Post Military Education and Becoming an Entrepreneur

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
Post Military Education and Becoming an Entrepreneur

James Dunnigan talks about his time in the Marine Corps and his transition out of the military to civilian life. James offers a lot of great advice to transitioning veterans who are looking to take advantage of their GI Bill benefits, find an internship that caters to veterans, or learn more about yourself and your personality to find out what you want to do with your life after the military.

Links & Resources

James offered some ideas for transitioning veterans, which include:


Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a Veteran, Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, or a family member, this podcast we'll share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let's get on with the show. Hi everybody, today my guest is James Dunnigan.   James is a Marine Corps Veteran who is here to talk about his transition out of the Marines, where he went to college and learned about some of the Veteran internship and career resource programs that are available, as well as a company that he started while he was in college.  So welcome to the show, James.  Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?  

James Dunnigan:    00:00:44    Sure. Scott, thanks for having me.   My background, the best way to describe that is I've had sort of three major life phases. I tried to play baseball as long as I could, and like a lot of people, my career didn't go as long as I wanted.  When that ended, I was like, okay, now what? I had been wanting to join the Marines anyway, out of high school, but I knew that I had to pursue baseball first. I couldn't do it the other way around. So, I joined like right away within a couple months of my baseball pursuit being done. And I was a little on the old side. I was like 22 when I signed up, I think 23 when I went to bootcamp. So that was, you know, it doesn't sound that old right now, but when you're in bootcamp and you've got Sr. Lance Corporal, 19 years old in charge of you, it's old.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:38    Yeah. I was 24 going through bootcamp. So I was probably in a very similar boat to you.  

James Dunnigan:    00:01:43    Yeah.  I did one enlistment and that was always the plan.   People ask me all the time, why do you only do one? Or, you know, something like that. And I'm like, I don't need a reason to only do one. I need a reason to stay in. That was always the plan.  However, I must say if I had, I grew up in LA and if I got stationed on Camp Pendleton, that may have changed the course of my career. I may have stayed in just because the effects on my social life would have been less drastic.  Being across the country in Camp Lajoon made maintaining relationships difficult, especially as an introvert like me; it's just a bit of a bigger shock on my support system.  Needless to say I got out, but I don't regret anything.  What I wanted out of it, I got what I needed and then some; and before joining, I didn't know what I didn't know, but I knew I would find out.  

James Dunnigan:    00:02:47    And that's one of the major reasons I joined. I wasn't satisfied with my life experience or my opportunities at the time. Both my parents stayed in their hometown, a small blue collar neighborhood in LA. So I knew that they didn't even know everything that was out there. And I have this major, curious mindset, exploring mindset. So I just had to get out and I knew that was one major way of doing it.  So that's essentially how I ended up there. And then obviously the military is the next big phase of my life. And then phase three, I think I'm just in between two and three is a transition phase. Like being a student. I started school as soon as I got out.  I finished my bachelor's degree as soon as I got out within a couple of weeks, I was in classes.  

James Dunnigan:    00:03:40     With the whole GI bill thing and using your benefits, I strongly recommend challenging yourself with your workload. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't been in college in five years or something like that. And what being a good student really is in many ways, it's just prioritizing and you're just so much more mature and you can prioritize your classes, even if you're kind of dumb or have an incredibly average IQ. You can prioritize your classes and just put a little extra effort and use techniques that you learned in the military for learning and just 12 units as full time. And that's not that bad, it really is nothing. So I ended up doubling up. I was in 25 credits at once. So, I had an associates degree before the Marines, I doubled up on credits so that I could finish that two years of undergrad in one year. And then that leftover, some GI bill for some grad school.   I don't recommend you doubling up like that, especially if you're in a hard science, you may regret it, but I do recommend challenging yourself with your workload.  Don't accept what 18 year olds can handle as what you can handle. It's completely different.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:12    For sure. And I think you hit on a good point, when you're getting out of the military, you're obviously older and you're more mature than the 18 year old kid who just graduated high school who's going into college with pretty much no life experience gained from high school time. You're going to be able to do more and prioritize a little bit better and   not be as easily distracted with all the parties and everything else that people typically think of college. 

James Dunnigan:    00:05:45    Even with that workload, I didn't have time to party every week, but I had plenty of time to do it every other week. You know, a couple of times a month. That's plenty. That's more than enough when you have a light at the end of the tunnel, like a year, I only have this heavy workload for a year. I can handle being social every other week for a year before my burden of heavy class load is done, you know?  So I still didn't fully have a direction though.  I thought I did, and I thought I wanted to be a cop. So I did a degree. I chose the way I went about choosing my major was like I got out in December and universities don't accept Spring transfers. So I had a couple options to either wait for Fall...  

James Dunnigan:    00:06:36    So I would be sitting stagnant for nine months until August when the next term started. And most universities accept transfer students, or a select few schools that accept Spring transfer students. So I can start classes right then in January. So I opted for that. And then, I had to decide what majors were available and my school did not offer business. I went to one of Penn State's satellite campuses. So it was a small, 4,000 student campus and they didn't offer business. So, my next option is what do I enjoy learning?  Not necessarily what's useful because I was going to be a cop.  So you just need a degree to earn a bigger paycheck.. So I chose history and it was the worst choice ever for giving yourself options.  

James Dunnigan:    00:07:34    You know, it's really interesting. So, you learn a lot, I learned a lot of good stuff, but not useful for a career unless you want to be in some kind of history career, which there's not a lot of jobs. So I don't recommend that route, but again, I thought I had a plan, but the longer it was on a timeline from me getting out of the military, the less I wanted to be a cop. And I think it's because I had this lifestyle for four plus years of being gone all the time and having this wild life training, deploying, being all over the world. And it left a bad taste in my mouth because it was on the military terms. And it really impacted negatively my social life and things like that.  

James Dunnigan:    00:08:30    So, I think I wanted to just go far on the other end of the spectrum and just settle down, get a stable career with solid benefits and have a local ass lifestyle, you know?  That's how I felt when I first got out for several months. But those feelings wore off the longer I was removed from the military. And I began to think that  that's not necessarily what I wanted. I could be okay with a similar lifestyle while it's hard to replicate that lifestyle. But what I mean is traveling, being gone, not necessarily being stable and staying in one spot and a nice quiet neighborhood.  If I could do it on my terms and stop doing it whenever I felt like it, or have whatever balance I decided I needed. So, at about that time, I was over halfway through the hiring process with a few police departments in the LA area. And I got invited to the next stage in a couple of them. And in that same week, I got accepted to an MBA program at Pepperdine. So, that week I had some major career life altering choices to make. And I went with the MBA route. I'm glad I did,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:09:57    You know, and even that gives you a lot of options too.  Because you can go into business, you can start your own business, in which, it's certainly a possibility and, should down the line, you decide that you want to do something different, you could probably do something like that too.  

James Dunnigan:    00:10:15    Yeah. I think if you're struggling on a direction, just go with a business degree because it'll give you more options for any field you could possibly think of to go in. Even if you wanted to go in a non-business field, they're still going to use business skills because they are an organization, even if they're a, non-profit, they're a business,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:10:41    Even non-profits are businesses. And any company that you work for is a business. And so they're going to need someone with some business skills.  

James Dunnigan:    00:10:51    And every company to some degree is going to need some kind of marketing. You gotta at least know some things.  I can't think of many scenarios, unless you're getting into the medical field or something, and even then there's still healthcare admin degrees out there.  I can't imagine many scenarios where a business degree wouldn't help you or look good. And I lacked any kind of business knowledge because I never had any business influence in my life. My dad was a residential, single person, general contractor. So just a guy in his truck, going around doing room additions and home renovations and things like that. He has no business background or knowledge at all.  It was a big transformative learning experience to go to business school.  

James Dunnigan:    00:11:53    I don't think about anything the same way anymore, for the better. My concentration is actually Entrepreneurship and I did, in fact, start a company for the class that is now making pretty good sales, actually.  I don't know if we want to talk about numbers and stuff, but I'll just say the first few months were slow and then it exponentially grew, in many months it doubled from the month prior and now it's steady and I'm looking to scale it up. So, I've got another version two of that product that I'm prototyping right now. And I've got a second entirely different product that I'm prototyping right now that I think is going to be an even better seller than the first one.  That's what I would consider phase three of my life.  

James Dunnigan:    00:12:51    You know, the school part was transitioned right now. I'm in phase three, which is like the real world.  It's not paying my bills yet though. I'm not paying myself. It could pay my bills, but I'm choosing to not take money out of the business, in order to scale it up. I'm still trying to figure out the career side.  I'm trying to plan it so that I need to advance my career as if I didn't have my own business. And then when that business makes it, I just help him quit.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:13:29    And that's a nice thing too, because that gives you some options, where if all of a sudden you're turning in the sales, do you have these options that you don't need to be working for somebody else necessarily, you know?  

James Dunnigan:    00:13:42    Yeah. And that's one way of doing it. There's a couple of ways of doing that actually and there's pros and cons to the different approaches you take. Like if you start your own business and you plan on quitting your job in the future, when your business takes off, you can go a couple of different ways about it. One is how I just mentioned, try to advance your career and make that career your priority, at least while you're during those working hours, not while you're off working hours and that way, whatever happens with your startup, you still got your career going and it's advanced. You didn't weren't stagnant over the past three years.  Many people in general, whether they start their own business or not, have a job that only exists to pay the bills and fund their real lifestyle.  

James Dunnigan:    00:14:42    And you see this a lot in athletes who aren't necessarily professionals. So like rock climbers, or I've been in jujitsu for awhile while, not that long.   I'm still at boot in jujitsu. I see that NGG too and other martial arts and people who start a business. So, they don't try to start a career because they don't necessarily have skills or maybe they do, but they want to invest more time in their business than into their career. So they just get a job that pays the bills and funds their venture or whatever that is. And both are totally legitimate ways of doing it. It depends on the individual person.  I'm trying really hard to advance my career.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:36    Well, and that's good too because, should you find that this entrepreneurship is not the thing that you want to do, you haven't closed any doors and you have those options and you have a nice cushion too if sales dry up on your product, you have a thing to fall back on and your bills still can be paid. The lights stay on, food still gets on the table and everything like that because you at least have that background.  

James Dunnigan:    00:16:02    Yeah, there's this jacked up romanticized vision of what an entrepreneur is. And this may have been true years ago, decades ago, where people sell all of their shit and live in their car for X amount of time, and then their company takes off and they're millionaires. And if you have that vision in your head, don't do it. That's not a good way of going about entrepreneurship at all. People have done it and become millionaires probably. And like one in a million people. So if you're listening to this, it's not going to be you. So don't fucking do it.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:49    Yeah. I mean, they've also done it and they've crashed and burned and made nothing. 

James Dunnigan:    00:16:55    Yeah, I mean there's a stat out there, a basic stat, nine out of 10 startups fail. And as for a reason, I've started to see why that happens going through my business. There's so many issues along the way. But having said that, one of the things that I heard and learned in one of my classes is that many investors won't give you funding unless you have a failure under your belt. So it's not like you need to try to fail. It's that it's going to be really difficult to succeed, if you don't fail and learn from it. Right. You gotta feel out the friction points.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:33    I think a lot of education comes from the failures that you have.  Hopefully you learned something from the failures. There's a lot of potential I should say, in learning when you do fail; if you're open, receptive to it and you don't have a big ego and say, Oh, well, this is someone else's problem. And it's not my problem. Chances are it's you; you contributed something to the problem somewhere along the line. And so if you can learn from those mistakes, I think that that's a great way for you to grow as a person, as an entrepreneur, as an employee, whatever the case may be.  if you can learn from those mistakes.  

James Dunnigan:    00:18:21    Yeah. I think the biggest learning points that I had, and they were kind of mistakes, not irreversible, but the biggest mistakes and friction points that I ran into, like a major culture shock in the military, it's people's jobs to help you, and won't follow the time to help you because it's their job. And in the real world, that is not the case. You always have to think, how can I get them to want to help me or work with me because their mindset is what's in it for me. Why would I do business with you? So you have to position yourself so that it's mutually beneficial. And I thought that I was working with a supplier. I thought, what does this person not want my money? Why aren't they working with me? And the reason is because they could do this, they could make the sale and then never see me again. So it wasn't really worth their time to do this small ticket sale. So I've got to work harder on my end and understand that that's why they're not paying attention to me or putting effort into making the sale to me. I'm the little guy and I haven't proven that I'm worth their time yet. Really?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:19:32    Yeah, exactly. And that's a good lesson that you took away from that, if you want to call that a failure, you've taken that lesson away and now there's something that you need to work on and there you go, now you can work on it and improve yourself, improve your positioning and everything like that. So, let's talk about some of the career resources that are out there. I know when we spoke the other day, you said you had taken advantage of a few different career resources, and other programs that are out there.  What were some of those resources? How do they help you? And how'd you come about those?  

James Dunnigan:    00:20:07    Yeah, sure. Let's start with, I’ll count education resources as career resources,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:20:16    Yeah, broad categories. 

James Dunnigan:    00:20:18    I'll go and order the ones that I came across from when I got out.  If you're looking to use the GI bill and it caps something like in state tuition for public schools. And then if your school costs more than that, it's either out of pocket or they could opt to participate in the yellow ribbon program. So what I recommend is just searching yellow ribbon schools and finding out which yellow ribbon programs offer a hundred percent coverage of the difference. Or go to a school that is a public school. So it's covered anyway, so that way you're not paying out of pocket. I'm going to Pepperdine right now and they are a 100% yellow ribbon school. So even though they're incredibly expensive, that difference between what the GI bill covers and what my tuition is covered a hundred percent by the yellow ribbon program.  

James Dunnigan:    00:21:19    So that's a basic resource that may get overlooked.  Don't be worried about how much your schools are going to cost. You can find one that is going to be free for you while in school, I highly recommend at least inquiring about any kind of Veteran organization in the school because there's useful networking opportunities there, and resources, and it could be something as simple as tutoring, could be a social activity, whatever. And one major issue is that many Veterans or any underrepresented group for that matter, and they don't always want to disclose their status. So basically people don't want to broadcast that they are a Veteran. That's fine. You don't have to, but at least inquire about a Veteran club or organization on campus.  Most schools have one, most of the big schools, for sure, as far as companies after you were done with school, that the kind of resources that I've rented into is, well, first of all, let me backup.  I've been reading this research paper on Veterans integrating into the workforce specifically in management roles, but it covers a little bit broader than just management roles.  

James Dunnigan:    00:22:45    And what they found was, like I mentioned before, many Veterans don't want to disclose their status, but this goes for underrepresented groups, period;  whatever kind of minority group you belong to. In general, they do not feel comfortable or as properly integrated. Their mindset Isn't right when they're in an organization where there's no one else like them. So having said that, I recommend just doing a simple Google search and some great lists and articles will come up on Veteran friendly companies and you may think it's kind of cheesy, but I recommend it just for that simple matter, when you are in an organization where you might be the only Veteran, the communication is going to be a lot different and their leadership style is going to be a lot different.  

James Dunnigan:    00:23:52    And those things are going to make the conversations go a lot different than you want and that you're used to, and your satisfaction with where you're working and your company culture is going to be pretty low.  I ran into that issue myself.  So yeah, the strong recommendation, go where Veterans are. At least if they make an attempt to be a Veteran friendly organization where they like hiring Veterans, you still don't have to identify as a Veteran and be some Mozart, wearing like 10 on your shirt and stuff to work. You don't have to do that, but you may be happier in a place like that.  Having said that, there're many Veteran internships out there, I'm in one right now, actually at Oracle and they call it the Oracle Veteran internship program and it is specifically designed for transitioning Veterans.  

James Dunnigan:    00:24:50    And it's a great experience because most Veterans have zero corporate experience, right? Probably 99% have zero corporate experience. So it's like a major   introduction to the corporate world. Is this a good fit for you? Can we find a different team that's a good fit for you?  Here's how company culture is here and things like that. And it's a paid internship; so, with that Google search, I can't even give you a list because there's so many out there, just look for Veteran internship programs. I think that would be seriously valuable to you. And that's another indicator that they're a Veteran friendly company that you might want to be at.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:44    And that's, I think a good way to start because some of these organizations may not be in your local area. Like you said, geography was a big thing for you. You wanted to be closer to where you grew up and everything. And if that's your case and you want to be in that same geographic area, look for Veteran friendly companies or Veteran internship programs or whatever the search phrase that you want to use for whatever you're looking for in your local area, add New York or LA or Phoenix or Dallas, whatever the case may be, put in the appropriate geographical location and see what comes up.  I'm sure there's going to be a nice long list.  

James Dunnigan:    00:26:35    Yeah. Yeah.  Definitely the one I'm in is online, it's virtual and you'll have a better chance of finding one now that most positions are virtual, especially at corporations.  So yeah, good point.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:26:51    Yeah, and I hadn't even realized that, but it does make sense that virtual is an option now, too.  Maybe geography doesn't matter quite as much, so you can live close to where you grew up or wherever you're comfortable with living. And if you can find a nice remote opportunity that would probably be even better.  So that way you don't have to necessarily worry about the geography aspect of it and potentially even live in an area that has a lower cost of living and still getting paid a decent wage from some of these corporate salaries and stuff. So, that could even be a better way to look at it too.  

James Dunnigan:    00:27:36     There's different career paths out there, and many of them are totally legit but with that, I did some research because I got tagged in this 22 pushups video challenge for Veterans suicide. And I just made a different video. I said, I'm not doing any dumb ass pushups. You know, the awareness is there, and while they weren't necessary among Veterans, I don't think it's fully there among all society, but there's sufficient awareness to where we need to start doing things other than being aware. So I made a video, I did some research and found a basic troubleshooting checklist. Like if you feel like shit, if you're feeling depressed, now here's some things that you should troubleshoot, like asking myself. So basically things that contribute negatively to mental health are maintaining healthy friendships, or failing to do so,   maintaining or pursuing an intimate relationship, having a reasonable career that offers structure, hierarchy and routine.  That can be a kind of a big one. And that's why trying to talk about career so much because that is not going to fully replace, but it can certainly fill some of your needs that you got from the military, but the structure of the hierarchy and something where you can advance in, if it's that kind of a career,  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:07     A sense of purpose too. 

James Dunnigan:    00:29:11    A sense of purpose, community and all these kinds of things. So, yeah, having an education that matches your intelligence, you don't want to be smart and then not pursue an education, having a hobby, or some kind of good use outside of work. So, I've got a few resources for you, my chosen hobby, which is jujitsu, and this is kind of a no brainer, not abusing drugs or alcohol, or watching your stop beating off, and maintaining relationships with your family and other things like sleep, diet, exercise, that type of thing. So that was a basic list, but where you can just try and  go down the list and see where you're struggling, and just try to work on that. If you feel like shit, feeling down, just look at each of those things and try to work on the ones that you're lacking and even work on the ones that you're good at already.  

James Dunnigan:    00:30:13    So, with the jiu-jitsu thing; for martial arts in general, first I'll say that if you do start a martial arts, specifically jujitsu, I don't think there's anybody out there that regrets it.  So that's for starters; now having said that, there are numerous Veterans jujitsu type groups, most of them are local, or many of them are local. For example, I'm in Austin right now,  a Facebook group and an Instagram group called Veterans jujitsu. And,  I don't know if they're an actual company or non-profit or not, but basically they just offer free jujitsu classes for Veterans at a differential gym around Austin each year in a week. And there's several others as well. There's a Facebook group called Where Veterans Train and  that's more of a national network of Veteran GGC folk.  

James Dunnigan:    00:31:20    And they've got a website and a DD 214 fight where I think is the company name. They've got a website called DD 214 and they've got a gym tracker. So you go scroll down their menu and they've got an option to locate gyms that are Veteran friendly in one way or another. So they offer discounts, free classes, or if they contribute to a Veteran based nonprofit,  another one called, That We Defy Foundation.   That foundation is a jiu-jitsu nonprofit for Veterans. So that's definitely one option that you have for as far as hobbies guys, but it's always good to suck at something new. And one of the reasons that Veterans prefer jujitsu, it's still a way of being violent and even though many places, especially like the no-gi places don't necessarily focus on the belt colors, they're still belts to look forward to getting promoted to, my gym, it's a no-gi so you're not wearing the belt on you, so there's not as much hierarchy.  

James Dunnigan:    00:32:47    I mean, there is who's better than you, you're going to who can strangle you.  But the social hierarchy is not as strict, but the key places are a bit more strict and some of them bow before they get on the mat and they call the instructor professor. And some of them you don't approach a higher ranking belt to call you. Don't ask them if you want to roll, the higher ranking belt has to ask you. So that's a little bit more strict for the marriages that preferred that kind of military type stuff go to a gay gym.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:33:24    Well, not the type of thing gives you, it kind of checks a few of the boxes. It gives you a goal to work towards, if you're trying to advance levels, it takes care of your physical fitness, that you definitely want to keep in shape to some extent if you're going to be doing that type of stuff. And all of that contributes towards your mental health, and it's an activity that you can do outside of work, you know? So, do you have any other advice that you might have for people who might be transitioning out of the military in the next few months, or even who just got out recently, as far as, what kind of things worked for you? What kind of things didn't work for you? And they can make that transition a little bit easier.  

James Dunnigan:    00:34:12    Yeah. Great question. I strongly advise reading books, not shit that's on the commandant's reading list, not those books; read a variety of books of your choosing.  Another strong recommendation, there's some really good science out there now on personalities and things like that. So I think you need to learn about yourself better and how you interact with society so that you can accurately assess where you are and what kind of a person you are in order to advance your position in society. If you think you're in one spot, but you're really in another, you're going to have a hard time navigating life because you're not right. You don't have an accurate perception of yourself, or you just might not know what kinds of people you like, your personal quality, how that affects your relationships and what kinds of people, or how you need to interact with other people.  

James Dunnigan:    00:35:16    So that's probably my biggest recommendation. Learn, take some kind of personal, not like some dumb ass Zodiac shit, or even the Myers-Brigg stuff is outdated and it's like pseudoscience, you're not going to find much out there, but as far as I know the latest science out there, one of the big five personality tests, I've taken one, and I've learned some things about myself from there as far as what I might need in my lifestyle. So that's a major one and then make a plan B with actionable goals. That another good one that I haven't always done.  In fact, this past year, so a year and four months ago, Christmas, 2019, I made my first ever lifetime new year's resolution. And I thought they were the dumbest things ever for my entire life.  

James Dunnigan:    00:36:17    And then I just decided to make a couple that you can't do them dumb, like some dumb ass resolution, I'm going to get in shape. That's not a good resolution. If you make something that's potentially challenging, but some actionable goals like mine were not dumb. They were simple and basic. I'm going to start putting my laundry away immediately after it comes out of the dryer. And I did it, it worked, I made the resolution and I did it. I followed through because it was actionable and I can hold myself accountable and it wasn't overwhelming. I just noticed that far too often I would leave it in the dryer or leave it on my bed or something. And that's some really basic thing that you can start with and then work to bigger goals.  

James Dunnigan:    00:37:09    And then my other one was, I wanted to read 12 books a year and I did it. So I broke it down. I just said, all right, I'm just going to average one book a month, but you can make really simple goals like that. And they don't have to be new year's resolutions, but do little things to improve your life and set career goals in general and work backwards, envision what you want your life like, and then work backwards to determine what steps are necessary to get there, and then start with the first step today or whatever step you're on. I think a lot of people don't do that. And once I began doing it that way, thinking about what kind of lifestyle do I want in five years or 10 years or whatever. Okay. Well, what do I need to do to get there? There's some major things, some major milestones I need to hit, but what do I need to do today? What do I need to do this month, this year to make that happen?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:38:06    Yeah. And that makes perfect sense. And I think that that's something that comes from the military too, when you're planning out a mission or whatever, you do reverse plan when do I need to hit this objective or whatever, and how long is it going to take me to get there? What supplies and resources do I need along the way?  We need ammo. Do we need food? What do we need?  

James Dunnigan:    00:38:33    They haven't got a mission level. And it also happens in your career in the military. There's this entire career path online. I don't know about other branches, but in the Marines we had Marine online, and it literally had your career path and what steps you needed to take to get there, where they call all your PME stuff, whatever. So you don't have that when you get out. So it would be beneficial to make your own career path checklist and do some research, ask people, I'll talk to people and whatever field you want to get to.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:39:13    Yeah, absolutely. And I like what you said too, about the new year's resolutions, start with small goals, and things that are easily achievable, but just hold yourself accountable to them. If you're improving that one small area of your life, then your life is just that much better. And then you can build on that and add more things. And one of the things that you alluded to was, you don't have to wait for the end of the year to make this new year's resolution or the beginning of the year, whichever way you want to look at it, you can do it today and, say, Hey, I want to start doing this. I want to start putting the laundry away, or I want to start exercising more, or cleaning up the dishes after I'm done eating dinner or something small like that, and it's going to improve your life just a little bit, but your life is still improving as a result.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:40:07    And so once those things become a habit, it becomes easier to add on other good habits and just start improving your life overall.  

James Dunnigan:    00:40:15    Yeah.  You made a good point, adding habits over time. So when it comes to setting goals and changing habits, if you do a big drastic thing, some people can do it. Like some people can quit smoking, cold Turkey, or change their diet, losing weight. Most people have better success, losing weight, instead of doing this major diet change overnight, you start with one thing and it's okay, start portioning each of your meals, you just cut them out by 20%, 25%, and you do that for a month. Then the next month you add another habit in. So the next one, now you pay attention to what the food is. So now you cut out a little bit of this and you add a little bit of greens, and that's just another incremental habit that you've built over time.  

James Dunnigan:    00:41:08     and also with goals, they're more successful when you can quantify them and hold them accountable. So instead of making the goal to lose weight, you make the goal to go to the gym four times a week or five times a week. And then your real goal of losing weight will happen as a result of your numeric goals. And I wanna get a black belt in jujitsu. Cool. How do you do it? You show up to jujitsu five days a week? That's the goal that is focused on, because when you slip up, it's fine. You get back in it the next week. Can you make it five times the next week?   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:41:48    And you know, there's a book that I've read, you're talking about reading books too, and it's called Atomic Habits. And it talks about making these small incremental changes, improving things like if you improve 1% a day, over the course of a year, two years, three years, think about how drastically improved you'll be at the end of that time period in whatever area it is. You know, if you're trying to lose weight and you lose 1% of your goal, the amount that you want to lose, and you keep doing that and add on over time, those changes will end up taking place faster than you would imagine. But if you're trying to do everything all at once, it's going to be like drinking from a fire hose and you're just not going to be able to get it all done, you know?  

James Dunnigan:    00:42:40    Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I think that was a long answer to that last question of any additional advice?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:42:48    Well, that was good. I think that that advice is good and I think it certainly will be helpful for some people who are in that transition period who really don't know what their life is going to look like over the next few years. And it's a good way to think about things and do that sort of planning that we were talking about to figure out what their career goals are, their family goals, their personal goals and stuff. How they want to see their life and reverse plan from there, so that way they're hitting that goal and that gives them something to strive for.  It gives them that sense of purpose that they may not realize it yet, but they're going to be missing after transitioning out of the military.

James Dunnigan:    00:43:35    Yeah. And that brings up another point, on average it takes Veterans three to five years to transition out, so to feel a little bit more comfortable in your new life. So, don't stress If you're feeling lack, when you get out for a couple of years; it's normal, it does get better. Your brain is getting used to things.  I'm at five years. So I've got no more excuses.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:07    Well, it seems like you've got a lot of good advice. You've got your head on right. As far as your career goals and educational goals and stuff, and you're moving in the right direction anyways. I really do appreciate the advice and the information that you shared today. I'm sure a lot of the listeners are gonna be able to take away a lot of good information from you here and I'll have some of the resources that you mentioned,  the yellow ribbon program, the Veteran internship programs and stuff like that.  I'll have links to all that stuff in the show notes  so anyone who's listening to this, you can find out a little bit more about all of these opportunities and the resources that are available.  Before we go and we wrap this up, I do want to give you an opportunity. You did talk a little bit briefly about your business, but if you want to promote that a little bit, talk a little bit about that business and what it's all about and where people can go to find out more about it, get in touch with you or buy your products.  

James Dunnigan:    00:45:17    Sure.  I just started doing jujitsu and I had this class project for my entrepreneur class, and I bought a massage gun because my neck is cranked on every day. And there was no way of reaching my back muscles. So I invented a mounting bracket. So you can attach a massage gun to your doorway or a squat rack, or a pole or something like that. And it holds it in place firmly so you can target your back muscles solo.  I've gotten feedback from females that they use it for other purposes. That's cool too.  But that's how I use it and that's how most of my customers use it.   It's called Mantismount. That's my Instagram handle. That's the website MANTISMOUNT. com you can get a Veteran discount if you're ACTIVE DUTY, Chad, we'll get you a better military discount.  

James Dunnigan:    00:46:21    If you're a VETERAN, Brevet, we'll get you a Veteran discount.  or to be honest, just hit me up. I'll probably send you one for free, whatever.  That's my original product and I've got a prototype going on right now for version two, based on customer feedback. And I'm looking to take out a loan to scale it up. It's all being funded organically right now by self-funding. I've got another product coming out that I'm prototyping as well. That is like a do it yourself squat rack kit, so that you would just have to buy a few things at the hardware store and then the metal rack and all the mounting hardware and hinges, I would provide a kit for you. So stay tuned for that. I only thought of it a year too late, it'd be a fucking millionaire right now. I thought of it at the beginning, but I didn't have a garage at the beginning. So I didn't have this need, businesses solve problems and I didn't have a problem because I was in an apartment at the time.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:47:32    Yeah. And a lot of times the best products come from scratching your own itch, because if you're having that problem, when there's not a product out there that solves the problem that you're having, you figure out a way to create the products that'll solve the issue. And then you have that light bulb moment where the light bulb goes off and you say, well, geez, maybe someone else would use this too. 

James Dunnigan:    00:47:55    Yeah, definitely. That's how most of my products came about.  If you happen to be entrepreneur minded, my MBA concentration, I'm not done yet. I've got one more class, but it is entrepreneurship. So I've got a lot of textbook knowledge as well as practical experience and knowledge in that area. So if you have any questions on that, on how to go about starting a business or anything like that? You got a product invention I'm working on making an online class, like a grown up on the teachable platform. They're like platforms where you can sell your class and people will pay to take this course.  I'm making a class right now called prototyping bootcamp, where I get into how you go about prototyping a new product. If you have no idea where to start and how to go about designing it and doing it for as inexpensively as possible.  

James Dunnigan:    00:48:55    So determining product feasibility as quickly and inexpensively as possible before you invest too much time and money into it. So sometimes the right answer is no, do not make this product, shut it down. It's not going to sell, right? So, this is what this course is going to be about, but if you're listening to this, just shoot me an email or a DM on Instagram. My Instagram, my personal Instagram is, James_DUNNY. You can send me a DM on Instagram. And I don't know if you get like a million listeners by the time this episode airs, I'm going to regret this, but for right now, I think I can handle the influx of DMs on inquiries on starting businesses.  Hit me up there. I'd love to talk and it would be offering you different ways of looking at your problems, not necessarily telling you how to run your business.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:49:53    No, that's a great thing to offer and I don't think you're going to be inundated with millions of DMS on Instagram here, but I'm sure some people will probably take advantage of it and reach out and let you know that they have a product idea. They're looking for a little bit of advice or whatever, and I think that that's another great resource. 

James Dunnigan:    00:50:15    Product or service, any kind of business. We can talk about it and if you don't know where to start, or if you have started, you don't know where to go next, or if you just want a different perspective, hit me up.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:50:28    Awesome. Well, I'll have links to your website and Instagram   account and all your socials and everything. So, people who are looking to reach out later on,   when this episode comes out, we can link to you there and you can find how to reach James and chat with him about business or whatever else you guys think might make sense to chat about. So, James it has been a pleasure speaking with you today.  I think you've shared an awful lot of advice and resources with people that I think really will be helpful. So I want to thank you for taking the time to join me and chat about all this stuff. It was a pleasure. 

James Dunnigan:  Thanks for having me. 

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. All right. 

Scott DeLuzio:   00:51:17    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 We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at DriveOnPodcast. 

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