When I was in the process of writing my book, Chris Savos, a former supervisor-turned-friend of mine, said that my initial manuscript lacked a conclusion…something to tie it all together. So I wrote one and gave him a shout out in the afterword. During the next two years, Chris and I met on a fairly regular basis and we would share all of the goings on each of us had. Chris went from a DC-based consulting firm to a software startup in the Middle East to eventually finding his way back as an independent contractor teaching leadership, executive presence, and analytic courses.
I wanted to work with Chris for some time, I felt like he and I connected on many levels. But as 2017 turned into 2018 and 2018 turned into 2019, nothing seemed to happen. It seemed that Chris had all of these wonderful things happening in his professional life, but all of the things in mine seemed to be slipping, as I wrote about previously.
Then one day I got a text from Chris asking if he could call me. And then my phone rang, and Chris began to tell me about a new venture that he started with a colleague, Trevor Thrall. As Chris explained, there was currently no on-demand online training resource for people in the intelligence analysis and risk assessment fields, and considering the massive amount of people in those fields, they felt like there was a need that could be met. Chris knew of my expertise in communications, marketing, and advertising, and asked if I would be willing to throw some ideas at them to help them with their website and overall marketing strategy.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I was always happy to help Chris if I could. Chris virtually introduced me to Trevor and a cordial email chain ensued. After some messaging back and forth, we agreed that it would be best to meet in person and I could share any ideas I had face-to-face.
The following week, the three of us met at the Urbanspace area of the Tysons Galleria. After an initial coffee and pastry purchase and our exchange of pleasantries, we got down to business, and Trevor and Chris explained in more detail about their idea. I then shared my ideas about their website and some marketing strategies that they might consider, and after about 90 minutes, I said goodbye and headed back to the metro, not thinking much else of it. I was happy to pass along what I could.
The next day, after barely sleeping thanks to my then two-month-old daughter, I received an email from Chris and Trevor:
Thanks again for coming out to Tyson’s to meet with me and Trevor. Hopefully it was pretty clear that we would love to have you as part of the team; you are vibrating on the same wavelength and with the same amount of energy as we are, and we think you could help kick some ass in this space. We want to do great things, and we want your help to get us there.
As I read the email, my eyes grew wide and I called for my wife to come read the email. I was in a state of mixed emotion: surprise, gratitude, excitement, fear, and probably others. But there was one overarching feeling that meant more than anything: get after it!
What an opportunity! What a chance! I could be part of something amazing, something that could improve people’s lives, something that could make our nation stronger, and something that I felt excited to be a part of. I had a chance to put years of experience in communications and marketing to work in something that matched another area of expertise: training and professional development.
Despite our very young daughter, my wife and I agreed that it was something I should be a part of, so I gave myself a few hours to mull it over and let the initial emotion simmer. Later that evening, I responded to Chris and Trevor via email:
Thanks so much for the email. You are correct: I definitely felt the energy with you both yesterday. I think you’re onto something great, and I was happy to be a part of the conversation and share what I think I can offer. But most importantly, I’m thrilled that you’d like me to be a part of the process and see where we can go.
And that was it. A few days later, we signed an agreement outlining my responsibilities and began to get to work. And in the few weeks it has been since late October, I think we’ve made a lot of progress. So far, we have:
- Created and updated the E38 Academy website.
- Launched our first free course, Ten Tips for Improving Your Analytical Writing, taught by Chris.
- Scheduled our first webinar series course, How to Write a Killer Policy Memo, taught by Trevor.
- Established and linked our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn company pages (and I encourage you to check them out and follow E38 Academy.)
- Developed a marketing and communication plan to help spread the word; and
- Begun to reach out to other instructors who have incredible content that national security professionals need to see.
If you’d like to know more, check out our website, read our blog, or sign up for a course (even a free one). You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to start a dialogue, pass on ideas for courses, or if you’re an instructor yourself, how you can join up and help get your incredible content to the world.
Thanks for reading, see you round the Academy, and let’s get after it!