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Episode 64

HeroStock: Uniting Veterans Through Music with Jason Steiner

HEROSTOCK: Uniting Veterans Through Music with Jason Steiner


In this episode Veteran Led, joining John in the studio is Jason Steiner, a Marine Corps Veteran turned innovative community organizer and founder of HeroStock. HeroStock brings together Veteran performers and nonprofits, creating a space where stories of heroism, sacrifice, and resilience are shared and celebrated. Hear firsthand accounts of the impact this event has on fellow Veterans who found unprecedented courage and opportunity on the HeroStock stage.

Follow this link to learn more about HEROSTOCK.

Transcript –

Jason Steiner: Getting to know these veteran singers and understand their stories, and then see how it translates into music and puts them on stage and their excitement to sing it. Or, you know, we we had Joel and Christie we put up on stage last year and he’s been singing for maybe two years, does a lot of bar stuff. Um, he came off stage and he goes, that’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of. And he’s texted me multiple times since then and he’s like, you have no idea the amount of courage that I got from getting on stage at Hero Stock and being in front of a thousand people.

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 Jason Steiner, Marine Corps veteran and founder of Hero Stock. Welcome to the show, Jason.

Jason Steiner: Thanks, John. Great to be here.

John Berry: Jason, we’ve met before and we’ve talked a little bit about our service. We served around the same time. Yep. You got in around 96, correct?

Jason Steiner: Yeah, I jumped in at 96. Um, got out in 2000 and, and, uh, you know, kind of just did my thing while I was in and, and moved on.

John Berry: So now you’re a marine. You started off as an amphibious vehicle driver and then moved on to a small arms instructor. Pistol and rifle.

Jason Steiner: Yep, yep. So my first two years, I spent, um, out at Camp Pendleton. I was the I was the driver of an amphibious assault vehicle. Um, we we would haul troops ship to shore. Um, we could go on land, go on water. Um, you know, that kind of thing we did, uh, we did a six month deployment over to Japan. Um, so we did get to spend some time overseas. It was my only deployment that I actually did. And, uh, we came back in 98, and not long after we came back, I got moved up to be the marksmanship instructor for our battalion. And I trained 1100 Marines and Navy corpsman a year on rifle and pistol.

John Berry: And shortly thereafter, many of them deployed. Yep. Now, the interesting part of the story is you did not.

Jason Steiner: Right? Right. Um, yeah. I got out in 2000, uh, came back to Nebraska, brought my wife with me. Um, we started a family, and, and I started a business. And not long after I was back, and, and I’ve been doing flooring and and that kind of stuff since 2000. Um, you know, we we obviously 911 happened and, and I was watching it very closely and being in combat, you know, first front line type, type person, I kind of figured I would get pulled back in and for some reason I never did. And, you know, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

John Berry: Yeah. How do you feel about that knowing so many that went over there?

Jason Steiner: Um, you know, it’s tough. I struggled with it a lot when, when it first happened. And honestly, probably for the first two years, um, you know, because you live with that internal struggle of, I was trained to do this. Should I go back in and should I go over there? Should I stay home and raise my family? You know what? What’s the right answer? Um, so I struggled really hard with that. And I still do from time to time. Even, you know that. Did I make the right choice? Um, as as life has went on, I realized that I was not meant to be there. I trained individuals to make sure that they knew how to fire a weapon and hit targets accurately, and that kind of stuff, but I wasn’t meant to be there. I was meant to be back here to do what we’re doing right now.

John Berry: So and that’s always a tough reality is we don’t always live out our careers the way we think we’re going to live them out. I faced the same thing when I got out. Now, fortunately, I went back as a logistician, but I assumed I would deploy as an infantryman. Right. And when that doesn’t happen, you think about what could have happened right now. That being said, the Shock and Awe campaign hits in 2003 and you’re an amphibious assault driver. I mean, if they needed anybody at that point, it’s you and a marksmanship instructor, right. Uh, and you’re seeing the tanks, the Bradleys, all the vehicles, you know, going down range during the Shock and Awe campaign you watched on the news. Yep, yep.

Jason Steiner: Yeah. And and I figured I would get called back, I really did. And and I was prepared to go back. Um, I wasn’t raised my hand to go back, but I was prepared to go back if they said, hey, we need you to come back in and and do your thing. Um, you know, one of the first crashes of Afghanistan or one of the accidents, um, was a helicopter, and it had the 13th MEU on it, and they started scrolling names. And I knew a majority of those names because I trained them on the rifle range. Um, and I think that was kind of my realization at that point that maybe that’s not where I need to be. You know, I need to be at home with my family and raising them. Um, but yeah, I knew I think 13 of the 15, you know, something like that that scrolled across the screen and, and, uh, but yeah, I, I honestly figured I would be going back and thank God I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have to see it. I didn’t have to deal with it.

John Berry: So yeah, for so many of us, it was this is the big event. This is what we’ve been training for. And and yet you made a serious pivot and were highly, highly successful. I want to take you back to that 2000. You get out of service now. You’ve started a flooring company that’s been around for 24 years, and your financial success has allowed you to start a hockey team, uh, start hero stock and do a lot of great things to give back to the veteran community. But I want to talk about what it was like in that. Transition in 2000. Coming out of the Marine Corps, having a young family have to support, uh, starting a business. Take us back there.

Jason Steiner: It was tough like it. You go from an extremely structured world where you’re told when to run, when to walk, when to eat, when to sleep, to a word that world that is basically chaos. Uh, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and there’s no rules. Just just go with it. Um, so it was tough. It was tough making that transition out. I didn’t have any military type stuff. Once I got out, um, I did go to a Legion meeting and felt very, uh, left out because I didn’t serve in a war. And that was the World War two guys in the Vietnam guys that were like, well, what war do you serve in? Well, I didn’t well, then you don’t belong here. And so I didn’t I really backed away from anything military until 2019. Um, you know, my business kept me busy. My kids kept me busy. They both played hockey. Um, so. So I was a busy person. Anyway, uh, 20, 19 rolls around and I get approached to help start the Nebraska Warriors hockey program. And it was my first exposure back into the veteran world. Um, we ended up putting it together. We had great success with it. Uh, we had an incident within our board. Uh, one of our members caused issues. We’ll just leave it at that. Um, and basically blew the program apart. And myself and another marine grabbed the reins and we kind of held it together, sifted through the paperwork to try to figure out where it went wrong and, and what happened.

Jason Steiner: And, and we pieced things back together and they’re they’re still running today. Um, and 20, 22, I was trying to find a night for veterans just to hang out. We whenever we were with the Warriors, we were sitting at a table. We were at an event. We were always in the spotlight. There was always people watching what we were doing. And I said, I just want a night where we can just sit and hang out. And my original thought was doing an axe throwing night. And then I started thinking about military and axes and alcohol and how many trips to the hospital we’re going to make, and had decided that was probably not a good idea. Um, so I had a neighbor that came down. He goes, hey, man, I got a guy that wants to come in and sing for us or you’re interested. And I said, yeah, that’d be cool. We can just put out some fire pits, some chairs, just hang out, roast some dogs, make some s’mores. So I contacted the guy and we set up a date. Um, two days later, my neighbor comes down and he goes, hey, I got somebody else that wants to come in and play too. Would you be interested? And I said, well, if we do two bands, let’s make something of it. Let’s do something with it. Um, and that stock was born. That was the the original thought. The original name was vet stock, um, playing off the Woodstock name.

Jason Steiner: And we had 45 days from the day of the idea to the day of the event, and we had about 100 people show up. We had a food truck out there, we had a cornhole game. Uh, 12 different nonprofits showed up. Um, ended up just being a really cool night. And I had people come back to me and they’re like, it was like I was at a family reunion, but with, like, all the family that I really liked was there, and we got to just hang out and do cool things and just be us and and be ourselves there like we loved it. So the five days after that, my phone went crazy and people were like, dude, you have to do this again. This was so much fun. We need to have this as a yearly event. So I grabbed up a couple people that had helped me set it up, and I said, do we form a nonprofit and try to do something with this? And they were like, yeah, I think we do. So we filed paperwork in April of last year. Um, we got our paperwork back in May. Um, I’ve been on 900 different podcasts promoting this and been pushing it really hard to get the name out. Um, you know, we, we held our, our event, which technically was our year one event. We had to change the name from vet stock to Hero stock.

John Berry: Why was that?

Jason Steiner: There was actually a vet stock on the East Coast that kind of did the same thing we did. And my lawyer was like, yeah, we don’t want to go down that road of infringements and that kind of stuff. So, you know, we we sat back and we were like, okay, what do we change it to? And one of my board members was like, well, let’s include first responders. You know, they’re our nation’s heroes, too. Let’s let’s bring them into the fold. And, and there’s a lot of crossover. You know, there’s a lot of firemen and police and EMTs that were military. And, um, I said, you know, if we’re going to do that, let’s include the Gold Star families. You know, they gave a loved one for our freedom. So let’s bring them into the fold. And we got we were talking a little bit and somebody was like, hero stock. Perfect. That’s what it is. That’s the there was no question. There was no discussion. That was the name. Um, so when we switched the name, you know, started up a new Facebook page, got everybody going on there. Um, we hosted the event. We had over a thousand people show up. We had two food trucks. We had the cornhole game, came back with prizes. Um, top prize was like a ride in a helicopter. And, you know, some cool stuff like that that we put out there. Um, we had four bands that were slated. Two of them are, two of them were veteran bands, and then two of them were veteran supporting bands. Um, before the event actually happened, we had another singer that was coming in from Alaska, Barber SIM.

Jason Steiner: Um, she was coming in. I was like, you know, it’d be cool to be able to put Barber on stage for a little bit. She’s a marine Corps vet. Um, and travels the country in her van that’s, you know, plays her music all over the country out of her van. Um, and then we had Joe Allen Christie out of Denver, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and he was like, well, I think I might, I think I might. Then a week before he’s like, okay, I’m coming. I’m going to be there. So we adjusted a little bit on our times, and we actually got times for Barbara and Joe to get on stage and be able to sing and talk about their military service and that kind of stuff. So we ended up putting six different bands on stage last year. Um, we had the the Irreverent Warriors did their silky hike into it, rock it up for Warriors, did a hike into it. They had a motorcycle ride that came into it. There was a lot of pieces that went along with what we were doing. Um, you know, I, I walked away from that event last year and realized the need that’s out there for what we’re doing. Um, my phone, I had I had 10 or 12 different people that had had contacted me after the event, and probably the one that hit the most was my buddy lives here in Omaha. He severe PTSD, severe anxiety. He, um, does not do crowds.

Jason Steiner: He had called me before the event. He’s like, hey dude, I’m going to come out. I’m going to hang out for a short time. He said, don’t take it personal. I just I can’t do crowds. And I said, man, I get it. I totally understand that’s that’s your deal. You can’t do that. I understand. And so he came out and you know, we talked a little bit. And then of course, I was running around all day talking and meeting people and stuff. And and he was there for 5.5 hours. Wow. And, you know, we had a thousand people inside of a 10,000 square foot building. So there was a lot of people around. And he texted me the next day and he goes, brother, thank you so much for doing what you’re doing. He goes, I have never felt more comfortable in a room full of killers than I did that day. Wow. And it kind of hit home, you know, it kind of. I kind of stopped right there and went, okay, we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. And, you know, we had a ton of other people that kind of did the same thing, you know, reached out and was, hey, I had so much fun, you know, I met this person, yadda yadda yadda. But that was kind of my hit home moment. You know, last year was, was Troy reaching out and saying, dude, you hit it like you hit that mark where I felt so comfortable I could stay for 5.5 hours. And he usually doesn’t.

John Berry: One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that veterans with PTSD, for many of them, they hate crowds. Right? That brings back a lot of traumatic memories and just don’t like being around crowds. And so the fact that that you’re able to bring veterans there where we feel comfortable because we had USO shows during deployments, but it’s not the same when you have to be there. The mandatory fun is not the same, right? But there’s another piece to this that I want to address, which is you are also getting veterans on the stage. You’re getting them that opportunity to perform, to get on the stage, to feel that adrenaline again, to feel the crowd and to feel like what they do matters. So, so talk us through that. How you’re sourcing the bands, how do you figure out who doesn’t get on stage? Because it sounds like you’ve got more than enough talent willing to come in and play. You know.

Jason Steiner: The the music piece of it. For me, music is therapeutic. I love music. It’s in my shower with me in the morning. It’s in my truck all day. It’s in my ears as I’m working. Like music is a huge piece of my life. Um, I’m not musically inclined at all. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I love listening to music. Um, so when this piece kind of came into what we’re doing as, as the musical side of it, you know, we started finding we found a couple veteran singers last year, and I was watching podcasts and I was talking to people, and that’s kind of where I started finding them from. We now have a roster of over 60 veteran singers that have either I’ve reached out to them or they’ve reached out to me and said, hey man, we’ve heard about hero stock. We want to be a part of this. Um, locally, I think I’m sitting on. 7 or 8 different veteran singers, and they’re all great. And it’s seeing this talent pool that we had within the military on the singing side of it and the writing side of it. You know, some of these, these songs that they’re writing is just incredible. Um, it was cool to see that piece of it. Now we’re having a hard time trying to figure out who goes on stage, right? Because we have such a big roster. And then not only that, we’re talking to some bigger bands, too. Um, you know, we have the American hitmen coming in this year, and they’re an all marine group that they’re out of Utah and they’re combat veterans, and we happen to get them to come in for our headliner this year.

Jason Steiner: Um, Scotty Hasting, another crazy story. Got shot ten times in Afghanistan. Um, ended up living basically because his weapon took two of the bullets that would have penetrated his his Kevlar. Um, but he shot competitive archery, taught himself how to play guitar. Started playing the outskirts of Nashville. He’s now a signed artist with black River entertainment down in Nashville. Um, he’s one of our headliners this year for two of our events. So it’s been a cool thing and getting to experience, you know, see the passion that our veteran and first responder singers are putting into their music and, and how they’re translating some of the stuff that they saw in the military and putting it into words to ease. Some of our own gilts, some of our own stories that they’re bringing out in us. Um, Scotty Hasting just did a song. It’s called How Do You Choose? And it’s about his buddy hammy. And when Scotty was on patrol and he got shot, they ended up medevac ING him out to Walter Reed, and hammy took his spot in the platoon and like a month or so later, ended up dying, you know, so Scotty has a survivor’s guilt of, you know, how do you choose? How does the big man upstairs choose who goes under that gravestone, and who’s left here to figure out why they’re here? Um, you know, so we’re getting to see some of that kind of stuff come out in music, and it’s translating not just into the veteran world, but into the world in general.

Jason Steiner: You know, this can fall for anybody that you lose, you know? And, um. It’s been really cool getting to know these veteran singers and hearing their stories and being able to hang with them. Um, you know, we got to go to Nashville earlier this year, watched Scotty film his his, uh, new song, I’m America. They did the video for it when we were down there. Um, Mike ponder just invited us down to come down in April to be a guest of honor at his gala. Um, you know, so we’ve got got to do some really cool things out of it, too. But, you know, getting to know these veteran singers and understand their stories and then see how it translates into music and puts them on stage and their excitement to sing it or, you know, we we had Joel and Christi, we put up on stage last year and he’s been singing for maybe two years, does a lot of bar stuff. Um, he came off stage and he goes, that’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of. And he’s texted me multiple times since then and he’s like, you have no idea the amount of courage that I got from getting on stage at Hero’s Dock and being in front of a thousand people.

Jason Steiner: You know, so we’re we’re introducing them to our crowd and growing their brand and trying to help them flourish in what they’re doing, you know, in their musical career, too. So that’s another cool piece that we kind of added to it, you know? And then another huge piece for me was add the nonprofits, you know, bringing in solid nonprofits that, hey, I was in the nonprofit world for four years when we did the first vet stock. I knew three of the 12 that showed up at our first vet stock, and I’m like, if I’d been in it for four years, how does somebody that’s not super involved in the veteran world know about all these different nonprofits out there? You know, whether it’s hunting and fishing, motorcycles or equine therapy, you know, whatever it might be, there’s all these different groups out there. Well, if you don’t know about them, you don’t use them, right? You don’t go to them. You don’t have that family outside of your family. So bringing in the veteran nonprofits and the first responder nonprofits has been a huge piece for me, so that you can open up that world to our veteran and first responders and say, hey, all of this is out there for you. These are groups that want to help you, that want to bring you along with their trips. Um, you know, whatever they do. So that’s also been kind of a cool part of what we’ve been doing this year and last year. So.

Multiple People: Yeah, for.

John Berry: People that have never run events, the complexity here you are providing a platform for veteran performers, which in and of itself is a great thing. And then you’re providing an opportunity for veterans to gather with their brothers and sisters. Have a good time. It’s not mandatory fun. You get to show up when you want to stay as long as you want. Drink a beer if you want, eat a hot dog if you want. Um, but then there are also the nonprofits that you’re bringing that you’re helping them because there are a lot of great veteran nonprofits. But it’s tough to figure out where to start. Right. And I always say, start off in the for profit world and you’ll you’ll learn. But some of these guys, you know, I’m going to start doing this and they’re a team of one. And they got to know where to where do I go. How do I connect with other nonprofits. And here Rostock now is a great opportunity for that. And so I really admire the way you’ve been able to orchestrate all this, get everyone in alignment and put together an event that helps the nonprofits, helps the veterans that want to attend, and helps the performers. And I will just tell you, for those those of you who say, well, I don’t know, they’re going to be any big bands there. Look, when I went to William and Mary, we were paying Dave Matthews $100 a night to come play. And so and this is, this is the mid 90s. Yep. So at some point some of these bands will blow up. And it’s a great opportunity to to see him first. And usually what you say is hey they were better before they went corporate. So you can see them when they’re great now.

Jason Steiner: Yep yep. Yeah exactly. And it’s a lot of our bands are mom and pops. You know one man bands you know they they don’t have the huge backing Scotty Hasting does now. You know he’s got black River behind him. Um, but Scotty is just Scotty. Scotty is just an amazing dude. He’s he’s probably one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet in your life. Um, but we got guys like Mike ponder. We’ve got Barbara SIM, we’ve got Joe Allen, Christie, we’ve got Shafer, Mueller. We’ve got die tired out of Pennsylvania. Um, Shannon book out of Texas. Like, we’ve just got people from all over the place that are wanting to come in. They’ve seen what we’re doing and they’re they’re wanting to be a part of it. And to me, that’s the cool piece, because now I don’t have to go search them out anymore. They come to me and they say, hey, let’s do this. Let’s let me be a part of what you’re doing.

John Berry: And this is a long time coming, and I mean, since before 911. Think about back to your unit. You had the guy that could belt out the cadence, the beautiful voice we had, the guy that would go down from Fort Hood to Austin, Texas every weekend to play if he could, but music. And then, of course, that guitar comes on the deployment, right? Music has always been a part of the military culture and not just the fife and drum, but it’s it’s a way that we connect and it’s a way to, I think, share our stories. And even in when I was in Iraq, they would have bands. Some guy sang a song called Hajji Girl, right. And you know, and it was and it was a big song. It was, it was, there was, there was sadness and there was humor, and there was all these feelings that we could bring out in music that we generally didn’t talk about. Right. And we’d go there and we’d we’d listen to this make on this makeshift stage, you know, for an hour, but feeling some camaraderie, feeling some feelings that, uh, you know, we’re not used to feeling. Right. And but with our brothers and sisters around us having a good time. And you don’t forget those times. You don’t forget the feeling. And it’s it’s one of those things that if you’ve never experienced it, uh, it’s difficult to explain. So if you’re a veteran, you’ve got the opportunity to get to hero stock. And this year it’s blowing up.

Jason Steiner: So we’re actually three different states, four different events. Um, our first event this year, our kickoff event is June 29th. Rolla, Missouri. Uh, we’ve paired with Operation Encore, which is another veteran group, uh, veteran nonprofit that helps veteran singers. They help them do their press kits, um, they help them get to different gigs, get them hooked up with gigs, that kind of stuff. Um, we’ve also paired with, uh, Gunroom radio. It’s a 24 hour radio station for veteran singers. Um, wheels for Warriors is also partnered with. This year. Um, so we’re going down we’re going to do this event down in Rolla, Missouri. It’s a one day event. We have four singers coming in. They’re all veteran singers. Um, Shannon Book’s going to be our headliner down there, and that one’s going to be a lot of fun. The Chamber of Commerce down in Rolla has just been amazing. They’ve jumped behind what we’re doing, and they’re like, you have to be here. So they’re they’re really helping us with it. Um, July 1213. We’re going out to Harlan County Reservoir in Nebraska, out in western Nebraska. We’re doing our lake party. It’s it’s going to be our party. That’s I’m not sure how family friendly that one’s going to be, but that one’s going to be a party. Um, we’re actually going to be on the lake at Patterson Harbor. Um, we’ve got four bands coming in for two nights. We’re going to have Co-headliners with Del and Bloom Band and Shannon Book.

Jason Steiner: Um, it’s going to be a great time. You know, you’re you’re out on the water, you’re having a great time. You got live music going. Doesn’t get much better than that. Um, our fourth event, we’re going back to Nashville. We’re going down there August 3rd. Um, it will be at the Farm Bureau building in Lebanon, Tennessee. Uh, Scotty Hasting will be our our, uh, headliner for that. We’re actually changing our format a little bit down there, and we’re doing two writers rounds, so we’re going to take four veteran singers, put them on stage, they get an hour and a half to talk about their military service, talk about what song they’re singing and sing the song kind of give the back story to it so people understand why they wrote this song. Um, so we’re going to do two rounds of that. Uh, Shannon book’s going to get up, warm up, everybody, and then Scotty Hastings is going to be the headliner of that. Um, and then our final event for the year will be September 1314 back here. And we’re actually about five miles north of Ashland this year on private ground. Um, Matt Marchese was kind enough to let us use his new protector purpose or American Purpose ranch. Um, so we have about 135 acres we can play with out there. So we’re going to have camping on site. So we’re going to really get that kind of Woodstock feel with the camping on site and plenty of room for people to mill around.

Jason Steiner: Um, we’re bringing them bounce houses this year for kids. We’re bringing in pony rides. We’ve got, you know, some other stuff planned to come in. Also, all these places will have food trucks available, you know, to eat at, um. We’re really hoping for this year to kind of be the year where we really take off. I mean, we’ve gained a lot of traction. Um, this year is going to be kind of our proving grounds if we can if we can hit all four of these and they’re all four successful, and we’ve been invited to 23 different states to do it. So we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to grow it and where we go next. And, um, you know, Texas is on the on the radar for 2025. Florida is on the radar for 25. Connecticut, California. Um, we’ve got a lot of states that are just going, man, you’ve got to come do this here. We need our nonprofits to work together. We need our veterans to be together. You know, bring it to our area. So it’s it’s been a struggle just in that side of it, of of where do you take it? You know, so many people are begging for this to come to their town and, and, uh, you know, we can only cover so many. So.

John Berry: Yeah, sometimes it’ll take on a life of its own and outgrow the vision. And now all these other individuals and groups have a vision of where it will go. And that’s I think that’s where real leadership comes in. When you start the vision and you take the action to make it happen, and it grows beyond what you thought. So are you still running the flooring business? Are you just own it and or what’s going to happen now? I’m curious, 24 years in business and now you’re it’s seeing something else take off. How do you handle it?

Jason Steiner: You know, I, I kind of figured that I’d work till the day I died, um, doing the flooring business, but it’s with this taking off the way it is. Um, I’ve got a guy that that he’s doing my installs for me right now, and. And while I’m running, basically running this, um, I’m not real sure. I’m not real sure where it’s going to go. I, I this is a 40 to 50 hour a week job right now. And then I’m trying to install on top of that, another 30 or 40 or 50 hours a week. So, um, I really don’t know where it’s going to go. I don’t know if the business will stay standing or if it goes to the wayside. And this becomes my full time gig, and this is all I do.

John Berry: Well, what you learned early on and we talked about this back in 2000, was the amount of time you have to put in to run your own company. So you’re no stranger to hard work. And for all the veterans out there say, well, I’m going to work my own company and I’m going to do my own thing. It’s not that easy, and you’re probably going to be putting in more hours in the beginning. But. But it’s worth it.

Multiple People: Sure, sure.

John Berry: Now I want to take you to the After Action review three examples of great leadership. Three examples of poor leadership. This can be about military leadership. It can be about business leadership. It can be about nonprofit leadership. But give us the three great examples, the three bad examples.

Jason Steiner: Uh, three great examples. Uh, military leadership. I had Sergeant Wheelock when I was in. He was a marine out of Texas. Um, kind of pulled me under his wing and showed me what a good leader does. Um, he didn’t lead by yelling. He led by led by example. Um, I’ve had had some good leaders within the the civilian world, you know, that I’ve watched and seen how they do things and I follow their examples. Um, you know, being honest, being loyal, you know, being hard working. You know, those are all great things that I’ve seen. Um, you know, poor leadership. I’ve. I’ve seen the backside of that, too. You know, I’ve, I’ve seen somebody that that was selfish. And they, they took from an organization that was an amazing thing. And for their own greed, they ruined it for so many other people. Um, you know, that was that was probably one of the biggest bad leadership traits that I’ve ever seen. Is that greed side of it. Um, you know, and it happens in the military where somebody’s trying to move their career forward and, you know, they use a greed or they use they step on somebody to get to that next level. And and at the end of the day, that all comes out in the wash. Right? And you see you see who that person really is. Um, you know, and that’s I try to stay away from looking at those type of situations. And I want to focus on the positive. I want to I want to focus on that loyal to who I am and what the mission is, and moving it forward and creating great spaces for our veteran and first responder families and and just trying to be a genuine person. I don’t want to be somebody that I’m not.

Multiple People: And this is.

John Berry: A journey, not a destination. It’s a it’s a fight every day to become that person.

Jason Steiner: Sure, sure. Yeah. It doesn’t just it doesn’t just happen. You know, there’s temptations all over and and, you know, I’ve had groups come in already that, hey, we can make this thing huge. You can make millions of dollars off of it and you can do this. And I’m not in it for the money, you know? Yeah, I’m going to probably get paid at some point to do this, but I’m not in it to make $1 million a year. I’m in it to provide a safe space for space for our veterans and first responders.

John Berry: And one cautionary tale would be for the people that come in that say, money’s not a problem. It’s usually a problem. Right? And the people that start making all these big promises, they’re usually what we would say in Texas, all hat and no cattle. Yep. And they would, you know, come with these great ideas. But anybody can have a vision and and that’s where I think for those of us that have, have, have been there where we’ve had a vision and, and we get we’re just getting started on it to understand the amount of work. I mean hero stock did not happen overnight. We are five years into this now. And now it’s blowing up. So it’s an overnight success after five years. Right?

Jason Steiner: Right right. Yeah. It’s and it’s you know technically where you’re this is year two, you know and and it’s it’s grabbed so much but but but that’s.

John Berry: That stock started in 2020.

Jason Steiner: 2022.

John Berry: 2022. Yeah. But in the nonprofit that you started with I’m sorry the the Warriors hockey back in 2019, 2020. So you started on the nonprofit side back then and it took five years to evolve into this. Right? Right. So bottom line is this does not happen easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of suffering that a lot of people will never see. Yep. Uh, and now they’re, they’re everybody’s seeing you start to win. Right. And have you got some negative pushback on that.

Multiple People: Yep.

Jason Steiner: Uh, we haven’t had any negative pushback yet. Um, which is really cool. Uh, we’ve had a lot of positive, um, you know, the negative side, I guess the negative pushback side of it would be those groups coming in going, hey, we want to work with you, and we want to help you grow. And, you know, my question is always, well, where does hero stock fit in? If you’ve done concerts for 30 years and you’ve worked with Earth, Wind and Fire and you know, you’ve you’ve had all these great big bands, where does hero stock fit into what you’re talking about? Well, we just want to help you grow. And there’s probably going to be a little bit more to it than that, you know? So we’ve had to be really careful. Um, you know, as we’re talking to people and talking to groups of, you know, who do you pair with, who do you partner with, who do you, you know, bring into your circle of of what you’re doing and who do you have to, you know, keep at that arm’s distance because they might not fit what you’re trying to do. Um, because there’s, there’s a lot of really, really. Good nonprofits, and you’re going to get a handful of crappy ones. And we’ve got to try to decipher, you know, as this thing is growing and we’re spending all this time growing it, we’re still trying to figure out who do we who do we bring into our circle? You know, who is who is part of our crew. Um, so that’s probably been the the biggest negative side for me is just trying to figure that out and keep that separated to where it’s not about the money. It’s it’s about the mission.

John Berry: And for some, to be fair, most start nonprofits with the purest of intentions. Right? But it’s not about intentions. It’s about ability at this point. And this is where the private sector and the public sector intertwined is success is success. And a lot of people have great ideas and they genuinely want to help. But sometimes the cost involved in helping them help you could be your mission, right?

Jason Steiner: Right. Yep. And we’re we’re mission forward. That’s our mission is always on the forefront, you know, to provide that safe space for veteran first responders, to provide a space for our good nonprofits to come in and show themselves off, and to provide that space for a veteran or first responder singer to grow their brand on stage.

John Berry: Awesome. And where can veterans or anyone find out about hero stock?

Multiple People: You know.

Jason Steiner: The best place right now is probably our Facebook page. Um, I run all the social media on Facebook and and Instagram. Um, so yeah, go on Facebook, find us on there. Hero stock, hero stock underscore on Instagram. Um, our web page is hero stock org. Um, that’s kind of being revamped. We’re, we’re trying to get all of our information up for all of our events this year. Um, so it’s, it’s a little bit, a little bit off right now, but hopefully within the next week or two, we’re going to have all of our event stuff up, all of our links to buy tickets to, you know, see where we’re going, that kind of stuff. So, um, we’re really hoping to have that up this next week.

John Berry: Now, imagine I am a veteran who believes I might have some musical talent. What’s my best chance to get on the stage at veteran at Hero Stock?

Multiple People: Call me.

Jason Steiner: I love talking to veterans. I love talking to first responders. Give me a call. We’ll talk it through. And if you have a talent and I’m not looking for the most talented or the the most developed person to put on stage, I’m looking for somebody that’s passionate. I want my singers to get up and be passionate. Understand that the crowd that they’re singing to is their brother, brothers and sisters, um, to convey that that passion of their song. Um, you know, we don’t hold a tryout. A lot of stuff we do is off social media. We’ll watch them on Facebook, we’ll watch them on, you know, YouTube, something like that. Go out and check them out. Um, I actually just went out this weekend and went to the Van Meyer concert or the they went down to a broke a bar. They were down playing at the Rock, a bar. Um, Kimberly Myers actually playing this year at Hero Stock here. She’s a post commander up in South Dakota. Um, I saw they were playing down Rocha. I’m like, hey, I’m going to come down and check you guys out. I went down and hung out with them for an hour and a half, two hours, watched them jam, took a couple selfies with them and, uh, you know, so I got to see him in person, got to talk to him, and and I’m excited for them to be here, so.

John Berry: Great. All right. Well, there’s there’s one success story of how to do it. Yep. All right. Thanks so much for being on the veteran led podcast, Jason. Great mission. More importantly, uh, you’ve done something that a lot of us aspire to do give back to the veteran community in a meaningful way.

Multiple People: Yep, yep.

Jason Steiner: Thanks, John. I appreciate being on here. Um, and I hope to see everybody out of hero stock.

John Berry: 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 earn. 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.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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