This Military Veteran Entrepreneur Fired Himself to Jump Start His Passion Project
Andrew O'Brien left his role as CEO of a publicity firm to focus on what he really cared about.
In honor of Veterans Day, Entrepreneur is highlighting the work of former military entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses, chasing their dreams, and kicking a whole lot of ass in the process. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what is your business?
I am Andrew O'Brien, Founder of Vetpreneur Tribe, a business that brings military veteran entrepreneurs together to help each other grow and scale businesses. I employ five people.
What branch did you serve?
I served in the Army from 2007-2011 and was deployed to Iraq from 2008-2009.
What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?
It means someone who has decided to take control of their life and their future while also making a long-lasting impact on our world. Entrepreneurs want to create a legacy that will never be forgotten.
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Tell us about your proudest moment while serving.
My proudest moment was two days before coming home. My commander called me out in front of our company formation and presented me with a coin for my work as a lead gunner during my deployment. It was the first time in my life that I was actually proud of something I had done.
What did being in the military teach you about risk?
It taught me that when something is important enough, you put it all on the line to accomplish it. Something I took from my military experience is "succeed or die" and those are the words I live by when it comes to my business. Death isn't an option, so the only true option is to succeed.
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What was the biggest problem your business faced and how did you overcome it?
My biggest problem in business was passion -- or lack thereof. I built a successful seven-figure publicity business. Money was flowing, revenue was increasing, credibility was growing and yet I was miserable. I hated waking up every morning and checking my email. I did not believe in what I was doing. I decided to fire myself as the CEO of my publicity business and hire someone else. That allowed me to switch focus to Vetpreneur Tribe, something I'm actually excited to wake up and see what's going on. If you don't love what you're doing, you will never succeed to your fullest potential.
What should people understand about what they'll get when they hire a vet, or go into to business with a veteran entrepreneur?
If you are looking for an emotional connection or hugs, a vet is probably not the right person for you. But, if you're looking for someone to get you results and get them quickly, then vets are the route you should take. The best way I can say it is this: Do you want a puppy to cuddle with and make you feel good, or do you want a wolf who will hunt for you and keep you fed?
Describe your leadership style.
My leadership style relies on trust. I give you my trust until I feel like it's been broken. I do not believe in micromanaging. I give my team a task and trust them to get it done. If it's not done when I think it should've been, then I will confront them. But otherwise, I don't look over people's shoulders. My team makes full-time salaries and works only 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. They take vacations whenever they want. I don't care about the hours of work they're putting in, all I care about are the tangible results I'm getting from their work.
Is there a quote and saying that inspires you?
"You can spend your life quoting world-changing influencers, or you can become the world-changing influencer who people quote." -- Andrew O'Brien
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