On today’s episode of the Veteran Led Podcast, retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Robison joins us to discuss his incredible journey from serving 22 years in the army to founding Cadet Holdings Consulting Group and Protective Shields, LLC. He also tells us about Camp Cowboy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit he started that provides equine therapy to help veterans with PTSD and other physical and mental illnesses related to their service careers. Don’t miss this amazing story of service, technology, and how equine therapy helps our brave veterans! Tune in now for an inspiring conversation with Scott Robison.
Leading Soldiers, Businesses, and Nonprofits with Scott Robison
John Berry: Welcome to the veteran led podcast, where we talk with leaders who use their military experiences to develop great organizations and continue to serve their communities. Today’s guest is Lieutenant Colonel retired Scott Robison. Scott served 22 years as an Army Special Forces officer where, among many other missions, he developed comprehensive expertise in the evaluation of technology for the armed forces. Scott has an extensive background in team and program management, as well as the evaluation of emerging technologies in both the military and private sector. Currently, Scott is the founder and owner of Cadet Holdings Consulting Group, with a team of eight serving more than 50 companies in their portfolio. He also serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Protective Shields, LLC, and either advises or serves on the boards of several other companies. Scott owns and operates Robinson Ranch, and in 2016 established Camp Cowboy, a 501 C, three nonprofit organizations for veterans and first responders that utilizes equine therapy to treat service members with PTSD and other physical and mental illnesses related to their service careers. Scott also serves on the advisory board for Baylor University’s Business School for entrepreneurship and their Lab to Market assistance programs. It is an honor to have you on the program. Thank you so much for being here today and sharing your experiences. Let’s start off in the beginning. How did you meet Congressional Medal of Honor winner Roy Benavidez?
Scott Robison: All right. So, uh, you and I both went to New Mexico Military Institute, the the famous, uh, high school and college in Roswell, New Mexico. And, uh, when I was there, kind of a funny story, I was, I was kind of voted least likely to go in the military. I cared about sports and and and getting good grades, and that’s all I cared about. And, uh. Uh, Captain Gilbert Alvarado was an ROTC instructor. And he said, hey, son, you need to go in ROTC. The Army’s for you. That’s what you need to do. And I kind of resisted him the entire time. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. And, uh, Roy P Benavidez came to the school, uh, to do a promo and kind of talk to the students. Well, uh, Captain Gilbert Alvarado made me the, uh, point of contact for, uh, Roy P Benavidez. So I actually led him around the campus and toured the campus with him. And after spending two days with him, he changed my whole azimuth. Um, at the end of that time, I was like, I want to be you. Uh. I want to be just like you. You’re a hero. You’re a American hero. And and, uh, so bottom line is I joined ROTC, and and I became a Green Beret, followed in his footsteps. And just that one meeting with that Roy P Benavidez changed my whole azimuth and and changed my course of action. And what I did in my military career.
John Berry: Scott, if you could pick out just one thing about meeting the Congressional Medal of Honor winner Roy Benavidez, what would it be that that that made you say, I want to be like this man. I want to be America’s best.
Scott Robison: He had a positive outlook on everything he did. Um, he tried to make a difference in everybody’s life. When he talked to him, he wanted to find out about them and where they wanted to go and where their goals were. And he did that with me. He just talked to me and talked to me. He kind of brought it out of me, is what he did. And, uh, just by by the way, he talked to me and the way he he kind of looked at my future goals and where I wanted to go, he kind of brought the direction out of me. Um, so kind of. We stick with that. Today at Camp Cowboy, we our motto is make a difference every day. And if you make a small difference in somebody’s life, um, you can change your course of azimuth and where they’re going to be.
John Berry: And that is one thing that I noticed because when I was in New Mexico Military Institute, Roy Benavidez came and spoke to us as well, and he came back year after. He was such a generous, giving, confidant and yet reassuring individual. And that’s what I always envisioned the Special Forces officers to be. So it was a great experience to meet him. But I didn’t get to take him around campus like you did. And I think it’s a great recruiting ploy that your professor of military science used to trick you into joining the military say, you know, Scott doesn’t want to join the military. Let me show him a real hero. And, uh. Yeah. And that and that obviously changed your life and changed I, you said changed the azimuth. Change the direction it did. What’s that called? When you get lost? They say shoot a 180 degree azimuth, right? Yeah, yeah. So you shot that 180 degree asthma, turned around and and went into the, went into the special forces. Now before that you had a roommate who did not go in the military but is very well known the actor Owen Wilson. What was it like being Owen Wilson’s roommate at New Mexico Military Institute?
Scott Robison: Well, well, I’ll tell you a little funny story. So this this kind of give you a little background on it. So I came back as a new cadet at Christmas. I was in wrestling, so I had to come back early for a wrestling tournament. And Owen Wilson was a semester new cadet, um, with Alex Chandler. Um, they were both new cadets next door. So I came back like midnight flew in about 1:00 in the morning. I looked in the room and I see some new cadets in there shining their shoes with, you know, a candlelight. And in the middle of the night was the new kid at two. Well, I kicked open their door and and I was like, I made you, Robinson. Your worst nightmare. And I made him do push ups and sit ups and swim the English Channel. And I hazed him for about 30 minutes. Then I left and I walked right outside my room and went into the room next door. And, uh, they didn’t know I was a new cadet, but I was just playing with them. So the next morning we had to fall out, and there’s only three of us standing on the morning stoop, and you have to fall out. So excuse me, sir. Cadet Recruit Robinson request first. And the rest, you know, you know, go to the, uh, parade rest. And I look over and Owen’s looking at me, and he’s like, you son of a bitch. Yeah. Anyway, but, uh, that’s how we became friends after he became an old cadet. The next semester, we roomed for a while, and it was just like he was in the movies. He’s he’s, uh. Well, people don’t know about Owen is. He’s very, very smart. He’s off the chart. Uh, he’s got a severe high IQ, and, uh, but just a neat guy. Fun guy. Um, we played football together there. Um, enjoyed him quite a bit. Um, the whole time. Just. Just like his. The movie is just very fun. Charismatic, uh, individual.
John Berry: And so one other story before we get into your your the business side of your career. And of course, Camp Cowboy was that, you know, I went through Ranger school twice, failed out, got injured the first time, went through the second time you went through the first time and actually gained weight. Tell us about that.
Scott Robison: Well, I just, uh, I must have a really slow metabolism, but, you know, everybody else goes to Ranger school and they lose, you know, 20, £30. And I went through there and and I think I was, I, I, I actually I think I ended up losing £1. I was like I would start at 191, I graduated 190. So I don’t know if I gained weight, but every phase I’d go through they’re, they’re like, hey, you’re a recycle ranger. I’m like, no. And they say, you’re the chubbiest Ranger we’ve ever seen in this course. Every phase. It was kind of funny, but I, I went to the Special Forces School before I went to Ranger School. So every time I was leading a patrol, I was eating berries and eating whatever I could off the land the entire time I was there. So I didn’t starve myself by by no means.
John Berry: And that’s that’s a great story because we don’t have to suffer. Uh, suffering is at times optional. Now, I want to now switch gears to your career path. When you left the military, you really hit the ground running. It seemed like you had a plan. And I know a lot of veterans struggle when they get out to find their purpose, find out what they’re going to do next. But you knew exactly what you were going to do. So tell us, how did you handle the transition from being a special forces officer to being an entrepreneur?
Scott Robison: Well, when I first got out, I had quite a few job offers with some pretty big, uh, big companies, and I decided I wanted to bet on myself, uh, I believe if if, if, if I’m counting on myself, I’m going to do the best thing I can. Um, I find found myself at a board of Baylor University. I was helping out some guys with some technology, kind of what I did in the military, and they said, hey, you have a different value than our PhD’s up here at Baylor. Why don’t you come up and be on a board? Um, so I start sitting on a board up at Baylor University, where there was an entrepreneur board where companies were wanting to partner with Baylor. I found some winners out of the companies there, and, and, and so I joined up with the company and said, hey, uh, how can I help you? Do you need investment money? Do you need know how do you need contracts? Uh, the same kind of stuff I did in the military, and I put myself in a good position. I helped some companies build from from small organizations to, uh, billion dollar valuations. Um, but I always bet on myself. If you bet on yourself, you can’t lose your best education.
John Berry: Your best investment is always in your own education. And, Scott, let’s go back a little bit because before, tell us a little bit about what you did at towards the end of your career in Special Forces that prepared you for this civilian transition.
Scott Robison: Well, my last job in the military, for my last eight years, I worked at Operational Test Command, and during that time I tested a lot of new technology for the military, I think probably over eight year span. They left me in the same job. Um, I had a whole bunch of very smart guys, PhDs from MIT and soldiers and different people that worked with me. But we tested over 300 new technologies for the military. So, um, you know, during 2004, 2005, the, you know, Special forces can go by what they want and put whatever they want into the country. But, well, the rest of the Army’s tied to congressional money. Well, at the time Congress passed a bill that was allowed us to go buy, um, new equipment, uh, separate than the congressional, plus up money and put it in country as fast as possible. So I took myself and a smart group of team, and we flew out and just looked at new technology for the military, assessed it really quick, and we’d put it in country and use it as soon as possible.
John Berry: And so learning how to, I guess, rapidly deploy, uh, resources, how to get things done quickly. It’s obviously been a skill that that you’ve used throughout your civilian career as well. And just if you could tell us a little bit about some of the lessons that you learned in the military that helped shape your civilian career?
Scott Robison: Well, I think everything’s about relationships. Um, being in the military for 22 years. You have some great bosses, you have some bosses that aren’t so great, and you learn from the best leaders out there. So I always try to look at the very best leaders I had that, that, that were the most positive, the most impactful, the ones that I wanted to be just like. And I wanted to follow their traits and the ones that I didn’t like and that I didn’t think were good leaders. Then I learned from that and said, hey, this is somebody I want to learn for, and I don’t want to be like, um, so I always try to look at the very best people, the very best assets around me and in, in, uh, motto that.
John Berry: So in building cadet holdings and, and the other businesses that you’re aligned with and those other businesses that you grow, how did you carve out the time for Camp Cowboy? How did you acquire the ranch just outside of Fort Hood and then build the program? Because this is I’ve been out to the ranches. You know, this is not a small undertaking. This is a huge operation. And I know with everything else you have going on, especially, uh, the stuff you’ve been doing at Baylor as the, uh, where you’re serving on the advisory board of Baylor’s a business school for entrepreneurs and their lab to market assistance programs, as well as running your company. How did you learn to carve out the time to build a 500 and 1C3 to build a ranch, and to build that entire program that you have down there just outside of Fort Hood, Texas.
Scott Robison: Well let’s step back here. So a lot of this time management when you go to New Mexico military, when you went there, you had to learn time management from the morning. You had to get up and clean your room. You had to shine your breasts. You had to shine your shoes. You had a giant schedule of classes, you had study hall, you had sports, you had all kinds of stuff. So you got to really learn time management, meaning you got to use every bit of your time, you know, available. And it’s kind of like Ranger School or Special Forces School. When you’re doing mission planning, you got to look at your whole time, schedule out and plan it out. Um, the the way the ranch kind of happened, uh, it kind of happened by chance. So I told you I worked at Operational Test Command, and, uh, I used to go to the warrior transition unit at Fort Hood and a lot of soldiers that were blown up or burnt up or shot up or whatever would be in that transition period waiting to, um, figure out if they’re going to get put out of the military or they’re going to stay back in the military. Um, so what I do is, is I was looking at new technologies. I’d go over to, um, to the Warrior transition unit and say, hey, does any of you guys want to come over to my office for an hour or two a day and look at new technologies? You guys just came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and, uh, you would give them a sense of worth, you know, that they’re actually getting in the fight even though they couldn’t get in the fight, but they could help out other guys by talking about things that worked in Iraq and Afghanistan or things that didn’t work, or if I could show them some new technology, they might give me some better ideas on how to use it.
Scott Robison: And so it was giving a sense of worth. So those same guys, I started bringing them out to my ranch. And, uh, we have a ranch just outside of Fort Hood. And first we started coming out here. We look for arrowheads or we might shoot some guns. And then we started riding some horses and they all attracted to the horse. They’re like, man, this horse is something different. It’s making us calm. It’s making us feel better. And, uh, Larry Mahan, uh, cowboy Hall of Famer, he was a friend of mine and and, uh, Senator Suzanna Hupp. We’re good friends of mine. Then said Scott, why don’t you make this official? You have a lot of soldiers coming out to your ranch.
Scott Robison: Why don’t you set up a curriculum and actually set up classes and set up a 501C for Camp Cowboy? So it, uh, a gentleman by the name of Tony Cole, he was a five, five time Purple Heart recipient. Um, he was a, uh, at the ranch working for me. He helped me set up the curriculum. Larry Mahan gave us some really good guidance. Suzanna Hupp came out and got us kind of set up. And so we started our first class in 2016. The first class, I think, had three people in it. And then after that we had more classes. And now I think our last class was 36 people in it. We do 390 day classes a year at the ranch, um, which I’m very excited. My son took over two years ago as the director of Camp Cowboy. He’s grown up on horses, and he worked for Larry Mahan for years, and probably as good as horsemen as they ever, ever was. And and he also went to New Mexico Military Institute. But after Nimi, he came back and said, dad, this is what I want to do. And he took over as a director and and it’s gone very well since.
John Berry: How did you come up with the idea to, to to take it to the next level, to do something formal? I mean, you’ve got a bunch of soldiers there that want to be cowboys. Nobody wants to get formal. Nobody comes to the ranch because they want to get formal. They want to get dirty. They want to ride horses. They want to learn how to cowboy. So how did you how did you make that? I mean, obviously a great idea, a great way to raise money for the organization and help veterans. But how did you come up with the idea for the ball?
Scott Robison: Man. I think it’s just by chance I actually went to a charity ball. Uh, the right on center for kids down in Georgetown and kind of got an idea there because we’ve kind of been self-funding it, and I’m very poor at fundraising. I’ll just tell you that right now, I’m very poor at fundraising. If there’s something I could probably do better, that would be it. But, uh, I saw that they did that and, uh, everybody said, hey, let’s let’s set up a ball. You give everybody a chance to dress up nice and and, and the ladies can wear the nice dress. The guys can wear their suits and their jackets and, and and we’ve had some pretty neat bands down there this year. We’re hoping, um, Ted Nugent was going to make it, but he said he would do a video podcast for us or not podcast, but a live video feed for us at the Camp Cowboy Ball. But Toby Keith’s been very generous. He donates a couple guitars every year and signs up for us and, and, uh, George Strait signed some guitars for us. And a lot of the Dallas Cowboys have signed jerseys and and, uh, helmets. And this year we got a Deion Sanders signed jersey and helmet, uh, autographed for auction. And we have a bunch of guitars and a, um, we, we make guns here at the ranch. So we have, uh, our black hole subsonic guns will be auctioned off a couple of those, um, this year. And, and there’s some pretty neat, pretty neat auction items. So I got I got.
John Berry: To tell you a story about when I went to your ranch and about about one of those guns. So we all got in the, uh, buggies, and we’re driving across the ranch, and. And you bring some former special operators, and we get to the your firing range, and there’s about an eight by eight plate. That was probably, what, about 50m away? 100m. How far away was it?
Scott Robison: 100, 100 yards, maybe.
John Berry: 100 yards away. And my chief operating officer at the time, he was a platoon leader in Iraq, a company commander in Afghanistan, a cavalry scout. He gets up there, he takes the he takes the the receiver, the barrel. He screws them together, uh, charges the charging handle, lifts it up, and boom, Tink hits it. First shot hits that plate, and, uh, and then he shot, like, six more times. Couldn’t hit it. I couldn’t hit it. None of the special operators could hit it, but I was I was saying he should have quit. He should have quit that first round down range, hit the target. He should just dropped it and said, I’m out. But, uh, but that was uh, yeah, that was a great experience. And going out to the ranch to see those veterans, to see the great work that you do with equine therapy and the horses are, you know, immaculate. You know, the horses are so well taken care of. Uh, over there. It’s it’s a it’s a testament to, I think the, the military and how we take care of everything. Right. The Ranger Creed. Right. That we, we make sure that we take care of our property, uh, and we take care of our equipment, and, and it definitely shows at, at Camp Cowboy.
John Berry: Now, one other thing I wanted to, to bring up, and I, I assume that most of our listeners know the story of Roy Benavidez and, you know, the, the thing I remember from his, from his speech and from and then from previous, uh, subsequent research was that he would when they were zipping him up in the body bag, he spit in the medics face to let the medic know he was alive. And I don’t know if you ever captured the details of that battle or what you remember hearing about it, but I remember hearing that story, and that was the one thing that, you know, he’d been shot several times, and he continued to help his fellow soldiers and, uh, saved a lot of lives. And in the end, uh, they were zipping up in the body bag, assuming he was done, he had to spit in the medics face to show him he was alive. Tell me if you have any great stories that you got from Roy Benavidez since you had all that one on one time with him.
Scott Robison: Well, I reflect when I like a lot. My wife spent 30 years as a nurse in the Army. She retired as a nurse after 30 years of service and did great things. But in this story Roy is talking about when he’s flying from, uh, Vietnam, I think into I think they were sending him to, uh, um, Okinawa. He was on a flight, a nurse flight thing. He said this nurse was pinching him the whole time, saying, stay awake, you’re going to live, stay awake, and you’re going to live and pinch him the whole time. And then when he got there, the doctor was, was was, you know, said, hey, you know, Mr. Benavidez, you’re awake. And he’s like, yeah, he’s that nurse bruised me. She pinched me the entire flight. You know, the 18 hour flight. She’s talking about the dedication of the nurse, you know, doing what she could to keep him alive. But I kind of look back at that. And my wife spent 30 years in the military and did some remarkable things in Iraq and, and, uh, so I just think of the nurses, you know, it’s not just all the combat arms guys, but it’s all the people that that follow that, that take care of the combat arms guys. And, and, uh, I always like that story about the nurse, the nurses, the doctors taking care of him.
John Berry: Yeah. We always think a lot about the the combat lifesavers and the corpsman who are there in the field. But it’s a lot of times that’s, you know, they’re the ones that get us to the next level. And then that’s really where that next level of treatment makes makes a big difference. So long as we can get past, you know, that first round. And so our medical service corps is is key to the I think not only the success of of our military but also the morale understanding that we have the best medical professionals ready there to help us. Dedicated like your wife, 30 years, uh, serving, uh, members of our military to ensure that they’re taken care of. And once again, it’s, you know, we, uh, for us, being the guys in the front lines, it’s all we thought about was we’re a combat medic, training the corpsman and what’s going on on the front lines. But there’s a lot more that has to happen, right? When they get us from the front to the back. And, uh, and obviously, uh, that type of care is critical because a flight that long certainly, uh, certainly. You know, I yeah, I’ve heard stories and I’m sure you have as well about how many, uh, troops we lose, uh, during, during that, that treatment phase. And it’s, it’s crucial to, uh, ensuring that our team members are taken care of, that we have that that core of medical professionals who are willing to do whatever it takes to to treat our soldiers and and to make sure that they have the best possible opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive.
John Berry: And you’ve heard stories about how they saved limbs and and done things. Just amazing work out in the field where, you know, you think of all these, I got a brother who’s an Air Force doctor, and he does most of his work in a in a sterile environment. Right. But when you come, uh, when you start talking about in the field, it’s a whole it’s a whole different game. And, uh, to see those, to see those medics come out there and, uh. And knowing that they’re there, I think gives us all a lot of confidence that, uh, that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have the great logistical support that we, that we see in the military. So thank you to your wife and everything that that she has done. I want to move to your military service. Now, what is the one thing I know? We we skipped over a lot of things, but I, I wonder what what’s the one thing that you’re most proud of from your military service? I have a whole page long bio for you. I didn’t read all of it, and there’s a lot of things on there, so I didn’t, you know, we could be here all day probably talking about everything that you’ve done. But what’s the one thing that really stands out in your mind is this is the proudest moment of your military service.
Scott Robison: Wow, man, that’s that’s a tough one. Um, I would say I’m probably proud of the people that that worked with me above and below me. Um, and I don’t want to put myself in the highlight, but the relationships I had over the years and seeing some of the, you know, from the young guys that were I had a 17 year old driver that came that was one of the smartest guys that I’d ever seen. And I was like, you’re too smart to just be a driver. So I put him in college, put him in green to gold. He went fast forward, became a major. He went to Georgetown. He’s a giant finance broker for a giant bank overseas right now. But he’s he’s done really well. But just to see people that that, you know, strive, you know, look at their potential and see where their potential is and see them strive. Um, I don’t want to, you know, reflect on any moment that I had, but I think seeing the people around me do great is the best moments of my career.
John Berry: And you know what? You become a parent. You see that right where it’s it’s the same pride when your kids grow up and do something great. It’s the same thing when you have a soldier develop and you watch them develop and grow, whether they’re the next sergeant major or general officer, or they go off in the civilian world and absolutely crush it, there’s this immense sense of pride knowing that you had a part in in their growth. And to me, that’s always been the most rewarding part of leadership. Uh, as far as Scott, as far as, um, what what you’ve done, I want to go now to the to the after action review, because we’ve all seen great leaders and we’ve all seen bad leaders. Uh, and so we’re going to start off with what are the as a leader, what are the top three leadership experiences you had as a leader? Either either you did it or you were with a great leader who showed you the way. What were the top three takeaways?
Scott Robison: Well, I will tell you, it’s, uh, one of the takeaways that I told you. Our motto for Camp Cowboy is make a difference every day. So I was with the team in Iraq and and, you know, in Iraq, it’s a it’s a shithole. Pardon my language. It wasn’t the funnest place to be in the world. You’re working 18 hour days. And so me and the team that we were out there, we said, hey, we’re going to make, make, make a point every day. We’d get bored and said, hey, what could we do to make a difference every day? And it wasn’t just in our normal jobs or combat missions, whatever we’re doing. But if we can stop and find a National Guard unit that didn’t know how to use their jammers or talk to them about how to drive on the roads or talk to them, anything specific that might make a difference in their day keep them alive. We did that every day. At the end of the day said, what did we what did we do today to make a difference? And that kind of spilled out through my whole military career that every time I was going to do that, not just doing my normal job, but I want to make a difference in somebody’s life. It might be a leadership difference. It might give them a step up, get them into a school that they need to, or give them some advice or, or something. But you make a difference in somebody’s career every day and you’re better off for it.
John Berry: Great. That’s one. All right, give me two more.
Scott Robison: Oh! Two more, two more. All right, so I’ll talk a couple of things. Uh, I think it’s same in the military and same in the civilian. Everything’s based on relationships. And if you have a solid amount of relationships with all the people around you, up and down, the people you work for and the people that you want to work with or work thing, relationships is the key. If you don’t have relationships, you’re not going to have a very good business foundation. A lot of the business deals we do are based based on relationships. Two companies might have equal technologies or equal business, but if somebody knows somebody within that company and had a good relationship with them, they’re more apt to work with that person. Same thing in the military too.
John Berry: So and just so the audience understands what we’re talking about, these relationships we’re talking about. 100 million and billion dollar businesses, right? This aren’t just small businesses. So the relationships matter. They scale.
Scott Robison: They do very, very much so. And it’s the same thing if you’re working in a little small town and you’re talking about relationships with the feed store, relationships with the local bank, relationships, whatever, you know, if you if you know your banker real well, he’s more apt to give you a small business loan. And the big business, if you know the big corporate, you know, the, uh, right now we’re working with Kingwood, a giant financial bank. You have good relations with them. They’re more apt to to help the companies that you’re trying to help with. So it’s the same thing on small levels, a big level, but it’s all based on relationships. Uh, treat people how you want to be treated and and and do the right thing. Um, and if you do the right thing, people are going to say, hey, this person does the right thing. I’m going to I’m going to go with whatever they want to do. Um, because they have a track record of of performing.
John Berry: And the last, the last lesson. The last positive lesson. So for three up, what’s the last one?
Scott Robison: Last positive lessons? I kind of said it. The very end there is treat people how you want to be treated. Whether whether it’s the janitor at the business or it’s the CEO. You treat people with respect, um, top to bottom and you can’t go wrong. Um, a lot of people don’t do that. A lot of people are like, oh, who’s that guy? That guy’s just a, you know, a lower person thing. When I was a company commander, I used to have my my first sergeant schedule some time with me every week, and I’d go down and spend a time with a tank mechanic or Bradley mechanic or a PLL clerk, and I’d spend 2 or 3 hours and I’m like, hey, I work for you today. You tell me what you do and you tell me your job and that 2 or 3 hours I’d learn more about what he did, what his job was, what things we could make better. Um, what things troubled him was a finances. Was it housing? Was it, uh, you know, was it his family life? And I learned more about that person. And by spending time with the lower enlisted and the upper enlisted, I did that with the officers, too. You got a better feeling about your organization. So I think in the corporate structure, you got to know everybody from, you know, somebody in the lower part of the company may be able to give you some pretty information about that company. So you treat everybody with respect regardless of what their position is.
John Berry: Well, well put, Scott. And now the three down. The three bad examples of leadership. That was either you or another leader you worked with.
Scott Robison: Um, I’ll tell you bad examples of the leaders that take credit for everybody else’s. What everybody else does, whether they did or didn’t do it. I think that was an absolute pet peeve for me. And in the military, I think I had a lot of leaders are like, well, I did this because I. Well, it wasn’t you, sir. It was a whole team of people that did it for you. So give credit where credit’s due. And I think that was one of the things that I think leaders need to do is give credit to where it’s at. But that was what poor leadership that I didn’t like. Um, like I said, I didn’t like what when leaders didn’t take care of their people. Um, I’ll give you an example. Um, when I. Became a changed company command. The guy that was an incoming company commander came in, and we’re in Texas, and it was hot. And and I said, hey, uh, my gift to my, my soldiers is I just want to do a 15 minute change of command ceremony, be in, be out, dress in our bdus soft caps, no, no equipment layout, no full combat gear. And the new company commander is like, no, it’s mine too. I want full layouts. I want, you know, pomp and circumstance and and, uh, he went and complained to the brigade commander and said, no, I want this. And brigade commander said, no, it’s Scott’s change command. He can do that. Well, General Sword showed up at my change of command, and he stopped in the middle of the thing and came up and he said, hey, you know, taking care of your soldiers to the last minute. Um, by by having a 15 minute ceremony. That company commander’s still thinking about his soldiers. So I think you just got to think of your soldiers and think of people other than yourself. Um, that was an example of something that happened in my career. But, you know, General Schwartz recognized it and rewarded it at that time. It’s kind of neat to see it. A company change of command, a three star general. Yeah.
John Berry: Restated leaders, it is not about you. It’s about the team. And if you haven’t made your mark by that change of command ceremony, there’s nothing you’re going to say to your soldiers. They already know whether you care. They already know whether you’re you’ve already ratified your position as a leader in their hearts and minds by the time you’re leaving, regardless. Not now. You said, no, you’re not talking about BII and stuff. Well, I guess you were. You were Special forces. You weren’t mechanized infantry. You know, we had to lay out all the stuff I okay.
Scott Robison: No, I did, I did I did a stint as a mechanized infantry company commander, as a special forces officer. I was a fish out of water. I had 367 guys in my company. And, uh, when you do the change of command back in Fort Hood, everybody used to wear their heavy duty gear and their, you know, their Kevlar and their lbz, and they had to have the tanks and Bradleys and they’d have them all parked out. And, you know, it just took a lot of work to do that. And I didn’t want to do any of that. I said, let’s do one practice, pass the guy down ceremony, and we’re going to give our speech and get out of there. It was, you know, 110 degrees in the summer of, of Fort Hood and, and, uh, having a guy sit out and practice and practice in the sun is just horrible to me. I’m like, my my gift to them is let’s get in and out in 15 minutes.
John Berry: And that was back when we were still stupid and wore, uh, starched bdus and shined our, our black boots. Right. Was that was that the uniform then? Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Scott Robison: That’s it. That’s exactly it.
John Berry: If I remember those, I remember those ceremonies. Okay. Uh, final bad piece of leadership advice or bad piece that you either, uh, performed yourself or you observed.
Scott Robison: Oh, man, bad piece of. I’ve observed a lot over the years, but, uh. Um, I’m trying to think I’ve tried to tell myself somewhere here. Um. I think probably, uh. Something I could have done better over the years, and I think I got better as I got older. When I was younger, I you got to listen to your NCOs. Your NCOs have been around forever and they will they will sometimes. Early on I resisted that. And and as I got older, my career, I was like, you know, the NCOs are really the backbone of the army. And they made a difference in my career early on, I maybe I was young and young and dumb and I thought I was smarter than I was. And I probably early on in my career, didn’t listen to him as well as I should. As I got older, I was like, that was a big mistake. Those guys are there to keep me, keep me straight. And, uh, and I think I had a very good lesson learned. But when I was younger, I just thought I was invincible and too smart for my own good. And as I got older, I realized those guys are very smart and been around and got to learn from their experience as well.
John Berry: And you also went through the early commissioning program. So you went you got commissioned after two years of college. So essentially you were a 20 year old lieutenant. You weren’t even old enough to drink. And you’re out there telling NCOs what to do. And you said that’s when you were making the mistakes, right? Yes.
Scott Robison: Yes, sir, yes, sir.
John Berry: Well, I think we’ve all been there. Now tell us, I want to take this just one step further. But you know, who are the NCOs now? As, as a as a civilian, as a leader in your civilian community, who are the NCOs that you’re listening to in your companies to make sure that everything is running right and making sure that you’re not, uh, making decisions without the input of those experienced senior leaders.
Scott Robison: Well, it’s it’s not necessarily NCOs, but it’s it’s right now I have kind of a linear company. So we’re kind of all equals in this company. We work together, but everybody has their own different backgrounds. So if it’s a finance background, I listen to my finance guy and I’m like, hey, this is your background. I’m not smart on finance. So you tell me how the banks run. You tell me how this works. If it’s a technical thing, I got to go to my technical guys. If it’s a acquisition thing, I go to my acquisition kind of guy. And so you just got to listen to the experts in every field. Um, and I’m not an expert in anything. I guess I’m a good manager of of of a bunch of different people and can kind of see things and bring them together. But you just gotta learn from the experts in every field.
John Berry: Thus God is. As we come to the conclusion, Scott, as we come to the close the conclusion of all this, what advice do you have for your brothers and sisters who are now veterans, who are now in business, or they’re run a nonprofit and they’re looking to have an even bigger future? How do they build it?
Scott Robison: Well, you build it with a good team of people. Um, I, I still go back to my motto we talked about earlier. Make a difference every day. If you’re making a small difference in your employees life or the people that you meet, get to know them a little bit. And the more you can make a difference in other people’s life, the better off you’re going to be. And same thing in the business. If you’re helping other businesses get better, it’s going to come back to you full. You know, there’s some companies that I work with early on that I never thought anything was going to happen. Well, three years later they became big and they’ve circled back and said, hey, you helped us early on. We want you to come back and help us again. So it’s just making that small difference. And you don’t know where that small difference is going to add up to you later on.
John Berry: And I think that’s a key in investing, especially in those leaders, whether they go on to do something great and you’re proud of their military career or their civilian career, we’ve seen that happen where we have made our investment in people, and those individuals go above and beyond and they surpass us and they do amazing things. And it’s it’s such a moment of pride, but we we never know who’s going to be that individual. Um, the other side of the coin that I’ve seen is I have invested in some individuals who who didn’t quite meet expectations. Right. And we’ve all had those, uh, whether they were leaders in the military, uh, or non-commissioned officers. And then we have those that we think, you know, there was just it was a chance encounter. We met them. We maybe spent five minutes trying to help them, and all of a sudden they became super successful. And it was just like you had your brush with greatness and and then and they remember you. And that’s just an amazing thing. I don’t know if you’ve had that experience.
Scott Robison: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, yes, sir. Throughout the career.
John Berry: And I think that that’s really what it’s all about. And so for veterans out there, there are there are plenty of other veterans like Scott who have who have done it all started businesses. Uh, started a nonprofit, been highly successful, and they credit it to the team. And they still want to help. They still want to mentor. They still want to give back. So thank you so much, Scott, for everything that you have done as a Special Forces officer and everything you continue to do as a business leader and the leader of Camp Cowboy, which is which is a I guess Lane runs it now. But you’re the founder. Yeah, but but it’s such an important organization, especially dealing with veterans with disabilities, getting them back on their horse, quite literally teaching them how to ride horses, teaching nine a 90 day program, teaching accountability and the basic skills that they already learned in the military and showing them how to use them on the ranch. Thank you so much for that, Scott, and thank you so much for being a hero to our heroes. Is there any final words you want to leave our veterans with today?
Scott Robison: Hey, no, the only thing we didn’t we left out a little bit any any veteran or their family can go to Camp Cowboy. Org and go to Camp Cowboy University. But we have $200,000 worth of free entrepreneur classes, uh, certification classes, OSHA classes. What’s a Swot analysis? You name it, it’s all free. They just have to log on and get their credentials, and they can get all the free education platform, how to build their own business. But it’s under the Camp Cowboy org and then under Camp Campbell University. If the drop down menu.
John Berry: Yes Camp cowboy.org, it’s Camp Cowboy University. You can go to it and you can see all the courses you’re going to need to to learn how to run a business. It’s a great free educational tool. I brought to you by Scott and his team. I’ve looked at it, I’ve seen the classes, I’ve paid for some of those classes, and it’s a lot easier when you can do it on your own time, uh, on your laptop or wherever you’re most comfortable. And it’s just great to have those resources available. So thank you, Scott, and thank you for your team for giving back. Not only are you helping veterans recover veterans with PTSD and other disabilities and helping them through the ranch, but you’re also helping all members of the veteran community and you can help them online. And I think that’s a brilliant way to scale. And I know we talked about this and you said, you know, I can help. I have 90 day classes, I can help about 40 veterans, uh, per, per class, uh, maximum. And that’s 120 veterans a year. How can I help more? And of course, you’ve done that. Said, how can I scale this? And you scaled it into an online free online business courses for our veterans. So it just shows about how your brain works. You don’t see just okay, this is how much I can do. The question is always this is how much more I need to do. And so I thank you for that, Scott. It’s a it’s a great program, and I encourage all veterans who are getting into business or who are struggling to take a look at it. Go ahead Scott.
Scott Robison: No. Last thing I was going to tell you, we’re actually franchising. We have a camp cowboy. Illinois’s, uh, a lady named Kimber Watkins is is setting up a camp cowboy. Illinois. She starts, I think, actually, this month we have a camp cowboy Dallas Fort Worth. It’s going to go. Bonnie Gill is going to be setting hers up there. Um, she’s a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and so she’s got a lot of help with the Dallas Cowboys, uh, family doing that. And then we have, uh, Camp Cowboy broken are up in Waco. Uh, Michael Richardson, who’s trains horses from a wheelchair. Remarkable. He’s been on. If you look at our website, we have some stories and podcasts about him. But incredible guy. So we have three other camp cowboys starting off. And then we’ll be at the National Finals Rodeo in December for ten days as a sponsor for the National Finals Rodeo. So anybody wants to come see us, come see us at the Cowboy Christmas out there. We’ll have a booth set up.
John Berry: Thanks so much, Scott. And for all of our veterans listening, go to Camp Cowboy. Org to learn more. Thank you Scott. Thank you for joining us today on veteran LED, where we pursue our mission of promoting veteran leadership in business, strengthening the veteran community, and getting veterans all of the benefits that they earned. If you know a leader who should be on the veteran led podcast, report to our online community by searching at veteran LED on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments, we want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on veteran LED.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.