What I Learned from Former Special Forces at SHOT Show

As many of you know, some of the world’s best consumer products are descendants of military and law enforcement developed technologies. A few which come to mind are GPS, microwaves, duct tape, the internet, canned food, diving watches, and for all you fashion buffs, aviator sunglasses. There’s a reason for this, which I was reminded of this past week when I attended SHOT Show 2018 in Vegas…


A Valuable Entrepreneurial Lesson from SHOT Show

I was at SHOT Show to take in some of the latest and greatest in the defence and optics sectors. While there, I was treated to some remarkable technologies and met with passionate entrepreneurs. From the world’s best performing gun scopes, incredibly rugged long-range infrared optics and digital scopes for hunters, I saw into the next generation of products for military, law enforcement, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

By far, the most remarkable technologies I saw at SHOT Show were those developed for the military and defence sectors, which one day will be utilized in consumer applications. Developed by private companies led by incredibly ambitious entrepreneurs (who almost all had military backgrounds), these technologies and systems had capabilities that most of us won’t see or learn about for another decade. These entrepreneurs are pushing the envelope further than what I thought capable for things such as night vision goggles, image recognition software and a ton more. And when you ask them how and why they built their products, their answers were very much the same. To paraphrase:

“We want to give our men and women in uniform the best.”

It’s not surprising many of the entrepreneurs running these companies with game-changing technologies are former Special Forces who have been deep in the trenches, no pun intended. Their businesses and innovations are more about saving lives and helping their teammates (today’s military members) than they are about profit. Certainly, profit will be there if they develop game-changing tech, and some of these entrepreneurs are very wealthy (although you’d never know it as they are humble), but that’s not their driver. I believe profit is a by-product for them.

The purpose and passion behind the best products and technologies at SHOT Show are genuinely about saving lives of military members and giving them the best possible advantage in the arena. It’s inspirational. These entrepreneurs’ ‘why’ is their passion. And it’s what makes them winners in the business world and saviors for those on the battlefield.

So the lesson in all of this is pretty simple: If you want to build a business that lasts; one that has a reputation for exceeding industry standards, find your ‘why’. If your ‘why’ is self-serving and purely about money, you’re not in the right industry… and you’ll probably fail in due time.

Your mission has to have depth and passion behind it, which often comes from experience in your personal life, much like these entrepreneurs I met at SHOT Show. They are driven to solve problems they experienced while at war, so others don’t have to. Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’ is an excellent read on this topic – highly recommend.

As a gun enthusiast, SHOT Show was fun to attend. But as an entrepreneur, it was inspiring. Find your ‘why’ – it’ll separate your business from the pack and help create a legacy company.

Stay hungry,





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