19 Military Lessons that Made Me a Millionaire

On April 23, 1997, on my third day of boot camp, I got into my third fight in three days. It was a terrible, very bad fight. We were both bloody. It was my third fight, his first. My drill sergeants called me in and they said, “Son, we just want to tell you something. Military’s not for you. You need to go back home.” I was quiet. I didn’t say anything.

They went on to say, “Look, here’s what we’re going to do to you. Typically when someone gets in three fights in three days, they are absolutely dishonorably discharged and sent home. But here’s what we want you to do. You have tonight to think about your decision. We think you’re not made for the military. We want you to go and make as many calls as you want. Tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m., you need to tell us if you’re staying in or going home. Our suggestion to you is you need to go home, son. That’s what you need to do. This is not for everybody, and it’s definitely not for you.”

They put me in a room with a phone, and I started calling all of my buddies.

They all said, “Pat, come home.” I was fun, the guy you wanted to go out with, and they all wanted me to come home.

I listened to three songs over and over again that night on my Walkman. I didn’t sleep the entire night. And I was very emotional. It was a defining moment in my life. I wanted to go back and party. It was the prime time of my life as a 17-year-old. But in the morning, I want to the sergeants and said, “I’m staying in. I’m going to make this work.”

Once they knew I was in, all they thought about were ways to break me. They made me do so many pushups, my shoulders were so gone, I couldn’t salute. My legs were gone. I lost 24 pounds in two weeks, because we kept running and running, and I can’t stand running.

Why am I telling you these stories? It’s because everybody wants to be a deca millionaire, and while it happens in different ways for everyone, most successful entrepreneurs have a year or two of extreme hardship in their lives that contributed to who they are today as a successful entrepreneur.

Now I went through a lot of hard things such as living in Iran, and then a refugee camp, my parents’ divorce, and my dad working as a cashier in a 99 cent store. But the hard thing that really did it for me was my time in the military. Being in the military is what built me into the man I am today.

So in today’s video I share with you 19 military lessons that made me a millionaire.

#1: Managing Chaos

Military was all about managing chaos. In the military everything happens at the same time, and you have to find a way to be poised in the middle of it. Some people can't handle that.

I remember one of the exercises we had to do right before we graduated from boot camp. It was an exercise where we had to low-crawl under wires, with semi-automatic weapons shooting right above us. It was late at night. It was raining. It was hot. Humid. Terrible. And there we were, low-crawling, with the sound of rapid shots above us. It was chaotic. We were panicked. We had never been through it before.

One kid couldn't handle it. He stood up, and boom! It was a done deal.

It's like that in business. You may feel like there is so much chaos and you don't know how to handle it. All of a sudden, you make one stupid mistake in business and lose everything, all because you don't know how to manage chaos.

#2: Mission Driven

Military is all about mission. We have a mission and here's what we have to accomplish.

If you can figure out a way to make your business or the money part, you want to be a millionaire, you want to be a successful CEO and entrepreneur, you need to be mission driven. What is your mission? You've got to go complete this mission. You cannot leave a mission and say, "Oh, whatever. . ." No. Mission driven, let's complete this mission. What is the mission? Let's go complete this mission. That's exactly how the military is, and exactly how it is with business as well.

#3: Limited Resources

You know a lot of times people will say, "Well, Pat, I wish I had money." I don't know a lot of entrepreneurs that started off with ten million bucks and somebody game them the money unless it was their parents. I wasn't one of them. I don't come from a family that's very wealthy. My mother had to go back to Iran because she ran out of money and my dad was a cashier at a 99 cent store. Both of them were good people. My dad was the hardest working person I know. But we didn't have any money. So I started off my business by making sales, $100 commission, $200 commission, $500 commission, $1,000 commission and I saved, right? Only then was I able to open up my own office and hire staff.

In the military you've got to learn how to make things work on limited resources. Think about it. You go to the field and have a mission, a war. You're living in a Humvee and have a small amount of water and food that you have to ration.

And the same thing goes with business. Sometimes you've got to work with limited amount of resources that you have.

#4: Multi-Task

Listen in here for my thoughts on multi-tasking.

#5: Perform Under Pressure

Sometimes people are afraid to perform under pressure, and you'll learn a lot about someone with how they perform under pressure.

Nobody performs better under pressure than they do when there is no pressure. Let me explain.

Robert Horry was known as a great three-point shooter. He won seven championships. When do you think he shoots better? In practice when nobody's looking at him or guarding him or in the game with three seconds left on the clock? During practice, of course.

However, the difference is that there are people that perform better under pressure than other people perform under pressure. They're both under pressure, but one out performs the other one.

When you're in war, you have to learn how to perform under pressure. The same is true in sports and business.

#6: Managing Risks

Everything is about managing risks. When in war, you have to anticipate what may happen if you stand still, go right, left, forward or backwards. If you climb the mountain, you're tired, which is a risk, but if you stand still, there is risk. You have to decide which risk you want to take.

The same thing with business. Do I go here or there?

You're managing risk as a business owner, and creating wealth is all about managing risks.

Now keep in mind everything I'm telling you is the final product of me going through many different situations, and you will also have to go through these types of situations.

#7: Thick Skin

Listen in here for how the military helped me to grow thick skin and why that's important as an entrepreneur.

#8: Build a Tribe

In the military we learned how to have a tribe. We had an amazing camaraderie. They were brothers of mine.

Amazing! I'm talking we had a tribe where everybody backed everybody up.

In the military you become like a gang. Listen in here for how I worked through a conflict with a buddy, and the warning I give about fighting.

#9: Leadership

In the military you learn how to lead very, very quickly.

You have no choice but to lead, because everything in the military is leadership. So you're either going to lead, follow or get out of the way. You've heard that many times. But there was a development process to it. So the whole get out of the way part, is a saying. You say get out of the way, but at the same time, you're developing the people. I was being developed, I was developing other people. We were all being developed in the military. There was a leadership development component in the military that was constantly taking place.

A lot of times people have somebody in the company that they say, "Oh, I just don't like this person." Boom boom; they're gone. But there's no leadership development. Now, keep in mind, there are certain people that don't fit the culture. If somebody doesn't fit the culture, there's a wrong hiring process or the person that was getting the job lied during the hiring process and they were BS-ing you a lot. And many people will do that. Let's take that part out. Let's say that doesn't exist. Everything was right. And you hired properly. And they said everything properly.

They have a few things they need to do, but they fit the culture very well. It's on you to lead and develop them. You can't just give up on people and say, "Screw it. You know what? You're fired."

That's the same exact way it's in the military. We don't give up on our peers; we develop them.

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#10: Learning Other Cultures

Listen in here for how the military helped me learn other cultures.

#11: Adapt

In the military you learn how to adapt to whatever situation you're in, and sometimes you don't have a lot of time to adapt.

In the world of business, you want to become a millionaire? The market changes. What do you need to do? Oh my gosh! Did you see what happened to the market tank? Adapt. Oh my gosh, we have a new president. This is so scary. What are we going to do? This man is the worst man of all times. Adapt. Oh my goodness! Did you see what just happened to the stock market? Adapt. Just adapt. Oh my God, my best client. . Adapt! You won't believe what just happened. . . Adapt. You've got to learn how to adapt. The military teaches you how to adapt, and in the world of business, you've got to learn how to adapt without complaining.

#12: Survivability

You've got to learn how to survive with what you have. In the world of business, you need to learn how to survive.

#13: Independence

In the military, I learned how to be independent.

One of my biggest challenges when I talk to young men, especially in America is how dependent they are on their mom and their dad. They're dependent on someone else how to do everything for them. They may not even know how to wash clothes. That's not a good thing.

I'm a big fan of 16-18 year-olds joining the military for a year or two if they're undecided about what they want to do with their lives. The military will teach you so much discipline. Independence today is very difficult. Cutting the umbilical cord with mom and kids and all that stuff is so difficult for some people. The military teaches you independence.

#14: Strategy

Next is strategy. Everything is about strategy. You've got to learn what you're going to be doing with strategy. In the world of business, you need to be strategic.

#15: Health

The next thing I learned in the military is health. Listen in here for why health is important in both the military and business.

#16: Preparation

There is a lot of preparation in both the military and in the world of business.

#17: Paranoia

In the military you learn about paranoia, and you need a little bit of healthy paranoia.

Andy Grove wrote a book, Only the Paranoid Survive. In the military, paranoia is very, very critical. In the world of business, paranoia is also very critical. I was just talking to an entrepreneur who runs a business doing 20 million dollars per year and it's doing very, very well. And I pulled him aside and said, "You seem a little too excited. I just want to give you some counsel and feedback. When you're this excited, this is when you've got to be more paranoid." And he looked at me and said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Don't be too fired up and too excited. Be more paranoid. Think that tomorrow everything is going to be taken away from you."

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#18 and #19: Work Ethic and Discipline

I combined work ethic and discipline because they go hand in hand.

If you don't have work ethic and you don't have discipline, kiss the world of business goodbye. Literally. Just don't be an entrepreneur. If you want to be a millionaire and you're not disciplined and you don't have work ethic, it's not going to happen. And if you do get lucky and make a million, guess what? You're going to lose it all. You're going to lose it all. You don't want to work and make the money and then you lose it all. You've got to have a strong work ethic, and you've got to be disciplined.

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Sometimes veterans don't think they can become entrepreneurs and yet they have a lot of the qualities to become entrepreneurs. I want to be able to get a lot of veterans, military folks, soldiers, who don't know what to do next, they need to watch this video to know they already possess a lot of the capabilities of being able to become an entrepreneur; they just need to learn how to ship it. So share this video with them.


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