Get Up Nation® Resilience Report Highlighting The Honor Foundation
A comment from Diego:
This podcast with Ben Biddick at Get Up Nation afforded us the opportunity speak out an organizatino we are deeply indebet to, The Honor Foundation (honor.org). The Honor Foundation (THF) is genuinely the biggest reason that The Trident Approach exists at all.
In this podcast, we cover everything from what THF is, how is helps the Special Operations community and the role it played in helping TTA become a thing.
If you are a special operations operator or support person and you want elite level help in transitioning from the military to the civilian sector, I invite you to visit honor.org to see how you can benefit from their amazing program.
If you are interested in helping former special operations folks in their respective transitions, I invite you to visit honor.org to see how you can support this incredible mission. Again, TTA would not exist without the love and support of THF.
All the best to You!
Welcome to the Get Up Nation weekly resilience report featuring Ben Biddick, creator and host of The Get Up Nation show and featuring former Navy Seal Diego Ugalde, CEO of of The Trident Approach.
My name is Ben Vidik. I'm the creator and host of The Get Up Nation show and co author of The Art of Perseverance with former Major League Baseball player Adam Greenberg. Recently, I had the honor and privilege of speaking with Diego Galde to learn more about an amazing nonprofit organization called the Honor Foundation. Diego is a former Navy Seal and is the current CEO of The Trident Approach. Diego shares the profound value how the Honor Foundation helps America's Special Ops Warriors transition from service into the civilian world. Thank you, Diego, for sitting down with me today on the Get Up Nation show. Tell me about that transition from being a Navy Seal to a CEO. It's not easy, but it's a lot easier when you have people like the Honor Foundation. So I retired in 2018, and about two years before I retired, I was on my last deployment. I had a moment to sort of have some quiet time and some self reflection and things. And then it sort of dawned on like, man, you're retiring in two years. What are you going to do? And immediately it's just not something you really think about an active you're so focused on the mission, you're so focused on the people that you're taking care of. It kind of passes by every once in a while, but it's not something that you really take the time to dig into. So when I had that moment, I was like, well, this is serious. Like so many people in the military or I should say, so many people in the civilian world, they look at people in the military that you got all your act together. In a lot of ways we do. But I'll tell you that for 20 years, collectively, I had somebody telling me where to go, where to be and all that sort of thing. And so there are many things that we are very independent thinkers about and Proactive and all that. We always had a place to go. And even in the military, when you're transitioning from one command to another, like, they tell you where you're going, sometimes you can ask for it, but it's all laid out for you. You have to do the moving and all that, but the work is done for you. This is an experience for most of us that have been in for a long, long time, that most people in civilian world are just absolutely. I mean, it's just a way of life for them, but it's not for us. It is scary. You don't know. I mean, you got a family, people to feed, bills to pay. What are you going to do? Luckily for me, I realized that I had the opportunity to just completely clean the slate. Do whatever I wanted to do. What was that thing? And so I came up with my plan and my plan. I was stationed in Germany for three and a half years. Lucky enough to do that and being over there in Europe, changing my life. So I said, well, when I retire, I'm going to get a ruck sack and hike from Shamani, France to Switzerland over the course of seven or ten days not to talk to anybody. I'm not going to just going to sit there and think and just be in my mind and really trying to figure that stuff. And I felt for sure I was going to have an answer by the end of that time of who I really was, because that's the thing. How many people really dig into who they really are? I would say often there's a difference between what their job is, what they're good at, what they know, their network, their support system, all of that stuff. And they may even like what they're doing, but that might be different from who you really are. And especially learning about the concept of the ego. A lot of times you're chasing what your ego tells you you should be or what your ego makes you think that you want to be. So knowing that I had the opportunity to make that clean slate, that was going to be my plan. So like I said, that moment came two years before I retired, and about a year before I retired, somebody came to me and said that, hey, have you ever heard of the Honor Foundation? What's that? Basically, the Honor Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps special operations operators as well as our support people transition from the military life to civilian life. So whether you've been in for four years or 30 years, they help you come up with a plan. And it is an elite executive level program that helps people really identify who they are inside and what's going to make them most happy. I have the storage person who had everything lined up from their current job in the military to what that job looks like on the outside government contract work. And like I said, all their network, all of a sudden they even like their job and all this. And they had everything lined up. And it just so happens that they also got a chance to go to the Honor Foundation. And through the process and through the digging, this person said, I don't want anything to do with this anymore. I don't have to. I want to be around race cars. And so long story short, that person, the last I heard, is now the director of operations at one of the largest speed waves in the country. Not on their plate at all before they started the owner foundation. So those are the kinds of things that we're talking about. For me, I had an idea. By the time I went to the Honor Foundation that I wanted to start up the Trident approach. I knew there was a different way to teach leadership. I knew there was a different way to teach interpersonal communication and relationships at work. And these lessons that I've got, I've gotten the hard way. And I always felt like if I can help people not go the hard way, that would be awesome. So towards the end, I asked, this is something I want to do. How do you start a company? One of the big lessons learned that I got from the Honor Foundation. I got many lessons learned from the Honor Foundation, but one of the big ones that I got from them was the concept of five cups of coffee. And that concept is you have a cup of coffee with somebody who's done what you're trying to do. So there are two important things you bring something right with for sure. You come up prepared with your questions. But one of the most important questions you can ask during a cup of coffee is, by the way, do you know anybody else I can talk to about this? Well, you do that 50 times over and you get hundreds of years of experience of everyone told me to do this. Don't do that. No one told me to do this. You got to do this. The hardest lessons learned. I mean, saving time, money, effort, all of these things that are so important in starting an organization. And so I told them, this is what I want to do. Can you help me out? And so they set me up with my first several cups of coffee. And one of those cups of coffee was the director of marketing for Ford Motor Company. The other cup of coffee was the person who invented the store for the plastic pickles. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Titzi pop? All of these people who were huge in their industry in marketing and sales and all of these things all the way because there's so many aspects that are involved in starting a company. Do I do an LLC? Do I do an S Corp? What's the difference? Who cares? All of that. And that's the kind of level that the Honor Foundation brings to you. They're not some guys off the street to say, hey, I kind of know about this. You are a vetted and trusted agent in order for them to even expose that person to the special operations folks. So that's the kind of connection and support that I had. And so the first thing I did, I said, hey, I've got this pitch that I want to pitch you guys, see if you even think it's something that has wheels. And they said, yeah, sure. Just five of them got together. These great, amazing people got together and said, all right, yeah, just show us your business plan. I'm what's a business plan? I mean, seriously you're talking about? They don't teach business development in the Seal teams. They don't. We know how to shoot, we know how to drive, we know how to jump out of planes. We know how to do all these things, but we don't know how to put together a marketing strategy. I've done cost estimates a million times myself working Excel spreadsheets and that kind of thing. But I've never put one together for a company, so I don't know all these things. And I was like, okay, so we kind of freaked out and went to Google, and I Googled business plan template, and I worked on it for about a month. And I came back and I sent it to him, and it was 30 pages long business plan. And I put together this whole PowerPoint presentation. I brought them into this really cool restaurant kind of briefing room thing. And I sat them down, and they were all very patient. They sat there and they listened to my entire pitch, and they said, you need to cut this thing. It needs to be like four pages long. And so that's what they did in the military. You have to write when you get up in leadership, you have to write evaluations on all your people. And these evaluations are almost like a sales pitches to promote this person, if that's what needs to happen. So you've got to get good at writing, but there's a way to write those. You can't just write them. And I remember the first time I ever wrote my first evaluation. My chief ripped it up in front of my face and threw it on his horse to try again. And that's kind of what these guys do. This is not any business plan that anyone would ever want to read. So if I didn't even know what a business plan was for, I didn't know that I was doing it to find investors, and I wasn't even looking for it. It was weird. Anyway,
what I needed. And they said, what are you going to need to start this whole thing off? And I said, $2.2 million. And they said, Figure out how to do it for $100,000. I'm like, Are you kidding me? If you listen to anything I just said, we need land in Montana. We need all this stuff. They're like, yeah, that's what you're talking about. When you've been in business for ten years, you're just starting out. We want to make sure that you're doing good. So I peeled away and peeled away and peeled away. And we came up with what the Trident approach looks like now, kind of and $100,000. And I wasn't looking for investors, so we bootstrap strapped the whole thing. And we had our very first event in August of 2018. So just a few months after I retired, and we've been rolling since then, we've done events overseas. We're currently working on a project where we're going to be headed to South Africa to work with some YPOs out there before Kova hit working with Hertz and Google and all these guys. So really, really excited about how we got to where we're going and where we're headed. Even with Covet, you know, vaccines are made and we're back to normal operations, man. It's going to be great. And the things that we've been able to do as a team, because all my guys are all former sales or our support guys, we just have these huge impacts on people, which is what I really need. That was what I needed. I didn't need to work as a contractor to go overseas to provide personal protection for some executive. That wasn't what I was put on this Earth to do. I was put on this Earth to help make people happy. And one of the best ways that I know how is to improve their professional work life. And I feel like if people can just take some of the bigger lessons that we have with a Trident approach, that not only will they be happy, but the people they work with will be happier and profits will go up and all those things. So we really, really, really love what we do. And I really, really would not be talking about. I wouldn't even be talking to you right now if it wasn't for the Honor Foundation. I would literally be playing pool with somebody at a bar. I got this really cool idea be awesome if I did this. I mean, that's where I would be right now if it wasn't for the Honor Foundation. So really grateful to those guys, not only for their mission. Joe Muslim and is the founder and the former CEO. He's got an interesting story himself. He tried to become a Seal, and he was at Buds Seal training for a long time. He ended up getting hurt so bad that he got processed out of the military for it. And it was just a bummer because this guy with all this potential, he's a great dude. And that happens. I mean, Buds, there was part of it. It was very much a luck of the draw. But while he was in the holding area kind of waiting to get transitioned out, one of the master sheets from the Buds compound came in and just started talking about, well, I'm retiring. I don't know what to do. And Joe had a background and said, well, what's your plan? Like all these things? And it started from there. He just helped him through the process of what all that stuff resumes. What is your LinkedIn profile, all of those things, especially in the Seal community, because we are so versatile that even me talking to you right now is something I would have never done. Ten years ago, my neighbors didn't even know we would go on vacation together. They didn't know how to feel. So it's not something we don't talk about at all. And so getting used to getting asked that, hey, it's not a matter of national security anymore, that people know how to feel and to getting used to sharing your stories. It can be beneficial to others. All of those things the Honor Foundation really helps you out with. I mean, we all walk in there just word after word after word military acronym. We have a way of talking in the military that it's just not only with the acronyms, but the words and things that we say and do can be really shocking to people in civilian world. So along with the education, we also get used to practicing things to say and not to say. Our normal conversation could be so offensive, especially today, to anyone. And so we learn that's not cool anymore, but it takes practice because like I said, for me, 20 years, other guys even more so. It's just part of their blood. The Honor Foundation just provides us just an amazing way of going about doing that. With the Honor Foundation, it was three months long, and we would meet twice a week, and you would have to wear nice clothes and things to class, learn what business casual was, what business dress was like. And so it was broken up into three phases. So the first one was like finding out about yourself, wiping away the whole idea of being a Seal for a moment and see if that's what you come back to or if you go to something else, really digging into what are your strengths, how do you communicate emotional intelligence, all these things? Where are you in these areas? Taking different assessments on? I took one and say you should be a psychologist and all of these things so people find out different things, but that's where you really learn that all these people, even though we've done the same mission, we've been the same kind of worn in the same hat. We're so diverse within us. We have all of these little aspects about us that make us unique individuals. And once you learn that the second phase, then let's start building up your toolbox, kind of start building your resumes, your LinkedIn profiles, learning how to interview. Like some of the more common questions that you get from if you were to interview with Amazon or Google or LinkedIn or Morgan Stanley or whatever it is. We have some of those executives coming to us and actually putting us through mock interviews. We had the person who does some of the screenings for the resumes at Amazon actually come by and look at our resumes. This is the kind of level that I'm talking about. So it's just an elite level, absolutely helpful for us and what we're trying to do. And then the last part is these tracks, right? Every cohort goes to a different place around the United States. My particular cohort went to San Francisco. So when we went, we had basically backstage passes and compound tours with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Airbnb, MuleSoft, Dropbox, all of these got Oracle, all of these guys. And some of them, we were sitting there with the C suite. And because we can be a really highly sought after group of individuals, a lot of corporate executives are really seeing the value that military people have to bring to the table. And like I said before, the Honor, we don't know how to get the word out. We don't know how to say, hey, this is us. This is what we're all about, and this is what we do. So we don't even know how to do that. And so they literally hand walk us straight to the CEO and say, hey, this is this person. You should meet him or her. She's incredible. And it just provides just the cutest opportunity. So that's where I went on my track. But the Honor Foundation has several locations. They got one in San Diego, they got one in Virginia Beach, one in North Carolina, and they've got a virtual campus. I think they're working on another one as well. So they initially started with just the Seals, and then they branched off into the Seals and Support, and now we're working with Rangers, Green Berets, Marine Raiders, all those guys. So they're really starting to work the whole broad spectrum. And like I said, they are nonprofit, so they're completely driven by donations. And you can just see my story is just one of several hundred. These people are really making huge impacts on the corporate world once they leave the military community. And I know that there was something like a 90% rate of when the guys get out of the military to get their first job and they're gone within a year or two. They're just maybe even less time than that. But the fellows that go through the Honor Foundation, it's not a job placement organization, although that happens a lot of times. The people that go through the Honor Foundation get connected with their first job. They've got a 90% retention rate with their first job, which is phenomenal. And you don't find that anywhere. And the reason for that is all of the BS is gone. Again, not what do you know, what do you like, what do you get at? What are you driven to do? What is like magnetically, gravitationally pulling you out of bed every day as a medic and a preacher and a Seal team? I don't know what that means on the outside. And so they help us take all of those job qualifications and translate those into words that civilians can understand, that resonate with them like, oh, shoot, you lead small teams, but they're important things that we don't know how to do that they're just used to doing. So that's why the retention rate is so successful, is because we're not looking for a job. We are looking for something that is going to enrich our lives. We're looking for something. We're looking for cultures that align with who we are. That's one of the things that I think that we do really well on the field teams is we have a culture that is what it is. People come in from the streets to assimilate to us, and they do that through buds. People ask, what is the Seal culture? They say, you never quit, you never leave your swim buddy. There's a standard of excellence, and there's always a way if you live and breathe those four things and you're going to do well in the Seal community, but you find out whether or not you sit through buds, buds, you will find out if you've got those four things. So culture is very important to us. It's important to all kinds of people, whether they realize it or not. And so we understand the importance of it. And so when we're looking for a tech job, we're not just going to any tech organization out there. First thing we do, what are your values? And say, yeah, that's really great. You guys are changing the world. You guys are doing amazing things. But there's something in here that doesn't align with me. So you don't even bother. And you're not wasting anyone's time and not wasting any money. You're not wasting anything. And then you find the one that's got those things that are non negotiables for you, and then you're rolling. So all of that through the Honor Foundation. The last I checked, it was something like $87,000 per student to go through. They don't charge us anything. So that's all donations you can see. And that money is going somewhere. I mean, for sure. Like I said, I'm like, hey, man, I want to start a business. And like, here's the director of Ford Motor Company marketing. There you go. That's where all that stuff comes from. So really amazing opportunity. Absolutely grateful for them. We would not have been able to start the trial approach without the Honor Foundation. And I can tell you that we've had really big, strong, positive impacts and influences on people from all over the world already. And that's not just because of the Trident approach. That all can be traced back to the Honor Foundation. Currently, I'm an ambassador for the Honor Foundation. Very lucky for them, unfortunately for them to even ask me to serve in that role, they still have cohorts going through all the time in San Diego. And so I do my best to attend those classes and meet with the new folks that are transitioning out of the military and that kind of thing. Still, communities are small communities, so I know a lot of them, so it's great to be around them. Still, I mentor a lot of fellows going through as well. I've been many cups of coffee for several other fellows going through. People are always interested what's it like starting a company. I got this idea. What do you think? All those things? Yeah, I've done a lot of that. I'm still very much in contact with a lot of the leadership and Joe Muslim, and it was first Father's Day this last weekend. So I was like, yeah, it's Father's Day, dude. Your family for sure. And they are there for us for life 20 years from now. If I've got this tough nut to crack, I'm always going to be able to call back in the Honor Foundation and say, hey, what do you guys think about this? Or could you put me in touch with this person? Go to Honor.org, and that's where you can submit your application. Again, you got to be connected to the special operations community in some capacity. We've got like in the Air Force, for example, they have special operations weather people. They're actual operators. You don't need to be that. You can be a weather person attached to a special operations command, and you're good. So as long as you're attached to the special operations command, you can go to the Honor.org and submit. The only thing I'd say to maximize your potential with the Honor Foundation is just to learn how to open your mind and not come to, like, any presumptive ends. Hey, I'm this, this is what I should be. This is what I should be. Because if you do that, you're just kind of selling yourself short to the overall expansiveness of what you could potentially be. You may very well end up back right where you're at now, and nothing would make you happier and all those types of things. And that's cool. There's absolutely nothing wrong as long as it's right for you. I'll just tell you that that's not the majority of the case, but no problem. You are. You just be excited about whatever your path is going to be. And when you find out what that path is, you're not going to be able to help but to jump on that thing and just go. So you just need a couple of letters of recommendation from people in the special operations community, and that's it. You're off and running. You send your application, and they do like a couple of phone interviews. They were even working through COVID. They were working remotely and that kind of stuff because COVID happened to hit, like, right in the middle of a particular Cohort. Plus, like I said, they've got virtual campuses everywhere. So if you're in Wyoming, you can definitely participate. Definitely. And you're still getting the benefits, you're still getting the networking. And that's the thing. I've never been around an organization that has the level of networking that the Honor Foundation does. I mean, they know everybody. You're talking about whatever the five degrees of separation or six degrees. They're talking about three degrees of separation at most, from anyone. You need to talk to anybody, and there's a reason for it. And you've done your homework and that kind of thing, you will get into contact with that person. So it's more often than that. I'll say, so, yeah, just go with an open mind and you'll be good. I love how you articulate that magnetic drive that pulls you out of your bed. And that's the type of focus and engagement that really takes us through hard times because of what we are enjoying so much or what is so fulfilling that when things get hard, it carries us through those moments because we lay hold of what we love in that process and the happiness that comes from that, that's powerful. And I know that a lot of us have barriers to allowing ourselves to have that. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of, well, I shouldn't necessarily be that happy or it's too frightening to actually allow ourselves to think, wow, that could be our life. If we chose it and work toward it, and we're accepting of it, we oftentimes sabotage ourselves. But how exciting is that to have that moment of articulation, to have that moment of awareness and awakening, to say what makes me happy, what magnetically pulls me out of bed in the morning, and then how can I earn an income doing that and impacting people along the way and growing internally? It is a win win situation. It's a win for the fellows that go through, and it's a win for the corporate world. They are feeding for people who are driven, who got the standard of excellence, who don't give up, who always find a way, who work in a team like is driven to work in a team as the standard is to work in a team. They're wondering, where can I find these people? And we're all here. We're just here. So what is the total win win? That's such a great thing. And what they do is they provide that value and that connected tissue to get elite level performing organizations connected with elite performing people and people that do have a passion and do have a drive and a standard of excellence that I can tell you as a CEO that you're just so grateful to have when you have it on your team. You don't need to micromanage these people. You got to teach them what to do in the beginning. Once you got that, they're off to the races and you just unleash that talent on the world. And there's so much gratification that comes from that on both sides. The other thing that the Honor Foundation does, too, is it is fear of the unknown. When you're talking about transition, I don't know what it's going to be like to not be guaranteed a paycheck anymore. I don't know what it's going to be like if I get hired somewhere and all of a sudden I got to pick up my family and move to Tennessee. I don't know what that's like, but they bring the known to the unknown they help little by little by little, start to bring a level of certainty and comfort back, because we need that, too. Just because we're Seals or just because we're Marine Raiders doesn't mean that we're like, whatever, I'm good. I'll just jump out of the plane without a parachute. That's not what happens. We carefully pack our parachute. We carefully put it on. We go through inspection. We need that security as well. We don't just run out there blind and whatever. So the Honor Foundation does provide that vehicle for us. They say, hey, who are you? Where are you going? This is how we can help. Here are some of the things that you don't know about. They really do soften that landing for us whenever it is that we do come in to work at a place. And one of the things that I think is every once in a while you'll hear guys that will just get picked up by these companies, and they're like, we don't have a position for you, but we're going to make one just for you because we need you on our team. That happens. Those guys are there for the long haul. And obviously those things go both ways, so they couldn't be happy to be there. These organizations know, hey, we can't afford to lose you. So we're going to make something happen. It's got to be what America is craving right now is to have these type of people in their ranks, to inspire them, to draw out the best from them, to be with people who are able to deal with fear in a healthy way and overcome challenges relentlessly. It's got to be exciting to be in that environment. Yeah, absolutely. Because we're retiring, right? We're not dead. So we still have this lifetime left to give. And it's got to be something that's engaging. It's got to be something that's meaningful. A lot of people in the Philippines have Add, we need to be engaged or we just lose focus. I just know that there's so many employers out there who are also still very grateful for the existence of the Honor Foundation and things that they've been able to get from them and the folks that have been able to get from them. Anything else that you wanted to cover with the Honor Foundation? If any of this information is either applicable to you as an operator or support element, I highly encourage you to apply to go to the Honor Foundation. Again, that's honor.org. But also, if you are an organization that is looking for serious people who are serious about their standard of excellence, serious about being part of the team, serious about being problem solvers on elite levels, reach out to the owner foundation. If you believe in what they're doing in their lives, that they're changing, like they changed my life, and you have the ability the Honor Foundation is always trying to raise money, trying to raise funds, trying to raise something so that we can continue bringing people just like me through their program and helping to change the world. Like I said, it was last time I checked, it was $87,000 per student to go through. So it's a lot and there's a lot of need out there for the honor foundation too. So cohorts are going on all the time. You have the ability and this message at all inspires you. Please feel free to give to such an important organization that's doing such big things and having such a huge impact on the world. Please make sure that if you're beginning the transition or even considering to transition out of the special Ops community into the civilian world, please look at the links below and reach out.