Opinion: THIS is what the veteran community needs more of

Eric Dehm
September 27, 2018 - 2:03 pm

Photo courtesy MilitaryInfluencer.com

When I was asked to be a Master of Ceremonies for the 2nd annual Military Influencer Conference (MIC) in Orlando, I accepted with the expectation that I'd have a good time in the Florida sun, and I'd make some connections that would be helpful in my work at ConnectingVets.

To put it another way: I said yes for purely selfish reasons. That being said, what follows is not a paid promotion, or anything of the sort. I was never asked to write it, but after what I experienced? I feel compelled to.

You see, I did have a good time and exceeded my wildest dreams when it came to connections made. But neither of those are the reason why I left the conference with a big smile plastered on my face that has yet to leave. No, I left the conference happy and proud that I'd been able to take part in something so positive and beneficial for our community.

I'd only been to one conference/convention prior to this, a zombie-centric affair in New Jersey. That event was fun, but was about selling you all manner of undead and pop-culture related gear or the chance to take a picture with celebrities, as we did with Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus, aka the Dixon brothers from the Walking Dead. That's what my wife and I got out of that convention. A cool photo. 

I guarantee you everyone at MIC Orlando got a lot more out of their experience than a photo: 

They heard advice on making the leap from the comfort of a career into the world of entrepreneurship from business luminary Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams and the Boston Beer Co.

Photo by Eric Dehm

They had one-on-one conversations with leaders of the corporate and veteran business, non-profit and branding worlds. 

They found out what it takes to build a company like Black Rifle Coffee Company from 3 founders to over 100 staff members directly from one of those founders, Jared "JT" Taylor.

They voted on presentations by 3 finalists in a StreetShares competition which led to each of the three receiving a substantial amount ($25K in total) and mentorship from the aforementioned Mr. Koch. 

Photo by Eric Dehm

They met fellow vets, found common ground, and began what will likely be lasting friendships and business relationships.

And they even got to rub elbows with some vet celebrities.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what everyone there got out of this event. It wasn't about making a quick buck, it was about building up our community for the long-term. We were sold ideas, information, and the belief in the difference veterans can make in all walks of life. 

I'm buying it all, now more than ever, and I'll definitely be at the 2019 MIC which they've just announced will be held in Washington D.C. Hope I see you there!

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