Tony Perez is the general manager and VP of the security product group at GoDaddy. Before that though, Tony did two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps. After getting out of the Marines, Tony dipped his toe in the entrepreneurial waters.
He's downright drenched from those waters now!
The reason I wanted Tony on the show is because I knew some of his background and how successful he's been - I knew there was a story behind it all. Tony didn't disappoint.
Tony talks about an almost naive approach to business, and life in general, with his "how hard could it be" mindset. Yet even when things get tough, Tony talks about how he perseveres through those harder times.
This was a truly enjoyable episode to record, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to it!
Links & Resources
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00 Hey everybody, this is the Drive On Podcast where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:16 Hey everyone, thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast. Today my guest is Tony Perez. Tony is the general manager and vice president of the security product group at GoDaddy. He's also the co-founder and former CEO of a website security company called Sucuri. Tony is also a Marine Corps veteran who did two tours in Iraq. Tony, thanks for joining us on the show. Why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and I don't want to give too much about your background in that intro, but why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Tony Perez: 00:47 Yeah, for sure. Thanks a lot for having me guys. I'm really happy to be here to chat with you and your audience about my background and history and maybe it's helpful to somebody. So, as you mentioned, I was in the Marine Corps. I got out as a Sergeant back in 2005 and I was in between 2000 and 2005. I was attached to the first <inaudible> that was attached to 1st MARDIV in 2003 when we pushed across the LOD, we did our whole push up to Baghdad. And then, I was attached to <inaudible> responsible for <inaudible> Karbala and the <inaudible> provinces. Total in time country was about a year, three quarters. And then I went back as a defense contractor. So, after 2005, I was a defense contractor through 2011. In 2011, it's really where I got started with Sucuri, but it actually wasn't my first start as an entrepreneur.
Tony Perez: 01:37 I actually had a WordPress agency or what you would call a boutique agency where we would build WordPress based sites for customers. Since then, as you mentioned, we grew the company. We ended up exiting it and I came over to be part of the GoDaddy family. I like to call myself an intrepreneur now because I'm part of a good company trying to grow a thing inside, which is an experience in and of itself. In addition to that, I also founded another tech startup with my good friend Daniel called Clean Browsing where we do DNS-based content filtering. I’m also an off-road racer, with DDoS racing team, which we could also get into. And then I do some philanthropic work with a lot of veteran based stuff for one reason or another. So, combat vets struggling with PTSD, looking for opportunities, a more spiritual resiliency type veteran organization for folks with PTSD as well. So that's just a little bit about me, my background.
Scott DeLuzio: 02:42 That's really great. So, you mentioned Clean Browsing. I'm actually a customer of Clean Browsing. It's a great tool and I'll definitely put some links to it all in the show notes. It's really good, especially if you have little kids at home and you want to make sure that they're not getting on to any of the crap that's on the internet.
Tony Perez: 03:05 What's funny is that my whole approach with Sucuri and what I did with my first company and then with Go Daddy, my general approach to life is “Oh, how hard could it be?” It actually always turns out to be harder. I think that's something that the Marines drilled into us where we're like, “we can do anything.” Clean Browsing was the same exact concept of Sucuri where we had this idea, we started building something, and we're like, “Oh, whatever it’s just interesting and how hard can it be?” And we throw it out there and then it's just picked up a lot of momentum over time over the past year. So, it was actually cool when I saw you use it. I was like, “Oh, shit, did you know, that's awesome.” They're like, “Oh no, that's and I was just like “it's cool, but it's, I say in principle, how hard can it be?
Scott DeLuzio: 03:53 Right. It's really great and it's actually from the user perspective, it's a pretty simple product to use to. And it definitely helps lock things down. Kids don't end up on sites that you don't want them on. It's really nice. When you were in the Marines, what was your job? What was your MOS background?
Tony Perez: 04:21 I was in the 02 field in the Marine Corps, so that's the intelligence and the military intelligence. But I specialize in something called a geospatial intelligence. So, the ability to spatially coordinate information, a lot of cartography surveys, which is really interesting. At the time of Afghanistan and Iraq, we didn't have a lot of data at that time. Try to put yourself in 2001, 2002 timeframe. As you heard announcement that we're going to go to war, we didn't have any information for these places. And so, for workups and for headquarters, Marine Corps trying to plan, we aggregated and collected a lot of data for these locations. Things are very different today. While we were in country, the job switched from creating the data to then working with the various teams, producing products for them while they were going in the field and we were always attached with them as they were moving. So, it was a very different configuration today than it was back then. And things were a bit of a wild, wild West, like we're everywhere. That was interesting. So, that is what I did.
Scott DeLuzio: 05:30 Okay. It's nice to have a little background and there's so many jobs out there in the military especially, you don't even know what the half of it is. And that's one of those jobs I didn't even know was even a thing that the military had. But yeah, obviously it is,
Tony Perez: 05:47 That space is where you do a lot of work with Counter Intel. You do a lot of work with the guys, say you're doing a high value target or something like that, you do a lot of the analysis and recon for that. It's a pretty interesting gig and you get to see a wide breadth of the battle space.
Scott DeLuzio: 06:04 That is pretty awesome actually. It probably helped your mindset in terms of thinking about security related stuff when moving into Sucuri and when you started going down that path that might've helped you with that 30,000 feet overview of what all the moving parts are that could be going on to affect website security and stuff that Sucuri is known for protecting against, I would imagine.
Tony Perez: 06:35 Actually, it probably did in different ways than you think. So, for instance, when I first got out, I always do in a lot of subject matters, we teach geospatial technologies for headquarters, Marine Corps headquarters, Army. I was helping design and develop a capital asset system for the country of Afghanistan, working with their ministry of defense, ministry of interior and so, it wasn't even in the security space per se. I was actually introduced to the team that's Sucuri with Daniel through Dre, who happens to be my brother-in-law, who also happens to be the guy that I had started Cubic 2 with, which was a boutique agency. He actually introduced me to WordPress and best side of the house. What actually did carry over was just my, I don't know how you would say it,
Tony Perez: 07:24 I don't know if it's confidence or inability to appreciate my own naiveness and I was just like, “it can't be that hard to run this project. It can't be that hard to build this thing.” Right? And so, I just threw myself out there the way I had been taught, just overcome whatever obstacles I can. And for me, there’s no obstacle that will stop me. I just have to get over it. And I just ran with it that way. Now, what did end up happening is over time from a business development or just looking at the landscape and I started looking at the business and the industry we were in as a battle space. And so, I would start looking at how our competitors were responding or what was happening or trying to figure out what's the right time to respond or what would they be doing. I did start to leverage some of the strategy and the tactics employed for the strategy based on that experience. So, it wasn't like it got me into security, but how I looked at the thought of space and how I saw that planning did get applied to how I run the businesses then and how I actually run the business today.
Scott DeLuzio: 08:28 That's really interesting, how you're able to take the business landscape and mesh that into a battlefield landscape in your head. As you're looking at all this stuff, that's actually a phenomenal way to look at it because really it is in a way, sort of like a battle. You're fighting for market share and things like that and in some cases, you may actually be friends with some of the people that you're competing against, but it's still a battle. Someone's going to be the top dog at the end.
Tony Perez: 09:04 Absolutely. And like the Bay area doesn't like to talk about it that way. Right? We have this whole new world view of the world and how we communicate but for me it's always been like that. It's always been a pull and a push type relationship and sometimes you make a strategic partnership with somebody that you know is going to cause a problem later but to get across one thing, or you give up a strategic partnership, understanding that it’s going to hurt you in the short term for long-term gain because you're going a different direction, right? Like there's this constant pull and push type relationship happening with you in the market and your competitors and the vendors you partner with, et cetera, that is actually really, really neat, right? And that is some of the things that I did pull away from, like how do we think about the battle space and how do we not worry so much about this battle, but how do we worry about this one fight, but worry about the bigger battle, right? For right or wrong, that's how I approach almost everything I do.
Scott DeLuzio: 10:01 It's a good way to approach things too, because it's constantly moving you forward and you're constantly making decisions. And like you said, right or wrong, some of these decisions might be good decisions, some of them might end up hurting you in the end but you're making decisions; you're constantly moving and so, eventually you make enough of these decisions are going to be moving in the right direction.
Tony Perez: 10:28 Well, that's actually a really good point. One of the things that I always tell the team and they say that it gets a little bit intense, Tony, but I always tell him, when you're in war, they teach you to keep moving, you move to cover, you move you to take cover. And in fact, when you stop moving is when you die, right? And so, like my marketing team would always be like, “what the hell Tony?” But that's the reality guys. And what we need to do is don't get caught up with this one thing that we did that didn’t work, you have to continue to evolve. The battle spaces continued to evolve and you have to evolve with it. What we did yesterday may not evolve. The enemy's getting smarter. The technologies are changing, right? And the minute we stop evolving, that is when we as a brand will die. Right? That's a lesson that I learned all the way back in my MCI days. “Oh no, they see me, I'm down, I'm up, they see me, I'm down, and they're teaching you the opposite of what normal people do. Keep running towards it.
Tony Perez: 11:32 I was like, “Whoa. That was Marine logic.” Right.
Scott DeLuzio: And you see that too
Scott DeLuzio: 11:38 even in day to day life. Well, this isn't exactly day to day. This is an anomaly that takes place. But there was recently a shooting, I think it was the one that was in Walmart, in Texas. I want to say there was a, and I could be wrong it could be a different shooting at some point, but there was a soldier, who basically ran towards where the gunfire was because he saw some kid laying on the ground who were bleeding and he went to go help. It's like normal people don't do that. Normal people don't go run towards where there's gunfire, where there's blood all over the place. Normal people are not trained to do that. They're trained to run away.
Scott DeLuzio: 12:20 I guess the military makes not so normal people and in a way that's a good thing because if that soldier didn't go after that kid who was bleeding on the ground, that kid may not have made it. So, in a way that's a good thing that we have that mindset to keep moving and take action is a better way to phrase it.
Tony Perez: Jocko talks a lot about this actually,
Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, he does. And it's really good. If anyone who's listening does not know about this, it’s called the Jocko Podcast and I'm going to have a link to that in the show notes as well. A Navy seal who talks a lot about leadership related stuff and really, really good stories that he tells too. He has other guests on the show that has lots of good stories. So, I'll have a link to Jocko in there too.
Tony Perez: 13:19 You know, one thing to note is I think that might be really interesting to your audience. I don't actually talk about it that much but a lot of people will sit back and say, “wow” to me, “you've been very successful” and you know they talk about the things that I've done, et cetera. What we don't actually talk a lot about is what actually happened when I first got out. Right. If you talk to anybody that I served with, everyone always thought that I was going to be a Master Guns. So, I was an enlisted guy, right? So, I wanted it to be a Master Guns because I wanted to run the troops, do my thing, but I didn't want to do the admin bullshit. I didn't want to do the Sergeant Major nonsense.
Tony Perez: 13:50 I thought I was a lifer, but in 2005, I had spent about a year and three quarters in country not including workups and what we were doing there. And when I was coming home, I actually had met my wife, my then girlfriend, now wife. I got in this really weird mental rut where I felt very disconnected from the world. I couldn't understand why people cared about movies and why people were doing things. When I was in country, it was a lot of battle damage assessments. So, I did a lot of PSDs, security details, we would go out with the front lines and then we would go back after we would do a hit and assessed the carnage and the damage that had been done.
Tony Perez: 14:35 We'd have to do reports on that from the intelligence side and so I would come home and I just couldn't connect. I was having a really hard time and I found myself in this really weird rut where I felt the Marine Corps was pushing me to do things that the Marine Corps wanted and everybody was pushing me to do something but nothing that I wanted to do. I ended up getting out and then for about four or five years after getting out, I actually struggled really bad. I went up from 200 pounds to 310 pounds. I started really getting aggressive around me not be very antisocial, just getting into stuff. At the time it was different conversations about it and whatnot. And it actually took a lot for me, and
Tony Perez: 15:26 it was around 2010, that I finally started saying, “what's going on here?” “What's the issue?” That's where I found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to start letting some of that out and just get back to the road of life. It was around that time that I started keeping to it. I need to shake myself off this. But it wasn't a matter of me going to counseling. And it wasn't a matter of me talking to people. It was a matter of me recognizing that I was going nowhere very fast. It was at that point that I then said, “Oh, well, let me switch this mindset and apply myself to certain things and let me just apply the things that I've learned and see what I can make out of it.’ And that's where I started competing in Jujitsu and that's why I started building the company. I just started throwing everything that I had at the things that I was doing. And then that's when I started seeing the return. But it wasn't immediate. It was about six to seven years after getting out where I started to see the things that I wanted in life. That's important for people to understand.
Scott DeLuzio: 16:23 And the other thing too, along those lines is that a lot of times people will see someone like yourself who has done well for themselves, built a successful company and all this stuff. And they'll see that and they'll think, “Oh, well he's an overnight success because
Tony Perez: They want it tomorrow.
Scott DeLuzio: It's the Amazon prime mindset where they click send or place the order, whatever and they want it on their doorstep tomorrow morning. The reality is that's not going to happen for most people. I would venture to guess that most people that you would see who are successful are not going to fit in that bucket of truly overnight success where really, it was just a few, few days or hours or you know, maybe a couple of weeks or months of work to get to that point. I don't think that happens really to anybody. It's something that it's a buildup. You know, it took time. You had to hit a rut and then have to start working your way back out.
Tony Perez: 17:33 I gave a keynote at the Military Influencer conference last year. They invited me out to give a keynote and talk about my history and whatnot. I think it was well received. And in there, one of the slides I have is I talk about the issue that everyone who comes and says, “Oh my gosh, I want the success that you've had.” Whether that's money or the flexibility you have in your life, et cetera. And I always tell them, I say, “that's great, I can tell you all about that, but where I prefer you to focus in is in this section.” And I have a chart and it says, “you see this section? You see where I had to Zig, where I had to zag. The emotional toll that that took, the personal challenges you had with your family and your friendship and the dynamics you go with building a team,
Tony Perez: 18:17 let's talk about those.” Because these little moments of success, they go away. And in fact, once you sign a deal, you do an acquisition, there's no fanfare, there's no balloons. Okay, it's done. That's it. Everybody says, “Oh, congratulations.” And then they move on. What you need to focus on is really like the work that it takes to get there. So, for instance, Sucuri, Daniel started building that in 2008 in his garage part time, we started in 2010. We didn't really get movement on that until 2012, 2013 then we got a lot of momentum. Clean Browsing is another great example of how we started talking about this in 2016 we started building it. We didn't really open it until summer of 2018. There is a journey in everything you do and if you're only focused or looking purely at that shiny object at the end, you're never going to get there.
Tony Perez: 19:12 Daniel and I for instance, we focused on the grind. We like to joke and we say, “well, where are we thrive and the things, we like to discuss are the day to day things. The 24-hour days or we're spending with the late nights. People ask me today all the time, well Tony, “how are you running the group that's Go Daddy, running Clean Browsing, doing your philanthropic work, racing a Jeep and riding horses and snowboarding and going and shooting guns?” And I'm like, “well, that's my life. That's what I enjoy doing.” And so, my day is built up of doing all kinds of different things. But for me, I'm constantly moving. My biggest fear is not moving. My biggest fear is letting that catch up to me and dying, right? I have to continue to move and do different things. And that's what I have found to keep me from getting into the rut. Because even today, even after the many years that I've been out now, I still find myself every now and then when I'm in my lowest of lows, finding myself questioning what am I doing? I haven't done anything. “Oh my gosh, why am I out? I need to go back in.” It's crazy.
Scott DeLuzio: 20:21 All these years later and you start those kinds of thoughts like, I want to get back in or I want to go do that stuff. It does get a little bit scary when you think about that, it's like, I might be better off if I left all this other stuff and went back and did that life.
Tony Perez: 20:39 Well, you know that when we sold the company, that was about three months after that, where you're just in this weird place, right? You go from having your hand in everything to all of a sudden you have all these teams and it'll be bad by it, but they're getting involved in everything and they're making decisions that you used to be making. And now you have an AP team and an AR team and a finance team, HR team, everyone's taking different pieces of you and you find yourself, there's this weird moment where you're sitting there and you're like the most depressed you have ever been. And people are like, that doesn't make any sense, Tony. You know, some people think about the money, something about the freedom or something about the position. They're like, “Oh, it's so amazing”, but you're just sitting and you're like, “wow, this really sucks.”
Tony Perez: 21:16 What have I done with my life? Literally, what am I doing with my life? Now where do I fit? I have no place. I have no home. What am I about? I have a taken my purpose away. Like starting the entrepreneurship, I think is one of those awesome things that a lot of vets don't think about. I think it's one of those things that I can actually replicate the experiences you had in the core, which is what a lot of people miss, right? The camaraderie, the building when you're out doing your running details and you get into some shit, right? You build this bond with the people that you're in with, it's irreplaceable. Building a company is actually very similar. You go through all these things, right?
Tony Perez: 21:51 It's a different type of dynamic but when you go through it, you build this bond and somebody takes it away, all of a sudden and you start questioning everything. What's my purpose? So, that was actually, funny enough, that was in 2017 post acquisition. I found myself in the same situation that I found myself in 2005. I found myself contacting a bunch of recruiters and saying, “I don't care what, just put me back out. I obviously I don't belong here anymore.” Yeah, it was pretty weird. It was pretty weird and pretty gnarly.
Scott DeLuzio: 22:26 That's an interesting place to be after finding yourself lost and not really knowing what to do. And I've talked to other people too, who have been involved in other acquisitions and having similar reactions but they weren't veterans; so, I don't think they were calling up recruiters at that point, but they didn't really know where they fit in the whole scheme of the organization. They went from one day running everything and you can chart and show, to the next day just being another piece of the puzzle of this big giant 50,000-piece puzzle or whatever.
Tony Perez: 23:05 Funny, the Marine Corps is like, “listen devil, like love the spirit, but this is a young man's game.” I called the Navy. Actually, it was bad when I'm calling the Air Force. I'm like, “what do you guys need?” And it was like, “Oh, I think you're a little old now.” I'm like, “Oh God, don’t tell me that
Scott DeLuzio: 23:27 That's when you're hitting rock bottom, when you contacting the Air Force. So, I was reading through your blog the other day and I'm actually going to link to it in the show notes because there's a lot of good stuff in there. One common theme that I found in a lot of the posts that you had, not all of it is life for leadership or whatever related stuff. One of the themes that I found in there is that you don't really fear failing like failure. You seem to embrace the opportunity to fail, if that makes sense. It's not to say that you're a failure and that you're, “Oh, I'm just cool with being a dope” or whatever who's not successful or whatever.
Scott DeLuzio: 24:16 Because that's not what I mean at all. But I guess you don't let the setbacks that you might have get you down. And so, you drive through there. Like for example, in one post you'd say, “failing doesn't scare you but not trying does.” Then another post you're talking about how success has little to do with being smart or planning well, things like that but rather having a high degree of stubbornness and not allowing the failure to consume you. So, this just goes to your mindset that you're talking about, being in the Marines and talking about how you're not really afraid to fail. I think that is what allowed you to take a risk and take a chance on being an entrepreneur because that's not without risk for any entrepreneur really.
Tony Perez: 25:11 It's so weird that you say that, right? Because first off, I never even understood what an entrepreneur was. I think I was at a conference and someone's like, “Oh, you're an entrepreneur. I'm like, “what is that?” And I'm like, “well, that's what you're doing.” And I had to go home and Google it and whatnot. And I was like, “Oh shit, I've never even thought about that. I guess I am an entrepreneur.” And then I was giving another talk to a bunch of veterans and at the end I get off and they're like, “Oh, man, that was great.” And I'm like, “well, why'd you like that?” And they're like, “well that's achievable success.” And I'm like, “what the fuck?” And I was like, “what are you saying?” And then I realized, I was like that's actually a great compliment, right?
Tony Perez: 25:50 Because what I do is what you described, which is like and I don't know what it is. And my wife has said somethings wrong with me, but she's like, the idea of failing just doesn't cross my mind and then people tell me like, “do you know that this could happen?” And I'm like, “I recognize that it's there.” I don't know if I just don’t respect it. In fact, the higher the risk of a failure, the more excited I get about it. That's just been my personality for a long time now. The fewer people that can do it, the fewer people can accomplish something, the more I want to try to do it. And the thing of it is though, I'm not afraid if I don't make it. If I don't do it, I'm cool. For me it was that journey. It was the work. It was the grit that's required to give it a shot and try it. Like for instance, I'm getting into off road racing, never off road raced in my life.
Tony Perez: 26:49 I thought it was cool and saw a few people do it and it's so rad that I was like, “well, I'm going to go buy a rig and I'm going to join a team and I'm going to build this up and I'm going to get in the vehicle and I'm going to race it. We ended up doing really well and huge mainly because of the team and the other driver. For me, it's just an awesome experience. I like to push those limits. I don't get hung up on the idea that I could fail. If I fail, it's because I allow myself to fail. Like the failure has conditions in which I can control. Right. Like I said in that one article you are referencing, more than anything, more than being smart, more than anything else it's pure willpower. One of my colleagues here at Go Daddy always says, “with enough overwhelming pressure you can overcome anything.” And I'm like, I liked that a lot.
Tony Perez: 27:47 And you know, you read back some military history books and you read back like, “what are the things that allowed guys to overcome crazy odds?” Well, it's their unwillingness to quit. What if he just quit? It's not a thing that you allowed to happen? I think Chesty once said when he was surrounded on all quarters, he's like, “yeah this just means that we got him right where we want to try to go at it with them. And I'm like, “that's one way to look at life.”
Scott DeLuzio: 28:20 I know. I think it was like now we can just attack in any direction if we're sort of,
Tony Perez: 28:25 well, we don't have to worry about it. Right. Who gives a shit about tactics? Just fight.
Scott DeLuzio: 28:37 You talked a little bit about some of the other things that you're involved in, some of the philanthropic work that you've been involved in. Why don't you tell us a little bit about some of the organizations you might be involved in?
Tony Perez: 28:53 Last year at the Military Influence Conference, I met up with some Sempra Canine folks. They're training dogs to help veterans that need it, whether they've been wounded or whether they're going through mental illness or whatnot. They train these dogs to support them. So, I went ahead and partnered up with them. And for them, it's just mostly a donation and just making sure that they have what they need. And the other group that I'm working with is the War Horses for Veterans. So, over the past year and a half, two years, I've been getting more and more versed in horses. I just think that they're beautiful animals. And so, I've got two partnerships going on with the Sweet Bow Horses, it’s a wild rescue for wild Mustangs here in the U.S. and they're trying to create a veteran program to help people that are in need that are just struggling, go through their program using horses to facilitate that.
Tony Perez: 29:46 The other group that I'm partner with are the War Horses for Veterans out of Kansas, helping them create an environment where they take combat vets, those that are struggling with PTSD specifically, whether it’s those first responders or combat vets and giving them a safe, quiet space to immerse themselves with the horses and re-find themselves and reconnect with the rest of the world. Then there was a spiritual resiliency group called the Mighty Oaks Foundation down here in Temecula that is a spiritual resiliency for those struggling with PTSD, whether that's first responders or combat Vets. I am working with those guys as well. I don't know why. I don't know how I've stumbled into that. It's just become a thing that I started to do just to donate and help them in whatever ways I can. So, I just enjoy it. I don't know.
Scott DeLuzio: 30:34 You're definitely involved in quite a bit as far as all of these different organizations. But it's really great that there are people out there like you who are willing to support these organizations and help out the veterans who are struggling and it seems like they're doing really good work with all of this stuff. There is actually a funny story. You're talking about all the horses and everything. When we are doing our training up to go to Afghanistan, we're in Louisiana and they had some wild horses out there on the area that we're training in. There were just wild horses that would go roaming through and we got to one spot in this training exercise that we're on,
Scott DeLuzio: 31:20 we were just stopped for a little bit and there's this rumbling coming off in the distance and then you see this whole herd of horses coming towards us and they're not stopping and they're just coming towards us. We were like, “Holy shit! we're about to get run over by all these horses.” And it was a pretty scary experience at that point because we have nowhere really to go. We were all bunched up where we're at and we couldn't really get out of there. They were just not going to stop. They just kept coming. But they ended up going around us and where we were, it was very fortunate that they decided to do that because they probably would've just run right over us.
Tony Perez: 32:07 “Oh, we did not plan for this.”
Scott DeLuzio: That was not on the packing list. What to do when the wild horses start coming after you. You're also talking about that grit in the crappy situation that's going on and you just work through it with your team and you get through and you end up getting through it even better on the other side. In that same area that we were in, we went on a training mission to just go drive around to train the other guys, the newer guys on driving the Humvees and other trucks that we had.
Scott DeLuzio: 32:58 We had this course that we were going to drive on. It was all mapped out there. There it was all laid out for us but we didn't realize how muddy the ground was and we ended up getting all of our trucks stuck in the mud and we left at like six at night or so. And it wasn't until well after sunrise the next day that we got all of the trucks unstuck. They actually had a wrecker come out to where we're at and that got stuck in the mud. It was like a complete shit show and fortunately, we actually we had axes in the back of the trucks and we went and we just started chopping down trees to use for leverage to get the trucks out and everything.
Scott DeLuzio: 33:48 We completely destroyed the woods there. Actually, we had been off base at this point because we veered off a little bit. There was this little footbridge that looked like someone really dug in. They took some time to make this thing in there. We totally destroyed that and used the wood to put under the wheels to get the trucks out of the mud and everything. We destroyed that whole area. But the reason why I'm saying that is afterwards our entire platoon was on this training mission and we all got so much closer after that. We all came together and that shared suffering, we grinded through the suck, the blisters and the cuts and the everything else trying to work through this problem.
Scott DeLuzio: 34:41 And we all came out so much closer and as much as it sucked during the time, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything because of how close we became afterwards. It really helped especially being pre-deployment and everything. Then we deploy overseas and we're that much closer with everybody and everything like that. So, it really helped. And I think to your point earlier that you were talking about was that you can go through this crappy situation and you can really grind and still come out better on the other side.
Tony Perez: 35:17 Yeah. And what are those things specifically that I appreciate the Corps for, I mean it in many ways. I love the core and I divorced myself from it as well for whatever reasons. And I never talked much about it. I just always kept in the back of my mind. But what I did was based on the things that I learned around leadership and how you lead teams of people that I had to make some modifications right away with a little bit different, but the principles around leading from the front and being there on the front lines when it gets tough, be the first one there. I can tell you experiences with Sucuri where we would have really bad months where mass compromises as a team, we were small.
Tony Perez: 36:01 And as you know, we weren't paying a lot. We were still self-funded and we were there and man, we were there together. You know, first one's on, last one's off just there with the teams. And I know that the teams really appreciated it, that servitude to leadership and being there for the teams. Things that the Chesty, at least in our Marine Corps side would always preach the things that I leveraged today in my leadership style. I haven't perfected in any way, but it's something that they don't really teach in schools for a lot of non-military folks. And you see it in the way other teams are led. That's one of the things I'm extremely grateful for is being able to take the things that I learned in the military and reapply them and continue to remind myself what was it about, what were the principles, what was the intent and how do people respond? There's a reason that you teach these things when you're going to war. If it works in war, it can work in building a company where you're going into a different kind of war.
Scott DeLuzio: 36:53 There's a lot of those leadership traits that you learn in the military that sometimes you don't necessarily think about afterwards because sometimes you might learn how to apply something to a very specific situation in the military, but you don't realize that it has applications elsewhere outside of the military and running a business is a perfect example of that. The first one in and then the last one out type of thing and the leaders eat last mentality and things like that is really important when you're trying to run a business
Tony Perez: 37:33 and the team sees it, they appreciate it. If they see you do that and they see you lean in, they lean it, right? I believe in this concept of positive peer pressure. So, if I really want something to get done, I could absolutely tell you to do it or I can go do it myself. And then those people that are like, “Oh shit, I should probably be doing that and lean in and do it with you. Right? The people that have the intuition to see that and respond, other people that I wouldn’t to work with, those are the people that say, yes, you understand what I'm trying to get at with cultural that's lean into that together?
Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely.
Tony Perez: I do a lot of that where I won't tell team members what to do.
Tony Perez: 38:09 I'll say, okay, that's great and I'll just lean up. So, say we're having a meeting and we're all sitting there and nobody's engaging. Well, if it gets to a point where we need to start taking action, I said, okay, I'll get up and I'll start taking action until somebody leans in and says, I'll do it and lean in. Okay. Then I'll sit down versus saying, you'd get up, you lead this. Right? Because I want to see the people that are going to take the initiative. I want a PC that people who are tomorrow's leaders because to me, the leadership isn't defined by their role and who's the highest paid person in the room, right? It's the person that,
Tony Perez: 38:36 has those behavioral attributes of a leader. Those are the people that I want to move up.
Scott DeLuzio: Right? And realistically, this is for any business and not just your business but you're not necessarily going to be running the ship the whole time. You might have to step away, you might move on to another role or another position or another company. Where's that going to leave the company that you started? And if you're not training those people who are working for you to be able to run the ship and take things over, then you're basically setting it up for failure. And I couldn't agree more and then nothing has ever become more evident over the years than ever before which is, I see my responsibility. I'll be ensuring that Brad is preserved long after I'm gone. Whether I get hit by a bus or I leave, it's about building that bench and building those leaders that will continue to drive this much farther than I ever will. That's a great point.
Scott DeLuzio: So, one question I like to ask people on this show and you can answer this any way you want. It can be funny with a joke or you can be serious or whatever,
Scott DeLuzio: 40:04 What is one of the things that you wish somebody would have told you prior to you joining the military? Some sort of advice or something like that. And we've already talked to other people who have already said “recruiters lie, the Air Force chow was way better” and things like that. So, do you have something different?
Tony Perez: What do I wish that someone would've told me before I joined the military? It was a very different time when I joined. It was pre-war.
Tony Perez: 40:59 it was just a fundamentally different time. The closest war we had had at the time was Desert Storm. And so, I don't know if I would have appreciated it, but I would have loved to better understand the psychological impacts of being in the military. It's something that we talk a lot about today. There's organizations and it's a real thing. Whatever you want to call that but it is a real thing and it lasts with you for a very
Tony Perez: 41:34 long time. And it's difficult for people to get their heads around. There's a stigma behind it and it can hurt you; it cannot. And as an individual, I don't know if I would have been mature enough to appreciate what it meant. I think I would've been naive enough to be like, “Oh, it won’t happen to me.” I think some understanding that this is an investment that's going to stay with you for whether you're with them for a year, with them five years, 20 years, that will go a long time and you can make good of it or you can make bad of it, right? You can let it consume you or you can let it help you grow. I think some conversation around that would've been really good. When I am mature enough to appreciate it, I can go back and say, “shit, I've got to remember that. Especially when I'm in my darkest moments.” So yeah, I would say that.
Scott DeLuzio: 42:28 I could imagine something like that would have been useful. After you got out and you were in that rut, to think back on it and be like, “okay, well I've got to kick my own ass out of this rut and how am I going to get there?”
Tony Perez: 42:43 Yeah. But it's timeless advice, right? It's one of those things that applies to every single time I hit a rut, which happens all the time and even to this day, sometimes I'm still getting into it. And that reminder in the back of your head can be really helpful because I know a lot of guys have not been as fortunate as myself where I was able to recognize and pull myself out. I just think that it could be really helpful. And then again, these days the conversation is very different. So, at that time and what we were going through, that could've been very helpful these days. Everybody's talking about it; it's out there, people know it. It's interesting. I just hope we remember it 20 years from now.
Scott DeLuzio: 43:23 Even the fact that you're saying it now is really good because there could be somebody who's listening to this who is thinking about joining and they could take that in and then when they get out 10, 20 however many years from now they can have that piece of advice with them. So, it's still good. Even though people are talking about it, man, it's good to have that.
Tony Perez: 43:50 And I would say for anybody that's listening, it's more along the lines of look, “being part of something as amazing as the U S military or any military is one of those things that are going to dramatically change your life. And you just have to be physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for that.” Understand that the things you learn can have a dramatic impact in the things that you do to this world long after you get out. That's the thing that I would probably tell people that I'm thinking about joining and then if they want examples, you dive into it. I think that's important for people to understand and appreciate.
Scott DeLuzio: 44:27 Absolutely. And I think that's really great advice to have. It looks like we're coming up on time here anyways, so probably a good place to wrap up. Tony, would you want to maybe tell people where they can learn a little bit more about you and what you do, maybe a place online that they might be able to find you? Yeah, for sure, man. It's really easy. Just look me up out of PerezBox. I've had that handle for a long time across a bunch of mediums if you want to connect just hook me up.
Scott DeLuzio: Awesome. All right. Thank you very much. All right.
Tony Perez: Take care. All right. Take care.
Scott DeLuzio: 45:07 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, DriveOnPodcast.com we're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.