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11| On Growth, Leadership, and Business: Warrior Rising Chief of Staff Ken Vennera

11| On Growth, Leadership, and Business: Warrior Rising Chief of Staff Ken Vennera
Half the City

 
 
00:00 / 01:01:33
 
1X
 

Ken Vennera is a man of many hats.

Wharton educated, corporate lawyer, and mentor, he is also involved with Warrior Rising as Chief of Staff — a veteran nonprofit that helps veteran entrepreneurs get off the ground and positioned for success.

Show Notes

For more:

LinkedIn | Warrior Rising | Operation Homefront | Vets2Industry

Theme music by: Ruel Morales

Brian Schoenborn  0:01  

Hello, hello. Hey everybody. Our guest today is a man of many hats. Wharton educated. He’s a lawyer, also involved with Warrior Rising as Chief of Staff, veteran nonprofit that helps veteran entrepreneurs get off the ground and get to where they need to be. Give it up for my friend, Ken Vennera.

 

Brian Schoenborn  0:25  

My name is Brian Schoenborn. I’m an explorer of people, places and culture. In my travels, spanning over 20 countries across four continents, I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in authentic conversations with amazingly interesting people. These are their stories, on location and unfiltered. Presented by 8B Media, this is Half the City.

 

Brian Schoenborn  0:52  

So what’s up, Ken, how’s it going? 

 

Ken Vennera  0:54  

Much Brian, thanks for having me on the show. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  0:56  

Yeah, no problem, man. So listeners where we’re sitting You’re on location in Philadelphia, beautiful Philadelphia

 

Ken Vennera  1:03  

City of Brotherly Love. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:04  

That’s right. And we are. We’re in the peak of the coronavirus madness, but we’re not going to talk about it. We’re going to give you guys something else to talk about.

 

Ken Vennera  1:14  

Thank you.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:14  

Yes. So can tell me a little bit. Um, one of the things I like to do is kind of discuss origin stories a little bit. 

 

Ken Vennera  1:22  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:22  

You know, how people that have been that have seen a lot of success and things like that, how they got to where they, where they got, so maybe you could maybe you could start with like, just a little, maybe a little bit more of an in depth intro than what I provided, what you’re up to. And then we can go back and like kind of dig in like how you got from point A to point B?

 

Ken Vennera  1:40  

Sure. Sounds good. So I as you mentioned, I have a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania, my undergrad, for that. I have a law degree, JD, from Widener University School of Law, which Used to be the Delaware School of Law, and also have a master’s degree in law in taxation from Villanova University. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:07  

Oh, wow, okay. Yeah, a lot, a lot of time in class.

 

Ken Vennera  2:10  

a lot of time in school for sure, for sure, much too much time as my grandmother would probably. I’ve been involved in a lot of veteran nonprofit space. You know, we could talk about that a little bit later, if you like, as well. But, you know, currently Chief of Staff with Warrior Rising. A super, super organization that, as you mentioned, you know, helps veterans who are looking to start businesses, you know, and accelerate them. You know, and earn, basically, you know, their future. And you know, a few others as well. I’m involved with Vets2Industry, sit on the foundation board for them, and others that I’ve been involved with along the way. You know, I can give you a little bit more background about that. I’m on the advisory board of Operation Homefront of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, for example,

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:13  

What is Operation Homefront?

 

Ken Vennera  2:58  

So Operation Homefront was founded probably about 15 years ago, roughly, I want to say, to provide sort of emergency assistance to active duty military while they were deployed in order to keep their families stable and things like that. You know, they’ve since changed, not change their mission, but morphed their mission a little bit more, you know, they help with, you know, veterans that need housing. They still help with some mergency financial assistance and things like that. I mean, they’re nationwide. But they’re all about, you know, really maintaining the families for the military, you know, in times of, you know, crisis and things like that. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  3:38  

Gotcha.

 

Ken Vennera  3:38  

They’ve expanded out a little bit towards, you know, National Guard space and things like that, and some veterans up to a certain point, but, you know, some some great work. Yeah, as I mentioned, I was I was very active many, many years ago with them probably during the height of deployments from about, you know, 2006 to roughly 2010 or so. I was chairman when they had independent chapters did a lot to really grow the Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey chapter into an actual, you know, operating entity from what it was. And, you know, proud to say that it’s still successful. I mean, national national organization is nationalized all of the chapters now into basically field offices. But some of the people, you know, some of the key people that I put in place like Pete Stenson, for example, who was chapter president under me, is now a regional director for them. So you know, his territory pretty much covers all the way from Maine down to Maryland.

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:44  

Oh, wow, okay. A huge chunk.

 

Ken Vennera  4:46  

Yeah. So, you know, so there’s that, you know, try and do you know, what I can, I mean, not having served myself. I mean, it’s pretty important for me to, you know, help out, you know, the military. There’s large military presence in my family as well. And a lot of friends of mine and things and

 

Brian Schoenborn  5:01  

yeah, so I mean, I’m a veteran, obviously, and I appreciate everything you’ve done that you do for us. Just curious. I mean, where does where does all that come from? Like, the desire to? 

 

Ken Vennera  5:13  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  5:13  

You know? Yeah, so be more respect, you know, be with as involved with the military and vets as you are.

 

Ken Vennera  5:19  

Um, you know, I’d say a lot of things. My grandparents were, you know, an immigrant generation, you know, coming from Italy. But, you know, they left Italy because there was not opportunity. I don’t mean to sort of sound cliche about it, but that’s really, you know, the truth of it. You know, they came to this country, and we’re extremely, extremely proud of it. My grandparents themselves, were the sort of oldest of their generation so and they came from very large families. So, the younger members of the family were born here, and were proud to have served in the military. I had a great uncle, my grandmother’s brother that, among others, I mean, others of her brothers served in World War Two as well. But her youngest brother just passed away about six months ago now. Yeah, and he was in the Battle of the Bulge and you know, he’s 95, 96 years old when he passed away. So, there was a, there was a huge patriotic feeling in the family even though you know, again, they came from, you know, a different background, you know, ethnically, etc. but very, very much in support of, you know, the military in this country, etc. And so, you know, very much loving the country and what, you know what was done. My grandmother, it was very funny, saved my uncle’s letters when he would write them from every place. From like, France, from Belgium, from Germany, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  5:35  

That’s cool.

 

Ken Vennera  6:24  

Even uncle Yeah, and I still have them to this day because she cherished you know, like every one of those letters that you know, he wrote. I think their last stop To be honest, he And after that being, you know, part of the Battle of the Bulge. Their last stop in Germany was Fürstenfeldbruck, which is right near Dachau concentration camps. So I’m sure that, you know, they’re probably involved in liberation, you know, Dachau as well,

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:14  

That’s amazing. 

 

Ken Vennera  7:14  

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:16  

You ever pull out those letters and like, read them, like, get an idea of like,

 

Ken Vennera  7:19  

I’ve looked at him with friends. You know, it’s very funny to see, like that first perspective and know that it’s sort of a family member that experienced that, you know, you know, you see things from like that era. And you think, again, you know, it’s a little bit cliche, but, you know, there’s there’s mentions of, you know, we really have Hitler’s boys on the run now and things like that. Yeah. And it’s just, you know, just crazy to think that they were experiencing that firsthand and relating it, you know, back as best they could, you know, back in those days, there was no internet or things like that. You couldn’t even really pick up the telephone call family or anything. So

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:55  

It’s literally just letters and who knows how long it took a day and some of them on a ship or whatever else, right?

 

Ken Vennera  8:01  

And some of them worst are centered, you know, things like that as to what was said, so that you weren’t giving away like locations and things like that, while they’re removing, I mean, it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. I mean, you know, to feel like that part of history and things like that. So, you know, even subsequent to that, I mean, my father’s generation, you know, I’ve uncles that, you know, served in Korea, and then thereafter, you know, mementos that they brought back from, you know, Japan and other places and so forth, you know, from their, from their tours. You know, a lot of friends of mine, served in the military as well. Both, you know, ahead of me and even slightly younger than me, you know, and I just have a great respect for them seeing what you know, they were dealing with while they’re in and, you know, the sacrifices that they made, being away from family, crucial times and things like that in places that they didn’t necessarily want to be to do what they had to do, you know, so, it bred a lot of respect, you know, for that, but the real sort of impetus to help me, and I’m sorry if I’m talking too much.

 

Brian Schoenborn  9:04  

No, no, please. This is for you man.  

 

Ken Vennera  9:06  

I appreciate that. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  9:07  

This is for you to talk. Listen, it’s all good. Yeah.

 

Ken Vennera  9:10  

So I was working in Manhattan when 911 happened. And, you know, to tell you it was, in all honesty, one of the most impactful kind of situations I ever been involved with, I mean,

 

Brian Schoenborn  9:25  

How close were you to ground zero?

 

Ken Vennera  9:27  

so I wasn’t thankfully, you know, at the World Trade Center site or even, you know, close to it in lower Manhattan, but, um, you know, it’s still extremely traumatic. I actually was coming in on the train that day. And, you know, the first tower, we were coming up along the Meadowlands you know, areas like you know, in the train pretty much comes up at lower Manhattan right at the tip. So you’re facing right at the World Trade Centers and World Trade Center and the first tower at 8:48 was already on fire. You then take a turn And start going up along Manhattan before you turn into the tunnel and Penn Station. Yep. But so you know, we probably hit that point at nine o’clock so as you know, at 9:02 the second tower was hit so we literally saw the second we didn’t see the plane itself. But yeah, we saw the second tower explode man. And I can recount to you Brian, in all honesty, every word that was said on that train by everybody around me as to what was going on. Things like that the confusion, the the craziness of not understanding, thinking that it was a rogue plane and a pilot problem and all that kind of stuff all the way to, you know, no, we’re at war and things like that. And then getting into a city, you know, one of the largest cities, you know, on the face of the earth and having it completely abandoned. I mean, I don’t even want to talk about coronavirus but it’s like a lot like that. 

 

Ken Vennera  10:56  

Apocalytic. You know, scenes of streets that are using Full of, you know, hundreds and thousands of cars like completely devoid of cars and people and all that kind of stuff. And then, you know, just the horror of you know, the towers falling. You know, these are like, they were largest buildings, the tallest buildings in the world at one time. And here they are collapsing with thousands of people that you knew were trapped, you know, just the horror of that and, you know, everything that that came from that us not being able to leave the city. Now that feeling of being told that you can’t leave somewhere. I mean, it’s not like being in prison, but it’s very much a traumatic thing. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  10:56  

Yeah yeah yeah, mmhmm.

 

Brian Schoenborn  11:37  

It’s unsettling, for sure, yeah. 

 

Ken Vennera  11:38  

Like to say, you know, you can’t leave you can’t go home. You know, it’s it’s, it’s very odd feeling and then, you know, having, you know, fighter jets flying over overhead that you don’t know that, you know, you can’t see from the ground that they’re necessarily US planes, you know, not knowing. Yeah, right. What’s going on and?

 

Brian Schoenborn  11:56  

It’s like Pearl Harbor all over again. 

 

Ken Vennera  11:57  

Oh, yeah. Like really, I mean, like it was, you know, trauma after trauma like experiences, I mean, there were a Grand Central Station was at the end of 44th Street, which was the street in which my office was you know, there were bomb scare so they would get evacuated and you would see hundreds of people running down 44th Street, which is a very narrow street, two lanes, but, um, you know, to see people running for their lives, man like it’s a strange feeling. And then, you know, to cap that off. You know, we were finally able to leave Manhattan that day. And, you know, not until about three o’clock in the afternoon the George Washington Bridge finally opened up. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  12:38  

Hmm. 

 

Ken Vennera  12:38  

We it took us about three hours to get from where the parking was all the way up to the George Washington Bridge, which was only about 70 blocks. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  12:48  

Yeah. 

 

Ken Vennera  12:49  

But literally just got across the George Washington Bridge and a van had pulled onto the lower deck and they closed it down again. So it was that kind of day where it was like you literally felt like you were trying to escape, you know what was going on and then to see hundreds, hundreds Brian, I’m not even exaggerating, but hundreds of rescue EMT, ambulances parked in the center lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike all the way down almost to lower Manhattan. I mean, it’s just the, you know. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:21  

The first responders. 

 

Ken Vennera  13:22  

Yeah, the first responders from areas that were even further south than Philadelphia have, like my areas that I like to recognize names of, like to realize the kind of response it you know, was drawn by the horrible things that were happening that day. I mean, it was just, it just was a tremendous, you know, and I managed to come back into the city Two days later, you know, 911 was on a Tuesday. That Wednesday, nobody was allowed back in, but that Thursday, I made a journey back just to see what was going on to check in on you know, clients or just to get some handle on the chaos and you Imagine being on a 10 car rail train and you know, the the total number of people on those all 10 cars was probably 20 people you know, and and 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:37  

It was a ghost town.

 

Unknown Speaker  14:15  

it just totally was crazy and you know, I distinctly remember the car that I was in there were four other people on that car with me and they had photographs of family members that they were going to try and go find now this is two days later, Brian, and all I could think to myself is like oh my god, man. Like it’s two days later like you know, if they’re in trouble or like they’re they’re gone right like and but like feeling like in that position of like, if that were me going to try and find loved ones two days later. I mean, like, how horrible would that be? You know what I mean? Like so again, like if just trauma after trauma in terms of in those kinds of things, I mean, Bryant Park and others big gathering, you know, open areas and things like that would have huge pieces of plywood joined together with hundreds of photos on them, like in makeshift memorials like all over the city man, like it was just, it was just crazy. And then, you know, you would go back to like Penn Station and you would see firemen that like days after were covered in soot and stuff like that and just collapsed on the ground pretty much from exhaustion. You know, and seeing National Guardsmen in the station with machine guns and things like that. I mean, it’s just not things you’re used to, in this country man, and to have all of that happen at one time was, you know, fairly impactful to me. And that, you know, that was

 

Brian Schoenborn  15:41  

That changed everything, man. 

 

Ken Vennera  15:42  

Yeah. And you know, and so that was the genesis for me of like, understanding why a lot of people would want to sign up, you know, after seeing those kinds of things. You know, I was a little bit past probably, maybe the waiver age, you know, even at that time, but still was interested in doing some way to try and help You know, and like I said, and then supporting friends of mine that were in because of it. You know, it just changed my outlook as to how I could play a part, you know, and helping out and things like that. And so,

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:11  

You know, I, I was active duty when 911 happened. 

 

Ken Vennera  16:15  

Yeah? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:15  

Yeah, I was, you know, 50 caliber machine gunner. active in the Marine Corps. I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, so I was in San Diego. 

 

Ken Vennera  16:22  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:23  

I’ll never forget, you know, eating morning chow. I was in the chow hall eating breakfast. I’m sitting at this table by myself. I had already had PTSD at this point. So I was in the process of being medically discharged. But I was sitting there by myself. And I looked up, you know, there’s these, you know, TV screens, right monitors or whatever, up in the corners. And usually there’s like the news or something on, right? And I’m like eating I’m eating an omelet and green pepper onion, and cheese omelet. 

 

Ken Vennera  16:54  

Nice. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:55  

And I look up and then the computer screen or on the on the TV screen, rather, I see these two buildings that are burning? And I’m like, What the fuck? I’m like this guy just like a commercial, like a movie trailer or some shit like that. Right? 

 

Ken Vennera  17:06  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:07  

And then then the entire chow hall got quiet. And I looked up again and it said, CNN on one corner and live on the other one. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:15  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:15  

The trade. The Trade Towers have been hit. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:17  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:18  

And it was at that point, you know, like I said, everyone got all quiet. Finished my, I finished my omelet. And as I left to go back to my barracks and get ready for formation, I heard this guy just screams just goes, we’re going to war. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:34  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:34  

And I was like, you know, like, my patriotism shot through the roof at that point, man. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:37  

Of course. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:37  

Like, you know, if I wasn’t already dealing with my PTSD, I would have been 

 

Ken Vennera  17:44  

deployed 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:44  

more than more than ready, willing and able to be deployed. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:47  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:47  

In fact, you know, my unit was the first to go to Iraq after after 911. Yeah. And they fought in Fallujah, stuff like that. 

 

Ken Vennera  17:55  

No doubt. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:55  

It really tore me up for a long time actually, afterwards that I couldn’t be there for my brother’s. Couldn’t be able to protect and defend 

 

Ken Vennera  18:02  

pretty common 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:03  

our country and, or retaliate for it.

 

Ken Vennera  18:05  

Sure. But you find other ways to do it. I mean, that’s sort of, you know, me to a much lesser extent, obviously, in you. I mean, you’re already wearing, you know, the cloth of the country that point. But, you know, you try and find other ways. I mean, that’s sort of what it’s all about, you know, being part of a team, you know, you you make do with what you can do. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:24  

Yep. 

 

Ken Vennera  18:24  

You know, so.

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:25  

So, so that’s what led you to doing

 

Ken Vennera  18:28  

a lot of military involvement 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:30  

philanthropic work and stuff like that 

 

Ken Vennera  18:31  

Yeah, with that military, you know, direction. Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:35  

Mm hmm. So, you were Ken Vennera what? Corporate lawyer, corporate hack? 

 

Ken Vennera  18:40  

Corporate lawyer. Not corporate hack. Thanks a lot, Brian. Geez. Corporate lawyer, for sure.

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:47  

okay. Sure. Okay. And then you started moving into this doing some of those volunteer or

 

Ken Vennera  18:53  

totally on the volunteer side. I mean, anything I was doing even with operational front at that time was all volunteer time. I still working full time. And, you know, taking care of other things. I mean, I’m involved very much in my local community, you know, as well like my HOA and things like that. But yeah, just doing it on the side and, you know, trying to make a difference as much as possible. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:15  

How do you have time for all that? That’s my question.

 

Ken Vennera  19:18  

I don’t sleep much. I don’t sleep much. You know, you guys in the military, you probably understand this more so right, is that, you know, sleep asleep enough when I’m dead, right. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:27  

That’s what the old gunny says, for sure.

 

Ken Vennera  19:29  

That’s it. So you know, I kind of living proof of that. So, yeah, I just try and do as much as I can, you know, and I’m pretty efficient when I do things, you know, for sure. When I have the sport to be able to do it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:41  

But so So tell me a bit about I’m gonna keep talking about this veteran stuff for sure. Tell me a little bit about Warrior Rising. So I know a little bit I’ve gotten involved with warrior rising about six months ago, roughly. 

 

Ken Vennera  19:53  

Yep. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:54  

Something like that. That’s how we met actually. 

 

Ken Vennera  19:55  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:56  

But for the listeners, maybe you can kind of give a little high level view and then You know, I can talk about our involvement how how we got connected as well.

 

Ken Vennera  20:03  

Absolutely. So, Jason van Camp, he was a major in the US Army, he was Green Beret and Ranger. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  20:12  

Yep. 

 

Ken Vennera  20:14  

He was, you know, medically retired from the military, but still, you know, fairly young guy and said, you know, look, I have a lot of life ahead of me, got involved in starting a business himself, because that’s what a lot of his peers that had gotten out were doing. And quite a few people that were colleagues of his would, you know, want to sort of emulate what he was doing and you know, got the idea of asking you know, him for assistance and he said, Well, you know, maybe it’s a good idea to create a an organization or program whereby, or program within an organization, whereby we could help veterans who are looking to start their businesses and support themselves basically, you know, and and reestablish the purpose that existed in the military, reapply that ambition etc that existed there. Restore, you know, sort of that dignity of being, you know, receiving benefit from what you know their own hands and their own work and things like that. So he did you know, he created about five years ago, back in 2015, stood it up, put together a program. At first it was live instruction, but then converted to video instruction, etc. And basically, the program is evolved into a four pillar program that provides instruction, mentorship, funding opportunities, and then last part we’re a community, which recognizes the fact that even coming out of the military, one of the things most people miss is that sense of team that existed around the military people. So it’s reestablishing that being the local face of you know, Warrior Rising in locations throughout the country. You know, the organization is really, really prospered you know, quite a bit. Thanks to, you know, a lot of what, you know, Jason and the team have put together. They are getting or we’re getting approximately, you know, last year, over 1000 applicants. Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:13  

That’s huge.

 

Ken Vennera  22:13  

Yeah. And, you know, pretty steady clip of, you know, 20 to 25 applicants every week. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:18  

Wow. Where are they coming from all over the country? 

 

Ken Vennera  22:22  

All over the country. Yeah, I can tell you probably the top five states. Number one absolutely is Texas. There’s a good 13% of all the applicants are coming from Texas.

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:33  

It’s a big veteran state too. 

 

Ken Vennera  22:34  

Sure, sure. And and they all follow pretty much that pattern as well. California is second, probably with like close to 9% of all come from California. Florida is probably a close third with about you know, 7% and then of course, you know, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, believe it or not. You know, but, you know, as of last count, I think we had applicants from all All all but one state I think we had 49 states that we had applicants from. Vermont being the lone holdout of all places. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:57  

Really? Vermont?

 

Ken Vennera  23:07  

I know, Vermont, I know you would figure you think it’d be like Alaska or Hawaii. No, Vermont was the lone holdout. Although, you know, that that might have that gap might have closed since then. I mean, this probably a month or so two ago. But yeah, so, you know, the organization really, you know, it focuses on being a full lifecycle. I mean, there’s lots of organizations that do parts of it that are very similar, you know, mentoring and things like that, as well as government programs through the SPDC or SBA programs and things like that as well. But, you know, Warrior Rising, really proud that prides itself on being a full lifecycle for that so that somebody comes in at any given stage, whether it’s concept or whether, you know, they’re further along as well, they could have, you know, being an MBA program even, it pretty much looks at that individual and says, here’s where you are, here’s where you need to be to move on to the next step. And then we’ll shepherd you, you know, through all those stages, whether it’s funding, whether it’s again, maintaining that community on the back end, you know, etc. It’s not just sort of a one and done, you know, yeah, we mentor, no, we’re doing everything, you know, that’s part of that program to make sure that people are feel like they’re treated, you know, individually, you know, with what their needs are, and then where they need to move on to to achieve you know, viability, sustainability, which are to pill, you know, to guidestones, guideposts sorry, and, and be able to sustain themselves, you know, in business so.

 

Brian Schoenborn  24:34  

I’ll tell you guys, you guys got me man, I, we had this discussion The other day you and I did and I forget, I forget exactly how I came across Warrior Rising but I but I did, right? I came across it and I put in my application, you know, so I had to submit my business plan. I submit my pitch deck, right, that kind of stuff. You know what kind of funding I’m looking for. And you had me when you got a hold of me and you said Brian, I think you’re one of the most prepared guys I’ve ever seen.

 

Ken Vennera  25:00  

Yeah, it’s true, though it’s true. You know, I see a lot of applicants for sure. Yeah. And listen, you know, even those that aren’t as well prepared. I mean, we do our best to try and you know, help them as well. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:10  

Well, that’s the thing though, cuz I mean, like, I get nervous because, you know, I don’t want to fly by the seat of my pants. 

 

Ken Vennera  25:14  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:15  

I want to make sure that I’m gonna do something that I’m gonna put all my heart and soul into it. 

 

Ken Vennera  25:18  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:20  

Especially given some of these other opportunities in the past that I’d gotten the short end of the stick on. Yeah. I want to make sure that I built my, my media company, on a solid foundation. 

 

Ken Vennera  25:32  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:32  

Right? But it’s, I think it’s good to have that. But you also have to recognize at what time are you ready to take the leap and start executing? 

 

Ken Vennera  25:38  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:39  

Right? So like for me, I had plan and plan and plan and plan and I recorded some interviews and you know, stuff like that. And I was nervous to hit submit. 

 

Ken Vennera  25:48  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:49  

Right? It wasn’t until a friend of mine she she put a big boot in my eyes and said fucking do it. Do this, Brian. Submit right? 

 

Ken Vennera  25:58  

Do it. Do it exactly. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:59  

No more. There’s no more pussyfooting around what I you know, like, just do it. And so I have, yeah. And you know, it’s been going all right. But um, you know, but the point being is that, you know, there’s other applicants out or entrepreneurs in general, veteran entrepreneurs that that well, even just regular entrepreneurs, like in general veteran or otherwise, you know, there has to be a point in time where you have to say, okay, let’s execute.

 

Ken Vennera  26:24  

Yeah, I’ll tell you the biggest two problems, Brian, that I see. And, and it’s pretty typical, as you mentioned, across the board, whether military, you know, ex military or not, is, you know, people either follow one of two routes, and that is they either plan and don’t execute, or they execute without planning. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:42  

Yes. 

 

Ken Vennera  26:42  

Which is also a big problem as well.

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:44  

Yeah, they could both be recipes for disaster.

 

Ken Vennera  26:46  

Yeah. And they and they are because you know, they executing without planning is definitely a recipe for driving off a cliff. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:51  

That’s where you’re just making shit up. Right? 

 

Ken Vennera  26:53  

Yeah. Exactly. Just it doesn’t work. It might work for a short time. Yeah. But you know that and that’s why all You know, we strive for, again, its viability and sustainability, right, like viability meaning, you know, will it work and sustainability, you know, will it last, you know, kind of thing. Because they’re very, they’re they’re both very important. You can’t have one without the other. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  27:13  

Yep. 

 

Ken Vennera  27:14  

Yeah, it’s a little bit hard. I will tell you sometimes especially, you know, trying to have people who put a lot of their effort into something and they’ve worked very hard, either in the military or, you know, in trying to stand up their business, you know, it’s hard to tell people that are entrepreneurially minded, and a little bit of ego, you know, behind it, that, you know, where they have gaps and identify, you know, where their flaws. You know, that sometimes is a stumbling block, because people take it as criticism, but it’s never intended that way. It’s really just intended to say, look, you know, we don’t need to help you where you’re strong, but we need to help you where you have gaps, you know, where you’re missing things. And, yeah, it’s a little bit hard, but I think once people understand that, they don’t see it then as criticism. They see it as, you know, helping you in the areas where you’re weak, you know? And that’s what a team does, right? I mean, that’s what your teammates do is they pick you up where you’re weak, you know, and help you

 

Brian Schoenborn  28:08  

Talk about egos man, because not only not only are these people entrepreneurs, so they believe in themselves enough that they have something that people want to buy. Sure. But they’re also veterans, which means they’ve gone through hell and seen a lot of things that other people haven’t seen for sure. 

 

Ken Vennera  28:24  

Yeah, sure. So it is hard. It’s hard to tell somebody like here’s what you don’t know.

 

Brian Schoenborn  28:30  

Yep. Oh, no. I mean, even in our first couple of conversations, I’m like, What the hell, I’m like, you don’t know what you’re talking about, Ken. Just like, you know, you’re kind of like, you know, talk to me off the ledge a little bit, you know, shit like that. So I want to know, um, so you mentioned I just want to talk a little bit about your partner Jason are, you know, the leader of this? 

 

Ken Vennera  28:49  

He’s Executive Director, I work for him. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  28:50  

Right. Right. Right. He’s the leader. Yeah. Jason van Camp. So you’re saying he’s a Green Beret officer? 

 

Ken Vennera  28:58  

He was he was a major major. Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:00  

Nice. I wonder if he knows my or if he knows my friend Chris. I bet he does. He was a lieutenant colonel Green Beret. He was 30, 30. 

 

Ken Vennera  29:06  

What’s his last name?

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:07  

Schmidt. 

 

Ken Vennera  29:08  

I don’t know possibly. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:09  

He was a an army in the army for like 30 years and 18 of it as a Green Beret. Yeah, pretty long, significant career as well, that asides and I’m just kind of mumbling out about that. But I’m just curious. Like, what if any types of values or frameworks, maybe that Jason got from his time in the Special Forces does he carry over?

 

Ken Vennera  29:37  

That is well, it’s not if any, there’s certainly certainly a lot of them I mean, that’s that could be probably show but our program all by itself, Brian, to be honest with you.

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:46  

It’d be awesome to get him on.

 

Ken Vennera  29:49  

Definitely. He definitely should. I’d highly recommend it, man. I’ll tell you what, you know, Jason is one of the most, you know, inspiring guys that I’ve ever cross, you know, come across in my life. He looks at things with that, you know, intense drive towards, you know, success. I mean, you know, he he will tell you no, no rush, you know, don’t rush to failure, you know, you know, he’s very selfless guy very interested in helping other people. You know, even when he you know, he just wrote a book, Deliberate Discomfort, which, you know, is now out on Amazon, etc. But you know, even doing that, I mean, you know, there’s people out there, especially in the military community that write books and other people, you know, people have different opinions about former military people that write books and things like that. But I can tell you, you know, in all honesty, I mean, Jason is definitely a guy that is about helping people, you know, like, it’s, it’s first about, you know, teaching and driving you to be a better person, before even himself. I mean, he’s definitely a guy that’s you know, about team creating that you know, sort of team spirit and you know, his concept of, you know, deliberate discomfort, you know, from Special Forces times, you know, his training, etc. revolves, you know, around that whole idea of, you know, putting yourself into situations where you’re not comfortable and getting used to that and making yourself a stronger person. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:19  

Hell yeah. 

 

Ken Vennera  31:20  

Um, and, you know, I can tell you, I mean, that’s the theme of his book. He tells it through stories of individual, you know, individuals in different situations to, you know, as examples and then gives you sort of the science behind it. I mean, it’s a tremendous, tremendous book. I mean, there’s a lot of great lessons, you know, that he has there, but he as a person, man. It’s, it’s way beyond even what’s you know, in that book, I mean, he is definitely the type that inspires people to do better. Which is obviously one of the main characteristics of you know, being a leader. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:54  

Yep. 

 

Ken Vennera  31:55  

You know, again, it’s all about creating something above himself. Putting himself out there all the time. I mean, I can’t even tell you all the sacrifices, I could tell you. But again, it would probably be its own show. All the sacrifices that he makes, I mean, you know, he’s got his own business, running, you know, Warrior Rising, he’s got a family, a young family, you know, besides that, you know, requires and demands, you know, his attention and things like that. And he really gives his all to all of those things. And it’s just amazing. It’s just amazing to me, you know, how he’s able to do you know, that stuff. And like I said, I mean, you know, I’m a pretty smart guy. I have a pretty solid background myself, but I definitely consider Jason one of the most, you know, inspiring and admirable guys I’ve ever come across, you know, in terms of having those qualities of leadership but also that side that, you know, cares about people, you know, things like that. I mean, he’s definitely not the typical hard nosed military, when it comes to the interpersonal side, but surely, in terms of the values and characteristics that he carries over from his training that you asked about. He’s definitely, you know, all about, you know, carrying them over in the best way possible to help people be better people, you know, kind of thing, so. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:10  

That’s, that’s interesting. I want to talk a little bit about the, the concept of deliberate discomfort. 

 

Ken Vennera  33:16  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:17  

I think I think he and I kind of share that ethos. Now for years. I’ve said about getting comfortable outside your comfort zone. Right? So we word it a little bit differently. But I you know, I consider myself very comfortable. being uncomfortable. You know, it’s the things that are unfamiliar the things that you don’t know you haven’t done, you haven’t eaten. People you haven’t interacted with, whatever. You know, it’s part of the reason why I dropped everything in New York and moved to China. Right? 

 

Ken Vennera  33:47  

There you go. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:47  

I didn’t know anybody. I just never been there. 

 

Ken Vennera  33:49  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:50  

I didn’t know what to expect. You know, nevermind the language, right? 

 

Ken Vennera  33:54  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:55  

But until you until you get out there and do something, you know, like getting getting in that discomfort zone or getting outside of your comfort zone. I mean, that’s, I feel like that’s where you that’s where the learning happens. 

 

Ken Vennera  34:09  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:09  

That’s where the growth happens.

 

Ken Vennera  34:11  

Exactly. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:11  

Like that’s where, you know, you and there’s nothing wrong with like staying in your little bubble your entire life either necessarily I mean some people can live nice comfortable lives.

 

Ken Vennera  34:22  

Different strokes, different strokes for different folks, you know, as they say, right but you know, the real genesis of creativity comes from, you know, stressful situations, unfortunately, you know, I mean, I know you didn’t want to talk about Corona virus, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:36  

but whatever we can talk about it. 

 

Ken Vennera  34:36  

But not too much. Thankfully, there’s too much talk about it as it is. But, you know, the thing I find is that, you know, innovation comes from stressful sit, you know, from problems, you know, like, look at all the inventions that were throughout history has created, you know, a lot of innovation has come from, you know, technology and things like that have come from, you know, being in those kinds of situations. We’re like, look, we have to do something about this. You know, whereas people are just comfortable they’re never really going to look outside, there’s no, there’s no reason to look outside their comfort zone, as you mentioned, like their little bubbles. So, I would look at that discomfort kind of concept as being the genesis for creativity and innovation, you know, for sure in society. So, you know, it’s the force to move, you know, past where somebody might exist at any given time. And certainly, you know, as I said, I mean, you know, that’s the credo that that Jason follows, you know, for sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:37  

What was the thing you’re telling me? So we went for a walk earlier today. Kind of, you know, meeting of the minds kind of shit.

 

Ken Vennera  35:41  

Two philosophy, two philosophers walking along.

 

Brian Schoenborn  35:44  

It was a little philosophical. Yes. Good. Walking meeting. But you were talking something about? There’s like a loop like a cycle. 

 

Ken Vennera  35:53  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  35:53  

About that good people are strong people. 

 

Ken Vennera  35:56  

Yeah, so the saying goes that weak men make bad times. Bad times make strong men. Strong men make good times. Good times make weak men. So yeah, that’s pretty much the cycle. I didn’t originate that, obviously. But clearly, it’s pretty accurate.

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:14  

But that stood out to me because I’m like, it’s you know, it’s all about the hustle, right? It’s about the struggle, the struggle is real, right? Like, um.

 

Ken Vennera  36:20  

For sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:21  

For example, I was basically homeless for two years. And I was out surfing, fucking. I was living in a hostel for the last six months and just got into my own place. You know, fighting with the VA trying to get my disability benefits and all that shit. And it took me like they were just sitting on it, man, like it took me going into the VA triggering the shit out of myself. I was I was so triggered. I was like, convulsing in this place. 

 

Ken Vennera  36:45  

Shame. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:46  

If I wasn’t struggling like that. You know what? I was doing all that while I’m building a company. 

 

Ken Vennera  36:51  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:51  

You know, while I’m managing a restaurant, right? Shout out to Chipotle woot. You know, keeping myself extremely busy. Do you like sure working like 100 hours a week? Right? 

 

Ken Vennera  37:02  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:02  

You know, but still taking myself into a place of extreme discomfort. 

 

Ken Vennera  37:08  

Yep. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:09  

Where I was extremely triggered and I had to go there numerous times over the first month or so, just to make sure that the paperwork was right. You know, I’m getting they understand my situation, right? Finally was able to get some some VA treatment, which I’ve been denied for for so long. Started getting that thing going. If it wasn’t me taking that action when I was struggling, I would not have seen any sort of success. 

 

Ken Vennera  37:40  

Mm hmm. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:40  

Right? As a result of me going there and taking matters into my own hands. It sped the process along. 

 

Ken Vennera  37:46  

Sure. Yeah. And Necessity is the mother of invention. You know, like they say, I mean, it’s unfortunate but you know, that’s what spurs on that creativity to want to get out of that situation, right. Like most people if they’re in a good situation. Don’t look for ways to get out of it. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:01  

Right, exactly. I mean, I think about I think about the innovations, it’d be interesting to see a study and innovations between people coming from cold weather versus people coming from, like the tropics. 

 

Ken Vennera  38:13  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:13  

You know, it’s like a beach life, man. That’s 

 

Ken Vennera  38:15  

Right! Who wants to leave San Diego right?

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:18  

Got a coconut. You got a beach. 

 

Ken Vennera  38:19  

exactly what do I need to go anywhere? It’s for sure. Yeah, yeah, it was funny. You mentioned you go into China, you know, and speaking, you know, not knowing the language very well or things like that. I mean, being placed in completely foreign culture, you know, etc. You know, I often think it just reminds me of hearing you say a few those things that you know, one of the things I admire most about my grandfather, my dad’s dad, was, you know, he left you know, Italy at 17 years old to come to this country. Did not 

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:53  

That’s a bold move, man. 

 

Ken Vennera  38:54  

Totally a bold move without his family. But not didn’t even have. I mean, if you have a certain level of education, even if you’re still not educated in that language, you understand how it is sort of get around a little bit better, how to ask different questions, etc, that might help you in that situation. But, you know, he hardly had any education in Italy came here at 17 years old, you know, started a family, um, you know, within two generations, you know, here I am going to an Ivy League school, you know, and then law school, you know, even beyond that. So, I mean, it’s real, a real testament again, to, you know, that pioneering spirit or, you know, putting yourself like you said, and, you know, or as Jason would even say, you know, in that situation of discomfort, you know, and then forcing yourself to excel, you know, to to get yourself out of it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  39:42  

Well, that’s the dream right? Move to America. You know, work hard, work hard, and hopefully your children or your children’s children can see, the fruits of the labor.

 

Ken Vennera  39:52  

As long as that as long as that element of sacrifice is there. Absolutely. Brian, I mean, I think in some ways, though, what’s been lost on many a younger generation than you and I, is people want immediate gratification. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  40:05  

Sure. 

 

Ken Vennera  40:06  

And that’s the thing that I think has changed the most. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  40:08  

They don’t want to work for it. 

 

Ken Vennera  40:10  

Yeah, or they’re there. It’s not even so much, they don’t necessarily want to work for it. They’re not willing to sacrifice their own gratification for the benefit of future generations necessarily. So in other words, they’re not willing to postpone their gratification in order to set the, you know, children that the, you know, the future generations up for that success. And I think that hurts because my grandfather’s generation, in and of itself, you know, yeah, they would be considered successful maybe by the standards of where they came from, etc. But they wouldn’t be considered necessarily successful in this country. I mean, they were blue collar factory type workers in this country. I mean, my, my grandfather worked in an asbestos plant, you know, which, who would take a job in an asbestos plant today, like you would never do that, right. So it wasn’t like He, you know, in his own generation was successful. But you know, in a way, that mentality of sacrificing, you know, for the benefit of, you know, his children and then their children, you know, and so forth, creates that opportunity. And I think that’s what’s you know, gotten lost a little bit is, you know, it’s, it’s not that people don’t necessarily want to work hard. I think if people understood that how things worked a little bit better, they probably would be more willing to do that. But I think what’s gone is the putting off, you know, the self denial kind of aspect in favor of, you know, helping the future generations kind of thing a little bit so,

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:38  

Yeah, I kind of I kind of waffle on that one. I mean, no, cuz I mean, cuz I, in one sense, I agree with you. Right? I think that sounds fairly accurate. And the other side of that coin, it does sound a lot like, you know, millennial bashing.

 

Ken Vennera  41:55  

I didn’t make any group.

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:56  

I know, but I’m a millennial. I’m an elder, millennial.

 

Ken Vennera  42:01  

but but actually that’s in favor of, you know millennials and the generation because that’s one of the things if you look at a lot of commentators, they’ll say like, you know, the millennials or generation without hope of doing those things. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  42:13  

And I think they’re also saying they’re spending all their savings on avocado toast. 

 

Ken Vennera  42:17  

And that wasn’t me. That wasn’t me saying that.

 

Brian Schoenborn  42:19  

I know.

 

Ken Vennera  42:20  

I don’t think that I think, you know, I think that a lot of people, if they’re guided in the right direction, you know, will do the right thing. I mean, I think, I don’t think anybody wants to be lazy or do bad things or anything like that, you know, by far. I think that was the appropriate kind of direction, though. And it’s like anything else, I mean, you know, to sort of go back to where you’re rising a little bit. Again, you know, you have people that are talented, sort of, you know, former military in a certain direction. He needs need the guidance in other directions to, you know, create that analogy to create that bridge sometimes, and you need people willing to do that and You know, kudos to, you know, people like Jason that are willing to, you know, sort of show that path to people. You know, I think that’s what’s really important. I think that’s what’s missing very often, you know, in today’s society.

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:12  

Yeah, I hear that. So I hear that, you know, it can be hard to connect all the dots. Sure. Quick, quick question. How did like how did you guys, how did you two come into like 

 

Ken Vennera  43:23  

Contact? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:23  

How did you how did you come into being?

 

Ken Vennera  43:25  

so very funny, like I said, I was doing a lot of, you know, veteran related activities and things like that. I was doing a lot of sort of freelancing on the internet in terms or on LinkedIn, specifically, helping guys find jobs, because when I went into, you know, more of an advisory board role with Operation Homefront, I was really looking for an organization that would help former military find, you know, jobs. To be, you know, again, sustainable you in that way. I couldn’t really find at the time a group that I thought was Being very effective in that regard. I mean, there were lots of groups that were trying to educate, you know, employers about how to hire military and all kinds of things, you know, around surrounding sort of that but, but never anyone that was really sort of directly doing that. So, I was trying to help people as I could with, you know, mock interviewing or looking at the resumes and all these kinds of things, and, you know, made friends with a lot of people along the way. In particular, one guy, former Navy guy, you know, he said to me one day, he’s like, you know, you should really get in touch with this guy, Jason van Camp. And see what Warrior Rising is all about, you know, that they’re helping guys, you know, start businesses and I thought about it for quite a bit and said, you know, that’s probably even better than trying to find people jobs because you start a business I mean, you can possibly employ a 

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:27  

It’s multitudes of jobs. 

 

Ken Vennera  43:42  

Right, exactly. It’s a force multiplier, you know, kind of thing in a way and I’m like, you know what, like, maybe I haven’t been I’ve been narrowing my focus too much. In that, you know, going into this arena of helping, you know, military start start businesses is actually probably even a better thing and, you know, got involved with Warrior Rising got involved with Jason and you know, I’ll tell you like I said, you know, Jason’s charisma man like his drive towards you know what he’s doing i mean you know again you look at like traits of leadership man you know if people inspire that’s one of the key traits of being a good leader and Jason definitely inspires me. Clearly inspired me to, you know, want to put my efforts towards doing what you know what Warrior Rising’s doing and making it into a success. So yeah, that’s that’s pretty much how it came about. Well, so two years now almost just about a couple months short, but pretty close.

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:46  

Nice. 

 

Ken Vennera  45:46  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:47  

Um. Sorry. I kind of bounced around a little bit but a 

 

Ken Vennera  45:50  

Bounce all you want. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:51  

Yeah. I just you know, as you’re speaking things are things trigger, right. 

 

Ken Vennera  45:56  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:57  

Because I connect dots as well, right? 

 

Ken Vennera  45:59  

Yes. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:59  

Reminds me of, you’re talking about helping people connect the dots, helping helping entrepreneurs get going that kind of stuff. Veteran entrepreneurs reminds me, the weird thing is like, when you’re in the military, everything’s laid out for you. Right? You’re part of this machine. And you do, as you’re told, and you know, but you know, by the time you get through boot camp, or basic training, or maybe your school afterwards, you pretty much know how to conduct yourself and what is expected basically every day. 

 

Ken Vennera  46:29  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  46:30  

Right. So you’re in this 

 

Ken Vennera  46:33  

Mode? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  46:34  

Sure. That’s what’s the word I was thinking. Whenever you’re in this, you’re in this fucking mode, where every single day you know exactly what you have to do. 

 

Ken Vennera  46:42  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  46:43  

On the entrepreneurial side, every day, it’s a blank slate, right? It’s a clean slate. Like you you got to figure out everything that you’re doing. You know, you write the script, basically, right. It reminds me when I went to grad school, when I went to business xchool the first day of orientation. One of our think she was a career services. Barbara Hyle, shout out to Barb. She wrote two words on the board on this white board said embrace ambiguity.

 

Ken Vennera  47:15  

Flexibility, name of the game for sure.

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:17  

That’s something that’s kind of stuck with me. That’s kind of what what it made me think of there when you’re like, Oh, you know, helping people connect the dots and the circles and stuff because you’re, you know, again, when you’re when you’re going from something where everything is regimented, like that’s, that’s the whole reason that term is there, right? It’s regimented routine, basically every single day to what the hell am I doing? I’m creating something out of nothing. Right. That can be a big change, man. And people

 

Ken Vennera  47:42  

Well, so I think, you know, again, and forgive me for characterizing, you know, never served in military myself, but I think a lot of what you’re talking about in the military is not necessarily that overall, everything is regimented. Right, what’s regimented? His training right and whenever you’re in a and execution to a certain extent, like certain operations, right? But that’s because like in life, you can only control the things you can control. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  48:12  

Right. 

 

Ken Vennera  48:14  

I think the thing again piecing together from a military perspective that people they understand when they’re in that that situation but then don’t understand it necessarily once they get out because they’re not within that framework is that that basis right that foundation for that kind of regimented training, etc. And that following orders in a certain way following you know, standard operating procedures, etc, is because eventually in many situations, especially in combat, you end up not seeing, you know, the the regimentation, right. In other words, you end up seeing the things that go off the reservation, right, like,

 

Brian Schoenborn  48:54  

You’re living life in the margins, on the battlefield.

 

Ken Vennera  48:56  

So you know it What’s that expression that you know, no place survives first contact with the enemy, you know kind of thing right? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:02  

Like Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan to get punched in the face, right, like so.

 

Ken Vennera  49:09  

So, you know, but that’s the whole idea is that it’s, it’s, you know, one of the beautiful things about military training is saying, like, Look, we’re going to create this foundation from you. So that when you’re placed into these situations where you’re not sure, again, going back to the whole, deliberate discomfort, you know, concept, you know, Jason, you know, it’s training yourself to constantly react in a certain way so that when you’re faced with that ambiguity, when you’re faced with that uncertainty, when you’re faced with, you know, the enemy in your face, it’s, you know, 50 meters, you know, kind of thing, you’re now able to deal with that because of all of that muscle memory, regimentation, etc. Like, you know, calming yourself down thinking in a certain direction. You know, is is extremely valuable, you know, it’s extremely valuable when you’re facing You know, uncertainty and things like that. I tell people very often, you know, if I asked you, for example, to navigate from your bedroom door of your house to your front door, you’re gonna be like, not a problem, right? Piece of cake. But, right, but but all of a sudden, if you’re blindfolded and it’s dark, right, you know, you’re gonna start employing tactics that you know about your training, right, you’re gonna put your arm out and reach certain distance and feel around to get your bearings for what your environment holds. Again, all of these things from training, etc. to understand, like, I need to know what my environment is, I need to know what the weather is, I need to know assess the situation. All those things for training come in handy now, because what you’re doing is reducing the number of variables down to the minimum number so that you have the best chance, you know, an opportunity of success. 

 

Ken Vennera  50:49  

You know, the other analogy I use a lot when like mentoring is that it’s a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You know, when you first start out with a jigsaw puzzle, you know, you dump the box. Have 1000 pieces and they’re all over the place summer the backside, you know, that’s all brown without the picture and summer, the you know, the the picture side, you have edge pieces, etc, you know. So the first thing you do is turn all the pieces over. So you can see that, you know, they’re all facing the same way. Why again, reduce those numbers of variables of unknowns and things like that you have to, you know, smaller number, then what do you do you put all the edge pieces together first, why? Because there’s a clue with the edge pieces that all the other pieces don’t have and that is they have an edge. Right? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  51:33  

Right. 

 

Ken Vennera  51:34  

So you you again, you put them all together and now you’ve reduced the variables down, you know, to a smaller number, then you start to put like pieces with like pieces, right? Again, utilizing as much information as you possibly have to reduce those numbers of variables and so forth. And little by little man, you put those things together and you end up with a complete, you know, picture from that. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  51:55  

Hell yeah.

 

Ken Vennera  51:56  

And that’s what it’s a lot like i think you know, so yes, there is that aspect of regimentation in the training and always go into battle. So you develop that muscle memory, but it’s the application of that in those situations like in combat or otherwise, where you’re facing unknowns, and very much so like when you’re in business, you know, of course, the consequences aren’t quite as dire as being in combat, but you know, you’re facing pretty, you know, dire consequences if your business is going to fail and things like that. And you have to support your family well, and and your employees if you haven’t, right, and your employees lives, etc. So, you know, there’s a lot of situations like that, I mean, look, look at all of the things that come up in business where, you know, all of a sudden, there, you know, a regulation is passed, for example, that you didn’t have to do X, but now you have to do it, and that’s gonna cost you three times as much, and possibly, you know, you don’t have a margin left anymore, you know? Or look at what’s going on with this. Sorry, like the coronavirus. And I know he didn’t want to talk about that. I’m so sorry. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:01  

That’s all everyone’s talking about. It’s all right though.

 

Ken Vennera  53:03  

But but it’s such a good example. And because if you think about it, you know, what, who was who was planning for this in their business three months ago? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:11  

Oh, nobody.

 

Ken Vennera  53:12  

Right, who was creating that reserve to carry them over this, you know, situation three months ago? And and that’s this, you know, that’s the kind of stuff it’s like, what do you do when something hits you that you really didn’t expect? Well, now you revert back to your training, your muscle memory, your things that like, you know, work in these kinds of situations to help guide

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:32  

Sanitize your hands. 

 

Ken Vennera  53:33  

Right, wash your hands. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:34  

Not traveling on an airplane, Brian?

 

Ken Vennera  53:36  

Right. So, I mean, but it’s all of those things, then help the situation reduce the number of variables make it more manageable, I mean, nobody has a crystal ball, right? Nobody has a crystal ball ever, you know, kind of thing. So what do you do man, you reduce the number of things, the unknowns down to a manageable level, you know, and you do that, you know, by utilizing that training and so forth. So, so I agree with you I mean there’s a lot of regimentation etc to the military but it’s there for a reason.

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:05  

Yeah it’s for a purpose for sure.

 

Ken Vennera  54:06  

Exactly and and the same reason that it is there you know in the military is the same reason it’s effective and useful even in the business world or in life in general, you know, in terms of developing ways to cope with situations and the unknowns and so forth so. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:23  

Huh. Habits. We are habitual animals.

 

Ken Vennera  54:27  

Good habits well good habits developing good habits you know for sure and that’s again training right in the military develop good habits right you know and do things the right way all the time you know what I mean?

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:36  

Getting up at 06, creasee cammies, spit-shine shoes, you’re cleaning a rifle every second you get.

 

Ken Vennera  54:44  

Sure. Responsibility, dedication and all those factors that again, will get you through tough situations. You know?

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:50  

Focus. 

 

Ken Vennera  54:51  

Focus exactly. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:52  

Laser like focus. 

 

Ken Vennera  54:53  

Yep.

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:54  

Yep, do it for sure. It’s been a pretty good chat so far.

 

Ken Vennera  54:58  

Think so I listen. I enjoy talking man, I can talk to you probably for another three hours if you wanted to, but 

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:02  

We could, we could filibuster this shit.

 

Ken Vennera  55:07  

And it’s been good man I really love you know, being on the show for sure, man, I love I love the thoughts, you know, that we’re talking about, you know, because I think it’ll help a lot of people, you know, it helps a lot of people to hear, even if they already know it, it helps to hear sometimes.

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:20  

I think, you know, I think one of the important things is, this is a this is a podcast, so it’s not visibility, but you know, what I mean, like accessibility, maybe like when people have an opportunity to hear or see things that, you know, they might not know, they might not know otherwise, or to see it again, maybe something they haven’t thought about in a while. 

 

Ken Vennera  55:40  

Reinforcement. Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:40  

Reinforcement. 

 

Ken Vennera  55:41  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:42  

You know, I could help a lot of people and that’s to be honest like that’s why that’s why I get people on that have interesting stories and are doing are doing some really cool things sure of yourself. But that’s also why I’m so like, open and vocal about like, you know, my like my PTSD experience and stuff like that,  know? Because the more you can talk about things, the more people can understand. 

 

Ken Vennera  56:05  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:06  

And the more people can understand things, the more people can be helped. 

 

Ken Vennera  56:10  

Absolutely. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:10  

You know, because whether whether you have like a like a thing like a mental illness like PTSD, or whether you’re running a business, right? A lot of times you can feel like you’re on your own. 

 

Ken Vennera  56:21  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:22  

Being an entrepreneur, it can be lonely man.

 

Ken Vennera  56:23  

It can be, for sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:25  

You hear other people’s voices and hear that there’s support out there. And there’s resources, 

 

Ken Vennera  56:31  

Absolutely. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:31  

you feel a little bit less, less lonely.

 

Ken Vennera  56:34  

You know, I’ll tell you to Bri just to, you know, close it out, maybe on my end, you know, as well, um, you know, I, you know, we talked about like a Wharton education in law school and things like that, and some people may, you know, view that as well. You know, you’re in a different league. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:50  

That guy’s an asshole.

 

Ken Vennera  56:53  

Seriously, no attorney jokes. But no, I mean, seriously, a lot of people will sometimes look at that and say, Well, you know, I’m just regular working guy, you know what I mean? Like you’re different, you know, kind of thing.

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:03  

No pedestals, man.

 

Ken Vennera  57:04  

Well, you know, it’s all about the modesty. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:07  

Yeah, for sure. 

 

Ken Vennera  57:09  

But the thing I want to emphasize really is, you know, I was not that guy that was just handed things, you know, by any stretch. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:16  

Right. 

 

Ken Vennera  57:16  

Um, I struggled in school, I was the type of person that had to read things five or six times before it actually made sense to me, write out my notes again, just to you know, get that repetition, get that reinforcement, you know, etc. There’s, there’s almost almost nothing I would say, in all honesty, that with effort, you know, with a hard work and me as an example, I mean, that you can’t really, that can’t be achieved. I mean, I’m living proof of that man. Like, I would be nowhere but for you know, hard work and perseverance and, you know, that ability to just, you know, keep driving on and look for inspiration wherever you can. That’s, you know, that’s the other thing. I think I would add, you know, for listeners out there, etc. You know, find those people that are a positive influence in your life and hold on to them, no matter what I mean, there’s plenty of opportunities for negative out there. And, you know, you can find people all day long that want to bash your ideas and things like that. But, you know, when you find people that are inspiring to you, and drive you to be a better person than you are, stay with those people, you know, for sure. Because that will make you a better you no matter what, at any level, no matter what you’re doing. However, you’re deciding, you know, even if it’s about building your family, it’s just all about that as well. You find those people that drive you to be better. And no matter where they are, teachers, whoever happens to be and you’ll end up in a better place, you know, for sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  58:54  

Oh, yeah, man. Those are good nuggets. Yeah, I think this is a pretty good pretty good time to pretty natural point to stop. 

 

Ken Vennera  59:01  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  59:02  

That’s what that’s what I look for and as good conversation authentically on location, in Philly. Anything anything you want to plug in we talked a little bit about Operation Homefront and Warrior Rising.

 

Ken Vennera  59:14  

Sure, you know all good organizations you know Operation Homefront, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, obviously a field office, you know, deserving of support. I’m on the advisory board there they’re still you know, doing a lot of great stuff. First and foremost to my heart, you know, is Warrior Rising though, I’ll tell you for sure. The the work that Jason’s done like I said, you know, is helping a lot of people to create a lot of really good things. www.warriorrising.org. You go to the website, you can go under the get involved tab and become, you know, put in application become a vetrepreneur. You can. If you’re out there and you’ve been an entrepreneur for several years and can offer advice to up and coming you know military businesses. You can become a mentor. Certainly by all means, if you are so inclined to support, you know the organization financially, please do because no one I know can operate, you know, without money, you know, nowadays so absolutely awesome. third group, you know, Vets2Industry that I’ll add and I’m also on the board of the foundation there. Do a lot of great work, Brian Arrington you know, trying to piece together resources for veterans you know, stem that tide of you know, the 22 number that we all hate to hear you know, so a lot of good work you know, being done by a lot of good groups and recommend them all you know, as I said, first and foremost in my heart Warrior Rising, but certainly all the others you know, as well anybody you know, helping you know, military certainly deserving cause in my book and encourage others out there as well to you know, do it so

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:00:52  

Sounds great, man. Well, I appreciate the chat. 

 

Ken Vennera  1:00:54  

Thank you. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:00:55  

Ken Vennera everyone. Peace. You’ve been listening to Half the City with Brian Schoenborn, presented by 8B Media. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast, share it with your friends and leave a solid five star review to ensure these stories get spread far and wide. For more information, as well as listen to other shows, including Relentless: a Survivor’s Search for Passion, Purpose and Inner Peace and Beyond Relentless Be sure to check out 8bmedia.com. Thank you for listening

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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