Like a lot of veterans, my decision to serve was inspired in part by my family. In my case, it was my grandmother.
I grew up in California, and after graduating high school, my grandmother took me on a trip to Kenya to see a different world (she was a very cool grandma). We landed in Nairobi on August 7th, 1998 — the same day the U.S. Embassy was bombed. We felt compelled to go to the site and try to help. Later, we learned that more than 200 people had died and thousands were injured from the attack. I felt terrible for those impacted, but I was also inspired by what I saw: in the midst of the destruction and shock, the Marines established control over the situation. They acted with assurance and purpose. That’s when I knew I needed to be a Marine.
I went to the University of Colorado, Boulder on a ROTC scholarship and joined the Marine Corps the day I graduated. I deployed twice to Iraq, where I served with some of the bravest men and women. Then, 9 years after the day I knew I wanted to be a Marine, I returned home. I did what many vets do when they return to civilian life — I wrote out my resume and went on a job search. There were a lot of great companies looking to hire veterans, but I was drawn straight to Google, because I saw they had an inspiring mission and the same strong sense of purpose that we had in the military. That direction appealed to a Marine like me. I started as a temp in fraud protection and now manage a sales team focused on driving adoption of Google Apps for Business.
According to the latest Census data, veterans run 3.7M businesses in the U.S. and are 45% more likely to start a business than the average American. The numbers speak for themselves, but personally, I think vets are such successful entrepreneurs because they value teamwork, demonstrate leadership and have a high tolerance for stress.
I also believe Google Apps is a critical tool for veterans (or anyone) starting or running a business, because it lets them focus on their ideas and their companies, rather than worrying about the technology behind it all. One of my favorite parts of the job is getting the chance to talk to veterans about launching their businesses with Google tools, like I did at a Google for Entrepreneurs workshop for veterans last summer.
This week, we’re highlighting a handful of veteran owned businesses that use Apps to communicate and collaborate with partners all over the world. These are just a small sampling of the interesting and innovative veteran owned businesses out there, with more starting each day.
Finally, for those that serve, for veterans and their families who have answered the call of duty and know it as a way of life, I am forever indebted to you and I salute you on this Veterans Day.