Welcome To The Veteran Talk Show
Feb. 21, 2021

EP10: Marine Veteran Successfully Transitions to Photography and Videography Entrepreneur

EP10: Marine Veteran Successfully Transitions to Photography and Videography Entrepreneur

Transitioning from the military world to the civilian world is a major step for many veterans, one that likely doesn’t get discussed enough among veterans. On the new episode of “The David Johnson Show”, a national voice that talks about points of interest within the post 9/11 military and veteran culture, David speaks candidly about the transition to civilian life with James Lloyd, former Drill Team Marine, and current photography/videography entrepreneur. 

James Lloyd served in the Marines for nearly five years (2008-2013), acting in various roles as an infantryman, ceremonial marcher, silent drill platoon, and later deployed to Jordan and Afghanistan. While in the silent drill platoon, James appeared all over the USA, performing with his Marine team at awards ceremonies, NBA halftime shows, and elsewhere.

“It was fun,” says James. “You have to develop a level of discipline and attention to detail to even make it on the team. That helps you become self-sufficient.”

James then served in combat infantry in Afghanistan in 2011 with the 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment (3/7), a Marine Corps infantry battalion. He eventually reached his expiration of term of service (ETS) and came back to the Phoenix area.

After getting out of the Marines, James struggled to find a new niche for his skills and talents. He moved from job to job, often searching for a new passion in work.

“When you’re in the Marine Corps, you have one purpose. You have a unit of guys who have the same core values and all that stuff.

And when you get out, you kind of lose that,” he says. “And so, my biggest struggle was trying to figure out, OK, now that I’m done with the Marine Corps, what do I do now? So I was left without an identity and I kind of struggled to find that.”

James continued searching, went to film school for a year, found strength in Christ, and persevered. He relied on his faith to pull through the struggles.

“We saw people going through very similar things, and you then realize like Jesus is always there for you,” says James. “And my faith is what got me through that.”

 In the past two years, James started a new video production company called Striking Media, which he realized was a passion for him, and he’s working with that today. 

David Johnson says “I’ve said it on the show numerous times and I’m a firm believer in this knowledge is cumulative. You don’t know what you don’t know in your 20s and you think you know a lot. And you get older and you learn things. I’m 38 now, and have been a full-time entrepreneur for 13 years now.” 

Watch the full interview at https://thedavidjohnsonshow.com/video/ or on The David Johnson Show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheDavidJohnsonShow/ 

Transcript
Speaker 1:

Well , my biggest struggle was, was , um, you know, trying to figure out like, okay, now that I'm done with the Marine Corps, which is like serve and protect and, you know, like uphold the constitution, what do I do now? Um, and so it kind of left me , um, you know, without an identity and I kind of struggled to find that

Speaker 2:

We are the David Johnson show , bringing the veteran community stories or perspectives . So you can design the life that you deserve. [inaudible] back to the David Johnson.

Speaker 3:

So here at the studio in Phoenix, Arizona, we are joined right now with James Lloyd. Pleasure to have you ma'am . Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Awesome. This is a unique experience on the show because a lot of the shows we script out in the sense of what kind of, what do we want to talk about talking points? This is a new thing that we're trying, or we're just going to get on and talk. Okay . No direction, nothing left, no stone left unturned. We're just going to talk now. We don't know anything about each other, but we both served in the military and we're just going to wrap for a bit. Cool. So , uh, what branch were you in? I was in the Marine Corps . All right . When did you join?

Speaker 1:

I went in March of Oh eight and got out around , uh , January of 13.

Speaker 3:

Julie , we are , are you from Phoenix? Yeah. Cool. What'd you do in the Marines?

Speaker 1:

I did a lot of stuff. I signed up as an Oh three 11, so infantry men. And then , um , when I was going through , uh, uh, infantry school, I got selected for , um, ceremonial marches . So basically I got moved out to DC and I did parades funerals, stuff like that. I've always loved, respected those guys. Yeah. And then the super cool second year or after the first year , um, tried out for a , that platoon got on the team. Um, it was actually my second attempt. There was a miscommunication in the first year, but I got over that and got on the team the second year and spent a year going around doing shows , uh , nationwide. And that was a really cool experience. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Was that the S is that the Marine Corps, silent drill team or am I missing only one? And that's what you were on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So there's about 36 guys and there's the marching 24 who performed the shows. Wow. I had no idea. Yeah. So halftime shows , um , which are really cool. NBA halftime shows is so loud, you know, where any out on the, on the court Sleiman , you know, butts , you have to put rubber, rubber caps on your butts so that you don't damage the floor, but it was pretty

Speaker 3:

What's the selection process to get into that? Um, try outs if you will.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's about , uh , if I remember right , uh , three to four months of drill training, when you start with a group of about a hundred and then they accept maybe 12 to 16 every year, because they have to cycle through, you're only there for two years, so, yup . And , um , you know, you wake up and your hands are all curled up because you've been holding a 10 pound rifle, just, they call it rifle, hazing, but it's just, it's just like, you know, 12, 12 hours or so of drill every day. And you're just, you know, your forum's hurting your fingers hurt.

Speaker 3:

It brings a new, a new definition to attention to detail. Yeah . Wow. What was the inspections like going on a , before a show or before a ceremony? Um, for the most

Speaker 1:

Part, once you get onto the team, there's very little inspection. Um, you just have fire team inspections , um, but you have to developed a level of discipline and attention to detail to even make it on the team that you're kind of self sufficient by that time. Wow.

Speaker 3:

And then did you do that the rest rest of your career? Did you,

Speaker 1:

So yeah, I did that for two years. So when you're doing regular marching and the one year sounded drill, and then I got sent out to three, four a , which is in 29 palms. And that was my original unit I was supposed to go to from some other infantry. Yeah . So I actually ran into some of the guys that I went to bootcamp with, which was really cool. Um, and we deployed to Jordan for a brief while during their special forces, which was interesting while we were there that was around 2000 , uh, 11 , uh, three seven needed some extra guys. And I hadn't been in con uh , on a combat deployment yet. So me and about 20 other guys jumped over to three, seven as soon as we got back and immediately went to Afghanistan. Wow. So what year was that? I want to say that was the fall of , uh, winter of 11.

Speaker 3:

When you left , uh, the drill team and showed up to the, in Virginia, did they ask a lot of questions? Were you like, kind of got treated like a boot again? Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Um, and I, wasn't in great shape because I actually had a surgery on my left wrist. I tore two ligaments , uh , from drilling so much. And of course, you know, they tell you like, Oh, just drink water and take ibuprofen. Well , I did that for a couple months, found out that I had torn two ligaments and I wasn't actually being a baby, so I had to get surgery and then they were really upset, but, you know, wow,

Speaker 3:

Can you do? Yeah. So, and he said, I'm sorry you to play Afghanistan. What part

Speaker 1:

We were in? Um, let me think. We were in wish tan. I believe it was called. So it was like fog Jackson and fog . No way . I think we were in that area where we're kind of like the, either Eastern most part. Uh, we were PB Chicago, which is like as far East, as you can go, I think in the Helmand province. Wow . Minus some special forces. If you get on your little radar, you can see there , their buggies out there driving around and stuff. So

Speaker 3:

Did , uh, did you ever think about re-enlisting or did he know you wanted to ETS?

Speaker 1:

I pretty much knew within a couple of years that I didn't want to stay in. Um , I kind of questioned it all the way up until getting out. Um, but , uh, it was one of those things where I , uh , I very much enjoy knowing stuff, knowing information, because it allows me to manage my time better and accomplish things and in the military , uh , for good reason, they very much want you to just obey without question. So I definitely understand that aspect. I just knew that it wasn't a good fit for me.

Speaker 3:

So what'd you do when you first got out? I

Speaker 1:

Did a lot of things. Um, I think the first thing that I did after I got out is I tried for , um, I did some security work for privacy security company here for a couple of years. And then , um , I did some construction work for my father-in-law who's a building contractor. So , uh, framing, remodeling, roofing, all that kind of stuff. After one summer of roofing, I was like, I'm never doing that again summer. Yeah. Especially. Yeah. And , um, I climbed cell towers. I got certified in welding, so I was kind of just trying out different things. What do I like? Um, and then , uh, eventually , um, got into personal training. So I kind of fell back on like, what is the only thing that I have experience in and kind of know already. And that was fitness. I really had a passion for fitness. So, and that's what we still do today. No, I actually do video. So fitness led to video. It's just , um , yeah, I did fitness for about five years. Trained, managed a gym. Um, did online training kind of the whole nine yards. W

Speaker 3:

Would you say the, I mean, bounce down when you get out, was it , was it , was it rough for you? Was that you just didn't know what you wanted to do or what was the mindset behind that? Yeah ,

Speaker 1:

It was kind of like , um, when I got out, you have this huge kind of purpose and comradery , um, when you're in the Marine Corps, like you have one purpose, you have a unit of guys who have the same core values and all that stuff. And when you get out, you kind of lose that. Um , and so my biggest struggle was, was , um, you know, trying to figure out like, okay, now that I'm done with the Marine Corps, which is like serve and protect and, you know, like uphold the constitution, what do I do now? Um, and so it kind of left me , um, you know, without an identity and I kind of struggled to find that. And especially back then, I was , uh, probably like mid to early twenties. I'm still young now that I look back, I'm only 31 now. And I'm like, man, I was so young and immature and , um, had some struggles that really taught me that , um, my identity is in Christ and I've been, I've been a Christian since I was a young kid, but I'd never really seen him work until I had to struggle starting my own business, being married and, you know, feeding the family on one income in a world. That's not really designed for that. You know what I mean? Especially now. Wow.

Speaker 3:

So you found your strength in Christ. Did that come gradually as you got out or w when you got out, you knew it or just built up

Speaker 1:

Over time? Yeah. Built up over time. It was me searching me, searching, trying to do everything on my own without help. You know,

Speaker 3:

Was there one event in particular that led to that, or just cumulative again, over time?

Speaker 1:

It was cumulative, but I would say , uh , last March, I think about a year ago , um, we were in East Mesa. I , uh , we were renting a single family home and I had a training studio set up in my garage. I was doing online training and business. Wasn't going great, but it was going okay, we're getting by. And , um, we got a letter in the mail and it was from the property management and they're like, Hey, the landlord's moving back in. So you need to move out. You have six weeks. They're like, I thought we were going to renew and we had no money in our accounts. Um, we had credit card debt to start the video business, which I was doing at the time. Um , starting that up.

Speaker 3:

Was the video business around personal training? Uh, no, it was unrelated.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Two separate. Yeah, I was , uh, I had a finished film school about a year before that. Oh, well. Um, so yeah, but my faith kind of really built up when it was like, Hey, you have nothing and you have, and you have to move and you have two kids. So at this point I had two kids, the world's crashing down. Yeah. And so we ended up downsizing massively a year ago. Um, moved in with , uh, moved into a little apartment in downtown Mesa and , uh, kind of , uh, put up with Roach infestation. So our sewer floods and stuff like that in our apartment , property management, wasn't doing anything. And that was probably the peak of my realization. Like when I have nothing, I have Jesus. And we had some friends that we were like , uh , doing these like online meetings with once a week. And they were going through very similar things, you know? And , um , it just having that community and knowing that like everyone's going through something and then to realize like, Jesus is always there for you. And so my faith is what got me through that. And it helped, you know, my wife, same thing. If we didn't have that, you know, we would have been at each other's throats and all this, you know, all that kind of stuff. Cause we had experienced that before.

Speaker 3:

So what do you do, do you feel that you can just take on the stress and the burdens because of your faith? Do you , do you feel an internal, physical sense of calm and what does it do to you? Well, for example,

Speaker 1:

We've got this whole coronavirus thing going on and everyone's freaking out and panicking and , um , I've just been really at peace about it because I somehow got through all of last year. I don't remember doing that much work. I was always working, but somehow we were always paying our bills. Like ridiculous things would come up. Um, I joined this mentorship, this mentorship group is based in LA and when we needed, you know, another 500 bucks to finish paying off rent that month, I got a job through them with a company out in LA, but they're filming here in Arizona dedicated they need a drone operator. Can you do that? I was like, sure, made 500 bucks paid rent. Like they just come out of nowhere. So a lot of people say like, Oh, it's coincidence. It's not God. And you know, and , and I'm, I'm okay with them thinking that or saying that, but my whole thing is like, coincidence means it's not likely to happen. So if he's providing every single month for years on end, there's something, there there's something saying it doesn't have to be God for whoever, but I firmly believe that. So seeing him provide every single month. Um, and there's more stories than that has been proof enough for me. So it's like, I know he'll provide now.

Speaker 3:

Wow. What's what's next in the next , uh, year or two of your life on the road?

Speaker 1:

I don't know. Um , I've picked up quite a few clients since last fall and , um , they're also a good Christian family and they just have level heads and they're doing good work. Um, but basically I'm having to bring on more people. I'm trying to start a mentorship program and do some online training videos to launch later this year. Wow. Um , because really, I just want to help other people, whether it's vets or not , um, kind of do their own thing. Um, so I want to teach other people, all the mistakes I made over five years of trying to be self-employed and say, Hey, use these mistakes learning from them. So you can get your, you know, your , your job off the ground, your main entrepreneurial business around start, whatever you want really, but specifically,

Speaker 3:

Specifically video. Okay. You like that niche. So what's a client to you. What , what, what kind of projects do you do on the

Speaker 1:

All kinds of stuff? Um, I've done some music videos, lots of weddings now. Um , my main client to actually teach people how to convert single family homes into assisted living homes , um , and how to run it as a business , uh, which I had never even heard of that, you know, I'm 31, so I don't think of assisted living. Um, but it's really opened my eyes on how I could potentially help my grandparents and then my parents down the road and , uh , potentially hand off those homes to my kids. I won't tell them , um, you know, but something to pass on and then maybe I'll have a place to live when I'm in my eighties and nineties,

Speaker 3:

We have a very similar story in the sense of the military and the getting out the bouncing around very, very similar. Do you think that, and I call it bouncing around, but trying different things, whatever have you, do you think when you got out and you bounced around and try different things that was a positive for you? So you can see different things, kind of learn what you want to do, don't want to do.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Um, when I got out, I didn't see it as a positive trying all these things. I was like, man, my resume sucks. Cause I've been like nine months to a year at all these different jobs. Um, but now looking back , um, every time I encounter a situation, I draw on those past experiences in those jobs to apply, to solve a problem or to better interact with people, whatever the case is. And I realized it was a plus, you know, so I'd highly encourage people who, if they don't know what they want to do, try lots of different things.

Speaker 3:

Well, I've said it on the show numerous times and I'm a firm believer in this knowledge is cumulative. You don't know what you don't know in your twenties and you think, you know, a lot and you get older. And I mean , I'm going to be 38 and about two weeks. So, you know, I've been a full-time entrepreneur for almost 12, 13 years now. And like I said, knowledge is cumulative. I think you just keep building and building, building, building, and it just compounds over time. So the guys and gals getting out of the military in their early twenties, you don't know what you don't know. It's a matter of fact, you know, the show that you're on right now, it started as a book. It did. That's cool. Uh , nine months ago I wrote a book on finance. Uh, that was the idea that was the start. I personally feel that I've done a deep dive in finance, the past three to four years, just because the business I had started making a little bit of money and I needed something to do with my own money, but it's not like I could just go to a financial advisor. I'm not a big, you know, I , it wasn't some big way I got here as a million dollar check, managed my money. It wasn't like that, but I'm like, okay, I'm making some money now I need to do something. So I did a deep dive into finance and started studying it, studying it, almost like an obsession on a daily basis. Cool. That's really cool. So much like you wanting to create these videos, mentors to somebody maybe wanting to start a business. I'm like, okay, well I think I have something profound and relevant to say on finances. And I am huge in the veteran community. You know, I did six years in the army and I'm like, let me write, let me write this book. 50 pages short, sweet to the point, but stuff that they should teach you in Marines, colors, pictures, charts, like they should teach you this stuff in a college one Oh one class like they just should, but finances or money, finances or money. I mean, what's the difference between a 401k, an IRA and a Roth IRA. I dunno, how are you taxed? Well, that's a big deal, right? I mean, you're only gonna start. You're only going to retire one day or be financially stable. One day. If you start saving and putting your money into the proper buckets, investing them properly, know how those buckets affect you. Anyways, I'm getting off topic, right ? How the show started . And you know, that, that , uh, this book, I started kinda morphed into this. And again, knowledge is cumulative and one thing led to another, you've met the producers and we got together and we said, you know what, let's do a talk show. Let's do a show. Let's do a video podcast. But if you would ask anybody in this room, let's do this show 10 years ago, the knowledge wasn't there. Yeah . And even if you know the platforms and everything existed, but we didn't have the knowledge. So, you know , to your point of what you're saying, I totally agree. That's awesome. So what advice would you give the 23, 24, 25 year old getting out?

Speaker 1:

Um , definitely try lots of things. Um, if there is some sort of , uh , faith that you'd like to pursue, or if you're interested in, definitely check it out. Um, because , uh, you know, even though you don't have to be a Christian, but even the Bible says seek and you'll find, and even if you don't want to , if, even if you, even if somebody told you that, that wasn't from the Bible , um, I would, I could definitely say that just by seeking, you will find as soon as I started like looking for more information, like I just found out about Robert Kiyosaki, like last year, right. Apparently he's this big, big wig. Right. And he knows a bunch of stuff. And I started hearing , you know, read his books and hearing him talk. I'm like, how is this not like more, it's a new outlook. Yeah. And so then I started looking and finding more and sure enough, like I found more information, like, so definitely seek whatever it is that you're after. And you will find answers.

Speaker 3:

And by meeting those, you know , Robin Kawasaki's of the world, seeing those, hearing, those, reading, those different perspectives, opinions, it helps us, it helps to shape your mind. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Definitely rewires your brain. Um, so definitely like try different jobs, try different things , um, see what you like, if you can like pursue what you enjoy. Um, but also , um, pursue and try to get better at what you don't enjoy. Um , because those are going to be things that hold you back. So a lot of people will say like, you know, spend all your, you know, spend most of your energy with what you're good at, but what if you don't enjoy what you're good at? You know what I mean? Um, like I enjoy fitness. I'll probably never be more than 180 pounds, you know , a hundred pounds. Right. And I , it took me like a lot of years to realize that. And so I still do it because I enjoy it, but it's not my main thing. You know what I mean? And I really enjoy video. Um, so I'd say definitely try different things and , uh, definitely keep a positive mindset because , um , the world is full of fear, hate and all that kind of stuff. And it doesn't bring any progress. Um, positivity is huge. Like, I cannot tell you how big it is. It's hard at times it's hard to stay a hundred percent positive every morning. And think of one thing that you're grateful for at least maybe 10 things. And you'll start to realize life isn't that bad, no matter how,

Speaker 3:

How bad things are. Yeah. I like it . So James man , thank you. No problem. Thanks for coming down.