Todd Connor is a Navy veteran and the CEO of Bunker Labs, an incredible nonprofit organization that helps veterans to achieve their dreams through entrepreneurship.  Over the past couple of years, Bunker Labs has grown from their original location in Chicago, to having chapters in over 10 cities across the country.  They provide support through mentorship, training, education, peer support, and even funding.

Through an innovative online platform at www.BunkerInABox.org, veteran entrepreneurs can embark on a 14 mission journey that takes them through the necessarily steps to start their business.

Recently, Team RWB has partnered with Bunker Labs in the development of our very own e-learning platform, EagleLeader.org (coming soon).

Todd and I have a great conversation about transitioning from the military and how starting a business may be a great option.  We cover topics like:

  • When is it the right time to leave your day job, if at all?
  • How to create minimally viable product to test your business idea
  • Why starting a business-to-business company is a smart move
  • Thinking beyond “tech”
  • …and a whole lot more

Todd is an extremely engaging and inspiring guy, and we hope you enjoy our conversation.

  

Chapter: Team RWB San Antonio

Member Since: 2016

Motto: “No matter how bad you think you have it, there’s always someone who has it worse”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“Originally? Because I’m a veteran and someone told me I’d get a free shirt. :-)”

What has Been Your Favorite Event or Experience with Team RWB?

“Other than meeting new and wonderful people, without a doubt the 9-11 Moving Tribute where I was honored to be one of the persons carrying Old Glory from VFW Post 76 to the Alamo and back.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I don’t do as much as I should or could, but I guess my main form of service would be encouraging others to be the best they can be.”

What Inspires You?

“God, family, friends.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“When I first joined, it was honestly for the shirt. Now I have made so many new and wonderful friends and have much more of a social life again. Even though much of that social life is through racing, it’s always a wonderful experience to meet a new Eagle or re-connect with someone I’ve already met. I have never met a larger group of sincerely encouraging people. I cannot imagine not having this wonderful group in my life! I no longer feel alone or lonely, but truly a part of the team. Even though I walk and do not run, they are so supportive and accepting. It means more than words can adequately express.”

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Thinking of Joining Team RWB?

“You will not regret it. It will impact your life in so many, many positive ways!”

Blog written by: Jennifer S.

In November of 1999, I became a military spouse when my husband joined the Air Force.  Since then we have met amazing people, been around the world, and were given so many amazing opportunities.  Over the next 17 years, I started to gain weight despite training for marathons.  The birth of 2 children, putting a career as a physical therapist assistant on hold, a broken leg, and 10 moves were all contributing factors to my weight gain.

In 2013, we moved back to the US, after living overseas for 5 years.  We decided to continue to put my career on hold for at least 6 more months due to the new changes in our family.  We were now stationed in a Shreveport, Louisiana.  

Shreveport, Louisiana is where I was introduced to Team RWB. I was really missing all the activity groups and people from our last duty station.  My first event was attending a WOD with Warriors event.  I survived the workout and wanted to become more involved.  At first I struggled because I thought I needed to “be in better shape” before I could represent Team RWB and wear the Eagle.  The Chapter Captain encouraged me and explained that the group wasn’t about that – it was about connecting veterans to the community through physical and social opportunities. It was about providing opportunities and being consistent and being around regular people (like me).  Soon I found myself leading 2 run/walks a week, organizing an informational table at the bimonthly Information Fair and helping with community outreach.  One of my biggest projects was working on the 9-11 Sunrise to Sunset Flag Run.   The whole experience was inspiring, rewarding and humbling – such an amazing and simple way to give back to those who have given so much!  

Shortly after our move to Louisiana my husband deployed to Afghanistan – we were all thankful we had put my returning to work on hold!  I believe being involved in Team RWB definitely helped me through this deployment and helped me and my two teenagers still adjusting to the move.  I truly hope my involvement helped veterans during this time – whether it was introducing them to Team RWB at the information fair, providing other Eagles an ear, or just making sure there were snacks available at an event.  Near the end of my husband’s deployment we learned we’d be moving again after only 15 short months in Louisiana to Hawaii?

In Hawaii, I really wanted to take advantage of all that Team RWB had to offer – I was immediately impressed by the activities and calendar; however, wasn’t able to participate in many events due to my family obligations.  Around this time, I started to get involved in CrossFit and started to work on my running goals.  My Crossfit box was starting a ‘New You’ program and during this time I also wanted to be more involved with Team RWB and balance the needs of my kids, and “my” veteran. I decided if I wanted to get more involved Team RWB and its mission, I would need to host events again.  I decided to put myself out there and hope there would be interested Eagles.  Hawaii has been the first place I have been able to get my husband to come out to a Team RWB event.  He tends to be one of those veterans, like so many I speak to, who thinks he is “just doing his job” and doesn’t want any attention. He has enjoyed the team atmosphere and camaraderie and how the mission is to connect Eagles to the community.

Currently, I am hosting a run/walk three times a week at Central Oahu Regional Park.  Our running group is small, but we have a great time talking and telling stories.  I have realized that I started this run/walk group to help other Eagles, but this group has helped me in the process.  If this small run/walk group has helped a veteran ½ as much as it has helped me then I think this group was a success.   Sometimes showing up to an activity is 75% of the battle.  Knowing people are going to be there, and are counting on you can give you the encouragement you need to start.

My advice to new Eagles:  Get involved! Attend, host, do what you have dreamed of – maybe what you thought you never could!  “Dead last beats did not finish; which trumps did not start.” Anonymous.   I believe you can do it and Team RWB is there to support and encourage you – jump on the opportunities to connect, grow and be healthier! 17 years ago when I became part of the military family I never dreamed I would finish a ½ marathon, let alone a full marathon – and I definitely never thought I would focus on anything other than finishing, yet here I am working on getting faster, improving my finish times and the best part it is more fun now than ever thanks to Team RWB

The first six months of the Eagle Nation Podcast have flown by.  We are 30 episodes into this journey and it has been a blast so far.  We have had some amazing guests and have covered a lot of really interesting topics.  This week, we thought it would be cool to pause and take a look back at what we’ve learned so far.

In this episode, JJ and I talk about:

  • The best advice we’ve been given on the podcast
  • Questions we wish we’d asked
  • How we’ve grown through this process
  • Not letting perfect be the enemy of good
  • The vision for Team RWB’s future

A bunch of listeners have asked us for a consolidated list of some of our favorite books and podcasts that we’ve mentioned on the show.  Here to go!

Our favorite podcasts:

  • TED Radio Hour
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Tim Ferriss Show
  • Barbell Business

Our favorite books:

  • Contagious
  • Tribe
  • Zero to One
  • Start With Why
  • Daring Greatly
  • Fooled by Randomness
  • Originals
  • Good to Great

  

Blog written by Jill Roberts

Backing up to a cliff face towards a 125’ drop seems like an unnatural act, doesn’t it? Well, actually, with the right equipment, the right guide, and the right group encouraging you, it can be a very rewarding experience. This was just part of my adventure at the 2016 Team RWB Mid-Atlantic Rock climbing camp, held in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia.

This was my first opportunity to be an active participant in a Team RWB event, and it proved to be unique in its ability to immediately create an environment of inclusion and acceptance. I’ve been to events and training where the presenter claimed we were in “safe space” while there, but this is the first time that, although I didn’t hear the term uttered by the leadership team, I truly felt the safe space created by their willingness to take the lead in being open, honest, and vulnerable.

Being comfortable in one’s own vulnerability can be very important when backing up to that cliff. After an evening of Pies and Pints at the meet and greet, we leapt right into climbing camp the next morning to learn the basics of tying ourselves off properly and belaying a fellow climber. No pampering here. The crew goes above and beyond to ensure your safety, but you have to get the basics down to get a sense of, and respect for, the technical skill involved in participating in this sport.

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Then you have to get yourself to the top of the cliff. Which brings me to the backing off part. I thought it would be much more difficult to take those steps back, but Jeremy (one of our ever tolerant guides) had me lean my full weight back in the rig once I was secured and, for some reason I will never understand, I felt instantly safe and confident in the system. I won’t say I thoroughly enjoyed that first time down – I was still a bit apprehensive – but I went back up immediately for a second turn!

After a top notch lunch spread provided by our hosts at Adventures on the Gorge, it was off to my first climbing experience. Well, my first climbing experience beyond the dumb-ass things I would do as a kid before I knew I was breakable, that is. Out of the three routes available up the rock face I chose the most difficult one……not because I was confident, but because it was open when I was ready to go and no one else wanted it. The handholds were small and difficult to find, I didn’t plan my route very well, and I found myself relying on the encouragement from below and the skill of my belayer, an experienced, retired climber. I slipped off the wall a couple of times, but made it over a particularly difficult spot only to find another difficult patch standing between me and my goal – the carabiners at the top of the rigging. My hands were shaking and my fingers didn’t feel up to it, so I let my belayer know that I wanted to let go and come down. I said it a couple of times.

His response? “I’m ignoring you.” So I motored on, finally getting mad at myself for not accomplishing this small thing that used to be second nature to me, and made it to the top. Yes!

Now Day 2…that was just plain fun. The climb site accommodated 5 routes (including a stove pipe), each with it’s own unique challenge. We were all able to ascend multiple times and even had a chance to belay for fellow climbers. I came away from the climb with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And the Day 2 rappel site? Well, take a look at the pics. The view is incredible. At first I was intimidated by the roughly 125’ descent, but I lowered myself about 20 ft, turned around to look at the world below me, and became downright giddy. Most of the rappel was past the rock face, and I took advantage of the mid-air hang time to fully take in that view, the sun, and the feel of the early autumn breeze. Incredible. Never thought I would rappel off a cliff. Never.

So many thanks to Team RWB, particularly Mike Paugh, Brennan Mullaney, and Dustin Sanderson, and to the skilled (and entertaining) staff at Adventures on the Gorge for making this possible. And a special thanks to Kellyn Cassell for introducing me to the RWB family and encouraging me to take on this challenge. Even though I started off feeling vulnerable and unsure, the safe space that was created by the guides and other Eagles at the camp helped me reach outside my comfort zone and grow over the weekend.