepreneurs – does it still ring true? There really are a lot of similarities between search and rescue and business, albeit the risk levels cant exactly be compared

I learn an invaluable amount from Lou in every e-mail that I get, and am thankful for it.

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