Students at the U.S. Naval Academy are required to select a sport. Many continue sports that they played in high school or while growing up. ‘Iron Mike’ Steadman selected boxing, something that would go beyond meeting a graduation requirement to become his greater mission.
Iron Mike Steadman is a Marine Corps Veteran, a published author, three-time National Boxing Champion, a Naval Academy Graduate and the founder of IRONBOUND Boxing. He went on deployment in Afghanistan, Japan, and the Philippines before finishing his time in service and finding his way back to boxing, a sport he picked up while at the Naval Academy.
In this interview, “Iron Mike” speaks with host Mary Kate Soliva about:
• Why he thinks military leadership is so different than private sector management
• How he uses boxing to help inner city kids become world-class humans, an ecosystem of champions both in and out of the gym
• The unique opportunity that exists within the black veteran entrepreneurial community
Veteran Voices is produced in partnership with Supply Chain Now, the Guam Human Rights Initiative, and the Military Women’s Collective.
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 (00:39):
Hello everyone. This is Mary Kate Soliva here with you today. I am your guest host, who I should say your actual main host here. We don’t have Scott with us today, but here with you on Veteran Voices. Gearing up for an incredible podcast episode today with one of my favorite veterans. Uh, but before we start and, and hear from him in a bit, we’re gonna talk about a little bit programming notes here. We are part of the supply chain Now, family of Programming, and today’s show is in partnership with, at nonprofit, near and dear to me, the Guam Human Rights Initiative. And you can learn more about what they’re doing at Guam, h r i.org. And also my Navy veterans sister out there, marina Rabbinic, the founder of Military Women’s Collective, and you can learn more about the incredible work she is doing out there in California at military women’s collective.org.
Mary Kate Soliva (01:29):
Uh, great partners there and check them out. And today’s show is also going to be talking about, uh, I consider him a friend, a mentor, uh, fellow Hoover veteran Fellowship friend of mine. He is a Marine Corps veteran, and also somebody who you should follow. And he’s a published author, FreeTime, national Boxing Champion, Naval Academy Graduate Marine Corps veteran. I mean, he’s, he wears, uh, many hats, has many titles, and he’s out there hustling, making it happen every day. Newark, New Jersey, and Nationwide. Uh, he’s also the founder of Ironbound Boxing, and I’m so honored to welcome with us on the show, iron Mike Steadman. So thank you so much for joining me today, Mike.
Mike Steadman (02:18):
Thank you for having me, Mary Kate, it’s good to see you again.
Mary Kate Soliva (02:21):
I was like, good to see you too. And I was like, I realized I had to roll right into that without taking a breath, cuz I was like, there’s so many things that you’re doing right now, um, and with your own podcast. So I just wanted to, to start off today, I know you probably, you have a list of great quotes that I even took notes on from your, your book, but I was wondering if you could kick us off today with a fair motivational quote or lyric of yours.
Mike Steadman (02:46):
Yeah, I don’t know who’s, but I just remember, um, battles don’t always go longer a faster man, but sooner, man, that wins is the man that can, and I just goes to the aspect of just confidence and belief in, in yourself, even when you’re against the odds. And that has always stood out and it’s something I’ve con uh, myself, myself over and over again.
Mary Kate Soliva (03:06):
Oh, I love that. I actually, I think you’re the, the first guest that’s, that’s highlighted that quote and I can see who that really resonates with where you’re at now and, and where you started from now. And for those of us who are just tuning in audio here, I, Mike is, he’s not an old man. He’s, he’s a young man and he’s out here getting it, making things happen. And Mike, I’m just so impressed with what you’ve accomplished, uh, in j in just a short amount of time and just even what you’re getting after year, after year. Uh, but I was wondering if you could take our listeners back to, uh, your upbringing. And I know you touched on it a bit in your book, black Veteran Entre Entrepreneur, uh, but where’d you grow up at?
Mike Steadman (03:46):
Yeah, I was, I’m origin from, uh, Bryan College Station, Texas, but also claim Tyler, Texas, because I lived Tyler and Brian College Station. Um, growing up my grand, my family there. We lived there a few years, then my mom job working in Bryan School, and then we back to Tyler and to Bryan ultimately up high school in College Station. And so that’s why I claim that the most, but grew up in Texas, a lot of people think I’m from Newark because of here and I so hard. But I’m not from Newark. I just to Newark. I’m, when I transitioned out Encore in 2015.
Mary Kate Soliva (04:22):
Oh, great. So, but do you claim, would you say you claim Newark now though Newark is your home
Mike Steadman (04:26):
Now? I do claim Newark. I do claim Newark, absolutely.
Mary Kate Soliva (04:29):
But Texan at heart, <laugh>, what’s a, yep. Um, if you could a little bit, so I know like, would, would you say it was a small town upbringings for you?
Mike Steadman (04:38):
Uh, it’s a be small town. I mean, I’m not gonna say it will, I don’t wanna use be disrespectful, but it was a, it was a college town, Teza University was there, um, obvious. It’s like, like the big metropolitan area used to now like, uh, you know, New York or Newark or Philly, et cetera. But it was a really bustling town. I’m not gonna say that there wasn’t a lot to do, um, really enjoyed growing up there, but it was great. I have no complaints about my upbringing. Uh, while at times <inaudible>, I’m very thankful for the, the challenges and I was able to overcome, um, because I ultimately, you know, um, very happy where I’m at in life. And I, a lot of that too, the upbringing I had.
Mary Kate Soliva (05:22):
Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. Um, so I think that’s, I think that’s a testament to just where you came from. You said a college town, but you, you’re, I think you’re also like a serial networker. You really know how to bring people together. Um, you mentioned about your mom, so I was wondering you could touch a little bit with our listeners today about your upbringing, like it meant talk a little bit about your mom. So I, I think, uh, she just sounds like a really strong, incredible woman. Just saw a little bit what I’ve heard about her.
Mike Steadman (05:49):
Yeah, so my mom, um, she’s a director of special education at, uh, Bryan High School. Um, so she was, grew up as an educational, um, administrator, like I said, really focused on special education. But yeah, she raised me by herself, so me and my older sister, my older sister, about six years older than me and Ms. Candace. And so she ended up going to, uh, university of Texas and then going to a and m for grad school. I chose to go to the Naval Academy and ultimately ended up going to Rutgers for grad school. But the entire time we were growing up, my mom worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over our head, you know, um, from working the front desk of the Y M C A in the evening to, uh, catering, jobs, whatever she could do to, you know, um, pay the bills. And so again, that’s the character I grew up in.
Mary Kate Soliva (06:32):
And is it true testament to who you are as, as a person today? I think you just working off of anything. I think one of the things I love about what you, Mike, is that you’re so innovative, you know, you know how to make a lot out of something little and you come out with those challenges, <laugh>. And I know from, from our perspective, it’s probably like Mike’s just got it all together and I know it’s not necessarily the case, but I think it, it just seems to come a lot from like what you’re saying about your mom just out there making it happen. Finding a way.
Mike Steadman (07:00):
Yeah. I mean, um, sometimes you just gotta figure it out, you know? Um, growing up, like I said, we didn’t have much. We made, we did the best we could with what we had. And so that’s always just been a part of my, um, philosophy of just, you know, figuring out, being thankful for what you have, you know, casting your bucket where you are and making magic outta nothing. Sometimes you gotta turn lemons in the lemonade.
Mary Kate Soliva (07:22):
I love that. I love that. And so you ended up talking about choosing the Naval Academy all places now. You were, you grew up in a college town, so what made you not wanna go just down the street?
Mike Steadman (07:35):
Um, I think it was just too close to home. Um, for one, I wanted to go to the military and, you know, I could potentially pursue the Core cadets in a and m and I was actively pursuing it. But, you know, once I found out about the Naval Academy, I realized like, not only do you have an opportunity to serve your country, um, and the Navy or Marine Corps, but it also pays for school. Right now there is a five year commitment. Yeah. But that was super appealing to me. And then also I think when I started learning more about the prestige of like, Annapolis, it was a new place, it would be a, a great opportunity for like a fresh start. And so I was really excited about that because, you know, when you go to school where you grow up, sometimes it can stifle your like, personal growth. And I had always been one of those people that like I wanted to leave Texas to for school. I, even from an early age, I knew the world was big and I wanted to get out there and explore it. And I just felt like Annapolis was a great opportunity for me to do so.
Mary Kate Soliva (08:30):
Uh, absolutely. And I, I know I had mentioned earlier, um, in the intro about you being three-time national boxing Champion. Now was, was boxing something that you were recruited for or is that something that you just stumbled into? How did that happen for, cuz you, you played for Navy, right?
Mike Steadman (08:47):
Yeah, no, I was not. People think because I’m so passionate about boxing that I somehow grew up with it. That’s not the case at all. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s just that when you go to the the Naval Academy, you have to pick a sport, right? Um, I grew up playing high school basketball, so I was used to that camaraderie and going to practice and everything. And so, you know, I didn’t wanna do intermurals at Navy and so I tried a couple different things, one being crew and ultimately I settled on boxing and just fell in love with it. Struggled a little bit at first, but ultimately found out I was really good at it. And then it’s just been a part of my life ever since,
Mary Kate Soliva (09:20):
You know, and I think that’s really great for, for those that may be trying to start something later in life and just, uh, saying it’s this not too late to start. Cuz you clearly started as a, as a young man, as an adult. And, uh, look at you now, <laugh>. I mean, and you’re out there in the rink like making mentoring others, other kids in New York, New Jersey. Um, so again, when at the Naval Academy you get that option to essentially choose like which pathway you wanted take. Now did you know at the time they won like you wanted to be a Marine or was that something that, that came, how, how did that happen?
Mike Steadman (09:54):
I think I went to Navy with my options opened. Um, I think at the time I wanted to be a Navy Seal to be, um, honest, but once you get there and you realize the reality of what it takes and swimming and being cold and wet was not my jam. I also thought about being a pilot at one point, a Marine pilot, but also that was another skillset that like, I just really didn’t have, you know, in terms of, you know, there’s a lot of math and physics associated with that as well. But yes, I really, one thing that was always underlying was I wanted to be a ground pounder, right? So even though I would explore these different things, I still always came back to like Marine Infantry Officer and ultimately that’s what I chose to pursue. Now when you go from the Naval Academy, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to be an infantry officer or be a Marine.
Mike Steadman (10:40):
Nonetheless, you have to basically apply for it. So I was able to get Marine Corps and then once I graduated, you know, I had to go through the basic school and I earned the right to be an infantry officer. And so I got to do that throughout my career. But I guess one thing I didn’t mention too was going back to the boxing thing, was uh mm-hmm <affirmative>, when I mentioned I was good at it, I went on to win three National boxing championships and two most valuable Boxer awards as a light heavyweight. And then finished up this captain on my boxing team. So boxing was very impactful in my life.
Mary Kate Soliva (11:10):
And just, and, and for those who don’t know, it’s like you’re going through that, those four intense years, you’re not just in the academic setting, but also learning how to be a leader, how to be an officer, um, and, and what it takes. So on top of all of the challenges of being at Service Academy are also in there getting it and at the Box Academy and just wanted to give, you know, just a shout out and and memory to our, you know, mutual, um, fr Tenorio who is just, you know, out there, was on boxing team with you and was a near dear friend of mine who, who we’ve lost since, but, um, also from Guam. So again, I just, um, think it’s incredible that you said ground powder cuz I’m, I’m thinking like, as a boxer, as one ground pounder ended up in the Marine Corps. Uh, where did it take you after you commissioned, where’d you end up going right after?
Mike Steadman (12:02):
Yeah, so I was stationed in camp June, North Carolina with First Battalion, eighth Marines. I went on deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, and then I deployed again in, um, uh, 2014 to Japan and the Philippines with the same unit. So I spent my entire Marine career, um, at 18. Now, when you first go on the Marine Corps, there was that whole year of training, which was the basic school followed by the infantry officer course, but both of those were in Quantico, Virginia. So right after I graduated though and was done with I O C, you know, I went to North Carolina and, uh, ended up my, um, time in the military there.
Mary Kate Soliva (12:39):
I wanna say we have some like similar, uh, timelines that, or not timelines, but pathways there. Cause I also ended up in the Philippines in service and also in North Carolina. Like, how’s, how’s your Tagalog right now? And
Mike Steadman (12:52):
A good, a non-existent
Mary Kate Soliva (12:54):
Oh my goodness. I know. I was like, mine’s clunky. Long, just a little bit for me. Um, sorry for all my speakers out there listening and I’m butchering it, but, um, I thought that was an incredible, uh, time for, for me as well in, in the Philippines. So North Carolina, and you’re coming out of service, but before we get there, did you have somewhere along the way in that time in the Marine Corps, any sort of of mentors that, that stick out to you from that time?
Mike Steadman (13:23):
Yeah, Christopher Wynn, he was my company commander at the time. He was a captain. I’m not sure what rank he is now, but, uh mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when I was, um, after I got back from Afghanistan, you know, they shuffle units around and everything, so I had to get a new, uh, company commander. And, uh, he was just great. He poured into me, he poured into all of us, um, really made that, um, deployment enjoyable. Um, and actually I didn’t even deploy. I did a whole workup with, uh, that company, which was Bravo Company at the time. So like nine months together, bonding with the other platoon commanders, bonding with the company commander. And ultimately because of my performance there, I got promoted to what’s called Cat Platoon, which is weapons, which is in weapons company. Oh, wow. So a more senior position. And so I didn’t actually get to deploy to the Philippines and Japan with Bravo Company. I deployed with a whole new unit. But it was great. And I really appreciate Christopher, um, for, um, just making that time enjoyable, you know, especially coming back from Afghanistan, you know, my confidence was a little shot, so I had to build that back up and, uh, it was just great all around.
Mary Kate Soliva (14:25):
Yeah. And it’s, was that something, I think with the, the Marine Corps and being one of the smaller branches, you know, you really get that time to get to know the, the men and women that you’re, you’re leading. Um, is that something that a, as far as some self-growth, was there something lessons learned for you being in a position of leadership, especially in a combat zone?
Mike Steadman (14:46):
I think, um, just being in the hot seat, understanding what leadership means, understanding what it it means to really, um, empower your, your junior Marines, because you’re not gonna be standing over their shoulder in combat. It’s just not the reality. It’s not how it’s set up. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, we’re in this age now where people want to track people once they log on their computers, that you get the work done, you know, just all this maximum productivity. But at the end of the day, when you’re in a combat zone, you actually have to trust people who are gonna be, um, do what they say they’re gonna do. Right? So that’s why in the Marine Corps, you know, the core values of honor, courage, and commitment, it’s real. And so, um, you know, the art of just delegating leadership, delegating, you know, trusting yourself, trusting your leaders, you know, that was a big thing for me and having the reps to do it, because one of the things I’m finding out more and more in the civilian world, you know, we have this term leadership, but a lot of people have never really been in a leadership position, you know?
Mike Steadman (15:41):
Oh, that’s true. More often than not, it’s a managerial position and a lot of times you can have a whole career without ever being responsible for other people. And so, um, I’m very thankful that I got to learn that through the school of hard knocks early on. And it’s just a way of life for me at this point.
Mary Kate Soliva (15:56):
I like the, the school of hard knocks, and not everybody’s gone through, through that. And I, I know of a, some folks that I can think of on the top of my head that are avoiding ever being in a position where they’re leading people, but there’s, uh, there, there’s something to be said about being able to inspire, even if it’s just one person. Like, and you mentioned Christopher, and I’m sure you know him tuning in, that he’d appreciate you remembering that. Just any, anything that he’s taught you while taking you under his wing and just being able to pass that knowledge forward. Um, I think it’s something that you’re continuing to do today, even just for me sitting on the sidelines, you’re still doing it and, uh, inspiring folks of all ages. And you’re wearing, like I said, many hats and, and leading it. Um, I, I did want to, to get into, um, coming back from, like you said, those leadership points, how you’ve taken those leaderships. Now, as you said, you were the founder of Ironbound Boxing. If you could talk to us a little bit about Ironbound boxing, but firstly how you ended up getting into it. What, what made you realize that there’s a gap and you need to fill it and you’d be that
Mike Steadman (17:01):
Guy? Yeah. So while I was at Navy, and I’ve said this before, you know, being a three time national champ, I spent a lot of time at InnerCity boxing gyms and Baltimore, dc New York City. And one of the things that bothered me was a lot of young men and women inside these gyms looked like me, so mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, at the Naval Academy, there aren’t too many, they’re, they’re better now, but at the time, there just wasn’t that many, uh, black midshipmen period. And then you go inside the inner city and boxing is a poor man’s sport, so you end up having a lot of black and brown kids. And while we box at the academy, ultimately we’re gonna serve our country as officers in the military graduate from a world-class institution, and then we’ll get out of the military and start businesses, work in corporate America, et cetera.
Mike Steadman (17:44):
But inside these inner city gyms, the kids felt like their only option was to turn pro as they’ve seen others do or go to the streets, right? That was the only pathway that was presented to kids for boxing. And I just felt like it was a broken system because, you know, at all the service academies from Air Force, west Point Navy, it’s all that same mission. Like, yes, we box, but we’re so much more than that, right? It’s not the end all be all right. Boxing is used as a leadership tool as opposed to, you know, our professional careers. And so I just wanted to present, um, boxing as a more of a capacity building tool for youth. Yes. And so that planted the seed for what will become ironbound. And when I transitioned out in 2015, took a job working at a private school in Newark called St.
Mike Steadman (18:27):
Benedict’s Prep Men All Boys School, right in the heart of downtown Newark that catered to young men of color. They’ve since expanded to, uh, women as well, but at the time it was an all boys school, and I lived in the residence hall with, uh, 70 teenage boys for three years as wow. As their house parent. But what that job gave me one, it was in the evening, it allowed me to coach boxing in the afternoons, and it also gave me the flexibility to build ironbound when I was, uh, approached by the city of Newark when I approached the city of Newark to build out a new boxing gym. And so, um, that kind of took off and, you know, we, I started a free gym doing exactly what I, I planned to do. Then over the years, it’s just grown in the, you know, this amazing program where we provide free amateur boxing training at the Ironbound Boxing Academy. We provide entrepreneur education, teaching kids how to bootstrap a small business, um, and then third scholarship opportunities for our, our athletes. And so we’re building our own little ecosystem to great build champions in and out of the ring. Again, the goal is not to merely create like world-class amateur boxers, it’s to create world-class humans. And some people golf, you know, some people like coding, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> in, in Newark and other inner cities. We like boxing. And so that’s how we build relationships and rapport and confidence in the youth that we serve.
Mary Kate Soliva (19:48):
That’s incredible. And definitely my hat’s off to you and commend you for the hard work that you’re doing and the patience that is taken, you know, to even put yourself with, uh, and, and live with, uh, teenagers and getting to understand them. You’d mentioned earlier about boxing being a poor man’s sport. What are some challenges? How, how have you tackled that negative, that historical negative connotation affiliated with boxing? Um, like you said, you mentioned boxing, or I mean golfing, but golfing we think of like, uh, people in business suits, you know, going out there maybe the elite or involved in golfing. Um, but you’re, you’re talking about boxing here and Yeah,
Mike Steadman (20:28):
I think, um, boxing is one of those things where most people are on the outside looking in, so, right. Everybody loves boxing. It’s a great workout. You’ve got fitness boot camp, boxing gyms popping up all over from the, you know, rumble. And then in Newark we have grip boxing, so it’s cool and it’s hip. But in terms of capacity building for inner city youth, I think now, I think people are so far removed from, let me rephrase this. I think the people best positioned to, um, provide capital and affect change in the inner city are also the ones that are furthest removed from it, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it’s almost like they’re on different wavelengths. And so I think certain programs sound good, like an afterschool tutoring program or a coding program, but there also has to be this pull from the community, right? And yes, boxing is something that, I mean, Muhammad Ali, right?
Mike Steadman (21:23):
Prime example, the branding has been built, it’s established. Kids wanna feel like a champion. You don’t have to sell boxing. You really don’t have to educate boxing to these kids. They get it, they know it and they want it, right? And so rather than fight against that, we use that. And while some institutions are more interested in, like I said, after school programming and all that other stuff, we stick to what we’re good at, which is amateur boxing. And we talk to an audience in terms of our funders that understand that. And that’s why you see me so much in the veteran community, because those are the ones that typically fund us more than anyone else. Veteran, nonprofit, I mean, veteran businesses, uh, nonprofit leaders, the veteran community as a whole, and its affiliations. They understand boxing provides an opportunity to build confidence, resilience, courage, and grit.
Mike Steadman (22:13):
And they understand that kids in a challenging environment in inner city, they lack a lot of ’em lack confidence, let’s just be honest. And so they need a place where they can go build themselves up, and boxing makes sense to them. So we don’t fight it l as much as we used to. I’m very targeted in terms of what I dedicate my time and attention to. And if people feel some kind of way about boxing, it’s not my responsibility to, you know, educate them, this person, my personal opinion, um, because they’re never gonna support us anyway. So I would rather support, I would rather spend that time effort on people who get us understand what we’re doing and are more than willing to. Yeah,
Mary Kate Soliva (22:52):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think even now as an adult, when I sit into, in courses, like certification courses is usually like a, a booklet, the latest edition manual that’s telling me like, box methodology, this is how you need to go from step A to to Z, and this is how you’re gonna do it. But, and, and just watching and, and tuning into some of your podcast too, and just what your methodology and how you’re helping these kids, you’re giving them that space and that room to grow and really have, go through that self journey of self-discovery instead of you coming in there and being like, you’ve had this w wealthier wealth of knowledge, much one of the top kings country world experience coming with all this leadership experience as well. And you’re not telling these kids this is, this is what you need to do. You’re, you’re, you’re empowering them to be able to, to do that, to find it for themselves and to grow that confidence, which I think is absolutely incredible. Um, but the fact that you identified the, that the veteran organization or veteran businesses were able to, to help you and they’d identify more, I think is really interesting. Did you wanna add to how you, you came upon that discovery to, to bridge that gap?
Mike Steadman (23:59):
Yeah, I mean, for years it was, I was fighting an uphill battle to raise funding for our program. And then one day I looked up and I got my biggest donation from a Naval Academy classmate, and I was like, oh, that’s interesting. And then I started looking at some other donations and then realized like, by and large, they were veterans anyway. And so then I started to really kind of double down on that. And especially when the pandemic hit, so many veterans reached out to me to support what we were doing. And that’s really when I knew. And so that’s around that time, right around 2020, like, I was already kind of making the transition because I won a big grant in 2019 through the Street Shares Foundation for 25 K. And so then, um, by the time I, you know, 2020 hit, I had already been like, yeah, I need to focus on nourishing these relationships with the veteran community.
Mary Kate Soliva (24:46):
And I, and I will add that you basically, you essentially left corporate America to be able to, to do this full-time. Um, is that, is that right? Like you’re, you’re doing this full-time, right?
Mike Steadman (24:57):
Yeah. So I never worked in corporate America, right? Like, I, I, I got out the military and I took a job working at St. Benedict’s, and I literally wore board shorts and drank coffee and ate bacon like every day, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Now I was a house parent mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so I made sure kids got out the house, but I never worked in corporate America. And, um, I knew because I knew boxing was a poor man’s sport, and amateur boxing was an extremely poor man’s sport that, um, I would need to have some income for myself, um, if I want to do ironbound full-time. So as I think sometimes we sell this vision of like, oh, I’m gonna quit my job and I’m gonna start this nonprofit and it’s gonna be great. But certain business models are just hard, right? Yeah. Um, whether they’re nonprofit or for-profit.
Mike Steadman (25:42):
So if you open a restaurant, it’s notoriously hard, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> just what it is. You start a consumer packaged goods company selling stuff outta your, that you’re cooking, you know, or bacon or whatever. And selling online, it’s notoriously hard, right? Because there’s a lot of costs, there’s a lot of time and labor nonprofit, same thing. And so, yep. I wasn’t banking on I I w I, although I wanted to be able to do Ironbound full-time, and it would’ve been great if I could have had a salary from the nonprofit at the time, we only had like $3,000 in a bank account, so that wasn’t realistic for me. And so when I left my full-time job, I attempted to stand up a for-profit arm of ironbound teaching onsite boxing classes to companies in the New York City metro era, which I ultimately did, um, turn into a little lifestyle business for myself, which in turn allowed me to grow the nonprofit.
Mike Steadman (26:33):
Cause I had the freedom and flexibility to do it when I wasn’t teaching these corporate boxing classes. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But ultimately the pandemic, uh, put that business out, mainly because businesses fail for two reasons. Number one, no market need, and they run outta cash. And when the pandemic hit, there was no longer a need for on-site boxing classes. And so while my clients, some of them able to, uh, pivot to doing virtual, it just wasn’t fulfilling me. It wasn’t fulfilling to me. Like that’s not what I had got into. I’m a people person. And so I ultimately ended up shutting down that business and launching what became Ironbound Media producing podcasts and creating content for veteran organizations and businesses.
Mary Kate Soliva (27:13):
No, and I think just even, and you’re consulting now too, correct?
Mike Steadman (27:16):
Yeah. Business coaching,
Mary Kate Soliva (27:18):
Business coaching, which I think, you know, for anyone out there you are incredible wealth of knowledge. You have a lot of backing. You ha you have a genuine, uh, nature and a good heart that, I mean, if anyone listening out there needs a, a business coach, uh, I think you have, you have overcome so many, uh, challenges, like you said, $3,000 in the bank account, and that would be nerve-wracking for anybody, uh, to be able to take that leap and especially to see how successful you are now without having even stepped into corporate America, I think is incredible. Um, so, which brings me to wanting to touch on your, your book, A Black Veteran Entrepreneur. I actually have it here with me, an autograph copy. Um, thank you. Don’t be jealous to our listeners. Uh, but y you had, uh, co-wrote that with Lana Abernathy, which who’s also an Evil Academy graduate. And if you could just share a little bit about how this book came about and, and talk to, I I think it’s better coming from you, the book instead of me sharing it <laugh>.
Mike Steadman (28:16):
Yeah. When I got out, like most of us, when we transitioned outta the military, we know very little about business, right? Um, right. And so when I came up with this idea to start Ironbound boxing, I was just the guy trying to fund a free boxing program. I had no real business acumen. I was just trying to will it with grit and determination. And ultimately, I started to get exposed to these entrepreneur education programs offered to the veteran community first Stanford Ignite for post nine 11 veterans. It was like a four week entrepreneurial bootcamp at Stanford’s graduate School of business that I got to participate in. I got connected with Labs, a national network of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs committed to growing the ecosystem of businesses and that community, uh, street chairs, just tons of these amazing programs. And back in 2017, when I first went to Stanford night, I was the only black male in my cohort of like 30.
Mike Steadman (29:10):
Wow. And so, the more and more of these programs I went to, I kept seeing a pattern over and over again of like, Hey, where are all the black veteran entrepreneurs? And I realized that rather than, and I know they’re out there, um, but a lot of times certain communities can, whether they intend to or not, not create agency where people feel like, oh, this is for me. Right? So over 40% of the military is minority, period. But when you will look at the companies that were getting invested in by the military community, right? You know, um, I wasn’t seeing, uh, that reflected, uh, that number, right? And so essentially, rather than putting a thumb in people’s eye, I decided to be part of a solution instead of the problem. And I came up with this idea to write a Blackbird and entrepreneur with Alana, with Alana, to teach our community how to, uh, launch a venture, whether you’ve received funding or not, and just sharing some of the lessons I learned over the years from running Ironbound boxing, launching ironbound media, investing in business coaching, um, and all the knowledge and books and stuff I read so that way people feel empowered and we can start to grow this community and create a networked effect of more blacked entrepreneurs, brown entrepreneurs, you know, just underrepresented entrepreneurs in general.
Mike Steadman (30:32):
And also with the intent that not only do these entrepreneurs build their ventures and, um, grow them, that they also reinvest in their local community in some capacity. So that was the other thing that, um, a lot of the black fared and entrepreneurs I came across through pitch competitions, et cetera, they all had this social focus to their businesses. And that’s something that I wanted to cultivate and say, Hey, that’s okay. And so really Black fared entrepreneur is more of Alana and mine’s point of view of how we see the entrepreneurial landscape, but it’s more than that. It’s also a playbook. So, you know, sometimes people write books and it’s, uh, this is me and my story. I’m important. That’s not the case. If anything, my story is just like one of eight featured, um, throughout the book, I believe. Um, and it’s more of a case study. Um, so I hope people, um, enjoy it and get value out of it, but more important, implement it and pass it along.
Mary Kate Soliva (31:28):
No, I a hundred percent. And I just wanna applaud you for, for being transparent. I was up to like two o’clock in the morning, uh, over the holidays, uh, when I, when I got your book home. And, uh, I was, I was taking notes and I, for those, you know, like for me, I just started my own nonprofit this past year. And so many, like you said, just that playbook. So many things that you brought up were things that I’m facing right now, or was facing at the time when I was reading the book. And I was passing that on to my, my co-founder. And there’s just so many nuggets of information here and lessons learned that I appreciate it. And like you say, it, it is definitely not a book about, look at me, look at me. I’m Iron Mike, you, there’s things in here that you were, you were just transparent about your failures too, which I really appreciate. You didn’t say it like you, you never stepped foot in corporate America, and you had it all figured out and you found a way to, you know, there was stuff that you faced. Um, and I love that you started way back to just even your upbringing, um, to know that you weren’t, you know, you didn’t come out born with the silver spoon in hand. Um, so I appreciate that, Mike.
Mike Steadman (32:36):
Thank you. What was the biggest, um, is there anything, anything in the book that stands out to you more than anything else?
Mary Kate Soliva (32:41):
I, you know, it’s like the confidence. Cause I, I’ve talked to you in person about this before. The, when that the, the fact that you hadn’t stepped into corporate America, you talking about funding yourself, like don’t be afraid to, to fund yourself. Um, I, I know I was looking at like how you have created, like you said, the ecosystem, and you were able to, to, you didn’t say like, I’m just the founder of Ironbound boxing, and, and that’s, that’s it. You’ve managed to again, be that business coach. You found you’re running a podcast, you’re engaging with folks that are or smarter than you, but that your whole section, even just, I think about funding, investing in yourself, funding, don’t be afraid to fund yourself, was something that I realized that I wasn’t doing, that I was just like feeling kind of stuck, you know, like <laugh>, I can’t find anybody to, and I have to somehow tell the story to get people to, to be on board.
Mary Kate Soliva (33:34):
But I think that part was something that was a chapter that I really appreciated. Again, just knowing a little bit about your upbringing too was, um, was strong. So, um, I wanted to to touch on the fact what you said about the black veteran entrepreneur that you didn’t see other folks, uh, other, other folks writing about this topic. And you mentioned about, uh, black veteran entrepreneurs being underfunded and underestimated no different than the rest of our nation’s black entrepreneurs. And you said, I envision a reimagined future where rather than relying on others to fund us, we fund ourselves starting our own venture capital funds to invest in one another. And communities, uh, could you, could you touch on that? Have, have you seen that the power of that working for you now?
Mike Steadman (34:23):
Um, not so we cons, I’m constantly investing in other founders in general, whether it’s through time, right? And so sometimes time is money, right? So making time to, you know, talk them through brand strategy, you know, provide them insight and advice is super impactful. But one of the things that I was getting on is, you know, we know that there’s this gap in the ecosystem in terms of funding, right? But we can’t expect others to fund us if we don’t fund ourselves. So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I envision a future where, you know, we create these cash flow positives, small businesses and venture back startups that way we can fund our own, you know, venture studios sent invest in other black owned businesses or black veteran entrepreneurs mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s not just about investing in black veteran entrepreneurs, it’s about investing in black entrepreneurs, period. And I just feel that, you know, black veteran entrepreneurs within that group represent the biggest untapped resource because you know, our peers, let’s just be honest, right?
Mike Steadman (35:20):
I’m a black person in Newark, and let’s say I went to college, right? I might have a lot of student loans, right? Yep. That I’m still paying off. So there’s a lot more risk associated me going into entrepreneurship, paying myself, et cetera. If I’m a black veteran entrepreneur living in Newark, right? And I went to school, school was paid for, I got the GI bill, I got all this leadership experience, right? Hmm. A local newarkers do not have the same social network we have. And veterans are different because you can have two veterans having the same kind of business and business model, but no veteran wants another veteran to fail. So we’re constantly helping each other out, whereas in, you know, other communities like Newark, that might not necessarily always be the case, right? And so what I’m trying to say of like, okay, people are talking about we need to do more for black-owned businesses. And I’m saying, yeah, but within that is a niche that people are not focused on, which are black veteran entrepreneurs, which if they move forward, they’re gonna lift up others along with us. And so that’s why you always hear me talking about lifting as we climb. So that was the mindset behind that.
Mary Kate Soliva (36:26):
Oh, I literally just got goosebumps right now where you’re saying that lifting up as climb, like standing on the shoulders of giants and the, and the black, what I’m finding is like the black entre entrepreneurs, and especially like you said, even that niche of the black veteran entrepreneurs, they’re reaching back and doing things in their local communities. So it’s not, it’s not something that they, they’re trying to necessarily tackle something that’s tackling in a nationwide problem. Like they’re doing stuff at the grassroots level, and they come from, oftentimes from the very roots that they’re come from that community that they perhaps grew up in or that they affiliate with. And, uh, and they’re trying to bring those up. So you said, bringing us up together, veterans helping veterans, and they were the first ones that you said ended up funding you. So it’s definitely an untapped resource that I appreciate you bringing up in your book, because for my, my nonprofit’s focused for million human rights on an island, even though it’s a US territory that’s so far outta sight outta mind, but looking at how to tap into the veteran community was something that I hadn’t, hadn’t thought of doing, even though I’m, I come from this community, right?
Mary Kate Soliva (37:29):
And that’s why I love Veteran Voices so much is being able to amplify veterans who are, who are serving me on the uniform. Um, so I, I love that. Is, and you and Alana, are you, are you out there, uh, doing, you’re out there doing book signings. Where can folks get your book right now? You
Mike Steadman (37:46):
Wanna get a copy? Yeah, they go on Amazon. Yeah, just go on Amazon and, uh, purchase Black Friday, entrepreneur, uh, validate your business model, build your brand, and step into Greatness. And when you do, we would really appreciate if you left us a review. Um, that’s how we’re gonna be able to get the word out more about the book. It gives it social proof, so just make sure you’re viewing that. And then also just join our newsletter. Um, I actually have a newsletter, dog Whistle branding mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, that is for my company, Ironbound Media, but that’s where I’m really focusing the brunt of my effort in teaching veteran businesses in general. What it takes to stand out from the crowd and build trust and drive revenue with your perfect customer. And so I talk about branding, I talk about positioning and marketing, and so it’s just a really, uh, great newsletter and you can, uh, just, uh, join firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Kate Soliva (38:31):
Fantastic. I love that. And could you touch a little bit about what you end up talking about in Confessions of a Native Son as well? Cause I know you, you, you run that as that too.
Mike Steadman (38:40):
Yeah. Confessions of a Native Son was actually my first podcast. And the focus of that is, um, really just, uh, my own kind of personal journal, sharing my perspectives on race, culture, and business from the perspective of a Black Marine Infantry officer and Naval Academy graduate. So again, yes, there’s a lot of intersectionality there, but ultimately I just felt like my voice is not something people typically hear, um, on the mainstream media or in the news. And so I just wanted to have a platform that allowed me to just, um, express myself. And so that’s what Dog Whistle, I mean, not dog was brand. That’s what, uh, confessions of a Native Son is.
Mary Kate Soliva (39:17):
That’s great. And I know, like, um, and you know, for our listener, I touched on it in the very beginning, but, um, Mike, I was honored to be able to, to be with you with the Hoover Veteran Fellowship Program. And I guess I just touched on, on current events here. We just spent the last year of, of us, you know, amongst the initial 10 veterans that were selected for the inaugural veteran fellowship program. And all of us focused, you know, on different topics, uh, but yours especially really spoke out to me and a again, testament to veterans helping veterans. Um, h how has your experience, do you feel like from, from what we’ve gone through this past year in the program under, uh, Dr. Conno Lisa Rice?
Mike Steadman (39:57):
It’s been great. Um, I’ve been lucky again, I never, um, had to pay to go to school at Stanford, but I feel like I spent a lot of time out there between Stanford Ignite and then being a Hoover veteran fellow. Um, just our cohort is amazing, you Mary Kay, and, um, you know, uh, Jackie and Denise and all the people that make that program possible. And the icing on the cake was definitely being able to spend, um, you know, uh, a week in another country, the Republic of Georgia, um, on a study abroad trip. I haven’t done anything like that before. And, uh, it was just absolutely amazing to be away and be so present, um, and visit a country that, you know, when you think about the East, especially the far East, like that’s not a space I have a lot of, um, agency in. So it was real interesting to be able to travel out there and experience that culture. And so I’m just, I’m, I can’t say enough positive things about, um, the Hoover Institution and that amazing program.
Mary Kate Soliva (40:51):
Yeah, I second you there. That was just an incredible, I felt like a once in a lifetime experience, but to be able to do that with, with other veterans and, you know, with Jackie and Denise at the helm, just an incredible experience. And for our listeners, if, uh, this program for Poston 11 veterans, you can check it out. It’s out of Hoover Institution, out over by at Stanford University. And, uh, you can reach out, you know, to, Mike and I are happy to, to talk and share more about the program and, uh, definitely encourage those to apply, especially if you’re focused, passionate about particular project that’s impacting the American people. And, um, I love Mike, that you are, are tackling day in and day out on a topic that others are not thinking about. And you’re connecting those dots and bridging those gaps. Um, wanted to again, just be able to see about what’s next for you. I wanna, you know, what’s next? What, what you got coming up and, and is there a way that perhaps our listeners can support you moving forward?
Mike Steadman (41:50):
Yeah, I think the biggest thing for me is obviously still working on creating impact here locally through our nonprofit Ironbound boxing, um, tightening that up additionally on ironbound Media side, looking to grow that get us a couple more, uh, podcast clients cuz we enjoy producing what we call dog whistle brands, combining brand strategy and podcasting, um, to help our clients at attract the perfect customer and build trust and authority with them. And so, um, really that’s my focus now. And obviously I have the book out, um, but obviously you can’t do everything at once. And so I’m gonna focus on that, continue to build amazing relationships within the community, continue to grow some of our podcasts, including mm-hmm. <affirmative> Dog Whistle branding, which is another one I personally host. And, uh, just real excited for everything that’s about to come.
Mary Kate Soliva (42:35):
And I was saying, and for, for our up and rising veteran entrepreneurs that are listening, you also do a great deal with Bunker Labs and I see you, I, i Mike like out there on LinkedIn, but they’re having you come out and speak all the time. So, um, again, just if you could touch real quick on, on what Bunker Labs is, cause I know that was a great opportunity that you, you seem to be really into doing right now.
Mike Steadman (42:57):
Yeah, I came up through the Bunker Labs ecosystem and as mentioned previously, their sole purpose is to help connect veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses with the tools, resources, and community that they need to grow businesses. And so I host, uh, podcasts for Bunker Labs called The Transition. Um, we go live on Tuesdays on off our, our live version, um, on LinkedIn, but it drops every week, um, as well. And so, um, it’s a great, if you are a veteran, entrepreneur, military spouse, you need to be connected with Bunker Labs. We got amazing programs to support you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Mary Kate Soliva (43:32):
Great. And alright, so, um, as far as Ironbound boxing goes, one of the things that I’m already touching on in the, in the fellowship at Hoover was about also mentoring up those, those young girls out in New York, New Jersey too. I think when we think boxing, I know the first thing that I’m, I don’t, I don’t initially picture a young girl or young woman boxing, but we have ’em and they’re out there and they’re, they’re tough warriors champions. Um, and so just how, how can we support you Ironbound boxing specifically and those kids at the Courage Academy?
Mike Steadman (44:04):
Yeah, just go to ironbound boxing.org, um, make a donation, uh, or contact us at, uh, email@example.com. We have a conversation about supporting the program, but it’s really that we’re easy to find, you know, we have a good strong social media presence. Um, so just reach out to us.
Mary Kate Soliva (44:21):
Great. Thank you. Well, I appreciate your time today. Uh, I’m Mike, and is, is there any final last words that you wanna say about how folks can, can reach you?
Mike Steadman (44:31):
No, I just, I know how difficult it can be for a lot of veterans to transition. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, biggest thing I can, advice I can give you, just try a bunch of different stuff, right? It’s exciting. The world is wide open, um, right. And you know, although my book is more geared towards entrepreneurship, you know, entrepreneurship means a bunch of different stuff, right? Like, not only can you start a business, you can start a side project, a nonprofit, whatever. Um, and I think there’s real value in that and also hearing the stories of what other veterans have done. So I would love for you to check out the book, leave me review and let me know what you think of it.
Mary Kate Soliva (45:03):
Thank you. We haven’t touched on that, that transitioning piece. We have so many veterans, uh, when they’re, or transitioning service members that wanna step into the entrepreneurship space or even be consultants, be coaches. Uh, so definitely for our listeners, reach out to Iron Mike Sedman while he’s on LinkedIn. He’s all over the place. Check out Bunker Labs like he was saying, and his incredible podcast and his book and podcasts, wherever you can get podcasts from. Um, thank you so much, Aaron, Mike, for your time today and for our, we invite all of you to subscribe to Veteran Voices wherever you get your podcast from. We’re so grateful for, uh, supply chain now and our partners again, the Guam Human Rights Initiative and Military Women’s Collective for supporting us and for these incredible episodes where we amplify the voices of veterans serving beyond the, beyond the uniform. So do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. Thank you, and we’ll see you all next time.
“IRON” Mike Steadman is a modern-day Renaissance Man. He’s a No Fluff and High Impact Urban Capitalist, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach specializing in helping veteran-owned businesses build Dog Whistle Brands. “IRON Mike’s the Founder and CEO of IRONBOUND Boxing, a nonprofit that provides free amateur boxing training, entrepreneur education, and employment opportunities for Newark youth & young adults. Mike and his partner Keith Colon, oversee the legendary IRONBOUND Boxing Academy, their free boxing gym for youth in Newark, NJ. In addition, he also runs IRONBOUND Media, an elite brand strategy firm for growth-stage veteran-owned businesses. Mike created IRONBOUND’s Dog Whistle Branding framework to help his clients find their perfect customer, nail down their niche, and drive revenue. Through his successful efforts in growing IRONBOUND Media and IRONBOUND Boxing, Mike has established himself as a high-profile veteran advocate and the new face of social entrepreneurship. He recently published his first book, “Black Veteran Entrepreneur: Validate Your Business Model, Build Your Brand, and Step into Your Greatness.” As a self-described urban capitalist, he’s passionate about promoting and teaching entrepreneurship to founders of color, through books, podcasting, and other forms of educational content. Connect with Mike 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.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
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 a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. 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.