Jake Edwards may have only done one deployment, but it took him to Abu Ghraib Prison and into the Second Battle of Fallujah as part of the main assault battalion. There were just under 900 men in his battalion, but among them they received 405 Purple Hearts, and 33 men were killed in action. Those combined experiences inspired everything he has done since.
In this interview, Mary Kate Soliva welcomes Jake, Founder and President of Lead Tactics and a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, to talk about what he experienced and how it has changed the shape of his life.
Jake speaks with Mary Kate about:
• What it was like to personally witness the first free election in Iraq
• Why having a gun doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for a situation where you’ll have to use it
• How he is using his skills and experience to train others to thrive in crisis situations
Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast that dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series jointly presented by supply chain now, and vets to industry. We sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insights, perspective and stories from serving. We talk with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:00:48):
Hello everyone. Mary Kate Soliva with you here on veteran voices. Thanks for joining us today. As we’ve got a wonderful conversation teed up with an amazing veteran serving beyond the uniform, stay tuned for an incredible conversation. Quick programming note, before we get started this episode, this program is in part of the supply chain. Now family of programming and today’s show in particular is in partnership with a veteran service organization near and dear to my heart vets, to industry, you can learn more about this powerful nonprofit and how they continue to give back to the military veteran email@example.com and an initiative that is near and dear to my heart, the Guam human rights initiative. You can find firstname.lastname@example.org. Now without further ado, I’m ready to introduce our guest today. He is founder and president of lead tactics. He’s also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and let us welcome Jake Edwards. Hey, Jake,
Jake Edwards (00:01:54):
And good afternoon. Thanks for having me on Mary Kate.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:01:57):
Yeah. Thank you so much. I’m super stoked that, uh, you know, from, for our listeners today, if you tune into Paul Pang’s episode, Paul actually introduced me to Jake and Jake. I’m so glad that you’re able to join us today. You know, we were just talking a little bit earlier about our time and service and getting pumped up and amped up before PT in the morning, or, you know, just on those days that were just really slogging along. So I was wondering if you could share and pump us up this morning with some motivation.
Jake Edwards (00:02:26):
So you asked me what my favorite quote was, is that correct? Mm-hmm <affirmative>
Mary Kate Soliva (00:02:30):
Jake Edwards (00:02:31):
Or one of favorites. So, so one of my favorite quotes is it’s really just basic. And to me, that’s what makes sense under, under stress. What, what makes sense in a daily basis? So my favorite quote is easy choices, hard life, hard choices, easy life, and it’s by Jersey Gick. It was designed for he’s a fitness guy, but it really works for everything in life. Like how we, how we eat, how we act, how we operate, how we train. And so it really is all about convenience and that quote covers the convenience world that we’ve kind of created in our society. Right? I think one of the most challenging things is, is we don’t wanna make things easier just because, you know, oh, it’s what I want. No, we gotta think about the damage that it’s gonna take long term. So those hard choices can make us better in the long run.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:03:25):
I really, I really love that. That’s actually the first time that I’ve heard that one. And I know you said even the things that we eat, cause I’m thinking like that was probably, it would’ve been a harder choice for me to choose not to eat the ice cream that I did last night, like after the gym. So all, but I mean, in all seriousness, that’s, that’s something that I think applies, I can think of just a dozen different ways that, that applies in my life right now. Yeah. And I wanted to, yeah, definitely give our listeners, our viewers, a chance to get to know you a little bit. And one of the things that I love doing on this show is already about where, where you came from. So I love that you gave us a little bit of glimpse pumping us up with that motivational quote, but now we get to see a little bit more about who you are as a person today, but where you started from. So would you mind telling and sharing it with us a little bit about where you grew up?
Jake Edwards (00:04:14):
Yeah, for sure. So it’s a known place now because of actually a horrible incident around the world, but it’s a great place where I’m from. And I had a great childhood there. I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. The home for UVA and my granddad played football there actually. And that’s kind of what made my family, my dad’s family, my, my dad’s mom’s side was there and my dad’s dad came there to play football, UVA. And that’s where I guess all the roots came from and my dad was raised and it was a great place to grow up. And I actually had a really tough childhood though in that town because after the, the age of 10, so going into fifth grade, I ended up changing schools every year from fifth grade to 11th grade and doing that six years in a row, it takes a young man or any young girl, whatever you are nice.
Jake Edwards (00:05:10):
It takes a lot outta you cuz you’re you have no structure. So that’s where I was born and raised in the town. But family wise that I came from kind of a broken family and have, I have four sisters and a brother and we all have our own challenges, but we’re all resilient. And the, the word resilient for me just means you deal with your challenges and you just look for areas to be a problem solver. So my childhood prepared me for the whole life that I’ve got to the point now at, um, almost 40 years old. And for the last 20 years I’ve been in security crisis readiness industry. And uh, it all started. I was training back then as a 10 year old, getting ready for these moments. And I don’t have resentment to my family for where, what, what happened as a child and what broke our family and separate us. But I respect the things that got me to where I am today and I have no hate in my heart. Just try love.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:06:06):
And I, yeah, I love that. Definitely focusing on, on the love, where, where do you mentioning, how many of you are there’s six, six of you total?
Jake Edwards (00:06:14):
Mary Kate Soliva (00:06:15):
Are your siblings, where, where do you fall in that? In the number?
Jake Edwards (00:06:18):
I’m number four. I’m the youngest boy number four, number
Mary Kate Soliva (00:06:21):
Four, number four. So I was at like growing up, like, I don’t know for me, I’m thinking of like the Waltons here. I don’t even remember how many of them there are, but I feel like it’s not as common now to have a family maybe, maybe at least here where I’m at to have that many siblings. How was that for you growing up?
Jake Edwards (00:06:39):
I mean, it was gr it was great til it was great till I was 10, really, because we were all together. And then we, after, after fourth grade, my parents split and then they split all of us kids and, and he kind of put us on a path for just survival. Older siblings had a more challenge than me and I kind of watched the combat slash chaos per se of my older, my oldest sister was good, cuz she was going to go off to college in a year. So she kind of was separated from, but my brother and my, my older brother, my older sister that’s a year and have older than me. They were the ones that had had the hardest and I got to, they helped protect me, but I had to watch the, the movie of their chaos, if that makes sense.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:07:20):
Yeah, it does. And, and I can imagine that that would be tough being, especially like somewhere in the, the middle too, of the, and then again, the separation that you all had, you talked about like the survival piece and sort of, I imagine that there’s some lesson learned some anecdotes in there. Did you have anybody that really took you under their wing at that point to mentor you? Whether that was another sibling or an an adult?
Jake Edwards (00:07:45):
Well, I played sports and I had a, my stepdad came in my life when I was, he really helped me like show me how to, how to put life in action. We would travel. He take me the summertime when go to Chicago where he grew up and we’d go to like, I love the Chicago Cubs because of him. Cuz I’d go to baseball games all summer long, right for that month or two months that we were there in Chicago for the summer. So it really would’ve been my stepdad during those times for parts of the phase. But it really was, it was just kind of me raising myself in a way. Um, I had my sister who was a year and a half older than me or is a year and a half older than me. She, she always protected me. She has uh, a very protective nature of herself, but she was one going through the hardest time.
Jake Edwards (00:08:32):
She I’ll just share this. It’s something to, uh, vulnerabilities aren’t weaknesses, right? They are, if they are, if you let yourself feel like it’s taking from you, but you have to let my challenge, people is get your vulnerabilities to where it’s something that it energizes you because you know, it doesn’t own you anymore. It doesn’t take from you, it, you you’re helping others now by sharing it. So be confident in your vulnerabilities. Uh, so anyway with her, it was very emotional when she was 15 to 16, she was anorexic and bulimic and she’s five foot eight. She’s not, she’s, you know, strong. She was down about 80 pounds and that’s not a lot of weight for five foot eight person. And she was very close to death. And like I said, she was my older sister, so, and we’re very close, still very similar personality.
Jake Edwards (00:09:23):
We’re very, just tough, competitive people, great athlete. She was, but she was so lost, which trying to identify something that she thought she needed to be. And she had no structure, no self worth. And she, I remember crying at her when she was at John Hopkins university hospital and saying, I was like, I don’t want you to die. And I’ve never shared this openly, like publicly. I don’t think I have detail, but those like, it’s like, it’s like combat for me. Like in real combat the 0.01% of the time in life is what we, we really store as long term memory. Right. We don’t remember a whole lot like details, specific little details, but just like the battle, those three weeks I was in that heavy, heavy battle. I remember almost every frigging moment of it it’s stored in my brain. But just like with my sister in that conversation, there’s certain things of like where there’s fear of death or grave bodily harms for self for others. I remember that conversation and like, I still feel the emotion of it. So she was there, but it was there I think as sibling love and she wasn’t strong for me until later in life when she finally found her strength. Cause now she’s one of the strongest people I know.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:10:36):
Wow. Well, I, I really appreciate you sharing that with me today. And I think that what you just talk about in sharing the vulnerabilities, being able to, you just showed her strength too. And the fact that it was her actions, weren’t just impacting her, but you and anybody else who felt close and, and perhaps probably your other siblings as well, but she was, she’s someone of value, someone that you love and to see her go through that was deeply impactful. And I, I keep going back with the, the golden nuggets that you’re sharing about, about survival and the fact that your siblings and, and you went through this at such a young age, but perseverance and strength is something that I’m also hearing in what you’re sharing and that you all were able to lean on each other. Uh, cause I, I can’t tell you how times I end up feeling like it.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:11:26):
When I talk to others about hearing, like it’s just them, they feel like it’s just themselves, but it it’s really that, that brotherhood, that sisterhood, that I can hear in your voice that you had when you were younger and you had it even once you joined the, the Marine Corps as well. So I really appreciate that. And I, your stepdad too, talking about, hi, the strength and mentorship that he gave to you at that time, I think that we all can kind of name somebody at at that time that really took us under their wing. And so, and it doesn’t always have to be somebody that’s that’s blood. And I think that’s important too, that we can see that what a strong man looks like, what a strong woman looks like and in others that not necessarily our immediate families. So I really appreciate you sharing that. I, I do wanna talk about that time as you got older, when it came time for you to make that decision about joining the Marine Corps. And so what led you on that path? You, you talk about starting at 10 years old. Can you tell us a little bit about that time between 10 and that time when, um, you decided to join the Marine Corps?
Jake Edwards (00:12:31):
Yeah, like I, like I mentioned from 10, from fifth grade to 11th grade, I switched schools every year. Like I didn’t go to the same school, cannot
Mary Kate Soliva (00:12:37):
Jake Edwards (00:12:38):
Stuff. And um, every year in middle school, I mean every year it’s just, um, sometimes I went back to the school I was at, but I switched, I had a year break. Does that make sense? So there was no, and I had friends, you know, but it was just constant constant movement. And at that age, that leads to having zero structure and zero self awareness. Like, I didn’t know, not saying I didn’t even know who I am. Right. Cause like you hear that, that kind of buzzword a lot, like know yourself, what it really comes down to is just it’s knowing how you’re perceived, how you’re seen and the faster we can do that the better. So it took me a long time, the Marine Corps, uh, getting into the Marine Corps time. Um, I was, I’d done construction work right outta high school. My brother-in-law’s a bricklayer.
Jake Edwards (00:13:26):
And they were like some of the best in the Cville area. There still are like, if you know the halls, they’re the best brick layers out there. Um, worked with those guys and they wore, wore me out. Um, there there’s always a joke. There was a joke that, uh, my brother-in-law’s dad would say, cause we were working this job in Waynesboro, which if you know the area it’s like about a 35, 40 minute drive control. Yeah. And it was like freezing cold, like below freezing. We had to put antifreeze in the mortar, so it increase to lay the block. And um, I don’t remember. I don’t remember what happened, but the story is, and I’m cool with the story. Say story is I called in one morning was like, I can’t go to work today. The conditions are too harsh. The, a story, cuz it’s like this pre Marine Corps for me, you know, I’m a young adult now. Um, but you know, I, I, I really looking the back of that time. It’s like you asked the quote earlier for me to share yeah. To start out. But I really, I think a better quote I could ask right now to everyone is like, what it be in life? Like vision yourself. You’re reading your book. Okay. Like third person, you’re reading your book. Like what do you want your story to say? Because we have a choice.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:14:47):
That’s I love that.
Jake Edwards (00:14:48):
Yeah. We have a choice in our outcome and our timeline and the, and the path that we go on. Now, the faster we can find out how we’re seen on this world and where we fit, like socialism kind of perspective, like where we are, but we gotta get is just, we gotta get outta the street level view of our life. We gotta get off the fear, the fear of you, you know, the street level where, where we see all the things in person, we gotta, we gotta reflect and get outside itself. And once we do that, we can really create the life we wanna have. Cause I’ll tell you right now, if I didn’t join the Marine Corps, I don’t know what the heck I’d be doing right now in Mary Kay. No frigging clue. No, no clue. It, the Marine Corps gave me the best gift of my entire life. Even though it took for me so much too friends. But to me, I it’s, we all know the mortal world we live in.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:15:43):
I feel like you’re a very intuitive person. Like I it’s like you are the you’re I could just see like about who’s on a fall with you. Like you’re, you’re the one that’s like making the most sense out of the rest of us in the sense of you’ve just dropped so many golden nuggets of wisdom. It’s gonna be really hard for me to really just, you know, show the, listen. I just really hope like our listeners are pulling in all that I’m taking in right now too, because just like I said, even from the time that you were a child and just being able to say that to your sister and, and knowing that what you did like coming in the Marine Corps, the people that you surround, even the, from the you lay bricks with, you’re able to just like, educate them, look at the bigger picture. There’s more to life out there. There’s more than just this. There’s more than the problems that advers adversity that we’re experiencing right now. And I’m only doing this plug because I literally just watch this, but like Goodwill hunting, you know, have you seen Goodwill hunting? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, it’s been
Jake Edwards (00:16:45):
A long time,
Mary Kate Soliva (00:16:45):
But yeah. Yeah. It’s a long as time. Like the, the film and or VE AFL telling Matt Damon. Like if he’s like, if I walk up, he’s like, I, I wanna just go to your house one day and knock on the door and you won’t be there. You know, he’s like, I want you to leave. Get out of this town, like go, your, your potential is so much more than just this than what they’re saying in front of him. And, and I won’t say all the things that he said after that, to him about what he do, if he didn’t leave. But it just makes me think of, I could see you being him in that moment of just like letting your buddies know and the people that you care about know that there’s more than the adversity that they’re facing in that moment. And so I, I would love, I really want our, um, obviously we know you joined the us Marine Corps, the great Marine Corps. And I know that I’m not supposed to say he was a Marine. There’s no such thing as the was a Marine once a Marine, always a Marine. So, uh, if you could talk to us about what you did in the Marine Corps and where did you go?
Jake Edwards (00:17:48):
Yeah. So I, I was actually post on 11 Marine. I joined after nine 11. I joined because I started realizing I had, there’s a bigger purpose that I could support. And you know, the nation’s calling of needing, needing each support. It wasn’t right after nine 11, I kept doing community college and kept doing masonry work and other, other little jobs. But I joined because I was just going through some challenges, had a car accident. And I was like, all right, while I still have a healthy body and still have a record that isn’t gonna destroy me from joining, you know, a criminal record per se, I need to get the freak out of this town. Cause if you’re from Charlottesville, Virginia, you know, it’s a small town and you freaking know everybody. So getting outta there is tough. It’s a great place to grow up.
Jake Edwards (00:18:40):
Great place to live. But it’s hard. It it’s like you mentioned it, it, it holds you in like, go with hunting. It it’ll keep you there. Cuz there are great things. It’s beautiful. The mountains are right there. You know, it’s two and a half hours from the beach. If that. So I got out there and I joined the Marine Corps. I wanted to be a military police, dog handler. Cause I love dogs. I’ve been, I’ve had dogs my entire life and I can prove it. Cause right now I have three kids, but I have four dogs. So
Mary Kate Soliva (00:19:07):
You do that balance there.
Jake Edwards (00:19:10):
Yeah. Yeah. So my wife we’ll always have more dogs than kids. Okay. But um, we have three rescue dogs, one dog, my wife, oh I love that. She, I call her Dan chaw cuz she has one eye and she’s 15 years old, four little things. She went through combat herself, got her eye taken out in a flight with one of our other dogs. We’ve rehome him since, but we have three rescue dogs. And anyway, I’ve always been around dogs and I wanted to be dog handle on the Marine Corps. And when I was joining was right before I joined right before the Iraq Corps. And at that time they had no MP. So I picked, I went reserve status cuz in reserves Marine Corps is, is the only way you could pick your MOS. Exactly. If not, you go into a field and you, they
Mary Kate Soliva (00:19:55):
Jake Edwards (00:19:55):
Yeah. So a lot of people just so you know, if you wanna be in the Marine Corps, you want a specific job go reserves and then go active duty. Cause you get your exact MOS you want. So I went combat engineer 1371, which is a, I joined a division combat engineer unit, which we, we support infantry. We do all the demolition where the, the ID sweepers. I was a, you know, rock clearance, all that stuff. So we call SAPs, we go to CAPP school. So I was a Marine Saper and immediately I joined and I went through my school, came back, put my active duty orders then and we got deployed as a reserve unit immediately. I was in Iraq a year from graduating boot camp and I was a super boot, you know, call, call heard the term you’re boot. I mean you’re young.
Jake Edwards (00:20:41):
Like you’re a fresh green or whatever they call you. We call it boot. Like boot is a derogatory term in the Marine Corps. So we join, we go deploy and we are tasked with the most amazing. We are tasked, excuse me, to the most amazing Marine battalion Marine Corps, the battalion first Marines, the thundering third out of camp Horno California. And I had the awesome pleasure of serving as I lived at Abu GRA prison with them with Liman company three one, right after that, we prepared and we served together in the deadliest Battl the entire post war. It stuck about our Falluja and our battalion was the main assault battalion. And we were, I was a demo guy doing a lot of explosives and I was also a saw gunner machine gunner. And it was, it was tough because I could share a couple pictures with you.
Jake Edwards (00:21:39):
Maybe if you wanna show it on a show that like, just show at this point, maybe they can plug it in, but we stopped like liking to take pictures because every time we take pictures, we have less people cuz guys would get killed every day or so. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we were losing guys every day we lost, we had four out of just under, you know, 900 folks in our battalion around a thousand, we had 400, five purple hearts and we had 33 K and that led me to all the stuff I’ve done. All the volunteer work I’ve done. And that was my, I was in one pump jump. That was my only deployment. I actually threw one left and I got attached and extended with a battalion called the battalion fourth Marines. And we stayed with them and we did the first free election in Iraq and Falluja, and it was absolutely an amazing experience that makes me appreciate our democracy and our, our freedoms that we have so much. Yes. Because those people were so happy to be able to be represented as a single soul body. They do you remember seeing the pictures, Mary Kate of the fingerprints of the, the purple? Yes. The mark mark your spot, mark. Your signature per se. I’m so I’m so proud. And at that time, give
Mary Kate Soliva (00:22:56):
Me goose spots right now. Just hearing you talk about it.
Jake Edwards (00:22:59):
I was a punk 22 year old, not a punk. I shouldn’t say I was, I was a Marine 22 year old, you know, typical like the Marine Corps kind of molded me to what I am. Um, never got tattoos, like I said, so I had a little bit of, uh, control
Mary Kate Soliva (00:23:12):
<laugh> you’re like the only one I know
Jake Edwards (00:23:15):
I was drunk a few times and I was gonna get like, my middle name is still, well, I was gonna get tattooed still. And then, well, in the back of my arms, like the old English, I was drunk in the park tattooed part a few times, but somehow I guess I sobered up enough as I watched my buddies in there getting the, in first that ended up, I was like, no, I’m when it came out, I was like, no, I’m good. <laugh> um, so, oh my goodness. But, but back to, uh, back to combat it’s combat is, is, is a gift for warrior. It’s a gift. And what I mean by that is it’s a gift to there’s nothing. I thought it used to be cool that I went through combat. And now as a defensive tactics trainer and a combat skills trainer and a crisis trainer for, I work with kids a lot, mostly with kids. I tell people now, look, I don’t want you to ever have to be in an active violence situation. I actually want, if you can’t get away from it, create space, right. Get away. But the best gift about being in combat is the ones that did not make at home. It’s now our job and it’s our servant heart duty to be S to always be faithful and share their story. Cause they only live through us if we shared their name because we’re the last one to solve them.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:24:33):
Yeah. So you’re keeping their, you’re keeping their legacy alive. I mean, I was just getting goosebumps, just hearing you talk about that. And I think that with Hollywood and, and things in the media, we glorify combat in different ways and sort of, especially when we’re young and we, we wanna taste of that. And some of you talk to young soldiers, Marines, different branches that just want a piece of that. But then to, to look at it, look back, think like we need to keep these stories alive of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. So I know you said it was the one deployment, but I mean you, what you faced and what you experienced on that one deployment is, uh, you lived 10,000 years more than others. You lived more in that, that one deployment than many people will experience in a lifetime. So I, I thank you for sharing that and keeping their legacy alive and, and um, you know, sharing, sharing their legacy here on veteran voices. I wanted to, to ask you if, if this is something that in keeping their legacy alive, do you, do you promote a lot about, about service? Like, is this something that was hard, like coming, coming back home, was there a point where you’re like still promoting, you should join the Marines or like even for your own kids and your immediate family, any talk conversations there about joining?
Jake Edwards (00:25:57):
Yeah. No, that’s a great question. So I came back home at deployment and I still try to go act duty. I went, I went, I did recruiters assistance for almost a year. As I was waiting to lap, move into human intelligence. I was trying to go over two field and that didn’t work out. So I almost went career recruiter from there. Cause I was really doing a good job recruiters assistants. I got put in for an am. Cause I was doing so well. And I was promoting people like crazy. I mean, I, I, I have a business degree, you know, I got it later, but I’m a natural salesman of like, I love, I love people and I love communicating. I love, I love helping people find the thing that makes them feel passion. Yes. Um, and that’s because you can, you can, you can’t teach passion, but you can find purpose.
Jake Edwards (00:26:42):
So I tell people, look, I can’t teach you how to find passion, but I can help you explore on things that might, might be, you might be passionate about. And maybe you can find purpose from that. And then that’s what just keeps your energy just flowing and you just keep moving. And so I’ve always supported. I’ve helped a lot of people join different services and I’ll give you one example. I’ll tell this is why I tell people, look, if you wanna be a Marine, be a Marine. If you don’t wanna be a Marine, don’t be a Marine. You either know you wanna do it or not. Okay. That’s that’s, that’s where you meet people. Like that’s, that’s a Marine right there. They know they wanna be a Marine. My nephew, I was trying to push him to go the art, uh, the air force actually, cause I worked six years.
Jake Edwards (00:27:25):
I got the Marine Corps as a Sergeant in 2009, did all that. And then I was helping train guys within our unit to go deploy. Cause we’d always have a opportunity to time deploy. So I became like one of the trainers for the counter IED stuff. Cause we worked some of the first missions that really were finding these massive IEDs. Remember the first one I found was like 3, 1 55. And they were like 98 pounds each. And the kill radius from one of those is like 50 meters. But I found, we found one, our first ID and literally like they weren’t finding ’em like that or oh four like that in Iraq yet it was early. And then we found the largest ID at the time. It was 21, 1 oh fives and one 20 S daily chain together to take out a whole entire platoon at a L P P. So I got, I got involved cause I was a preacher counter ID and I was helping train some of our guys deploy and it kind of got me where I am today. I got Marine records as a Sergeant and I started training combat skills for the government and uh, worked for the force and very quickly they created a new position and I became our lead, our, our became the, the assistant lead instructor. And then, I don’t know if you remember this term, Mary Kate, remember the green on blue issues we had.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:28:38):
Yes. Yeah. And sometimes they would make them go, um, back through basic again. Right?
Jake Edwards (00:28:43):
Well green, all blue was the, the, the, the green green threat.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:28:48):
Oh, OK. From that same, I was thinking, I was thinking from like green going green to blue, like going from army Marine Corps to air force or Navy. And they were like cycling them through to go back through training again. Okay. With this one talking insider. Insider threat.
Jake Edwards (00:29:05):
Yeah. So remember we had a lot in 2012, you were still in, right. You were in then, right?
Mary Kate Soliva (00:29:09):
Jake Edwards (00:29:10):
You were young.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:29:11):
I think Anne too young. Yeah. Still young. I was still young, but yeah. That’s I hadn’t heard. Um, but yeah, it, it definitely looks different. I definitely want you to, to share with our, our listeners about how different it is from that time. Even just in a decade.
Jake Edwards (00:29:26):
Yeah. So, so in 2012, Afghanistan, Afghanistan was really, was really heavy. Iraq had died down and we kind of pulled out. So I was a combat skills instructor and we would teach students going to 140 different countries. And most of them were still hostile environment students going to Afghanistan. And so we had a lot that’s when we, in 2012, we had 62 native fatalities from, they called it insider threats and we called it green on blue attacks. So post nation, African army, most of them are police that would shoot and attack coalition forces, NATO. And the schoolhouse that I went to right before I got there had lost nine advisors to one insider attack in Afghanistan, from one army Colonel in Afghanistan killed nine of our students. And he called ’em off guard. They were all armed. And he was so it, Don fights are so fast.
Jake Edwards (00:30:22):
Chaos happens so fast. Everyone thinks, and this is what I challenge for society. And by the way, I’ll go over the place because I’m just passionate like this. If you have a gun, that’s great. That doesn’t mean that you’re gonna be ready for any gun fight you might be in or any situation you might put you in. Training is an investment. And we cannot think we are ever are an expert. You can only qualify to be an expert in a moment, but you can’t live to be an expert. You can live to be a professional. So remember that you’re not a me, you’re a SMP subject matter professional. So continue to develop and grow. If you have a gun, if you think you’re combat skills, whatever that’s awesome. Would I challenge you to never stop being a student? You’re never gonna be an expert. Um, but I say that because, uh, and the active shooter, insider threat programs, weren’t weren’t happening.
Jake Edwards (00:31:15):
And now in our own country, the term run high fight, which was just something DHS did to come out with in 2013, such a big deal. And now I’m at a state conference right now, as we record this, um, had a great day of training. Um, but I’m at the state conference for a couple more days. And today I was in our active, active assault, um, active attack class. And the whole vision now is like, what I get to do now, teaching civilians, taking our military experience to coming back home and saying, combat is not cool. Right? Yeah. Gun fights are amazing adrenaline, but so are motorcycles. I used to ride motorcycles a lot for had kids. Okay. Do you wanna get into gun fight? Okay, please. Don’t do it here. Go ride a motorcycle. Okay. Go figure yourself out a little bit on the mountains, but I’m telling you right now, we have to start tying in our communities and our, and our civilians better for the violence here, our own country.
Jake Edwards (00:32:09):
So the, I don’t wanna go over the, I, I feel like I’m all over the place a little bit with what I’m talking about with what I used to do, but I did all that work in the air force. I helped a lot of folks, uh, joined the air force, the army, my nephew. He, I wanted him to go in the air force cause I worked for them nice. And they really take care of their people, really take care of their people and they want retention. And he ended up going to army as a 13 Fox artillery. Uh, he used to call on airstrikes, but he’s out now, he’s back home. And you know, we have to remember big picture. Like when we come back home, we have to remember the community and have to accept our past, or we don’t have to, but I challenge you to, because once you can accept it and once you can acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. We don’t need to look like a cool influencer on any social media channel because I guarantee right now they, they might seem like they’re cool in that little, little reel that you watch. But, but they put about a half day work in for probably a one, one reel and overall there’s, that’s probably very depressing for them. <laugh> all the work they’re putting in, go out in your community. And I heard sta today that the average American doesn’t know, half their neighbors in their community.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:33:27):
Yeah. That’s a, that’s such a great point. And you know, when you, when you were just talking there, I was just thinking about how I was, I was going through training with the army at the time when American sniper hit the movie theaters. And there were, there was a group of us that decided that on our free time, from the course, we went to the movies and we all sat there. And there were a couple of the guys in my team that had purple heart. They were purple heart recipients. And they got up in the middle of the movie and, and walked out and, and one of them, you know, he, he was, he broke down and was crying, you know, after we left. And, and we had asked them, you know, of course, if they were okay, first of all, but it wasn’t what we come to find out.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:34:05):
Was it wasn’t actually any part of the shooting or the time down range or any of that action. It was actually the, the family. It was the piece about the family and leaving the family and then trying to integrate back into home life on the return side, coming home that, you know, even though there’s still war going on inside of you, you know, just like that, the family integrating back in the community that you’re in and getting, you know, and, and that was what they said was what got them was the family piece. And, and I think, you know, like you say, from the outside perspective, we do wanna be that cool guy. We do want to have the cool sun guy sunglasses and the tactical vests and hold a gun. But it’s like those, it’s the, what’s the, what matters are those relationships that we have with our loved ones, the community, and your point about the neighbors? I don’t doubt that for a second.
Jake Edwards (00:34:56):
Yeah, actually I heard that from our new attorney general for Virginia, he, he opened a ceremony this morning with our, the new public safety secretary, Bob ER, and the new attorney general mentioned that statistic. I mean, it was just like, I believe it. And luckily for my community where I get to live in my small town, I live in still, I still I’m in Virginia now moved back close to Charlottesville, but not in Charlottesville. We know everybody. And to me, like, we feel so much worth when we go outside the spaces that we physically operate and live in. And we know people now, not everybody has those kind of jobs. Right. If I went counterintel, I probably wouldn’t be able to be the open person. I am. I probably wouldn’t be a good counterintel person because I’m very open <laugh> don’t, I’m, you’re about it.
Jake Edwards (00:35:42):
Yeah. I’m glad things worked out the way it did. And, and I, I think along those lines, Mary Kay, another good thing to push out just as a message is that I’ve learned is and loved and fall love the process. Fall in love with the process of life. Don’t see a place where you want to be like, maybe have a goal to get here, but be in love with the, with the drive to get there, you know, like I’m gonna drive out west, right? Oh, I can’t wait to get there. Why don’t we just kind of sit back and reflect, do some triangle breathing or some box breathing, you know, wake up a little bit and enjoy the present moment right now. It’s easy for me to say that it’s very hard to live it. And I know I’m I own advocate. I need to work on that myself. You know, I’m trying to, I work for governor organization, one of the largest school districts in the country, I got three kids. I got, my youngest is one. I told you about those dogs. I’m my beautiful wife. And I’ll stab my business that I’m trying to grow and develop the brand. Because like I said, what do you want your story to be when you’re gone?
Mary Kate Soliva (00:36:46):
And I have to ask you just because, you know, I’ve talked to numerous veterans, uh, in our, in the community that are serving beyond the uniform, but not all of them have an immediate family. You know, some of them, some of them are not married or maybe they’re single parents or whatnot. But when you got to the point where you discovered your, why, this was something that had a greater purpose for you, that you wanted to do this, uh, what was that like getting your family support because this isn’t, what you’re doing is not something that every spouse may be supportive of or that every family would do is, and, and having that backing I could tell is like really important to you that, you know, you’re doing this, not just for yourself and the community, but your family as well.
Jake Edwards (00:37:30):
Yeah. I mean, honestly, I, I feel it’s very interesting question. You ask there where sometimes the, the depth of it for me, Mary Kay is like, I’m a trainer. Like I train people to do stuff, but it’s all came from my combat experience. Mm. You know, I mean, cause and the big thing now, when this would get, get us right into the nonprofit stuff that I’ve done. So we lost almost a hundred troops during the battle. Falluja like K for all the battalions together, it’s in the battle itself. It was a dead least month. The entire Iraq war, 141 service members killed a hundred of those were killed in the city of PEH. Right. About right. About a hundred, just a hundred. But we’ve now lost more to suicide from our Marine units and our army unit that was there from the battle than we lost in the battle.
Jake Edwards (00:38:18):
We lost more to suicide now from those units. And I, I read the number the other day, 30,000, 30,000 post 11 troops have taken their life back home. I dunno if that number’s true. But I, I saw that number somewhere mm-hmm <affirmative> and put that in perspective. That’s 20,000 less than how many done Vietnam, which was just horrific. So the servant heart is absolutely alive and well in myself. And so many people that I, that I’m around. And I think it really just came down to my, to my, why all started for me, being able to believe in, I create the narrative of my own life. No one else is gonna get me there. People will help you, but no one’s gonna get you there. And so I’ve always been the kind of person where I, I wanna build a strong foundation. Why and one, if it’s gotta be one block at a time, one day at a time, that’s fine.
Jake Edwards (00:39:17):
But I’ve never been a sprinter when it comes to achievements. And I think what we should try to do for ourselves is ask ourself, be realistic about this. What does anybody out there in this world owe us? What does anyone else owe us? I’m gonna tell you they don’t owe you a single thing. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I have zero, have zero expectations from any other person. So to answer your question about others that don’t have the family don’t have this have zero expectations from anybody else, but live that servant heart where you are literally watering plants, that you will never see grow. You know, those quotes about the trees and shade, water plants that, that you’ll never see grow because I’ll tell you right now, the evil in this world exists. The evil in this world will always have a say, but if you want to bring strength, encourage to this world, a lot of stuff that our service breeds for us.
Jake Edwards (00:40:18):
If you raise your hand for the unknown that I call that one, that one way lotto ticket for the unknown. Yeah, you did that. Remember nobody picked the path that you were gonna take you on. You just, you offered your life, raise your hand and said, take me where you need me. I’ll buy a lotto ticket to be on this team. That’s powerful. We just love the country. Love the country that, that we wore that we wore. And we represented. We wore the cloth of our nation, right? Army wears on your sleeve Marines. They used to call it slick, slick sleeves. We don’t wear flags. Yeah, but, but we that’s the cloth of our nation. And it’s frigging honor to wear that. So many, like right now, our military’s having such a struggle to find service members. But guess what? If I can’t go back and fight, I, why can’t I help support and create next generation to be the better warriors.
Jake Edwards (00:41:10):
And I’m telling you right now, I’m making amazing warriors and our little ninjas. Now these kids that get to train, I’ll share some pictures with you. These, these kids. Why would a kid in the middle school? I, I trained 1200 kids in one day, a few months back. Why would a kid ask a ball? Bearded old guy for his autograph? Because I told, I told all these kids in the three hours I was there. I rotated six different lunches and talked to 1200 kids. I told them, I’m not here to be your teacher. I’m not here to teach you English, Spanish, math, whatever. I’m here to help train you skills that if you need to survive one day, they’re gonna support that. And they freaking loved it. I teach ’em the difference between why would we say like any teacher out there, anybody who works in the school, whoever has, or community center that has kids around don’t ever train your kids to hide in front of the door or where the door will be exposed.
Jake Edwards (00:42:02):
Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. Let’s say the door is open. You can spray water in there without having to come in. Imagine that being bullets instead, where would that water go? That’s where bullets would go. So stay away from the, we call it the fatal funnel. Don’t let them sit down away from the fatal funnel. Have ’em kneel. So I teach the kids to kneel because now they can jump up and move fast. If gunfire starts coming through that door, if they had to move. Right. So a lot of schools still still teach kids to sit down in the corner and wait and wait for another predator. That’s that tactic.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:42:33):
Yeah. I, I have to say that. And, and actually thinking back on it there wasn’t I, I went from, um, I went to a lower funded school. I’d say a public public school. Not a lot of kids. I remember even in my Mel elementary class, I think there was less than a dozen of us. So it wasn’t that many, but I can’t even recall going through that training. The only thing I remember is actually going through fire drills. But like you talked about before about like the, where you get desensitized to it. Whenever the fire alarm would go off, we just like get up and like, oh, here we go. Again. Like, we don’t know if there’s really a fire or not, but I have, I wanted to ask cuz now you you’ve really peaked my curiosity with kids. Uh, do you find that it’s easier? Cause I don’t, I haven’t read studies on this. I, I really don’t know. And can’t speak from expertise by any means. But as far as kids imagine that kids, we learn fear. I feel like over time, like it it’s something that we, we get more fearful and afraid. But with kids, like you mentioned a little ninjas, I’m thinking like they’re a little bit, they’re still deploy where they’re just fearless. They’re they’re karate, chop somebody. But do you find that, that they are fearless and perhaps easier to train than your adult students?
Jake Edwards (00:43:46):
It’s a great question. And they absolutely are. And the reason why is because it’s like, like adult, like I actually came from the adult learning side, adult learners, right? Whole different game, whole different ball game. Adult learners have a resume. They have time on the saddle. They have a perspective kids. It’s a fresh, clean slate. So they’re not, you don’t have to unlearn to then relearn if that makes sense. Yes. So with kids, it’s a great question. I love how you ask that you really made me kind of see it a different way. And I gotta, now I’m gonna use that to help challenge the teachers. Where are you actually hindering your kids
Mary Kate Soliva (00:44:22):
Jake Edwards (00:44:22):
Own own fears? Yes. Yeah. Correct. So here’s the thing with fear. Fear has kept humans alive mammals, right? Fear is kept humans slash male was alive for a long time. Fear is a natural thing. There are things I naturally fear. I hate snakes. Absolutely hate ’em. I grew up in a place where they’re all over the place. And I lived on a farm for a little while and we had a few acres when I was a kid. So they’d be snakes, always hated snakes. And then as I got older, like I went through combat and all this, I still didn’t like snakes. And I started realizing, okay, alright, how can I remove the emotion? Right. Cause that’s the big thing I talked about. Street level street level is the emotional world we live in. It’s the physical, it’s a video game. It’s like, it’s like you on the ground moving.
Jake Edwards (00:45:06):
But third, third player view or whatever they call it. Third person perspective. That’s where you can take away the emotions and you can see yourself and watch your movie from ahead. So with snakes, I had to start literally I’d see a snake. And I remember, for example, I was running trails, close to my work. I was working nice school security to make extra money. While my wife was finishing her OT degree, I’d work my, my full job. And then I’d have an hour break and I’d actually PT on the trail and then go, go to the school and work high school security for four hours. And this one day I literally was running the trail and I almost stepped on a cover head and it was straight copperheads. I started studying ’em cuz of this. And I use ’em now for training with kids when they’re, when they’re in the open, they’ll go straight like a stick.
Jake Edwards (00:45:53):
If they don’t have concealment to hide in. And I literally almost stepped on his head. I was literally like, I’m not even an inch enter in his head. And I didn’t know until I looked down cause there’s sticks all over this trail. It’s out in the, it’s out in the woods. And I look down and I see this straight thing and I see his head as my foot is going down. I’m like, oh my like, boom, my gosh. You know? And I like, I high stepped for a second and then I, I, I stopped and I was like, dude, dude, hold on. I was like, go back and just kinda look at it. Don’t let it own you right now. So I learned how to end that moment of emotion, Mary Kate. And this is my challenge for people, respect your fears in life. I went back and I stood by that copper head.
Jake Edwards (00:46:35):
I grabbed a log to make sure he would get off the trail. Cause I didn’t want anybody else behind me. You know, stepping on that little I E D and um, for, I learned, I took the emotion. I, I was like, dude, hold on. So right. Triangle breathing. Yes. For four in the nose, hold for four out for four, like combat breathe, same similar to combat breathing. And I literally just, I removed the emotion and I was like, I don’t, I’m not fearful of this thing. I respect this thing’s capability. So to me like that’s, that’s all it is. Your fear is you respect something that’s capability and what it can do and the power of it. And so I’ve learned to use that. And I use that for training for kids, and I’ve learned how to talk to staff members, teachers, and I help them learn to unlearn the fear of this thing that you don’t control.
Jake Edwards (00:47:22):
And let’s, let’s talk about what do I control in this moment and what don’t I control? And I’ll go through these things and I’ll say, look, the, the controllable items are what we can focus on the right that don’t control. Uncontrollables are the things we need to accept and learn how to respect the capability of why we, why we can’t control it and why it might fear us. And it’s, it’s tough. Cuz I came in this district, they weren’t teaching defend options, run, hide, fight CA you know, avoid, deny, defend tactics. I came in and brought my military skills from the combat skills training I was doing for the air force and the DOD civilians. And I, I built this national program for our school district and it’s, it’s amazing. And we’re, we’re the top 30 school district in the country. It’s size. And I’m getting a lot of recognition, not just there, but also do a lot of stuff on the outside. I had a defensive practice.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:48:12):
What made you wanna give back? What made, what made you want to, to do this? I mean, to give back, especially for, for kids, like all
Jake Edwards (00:48:20):
Mary Kate Soliva (00:48:20):
The work that you did, mm-hmm <affirmative>
Jake Edwards (00:48:22):
Part of it was when I was after shooter insider threat instructor, I would have to write incident reports on things that happened for our students to like relevant, you know, events. And I remember Sandy hook when I wrote that report, I was like, just like, I was like, oh my gosh, I just, that one, so many others I can name mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, Fort hood had two incidents, you know, and my moms retired kindergarten teacher back in Charlotte. And I remember when these, when these drills, you mentioned fire drills. When the, when the other drills nationally in route 2004, the active threat or intruder drills started coming out and they started using the term lockdown, which I mentioned earlier. It’s, it’s a, it’s a term that doesn’t work for an violence situation when it’s in your space. It works. If it’s outside your space, right.
Jake Edwards (00:49:12):
If it’s not in your environment, you can lock, you know, secure the base, right. To me, that’s what lockdown means, secure the base. Right? So a lot of districts use the term secure the building. If it’s an outside threat, not in the vicinity of the school, secure the building, don’t let anyone out and outside activities end, but you control that building. Now, if it’s violence on your site, that’s where you can go into an act of violence response, but it shouldn’t be locked down. Cuz imagine being in a gun fight in the cafeteria when we were at the chow hall, right. Deployed with locking down, even make sense, Mary Kay. No, the fights there there’s. No,
Mary Kate Soliva (00:49:47):
No. And I like that you mentioned earlier about like the, the entry too, like you try to, you never just run into, and I’ll, I’ll give like an example. Literally just a few weeks ago I was at the gym and all of a sudden, some of the, the trainers were blocking the door and they wouldn’t let anybody leave. Like I saw this little woman trying to leave the gym and they wouldn’t let her leave because it turned out that there was an active shooter next door at the mall. And they were trying to funnel everybody. They had turned half the lights off in the gym and they were trying to funnel people into the locker rooms. There was only one way in the locker room and one way out and the lights were completely off and I looked and I said, I am not going in that locker room.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:50:30):
I mean, literally the other side of the gym that V Jim had had a, a couple exits that way. And there was a way to go round back to where people’s car vehicles were at. But I, I couldn’t believe like even in that situation, like it didn’t at that point, it’s like, it didn’t matter how big, like these were like big bodybuilder dudes that were like blocking the door. And, and just so what you were talking about earlier with the training about that one access point just makes me think. Like, I, I, I wouldn’t wanna be there and, um, people get desensitized and we think we sort of just like stop and freeze and wait for somebody else to tell us what to do. <laugh> and just blindly follow where everybody the herd’s going, you know, instead of trying to think like you, you’re trying to get folks to think.
Jake Edwards (00:51:13):
Yeah. Well, I, it’s funny it’s today in the conference I told you I’m in this conference. I wrote in my notes after one of the instructors was talking and I wrote in there just for notes for me to help, you know, add to my lesson plans, I wrote evil picks the time and place, right? We can’t always prevent evil, picks the time and place. What we can do is pick how we prepare to respond. Hmm. Just like in that’s why, like I’m so passionate about combat veterans coming home and saying the problems we have right now, we are the problem solvers for this. We, what we saw over there. Okay. And it was a place we weren’t, they weren’t evil over there. We were trying to help those people. Those Iraqs that voted, that marked their finger. Those are the peoples that we, that I remember our, uh, at the reunion at the 15 year battle <inaudible> reunion that I planned coordinated and fundraise for.
Jake Edwards (00:52:04):
And I, I did it all myself, had some help along the way, but it was all my vision. And I’m not taking all the credit for that. I’ll give credit to my buddy MC Mike Demer, the Allens who helped out volunteer my golf tournament, Leslie, some other folks. But I was the only one, my buddy, JP, my wife and my uncle rest in peace. Who’s no longer with us. They helped me while I was going through the planning part. When no one else believed that I could do it. Literally people told me, dude, you can’t do this. I was like, what are you? You don’t freaking tell me that. Cause that makes definitely
Mary Kate Soliva (00:52:37):
Gonna do it exactly.
Jake Edwards (00:52:39):
Like now I’m gonna grab you and drag you as I do it with me. So I literally in less than three months, I don’t even, it might have been less than two. I, I planned for fundraising golf tournament with a charity. And the cool thing was I got connected with general Coleman Marine, three star general retired general. We were on the same board together for this nonprofit called a alga charities, which they’ve actually closed their doors. I think COVID wore them out. They were a lot of older folks on that charity and zoom for them. They were like, this is terrible. So they didn’t know closing the charity down and great charity though loved the mission, supported them as much I could. But imagine Coleman had a golf tournament in 2018 and we talked about the battle FIA. They have it called. There’s a Memorial that they’re building at the Marine Corps museum called rendering rendering too.
Jake Edwards (00:53:29):
And it’s actually got my battalion commander, Colonel Willie, BU his quote on the wall where it says the most, the most deadly that I’ve ever seen. Like just a basic quote. And um, we were talking about exhibit opening up. It’s the last exhibit to open up the Marine Corps museum. They’ve been working on it for a long time. And he was like, yeah, it won’t be ready. It might be ready here. So I told him, I was trying to plan this, this reunion and this is gonna be the next year in 2019, which is our 15 year. And so I started planning it and finally, two months out from our, from uh, the golf flight, excuse me, we go back summer 2019. I told the guy the charity, Hey, I wanna do this golf tournament to raise money for the 15 year by of Palusia on November 8th at the national Marine Corps museum.
Jake Edwards (00:54:15):
So I had two months to do golf tournament. I got sponsors, went to Cabellas got gear. I mean, it was all crazy. Got raised $30,000 that, and then got $30,000 more from simplified fund simplify America’s fund for all the food at the reunion. So the golf term was raise money for the event in November. And it was incredible. And it, it showed me that you never know when you go to the store next time and that person that’s let’s see Instacart or whatever, or that person bring your food out. You got store pickup. I literally, I try to be so kind to every person on this earth. And, and if it’s, I don’t wanna get too detailed conversation with him, but I’d say, Hey man, I hope you’re having a great day. Maybe that’s all you can say to somebody. Why not? Why not say it? You never know how that person might be supporting you in helping you a week, two weeks a month down the road. That’s true. But what it does, you might have been that one moment for that person’s day where they didn’t lose their own sh you know what?
Mary Kate Soliva (00:55:19):
Jake Edwards (00:55:20):
Or they, they had some faith in humanity. Like, you know what, that dude was pretty cool. Like, like he didn’t need to do that, you know, or like someone in the service industry. I always ask if places have a military discount food places. And if they do, I take the discount, cuz it’s from the owner of the, you know, the corporate and I give it back in a tip to the people who serve me and with more and I say, Hey, your bosses just gave you more tip.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:55:49):
I love. And again, I mean, I said it earlier on in, in the episode, but just about how intuitive you are and almost say as like, I don’t wanna say like quite an empath, but like you really do. You are able to see like EV acknowledge and recognize that there is evil in this world, but just be to be able to recognize that there’s still a chance for, for everybody. And you, you start to try to identify that good, even in the darkest of places and you have been in the darkest of places and you still see a light there and see a possible way to grow that light, to grow that, that plant, as you were mentioning before and to plant those seeds, and you’re doing that as an instructor like that may not have been like your official title in the Marine Corps, but you innately just do that as, as part of who you are.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:56:39):
And I’m so grateful that you’re using your gift to share with others. And not only just on like the, what you do in the every day, but even the parts that you do to give back. And one of the things that for, I found in, during my transition from the military was that I’m a connector. That wasn’t even a word that I really knew what that was, but I took that Gallop strengths test. And that was like, my number one was your connector. And when I realized, when I read what that was, I was like, that’s, there doesn’t seem as to be as many of us. But I mean, I think of it like with you too, about you bringing in, you identify the talent and the people that you need to be able to make something happen and to connect the dots, knowing that, you know, you are the one that recognizes that you’re sort of seeing with 2010 vision when everybody else is seeing the 20, 70, and you’re just being that guiding force for them to, to direct them on that path.
Mary Kate Soliva (00:57:29):
And so I, I really wanted to, I was like, I feel like I could talk to you all day for sure. <laugh> but I know that they’re gonna tell me that I’m, you know, I’m going on beyond my hour, but I do want to take this opportunity to you given so many words of wisdom today, but is there sort of, um, advice that you would give to those in transition, if you were talking to a room, those transitioning now who are sort of lost, trying to find their next mission, maybe struggling with thoughts, you know, with dark thoughts about what, what their purpose in life is and, and what would you say to those folks?
Jake Edwards (00:58:01):
Yeah. I, I tell folks that that’s, that’s part of your path. You’re gonna find dark times where the lights are out. You’re gonna find yourself in no electricity, you know, perspective per se. And when that happens, you gotta, you gotta remember tell your story in reverse in your life. You know, that you there’s more, you want to do. And if you can’t find purpose in yourself, if you love animals, maybe foster a dog, maybe if you can’t, if you don’t have the ability to do that, you don’t have the, the location or the house or the approval, maybe go volunteer at your local shelter where you can go walk, dogs, be a volunteer. You know, it’s, it’s funny where I work. Our building is right by our, our county animal shelter. And they walk the dogs. I don’t know if it’s because there’s a thousand plus people that work in my building and they’re trying to market them on the street.
Jake Edwards (00:58:54):
I think it’s cuz it’s just part of the path to walk ’em they walk ’em through our parking lot through the woods and you see all these dogs and it’s, it’s like just seeing a dog for me, like my personality. Some people maybe it’s a cat. It like, it just cheers me up like, oh, something that can’t talk to me with actual English or words, but it could tell, it could talk to me so much with just its energy and its body language. So maybe think about if animals are a way out. Okay. And if you don’t like animals, you’re allergic. All right, Roger, that let’s find something else. So find something though that gives you energy. Thinking about good energy, thinking about being part of it. That’s a way to find your passion life. Something that gives you more energy and that doesn’t drain and take from you.
Jake Edwards (00:59:39):
Because right now we live in such a competitive world of technology and the human behavior has been mastered by it gurus. Yes, our algorithms digital, the dig like we’re using digital to connect. This is a good way to connect. I’m not gonna get off here and be all over our social media. I’m gonna get off here and go connect and eat some C tonight with my buddies that I’m here at the conference with. And you know, we’re gonna hang out and, and enjoy this little break I get to have away from home. You know, my wife’s putting a lot of work right now. It’s a burden for her, for me to be here, but I’m not gonna waste the time I’m gonna develop and connect with other people, but find something that gives you energy by just thinking about it or meditation and, or excuse me, and, or just get outside. Yes.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:00:30):
You know, that’s a good one.
Jake Edwards (01:00:31):
Most definitely. If it’s raining, get outside, put a raining jacket on, get umbrella. But sometimes just being outside and moving, like there Larson Dr. There Larson, she’d be great to have on her too for you, but like, oh yeah. Movement RX. That’s her whole business is all about movement. Like our bodies are meant to move. Right. And if you have challenges with your body, with physical ailments, okay. Her job is to literally find you options. She’s a PT. She’s like, I’m gonna me figure out how you need to move. And uh, it’s funny, my wife’s an OT and I’ve actually had them on the phone one time. But like just, it’s just, it’s just so interesting to, there’s so many layers of what we can do out there for that question. What I wanna follow with one last story Mary, about, about the reunion that I play.
Jake Edwards (01:01:16):
Cause that’s the, that’s the, I’ve done five big events. Three of them were nonprofits in the last three years, but it’s all about composure, holding frame and making the movement for relation or working on a relationship. So I promoted, I looked at the website for the national Marine Corps museum. They said they were gonna have the museum ready by November, 2018. So I’m, I’m promoting as an event. I was like, cool, Roger, that there, I’m not gonna check. I’m not gonna challenge their, their information. I’m gonna say Roger, that it’s gonna be ready. So I was promoting my event, Hey, we’re gonna have our national Marine Corps museum at the, the new exhibit. And they did. I showed you that Marine Corps times article came out. The military times article came out a local community article, came out prince William times. And um, and the Marine Corps museum saw the article.
Jake Edwards (01:02:08):
Someone had sent it to them at the foundation staff. And they reached out to me and said, whoa, whoa, whoa, time out. What are you saying? What are you telling people? This exhibit is not even close to me. Ready? And I was like, what? Look at y’all’s website. It’s it’s marketing that it’s gonna be ready. And they’re like, oh, that’s a mistake. So we had to UN learn. We had to, we had to remove what we had put out. And they were like, you, you can’t tell people this, you gotta fix this. So actually what happened was they said, why don’t you come down here and meet with Dar our op chief basically. And their op sheep is a retire Marine. I feel bad. I can’t remember his name, but we didn’t have a great conversation. At first, when I first met him, he had this like almost like a op she type gunny.
Jake Edwards (01:02:53):
Look what have, you know, gunny in the Marine Corps. Yeah. I know looking at me like, who the are you? And what the heck are you putting out? Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so I didn’t, I held frame in that live moment when I first met him, but he wanted basically telling me, Hey, this is what the status of the exhibit is. This isn’t possible. Your, your review is not gonna work, but he wasn’t very, he was a little brace and it might be his personality. But I just, I, I, I learned from my experience in life to like, I’m not gonna get, I’m not gonna be reactive. I’m gonna be proactive, which is a huge part of how I live by. So I just, I accepted, I tried to hold frame and I respected him. I respected his position and his way communicated, even though it wasn’t like, I didn’t enjoy having to take this kind of conversation from him.
Jake Edwards (01:03:43):
It wasn’t very good, but I went through it. He took me on the tour of where the exhibit’s gonna be. And all I got to see all the artifacts and all this stuff was so cool. And, uh, I think he did that for me because I was just calmed and I didn’t react. And after that to, he took me off for like over an hour, I got to see where everything’s gonna be in this new exhibit. It’s just not ready yet. He said, look, general Naski is on the board for this, this exhibit in the museum. And I was like, are you serious? He’s like, yeah. I was like, well, he was our division commander for the battle of Baja. He planned the entire battle base. He’s like, well, I’m gonna I’m, he’s like, I’m gonna connect you, give you his number and connect you with him.
Jake Edwards (01:04:28):
And so general Naoki and I got lunch locally. He lives really close to where I work. Great guy had an awesome conversation. He found out what I was doing. He said, here’s what I’m gonna do. He’s like, look, Jay, we, we, our veterans need this. He’s like, you’re right. The suicide’s off, off the charts right now. He’s like, you know, honestly I five, 10 year, you know, that’s the big numbers for reunions and stuff. He’s like, it’s 15 year reunion. He’s like, we haven’t, haven’t even thought about it really. You know? And so he connected me with Sergeant major Kent, who was the 16 Sergeant major in the Marine Corps. And then I also got connected with Colonel Shep, who is the, was the regimental commander for us and Fallujah BA his nickname was basically, he was the mayor of Fallujah. He like, he was doing everything operational.
Jake Edwards (01:05:13):
So the Marine Corps museum and the foundation staff found out that article came out and they asked me to have a meeting with them about where, how the reunion’s gonna look. Cause what I did was I played a, a whole entire battle reunion, not just my unit three one, but for 3, 3, 1 3 5, 1 8 mm-hmm <affirmative> one, three and army two, two, all the main battalions that were part of the battle for the invasion of that, of that battle. And we literally had over 360 people there showed up and some of the people, Mary Kay, I paid for their entire travel cause they couldn’t afford it to be there. And I got them a hotel room staying for that money I raised.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:05:53):
Wow. That’s incredible.
Jake Edwards (01:05:56):
Let me back up real quick for that one. Um, it was, it was amazing. And I’m so glad I was able to do it. I had to go to my last meeting for the foundation staff before the event to check on status, cuz they, they heard that there was gonna be up to 500 people there and they were like, you can’t handle those numbers. The, the auditorium where we were gonna have our presentation part of the reunion, right. Can only can only hold 360 people. So they were like, we need to meet about this. How are you gonna control people coming in? So I was like, look, I have an event, bright registration. If they’re not on here, they ain’t coming in. And so I go to this meeting and I asked Colonel Shep to help me out. And he shows up with him and he’s on my left. And Sergeant major Carlton, Kent 60 Sergeant major Marine was on my right and we’re sitting at a meeting together. The last time I saw those guys was in Fallujah. Last time I saw the only time I ever saw Sergeant major Kent in person was my first meal, leaving the second bottle Fallujah to go pick up our reinforcement and go shower for the first time. And, and like over a month he was, we stopped at the camp. Falluja math headquarters. He served our child with general Naski that night and general Satler.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:07:06):
That’s the last time you saw him. Wow. And
Jake Edwards (01:07:09):
Then be sitting down my right
Mary Kate Soliva (01:07:11):
Jake Edwards (01:07:11):
And, and he, and he literally took over. If you ever heard him talk, that guy owns the room. He took over and said, look, he said, foundation staff. I want you all to understand this Marine right here. This he’s doing this out of his servant heart. Yes. He’s not trying to cause any trouble here. He’s trying to make these words come together and they literally shut up and it was just complete silence. And it was okay. Let’s just the last few things I think it happens. This is gonna work. And my whole challenge of that to anybody is there’s nothing cool about that. That’s just an amazing opportunity. I got to have in life in a, in a cool little story to tell, but it all came from something very basic. I tried to control my emotions. I held frame, I guess I did a good job of controlling my emotions and someone gave me more than they needed to. But I still, like I said earlier, I still have zero expectations for anything. So if we can do that, if we can master ourself, right control our emotions have zero expectations, but live with a servant heart. It is unstoppable of what passion and purpose you could find life.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:08:17):
Gosh, I love that. And especially that last part about living with a servant heart, but you brought up such a great point about controlling the emotions, cuz I think that’s one thing that we could do a better job on that we don’t do. It’s not like it’s mandated training on how to control our emotions, whether that’s anger. Sadness is like we, we come from all walks of life, all different types of upbringings from across the country. Some grow up in the city, some in the country and they come and join the military serving side by side. But we’re not taught necessarily like how to, to really cope with that stress. Like we know we’re gonna Charlie, Mike, we know we’re gonna continue on and get the, get the mission done. But as far as like, even you mentioned earlier about like coming home and still having that war raging on inside of you being able to be like you brought everybody back together and be able to, to have that camaraderie, reconnect with people that they hadn’t seen in years.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:09:08):
But you all had that same, that common bond of having served in the same place. Having walked in darkness in the same place at the same time and being able to share that moving forward and continuing on the legacy, like you said, of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. So I really love that to continue serving with the, with the servant heart and others recognize that in you. And um, gosh, I, I really want, I, I have no doubt that there’s be people that wanna get ahold of you after this episode. And I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us about how our listeners could get ahold of you, what’s the best platform best way to reach you?
Jake Edwards (01:09:44):
Sure. Well, I love, I hate social media, but I really love and enjoy LinkedIn because I feel like you can be yourself as a deep person and not like, uh, attention getter,
Jake Edwards (01:09:56):
Right. Even though it, it all social media is that in general, but it’s a way to communicate to professionals. Um, so LinkedIn’s my favorite. Just reach me at Jake Edwards or you define lead tactics, my company, and, um, I’ll have Instagram as well, lead tactics and I have Facebook lead tactics, but um, LinkedIn’s my favorite account. Social media wise. I have a YouTube channel called Lee tactics. I put all our podcasts. I record on there with Paul and I used to have one called the weekly pill during COVID. I started that cause I lost my uncle of suicide during COVID and he was a green beret combat vet and he just, his body was shutting down and I was trying to figure out like, what can I do while I’m stuck at home working
Mary Kate Soliva (01:10:37):
Jake Edwards (01:10:38):
<affirmative>, you know, to, to stay like to, to get out of this bunk. So I started a podcast called the weekly pill and pills stand for purpose impact leadership legacy.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:10:49):
And you’ve been talking about that this whole time too, about, about that legacy piece and what sort of story do we want to leave behind in this world? So I really, I really appreciate your time, Jake, thank you so much for, for being vulnerable, being open, sharing your, your story and your legacy with us on behalf of the entire team here at veteran voices. I just wanna say a sincere, thank you, thank you for your service and your sacrifice and for what you continue to do to serve beyond the uniform. Uh, we want to invite our listeners to subscribe to veteran voices, wherever you get your podcast from and a huge thank you to our supporters, our partners at vets to industry. And this is Mary Kay saliva wishing you all an incredible day, nothing but the best. I want you to stay motivated, do good and be the change in this world that’s needed. And as Jake said, you know, what’s that story that you want to leave behind. And on that note, we’ll see you next time. Take care.
Jake Edwards started his professional career in 2003 as a Combat Engineer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and more specifically Operation Phantom Fury (Second Battle of Fallujah) in 2004 with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. He served with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines in 2005 during Iraq’s first free election. He honorably discharged as a Sergeant from the Marine Corps Reserves in 2009. In 2010, Jake was hired as a Contingency Skills Instructor to help support requirements for military troops deploying to hostile/austere environments. In 2012, he transitioned to another training command and within one year rose to the ranks of Assistant Chief Instructor (filling an O-3 billet). There his training supported military advisors deploying to over 140 countries. The main course he supported was a rigorous six-week course that helped military advisors prepare for the challenges of language, region, culture, and field-craft skills needed to thrive in uncertain and hostile environments with limited support. Also, he was the lead instructor for active shooter/insider threat training for armed and unarmed deploying students. This was a vital position due to the green on blue threat with our host nation allies. Since 2016, Jake has been employed by one of the largest public school divisions on the east coast (US). Originally, he filled the position of School Security Training Specialist. In 2019 he was promoted to the Administrative Coordinator of Crisis Readiness. He is a certified School Security Officer Trainer and is also the district instructor that conducts staff crisis management training, along with leadership development training for 100 schools and 13,000+ staff. Jake has hundreds of hours of professional development and training courses, notably, Massad Ayoob – Armed Citizen Response, Chase Hughes – Behavior Profiling/Influence, Risk Strategic Management – Master Instructor of School Security, Monadnock Expandable Baton Instructor Course, NRA-LE Tactical Shooting Instructor Course, Military – Academic Instructor Course, and Sapper School – USMC Advanced Engineer Course.
Degrees and Professional Development:
Associate of Science: Business Administration, PVCC – Graduation, 2011
Bachelor of Science: Occupational/Technical Services – Training Specialist, Old Dominion University – Graduation pending, December 2022
Statewide Community of Practice for Excellence [SCOPE], University of Virginia Curry School – Leadership Cohort, 2019-2021
Notable Volunteer Work:
Jake planned and coordinated the 15-year, Second Battle of Fallujah reunion at the National Marine Corps Museum in 2019. He was able to fundraise over $60,000 with a large golf tournament, that allowed over 300 guests to attend the reunion at no charge. During his efforts he collaborated with four non-profits, Azalea Charites, Semper Fi/America’s Fund, Reunite The Fight, and The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Connect with Jake on LinkedIn.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Data Analytics and Metrics Intern
Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.