Samuel P.N. Cook | From West Point, to the Iraq War, to Turning a Service Business into a Software Platform and Business

Samuel P.N. Cook is the Founder of SanityDesk, a software solution that helps experts and small service businesses to launch and manage their business online. The company was funded by angel investors and rapidly became an innovative solution for savvy marketing professionals who help small business owners grow their brands online.

After leaving the army, Samuel also founded James Cook Media in 2013. James Cook Media is a storytelling marketing agency that focuses on growing brands for authors and experts around the world. Samuel graduated from West Point in 2000, served abroad in Iraq, and went back to teach at West Point.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran sits down with Samuel P.N. Cook, the Founder of SanityDesk and James Cook Media, to talk about Samuel’s work in helping brands and small business owners grow through better storytelling. He also shares his experience in serving and leaving the military, his journey into entrepreneurship, and the benefits of brands having their own website.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • The story behind the founding of James Cook Media
  • Samuel P.N. Cook’s transition from serving in the military to teaching and starting a media company
  • How serving in the military helped Samuel tell better stories for his clients
  • Samuel talks about what it was like to totally shift his career and go into entrepreneurship
  • What drove Samuel to start SanityDesk and how the company has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How Samuel decides on what things to tackle based on limited resources
  • The benefits of having a website for your business as opposed to just using social media platforms
  • The people or companies Samuel respects in his industry and those he acknowledges for his achievements and success
  • Where to learn more about SanityDesk and James Cook Media

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at [email protected]

To learn more, book a call with us here

Check out Rise25 to learn more about our done-for-you lead generation and done-for-you podcast services. 

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. You guys know my story. I started my career in politics. And as a lawyer, I’m a recovering lawyer today. I worked for many years in the Clinton White House and for a California Governor spent many years practicing law and, you know, in 2010, I discovered this medium what we’re doing right now, which is recording a podcast. I’ve been doing it ever since because I get to talk to smart entrepreneurs, CEOs, and founders, like my guest today. And we’re gonna have a great discussion about some of the challenges that service professionals have in moving from a service profession into something that’s more scalable, like creating a software solution. I’m also the co-founder of Rise25, where we help b2b businesses with the strategy and production they need great podcasts that produce a tremendous ROI and connect them with their ideal prospects, and referral partners.

And so my guest today, his name is Samuel P.N. Cook. He is the founder of SanityDesk, which is a software solution for experts and small service businesses to launch and manage their business online, which is incredibly important today, especially in these post COVID times we live in. It was funded by angel investors, and rapidly became an innovative solution for savvy marketing professionals who help small business owners to grow their brand online. He also founded James Cook Media in 2013 after leaving the army. James Cook Media is a storytelling marketing agency that focuses on growing brands of authors and experts around the world. And he also is a graduate of West Point, graduated in 2000, and served abroad in Iraq. And he also went back to teach at West Point. So thank you, sir, for your service. Really appreciate that.

Now, before we get into this interview, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media. We help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you want to learn more, you can go to rise25media.com or email us at [email protected] All right, so Samuel, I love your story. You’ve got a deep career in the military. And then you go and you start a media company, which is kind of a bit of a shift. How did that come about? How did you end up going from teaching at West Point to founding James Cook Media and also tell the story about how it got its name because I love that you told me that story privately another time.

Samuel P.N. Cook 3:07

Yes, James Cook Media was founded, actually, right after I left the army. I hired my little brother named James, he was employee number zero because I didn’t pay him. But he was recovering from some mental health issues and some other things that were troubling him. And it was a way to give him something to do as he was trying to figure out what was next in his life as he would, as he was trying to figure out what was next in his life. And then unfortunately, I was, you know, right before I left the army, he passed away due to some complications with some mental health drugs he was on. And he became the name of the company. And it’s a cool name for many reasons, not just because James and I were very close. But my nephew’s name is James. James Cook was kind of the Elon musk of the Enlightenment, discovering all of the places around the world that had yet to be discovered Hawaii and mapped out the coast of Australia and New Zealand, and all kinds of violence in the Pacific. So it was kind of a famous explorer adventure in the mold of Elon Musk at that time, so I just love the theme of the logo exploring the ocean of knowledge out there, the infinite amount of knowledge out there that we’ll never quite wrap our heads around. So that’s where the story came from. That’s where James communicate from and great to have great to be on your podcast

John Corcoran 4:43

in how did you go from, you know, leading troops in a battle. And then, you know, teaching at West Point to a storytelling marketing agency was something that came from your military career that led you into that, or was it something you’d always been curious or interested in?

Samuel P.N. Cook 5:04

Well, it’s interesting. I actually explore this in my own podcast in episode one of season two of my podcast I called the mentor series. And in it I’m dissecting, I interview all of my mentors in my life that that had had a big impact in it, and I was dissecting, why did I get into media, that is a strange story if it were to go from army, to teaching history to media, but for me, it always made sense because back in 2004, when I was in Iraq, to relieve stress, I was the regimental adjutant for general McMaster who retired as the National Security Advisor, I was his adjutant as Colonel. And somehow at night, after all the stress of the casualties and different things that we were going through, I went and created a documentary film for our eight regiments, the third Cavalry Regiment, by gathering all the footage from the soldiers who taken it on their combat cameras and helmet cams, and, and everything else. And then I also created posters and T-shirts and paid out of my own pocket on my credit card for a web store, to sell all this stuff to for the benefit of the regimental Association. So in some way, I realized early on that I just had this weird curiosity with the web. At that point, it was very new. Then in 2007, and eight, when I deployed to Iraq again, before Facebook was a thing, let’s say widespread, I built a website and a blog platform to communicate with the families of the soldiers whom I was commanding in Iraq. And then in 2008, when I redeployed from Iraq and went to New York University, as a history student, and as a full time army salary recipient, I was bored to tears, wondering why I didn’t have to work 180 hours a week. So I managed to create that. Let’s call it tempo again in my life by starting a tour company. And I became fascinated when I started that tour company in New York City, with the web aspect of it. So I guess I moonlighted for a few years in the Army as a business owner. Once I realized that I didn’t really like tourism, as much as I liked the website part of it, I decided I should start building websites for people again, doing my day job as a history professor. So I like to say that I just realized what I wanted to be when I grew up a little bit late. And I think most people probably spend their 20s and probably 30s, working for the man as I call it, doing something for someone else, building other people’s dreams, you know, working as a corporate slave, I guess, and then finally deciding what you want to do when you grew up. So for me, it was in my early 30s. And I said, Hey, I want to go. Help experts and authors tell their stories online and get clients and I became a media agency focused on experts and authors. And when that started to work, I decided to leave the army. So it just took me a while to figure out what I want to do. And I grew up and the army was a wonderful place to learn a lot about myself and get to see the world and and, you know, get ready for the big adventure. That’s what I’m on right now.

John Corcoran 8:36

I’m sure you have amazing stories to tell about being in the army being in battle, leading troops into battle. Does that inform the stories you told or have told for your clients? In other words, having lived those stories? Do you think that helps you tell better stories?

Samuel P.N. Cook 8:56

Yeah, and here’s the thing. I mean, I remember General McMaster who just wrote the book battlegrounds was one of the best storytellers I’ve ever seen. And one of the things I realized when I was in Iraq was a, you know, he convinced a lot of people that we were fighting to put down their arms and join us. And one of the things I realized was war was an argument that was a battle of stories and the narrative of the Islamic State was, you know, the Americans are heathen infidels. And we need to go back to the 13th century and live like the Prophet Muhammad did and, and have all these draconian drastic rules and the American story that that won the day at that point and has since won again, when the Islamic State got defeated again, was, Hey, you know that Islam is not destined to be stuck in the 13th century. There’s a modern, progressive way to be you can control your own destiny. We’re not here to stay forever. In Iraq, we want to leave just as badly as you want us to leave. We’re sorry, we screwed it up, which was a key admission that general McMaster made to the locals and we’re here to help you take control of your own destiny. And, you know, so I watched arguments play out at a very high level where lives are at stake. So for me, when you’re in business, you’re telling a story. And the only reason people will invest in your product or service is when you inspire people that have better future in their life as possible and interact, that better future was either, you know, two very bad choices American staying here, or, you know, going back to, you know, some medieval form of, of living and, and we had to present that third way, which is we want to leave. And we need to help us leave by taking control of your own destiny and growing your own modern, you know, traditional Islamic Society in your own way. And that was eye opening to me to the power that stories hold in lives. I mean, stories literally, I’ve seen this make people kill people stories will make people strap on a suicide vest and blow themselves up. There’s nothing more powerful and dangerous. I would say then, story, nothing more powerful for good and nothing more dangerous. For the stable stability of society, a country, its democracy, whatever you, you, you think stories can be very powerful and very destructive. And I think we will see that.

John Corcoran 11:38

I’m always interested to hear when people make courageous decisions in big pivots in their career. And for you, you know, 2008, you are getting your master’s in Russian and Ukrainian history at NYU. You had a successful military career so far, maybe you are following you would have followed in the footsteps of you know, General McMaster, Mabel maybe gone into the higher levels of the military, and you make this major pivot. What was that? Like when you went to your family, your friends and said, Hey, guys, I’m making this major change. And you become an entrepreneur? I no doubt, I’m sure there are some people who questioned why you were doing that.

Samuel P.N. Cook 12:21

Yeah, well, here’s the one. The one thing that I realized when I left the army in 2000, or when I left Iraq in 2008, was I mean, two things really struck me were one. You know, I thought at the time, and I don’t think that’s true anymore. But I thought at the time, I’m never going to do anything that’s important again, which was somewhat depressing, which drove me to a little bit of manic entrepreneurial heights here. But the other thing I realized was I, you know, and this was reinforced, my brother passed away. You know, one of the things General McMaster always used to say, and I helped him write the speeches for the casualties when they got killed. And it was extraordinarily tough to do memorial service after memorial service was, hey, let us live a life that they’re, you know, let us let us live our lives in a way that their love, their sacrifice, is not in vain. And for me, my brother passed away, it became way more personal than even those colleagues or comrades that I lost. Just because of the sheer You know, when you lose someone close, it’s just an incredible kind of black hole that just enters your life and your soul. You know, I swore to myself, I am going to make every day count. And when I realized as soon as I realized that NYU when I was studying history, that I no longer had the passion for the army anymore, that I discovered this thing called entrepreneurship. That was, I think, even more aligned with my skill set. You know, because in the army, I had successful times. But at other times, when I was a staff officer making PowerPoint slides, I wasn’t very good at certain tasks. I was a well accomplished commander in Iraq. But I realized that this isn’t my path. And as much as any, any other people I know, would want me to continue that it wasn’t my path and seeing people, friends of mine colleagues, other commanders that I knew get cut down on the prime of their life and not having the opportunity to continue. Just really, I just swore to myself, I would never ever waste this. I felt like it was a second chance of life after two tours in Iraq. A couple of close calls personally, and obviously losing friends and comrades. And then, you know, right before I left the army, my brother passed away. It’s just that I’ve always lived a life since then. That was, you know, you’ve got to be true to yourself, your path, your vision for your life, what you’re passionate about. And as soon as you find yourself misaligned, you have to get back on the path or you’re not going to be happy. The toughest times of my life have always been, where I just was not doing what I loved anymore, even even when other people were proud of me saying thank you for your service. So you get great potential. That’s not enough if you’re not doing it for yourself.

John Corcoran 15:33

Yeah, and no doubt, what you just described has been instrumental in the decision that you made to not just stay down the path of the marketing agency, but to launch a whole new platform, which is SanityDesk. So how did that come about? And how did you decide to, you know, throw in now at this point, I think it’s a one and a half million or something that you’ve either invested your own money or raised, so it’s a significant sum.

Samuel P.N. Cook 16:01

Yeah, so SanityDesk was an internal project that I started back in 2015. I just moved to Poland. After traveling the world for a year after my brother passed away, I worked remotely from a laptop, traveled the world a few times, met my now business partner, Tyrone and Philippines, who was one of my first employees, and had a book of clients. And they were coaches, experts and authors. And when I got to Poland, I realized that there’s a huge amount of developer talent in this part of the world. And I taught Russian and Ukrainian history and Poland was once part of it and was part of the Russian Empire. And it was divided amongst three powers actually. And I really had an affinity for and a good experience living among people. living among people about who might have studied in terms of historical knowledge. And there were a lot of Ukrainians in Poland. And Ukrainians were the subject of my master’s thesis at New York University, the Ukraine, conquest of Crimea by the Russian Empire, and Ukraine. And it was just a really fascinating experience to set up in that part of the world. And what I realized was, hey, the problems that experts and authors have, it’s not just, you know, getting their marketing message out there, but they’re spending a ton of money on their tech. And I would have to make these wrenching decisions to recommend to authors to spend, you know, 234 $1,000, on HubSpot, and then six other pieces of software. And before you know it, they’re spending five plus $1,000 a month, which is an enormous amount of money, even if you’re making, you know, six figures or more to a huge tax on your business. Or what I started to do is I just started to build tools that they needed, I started building a quiz and a page builder. While I was in Krakow, that business ended up not working out. And when I went under, which was originally called James Cook publishing, I restarted as a pure media agency called James Cook Media. But I just kept building out this technology naively, at that time, saying, Well, if I just spend a little bit more money, I’m gonna save myself all this money on software, and 700,000, or $600,000, into spending all the money I had on the software last year, I realized, you know what, I’m going to run out of money, and I’m not going to be able to take this product to market and now’s the time, I just started to see all of these, you know, things coming together. And the fact that, you know, this frustration amongst experts and consultants and solopreneurs around the world was building with the complexity and the cost of tech. So I started raising money in August of 2019. And since then, we’ve raised between my company putting in another 100,000. And from outside angels, we’ve raised $1.4 million. Now we’ve closed our pre seed round, officially it’s oversubscribed, by $50,000. And we’re actually probably going to take in before the end of the year, maybe another couple $100,000. And we’ll have basically raised enough money to get us through our closed beta period where we’re going to build out the world’s best onboarding experience for new business owners literally, when you come in the software. We don’t just help you set up your technology, but we help you map out your website. Choose the photos actually write the copy we provide as part of the onboarding, we’ll just get your four page site up with and one of the reasons we do that is I’ve been noticing as we’ve been onboarding new clients that the hardware part about writing copies. So we’re helping people push through that as part of their onboarding experience. So that’s the next year ahead of us is going through this closed beta period, really making our first 1000. customers love us, give us great feedback on the tech, stabilize, get it ready for scalability, and then go to a much bigger race and launch of the product on the market? And what has it been like operating? We’re recording this in November of 2020. So six months, seven months into the pandemic? What was that like

John Corcoran 20:32

when the pandemic hit, and you were six months or so into raising money?

Samuel P.N. Cook 20:39

Well, at that point, needless to say, the lead investor I’ve been counting on was not able to keep funding us. So I thought for a moment there, I thought we were gonna have to shut down the company or go down to just me and my co-founder and lay off most of the team, but I had been coding for a while as a new investor. And he was about to come in for probably about a large amount, you know, he was looking at, you know, becoming a lead investor putting in a couple $100,000. And then I just started watching this slow motion train wreck come up with COVID COVID. And, and it just things just started shutting down in Europe, and then we knew it was coming to American. And it was the day I was going to get the decision from him. Hey, are you going to invest and he said, You know, I was going to get this house sold and, you know, London and it didn’t happen. So I can’t be the lead investor and put in that large time I was thinking you were thinking I could, but I will put in, you know, 50 k, if you find some other investors, so I was, you know, going around beating the bush. And eventually, we figured out with the stimulus money that was coming out, and some other things that we could get a little bit of gas in the tank. And if we cut our payroll, we wouldn’t be able to get the six months runway he wanted us to get if we put his money in and he said, Okay, well, alright, I’ll match the government money if you guys Cut, cut your wages, and then his brother decided to come in, and his brother put in another 50,000. And they said, Okay, let’s not cut, cut payroll. And then, you know, we got through the summer period. And then as we got towards, you know, formed the board and got an advisory board together, and they saw the progress, his family fund actually just came in and helped us close out the round, and a couple of other members of his family came in. So it’s been a phenomenal, good family to know. Well, you know, what, they’re a wonderful investment family that the father of the family is a very famous technologist from the UK, they have a family fund. And yeah, they’re all investors, and not only investors, but just wonderful, high consciousness, well intentioned people who really are looking to make the world a better place. And what drew them to our product is that it’s very clear to everyone that the solo operators, the consultants, the experts have been left behind by the SAS market, and no one seems to care about their problems. Because, as one investor told me, in Silicon Valley, Hey, no one likes dealing with small business owners because they’re cheap, and they turn you know, they quit a lot. And they’re, they don’t have a stable income source. So who wants to invest in that? And to me, that’s not a great reason to not build a product for them. It’s a great reason to get creative about what is their true problem that causes them to churn and to be unstable? And, and how do we solve that at a very core level with technology that meets their needs? Because there’s a huge need there. It’s just, okay, well, if a traditional investor doesn’t want to fund it, then let’s get the right ones. And we found, you know, a group of people that really believe in solving this this problem, because, you know, in COVID the thing that we’ve learned is even though we hadn’t sold anything until February and started selling during the pandemic, is everyone needs everyone needs to get their business online, they need a respectable storefront. You know, websites, they need their marketing automation, their you know, their, their sales, CRM, they need all these things set up, and most people don’t even need no, they need all this right. And there’s a huge education curve that goes for new business owners. Okay, what does it take to be successful online? What’s the strategy? What’s the blueprint? What’s the tech and how do we put all that together? And it’s a huge gap in the market. We’re really having a fun time.

John Corcoran 24:43

Yeah. And what you’ve just described is so comprehensive because there’s an education gap. So it’s kind of teaching and training them what they need to do. What I find having been through that same scenario myself having practiced law for many years. You know, building many online tools, websites, stuff like that, that it’s learning how to do it, learning how to understand how to use the tools themselves. How do you limit? How do you decide on which pieces to tackle first? No doubt, I’m sure you’ve got this huge vision, but there’s only so much you can tackle with your resources, in particular order. How did you decide?

Samuel P.N. Cook 25:24

Well, prioritization of your roadmap, as they call it, and software development, is the greatest discipline and skill that you need to learn as a founder. And frankly, I don’t think I figured that out until recently, by getting great mentors from my board, you know, my investors and board. And really what it comes down to is, Who are your first 1000 customers going to be? Okay, you know, I could build, you know, online shopping carts for physical products, I could build all kinds of advanced tools that I would personally love. We’ve designed some analytics dashboards and some advanced email functionalities that I personally would love because I’m a very advanced user. But what I’ve been forced to do in this product is what is our beachhead into the market and our beachhead into the market is what I call the tech virgins or the tech. The new technologists who are in their 40s and 50s, who’ve worked not in the technology industry and been working in corporations or other jobs have a huge amount of value and knowledge to pass on to the world to the next generation through coaching and consulting. But they’ve been left behind by the tech landscape. And, frankly, what does a brand new business owner who’s got, you know, time that they can sell that’s valuable? Eventually may want to scale that with an online course, what do they need? And that’s what we’ve built. And whenever a new feature, or bright, shiny object or good idea comes to me, it’s like, does that serve the first 1000 people that we want to have on the platform, which is a brand new, you know, so if you’ve got a website that you’re afraid to show to anyone, and like, you just rather didn’t exist, and that’s one of our clients. And if you don’t even have a website, that’s also our you know, if you’re an expert, author, coach, who has nothing that you’re proud of, or nothing at all, that’s what we love to help, and we think about what features do they need? And really, I could develop all kinds of features that they can use eventually, but it’s like, we’re putting all of our resources right down to the on the user experience when they first joined, which is education, blueprint, copywriting, how do you how do you choose read images and copy basic stuff, then most websites get wrong.

John Corcoran 27:46

I’m sure you experienced this, but you know, people are like, Oh, I need a webinar or I need, you know, some advanced thing like that, you know, they want to get they want to build a quiz or something like that. And then you ask them, so cool. Okay, can I check out your website? And then oh, no, I don’t want to show you my website. It’s like, yeah, that’s what we need to work on. Right? Yeah, that’s what we need to work on.

Samuel P.N. Cook 28:11

Well, here’s the thing about a website is people are like, Well, why do you need a website these days, you can just build a Facebook page and build a LinkedIn page, you know, what, you don’t own those platforms and you become a digital sharecropper, as I call it for Mark Zuckerberg and, and the owners of LinkedIn and Microsoft, and you’re building up their real estate rather than your own. And if you’re not proud of your website, and someone can’t go there and they know they’re in the right place, which is the job of your homepage, what problem do you solve? How do you solve it for who? Okay? Be, understand who you are, where you’re coming from? What’s your story? What’s your background, what qualifies you to help them solve that problem, and then see a clear description of all your products or services, and how to get in touch with you to speak to you about all your products and services or buy online, if that’s the mode in which you’re operating. You don’t have a website, those are three pages, that almost everyone has no clue how to do. And I didn’t I mean, I’m embarrassed to say I was a marketing agency owner until two and a half years ago, I didn’t have my own website because I would have rather not had a website than had one that wasn’t well thought through and then I finally taught myself how to do it. And was I building the SAS platform I coach business owners every day so I’m seeing them every single day new problems and how to communicate it so but it’s, it’s really a dare I say, borrow from the current words an epidemic or pandemic bad websites out there, no websites, websites that don’t work. So, so yeah, we’re focused on giving people a nice healthy tech, tech stack tech experience so that you know, I call it your tech life. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on it because it’s, you know, you got other things to do. You got to go out and work with your clients. But you got a healthy, secure, stable tech life as I say.

John Corcoran 30:03

And that’s a great point because people will waste time, essentially, by spending all their time toiling away on their tech or fixing a banner on their website. I was guilty of that early on for sure, I would spend a bunch of time on that, that’s not the highest and best use of your time for sure. Two more questions. I want to wrap up with Samuel before we run out of time here. So I’m a big fan of gratitude. When you look at your peers, others in your industry, who do you admire and respect. In other words, other companies or other individuals who kind of blazed the path like you going from service to creating a software solution that you look to and you admire?

Samuel P.N. Cook 30:43

I would say that, you know, I’ve, I’ve looked at Clay Collins from LeadPages, the founder of LeadPages, really, you know, I used his tool and I really respected the way he communicated the benefits of his platform as I became a user, and I’ve definitely followed his work, especially on the page building side. You know, Russell Brunson of clickfunnels has definitely been a great thought leader in marketing education and is built a great page builder also, which is kind of in the tradition of Clay Collins, Brian Halligan, the founder of HubSpot, I mean, HubSpot was the original kind of all in one tool for small businesses, they’ve really kind of gone up market there, they’re bumping into some, you know, Salesforce territory, and they’ve really, I think, left the small business owner market behind. But yeah, I mean, look, I’ve benefited enormously from and followed in the footsteps of some SAS pioneers. And the great thing about coming after them is being able to see the gaps and you know, all the things that they’ve done, how they their successes, some of the things I think they left out, and then the gaps that are left the market and just trying to tie it all up into a tidy, easy to understand and manage technological and not just technological but business, launch and management solution for new entrepreneurs. Because setting up your business online, it’s like, you know, hiring a contractor, architect and, and really trusting them to help you build that out. And that’s what we want to be for people.

John Corcoran 32:20

Yeah. And then the last question. So let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, like the Oscars or the Emmys, you’re receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for everything you’ve done up until this point. And what we want to know is, who do you think are the colleagues? Who are the friends? Were the mentors or the coaches? Who are the military leaders that you served under? Who are the people that you would acknowledge in your remarks?

Samuel P.N. Cook 32:42

Well, look, first, first of all, you know, I was blessed to have a, you know, great parents, and I’d have to definitely acknowledge, you know, my dad was a history teacher, my mother was, you know, just retired and actually still teaches in a retirement, French and Spanish. Just a passion for education, I think came from my parents and a passion for learning, reading books, and, and just loving the profession of teaching, I think comes from my parents, first and foremost. You know, my professor at West Point, Chris Kolenda, who was my favorite history teacher, and made me want to be a history teacher when I grew up. And, you know, people like him, and Kevin Ferrell, and some of the great history teachers I learned from at West Point. And then, you know, in my army career, General McMaster, who was my commander in my first turn Iraq, in the battle Tal Afar went on to become national security adviser, I’ll never forget him. When I wanted to leave the army actually saying, Hey, I support you whenever you want to, just give me that freedom and space to leave when it isn’t right for me. I mean, actually, when he told me that I ended up staying for another seven years and then got out. But just knowing where

John Corcoran 34:04

to end whatever he said,

Samuel P.N. Cook 34:06

Yeah, he said, Hey, you know, I value your decision. I respect it. I’m not going to tell you either way, which is right. But, you know, he did say that if you went back to Iraq, the second time as a commander that, you know, I’d never have an experience like that again in my life. And he was right, in many ways. I mean, as hard as running a tech startup is it’s, it’s not as hard as some of those days in Iraq. And my commander, my second tour, Thomas, stormy, who was I managed to convince to invest in this company, and he’s now on my board of directors. You know, and then just recently in the world of business, you know, shandur, who became our lead investor in his family and the mentorship and their leadership thought leadership around the idea of conscious capitalism and in a business of all stakeholders being well served You know, from your customers to team members to your local community to the world, the governments even that benefit you and your company you know, you may hate your governments sometimes they do provide the peace and freedom and economic stability and talent pool that from which we draw and I have to think back to my days in Iraq and be very thankful for the Ukrainian ecosystem that I’m in right now my dev team and find ways to get back so all those mentors have been an amazing year my advisory board members and Sandy desk and the whole crew we’ve managed to assemble so too many people to name but I hope those ones represent the high points as

John Corcoran 35:42

Yeah, that’s great. Thank you, Samuel, where can people go to learn more about you?

Samuel P.N. Cook 35:46

Well just go to SanityDesk.com, you can sign up for some of our tests online to assess your tech how healthy your tech is as a business owner and find out how we can help you fix it.

Samuel P.N. Cook 36:01

And, you know, Jamescookmedia.com Also, there’s some free masterclass we have on storytelling where you can learn how to tell your story online. It’s a two hour plus free training lessons together on storytelling and how to grow your business with power stories.

John Corcoran 36:17

Awesome. All right. Thanks so much, Samuel.

Samuel P.N. Cook

Thanks, John.

Outro 36:21

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com. And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.