Veteran Voices
Episode 90

We're taught how to pack the ruck sack mentally, but not to unpack it in a way that we can move on.

-Zack Knight

Episode Summary

In this episode of Veteran Voices, host Mary Kate Soliva interviews Zach Knight, a former US Army officer and current entrepreneur. Knight shares his journey from serving in the police force to joining the military at 28, and his experiences in Afghanistan. He discusses the challenges he faced transitioning back to civilian life, including dealing with PTSD and the struggle to find a new purpose. Knight also talks about his current work with ATL Vets, an organization that helps veterans transition into the workforce and entrepreneurship. Listen in and learn more about Zack’s story, and how he emphasizes the importance of community and self-love in overcoming personal struggles.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:00:02):

Welcome to Veteran Voices where we amplify the stories of those who’ve served in the US Armed Forces. Presented by Supply chain now and the Guam Human Rights Initiative, we dive deep into the journeys of veterans and their advocates, exploring their insights, challenges, impact, and the vital issues facing veterans and their families. Here’s your host, US Army veteran, Mary Kate Saliva.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:00:33):

Hello everyone. Welcome to Veteran Voices. I’m your host, Mary Kate Saliva and Veteran Voices is a podcast meant for all. It’s about interviewing veterans who are serving beyond the uniform. One of my favorite pieces is about learning more about why veterans continue to serve in that servant heart and it doesn’t stop after the uniform. So I’m really excited to introduce our special guest today, but just going to take a moment to do a quick programming note. You can get your Veteran Voices podcast wherever you get your podcast from. You can tune in there and we are in partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative, a nonprofit that is near and dear to my heart, and you can find more about them at guam h hr i.org where they are working to advance research in Guam and Micronesia. And we also, veteran Voices is a part of the family of supply chain now. So definitely don’t miss out and go check out supply chain now and Scott proud Air Force veteran and his lovely wife Amanda. So again, without further ado, we have our guest Zach Knight. I’m super excited to have you on the show, Zach, and welcome back. Some of you listeners may remember Zach from our veterans episode live a couple years ago, but we’re just excited to have Zach on as a solo guest so that we can dive deeper into his background. So Zach, welcome. Thank you for joining me again,

Zack Knight (00:02:01):

I appreciate you having me back on Mary Kid. I’m excited to dive into it today.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:02:06):

Yes, and as I was mentioning to you and for those tuning back in again, I just love kicking off veteran voices with a favorite quote. So would love to. And since my last guest wasn’t sure about the whole cadence, I know as an infantryman you would appreciate that. So I would welcome, if you want to say it like a cadence you’re welcome to or you can just say it as is

Zack Knight (00:02:27):

As one of the officers that cadence was a terrible thing that I didn’t really actually get a good hold on. So I’m not going to try to embarrass both of us without one. But I actually found a funny quote that I really loved from the office of all shows, if you like watching it, it ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me and that was Dwight Fruit said that, and I’m like, of all people, that’s pretty awesome. So I love that type of motivational piece where wake up and get ready to go.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:02:59):

Then I think once we dive deeper into the episode, people will say No truer words said then for the things that you have done and accomplished since you hung up your uniform. And I’m just really grateful that you are here again because not only found an organization, but you are also what I consider a entrepreneur and a successful one at that and the incredible work that you’re doing in Georgia. Excited to dive into all of it, but I do want to start back at the beginning. Beginning and I don’t ever date my guests, so just so you know, if you end up dating yourself, that’s not my fault. Some I guess they start naming out the wars or conflicts and I was like, that’s on you, but we’re going to go with where you grew up. And I just want to take it back to, I think that’s such an important piece about us veterans that we come from all over the place now. We say we got a couch to sleep on with our brothers and sisters living all around the world. So tell us a bit about where you grew up.

Zack Knight (00:04:00):

Yeah, I was actually born and raised here in Atlanta. It’s funny, I tried to get out of Atlanta for a long time and it just kept dragging me back in. So born and raised here in Atlanta and did all the things here from little league to, I was a local police officer actually before the military, so I started off in a very different world than the military, but wanted to give back to the local community. There aren’t very many of us. There’s a big thing, my one claim to fame here in Atlanta as being a Grady baby and Grady Memorial is the hospital down here. This will date me for people that know Atlanta, but they stopped doing child deliveries at Grady Memorial in the early nineties. So I’m at least older than 1990, but that’s,

Mary Kate Soliva (00:04:47):

That’s not too bad. That’s not too long ago.

Zack Knight (00:04:50):

Yeah. Now the nineties were a long time ago now for a lot of us

Mary Kate Soliva (00:04:57):

That’s true, is saying about now I have soldiers serving that born after 2001 and so just wow. But yeah, that time I didn’t know that law enforcement piece either. So did you come from a big family, small family and did you have any military influences at that time? Just right at home?

Zack Knight (00:05:18):

Yeah. No, my family’s pretty small. I have a sister and a couple step siblings. My dad was a Vietnam vet and a Navy guy, so I turned around against them, but by the time he had me, he’s actually my stepdad, by the time I was around, he married my mom when I was about three years old and the Navy piece was pretty much long gone by the time I was born. So he didn’t bring a whole bunch of that military influence into the household, but he was that old school guy. I think I was blessed in the way he raised me being old school. He is the type that still to this day in his mid seventies will not sit down. He is go all the time and I keep telling the old man to take a breath every once in a while. It makes me look bad, but I think that’s kind of the beauty of that generation, right? Great work ethic. So I was raised in that way, which I’m sure a lot of that came from his upbringing in the military

Mary Kate Soliva (00:06:12):

And I think that’s what keeps me young is to say about my grandmother, she’s out on a farm and just go, go still part of multiple committees and does water aerobics. I’m like, wait, what? Hopefully when I get to your age, I was looking forward to this retirement, but it doesn’t stop even when we hang up the uniform retirement, it’s still going even when you hit 70 seventies still going, keeps us young. But I love that piece and I think that that part is interesting. Even like you said, having your stepdad, having that influence. Now you didn’t mention infantry or army in there, so since I know that tidbit our listeners, but having gone army, was that sort of an influence at all even from your teachers at school as far as the different branches and what was the influence there with the army?

Zack Knight (00:07:07):

Yeah, it’s funny. I really, going up through middle school and high school, I was actually a homeschooled kid so I didn’t get a whole lot of

(00:07:16):

Into the world. I was that weird homeschooled kid that everybody made fun of. First couple jobs were very based around customer service, so I could learn social interactions and obviously the police department very big in social interactions and had to learn a lot of that EQ and the soft skills that as veterans we sometimes forget as we transition out. But when I was in the police department, I was a local SWAT operator, I did SWAT team stuff, did the narcotics stuff, kind of had fun on the local level and they got engaged in a couple of things that were a little bit serious, more serious on the street here in Atlanta. But I found I had that pool of a bigger calling when I was 18. I almost joined the Air Force, wanted to fly planes, really fly helicopters, fly something and as many young dumb guys do, I ended up chasing girls instead.

(00:08:12):

So fast forward to 28 is actually when I joined the military. So at that point I already had my college degree and I wanted something that was in the same caliber that I was already doing and SWAT world was localized here in Atlanta, but how could I take that and go a step further without having to eat crayons for a living? So it really kind of went towards the army, but I was a little bit unique in that where I went into my contract was an OCS contract, so I was able to go into basic training at 28, which was very unique being a decade older than all these young kids.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:08:51):

You were the old guy, right? Father time at eight,

Zack Knight (00:08:55):

That’s

Mary Kate Soliva (00:08:56):

Young now to us.

Zack Knight (00:08:57):

Me so many times it was funny, my drill sergeant was younger than I was and as he was getting in my face I’m like, you don’t know what I was doing last week. My two week notice from the police department went into basic training.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:09:10):

Oh my gosh.

Zack Knight (00:09:11):

So it was kind of funny to have a 26-year-old in my face when two weeks ago I was kicking doors in, but I went from basic training into officer school and then into infantry school and I think that was one of the big reasons I wanted the army at that track. My contract was as such where I could go specifically into what I wanted to do, which was go on a deployment, really test those leadership skills in combat. Careful what you ask for because sometimes you get exactly what you ask for

Mary Kate Soliva (00:09:41):

And you just had to turn on the news, see if we were in a war

Zack Knight (00:09:45):

And I did and about three years into my military careers when I caught that deployment and yeah, it was that track though, I really wanted to be able to make my way into get a taste of the grunt life, but only I commissioned in officer school and the best part about being a 30-year-old second lieutenant is that I could play dumb, but I knew the game already so I was like the best paid E four in the world and I had a lot of fun with that, honestly.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:10:18):

No, I love that piece. And what you mentioned about the age range, I think that’s so unique compared to some of the guests that I’ve had on the show because you were going through a transition art, say you didn’t have time, you had a two week transition to go from law enforcement and I am really curious about that piece. I know you said where it was this young guy a couple of years younger than you getting in your face, but what was that dynamic like bringing that skillset and did you feel like you went through a transition there or did you see it find a lot of similarities in that?

Zack Knight (00:10:52):

I think a big piece of it was very humbling to go from all the authority for I was a police officer for about seven years, all that authority all just juice to essentially calling the shots everybody respect to all of a sudden getting stripped, all of that, including any type of self-respect you have, which is what basic training is supposed to be, right? They want to break you down to the baseline so they can rebuild you in the image of that branch. And it was very humbling to say the least. I think there were three or four of us in my class that were about my age that had jumped in and so we kind of banded together, but we were also the ones that the drill sergeants picked on the most because they knew that as crap roles downhill, if somebody did something really dumb, one of the kids kept smuggling skittles into the barracks. He would take Skittles out of the ding MREs, bring ’em in the barracks. Of course the drill sergeants find them and then everybody will get brought up, they’d be woken up. Then I would get smoked because I’m who

Mary Kate Soliva (00:12:01):

Doesn’t like mass punishment?

Zack Knight (00:12:04):

No, but it wasn’t was like they made an out me. So then when I went and handled that business, so it was kind a ing dynamic, they made an example out of me so that they knew I would essentially police up everybody around me. So it innately started that leadership transition pretty quickly where they leaned on that and eventually I understood what they were doing. The first month and a half was not very fun, but once it kind of made sense of like, oh, I can then reiterate that to the young bucks, it all kind of started clicking.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:12:37):

I was like, no pun intended. They police them up, police up all those young soldiers. I think that there was definitely just imagining in their shoes too. I know when I was at basic training, just having those older ones there, there’s almost like a sense of natural leadership there. They walk in the room and they sort of command just a little level of presence and leadership from the experience that they’ve had and I’m sure especially from law enforcement that you had seen some things that those kids had just left mom and dad. So you do want to hang out with the strong one in the room. So I really appreciate that piece. I think it’s important to know that and we’re going to talk about it again later in the episode, but the transition piece and the fact that you’re going to go through it again and you’re probably have gone through it multiple times since you transition from service. But I do want to go into a bit about like you mentioned permissioning, you did go over to the dark side, so you tell me a little bit about that piece. Okay, so now you’re a 30-year-old second lieutenant, where did they send you and if you could give us a little highlights from there and maybe even a mentor or two.

Zack Knight (00:13:51):

Yeah, it’s funny, when I went through infantry school and it was about 18 months of training from basic training through infantry school. When I went through infantry school, I was in a class, I think there were about 200 of us and 180 of ’em were West Point guys. So I was the very, very small minority attached to all these guys that just graduated West Point. They’re on their own for the first time ever, but if you know any West Pointers, especially at 22 years old, they’re truly bred to be army officers. So they’re drinking till two or three in the morning, waking up at four and they’re running 10 miles or five miles.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:14:33):

You’re like, wait, so what? I signed up for

Zack Knight (00:14:36):

It right at that point I’d already had a knee replacement. I’m old at this point, truly old in comparison. It’s funny, there was a captain that was running that my cohort and he told me a ruck, there was a ruck where one of the other guys, he was a national guard guy, he fell behind in one of the rucks. This is a short ruck too, one of the six or eight milers. He fell behind and literally fell over and nobody noticed it. So I stopped and just picked him up and we kept on going, but that caused us to be way towards the back and one of the enlisted guys got in my face about it’s like you’re going to fail this course and for about three miles just chirped the whole time and I just, oh man, this weather’s so great. Great day for a walk.

(00:15:21):

Brush it off because it’s like what am I going to do? Get yelled at and do pushups? Okay, cool. It’s been a year of it already, but that got me pulled into the captain’s office and the captain said that he, and I’m a bigger guy, so when I was going through all that I was two 20 and 220 pounds, 30 pounds overweight for the Army standard. But I was coming from the SWAT world, I was a very, used to be a power lifter, used to be an Olympic lifter, so just a big muscular guy where in the SWAT world that’s great, in the army world that is not so great. So he was very harsh on, I’m going to make sure you don’t pass anything. I’m going to make sure you fail everything. I’m going to make sure you just do not pass this course.

(00:16:04):

And to me that was such a strong motivator, tell me I can’t and watch me do it right. I’d already gone through so many things in life where I think I’ve set up really well professionally for something like that because then by the end of the class I didn’t fail a single test where you had guys drop from failing just the history exam. I ended up running the five mile ranger standard in about 36 minutes, did all the things and passed it and ended up pretty high in the ranking list and he was just blown away by it. I’m like, you are the one that motivated me. So while he wasn’t a true mentor in the traditional sense that we think about finding that motivation to get through something like that was a huge piece for me. And then infantry schools really just essentially a lead into ranger.

(00:16:54):

So did all the ranger standards, did all the ranger training, was heading to ranger school and then got word that third ID was the place where I was going to end up getting stationed was going to catch a deployment with the Green Berets and instead of going to ranger school, I opted for the deployment. So it’s kind of an interesting shift where you can go get that fancy ranger tab that everybody brags about and I kind of laugh about these days or you can go get the combat deployment, go get the CIB, the different things that have a little bit more experience related to ’em instead of being another schoolhouse. So that was advised against because I was just told I would never make a career out of being in the infantry without a ranger tab and I kind of just laughed about it of what I knew was on Definitely.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:17:41):

Oh wow. There’s a lot to definitely unpack there, but I think that you going and choosing that combat and the combat patch for those in the army, I almost think it’s like a catch 22 because you get the tab and they said you want to get a successful career, but at that time if you didn’t have a combat patch and you were trying to get in front of people to lead, I know that that was the time where they just laughed. They just kind of scoff, what are you talking about? You don’t even have a patch on your shoulders. So I can definitely see, maybe our listeners don’t understand that, but unlike with the other branches, army does have that empty, bare fuzzy spot and if you don’t have a patch there, especially in the infantry that at that time being a time of war, that definitely was something that the subordinates really looked heavily at.

(00:18:31):

But I thought it was kind of funny when you mentioned the West point because you ever see the football team when the college West Point football plays against another team and they’re like quarter of the size of some of these people from Ohio State. I’m just imagining them looking at you being at two 20 and just the size of being pure muscle that I’m sure that you intimidated them even if you thought that they were just running circles. The piece that I wanted to highlight too, I find that we do have a different type of soldier that’s leading now, especially not having the combat deployments out the door. It was at the time when you joined, but I’m curious about a time where maybe you experienced failure in the beginning. I think your mindset is so interesting. I don’t know if it came from law enforcement, but I can just imagine more for others they would’ve just hid in a corner and just started crying and people telling them that they’re not going to make it, they’re not going to succeed. I know that that was a driving factor, but was there something that led up to you having that mindset and was there a point of failure that you did experience that you overcame?

Zack Knight (00:19:37):

Man, I think there were so much fear but really looking at, I don’t know, I grew up an athlete so I grew up in that competitive nature. I don’t really know that there was a particular time that started getting that mindset and it is such a blessing in my mind every day, everybody here you can’t or you hear how somebody else is better than, right? Right. The comparison bias in the world and social media, everything’s bigger and better and you have all these guys leaning in on Lambos and telling you how great they are through a picture and I think that’s such a terrible piece that we’re going through in today’s society. So I’m a little bit fortunate where I have that piece that kind of gives me the chip on the shoulder and that underdog story and having that underdog mentality is one of those things that in law enforcement, I was the young guy, I was always told I would not succeed in that realm. And then I succeeded very well. I was told I wasn’t a team player so they sent me to Dale Carnegie so I could learn leadership and then I ended up graduating top of the class at Dale Carnegie, went back, got certified and taught Dell Carnegie just because

Mary Kate Soliva (00:20:48):

Why not?

Zack Knight (00:20:50):

And it’s one of those that’s

Mary Kate Soliva (00:20:51):

Great.

Zack Knight (00:20:52):

It makes me laugh. It’s like such a great motivator. If you tell me I need something and because I’m a failure or I’m failing at something, to me that’s just the spark I need to get going. That competitive juices, I think that might be just a piece of that alpha mindset, the leader mindset of needing that piece, that edge a little bit. And sometimes these days I feel like that’s missing in a lot of the military but also a lot of leadership not having that edge where you can flip the switch.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:21:25):

That’s why I wanted to highlight that because I think it’s so important. And I can tell you that from serving, I’m serving still in the reserves and I think that piece is missing and we’re seeing it now where the combat era veteran are retiring, they’re starting to retire now and we’re sort of in the last batch of those heading out the door to hang up the uniform for the last time. And now we’re getting this whole new where it is just a fuzzy blank spot there no combat patch. So

Zack Knight (00:21:58):

I had a lot of guys that they had to point patches but they didn’t have in the infantry side the CIB is like the holy grail of awards, right? The combat infantry badge. And that’s essentially you make fire, right? You got shot at, shot at somebody essentially means not only did you deploy, you went to a combat deployment when I went over it was the first three weeks we all earned it at that point. So when I came back I was one of the very few that were that kinetic where most of my commanders, they were in backroom. So it was good and bad where oh, I have this thing that’s way better than a ranger tab. But also now everybody else is begrudged because they didn’t get that same level of experience because it’s just very, to your point, it’s very uncommon these days to see a true combat one. It would, and I went in 2019 so it wasn’t that far back, but even still there are very few that get that opportunity these days.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:22:58):

And like you said, what it means to earn it before you earn it, I’m sure completely changes too once you do have it and what you had to do to be able to earn that. And at that point I find that, and speaking to comm Vets, it wasn’t even about earning it at that point. This is the level a level of survival, doing what you have to do, accomplishing the mission, not even thinking about all those accolades like it is when you’re that young kid getting off the bus and that’s why I want to go to combat, go to war. I do want to sort of go into the transition piece for you. So you came and to see what that was like. So you came home from deployment probably again another transition in your life to acclimate to that. Did you go back to Georgia? Where did you end up going from there after your deployment?

Zack Knight (00:23:52):

Yeah, I went back to Georgia a third id, which is Savannah Horse Stewart. But not long after that I was transitioning to the guard, so I was going to National Guard, just spent some time there. The opportunities for schools were a little bit different under the guard at that point in Georgia, so I thought there would be a better fast track ocean on the guard side. So it was kind of an interesting and weird piece where from the time I left the sands of Afghanistan to the time I was back on my own sofa was only five days and it blows my mind to think that I went from a year of combat and the deployment, just to touch on it, we could dive into it deeper if you want, but I spent about a year and we ran combat operations every four days alongside the Green Berets and I was at infantry liaison, so doing a lot of, I had my own platoon out there, so I was the VP to manage the large scale compared to their three or four guys.

(00:24:52):

So I did a lot of operational planning and a lot of operations myself with them. And across this spectrum of a year we ended up losing about six guys. We lost six guys out of that crew and that’s a hard piece of transition. So you think about how kinetic we were in that timeframe to go from literally every four days running a kinetic operation where people are shooting. We had several soldiers dying to then back to your sofa in five days. And the transition piece for me was terrible. During that time I was working on, almost finished up my MBA, I had a couple side hustle businesses, I had a couple companies I was running as a side hustle that I had started during those transition pieces. So I felt like I had a great thing to come back to. And over the next year, year and a half, it all crumbled very, very quickly because you go from high opt tempo to, you want to keep that Optum going, so you go dive right back into something now you bury all the nonsense, you very just continue the mission and I essentially found my business is that mission stayed busy, was working 18 hour days by choice and then all that piles up after a while.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:26:08):

No, and just the fact of saying here in five days, I mean that’s not nearly enough time to process. I mean even just getting over jet lag in a normal vacation trip isn’t enough for just after a few days. So we don’t have to linger along on the deployment piece if you don’t want to. But I do think it’s interesting that that part about some of the skills that you gained on that deployment. You even talked about the operational piece and the courses, the logistical piece and even just the basics of sure that you have enough water on your person and what your gear and then to your left and and I just would love to just hear from your perspective about some of those leadership additional skills that you gained while you were out there, especially because this is longer deployments nowadays you think six, nine month deployments, but you’re talking like a whole year back when they were that long

Zack Knight (00:27:07):

And in that year, I’ll throw in the train up and getting things prepped, especially with the integration with the green beres. There’s a whole different world and we don’t train, we actually fight in Afghanistan, we still do the Vietnam era training going by different aspects of that. So when we got in Afghanistan, we didn’t even have the same vehicles here in the United States that we ended up having in Afghanistan. So there’s a whole debacle attached to actually figuring out how to use equipment. But a big piece of that, talking about different skills, I mean I wanted to go over there and enhance leadership. I wanted to test leadership skills. My thought really was if you can say two words under gunfire and people move, that’s leadership, right? That’s true influence, true trust. I had about 60 days or so where I got all the guys that I was going to be assigned and we had a 60 day train out before we deployed.

(00:28:00):

So in 60 days I had to get to know everybody, get everybody to like me, and then of course that know trust factor. So I had to get guys to trust me heading into Afghani state. So you think about the was a terrifying thought for some of the younger guys. I was, thankfully I was seasoned, they wouldn’t have sent, I doubt they would’ve put a 21, 20 2-year-old lieutenant attached to this crew. So all my years of experience in law enforcement and already having an aspect of leadership already helped to set that sustainability. Thankfully my platoon sergeant, this was his fourth deployment, so he had 16 years of experience, so he was a great right hand and Del Carnegie ism. Sometimes the greatest leaders are the first follower. That’s a huge lesson for me. There were times, even though I was the one signing the check, I was the one signing the paper. I had to take a step back and let my platoon sergeant take the lead. He has 16 years of experience in this world. He’s been on these deployments. I have to, they always say make sure you respect your NCO, make sure he’s the one that’s calling the shots a hundred percent. There are times where I just stood back and I’m like, yeah man, this is you. I trust you. And we had to build that rapport. Poor.

(00:29:14):

Another big piece of course, logistics. We were about four days from Bagram, so we were pretty far out. We had even food supplies. They would send us a couple 18 wheelers every two weeks and one of ’em would end up full of all sorts of ordinance and all sorts of nonsense where we were eating trapp shrapnel half the time. So just a logistical, getting food out there, getting water out there. The workforce is about six weeks in or so is when we lost our first two guys, one of our EODs and one of our gvs. And as bad intel, we ran into a village where we had 200 guys instead of the 20. We were told and not much we could have done about it as a whole looking back at it, but we we’re all about mission first. So how do I keep my guys motivated and then keep my own head trash from affecting the guys and then keep myself motivated.

(00:30:07):

That’s the leadership piece of focusing on these guys, making sure that they’re taken care of and really packing it all up, right? Compartmentalize it all. The worst part about that short transition out and backed into the quote real world, and I think this is one of the greatest failures of the military, is they never teach you to unpack that, right? They teach you to compartmentalize but compartmentalize it all and work through that. You go to the VA eight therapist, it’s like, all right, check the block. You’re good. You you’re crazy. You have PTSD, but here’s your percentage and go on. And that’s about as much as attention as we paid to it unfortunately. So all of that led into a really bad transition. Even though I had a great stability, great family life to come back to, great professional life to come back to, it’s still just mentally, none of it was right in that transition.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:30:58):

And that’s why I thought it was so, and thank you for sharing all that. There’s nothing easy about having to SCU and motivate others, especially when there’s a loss of life involved and to lose too in days already too many. And I was wondering too about what you mentioned with the leadership piece, and that’s why I thought it was so important that you told the story about how you had that mental fortitude even when you first started your career in the army. Because like I said, I find it maybe even nowadays where it’s like they would just go in a corner and cry at the thought of somebody telling me, I’m not good enough. You’re never going to make it, and you instead turn that. And I’m sure that that skillset and that mindset really helped as you were saying to help that. But you’re absolutely right.

(00:31:48):

We’re taught how to pack the ruck sack mentally, but not to unpack it in a way that we can move on. And a lot of that is suppressed. You mentioned just choosing to work 18 hour days and only five days back on the couch already, and it’s like, gosh, I don’t even know what it was like for you watching more movies at that point, but it’s like you just went from, or you even could, but to see that, to see and having seen what you saw in real life and knowing there are people out there that are like that, and now you’re in line at the grocery store. I couldn’t do it.

Zack Knight (00:32:25):

Everything you’re talking about, I couldn’t grocery shop. I remember having an anxiety attack walking into a Publix in Columbus, Georgia, outside Fort Benning and walking into a grocery store and I couldn’t do it. Ended up having a panic attack, went back to my car and ordered food and had it delivered. I remember watching, holy crap, I forget the name of the movie, the Benghazi movie, holy cow, the name of the movie escapes me right now. But the one that came out not too long back, that was about Benghazi. And I remember watching that and it was so realistic attached to some of the stuff we experienced. I mean, I couldn’t truly sweating, blood pumping, reliving, all those things, and I didn’t really recognize what PTSD was until I came back and heard that first firework, right? Walking back to my car, leaving before fireworks go off at a celebration and as I’m halfway to my car, a firework goes off and I hit the deck looking for my rifle. And it’s so instinctual, right? You don’t think about, it’s like the smell of fresh cut grass. It’s like it takes you back to when you mow the lawn as a kid, same thing. You hear that first bang and all of a sudden you go back to Afghanistan and it’s like you can’t control it. It’s such a weird experience to not have unpacked until you start unpacking it yourself.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:33:50):

And the fact that it takes each person a different time and they may not have the support system like you were referring to come back to have a family. I know that’s not the same for every service member that’s coming back home. I think the movie you’re referring to is 13 hours, if I’m not mistaken, 13 hours. And I recall even when I was going through me school that we had a couple of guys who were purple hearts that we were sitting in, American Cipher had come out and we decided as a class we were going to go over and watch the film together and they had to get up in the middle of the movie and leave. And what I thought was so interesting was it wasn’t the combat piece that was impacting them, it was the family piece. They’re married, have kids, and it was that piece of what it was doing to the family that was tearing ’em up and they had to walk out and step out. And that was something that when they were sharing that with us was an eyeopener. The part that we don’t really talk about, acclimating not just the transition for yourself, but you’re suppressing it so used to also having to take care of everybody else. So you come home and you’re like, I still got to take care of my family or those relationships that you’re trying to pick back up that from where you left off and fostering that. But that’s another piece that we don’t tend to highlight.

Zack Knight (00:35:14):

And I did a very, very poor job of that during that year. My now ex-wife lived in my, the house, her best friend, my goddaughter, who was three at the time. And then my ex-wife’s little sister all lived in my house when I deployed. So when I came back, they already had the ecosystem of households, wasn’t mentally prepared to come back to that. Even a small child spilled milk on the table and napkin gets stuck in the table and I freak out about it because I’m like, no, this can’t be the way. And I couldn’t cope with things so far out of my control because in Afghanistan, that’s all you had. I had a six by eight chew that we were all we had of our own. So that space became such an attachment piece. And the fascinating piece coming back is once I finally got help finally studying PTSD, like the different sectors of it, the attachment pieces where I was so attached to certain things and I got so stuck on something like my desk, it had to be perfect.

(00:36:23):

I got stuck on, I had to have my truck, I had to know where my truck was, how to get to my truck, what the escape route was, escape route, the exit plan. But all those things, if I didn’t have those things in the work, I would have all sorts of anxiety attached to it. But that’s the real life of, that’s going back. You’re already thinking through all those pieces and then recognizing you’re in a safe place, but argue and not feeling safe in those safe place. How that impacted my family at the time, I came back to a great situation and ended up sabotaging it very heavily, like I said, ex-wife and alienating a lot of my personal relationships because I just couldn’t process them. As crazy as it sounds, those of us that have been through it understand it’s really hard to process that and you don’t come back prepped for that after a year away. That’s the unfortunate piece of that quick transition home. You don’t get that type of realization and onboarding back into real life, if that makes sense.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:37:26):

It definitely does. And that family piece is something that I highlight because we don’t talk about it enough. And even in the war movies, they don’t tend to capture it. And I think that that was one of the surprising things about watching that film at that time, those guys, is that I don’t think any of us were expecting there to be such a highlight on the family as war movies don’t totally do that. They skip over that piece and it is about the action, the combat piece is what sells movies and to see that. But I think it’s interesting what you said about studying it, and I would love if you’re willing to share about when you decided that you needed the help or to get checked out or this isn’t how it should be. What was that point for you and where did you go seek help? And did the initial person you reach out to, were they helpful or where can we do better? Yeah,

Zack Knight (00:38:23):

I was on Fort Benning, so I came back and had about six months between orders, if you will. I came back about six months before Covid. So when Covid hit, everything shifted. And this is as I was transitioning back into the National Guard world. So I got reactivated during Covid and ended up running all the logistics for the state of Georgia and all the testing facilities. And then when we had riots down here and the civil unrest piece, I ended up in charge of a lot of that. And then through that ended up going back active to go to captain’s career course on Fort Benning. So I went back essentially another year of orders. So I essentially escaped from real life. I was ignoring all the nonsense. I didn’t want to deal with all the head trash for about six months. The relationship with my ex-wife was really falling apart.

(00:39:18):

I had those moments of outbursts from anxiety to anger, and I realized I didn’t want my goddaughter to ever see that, right? I was the only male figure in her life at that point. So I didn’t want her to see these outbursts from me. So in my mind, the best thing to do is go back in orders, go back active, go back through a year of not dealing or not her seeing that. And during that time, I refused it. I refused therapy, I refused help, I refused talk about it with anybody while I was on Fort Benning. I started looking into a couple therapists because it just kept getting worse. And what was interesting is the time on Fort Benning going through that training was the only time I’d ever lived alone in my life and I never realized it. And I was about 32 years old and I looked back the first house I ever bought my parents to because it was right around oh 8, 0 9 when the housing market crashed.

(00:40:15):

So they ended up moving into my house, and then I had the ex-wife that lived with me, roommates. I never actually truly lived at lot, especially in the military. You lived with 30 people. So it was the first time I’d actually had my own apartment. And when they say silence is deafening, that was the worst timeframe where every night I would go do the training. I still had my side hustles I was doing, and then there was silence. So I started drinking to quiet the silence, but every time it got really quiet, you could hear the scalping scratching at the door and it started creeping up more and more and started looking for therapists and went through probably a dozen or so and found a reason not to engage with them. It’s like almost dating, nitpick everything.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:41:05):

Yes, they don’t understand,

Zack Knight (00:41:07):

Right? And I actually found one that was outside of Fort Benning and he was a former police officer, former military, and then gone on to become a therapist. I’m like, well, this has to be the guy. He knows exactly the things I’ve dealt with because I was engaged in a couple of shootings in the police department, so I’m sure I was carrying stuff over from there as well. I’m like, this has to be the guy. I talked to him and the very first conversation ended up hanging up on him. Now guy, I just kept refusing all of that help that I really needed, but I was at least inquiring about it. I had started going down that path, and at the same time, I had built up one of my companies, one of the side hustles actually grown very quickly. We scaled it to about 155 countries in the first eight months, and we launched.

(00:41:56):

It went viral, the whole virality piece. We actually hit really, really well with it. And while I was in career course, I was in the middle of taking offers on that business and we got a eight figure offer for that company from a large network. And ended up turning it down. We had more plans, more ideas, altruistic things happening, business partner and I, and we decided to turn it down. That time I also found out I had nerve damage, my left arm, my gun down to do pushups, dislocated my thumb and got up, popped it back into place, no worries. But everything from my elbow down went numb. Come to find out the timeline. Sometime in Afghanistan, I compress the nerve in my elbow and didn’t ever feel it. Normally everything goes numb at that point for me, nothing went numb. But instead, over the year and a half, two years since that point, all the muscle in my arms started atrophy.

(00:42:59):

So I lost all the in my hand. So I went to do that pushup. There was no muscle protecting that joint. So that caused it to dislocate. And when I popped it back into place is when finally that nerve sent the numbness through my arm. So I was offered that money the next week or I was offered that deal for the company, and that next week I was supposed to have surgery on my arm, and I knew that was the end of the career. I was still going through training. I was in a sling. Everything was just falling apart in the professional world. But then also in the off military world, everything was going really well. And I’m like, this is the end. I don’t want to go through the surgery. I don’t want the army to do this surgery on Fort Benning. And the week in between from the time I was offered all that money, the time I was supposed to have that surgery.

(00:43:49):

And then the following day was graduation per course. I found myself at the end of a dock with a pistol in my mouth. I’m like, I’m not going through this. And I was determined. I was in the bottom of a bottle of bourbon and I was determined to become that statistic that night. And the only thing that saved me, I sent text message my ex-wife, a very, Hey, you’re about to be taken care of, goddaughter. She’s going to be taken care of. The life insurance recovery, everything’s good. And with my background and police work, I was at the end of the doc. I was going to be found for weeks. I really premeditated that to a degree where I’m like, this is it. She ended up sending back a text message, you dare. The cops are on the way. And as you know in the military world, if the MP show up, especially to suicide threats, and that shifts the whole dynamic of career in very negative ways.

(00:44:40):

So I ended up being the MPS for about six hours and I hidden bushes. And so the cop that used to be, the guy that used to be the cop is now running for the cops. And I thought that was like, this can’t get worse. Here’s rock bottom, can’t get any worse than this. What am I doing? And the following week had surgery on my arm. It actually did go pretty terribly on for bending. Took a second surgeon and another four hours to more or less save the blood flow in my arm. And they ended up burning off a bunch of nerve endings and still have no feeling on the part of my hand. Can’t use the, I thought all of that was rock bottom. Fast forward, about a week after I got back, I moved back in with the Navy guy. So I have to give a shout out to the Navy guys. There’s a navy buddy of mine that let me sleep on a sofa in this kid’s playroom because I was all alienated, all my friends, all my family, there’s literally nobody there for me because I’d done everything I could to push everybody away. Didn’t want anybody to see this downfall.

(00:45:44):

And this is where that shift started happening of finding how I graduated career course. I was supposed to take command. They said, no, you got to get healed up first. Because I was in that transition, they flubbed my insurance. So I ended up having to pay about five grand a month out of pocket for occupational therapy for my hand. And the surgeon said, if I didn’t start, then I would never get feeling back. So my best chance was I go and start, but then the military flubbed that paperwork. So I’m out of pocket a ton of money trying to make sure I can get feeling back in my hand. And just the pity party, woe is me. I hate the world. I hate everybody. I hate God. Literally pointing a finger completely outward. And this navy buddy sat me down one night, we were just talking through stuff and I got to bless him because he said the best thing he could have.

(00:46:34):

He’s like, you’ve done all this external learning and you’ve got your MBA, you have these credentials. You’ve done all these great things professionally, but you’ve never taken the time to look inside. You’ve never taken the time to even get to know yourself. I’m willing to bet you don’t even love yourself anymore. And I just laughed in his face, I love me some me, right? I truly, I know it. I’m awesome. He’s like, cool, walk upstairs, look in the mirror. Tell yourself you love yourself. And I walked upstairs. Marsh said, oh yeah, hell yeah, this would be easy. Got to the mirror and said, I look. And immediately had an anxiety attack for two hours in the fetal position of that. And that was the rock bottom point where I finally realized, holy cow, there is something truly wrong in my mind. All this head trash is caught up.

(00:47:20):

My greatest revelation during the next couple of weeks was that piece that hit me like, oh crap, I’m broken. And so many people say, don’t say that negative self-talk, but for me, I am broken with such an empowering thought because it’s that thing no different than everybody for years that said, you can’t do this or this is broken. There’s no fixing it. But as men, as veterans, we always think we can fix things. Our mindset is let’s fix stuff. So the moment I had the realization of something being broken, there is the moment I was like, I can fix this. And that was that shift to actually find the therapist, find the help, start all the things that lead to that clarity in mind from reading, journaling, meditating, all the woo woo stuff that people say is so woo woo in the military. And for years I made fun of it. That was that rock bottom point where it finally shifted and I started finding it to help.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:48:15):

How are you now, Zach?

Zack Knight (00:48:19):

So fast forward. That was in 2021. So almost three years later, it is been an up and down ride. Of course, it took a year of physical therapy for them to determine that I was going to get kicked out of the, I was going to get medically retired. I said, get kicked out, because that’s how it works.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:48:41):

No, I know you say it. It feels like that. I’ve talked so many of my buddies, and that’s why we don’t go to see medical. We don’t want to stop. We want to stop on our terms, but not for them to tell us that we’re broken.

Zack Knight (00:48:56):

Right? And that’s what it felt like, right? So I knew I was going to get kicked out, but they said, go through a year of physical therapy, occupational therapy, see what happens. A year later, they kept flubbing. Every three months, my insurance would drop off and I’d have a month where I self-paid for occupational therapy. I came back to Atlanta. I refused to go through the VA and the military occupational therapy. I wanted a true specialist after a year, and it was determined that I couldn’t hold a rifle anymore. To that extent, I was nondeployable. So essentially they’re like, oh, we can try to let you back in the military, but you have to pass the PT test, which even to this day, I can’t do more than 10 or 12 pushups. So the PT test was essentially out the window like, well, the only other option is for you to branch and go into accounting or finance or something, which is even in the business world, my worst nightmare. I hate numbers, I hate accounting, I hate it. All

Mary Kate Soliva (00:49:50):

Coast Guard.

Zack Knight (00:49:52):

So bad, so bad. So that ended up leading into a year of outprocessing, right? So I officially was medically retired April, not even a year ago now. But I’ve kept up all those things even during those bad moments, I’ve shifted so much where I still work a lot because I enjoy it now. I’m doing those things that I really love. But I’ve kept up the reading, I’ve kept up the mindfulness, the journaling, journaling. One thing that hit me really hard during that dark period was that I have heirloom standup piano that’s been handed down for generations in my family. And it’s beautiful wood, but it needs to be restored. I’ve always wanted to restore it just to have that piece of family heritage, part of that restoration process. I was going to learn to play the piano, always wanted to do it. And when I was in that really dark time, the negative self-talk, I can’t play golf anymore.

(00:50:49):

I won’t be able to ride motorcycle anymore. I won’t ever be able to learn to play the piano. That’s the part that really hurt the worst. When I had that switch flipped, I’m broken piece, when I realized, the only guy that was telling me I couldn’t play the piano was a guy looking in the mirror. And that was the only person that said, you can’t learn to play the piano now. So I ended up buying a piano, a keyboard, electric keyboard. And during the meditation, I learned that classical music was very calming for, so for me to meditate, I couldn’t just be quiet. I’d throw in earbuds, play classical music, and it would allow me to kind of have that rhythmic breathing process and that meditation process. And I’m like, it would be really powerful. What if I could play classical music instead of when bought the keyboard?

(00:51:40):

Actually on the way back from one of my Fort biding trips, I had to do the check-in after the surgery came back, found the last one in Atlanta, bought it, went home, learned for six hours. And within three weeks I was playing Bach on that keyboard. And that piece of tell me I can’t, but I learned is me that started telling myself that I couldn’t. And as soon as I realized, I’ve always overcome everybody that said I couldn’t. But now it’s me saying that I can still overcome this piece. So all of that has led to learning the piano. I did it as part of my recovery in my hand. It’s not easy. It still sucks sometimes and it still hurts like hell. But having that piece of shifting, that empowering piece, I can fix this. I can keep working through that. And I think it’s that glimmer of hope that is now fast forwarded to being a huge piece of what I do to keep myself and of course my community around me moving forward in the right direction.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:52:40):

Good for you, Zach. I mean, wow. Thank you for sharing all of that. I am thinking about how your Navy friend and shout out to the Navy that not only was he able to open up his home to you, but knowing that your actions, just being able to understand and meet you where you are. I think sometimes when we go in and we want to help people, they’re not ready to receive that help. But also trying to just meet them where they’re at. Like you said, just you’re at a place of not even having faith. You say you’re pointing your fingers at everybody else, even God. And that’s the part I always wonder, intrinsically, what gets us out of bed in the morning and if we can’t do those things, that was making us feel like such a, that there is that period. And it doesn’t just happen to veterans, but to others as well.

(00:53:31):

But I think even it’s just amplified tenfold and while powerful words that you said about the silence and just having to drown out that noise of the silence. And I’m sure that many of our listeners could relate to that, and they may still be experiencing it now, but I want to just touch and take a moment to highlight that you did eventually seek help, even if it was from a friend, not from someone who had all the certifications and accolades as a trained therapist, but it was genuinely a friend that was just able to meet you where you are and gave you the words you needed.

Zack Knight (00:54:10):

Yeah, it’s like finding another battle buddy. And we did it in the military and everybody always says find that community. That’s such a difficult thing to do. But finding that one guy that I had and really he kicked the door open for me. I ended up writing it really is we represent somebody else for so long. For me it’s 15 years of wearing a uniform. So I represented the police department or represent in the army, and in that time we lose ourselves. We really, truly do. And that was the biggest lesson he taught me is I don’t love myself anymore because I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t know what value I brought into the world outside of pulling a trigger, which is a terrible thing to say, but that’s the reality is what more do I do? What more can I do?

(00:54:56):

So I ended up writing a book detailing that whole journey for myself. I released it about a year and a half ago on Veteran’s Day. It’s called the Legacy of Love, A journey of Self-mastery. It’s all about falling in love with yourself, dating yourself, essentially. Get to know yourself, get to know what do you enjoy, go try those things. I ended up getting an apartment on my own in Midtown in Atlanta, which was chaos, but also empowering. Like man, part of the exposure therapy. Get back into those settings, don’t hide in the corner. To your point. So much of that went into living everyday life. What do I enjoy? What do I want to do now I have that opportunity to now live my own life. And the beauty of a lot of what I started studying was philosophy and how many ancient leaders were all philosophers.

(00:55:51):

And you look at the Daily stoic and you look at some of the greats and they all studied philosophy. So as I wrote my book, I kind of kept that in my mind and a lot of what my podcast shifted to was the philosophy of leadership. And my book ended up releasing number one in mental health and philosophy mythology, which I thought was fascinating because it took all those lessons learned and packed it into that as a book for others to read and hopefully see a glimmer of hope that I was able to give day.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:56:24):

And congratulations to you there. And I just really want to commend you for being vulnerable. I actually was, I’ve been seeing because it was football season recently, and not that I knew much about football, but I know that the Kelsey’s were going, Kelsey Brothers we’re going all over the place. And one of the things that I kept seeing was about men, especially athletes, you said you started out as an athlete, as a kid, but about men being able to cry and not seeing that as a sign of weakness, but as of strength and so many people and having those brothers crying all the time, the amount of support that I’ve seen, you talk about things going viral, but just I really appreciate your vulnerability and being able to open up because this was not long ago. I said at the beginning that I’m not going to date you that if you did, it was going to be on you, but you are luckily still going through some days where it is taking you back to that. I just really appreciate that you so quickly. Were willing to share and open up your story and being able to share that with others who may be at the bottom of a bottle right now or maybe at that doc or at that point where they think this is it and it’s not. And I really would just love to hear what your thoughts and advice talking to our listeners today about is your guidance to get through what they may be going through right now.

Zack Knight (00:57:56):

I think the biggest thing is get out of your house. We end up bunkering down for lack of a better term, but I think for vets it makes ’em sense. We bunker down and we start hiding from every day and we don’t see as hiding. We are just angry. I don’t want to deal with these idiots. I don’t want to deal with this nonsense. Civilians don’t get it right. And as we transition into the corporate world or entrepreneurship, all we have to deal with civilians. We can only be as strong as our non-veteran supporters. And there’s so many people out there that want to support us, but we don’t allow them to. So even if it’s something as small as something like what my organization does, we do a couple workouts every month merging vets and players. We have a great partnership with them here in Atlanta.

(00:58:38):

They do weekly workouts, even if it’s something as small as going to get a sweat on with some fellow veterans to start that piece, right? Go in the woods, go hike. You don’t have to say a damn word, we just want to go hike. We want to do that one thing. And trust me, I had a knee replaced. I have a torn quad. I don’t hike very fast, but it’s getting up into nature where we’re just going out there to be one with nature again. We’re going out there to be with our brothers and sisters and most of my events are 50 50 veteran, non veteran. I have veterans, siblings, family members, people that just want to be around us. They really do care about us, but we can’t see that if we’re hiding in the house or if we’re bunker down in the, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to see how many people are out there that really do want to support us.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:59:27):

No, I love that. And even the piece about, you said learning classical music and the only one that was holding you back was the one looking in the mirror. And we do that to ourselves. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right out the gate. Even when we’re going through transition, we want to land that job and land both feet on the ground. We’ve done harder stuff than this. Jumping out of planes, we’ve done harder things and so this is going to be easy peasy. What I’ve done is more badass than maybe a civilian counterparts, but there’s a humbling piece that has to come into that and a rediscovery time period to find out that what you were doing in service isn’t necessarily what you have to do. And you’ve done such incredible things you probably wouldn’t see even looking at yourself back pre covid that you were ever going to end up taking your hand up classical music that probably wasn’t what you had on the earbuds when you were town range, either listening to classical music, but the power of music. And then just being able to take that time to find what brings you that inner peace and that inner peace is so important just as it is those fostering relationships outside. That’s a great segue to the organizations that you’re doing because you said, you mentioned all these side businesses and I’d love for you to give a shout out to some of the work that you’re doing now. I know you’ve been helping out so many people, especially in Atlanta.

Zack Knight (01:00:46):

Yeah, thank you. It’s funny, I said I buried myself into work. I own overall, I own seven companies at this point, just launching an eight. And it’s one of those people are like, oh, that’s really awesome. You’re super successful. I’m like, no, I just wanted to run away from all the nonsense. So I’ve now narrowed my focus a few things right now. I have a great PR media company, my podcast via Tactical Leader and The Tactical Leader podcast. All those things are a big piece of what I do to give no different than this, right? Give them their voice back, really talk about different tactics that we’ve used. My 5 0 1 C advancing line for veterans or a TL vets. It’s a huge piece. We focus on four different things. We focus on marketing first and foremost, that PR piece, mindset movement and money management. And we have about 10 events a month focused on from workshops and networking events to workouts. And we’ve expanded a little bit. We’re in Atlanta, Tampa, DC and Virginia Beach. So if anybody listening to any of those cities, we’re looking to expand into Dallas. But the beauty is that because of the media company, we do everything virtually as well. So a lot of our events have that virtual component. We hosted General Petraeus, who is that for the four star?

(01:02:10):

We for engagement here in Atlanta in November. We have Admir coming up in April who was a four star admir, the commander of NATO for a good little while. So that whole endeavor is really giving veterans a stage. How do we highlight veterans that are hiding from or hiding the shadows? So we highlight veterans at different capacities with all these events. And then the newest company that we’re launching is Advancing Line for Veterans 2.0. So if you’re really focused on workforce development and entrepreneurship, which is awesome. So if you’re in one of those spaces where you’re mid-management level or special operator, we really focus there to help that transition piece on a long-term, long-term curriculum, not a let’s find you a job and run away from you. Here’s how we can help you transition for the next few years. The next iteration, what we’re launching right now where if you’re a little bit more advanced or you want that next step, we’re just launching Patriot Growth Capital, which is a private equity fund that is buying small businesses and then putting veterans as CEOs in those businesses.

(01:03:19):

It’s a huge endeavor. We’re announcing it officially in May or the middle of buying that first company and putting that first veteran and as a CEO. But there’s so many resources like that there. Life-changing, altering family tree altering, right? If you don’t want your kid to be in the military, totally get it. But here’s a way to shift that. Here’s a way to really keep operating that high level. That’s what we want to focus on is how do we keep you at that high level you earn the right to operate at as you transition out of the military.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:03:54):

And I think that’s so needed. And the fact that you were saying multiple businesses, and that’s why your story really just hits hard because from the outside, those of us on the outside looking at you, total badass combat veteran and multiple businesses, like you said, success is a word that we would see to describe and talk about you, but there’s that part about having to love ourselves and the work that we’re doing now. And I’m so glad that I can even hear the pep in your voice and about the passion that you genuinely want to do this. It’s not about the paycheck. And you said people think successful because they’re thinking you’re making eight figures, but it’s not, at the end of the day, it’s not about that paycheck. And you’re getting incredible, these four stars out there talking, but they love this to be able to talk to those boots on ground, to talk to all different ranks that oftentimes we don’t get to see the brass.

(01:04:48):

But now to be able to be in the same room and take those golden nuggets, the power in sharing and power in that community, and for our listeners who may be struggling about whether they even want to identify as a veteran, many of us have been there before struggling with that piece, but I encourage to reach out to Zach. Zach, do you have, I know we say about as far as the episode goes, but you said numerous events throughout the year. Where can our listeners go to find out when these events are going to be and if it’s going to be near them?

Zack Knight (01:05:20):

Yeah, easy way on social media. Across all social media. You can find me, Zach, a knight, please put the A as the middle initial, because if you just look up at Zach Knight, I end up being a Bollywood star with way prettier hair, and I currently have no hair, so please put the middle initial in there. If you’re looking for me on social. Then there’s two links I would encourage you to check out ATL vets.org/events. It’s a rolling calendar that shows all our events and when they’re happening. We’re in Tampa about once a month, Virginia Beach and DC about every eight weeks. And then Atlanta consistently, we have five or six every month here in Atlanta, so definitely trying to build our community across once a year. We have a three day business conference that is really focused on our annual gala where we want to give back to people that show up instead of just throwing a party, we want to do a three day conference where we have these high level speakers come in.

(01:06:18):

We should be hosting that again in the fall. And then the second piece, if you want to get more engaged in any of the virtual, and then we’re launching this new program called Ops Veterans Optimizing Professional Success, if you want any information on that. And that’s that workforce development piece. It’s the extended curriculum and community that we have. It’s atl vets.org/vet ops, VT ops. That’s where we’re really building the community is let’s get together, let’s talk, let’s learn. If I can drink a bourbon with you, then we’re good to go. I still do drink for the record, just much more reserved and we can break bread and drink bourbon together. You’re my type of folks, so I was definitely connecting those places. Thank

Mary Kate Soliva (01:07:05):

You, Zach. And I love that you’re continuously learning. We don’t have it all figured out, but I love that you’re reaching out, branching out to find people where they’re at. And sometimes it takes everything, like you said, there was a point where you couldn’t even go to the grocery store. And so sometimes these events, I know when I talk to veterans, it’s really nerve wracking for them to go to an event where there’s probably going to be at least a hundred people, but we tell you that it’s a different vibe, but it’s a bunch of veterans, you said, with a bourbon in hand. But it’s a different, you get back to that community, that brotherhood, that sisterhood, and it’s a good time. It’s a great time. And so we really encourage our listeners to come out and check out. And thank you so much, Zach, for sharing for your vulnerability today, for sharing your personal story. And it is just so impactful. I know that I could talk all day with you because we didn’t even get to touch on the fact of those skills that you took from your time in service and how you’re applying them now. But that’s another call to action for our listeners to reach out to you to get more and to find those golden nuggets. But I’d love to leave the last words with you on any closing remarks that you have.

Zack Knight (01:08:19):

Yeah, thanks, ADE. Thank you for having me on this. It is such a joy to get on here and be able to chop it up with you. And yeah, the biggest piece is really just take action. You know what I mean? As veterans, that’s what we do. That’s what we know. We take action, we move forward. Let’s do that for ourselves, right? Let’s really realize as we transition our new mission, our new purpose is our own. So make sure you take an action to discover that and then the action that’s needed to really implement it.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:08:50):

And wonderful. Thank you so much for that powerful words, powerful testimony. And as we see here on Veteran Voices, we are just so grateful to have you all here. And I love interviewing veterans who’re serving beyond the uniform like yourself, sec. And we also encourage all of you to come back and listen to future episodes of Veteran Voices. You can find our podcast wherever you get your podcast from. Again, veteran Voices is part of the family of Supply Chain now, which another great, amazing podcast. You should check out our other sister podcasts as well. And again, partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative, nonprofit, focus on advancing research in Guam and Micronesia. So again, do good, pay it forward and be the change that’s needed. I’m Mary Kate Saliva, your host, and we’ll see you all again next time. Take care.

 

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Featured Guests

Dr. Amy Stevens is the founder of the Georgia Military Women. She is a military veteran Clinical Consultant and EAP Counselor located in Marietta, GA. She specializes in Program Development and Coalition Building. Amy is a well-known clinical trainer for topics such as Post Traumatic Stress and Military Sexual Trauma. She is an advocate for all veterans. She is the founder of “GA Military Women”, a social networking group on Facebook. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn. 

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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Nick Roemer

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.

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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

Katherine Hintz, MBA is a marketing professional 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.

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Kim Reuter

Host

From humble beginnings working the import docks, representing Fortune 500 giants, Ford, Michelin Tire, and Black & Decker; to Amazon technology patent holder and Nordstrom Change Leader, Kimberly Reuter has designed, implemented, and optimized best-in-class, highly scalable global logistics and retail operations all over the world. Kimberly’s ability to set strategic vision supported by bomb-proof processes, built on decades of hands-on experience, has elevated her to legendary status. Sought after by her peers and executives for her intellectual capital and keen insights, Kimberly is a thought leader in the retail logistics industry.

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Kristi Porter

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.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

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.

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Demo Perez

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.

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Kim Winter

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).

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Adrian Purtill

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.

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Kevin Brown

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.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

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.

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Vicki White

Controller

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.

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Allison Giddens

Host

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.

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Billy Taylor

Host

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.

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Tandreia Bellamy

Host

Tandreia Bellamy retired as the Vice President of Industrial Engineering for UPS Supply Chain Solutions which included the Global Logistics, Global Freight Forwarding and UPS Freight business units. She was responsible for operations strategy and planning, asset management, forecasting, and technology tool development to optimize sustainable efficiency while driving world class service.

Tandreia held similar positions at the business unit level for Global Logistics and Global Freight forwarding. As the leader of the Global Logistics engineering function, she directed all industrial engineering activies related to distribution, service parts logistics (post-sales support), and mail innovations (low cost, light weight shipping partnership with the USPS). Between these roles Tandreia helped to establish the Advanced Technology Group which was formed to research and develop cutting edge solutions focused on reducing reliance on manual labor.

Tandreia began her career in 1986 as a part-time hourly manual package handling employee. She spent the great majority of her career in the small package business unit which is responsible for the pick-up, sort, transport and delivery of packages domestically. She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Inside and On-road operations in Central Florida before transferring to Atlanta for a position in Corporate Product Development and Corporate Industrial Engineering. Tandreia later held IE leadership roles in Nebraska, Minnesota and Chicago. In her final role in small package she was an IE VP responsible for all aspects of IE, technology support and quality for the 25 states on the western half of the country.
Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

Tandreia holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems from UCF. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is being the proud mother of two college students, Ruby (24) and Anthony (22).

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Marty Parker

Host

Marty Parker serves as both the CEO & Founder of Adæpt Advising and an award-winning Senior Lecturer (Teaching Professor) in Supply Chain and Operations Management at the University of Georgia. He has 30 years of experience as a COO, CMO, CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), VP of Operations, VP of Marketing and Process Engineer. He founded and leads UGA’s Supply Chain Advisory Board, serves as the Academic Director of UGA’s Leaders Academy, and serves on multiple company advisory boards including the Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference, Zion Solutions Group and Carlton Creative Company.

Marty enjoys helping people and companies be successful. Through UGA, Marty is passionate about his students, helping them network and find internships and jobs. He does this through several hundred one-on-one zoom meetings each year with his students and former students. Through Adæpt Advising, Marty has organized an excellent team of affiliates that he works with to help companies grow and succeed. He does this by helping c-suite executives improve their skills, develop better leaders, engage their workforce, improve processes, and develop strategic plans with detailed action steps and financial targets. Marty believes that excellence in supply chain management comes from the understanding the intersection of leadership, culture, and technology, working across all parts of the organization to meet customer needs, maximize profit and minimize costs.

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Laura Lopez

Marketing Coordinator

Laura Lopez serves as our Supply Chain Now Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Mexico with a degree in marketing. Laura loves everything digital because she sees the potential it holds for companies in the marketing industry. Her passion for creativity and thinking outside the box led her to pursue a career in marketing. With experience in fields like accounting, digital marketing, and restaurants, she clearly enjoys taking on challenges. Laura lives the best of both worlds - you'll either catch her hanging out with her friends soaking up the sun in Mexico or flying out to visit her family in California!

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Jake Barr

Host

An acknowledged industry leader, Jake Barr now serves as CEO for BlueWorld Supply Chain Consulting, providing support to a cross section of Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Caterpillar, Colgate, Dow/Dupont, Firmenich, 3M, Merck, Bayer/Monsanto, Newell Brands, Kimberly Clark, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Sanofi, Estee Lauder and Coty among others. He's also devoted time to engagements in public health sector work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At P&G, he managed the breakthrough delivery of an E2E (End to End) Planning Transformation effort, creating control towers which now manage the daily business globally. He is recognized as the architect for P&G’s demand driven supply chain strategy – referenced as a “Consumer Driven Supply Chain” transformation. Jake began his career with P&G in Finance in Risk Analysis and then moved into Operations. He has experience in building supply network capability globally through leadership assignments in Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. He currently serves as a Research Associate for MIT; a member of Supply Chain Industry Advisory Council; Member of Gartner’s Supply Chain Think Tank; Consumer Goods “League of Leaders“; and a recipient of the 2015 - 2021 Supply Chain “Pro’s to Know” Award. He has been recognized as a University of Kentucky Fellow.

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Marcia Williams

Host

Marcia Williams, Managing Partner of USM Supply Chain, has 18 years of experience in Supply Chain, with expertise in optimizing Supply Chain-Finance Planning (S&OP/ IBP) at Large Fast-Growing CPGs for greater profitability and improved cash flows. Marcia has helped mid-sized and large companies including Lindt Chocolates, Hershey, and Coty. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and a degree in Accounting from Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay (South America). Marcia is also a Forbes Council Contributor based out of New York, and author of the book series Supply Chains with Maria in storytelling style. A recent speaker’s engagement is Marcia TEDx Talk: TEDxMSU - How Supply Chain Impacts You: A Transformational Journey.

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Luisa Garcia

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®. Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world.

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Astrid Aubert

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Astrid Aubert was born in Guadalajara, she is 39 years old and has had the opportunity to live in many places. She studied communication and her professional career has been in Trade Marketing for global companies such as Pepsico and Mars. She currently works as Marketing Director Mexico for Vector Global Logistics. She is responsible for internal communications and marketing strategy development for the logistics industry. She is a mother of two girls, married and lives in Monterrey. She defines herself as a creative and innovative person, and enjoys traveling and cooking a lot.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Scott W. Luton

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.

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Greg White

Principal & Host

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.

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Chris Barnes

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.

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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Kevin L. Jackson

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 CiscoMicrosoft, 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 UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier 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.

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Enrique Alvarez

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.

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Kelly Barner

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’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

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.

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Clay Phillips

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.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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.

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Chantel King

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.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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.

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Katherine Hintz

Director, Customer Experience

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.

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Mary Kate Love

Chief of Staff & Host

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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.

Donna Krache

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.

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