2023 Veteran Feature: Mark Rheault

Written by: Grant Ayers

Years of Service

Four Years

Branch Served

Air Force

Years of Business Operation

Intelligent Insights: 2006 – 2011
Infinite Leap: 2011 – 2021

Mark Rheault is a self-starter whose entrepreneurial spirit was kindled amidst the rustic charm of Reile’s Acres, North Dakota. Growing up in a family that held the values of hard work and innovation, Mark’s early years were filled with lessons in self-reliance and creativity through numerous projects alongside his father. His humble beginnings didn’t stifle his ambitions, as his fascination with aviation and technology led him to pursue a life filled with adventure, innovation, and service-beginning with serving a term in the United States Air Force in communications and computer security roles. His military tenure not only fulfilled his aspiration to serve his country, following the footsteps of his family, but also provided him with a platform to acquire invaluable life skills, travel, and further his education. Post-service, Mark seamlessly transitioned into the business realm, with his time in the Air Force significantly enriching his entrepreneurial drive. Rheault’s entrepreneurship culminated in the successful acquisition of his company, Infinite Leap, to CenTrak (a subsidiary of Halma, PLC) in November of 2021. I had the pleasure of connecting with Mark for this Q&A, where we’ll explore how his North Dakota roots, coupled with his military and business experiences, have sculpted his entrepreneurial journey.

Q&A with Mark Rheault

Q: What was your life like growing up? What was your path to the military and why did you join?

A: In 1973, my parents built a house in Reile’s Acres. I believe that we were only the third house to be built there, so it was truly a rural environment back then. I was allowed to ride my Kitty Cat snowmobile at age 5 and my dirt bike motorcycle nearly anywhere by age 7. My parents were very trusting and empowering. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad. He was a very hard worker and builder of many things. He built his houses, racecar, wood furniture, toys for family members, etc.—all from scratch, and he always included me when he was working on things. He was also super innovative in making things he needed when they didn’t exist or were too expensive. All of these things gave me the confidence to start my first business at 12 years old. I wrote up my own business cards with a pen and paper, walked door to door to get customers, and mowed their lawns for $3/hour using our lawn mower (borrowed from my parents) and my own gas.

Throughout my childhood, I was always enamored with flying. In high school, I studied to be a private pilot, but I couldn’t afford the flight time required to get the license. I had pictures of jets and planes all over on my wall—I could name nearly all of the different kinds. When Top Gun came out, I couldn’t help picturing myself as Maverick or Iceman hitting 5 Gs with ‘Danger Zone’ by Kenny Loggins playing in my headset. I aspired to go to the Air Force Academy to become a pilot, but I didn’t have the grades to get in. As the next best option, I signed up for the military a year before I graduated high school and left for basic training two weeks after graduating. I wanted to give service to my country, as my dad, my sister, and my brother did as well. It was also an amazing opportunity to travel and get some valuable work experience, and it would allow me to go to college using the education benefits offered by the military—both during and after service. There’s no other way I would have been able to afford to go, and my parents were both blue-collar and had never attended any type of higher education. They were very hard-working and wonderful people, but they weren’t in a position to help with tuition or other living expenses, so the military seemed like the perfect solution—and it was.

Q: What was deployment like?

A: After basic and technical training, I was stationed in Germany for two years. During my first two years of service, the dominant focus was the Persian Gulf War. While in Germany, a couple of things were particularly memorable for me:

    1. As a 19-year-old airman, I was put in charge of the night shift at the Top Secret SCI (a very high-security level) communications center. One night, around 2:00 a.m., a critical “Flash” message came in. This message was essentially to notify all top generals and officers that a major offensive had just begun. I was responsible for notifying all the key commanders within a few minutes of receiving that message. Talk about a rush for a small-town country kid from North Dakota! It still astonishes me that the military entrusts such young adults with such important responsibilities.
    2. The second thing that stood out was related to a special duty assignment I had for several months. I was put in charge of palletizing supplies and loading planes destined for the conflict zone. This was a joint operation between the Army and the Air Force, where we all worked as a cohesive team on activities that were not normally part of our jobs and training.

Later, in my businesses, I fondly recall instances where the entire team pulled all-nighters to develop and test software coding for a critical deployment at a hospital the next day. Or when our sales and marketing team prepared a slide deck to present to potential funders with less than a week’s worth of cash left in our bank account. Job titles and management levels didn’t matter; everyone simply did whatever needed to be done. 

Q: What was your first job after service? What was that experience like?

A: When I was discharged from the Air Force in 1993 (honorable discharge, of course!), my fiancé Karman and I got married, and we worked full-time while also attending college full-time at Southern Illinois University—it was the only way we could make ends meet. I tried many things—from selling vacuum cleaners, which I sucked at (I didn’t sell a single one), to making band posters for the local bars. A few months later, we both started working for a small business that sold satellite dishes, in which we went house to house to find sales leads for them. Eventually, the survey job led to a promotion and raise (to $6/hr!) as their IT manager, and, along with the technical jobs in the military, eventually put me down the path for my entire career in technology. 

Although the job there was entry-level, I learned that I loved working in a small business environment because everyone has such a relatively significant role as compared to a big organization where sometimes you feel like a small cog in a big machine. Also, I loved that there were no artificial limits—that promotions were not based on a fixed amount of time in service or grade/rank, but rather they were purely performance-based. If you did a good job, you could get promoted or get raises every few months—I thought that was very empowering, especially because of my “get after it” mentality. 

Q: Did you have any struggles after returning to civilian life?

A: Newly married, my wife and I certainly struggled at first, not in adjusting to civilian life, but mostly in finding a job of any kind. We were extremely poor and living in a trailer house in a rough neighborhood, we had a tiny car that we shared and could barely afford, and we ate ramen or the little boxes of mac and cheese for most of our meals. We were in a scary place—with gangs and guns around us. In fact, when we were finally able to move out of the trailer and into a small rental, we returned to get our last mail to find that our entire trailer was shot up from end to end. 

Looking back now after having been married for over 30 years and having raised three wonderful daughters, Karman and I are thankful for that experience as it reminds us of where we started, and makes us grateful for every little step up we’ve been able to make since those days. From a business perspective, it was during the time in the trailer park that both Karman and I really began to think resourcefully—to do what we could with what we had wherever we were. This was an extremely valuable perspective, and it further made me a huge proponent of bootstrapping and being creative in order to make ends meet. 

Q: Tell me a bit about your journey with your various businesses.

A: My wife and I moved back to Fargo in 1995 and my first job was an entry-level position in technical support at Sanford Health (formerly MeritCare back then). I was ecstatic to have it too, as we wanted to eventually buy a house and start our family. While there, I had some great managers, including Caryn Hewitt, who was (and still is) a phenomenal nurse, manager, and technology expert. They supported my curiosity and desire to try new things rather than just do things the way they had always been done. 

It was there that I taught myself how to code for web development after being given, as the newbie on the support team, a really terrible project that nobody wanted—essentially taking all the paper-based policies and making them available via computers. I proposed creating an intranet for use across the organization and putting all the documents on it there. I then helped create the first Internet website for the organization. I was eventually given my own team to develop and launch the sites in collaboration with the marketing group. Shortly thereafter, I realized that there were so many more manual processes and systems in healthcare that could be improved or even automated. We developed over 60 web-based applications for MeritCare over the next few years. Then, in late 1999, I left to join my first true technology startup as its first employee—a home automation company called BeAtHome—which is sort of like Ring and other home automation solutions today. Similar to Ring, homeowners would install some plug-and-play devices and manage it over the Internet. We released the first version of the system only five months after the company was started. 

The combination of those two companies—healthcare process automation and web-based home automation— really became the foundation for my later companies— Intelligent InSites and Infinite Leap—which were essentially the combination of the two concepts. Over time, I became incredibly passionate about wanting to use the technologies to help make healthcare better—both for the patients and families themselves, as well as for the care providers and support staff. I saw these technologies having the potential to be deployed in every hospital around the world—I was definitely thinking big. That was in 2005, and today, more than half of the hospitals in the U.S. have some form of these technologies deployed in their facilities. Each of the two companies I led/founded grew to about 50 employees while I was there. I found it incredibly rewarding to be a part of building businesses from an idea on a napkin into something that was fairly successful—of course, after the requisite “blood, sweat, and tears” and almost going out of business many times, as every entrepreneur can relate to.

Did You Know?

Mark started and ran several businesses in closely related sectors, developing and implementing products and services that use software and sensors-specifically Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS)-for the healthcare industry.

Q: Did you plan to own a business before enlisting in service?

A: I was always entrepreneurial to some extent, but my initial focus coming out of high school was to serve my country, find out what life outside of our area was like, and try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. The pressure to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are 17 or 18 is daunting, which is largely why I ended up changing my major 4 times and needed to go to college for 13 years (9 undergrad and 4 grad) to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The military gave me stability and helped me develop the discipline that is critical to being an entrepreneur. I also realized what leadership is all about, which is where I developed my servant leadership management style. In the military, some leaders leaned on their rank to get people to do what they wanted. However, it was there that I realized the best leaders in the military were those who focused on serving their team, putting them first, and caring about the person regardless of their rank. Those under them wanted to follow them because they respected them and their leadership style. That was something that I carried with me for the rest of my career. 

Ultimately, the reason I decided to leave the military was that I felt there was too much structure for me, particularly as my entrepreneurial way of thinking continued to evolve, and that I had met my wife-to-be (Karman) and wanted to provide a stable environment to build our family and follow our passions. To that end, the encouragement and support from Karman as we started five different businesses over the years cannot be overstated—she has been my partner in every way, every step of the way, and I would never be where I am today without her. Together, we built our family and our businesses, and I feel incredibly lucky to have her by my side because she challenged me to think differently in so many ways and to strive to keep a balance between my work and family duties. 

Q: What does a normal day on the job look like for you?

A: I sold Infinite Leap in November 2021, so my days are a little different now. However, I recall my typical day pretty well. Most days, I would start by working out, as that has always been a constant. After working out, I would then do lots of reading— primarily non-fiction business and self-improvement-type books (Good to Great, Think and Grow Rich, A New Earth) and catch up on the latest industry news. I would then catch up on the overnight email, plan my day, and get after it. A typical day was quite a grind—12-14 hours was the norm, especially in the first 3-5 years of each company and also when we would hit either growth spurts or the inevitable crisis periods. I would always still do everything I could to spend time with my wife and three girls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time for hanging out with friends and doing hobbies as family and work were my major priorities, which is part of the sacrifice of being an entrepreneur. 

Photograph showcasing a professional networking event in progress.

The way I liked to think about time management was that I have five main buckets to which I can commit my time and energy: family, friends, work, hobbies, and self-care (maintaining spiritual/emotional/physical health). I would imagine that each bucket can hold 10 pennies—so if all 5 were full, it would take 50 pennies. However, the reality is you only get 25 pennies, even if you work really hard and are efficient with your time, so you have to choose carefully where you spend them. For me, family and work always had 10 pennies, and the other 5 were mostly in the self-care bucket. That was just how life was for about 25-30 years. Fortunately, now that we’ve sold the business, I am able to reassign those pennies differently and focus on areas that were previously shortchanged, so to speak.

Q: What were your friends and family's reactions when you told them you were pursuing service, and what was their reaction when you told them about your business?

A: With respect to going into the service, I had the full support of my parents and siblings. My mom was the most worried, and understandably so, especially when I was deployed overseas during the war. But they both always told me how proud they were, and thought it was great that I went in. 

With regards to starting the businesses, as I mentioned, my wife was very supportive, but rightfully nervous, especially when we had to take out debt and put our home mortgage up multiple times as collateral. There were many instances in which we would get down to less than a week’s worth of cash in the bank to meet payroll. Also, I held the philosophy that you needed to be willing to risk everything for the big win later—so not only did we put up our mortgage, but I paid myself at about the median level of all of the employees—even up to the last day before we sold the company a few years ago. We lived frugally through the years, including shopping at thrift and discount stores, but we always felt like we had enough. 

My kids were very supportive as well. When I went through several years where I had to travel about two to three weeks out of the month, I tried to stay close to them by writing individual letters to Karman and each of my three girls on the first leg of my flight and mailing them from the airport. They told me later on how much they really appreciated those letters and that they were really important to them, and they still have all the letters today. In the days of email and text messages, I guess one should never underestimate the value that receiving a handwritten heartfelt letter can have. 

Q: What do you remember about your first days when launching your business?

A: It’s interesting, as I had two very different experiences at each of the last two companies that I ran. Both were very exciting in terms of creating something new and having big plans. However, the approach at Intelligent InSites was to get angel investment, build a prototype, and then raise multiple rounds of institutional venture capital to fund our exponential growth. As a result, much of my time was focused on creating a board, developing investor materials, doing hundreds of investment pitches, and hiring as fast as I could bring in more investment dollars. 

"Though working from home is more common now, we never had a requirement for anyone to work at an office as part of working for Infinite Leap-going all the way back to 2011. We optimized the company to be that way from the start by making all of our IT systems cloud-based (which was much less common in 2011 than it is today) and embracing video conferencing and collaboration. We still had get-togethers, but they were often around events, trainings, or celebrations, not for routine meetings or sitting in cubicles."

Conversely, at Infinite Leap, I went with the bootstrapping approach with no employees, besides myself, for the first sixteen months, and I never hired anyone without having enough money saved up from our business operations to pay them for at least six months. I focused all my energy on making my first customer, Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, NC, completely satisfied and referenceable. Over the years, I ended up making 106 trips from Fargo to Winston-Salem—each trip consisting of three airplane hops each way, just for that one client. I was able to grow my team over time as the size of the account grew, and those first team members—Mary Jagim, Dave Gorman, Houston Klassen, Scott Hondros, and Diane Klassen—deserve the vast majority of the credit for our success during our first five years. Ultimately, the strategy of focusing our efforts on establishing a flagship site paid off as I forged a strong vendor-client partnership relationship with the executive sponsors of the project, Conrad Emmerich and Dr. Scott Leddy, to whom I will always be incredibly grateful. Their implementation became the premier case study for the entire industry and is still to this day the best overall implementation and use of the technology anywhere in the world because of the vision and commitment of everyone mentioned.

Did You Know?

Even while bootstrapping, Infinite Leap was able to achieve a 46% Compound Annual Growth Rate over its 10+ year existence.

Q: Has your service experience changed your business mindset?

A: Absolutely, my military experience had a profound impact on my business mindset, particularly with regard to the following attributes: 

Discipline: In the military, discipline might mean maintaining your military bearing when you are standing at attention, but also being diligent in fulfilling your duties. The same discipline is critical in the business world—you create the plan, then you work the plan until it is finished, and you stay focused, not letting less important things distract you. 

Structure: In the Air Force, we organized into divisions, squadrons, flights, and so on, in order to achieve certain goals and tasks. Being organized is how things get done. Those organizational models and strategies are much more dynamic in a tech company, but the thought process and goals are very much the same—to get the maximum effectiveness and results from your team and other resources. 

Teamwork: In the military, sometimes the stakes are life and death, and that is where some of the camaraderie really comes from. You have to have one another’s back. Though it may not mean life or death in business, accomplishing goals and creating a positive, effective culture requires a similar teamwork mentality of having each other’s back and working towards the greater good for the sake of the customers and fellow team members. 

Q: Have you found any specific resources or support networks that have been instrumental in your entrepreneurial journey as a Veteran?

A: Similar to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” I would say it takes a village to build a company, and North Dakota provides one of the best “villages” when it comes to resources and support for entrepreneurs. Without the organizations below, neither of my companies would have ever been able to achieve what we were able to achieve. Whether it is something big like a low-interest loan, or something small like a point in the right direction, the support of these organizations and others like them can make all the difference. 

GFMEDC: Every business, especially small ones, in the area should be in contact with the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC). They were invaluable in making me aware of all of the potential programs out there that could benefit us from both a state and local level—from ND funding programs to banking contacts to federal programs—these guys seem to know everything about the many resources that businesses can leverage. 

Emerging Prairie: Greg Tehven and his team at EP are absolutely phenomenal, and Fargo is extremely fortunate to have this group as an innovator and facilitator for many valuable programs for entrepreneurs. 

Bremer Bank: Though the big banks are appropriate for some businesses, regional banks like Bremer are ideal for helping young businesses, both in their startup phase and as they grow in their early years. When COVID hit, my “very high-tech top five in the country” big bank failed to get us a PPP loan in a timely manner, and we were facing having to have some furloughs or layoffs if we didn’t get the funds within days. However, Bremer Bank stepped in and used sheer manpower to get our application processed and submitted, and we received the job-saving funds in only two days. Josh Herbold and his team there were incredible. 

Bank of ND and the ND Development Fund: These are very unique resources in North Dakota that we are very lucky to have. At both Intelligent InSites and Infinite Leap, we were able to take advantage of their innovation and small business funding programs, including the LIFT loans and PACE loan programs. It’s a win-win, as it helps the companies expand, and it helps create more high-quality jobs for the tax base for the state.

As an officially designated Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB), there are some great resources through the Small Business Administration that I recommend to any potential VOSB in North Dakota.

Other resources:

Q: What was the hardest challenge for you when opening your business?

A: Looking back at how Intelligent InSites was started, I made several mistakes. First, I met my two future business partners when I was running a consulting practice, and they were looking for help with getting their business idea off the ground. They had a registered business for another business idea, and they had brought in several hundred thousand dollars from family and friends, as well as some of their own money. In an effort to salvage the investment, I partnered up with them and we used the existing business structure to start Intelligent InSites. That was a huge mistake because it’s hard enough to start any business from scratch, but we were also trying to do so while starting in a deep hole. In retrospect, it would have been much better and cleaner to simply close that business out and start fresh with the new idea that I brought in (using RTLS for healthcare) with a clean business structure. It would have been tough to see their previous business fail, but it would have helped us start Intelligent InSites on a solid foundation without the baggage of trying to carry a failed business. Not only did it make it harder up front, but it also came back to bite me later on. This is why I often recommend to newer entrepreneurs to not start a new business with a complex structure with investors, partners, boards, etc., and to keep it simple and bootstrap as long as you can. 

"In addition to Infinite Leap being a new company spawned from Intelligent InSites, there's another fantastic company located in Fargo- Moorhead that was founded by two very smart and savvy former employees-Stephanie Anderson and Lori Watson. They provide great RTLS software for healthcare organizations and have built a fabulous team of technologists, some of whom worked both at Intelligent InSites and Infinite Leap. I hope they and the team do really well as they deserve it, and that the community supports them in their growth as well."

Ultimately, the complex structure that I helped put into place opened up the opportunity for a takeover. In early 2011, I was abruptly terminated from my role as CEO in a narrow vote by the board. I had not seen it coming whatsoever, so I was devastated and felt hurt and betrayed. I had poured my full heart into it, sacrificed time with family and friends, lost my second family (my coworkers) that I spent most of my waking hours in the trenches with, and put everything my wife and I owned into the company. I remember when I had to tell her what happened, and how scared we both were as we were still living paycheck to paycheck and had a lot of debt. This turn of events meant that we had to start over. To make things worse, when Intelligent InSites was eventually sold several years later, none of the common stockholders, the founders, early employees, nor angel investors, received anything for their efforts or investment. 

Though that experience was incredibly tough at first, it was also a gift in the form of being the biggest lesson I’ve ever had in business. When I left Intelligent InSites, I felt that I had no choice but to get back up, dust myself off, and start again since we had nearly nothing in our savings and I didn’t even receive a severance. So, the very next day after leaving the company, I registered Infinite Leap as a North Dakota business before I even had any idea what the new company would do—I just knew that I wanted to start it and run it completely differently, and not make any of the same mistakes I did with the way we set up Intelligent InSites. I wrote down 14 principles that I thought were important for the new business. As part of that, I committed to not bringing on partners or investors, but I did commit to making sure that a significant portion of the company would be shared with the employees if and when it was ever acquired. 

Although bootstrapping is challenging, it is a much better approach than bringing in different investors and/or partners too early, as it makes decision-making and maintaining alignment of goals and interests easier. I sold Infinite Leap to CenTrak (a subsidiary of Halma) in November of 2021. They are currently considered the market leader in the segment it focuses on, that being Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) for Healthcare. When it came time to sell Infinite Leap a few years ago, everything worked out exactly as it was supposed to, including all of the employees being well-rewarded for their commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. They are the ones who made the company what it was, and I will be eternally grateful to all of the team members who were a part of making Infinite Leap a big success, with a special thanks to my amazing leadership team for their hard work and perseverance: Houston, Diane, Mary, Dave, Scott, John S, John O, Marnie, Sue, Sara, Kenny, and Joanna. 

Q: Who are your biggest mentors that you can attribute some of your successes to?

A: There are so many people that I admire and have learned from as informal mentors. I have to start with my dad, LeRoy Rheault, as he really embedded the core values of hard work, honesty, integrity, and kindness to everyone. He often joked when asked “How are you doing?” and he would respond “I can’t complain. Besides, it doesn’t do any good anyway.” and he would chuckle. 

Another person I really look up to is my older sister, Sherri, a nurse, therapist, and Air Force veteran, who now works at a VA hospital as a mental health counselor/therapist. Her passion and calling is about helping veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues, which takes a very special type of person. Following this calling required her to take on many hardships, including leaving a successful career and going back to college in her 50s—she felt it was how she could make the most positive impact in people’s lives. I admire her so much because she not only has a big heart, but she also has a profound sense of duty to our active duty military and veterans, has shown incredible perseverance through adversity, and was willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to realize her dream. I’m really proud of her as she has exemplified many of the values that I tried to bring into my businesses and my leadership style. 

Barry Batcheller, one of the legendary entrepreneurs from our region, really gave me the idea of bootstrapping Infinite Leap by starting as a services company and then building products with the profits from it. This is what enabled me to avoid having to bring on partners or investors and thus maintain control of the direction and culture of the company. 

"Back at Intelligent InSites, the last two years I was there, we were named the "#1 Best Place to Work in Healthcare" by Modern Healthcare magazine. This recognition was among over 30,000 organizations in healthcare-hospitals, insurance companies, product and service vendors, etc. It was something we were very proud of as it validated all of our efforts focused on creating a great culture, great team, and great working environment." - Mark Rheault

Michael McAllister, another former CEO who lived in Fargo and had a very successful exit a few years ago, was essentially the person that I would meet with to discuss any major challenges or decisions I was dealing with from time to time. It’s cliche, but it’s often lonely being a CEO as you have no peers in the organization—there’s always some level of bias in the conversations you have with your team, even if not intended. Having a peer that you can talk to who understands what you’re going through is super valuable, and I recommend that every entrepreneur work to develop their go-to peers, or even a CEO mastermind group, to share ideas and talk about difficult things that you are trying to navigate. 

There are many more mentors I could list, including my brother Dan and my two CEO mastermind groups. As I mentioned, I liken building a company to the saying that it takes a village to raise a child—it takes the combined efforts and commitment from many people and groups, and I’m extremely grateful to those who have mentored me, as well as those who have demonstrated the attributes I value through their example. 

Mark Rheault's Advice for Entrepreneurs

#1 Always Demonstrate Unquestionable Integrity

Always do the right thing and never lie, even when nobody else would know. Be honest and transparent in every possible instance, as it builds trust and loyalty with team members, customers, partners, and other stakeholders. That really pays off when tough challenges and situations arise, as they inevitably will. 

#2 Servant Leadership

Invert the org chart pyramid and have the mentality of you serving your team, not the other way around, and promote that philosophy as a shared value in your organization. Be authentic in every interaction, and show your team that you truly respect and care about them and their professional and personal development, families, and success. As The Minimalists always say in their book, “Love people and use things, because the other way around never works.”

#3 Bootstrap as Far as You Can Go

I learned the hard way that bringing on big-name investors and people who seem to be good partners isn’t always what you envisioned. With Intelligent InSites, I felt like I had too many people to please (the board, investors, partners) which took focus away from the ones that really matter—the team members and our customers. Accepting other people’s money and bringing on partners are both potentially slippery slopes—not always, but often they are. From my experience in building businesses both ways, the bootstrapping approach was a bit more challenging at first but was incredibly beneficial down the road. It also forces you to make sure that you have a solid product-market fit before you put the marketing pedal to the metal, which is when the big expenses really start to accrue quickly.

#4 Hard Work and Perseverance

There really are no substitutes for these. I can’t tell you how many times I thought we were at risk of going out of business or failing for one reason or another. Whether it was macro issues like the 2008 financial crisis right when I was raising capital, the massive impact of COVID in 2020 (especially in trying to sell technology to hospitals when they had much bigger issues to deal with), or more specific issues to my firm, like product outages or hostile takeover attempts (by both investors and in one case, by a customer), the problems sometimes seem insurmountable. Just like the metaphor of “Three Feet from Gold” in the book Think and Grow Rich, or the famous quote from Steve Jobs “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,” it’s about continuing to grind forward, especially when it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel could be a train.

"Being a veteran symbolizes a profound commitment to serving one's country and upholding the values that it stands for. It signifies a willingness to sacrifice, to put the needs of the nation above personal interests, and to protect the freedoms and way of life that we hold dear. It also represents a deep sense of duty, honor, and camaraderie with fellow service members. Ultimately, being a veteran represents a deep sense of patriotism and a commitment to the principles upon which the country was founded. It's a symbol of duty, honor, and dedication to the ideals that make our nation strong."

Q: What advice do you have for others considering enlisting in service?

A: I wish more people took the opportunity to join the military when they are young, ideally shortly after graduating high school. It’s not only a great way to get out and see the world while giving service to your country, but it also sets you up to go to college and graduate debt-free. It also helps you learn skills and develop discipline that you leverage for the rest of your life. I think nearly everyone could benefit greatly by serving at least one term (4-6 years) in it. Speaking for myself, I cannot imagine a better start, right out of high school, than serving in the military. 

That said, admittedly, there were some things that were challenging or frustrating, as there are with any large organization—bureaucracy, rigidity, and processes that, on some occasions, seem to defy common sense, as well as a lack of freedom to simply quit or move home if you really wanted to. 

However, there are so many upsides that counter these downsides—the skills you gain, the pride of being a veteran that you have for the rest of your life, the stability in pay and a job, the health and education benefits, the ability to use your assigned station as a base to travel from (I learned how to ski in the Alps and went to nearly 10 countries while based in Germany for two years). In what other job do you get to do all of that at the ripe age of only 18? I guess I’m a little biased, but being an entrepreneur and looking back, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to have left the nest than to take the big leap in joining the military as it provided a great foundation for all my future endeavors.

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Grant is a Senior Editor at Spotlight Media. Grant writes for Fargo INC! and Bis-Man INC!