Every year 500,000 soldiers leave the military and enter the civilian work force. After years of training and regimentation, for many the transition is confusing and can result in a harrowing loss of self-confidence.
Craig Zuber has seen it first-hand. A former Marine Corps corporal and current president of the Zuber Group at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson, in Boise, he saw his brother return from Iraq and go from a self-assured young man full of confidence, to struggling with finding a place in the world of work.
“I watched the whole transition myself,” Zuber said. “He had all these skills, all this training and self-confidence, but it was like he went from hero to zero overnight.”
He, like many veterans, didn’t see how his military training and experiences were applicable to the business world. Zuber made it his mission to correct that.
He’s written a book, titled In the Trenches: Do or Die Lessons From the Business Battlefield, that outlines 10 top lessons from military life that Zuber says will help veterans not only transition into civilians, but give them the tools to thrive as business owners.
“In the military you always have a plan, you don’t go anywhere without a plan. It’s do or die,” he said. “You’ve got to communicate effectively. … You have to adapt and overcome, think on your feet and switch tactics. [Veterans] don’t realize that all of the same principles apply to business. With what they’ve learned in the military they already have a huge leg up.”
Zuber, 35, came to Boise with his wife and two children after a successful stint as sales manager for a restaurant equipment company in California. Applying his military training to a real estate career, today he helms a group of seven agents. During his first year in the industry, his team topped $9.8 million in sales, and he credits his success to lessons like “adapt and overcome” he learned in the service.
“When the economy started to go a little bit sideways and things were hitting the fan, I felt like I was buried in the trenches,” he said. “I realized I could stay in there and die, or I could pick myself up and figure this out. What got me through the economic downturn were my military skills. It was nothing else. You never ever, ever give up.”
His experiences in the ongoing housing mess, coupled with seeing the struggles of other vets, inspired him to get to work on the book and also led to his decision to turn down two deals with New York publishers and produce the book through Soldiers Impact Press, which he established a little over a month ago.
Going with his own publishing company will enable Zuber to afford to distribute it through a program called “buy one, send one” – for every copy purchased, one will be sent to an active duty soldier. Eventually, he plans to expand Soldiers Impact Press to serve as an outlet for other veterans to publish their own written works.
“I was writing what I was personally using to get out of the trenches myself,” he said. “There’s no platform that specifically targets military individuals to write books. … There’s a lot of legs with this, but at this moment, we just have to have the first leg kicked off correctly.”
That first leg came Jan. 13 when Soldiers Impact Press hosted the official launch of “In the Trenches” at the PowerHouse Event Center in Boise.
“In the military they get in your face to save your life. This program gets in your face to save your business,” Zuber said. “Instead of floundering to find a job, this should give [veterans] the confidence to create their job.”