and Robert talk about transitioning from a career in the military to entrepreneurship. He is committed to helping veterans not only transition but to thrive in business. His experience and training leave him uniquely equipped to serve veterans.
A little bit about Ken...
Skilled coach, speaker, facilitator, and consultant with over two decades of experience in leadership development and personal improvement. Ken Lewis is a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Master Sergeant with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Quality Management and Operations Management. Ken is certified in Project Management, Quality & Organizational Excellence, Change Management, SAFe Scrum Master, and DISC Behavior Assessments. He teaches leadership principles with The Maxwell Leadership Certified Team and is a licensed sales trainer and coach with Grant Cardone.
Ken is dedicated to values-based leadership and empowers people to reach their full potential, including as a volunteer mentor and coach for veterans through his work with Veterati.
Check out more of Ken
Robert Peterson 0:20
Welcome to the Add valued entrepreneurs podcast, where we're on a mission to end entrepreneurial unhappiness. If you're an entrepreneur with a burning desire to change the world, this podcast is for you. We're here to help you transform your life in business so you can achieve the freedom and fulfillment you crave.
Robert Peterson 0:39
This show is dedicated entrepreneurs who want more of their life, more meaning more purpose, and ultimately, more happiness. You deserve it all. And it's possible. I'm your host, Robert Peterson, Pastor turned life coach for business owners. I believe that success without happiness is not true success at all. But there's always hope for those who are willing to take action. Join us every week as we bring you inspiring leaders and messages that will help you on your journey towards success. Thank you for investing your time with us today. Let's get started.
Robert Peterson 1:18
Today's guest is a skilled coach, speaker, facilitator and consultant with over two decades of experience in leadership development and personal improvement. Ken Lewis is a US Air Force veteran, former Explosive Ordnance Disposal Master Sergeant with a dual Bachelor of Science degrees in business quality management and operations. Ken is dedicated to values based leadership and empowers people to reach their full potential, including as a volunteer mentor and coach for veterans. Through his work with veterans at Robert and Ken Lewis talks about transitioning from a career in the military to entrepreneurship. He is committed to helping veterans not only transition but to thrive in business, his experience and training leave him uniquely equipped to serve veterans in this special way. Well, Ken, thank you so much for joining me today, I'm looking forward to having this conversation. One veteran to another and one of John Maxwell coach to another. So I think we've got a lot, a lot in common. So looking forward to learning about what you're doing and how you're impacting the world. Know,
Ken Lewis 2:19
My pleasure, thank you for allowing me to come on here and add value to your clientele. And I'm definitely interested to see what we have in common. I'm looking forward to see where this conversation went.
Unknown Speaker 2:28
Robert Peterson 2:30
all right, so typically, I let each guest just share their entrepreneurial journey. And so obviously yours involved leaving the Air Force and and starting something for yourself. So share with that with us.
Ken Lewis 2:43
Absolutely. I retired out of the Air Force, I was explosive ordnance disposal, which is a bomb technician, I have been left in September 2020. So right when COVID had definitely thrown a lot of wrenches into my transition for the military to civilian sector. And that was right at 20 years of service. So it's 20 years and nine days. Wow, ready for some nations. Thank you for your service. And obviously, man, what a crazy time to get out. It was it was a lot of the plans I had made in the previous two years were derailed. And some of that had to do with a lot of the job opportunities that I was grooming myself for, kind of started falling off the market, a lot of doors were being closed or, you know, it was unknown times. And a lot of the medical entities around here, were not hiring and a lot of things unless you're doing a very specific skill set or in the manufacturing industry, you were helping with the heart monitors and a lot of those industries that I wasn't really grooming myself to be. So I kind of had to make another pivot within a pivot and was trying to figure out hey, where do I go from here? Luckily, I did have a job that I took with the department of defense contracting company here locally, did that for a little while. But then I still realized I was missing this. That sense of purpose, right? There was definitely I went from a job where I really leaned heavily on that duty that I was performing. I felt the importance of saving lives by defusing bombs and being part of a team and all those areas. And now, I was in an environment where I was trying to match that same level of fulfillment, with a different mission said that I really wasn't attached to yet. And within that gap, I was like, let me go down the entrepreneurial journey as a coach. And really try to realize I didn't realize at the time how important Teamwork was to me. But I quickly discovered that when I became involved in the company, and I was trying to build teams and work within communities, and I realized that there was a lot of silos, the communication wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be. And I was like, Man, I thought we're on the same team. It was just a lot of different vibes that I was used to. And I really felt I wanted to help people. Let me just try to do this leadership book club or this other thing. And I felt like I was begging to help people. And nobody was really wanting to do that. So light switch came on. It's like why am I begging to help people when I know this people
Ken Lewis 5:00
Looking for the same type of help that I'm willing to offer. And that started a whole nother transition process of how to become an entrepreneur because that wasn't on my roadmap. And is I also blame some of this on my scar city mindset coming out of the military, I didn't realize how many opportunities were actually available to me until I started really getting into more materials and reading and expanding my thought process like, now, the last two years getting military, I focused on getting a job. But now I'm, that should have been just a milestone and a much bigger journey, instead of the ceiling. And I kind of kept myself off a little early. So total, I mean, a lot of growth happening in a radically, you know, four year time period. But it was rapid transition after another one after another one. And that's where I'm here today, kind of using those stories. And I do a lot of mentoring with veterans as well. It's like, hey, think big, like, my biggest failure was thinking small, like not really understanding the opportunities that were out there, just because one I wasn't aware, but also to the things that you deal with a $400,000. Robot. Money wasn't real to me, it was a budget item that I had to work within, it was like, here's your metrics stay within it. Now, it's a very real thing, my goals, my ambitions, the legacy I want to leave for my family, all these things where I went from, this is my identity in the military. That's who I was to redefining that to a I'm a father, I'm a leader, I'm all these other different roles that compile versus this is me this that was my identity was the singular version of the air force, mass destruction, bomb tech. Right. So that's the intro into how I discovered and started my journey down this path. Nice. So you mentioned I mean, Mitch is really pretty powerful words and purpose, purpose, teamwork, scarcity. So let's talk into obviously transitioning your purpose from, you know, defusing bombs to save lives to, to this new purpose that you're finding for yourself in this entrepreneurial space.
Ken Lewis 7:05
Yeah, I would say it was like a year and a half to two year of this darkness of just trying to climb out of this new arena of Well, there was depression involved in that, because I was so influenced with my environment of being a team, environment, and really rely on you start to train with these guys. And they kind of you can know what to expect to the next movement. And you really, I really focused on that. And you I built a, I guess you'd say, a mentality that once you have a defining a good team that you just kind of know and flow with each other. And I didn't realize how much I would miss that. So what I get out, and I'm trying to figure out who am I now and some of the network that I once had, I don't have any more I'm trying to redefine this entire process of what is important to me. And I think that was a question I was asking over and over and over again. And then the reach to a point to where I actually was contemplating suicide, and got to this, this dark area to where I'm sitting down thinking about it. And I was making a checklist in my head of reasons to stay. And I'm in this mental thought process that nope, not worth it, not worth it not worth it and finally came down to my children. And it was like the that was the turning point towards like, okay, there it is. It wasn't a big enough purpose for me not to harm myself. That did I need to be so dark, I don't know, that's just where I was at the time. But it was a turning point, to give me the motivation to not remain in that same pit, right. And when I start, you know, I have pain and all these other issues that also just helped kind of bring me into this dark space. Where that was it from there. I was like, Okay, what do I got to do? What's my point? So like, one of my missions, one of my primary mission is to be able to provide whatever resources and opportunities I care for my children. And that just expands everything I need to do. Because if they want to be one of my little girls wants to be a NASA pilot today. Fine, let's go for it. If she changes her mind next week and wants to be whatever, fine, but I want to be able to provide experiences and opportunities for her to play and dabble. And learn now versus trying to think you have to have the answer right away. And I just love kind of where I am today because I don't I'm not really happy where I was then. But it took that period for me to make this transition of okay, I'm no longer UD I wasn't reaching out for help. I wasn't asking the right questions, I was really holding up. I think that passion that drive where I was, and if my story can help another veteran or maybe another business person, to just take the time to realize that pivoting happens that it's okay. And that you're probably going to be in a darker place if you try to go at it alone. But I know a lot of males that are in those she say about people in general. Predominantly the workforce was male that I was with him, but they had that alpha male type mentality that try to solve a lot problems on their own, especially when it comes to those personal issues. And that it's okay that if you don't have the answers on your own, that those periods of weaknesses are absolutely normal, coming from an environment where a lot of those things, I would always try to mask and hide, because I wanted to be available for my next deployment. And if I went to mental health, if I went and did this, if I, you know, expose any of that, I risk not being available to do my mission or being available to my team. And then I felt more of a failure than actually taking time for self care, which is vital. But it was a sacrifice I was making too willing to make at the time. So there's all kind of play into a factor of where I am now. And kind of where I think I can add value to others in simply to the fact that these are all these normal changes, my experiences with communicating within a team, and how the leadership experiences that I have, and so forth, and just my development over the last four years have been a dramatic growth. And I'm hoping that those help others as they might hit some of these relatable periods in their life.
Robert Peterson 10:59
Yeah, well, definitely want to just jump on that whole idea of the space between self care and talking to somebody, you know, when you're when you're in that dark place. And, and it is a challenge for first responders for military that want to remain deployable, to be able to say, Man, I feel funky, I don't feel right. And you feel like, you know, they're going to cut off all of your future and all of your possibilities. And so it does put a lot of pressure on first responders and on servicemen to, to not be able to have that conversation to not be able to, you know, because you the stigma is so strong. Right?
Ken Lewis 11:45
And the ambiguity that comes along with it, you know, and not a lot of it, I did start going to mental health maybe last two years in my military as maybe a lot of military personnel do the closer they get to that 20 year retirement age, or at least before they change retirement system around, you know, but But yeah, there's a lot of things that is okay. And the more individuals that I speak with today now are there are people that were in some pretty tough, demanding jobs, the Special Forces community, that when I am introduced, when I'm when I start having engagements, that's like these guys are there. They built their life on these mental toughness type situations of do not quit, do whatever it takes. And they have the tools and trainings and do sports. And they were still susceptible to these same concepts. So even. And then even still, some of them are looking to who else though, if you are built at this as an individual that have all the tools and you're the man's man, you're doing these really uniquely dangerous situations and missions? Who do you turn to? Right? Like, if that's somebody that I would turn to like, how do you cope? How do you do it, then who does that next person turn to and then that next person is having the same challenges? Who do you turn to but then sometimes it's not the Who do you just find somebody you can trust that's going to keep your story and actually, like, take the time to get to know you, and just listen, and sometimes you might need professional help. Outside there's especially when you start learning going on the coaching plan, like there is there is a moment where there's this is coaching, not counseling, right, I might be able to give you my mentorship about some of the things that I took, but to be aware that there is a line where I might not be properly resourced to help with. And yeah, I think every human being is susceptible to it. But you sometimes I specifically got into a stigma This is the kind of the person I had to be and would neglect myself care, which is super important for people to take the moment and get get in touch with and realize that I'm hurting, I came home as a nasty person to my family. And for what, because I didn't know how to handle my own issues within the battle within I'm not coping with it. So then what do I do? I lash out, I go to work and I'm teaching people how to be better I want my whole job is make sure that are you properly resourced? Can you stay alive? Do you have the training, you have all these things, and then I'm at work, putting on one persona and I'm coming home and not being that same leader at home that I needed to be. So I was kind of ashamed. Like looking back. I'm a better leader and more effective leader at work than the one person I should have been at home. And it took kind of all these changes in my life to realize like okay, now if I can't demonstrate those same practices at home, I need to be a better leader here because it's more challenging. I take some things for granted, it's easy to fall in this whole little black hole of she'll be the one to make up. And it's not always the case. So there's, if I can be that same type of leader at home that I want to be then it's gonna be even easier to be that same type of leader in the workplace because the connection is much more stronger and it's easy for me to it's harder to practice in my opinion right at home.
Robert Peterson 14:44
Well in Racket, recognizing that work trains you for the for the demands of right especially forces of you know EOD, you're you're being trained to put yourself into this high risk situation. You know, every detail matters. Your focused on, on the job. And, and even to transition that to entrepreneurs, a lot of times the pressure of entrepreneurship, and they feel like, you know, I got to do this, I've got to run this business, take care of my family, I got to run this business to, to make it all work, and they carry that load on their shoulders, very similar to military personnel that carry that load on their shoulders. And they don't have a system to dump it, they don't have a system to let that load go. And of course, they take it home. And, and they have no preparation for it to have these conversations with a spouse, they have no preparation for how to deal with, you know, the kids that are that are just going because they want attention, and they want to play and they want it, they want a parent, right. And, and and I think it's a very real situation where our focus gets distracted. You know, one of the one of my primary coaching avenues now is helping business owners extract themselves from their business so that they take care of what matters most. I can help you build a new business, I can help you start a new business, I can help you fix five or six businesses. It's really hard to help you fix a family. And I think the military now is starting to recognize some of the costs, you know, I was in the Marines in the 80s. And, and deployment cost me my marriage. And and I know that that's that happens a lot for for personnel that there's just not as much equipping, you know, for being a parent, right, the military is focused on, you know, what do we have to do to defend this country? What do we have to do to protect our, our fellow airmen and our fellow soldiers? And and there's not a lot of conversation, you know, well, this is really important to keep your family intact. You know, the families kind of have an asterix and add on, you know, well, here, we'll help you pay for housing, and we'll get you some medical coverage for your family, because those things are important. But there's not a lot of equipping for, you know, how to be a good dad, and how to be a good husband how to be a good wife and mom and still serve in the military. I think I think that's shifting a little bit. But it's a pretty slow shift, because the priorities, that's just not a priority, right?
Ken Lewis 17:17
I agree. And I also think that my first few years in the military in the Air Force, I was a pharmacy technician. And I went from this drastic change. And after 911 happened, I wanted to be part of it and have a direct role. And it took some time. So I finally discovered about explosive ordnance disposal and made that transition and figured, okay, now I can do something that because I'm skilled at or I definitely gained the skills, but I felt a difference in the teams, the people the environment that I was in and how I was able to contribute. And what I look at is the type of person that I was in the pharmacy, the medical environment, versus who I wasn't anybody, I ended up becoming growing as this mindset. And I think it was, because I've seen it in the other leaders that I was with in that career field, that so this is going to be how environment or society influences kind of can mold one person or another. I ended up adapting the mentality, like, look, go take care of yourself, we'll take care of family, because the military, we're going to get ours, right like I need you to be when it counts, it's going to count. So when we're here, we're in Garrison, we're at home and the mission slow, we've got training, there's something going on, but I need them to take care of their aspects and to feel safe to say, hey, I need some time because XYZ and then me knowing that I have the authority to allow them to do that. Versus in the military, or excuse me, in the northern pharmacy, it was all about Nope, we need to be here to five, we gotta do this, we got to you know, we're gonna serve because it was about the patient, workflow, health, it was all about wait times, we don't want them to wait too long. We need all all hands on deck and go forward, there was a little bit there was less consideration for some of those abnormalities than in there. But I also realized the demand if I if these individuals as a bomb technician weren't taken care of hitting all those those check marks of the mental readiness, spirits readiness and financial readiness, all those different readiness factors that affect them, then when they deploy, or when they are even in the state side mission, we say we're supporting law enforcement or whatever the entity is they're headed might not be fully in the game when I needed to be. And one of the questions that I loved to use was okay, guys, anything stand out to you that might get me killed right away. Who and if they're, I'm relying on two other people to tell me honestly, regardless of the position, didn't matter about rank at the time, I needed their perspective from where they sat. Am I missing something here? And I'm trusting them with their advice. And so if we all miss something, then okay, that's nobody's fault. But I have to give them an opportunity to express that and if they're not the mind, right, or if their mindset is not in the right place. Are they going to be open and honest with me? Or if they're really have all the stress and pressure what's influencing them? Are they just gonna dismiss it or just say something just for the sake of closing on the conversation because they're worried about XYZ? And that I think that's the importance of that servant leader type mentality, how can you build an environment where you are really Get to know your people and understand kind of what motivates them. This is something I've wished I would have really tailored my approach later on in the military and understood it better of what it means they came up with this campaign of Know Your airmen know you're in, like, what you're getting at know your airman, but I think I was just, it wasn't being presented to me in a way that clicked, which now is so much like what we were doing just in a different way, like no one was somebody comes, and they just have a different look to them. And there's something bothering like, okay, you don't have to tell me this if you don't want to, but you need to tell somebody this. So if you want to talk fine, but you have time to either talk to me, or you can go find something because there's also the penalties. And it's financial, that if we don't get this early, then the military can step in, there can be negative repercussions, not so much like maybe the civilian sector, you're going to maybe lose your house, right. But there's other steps like the military, military could take before that happens, which all are negative. So how do you get how do you get ahead of that. And the only way you can get ahead of that is by actually taking time to ask those questions. And being consistent that you do truly care. And that is harder to do and to learn than it sounds. It's not just, for example, I was guilty, I had a captain I was working with and I was the the seventh mess started. So it was I was the guy that was known about, hey, this is what we're going to do. Here's the structure. Here's the technical plan. Here's here's all everything working. And if I was asked you the question, how are you doing? It was checking the box, right? Establishing a poor, how you doing? Oh, god, he's really good. He's really telling me how he's doing. versus my captain. And he was in touch. He knew how are you doing? How's your wife do I know she was? That's where we complement each other. But I should have took more time to learn from him about how is he approaching and he's taking the time to do all those listening activities I took for granted. I was like, Man, this guy is super emotional, I don't understand it. Like we didn't an emotion. We didn't issue them a family. We didn't issue the emotions that came here to do a job. And again, wrong mindset to have, but we complement each other. And he was willing to tell me to Taylor down like he's got this going on. I would only hit that approach, if maybe it was too late, if like somebody was demonstrating behaviors that needed kind of some kind of intervention of sorts, and then I would take the time, versus being proactive and being consistent in that behavior. So yes, we could all do better at that. But it's a hard trait, especially when you have deliverables. And you're trying to meet these demands, actually pausing to remember the human elements.
Robert Peterson 22:25
Well, in business, especially, especially for entrepreneurs, because a lot of them work alone, right, a lot of them, you know, have the whole weight of their business on their shoulders. And and we don't have safe spaces for them to tell somebody right. We will be right back after the short break. Are you an entrepreneur who started their business with purpose and passion, only to lose sight of it amidst the daily grind, we understand how frustrating that can be. That's why we're offering free strategy calls to help you gain clarity on the barriers holding you back from achieving your dreams. In just 30 minutes are experienced coaches will work with you to identify obstacles, and develop strategies for overcoming them. There's no commitment or pressure, just a chance to get some assistance and clarity, unique. Scheduling is easy, simply visit smiling cole.com and select a time that works for you. Let's jump on a call and build your business together. It's time for you to add value and achieve your full potential as an entrepreneur. Welcome back, let's get back to more great you know, what am I going to do go home and tell my wife I can't make payroll, I'm failing. And they're having that same, that same conversation, you know, in their head that you were having in that dark space, you know, I'm worth more dead than alive. You know, I mean, if you look at it, the dollars and cents of it, in a lot of cases that that dark night of the soul really does happen for these people in these pressure situations and entrepreneurs put themselves they're taking on the responsibility of a business, taking on the responsibility of paying payroll and taking care of employees. And, and if their business doesn't, you know, creating safe spaces for these conversations. And it sounds like your captain was was equipped to give people a safe space where they felt safe talking about a family issue talking about, you know, what was happening. So how do you how do you translate that now with can the entrepreneur leaning into businesses and, and corporate opportunities to help them understand the need for a safe space?
Ken Lewis 24:37
It's really the whole subject of servant leader. Like I'm a big fan of having to align the individuals goals with the goals of the company, if you could make that match and figure out okay, this is we are the visionaries, right we have a direction that we want to go the impact that we want to make upon the world and whatever that is. Then if you have the responsibility have others that have chosen to follow you, because whether they follow you or not as a choice, they can show up one day and totally not align with you and do the bare minimum. Or they can feel inspired and engaged and aligned and give even that much more, because they're supporting where you are. And not everybody is built to be an entrepreneur, not for the fact that they aren't capable. But sometimes they don't want that risk, the refuse, they could be a leader, and then rephrase this, they could be a leader in the work center, maybe they don't want the roles of the managerial duties that come along with that. But understanding okay, this is what drives this person, and how can I align what motivates and moves them and tie it into where we're going as a company that they can, they can fulfill both of those, those alignment both of those areas. And that has been an enjoyment for me, because it's something that I lacked on doing and the more that I study it, it's, it's great, because it's such a challenge as well. I look at pharmacy technician, Ken Lewis, I did not understand the idea of indirect support, I needed to get into the fight, how can I actively do something, but every role really matters and moves it. So no matter where you are in the hierarchy, and you matter, and it's just to the to the effect of are you doing what it is you enjoy to do? And okay, how can we match with what you're doing to where the company is going. But also, if you're in a leadership type role, taking the time to realize that somebody else might not be performing well, because they're not properly, like I said, in the right seat, or have you just not tapped into their full potential, and realize that they have a lot of capabilities, but maybe just not in CA, we need to move them over to seat b instead. Because now they're going to expand and grow, I didn't know that I would be the type of person I wasn't UD until I discovered it and played around in it, then I was like, this is exactly where I needed to belong. But it was a trial and error and being allowed that opportunity to move around and try new things. So it's really, really adopting that theory of Yes, alignment can happen. As long as you take the time to consider of what's going on in people's lives on your teams get that engagement because they have a choice to go wherever they want. How do you influence them to choose to follow you and and really put some fire into your vision to help you with what is the impact you're trying to make on your business. And the other thing with this is, you're talking about the safe space. Realizing that that includes at home, things started changing for me, when I stopped keeping all the hurt and secrets about my entrepreneurial journey for my wife. I was I was holding it is like you don't understand what I'm doing. You know what I'm saying? She's not understand because I'm not sharing. Oh, right. So it's not until the point where I was like, Baby, this is what I did today. But this is what I, here's why I'm working on these. This is where I'm trying to go with this, or this is what I'm banging my head against. This is why I feel so stuck right now. And that was a changing point, because she had no idea that I was having such a rough time, especially like brand new a year ago was even darker than it is because there's so many unknowns, I didn't have a network, I didn't know what I was doing. And when I finally opened up and shared, I'm not getting any traction, I know that I'm better I know the things that I'm capable of. And I'm not performing to the standard that I want. And now I have a family depends on me. And I'm holding them all within. So being being authentic and being vulnerable, both at work and at home, I think are important. And to know that if these are truly my values to take care of my family, then why can't I be open and authentic with them to let them know where my wins are. And that's another thing, celebrating the wins, I never really acknowledged the importance of that. But just by me sharing a small win with my wife, she was ecstatic about it. It meant more to her I think at the time than it was for me. But to her this that little bit of growth was great growth. And the same thing can happen for your employees, given them that they acknowledged it was small when they might not you kind of get into a rut where like you just take kind of your job for granted that this is just another task. But if somebody comes in acknowledge that you're doing something very well, that you take for granted, then that could be an eye opening maybe Hey, maybe I am good at this, maybe I can't expand maybe there's I can add more to my plate and kind of tap into different levels that I just didn't know exists. So it certainly leadership and it's a as a John Maxwell coach, you might have heard it as well, where there's difference between the servant leadership and subservient. We're not saying you're you're advocating your role. We're not saying that you're going to be permissive and and just allow anything to happen? No, but it means you are being a leader that also serves your people. So how can you add value to those to your clientele? How can you add value to your employees? And how can you serve your clientele? How can you serve your employees, and it's a back and forth it's a give and take relationship and really kind of owning that is just going to help you as a person, anybody as a person,
Robert Peterson 29:43
when the best the best companies are going to create wins and their employees and in bigger companies for their stockholders. And I think the companies that recognize that we need to be able to have a win for all three at the same time, are really the companies that are going to have the most success. You talked about a lot alignment and aligning their goals. And really, a big part of that is creating the culture intentionally. And I think too many companies, too many entrepreneurs start their company and, you know, they, they tell you what, you gotta have your values, and they come up with these aspirational values of you know, that everybody sounds good, it looks good on the looks good on the business plan when you write the business plan, but they're not necessarily the true core values of what, what the company really stands for. And I think helping companies dig into those values and really know what they stand for what is the reason that they're creating the widget that they're creating, what is the difference the impact they're trying to make in the world, that's where you get employees that buy in and are aligned and understand. And these values are important to me, and they're fairly important to my, to the company I'm working for, and I'm in because I just love these, you know, there's just the alignment almost feels natural, right. And, and for you, it sounds like when you shifted from, you know, pharmacy tech to EOD that, that EOD is values, man, this is this is where I belong, this, these are my people, this, this just feels right, because, you know, it shifted from an environment where you didn't understand the values, he didn't understand, you know, what was important and how it was impacting the impacting the the wind, right for, you know, for the unit as a whole for the Air Force as a whole for the country. Right, you didn't understand it didn't feel like you were in the game. And now you're in a unit that not only does it feel like you're in the game, they're telling you why you're in the game, they're telling you what the win is, and they're giving you the reason to be a part of it. And that makes a huge difference. Right? When a company knows what their purpose is, and they know, you know, they're not just widget makers, they're making these widgets for a purpose, they're making these widgets for a reason. And when you can buy, get your employees to buy into that, you'll get higher engagement, you'll get higher quality employees, and your team is obviously getting, you know, completely different results.
Ken Lewis 32:08
I think the change to enter not to discredit the pharmacy mission, right? It just was no, no, I wasn't aligned. Right. So and I think that's the importance is like, just because maybe I didn't have a sense of fulfillment with that mission. Later on in life, I did realize the difference, because now that if I'm deployed in an area, I don't have to worry about where are we getting our pharmacy pills, or where's my medical care coming from sort of things that were happening back home, maybe I didn't really care for the environment, it wasn't providing me the fulfillment that I had.
Robert Peterson 32:38
I'm just gonna say real quick that the Marine Corps didn't really need pharmacy techs, because all they ever gave us was Motrin, right to Motrin was a repair for everything.
Ken Lewis 32:46
In what, sadly, I don't think much has changed now. So it's still kind of like go to candy.
Robert Peterson 32:55
All right, back to,
Ken Lewis 32:56
ya know, your your 100%. Right. It is. And it's easy to discredit those things, you know, but when you have, my wife was pregnant, during one of my deployments, there was a lot of medical issues and you know, high risk pregnancy and so forth. And scary random calls, that would happen, sometimes I wouldn't be available, or I just was disconnected. There's a lot of worries going on. But there's also a network here in place. So the other spouses that could chip in, or there's the mental health community that there was a lot of a lot of programs that were happening on base that maybe once a time I didn't align with there was no need for it. But when you when I did need it, it was there. Right. So it wasn't, it wasn't a direct support. We were they were not fighting the mission in the combat zone, right, those different career fields. But they are enabling the others that had an impact. So we tie that same scenario to a business, those roles that may not seem to have a direct impact, maybe you're not directly in sales, or you're not other marketing, you're not the closer or you're not the person that's actually delivering the widget or what have it. All those roles add up to an outcome. And everybody plays a part in that. And if not, then you need to realign or you have the right positions in the first place. Or else you know, they shouldn't be there if they're not contributing in some fashion to you as an entrepreneur, making an impact on the world the way that you want, and regard, you know, down to the janitor, you might hear the stories about the person that you know, one vision that they're building a cathedral, one person is getting you closer to God and so forth, right? It's that same scenario, do they align with that overarching vision or mission and everybody has their own personal values, and hopefully their personal values align with organizational values, and it's good to not work on these things in a vacuum. So if you have if you're not a solopreneur, if you do have a team of people that you're working with, then bring them all to the board and be like okay, hey, how do we want what are the quality what are the factors that we want to demonstrate, you know, is authenticity important to us? Is that part of our brand? If not, then you know, what are what should they be you You don't have to really design it, you are the visionary that you're going to stay kind of where you see this company going and provide that dream that others want to fuel. I was given a scenario like this, you know, maybe you have a NASA engineer or space engineer that wants to do one thing. They might not align with Elon Musk. They don't want to, to build a habitat on Mars. But they were all about this James Webb Telescope about creating this new device, does that devalue them? And the credibility the skills? No, no, it just means they have to find the right vision to match up with their passions and skills and energy and ambitions that are like that. And with doing that, that's going to allow them to really tap in and explore and be innovative in is that same person capable of both apps are freaking Loli. Right. But they aligned one way more than another. And all those things add value is just make sure that you are doing this work in at the right team engagement bringing the right people in and just knowing that everybody has a role in this.
Robert Peterson 35:59
All right. Can you mentioned network and earlier you mentioned that when you were in that dark place, your network had fallen apart, right? You didn't have a network? So what did you have to do as an entrepreneur to build a network to start, you know, meeting the right people getting in the right, right environment.
Ken Lewis 36:16
A lot of people want becoming a John Maxwell coach help, I started going to some of those conventions. And then I just expanded to different groups here locally. Becoming a project manager, I started going to the Project Management Institute meetings locally into the American Society of quality. So I started attaching to these professional organizations that aligned with where it is I wanted to be. And as I just kind of gave me this environment where I can now share experiences, they weren't really there for the entrepreneurial side. That wasn't the focus at the time. But now that I am doing more of the entrepreneurial stuff, like I'm going to toastmasters into National Speakers Association, and I'm dealing with the Chamber of Commerce here locally, going to just different engagements where I can find others that have either been where I'm going, or are in the same boat, and kind of like the move, there's an overarching masterminds, I've always been great. It took the time really to invest in myself in some of these things, all these things cost money, and to not really be in a position to not invest in myself to say that, I'm going to put this money towards myself and including, and get to these tables that I need to sit out and just build it up. And from there, I start building. Matter of fact, this one guy we had here locally in Colorado Springs, we had a coffee together, we're just kind of talking about business, he owns a small media company. And here I am in my coaching consulting business. And from there, we end up becoming partners and started talking. We're now I know that if I need somebody that with the skills that he can solve, and I have a scope that I can solve, we will refer each other so it's beneficial. And I'm also using his skill set to complement what I'm trying to do. It just kind of builds from there. So you really never know where somebody can compliment you or augment you and one of those ways to pick up some of your Slack. So it's really getting out there figuring out, one tool that I did was pulled up job descriptions from companies of things that I was passionate about organization development, change management, six sigma process consulting, and I started looking up all the different things that we recommend this kind of certification, that certification, and it's not so much for Chase certifications, but where are they looking for these people that were the kind of what is the criteria? They're looking for these individuals? And then aligning myself with that? Those are the those are the crowds that I want to hang out? Because if they're asking for it, why are they asking for what it's about? What's the quality, get on LinkedIn, and Facebook, start joining some of these these different groups, and making comments on random conversations just because of who knows where this is gonna go. And providing my perspective and then also being open minded enough to learn a different perspective. So it is it's something that you have to be intentional about, to know that the network and community that once served me for whatever role it was, when have they subsided? And when do I need to find a different network or community and keep that ball rolling, right, and some organizations is good to stay with but once they serve their purpose, then it's time to realize, Okay, I've learned all I can from this organization or from this professional community, aside from me to say my farewell, so keep in touch with those that still matter. But where can I go to grow some more and find that next community that's going to help me challenge myself and learn better ways?
Robert Peterson 39:21
Yeah. John always says if you're the smartest person in the room, you need to be in a different room.
Ken Lewis 39:25
Absolutely. There's a one of the mentors listen to Grant Cardone, he has a phrase that people will start describing themselves well, how can I if I want to be millionaire, how can I millionaire if I if I can't even have a seat at the table? His responses will then be there and pour the water. Right. You might not have a seat at the water, but you can still learn from the conversations in that room. How do you get in that room? If you have to be the person that stands in side of the wall and serve water? Then you serve water to one day you get a seat at the table? So it's not so much of I'm not worthy at this point, or I'm not meeting all the criteria. Today, but you're gonna learn the tools you need to to one day do you aspire bad enough? How deep is your commitment to get to where it is you want to be. And if you're, if you're going to just have excuses and not commit, then of course, you're going to maintain the status quo. And you'll never have a seat at that table. But if we're going to do whatever it takes to at least learn from others that have been there, and then implement right knowledge, there's only half of it. And the other part is actually getting experienced expertise, put it to action. Once that takes place, then you'll have a senior table. And that's kind of where I'm at, like, I have these aspirations that are pretty high. That what do I do to get there, and I got to take these baby steps to get my way up. But those baby steps don't matter unless you actually are putting in the action, after you gain the knowledge and do something with it.
Robert Peterson 40:45
Nice. All right, King, you're still young in the journey. But what's been your biggest challenge so far?
Ken Lewis 40:53
becoming an entrepreneur, the biggest challenge really was I always want to say, what's your niche? Who's your avatar? Who is that you want to help? And I think that is still something that I am working on? Of? Who do I they say the person you're, there's a phrase, right, the person you're best served to serve as your former self. And I realized that we're like, Man, I have all these skill sets that I know like, I love business quality management, I love leadership, I love communicate all these things that I love. How do I say that I am XYZ without closing off, like, I don't want to come out and just say I'm a leadership coach, and then discredit or discount all these other attributes that I can do. Right? So how do you? How do you present yourself? So I think, taking time to really focus on how do you want to do this? So I've kind of now in a phase where I say I help individuals organizations, improve their productivity and performance. And, you know, hopefully in that is like, hey, how do you do so I want the conversation to be kind of to grow from there? Well, I don't know, explain something that you have explained scenario, that you are probably having a life right now. And I'll tell you how we would accomplish that way, I'm not really disclosed a bottling of closing a door off. But another important aspect is when it comes to marketing side of house, you still have to have a very clear marketing intent on what it is that you are going to sell. So coming down, I realized that my strong suit is on a leadership, I worked on that more, I have all these other things that I'm passionate and I enjoy doing, I love the problem solving. But it's naturally easier for me to talk about the leadership and teamwork and communication. So now that I realize that this is the tool that I'm going to use this is this is the marketing that I'm going to or this is the aspect that I will form my message around. So I can invite them into the house, I just need to get them into the front door and sit down and have a conversation. And then once that occurs, then I'd be like, you know, I know we started with this. But I think if we go into room number one over here that that might be more appropriate for your scenario, your situation. So I think really taking it that has been my hardest part. And it's still something that I'm involving, I think I'm in the process of niching down as I get in front of more audiences and I start talking in front of more organizations and coaching clients and so forth. I'm starting to like get a checklist like Yeah, I do better here are feel more authentic. Here, some things don't feel as natural. And just maybe it's because as a growth area for me. But those areas that are really okay, this comes really natural, I really enjoy this, I could get lost, I find the flow, right, this is my moment, paying more attention to those moments and writing those down. And realizing that I don't have to get the entire avatar down my customer persona. I don't I don't need it's good, the closer you can get the closer you are to defining that upfront great. But I was focusing way too hard in the beginning on really having that mapped out to the detail, maybe that's the project manager in me, versus learning it as I go. And still learning it as I go. And really, you know, in to realize that I can pivot again, right, if maybe I got a wrong, I realized that more and more, I'm talking to people that maybe that wasn't the right customer for me. And that's not the right client that I want to help. And that's not bypassing the opportunity to serve anybody else that may catch wind of my message or how I can contribute. I'm not gonna close any opportunities. But when it comes to my marketing and who it is I want to serve and how I want to add value. I don't have to get that right right out the gate. Something I can play with practice. The key is just something I learned later. Just get it out there. It's it's
Robert Peterson 44:23
easier to figure out who you don't want to work with than it is to figure out who you do want. Okay, once you've once you've started working with clients,
Ken Lewis 44:29
absolutely. No, absolutely, that list grows, you just realize he's well and if you know as entrepreneur, you are hoping to solve a problem, right? There's there's a problem somewhere in somebody's life or in the world that you can solve. But just because everybody has a problem doesn't mean everybody's willing to take the time to fix it. Well, the beginning I tried to help everybody fix their problems, whether they were going to put the time and effort into it or not. So that I was spinning my wheels and I get disappointed that they're not taking the right actions, but that's my fault, not theirs. Right. Putting all this energy into somebody that was showing all the signs that they were not interested or not at the right time in their life to make those changes. And I think that's a lesson that I've learned, I don't think I would have said I would have a problem at the time, because I didn't understand it early on, I was putting my energy in the wrong places. But maybe that's part of this, you know, niching down type of thing is, is knowing that there is a difference that not everybody can be held that. But as an entrepreneur, understanding that you owe it to society, to the economy to get your whatever value it is, you owe it to everybody else to get out there and to help people that are willing to take your help and take your advice and implement it because you have an impact that you can make. If you don't market yourself, if you don't get it out there and at least try, then you're failing everybody else that has this problem that you are trying to solve, right?
Robert Peterson 45:48
Absolutely. All right, can this what we're going to switch gears real quick, what's your favorite or Most Memorable Date with your wife?
Ken Lewis 45:58
It would be before we had kids, we had did a motorcycle ride up here to the top of Pikes Peak Mountain, which is a 14,000 foot mountain here. And it was just one of those things where we got on drove up to the top and took our way down just on the motorcycles nicely just kind of pull off where we want to enjoy the view. And I think we ended up the night and one of the local parks with a picked up a bottle of wine and kind of just sat there and chilled out the evening. Wrapping it up that way that was probably the most Memorial Memorial Day that easily comes to mind.
Robert Peterson 46:36
All right, what do you love to do with your kids?
Ken Lewis 46:41
Honestly, I think I don't know if it's more for me or for them. But the whole trial and error, like let's cope experiment, let's do something different and just give it a go. So if they like, you know, go to the Space Center, we'll do something. So it's not just like a particular activity, but it's maybe just the environment of learning something different and giving it a go and seeing if how do we flow with this? Do we like it? Do we not like it? And if it is we'll repeat it. If not, we'll kind of like break it down a wire and go from there. So I think just kind of introducing new opportunities and new experiences and see what ends
Robert Peterson 47:12
up nice. I can we end each episode with guests sharing their words of wisdom. So Ken Lewis, what are your words of wisdom to our entrepreneurs listening?
Ken Lewis 47:21
Oh, my goodness, what a way to really say, take the time to do a self assessment of what's important to you, and the why behind it might be a little bit cliche, but it's amazing how, how much that matters. And if and self esteem don't don't knock how important self esteem is. Really take the time to say how do I feel about myself? What's my levels of self respect? How aware am I? And where is it I want to be was important to me, I think all those areas of self awareness and self respect and self esteem, where I thought it has high self esteem I took for granted because then why does a compliment offend me? Sometimes that's not their problem. It's my So really taking notice. And there's different books out there that can help with those things. But take time to really get to know where you are. And especially when it comes to self esteem and self respect. And don't take it for granted. Don't Don't undersell yourself. Don't think too small.
Robert Peterson 48:20
Oh, so good. Ken, thank you so much for joining me today and what a wonderful conversation. And I definitely appreciate that that transition that you've made. I know there's many others that are transitioning from, you know, service to the country to entrepreneurial space, whether that be the military or teachers or even first responders, a lot of them are stepping into entrepreneurship and and I think you've shared a lot of wisdom that that can help them on that journey.
Ken Lewis 48:47
It's really hope. So thank you for your time as well and for his platform, and I really hope that your audience can gain one or two insights that might motivate them to become a better version of themselves.
Robert Peterson 49:00
Thank you for tuning in to this episode brought to you by the power of intentional decisions that lead to massive action. Those aren't just buzzwords. They're qualities that can help you take control of your life and build a successful business. To support you on this journey. We're offering you our most popular survey to help you establish a baseline visit enjoy biz life.com to check it out and take the first steps towards changing your life and we often make things more complicated than they need to be losing sight of what's truly important. This tool will help you refocus on what matters most so that you can start doing the things you've always wanted to do, like spending quality time with loved ones. And if you enjoyed this episode, please show us some love by liking, subscribing, or leaving a review, but most importantly, share it with someone who needs to hear it. In our next episode, Robert and Noel chat with Chris Salem about developing resiliency as an entrepreneur because he saw that his greatest job was being Get dad and he wanted to create the freedom to show up for his family he talks about creating impact by managing your emotions and your inner critic he helps leaders shift their inner critic to become their inner champion