Our Story – The Military Spouses Behind MadSkills
Kevin Bacon has NOTHING on military spouses. Let’s just get that straight from the start. You can probably walk up to a stranger in the commissary, ask to friend them on Facebook, and find anywhere from 1 – 52 friends in common. We could literally make a game out of this!! Degrees of separation are not far apart in the military community. The beauty in those close degrees is that it’s actually degrees of connection and not separation. The connections that the nomadic lifestyle warrants us extends far beyond Facebook friends and newbie handshakes. The connections live and breathe through stories and friendships.
Our Stories Connect, Inspire, and Humble Us
Stories and friendships are the current of military life. They keep us moving. The stories connect us. Inspire us. Humble us. And friendships are the creators, fuelers, and deliverers of those stories. A new neighbor is just going to know someone in your past or hook you up with a new friend in the future. It’s inevitable. Some of the connections will be lasting. Immediate, like the strongest glue on the market. Others will be casual, perhaps fade or re-emerge when you least expect and take on a whole new life of their own.
Our story here at MadSkills is no different. We are military spouses. We really were just your run of the mill, casual military acquaintances for many years until one idea, a unified passion, and similar soul fires came together.
2014: We had just landed in a civilian neighborhood outside of Richmond, VA for an 11 month assignment. I knew no one but had jumped full throttle into a health and wellness coaching business and was reaching out to local military spouses on social media. I was a new coach, still working on my post-partum recovery, struggling a bit still through postpartum depression, but slowly feeling my business goals and passions revived. Liza reached out one afternoon about joining on of my challenge groups.
We Knew We Belonged Together
We quickly made a connection as work from home military spouses and mommas to littles feeling a bit lost in a huge civilian neighborhood and turned out we were living less than a mile away from each other. I was fascinated by Liza’s technical background and business savvy and inspired by her desire to mentor, educate, and support woman in business ventures. We met maybe only 2-3 times in person the last 6 months we were in Richmond and then defaulted into the familiar status of friends that shuffle by each other’s chaotic daily lives on Facebook. (I knew when she didn’t unfriend me after taking out the corner of the brick facade surrounding the mailbox of their rental house that we’d be friends for the long haul.)
Hop back to 2012: We spent 18 glorious months in Monterey, CA (After 2.5 years at Fort Polk, I am sure most any place would have been impressive but Monterey Bay is truly a beautiful place!) and got to spend that time as neighbors again with dear friends from our assignment in Germany 10 years earlier. They invited us for dinner one night and asked me help a friend who was a veteran, former DustOff pilot, who had left active service, got his degree from Cornell, and move to San Fransicso to start his own company. They needed a military spouse to lead a grassroots movement for marketing and community management.
Flash Bang, the Entrepreneurial Spark Was Strong
I immediately felt that little spark of entrepreneurial opportunity ignite and knew this was the space I was meant to be in. I didn’t know what shape this experience would continue to take or the long path it provided but I was all in. So for the past 4 years, I have continued to be a part of this company – now GuideOn. Watching something hatch, grow, and evolve is a career experience like no other. Knowing you’ve had a hand in something created from the ground up and being part of a team that believes in their purpose, product, and community is heart song material.
Last fall, I got an email from an advisor from the veteran accelerator group that GuideOn has been a part of and he introduced me to another start up looking for a community consultant. My husband was deployed, I had GuideOn and my coaching business, school was back in session, I was training for a half marathon and I just didn’t think I could do it. But once again, that opportunity was tugging at my heart strings, I loved the company value and mission and so I accepted! So once again, I’ve been in the ditches helping dig, mold, and carve out something for the military community that has been missing. We employ a team of military spouse ambassadors from across the globe who lead local grassroots communities to share the word and service of BorrowShare.
A Business Is Born
Hop, Skip, and a jump to early 2016: I couldn’t keep this idea in my head anymore. As I joined more and more military focused career groups, community meet ups, and met spouses through my business ventures the same phrase kept popping up over and over again, “There’s just no EASY way.” There are so many incredible non-profits (which we’ll be featuring soon), career support sites, employment counseling, blogs, etc…that all gear towards military spouse employment but I found many of the younger generation of spouses do not know about these organizations and there are so many the knowledge and actual facilitation of remote work is not readily available in one simple location. I prayed. I stewed. I prayed some more. Liza kept popping up in the forefront as I imagined a team to help make this dream possible. I messaged her one afternoon, very casually one Facebook, pitched the idea, and we set up a Zoom call to chat. Within 25 minutes into that call, we had a value proposition, a timeline for execution, and a marketing plan in place. No messing around. Military spouse know how to get IT DONE.
Six Kids and a Business Trip? We’ve Got This!
So as we fervently work over the course of the summer (of course, also PCSing between June – July) to get tech development and business infrastructure rock solid, please engage with us, follow us, email us, tag us in groups, and tell us your stories. We have a big trip out to Silicon Valley coming up in August which should be quite the tale of military spouses with six kids between them jetting off to the business front of start ups! Also, the rest of the month we’ll be rolling out featured stories from each of us telling our own ups and downs in employment as military spouses and would love to feature as many spouses as possible with their own unique tales. If you already have a blog about your story written, we’d love to that feature it too! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on our FB page!!