About this episode

This week’s featured founder is Jim Hogan,,, co-founder of a program called Socks for Heroes. Jim and his wife Carla started Socks for Heroes after their son, Donald, heroically gave his life in service to his country while deployed to Afghanistan.

Why socks? In the time period that followed the tragedy of losing their son, they spent a lot of time with the Marines who served with him. During each of their conversations with these men, they asked them what they needed the most. Their answer was simple, socks.

So Socks for Heroes does exactly what you would expect. They ship new pairs of socks to U.S. troops that are deployed overseas. They have shipped over 50 tons of socks, hygiene gear, and other essentials to Marine Corps and Army combat Infantry units.

Throughout the month of November, every single episode of The Startup Story is going to feature founders that are Veterans of our Armed Forces. While Jim and Carla are not Veterans, it was their son’s service and sacrifice that became the catalyst for Socks for Heroes and it is a Startup Story that needs to be told.

With that said, this is a story like none we have never told before, so it would make sense that it begins like one has never begun before too. This is Jim Hogan’s startup story.

In this episode, you’ll hear

  • Socks for Heroes and the Southern California Marine Corp support group is a partnership between Jim and his wife Carla
  • Jim and Carla’s childhood, Jim was raised by his Marine father and his mother worked for the IRS, and Carla’s father was a true example of an entrepreneur
  • The amazing story of how his wife, Carla, and her sister set out to sell some gourmet picnic baskets to fund a trip to Europe, and instead sold $60,000 worth of picnic baskets in one day, leading them to launch a business which was later sold to Aladdin
  • About Jim and Carla’s son Donald, how he went to college for about an hour and then came home to tell his parents he joined the Marine Corps, how much he loved being a Marine, and later getting the devastating news that he was killed by an IED and how the Marines closed in around them to offer support and care
  • The story of how Socks for Heroes actually began and the steps they took to create a 501c
  • About how at the start, they sent 220 pairs of socks overseas and within six-weeks time they shipped 10,000 pairs to Afghanistan
  • How Socks for Heroes is a program within the Southern California Marine Corps support group and several of the missions and projects they serve as part of the group
  • The reason Jim and Carla keep going with their mission, “My son was a Marine and every Marine was my son’s brother. Therefore, they are all our children. That is why we keep going.”
  • How you can help support Jim and Carla’s program, Socks for Heroes, and the other programs served through The Southern California Marine Corps support group

“In this life there are two lines, one to do the work and one to take the credit. Always get in the first line because it’s shorter and you’ll meet better people.” – Jim Hogan, Socks for Heroes

Resources from this episode

Socks for Heroes: http://scmcsg.org/socks-for-heroes/
Email Jim at info@scmcsg.org to see how you can support their mission
The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory/
Vortic Watches: https://vorticwatches.com/pages/military-edition-info

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EPISODE CREDITS

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment.

He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

Contact him today at https://emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory

Special Guest: Jim Hogan.

Episode transcript

The Startup Story - John Wilson

Jim Hogan: Hi, this is Jim Hogan, cofounder of the Southern California Marine Corps Support Group and Socks for Heroes, and this is MY startup story.

James McKinney: Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

[00:30]
James McKinney: Before we jump into this week's episode, I want to read a review from Emma Sirena that gave the show a five star rating and wrote, "James is amazing at getting to the nut of the story. He doesn't beat around the bush and asks the right questions that hit the core. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone who's embarking down the long and winding road of starting a business. Thanks, James, for everything that you do and the work that you put into telling these stories in a way that helps connect listeners and expose the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship." Wow, thank you so much for that incredible review, Emma, and thank you for being a loyal listener. Knowing that the show is resonating with you and many entrepreneurs everywhere out there means the world to me.

So for all my listeners everywhere, if you have found any value in any of The Startup Story episodes, please leave a written review on iTunes and plug your brand, URL, or social media accounts. If you do that, then I'll read your review in an upcoming episode and it becomes like a mini ad that lasts for years. It's just my way of saying thank you for taking the time to leave a review. But you have to remember to plug your brand or URL. The written reviews mean a ton for being discovered within the iTunes platform, and climbing the charts on iTunes is not just about listeners. It's about engagement. Listening is one way iTunes measure engagement, but written reviews have a multiplying effect, so please leave those written reviews. Now, let's jump into this week's episode.

Our guest this week is Jim Hogan, cofounder of a program called Socks for Heroes. Jim and his wife started Socks for Heroes after their son heroically gave his life in service to his country while deployed to Afghanistan. Socks for Heroes does exactly what you would expect. They ship new pairs of socks to our trips that are deployed overseas. As the need has grown, has their outreach efforts whereby they also now ship cigars and shaving kits. Throughout the entire month of November, every single episode you hear of The Startup Story is going to feature founders that are veterans of our armed forces. Well, all except for Jim. Jim is not a veteran, but it was his son's service and sacrifice that became the catalyst for Socks for Heroes and it is a startup story that needed to be told.

Aside from hearing this unique and powerful startup story, I hope you'll consider how you can help Jim and his wife in their mission by visiting scmcsg.org. At the end of this episode, there will be more info on ways you can help support Socks for Heroes, but I wanted to make sure you got his URL right away. Again, it's scmcsg.org. With that said, this is a startup story like one we have never told before, so it makes sense that it begins like one that has never begun before.

[02:59]
Jim Hogan: Let me just kind of set a baseline here in that Socks for Heroes and the Southern California Marine Corps Support Group is not all about Jim Hogan. It's a partnership with me and my wife. Both of us were the people that have worked pretty diligently over the past eight years in order to bring this to a point where we actually feel that we're adding value on a regular basis. There were two different viewpoints that came to this. I was raised by a Marine and my mom worked for the IRS. Neither would be described as truly entrepreneurial. My wife, however, her father was the true example of an entrepreneur. If you opened up Webster's, his picture would be there in that he was a manufacturers rep and he was always looking for a way to turn a buck. His name was Carl Sudakoff, and Carl was the most aggressive individual I've ever met, but he was also the most ethical. He would never cut a corner where a customer was concerned.

Where I began my entrepreneurial journey was when I got out of high school, I didn't want to work in a fast food joint and I didn't want to fix cars. So I started a business scrubbing boats down in the local harbors. It was great because of the fact that I didn't have anybody looking on my shoulder. I got to wander around in a little rubber suit. I just made my own hours and it was great. But after about four years of doing that, the cold water started having some negative impacts on my body. So I went into the brokerage business and started raising money for different commodity funds, and did that for a number of years.

My wife ran kind of a parallel path in that she worked for her dad for a few years and then started her own company, which is the urban legend of our household where her and her sister wanted to go to Europe and needed some money, so they decided they'd make a couple of fitted picnic baskets and they went to the gourmet show and sold $60,000 worth of picnic baskets in one day.

[05:18]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness, wow.

[05:21]
Jim Hogan: It really bummed them out because they weren't going to be able to go to Europe; they had to start a company. Then it ended up being bought by Aladdin. Then afterwards, my wife worked as a stock broker and a bonds salesman for a few years before we got married. Then afterwards, she became a homemaker. In my case, I worked in the call center, business process outsourcing space for the past 25 years. That pretty much brings us where we are today.

[05:50]
James McKinney: So your life, your adulthood, really was not in entrepreneurship. You had a taste of it when you were wrapping up high school, after high school I should say, but the entrepreneurship was really on your wife's side. All of your career was really within sales, though. Is my understanding correct on that?

[06:10]
Jim Hogan: Absolutely.

[06:12]
James McKinney: Awesome. And we know a little bit, just based on what we can see online. Socks for Heroes was birthed out of a response for you to show up in some way, but how did you get from your sales career, your wife being a homemaker? Tell us the story about, that led you, including Donald's life, that led you to the point where Socks for Heroes had to be created?

[06:40]
Jim Hogan: As I mentioned before, my dad was a Marine. In our household, there was kind of a dichotomy going on in that I'm the son of a Marine and my wife used to go to school during the Vietnam War and participate in anti-war rallies. As a result, she was not very pro military. For instance, whenever our kids wanted to dress up as soldiers for Halloween she'd say absolutely not. There were no toy guns in the house. It was just at that level.

What happened was is that my son loved his grandfather. He wanted to be a Marine. We worked really diligently trying to dissuade him from it. So he went to college for about an hour to make us happy after he graduated from high school. One day, he came home and informed us that we were ruining his life because all we were doing was telling him what to do, and he joined the Marine Corps.

We kind of laughed about that in that if you don't like people telling you what to do, maybe the Marine Corps wasn't the right career choice. But he loved being a Marine. It was interesting in that he went to boot camp without having passed the physical standards before getting there. He wanted to be there so badly they let him stay. In the middle of his training, he ended up with pneumonia and he absolutely refused to be washed out of his class.

He was one of these people that just loved everything about the Marine Corps. He loved the brotherhood, he felt like he was part of a large family. What was funny is that he really believed in the idea that every Marine was his brother. When we picked him up from graduation, we were walking along to lunch and another Marine pulled out his cell phone and was talking, which was not allowed. He just said, "Hey Marine, put that away." Not because he was trying to be a big deal, but because he didn't want his buddy to get in trouble. So he ended up being transferred to an infantry battalion close to our house here at Camp Pendleton, 1st Battalion 5th Marines. He did what all Marines do. He deployed to Afghanistan.

One day, we got a knock on the door and there were two Marines and a Navy Chaplain standing there. And I've been around the Marine Corps long enough to know what that means. And they had told us that our son had been killed by an IED. It was one of those moments that, unless you've experienced it you really can't describe to anybody. My wife described it as being completely disassociated, where she could actually be outside of herself looking down at the situation. The grief was horrendous.

The thing that was interesting about it was is that the Marines closed in around us and cared for us. They took us to Dover Air Force Base where we met his remains. Our nephew was at the Naval Academy at the time. His battalion commander was a Marine. He took us to Annapolis and gave us a tour that really kind of accented the traditions of the Naval services, and he told us that as long as there was a Marine Corps he'd never be forgotten.

The thing that was curious about it is that it was true. When a soldier dies or a Marine dies in service, everybody says, "We'll never forget." The reality of it is that they actually mean that, but unfortunately the world keeps turning. You've got to worry about rent. Bobby crashed the car. Something's going on. Despite your intentions, your life goes along. What was unique was that the Marine Corps didn't forget. The local regimental commander was a fellow by the name of Willy Buehl who made sure that we were involved regularly with the different unit events. Their battalion commander was a gentleman by the name of Tom Savage, now Brigadier General Tom Savage. Made sure that whenever the battalion did something, we were on the list. And when they got ready to deploy back to Afghanistan, I asked some of the kids that my son served with, "What can we do for you?" They said, "Well Mr. Hogan, you can send us some socks."

Now, the thing that struck us was that here's the Marine Corps. It's buying fighter jets and tanks, and ammunition and rifles. It doesn't supply the guys with socks. What we found out was that the Marine is responsible for his uniforms, his undergarments, really all of his personal hygiene stuff, and that they had the ability to buy it in country if it was available. But at the time when they were going into Afghanistan, there really wasn't much of a logistics system in place. What we also found out was, and we knew this from our interactions with the different kids that we met, was a lot of these kids come from families that it's a hardship to have to go out and supply your son while he's fighting for his country in a foreign land.

We had a really bright idea in that we were going to go to Walmart and do a point of purchase display, and say, "Buy a Marine a pair of socks for $1." Throughout the entire Walmart distribution channel, we figured we'd raise up a few bucks, we'd buy socks from Walmart at retail, and then put them on a skid and ship them overseas. You know what Walmart said?

[12:43]
James McKinney: No.

[12:44]
Jim Hogan: We never heard back from them.

[12:45]
James McKinney: Oh man.

[12:47]
Jim Hogan: So one day I went into partnership with Walmart on my own, in that I took my credit card to the local Walmart and bought 220 pairs of socks, put them in a box, and mailed them. My wife and I were also mailing stuff to different Marines that we had known, and it was starting to get really, really expensive. We were thinking we may have to cut back a little bit. Then one day I'm reading my email, and I get a note from a kid in another company in the battalion that says, "Hey Mr. Hogan, I hear you're sending socks. I'd like some too." That's really how Socks for Heroes got started. We just wanted to provide for a basic need for somebody who was in harm's way.

We knew enough about the nonprofit business that if you want to raise money for nonprofits, you need to be a 501(c)3. We didn't have one. So what we did is we went to a local Marine Corps support group, and within a month we made them so crazy with all the checks that we were bringing in, and checks that we needed to get written out, that they asked us to go find a new home. I mean we started off with 220 pair and by six weeks, we'd shipped 10,000 pair to Afghanistan.

[14:02]
James McKinney: Oh my goodness. Wow.

[14:04]
Jim Hogan: So my wife went ahead and she put the effort in motion to start a Marine Corps Support Group for our community in that there was a program that the Marine's instituted where communities could sponsor Marine Corps battalions or Marine Corps units. Our city had one that was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. My wife was concerned that they weren't getting enough support.

So what she ended up doing was she's really the one that put together all of the framework for our 501(c)3. She got an accountant to file the paperwork for us. The way that we started was we would go set up a card table on a street corner in a farmer's market, raise money for care packages. We ended up setting up a booth at a local street fair and while people were about six beers deep, we'd ask them to donate money and we'd raise enough money to get started. That's how the Southern California Marine Corps Support Group was born.

[15:15]
James McKinney: And that is what your 501(c)3 is under, correct?

[15:17]
Jim Hogan: Yes, correct.

[15:19]
James McKinney: Excellent. But the public name is Socks for Heroes.

[15:22]
Jim Hogan: Socks for Heroes is a program within the Southern California Marine Corps Support Group. We have a couple of different missions in that Socks for Heroes ships socks to… is really our overseas outreach platform. We send socks, cigars, coffee to Marines, soldiers, Seals, Air Force personnel who are in places where they can't get access to the stuff. The Southern California Marine Corps Support Group itself focuses on family and veteran support. For instance, we used to do a lot of unit support where when units would deploy or return, we would go to the parade deck and make food for the Marines and their families as they were waiting to get on the buses. Most recently, we started just going to the barracks when the Marines were coming back at odd hours of the night and making hamburgers for them so they could have something to eat, because usually by the time they get home everything's closed.

We found out that based on budget constraints, that a lot of the recreational programs on base were being cut back. We live in the most expensive place on earth, and Marine families are on the average operating at under less than $30,000 a year. We found that to be unacceptable. So Carla worked with the city of San Clemente and set up a program where we would provide grants to military families to take advantage of San Clemente recreational programs. So if a family wanted its kid to go to surf camp or summer camp, or they needed swim lessons, or they wanted to do Mommy & Me stuff, they fill out a one page application that gets turned around in about 72 hours, and then based on rank or special needs for instance how many children in the family, are there children that are special needs, is dad deployed right now, we will provide up to 90% match on whatever it is that they want to do. For a Marine spouse with four kids, whose husband is sitting in Iraq, the opportunity to just get out for an hour while their kids are in class is just something you can't describe.

Most recently we've also been getting a little more active into veteran support. We just hosted the 10 year reunion of my son's battalion for the guys that went to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011. We had just a little over 200 people attend and it was one of those experiences that words can never do any justice to in that we had a bunch of guys show up that walked through the door and you could see their entire demeanor change. It's a funny thing about Marines. If you put two of them in the room of 50 people they'll find each other in five minutes and then they don't care if there's anybody else there or not.

What was funny is you saw these guys that were in their late 20s, early 30s that they walked in and suddenly they became 19 years old again. They're laughing and scratching. The thing that meant the most about it was that one of the wives walked up to me and said, "I can't thank you and your wife enough for this. I haven't seen my husband smile this much in years." We're a small group, but we cover a lot of ground.

[19:06]
James McKinney: That is unbelievable. I want to unpack a little bit more of this. As a Marine, I thank you for the support you're bringing veteran families, active military families as well. But I want to unpack some of the dates. The reason I want to unpack some of the dates is not to rehash the experience of the loss of your son, and what it was like to go through that grieving process, but I want to unpack a little bit more about that process. Because some of the narratives that we have to push through in order to accomplish anything is to get through this state of hopelessness. I have to believe, and if I'm wrong please correct me, that the time after you received notification of your sons passing, that he gave his life for our country in Afghanistan, there had to have been a season of hopelessness. Just going through that grieving process. How did you get through it to the point where not only did you want to create something of purpose, but to do it for a organization that still had an attachment to your son's passing?


[20:25]
James McKinney: I hope you are loving this episode of The Startup Story. If you've been a long time listener, then you might remember my interview with RT Custer, the cofounder of Vortic Watches. His episode is number four, so make sure to go and give it a listen back in the queue. The reason I'm bringing up RT and Vortic Watches is because with our focus this month being veteran centric, the Vortic Watch Company is also joining in the veteran focus.

They have a limited edition wrist watch, built using salvaged antique American pocket watches, originally manufactured during World War II for the Army Air Corps. It's called "The Watch that Won the War." Vortic is making 50 of these pieces of American history into wrist watches, and here's the best part. Not only do you get an incredibly stunning watch that will be sure to spark conversation, but $500 from the sale of each one supports the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative. It's a nonprofit that trains US military vets on how to become watch makers. It's a watch that keeps giving back to our troops. So check out vorticwatches.com to learn more about this military edition wrist watch. And now, let's get back to our episode.


[21:28]
James McKinney: How did you get through it to the point where not only did you want to create something of purpose, but to do it for an organization that still had an attachment to your son's passing?

[21:44]
Jim Hogan: My wife and I are a curious couple. A few years ago, we needed to take some psychological profile tests to go through some medical procedure. So we get these tests. They're about 400 questions, and they're just odd. Things like if you walk in a room, do you think everybody is talking about you. If you had the opportunity to press a button and you could kill 100 people would you do it? Do you believe in the rapture? Just all sorts of odd stuff. And my wife was really excited about us getting it right, and she said, "Okay, let's sit down and we'll fill out our questionnaires," and I said, "No, we'll just do them separately." So literally a week later… we send them in. A week later, we get a call from the guy who says, "You've got to come in and talk to me." We go in to talk to him and he says, "You can tell me the truth. You sat down and filled them out together, didn't you?" I said, "No," and he goes, "his is the strangest thing because you and your wife have almost identical psychological profiles."

[22:50]
James McKinney: Oh wow.

[22:51]
Jim Hogan: And what we are is we're overly responsible minimizers, in that we both have high pain thresholds. It's kind of manifested itself in our lives in that our friends accuse us from overeating at the buffet of responsibility. Our children were adopted. We adopted three of them at one time. We're very active in our community and we're both kind of workaholics in our own respects. We're the people that when something needs to get done, people call us up and ask us if we can help. So when our son was killed, it wasn't hopelessness but it was just an overwhelming, horrendous sense of loss. Breathtaking.

In that what happens is that for me, because of the fact that I worked to make sure we always had something to go, I'm looking at all the things that I hadn't done. Like I had a couple of wooden models that I bought on a trip to England once that I was going to build with my boys. They never got built. So all the sudden, I'm a horrible father. And my wife went through a similar process. And one day, my wife was reading the prayer of St. Francis and she realized that the only way for us to be able to deal with this would be to avoid thinking about our loss and try to help somebody else.

[24:28]
James McKinney: Wow.

[24:29]
Jim Hogan: My wife focused on caring for my daughter and I. I focused on caring for her. But the thing is that level of emotional unharnessed is nothing but destructive. Our family suffered horribly. Our daughter started moving in a direction where it kind of accelerated into some practices that we didn't agree with, and she ended up leaving our home. We went into counseling, but for us, we didn't agree with the models that they're talking about where there were seven steps. Because for us, what we determined was that grief and mourning is not linear. It occurs when it occurs, and you have to deal with it at the moment but you have to continue moving forward as soon as you can.

[25:29]
James McKinney: Wow.

[25:30]
Jim Hogan: You have to understand that there's no recovering from this. It's not like breaking your leg. What it is, it's a wound in your soul that never really heals but you learn to live with it. The folks at Taps coined the phrase, "A new normal." It's as if I had my leg amputated. I'm still breathing, but I've got to wear a prosthetic.

So what happens is, is that we're looking for stuff to do. We get more active in the community. We get active with the unit. The following year, our son's regimental commander put us up for a scholarship through the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and I didn't know that we weren't supposed to raise any money for it so I started raising money for it. It was kind of funny because they told us afterwards that with my wife and I getting involved, it seemed to add a catalyst to their efforts, and it had been the most successful year that they'd had for a long time.

What happened afterwards is, so that's in August of 2009. Right before my son's unit deploys, the Marines are holding something called a Mess Night where they all go out. It's kind of a formal structure of outdoor dining where they bring the entire battalion together under a tent. They go through a series of toasts and whatnot. But during one of the breaks, a young lieutenant, Rob Vemeyer, walks up to me and says, "Mr. Hogan, you don't me. I'm the platoon commander for your son's old platoon, 2 Alpha. I've got a Marine that is my best guy, but he's fighting with ghosts. He was your son's friend," and he tells me his name, and I know exactly who he is. I said, "You know what? If you think it would help, I'd be happy to talk to him." He came over along with another one of my son's friend, along with their newborn baby who they'd named after my son.

[27:48]
James McKinney: Oh man.

[27:49]
Jim Hogan: What we discovered was that we couldn't really understand why it was we weren't hearing more from the Marines, and we found out that basically it was survivors guilt, and the fear that we would hold them responsible for our son's loss. I will tell you there were a lot of tears shed over our kitchen table that night. But that's when they said, "You know what?" when we said what can we send you, they said, "You can send us some socks."

[28:18]
James McKinney: Unbelievable. Oh my goodness. What year would you consider the beginning Socks for Heroes?

[28:25]
Jim Hogan: I can tell you exactly the day. May 11th, 2011.

[28:29]
James McKinney: So we're now over eight years into this journey of Socks for Heroes. What drives you to keep going? In the beginning, our listeners may be thinking I can understand the passion, I can understand the purpose he has in the beginning. But now you're eight years in. what keeps pushing you forward?

[28:48]
Jim Hogan: My son was a Marine, and every Marine was my son's brother. Therefore, they're all our children.

[28:58]
James McKinney: Oh man.

[28:59]
Jim Hogan: My wife and I originally got involved with it to help our friends, but one of the things that struck us is, early on, the fact that America likes to talk about supporting the troops. Unfortunately, it's usually limited to putting a Yellow Ribbon magnet on their car or saying thank you for their service. The 1% that stands in-between our nation and the people that would harm her are the finest people this country produces. The way that we reward them is something that every American can be ashamed of.

We realized that what we provide is not a great deal. I mean, a pair of socks. Something you spend $2 for at the Walmart. But if you saw the responses that we get from the kids that we ship them to… One time we shipped off to a unit and a young woman Marine sergeant wrote us a note saying that, "You don't really realize what this does for the Marines forward. A lot of them don't come from strong family structures and the idea that somebody thinks of them while they're out here means the world to them."

We thought that we would be out of business in 2014 when the Marines pulled out of Afghanistan. It was kind of funny because we were good friends with the commanding general of the first Marine division at this time, and we had a ceremony. We provided the first Marine division the last box of socks from Socks for Heroes, and what are you going to do next. We had looked at doing veteran support. Except what was happening was we started shipping Marines to Iraq as a forward to place unit based on the issues that were experienced in Benghazi where Americans were in trouble and we couldn't get forces to them. We found out that those Marines were living in conditions that would make the average American cringe. So we started up again.

What's funny is since that time, we've shipped just as many socks to Iraq and to Afghanistan where the Army took over for the Marines than we did before. The thing that was funny about it was we started getting a lot more response because we had flooded the battle space in Afghanistan with so many socks that people just kind of assumed that when you go to Afghanistan, there's a magic box of socks there. When they shipped these guys back out to Afghanistan into Iraq, they didn't have the same logistics chain supporting them that they'd had before. What they had was whatever was getting sent from home. We shipped 25,000 soap and shaving cream packages and razors out to a unit because of the fact that they had nothing there.

So what keeps us going is just, I hate to say it, duty. A responsibility to make sure that the kids forward know that somebody at home is thinking about them. That somebody at least is willing to honor their commitment to their country. That somebody, while they're going to war, isn't just going to the mall.

[33:02]
James McKinney: Wow. That's incredibly powerful, Jim. Incredibly powerful. One of the things, Jim, that we talk a lot about on The Startup Story podcast is the idea of community, and that people have poured into us throughout our entire lives, throughout our journey, both personally and professionally. So when you think back to your journey, and I have to say of the 44 founders that I've had on the show leading up to your episode, I don't necessarily know if anyone who's had a more challenging journey leading up to what it is that you're building now. So I ask this question with a little bit of caution and a lot of compassion, but when you look back at your journey leading up to where you are today, who do you point to with incredible gratitude for their contribution into your life and into your journey to where you are right now?

[33:57]
Jim Hogan: If I was look at people who I was grateful for in regards to how we started this up, it would be to my son. You go through your life trying to be your kids teacher, but we didn't really talk about how my son was killed. See, he volunteer to go on a patrol to run the minesweeper for a group of guys because the guys that were supposed to go out weren't ready. While they were on the patrol, they were looking for an IED. He saw somebody pulling a kite string to trigger the IED. Rather than turn around and running, he pushed the Marine nearest to him out of harm's way and then he got in-between the device and the rest of the guys in his squad and warned them.

When the IED went off, he was killed instantly. You see, that day that my son became my teacher. And what he taught me was that we're all capable of at least one phenomenal act. For both Carla and I, we owe our parents for taking the time to instill strong values in both of us, instilling the idea that the world is not the way that it is. The world is what we make of it. While we may not be able to change everything, we are responsible for changing what we can.

I also have to say that there were a number of people that did more to help us in this journey than they'll ever realize, because they were too busy trying to kill us. The thing that was curious about it is when we first started, we managed to step on some toes of people that viewed the Marines as a franchise and not as people. That as far as they were concerned, the Marines and the Marine units were some kind of small fiefdom that they would like to trot out whenever they wanted to make themselves look good. What they taught us was that we needed to always be focused on our mission and not with the trappings that might surround it.

We're a curious group in that we give mom and pop a whole new meaning, in that it's really just my wife and I. We have volunteers that help us, but we don't pay any salaries, we don't take any. That is really kind of helped us resonate with our core of supporters. We have a lot of people that have helped us not only financially, but have continued to lift us up. I'm not going to name them because they have told me not to. These are the people that they are. One is the chief operating officer of a major hotel chain. He always says that his dad taught him there are two lines. One to do the work, and one to take the credit for it. Always get in the first one; it's shorter and you meet better people.

[37:21]
James McKinney: That's awesome. I love that.

[37:24]
Jim Hogan: You know, there's another person who we met at our first fundraiser, who wrote us a check for $2,500. Basically doubled the amount of our fundraiser, who has donated over $250,000 to us over the years. What he basically tells us is, that we just need to be true to our mission. We have a responsibility, we believe, not just to raise money but to raise awareness. What we've done is for instance all of our fundraisers, most of our money comes from competitive shooting events, which isn't very popular with the mainstream political views. But the funny thing about it is that what they do is they give us an opportunity not just to raise money for our mission, but to introduce the folks who help us to meet the people that they're helping.

We sell sponsorships and none of the sponsors want to come shoot. We're a national organization so what they do is they donate their slots for their sponsorship, and we give them to young Marines. What the people get to see is, is that this is not a faceless being. What he is, he's a kid that looks like your kid. He looks like your nephew, he looks like your neighbor. He's the nicest kid you'll ever meet. He's attentive. We end up sometimes incorporating them into… we press them into service at our events. One time, we were short volunteers and a couple of kids showed up to shoot that I knew and I said, "Hey, would you mind running a line for me?" They said, "Sure, no problem Mr. Hogan." Within 20 minutes, every woman at the event would only go through their line. What was really sad is there was one woman who'd actually won our contest, who was acting like she'd never shot a pistol before. I told her, "You've got to quit vamping. Your husband's a bronze star winner. There could be trouble." That's what these kids bring to our nation. People need to realize that by not caring for them, they short change our future.

[39:53]
James McKinney: That's incredible. You know the last question for our time together, we've had the great fortune of hearing your journey and hearing the purpose and reason behind Socks for Heroes. We've been talking to tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and want-repreneurs. Those who have a book full of dreams and maybe some narrative as to why they're not moving on it, or those who have started something and they're just frustrated as can be. We've been talking to the general masses. One of the things that I like to afford all of my listeners is that chance to just sit one on one with you. So for the next few minutes, I would like to ask you if you were sitting with coffee with one of my listeners, what would you say to them as they're contemplating how to move forward in their entrepreneurial journey, with the myriad of hang-ups and challenges that they may have? What do you say to that one person?

[41:01]
Jim Hogan: How bad do you want it? How bad do you want it? When we started we heard "No, I can't help you," or, "No, I'm working with somebody else," or, "No, I don't think that makes sense." In fact, we had a Marine general who, when we suggested sending crew socks to military units overseas, say, "That's the worst idea I've ever heard." Of course, 562,000 pair later, maybe he wasn't the most prescient thinker on the parade deck that day. If you're getting ready to start anything, is that where your passion is? Is this something that you really believe helps? Do you really believe that it's something that's going to add to the stream of life or is it just about making money? Because I'll tell you if it's just about making money, go get a job. There are a lot simpler ways to do it.

In our case, we don't make money. We give the stuff away with two fists, which makes us a little odder than most people. Like I said, we've funded this through me working for a living. But at the same time, the payment that we've received goes far beyond dollars and cents. It goes far beyond cars. It goes far beyond houses. It's the knowing that we've made the difference in the life of somebody chances are we'll never meet, to let them know that no one had forgotten them. I can't write a check for that.

[42:39]
James McKinney: After most episodes, I usually take one key point that our featured founder makes and expand upon it in a way that is incredibly practical for each of us. This episode, I will not be doing that, because all I care about with this episode is that we support Jim and the mission of Socks for Heroes. Throughout the month of November, I will be pushing you, our listener, to who up for Socks for Heroes and contribute to their mission. Every single episode, the call to action will be to contribute to Socks for Heroes in some way, shape, or form. There's actually many ways you can do this.

The obvious way would be to visit scmcsg.org to make a donation. You can also include them the next time you're having a golf tournament that generates money and awareness that supports veterans. They also have a program called America Shoots for Her Troops. That is a fundraising program where they will pick up the entire program and move it to anywhere in the country. They just need a couple people that want to demonstrate their support for the military and they can put together a fundraiser in your location. If you're a good sized organization or work for one, they do virtual sock drives to get the entire organization involved. Look, Jim is an entrepreneur as well and there are lots of ways that he wants to grow the Socks for Heroes programs to contribute to our troops. He just needs people willing to participate with them. And I always say entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs.

So please, email Jim at info@scmcsg.org to see how you can support their mission. These ideas I listed are just ideas. They're things that Jim has mentioned to me, but he is so entrepreneurial he has ideas that can be changed and modified to work for your organization. So drop him an email at info@scmcsg.org. All of this information, including his email, will be included in our show notes. Let's make sure to show up for Jim Hogan and Socks for Heroes in a major way.

And now for my personal ask. The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make

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November 05 2019
Jim Hogan, co-founder of Socks for Heroes

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