We asked Brett to list both his challenges in his life and career. Some of his challenges include:

Brett’s Challenges
Brett’s Challenges
  • In second grade I was held back in school. My parents moved 23 times in 25 years by the time I entered high school. The constant moves had an impact on my studies. The immediate effect was that I saw myself as not as smart as the other students. How I responded to my self-image was to try harder than what was asked of me. When I was able to be more in control of my attendance in college, I had no problems at all and graduated cum laude, earning a scholarship to Duke.
  • Built a fort in poison ivy which led to me contracting a skin disease, Vitiligo (white blotches with no pigment around my joints). Neighborhood kids nicknamed me “Spot” (Age 8). This made me sensitive to others being teased and harassed later in life.
  • Because of the financial struggles of the family business, my parents needed lots of support from me and my siblings. From that point on I decided to NEVER be financially dependent on anyone. This drove me to find a way to get into college despite freshman and sophomore high school grades that were poor and missing LOTS of school. During my high school years, I missed about 25% of class time helping out my family and their business.
  • Had a hard time paying for college books and food, so I worked until I had the money through my business by creating a Christmas “gift card” program. I had financial difficulties but I always was able to find a solution before they became financial emergencies.
  • Planned on continuing my work with Bob Galvin, Chairman of the Board at Motorola (best summer job ever!!!), but the family business was failing and after going through its hardest year ever, I knew I needed to help by working there. This cut off my connection with Motorola and I worked all summer going from convention to convention for my father’s corporate image film business, where I improved my business skills. Left Duke before graduating (1984) because I did not have the money to continue. In 1985, I lost my IBM scholarship.
  • Recruited by the United States Navy to enter a specialized program. They suggested based upon a battery of tests, that I would be best suited for Naval Military Intelligence. Then the recruiter suggested that I test for entering the Naval Astronaut Program via Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) with training in Pensacola, Florida in 1985. After nearly a year of testing, I qualified for a program, requiring me to a 10-year inactive service, in case of war that ended in 1995. After attending for 12 weeks, I decided it was not for me. I stayed on inactive duty status for a decade, 1985 1995. Later, I would serve as Honorary Commander of Eglin A.F.B. in 2010 – 2012 and on the National Security Forum.
  • Passed my Series 7 exam, then moved to join new boss and mentor, Dave West. But Dave had an unfortunate heart attack the week I arrived, long before I could learn the business. I had to train myself. Using my software development skills, I found help and sought apprenticeships from some of the top advisors of the day.
  • To make money, I went to Salt Lake City and spent a year commercializing the program I created at Duke University. Unfortunately, due to legal maneuvers, I lost the rights to the program. At 27 years old, I could not fight back in a legal battle. From the lesson, I learned the importance of understanding legal contracts and how they work. I learned that some people are not trustworthy and that I needed to protect myself from the unscrupulous.
  • Stopped teaching aerobics in 2000 and gained weight. I have since changed my diet and exercise schedule to be a mandatory part of my day.
  • Balancing family and work has been, at times, a struggle. Having two offices can be a challenge. I am in Destin about 25% of the time. My solution is to use the time at home to get quality one-on-one time with my wife and children. I also take each child on their own week long trip to build deeper bonds and expand their worlds.

Continue to Brett’s Philosophies

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