James McKinney

Host of The Startup Story

At age 15 James found himself without a home, but never without hope.

From the moment his birth-mother kicked him out of the house to fend for himself, James knew that the next set of decisions he needed to make would have a massive impact on the rest of his life. James had to decide (as he walked to a local 7-11 to use a payphone because there were no cell phones back then) if he was going to play the role of the victim, the opportunist, or the warrior. He chose the warrior.

That decision, at age 15, set him on a course that surrounded him with people that gave him hope and an unwavering belief in himself. He started to learn the real power of community and brotherhood. The people that surrounded him early on gave him so much more than just shelter or food. They gave him a vision for what his life could be like as long as he decided to put in the work.

While circumstances were certainly working against him, James refused to believe he had to give up on his goals and dreams; dreams like going to college. With tenacity and resilience, James knew there was one way he could make that dream come true, through enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. Did he chose the Marine Corps because of his warrior mindset? James would like to think so, but he also knew his distracted mind needed structure and accountability. It also didn’t hurt that as James would authentically share, “the dress blues would get the ladies.”

James describes his time in the Marine Corps as life-altering. His service allowed him to see just how much he is truly capable of. He saw in others how much a human can endure if they have a “no quit” perspective. He saw just how powerful it can be to have someone fully committed to your personal success, so much so that they would be willing to die for you. The unselfish service of thousands in the Marine Corps shaped how James sees his service to everyone he meets.

James achieved his goal of a college degree but knew he wanted more than a “job”. His dad was an entrepreneur and that “gene” was deeply rooted in James. In fact, James had been starting various ventures as early as 7th grade when he would buy a 5-piece Bubble Yum pack for $0.50 and sell each piece for $0.50. Or in 8th grade, during the Persian Gulf War, when his Dad and he designed Patriotic flyers and sold them for $1 each. Then in High School when he started a direct-to-consumer music CD business.

James’s entrepreneurial journey has failures and successes. His story has moments of absolute joy and crushing defeats. His journey includes moments where the rewards were abundant and moments where he lost everything. Everything except his belief in himself.

The Startup Story isn’t about James’s entrepreneurial journey, it’s about every Entrepreneur's journey. This podcast is for the active Entrepreneur that finds themself grinding alone and not making much progress. It’s for the Entrepreneur-in-waiting that has unaddressed uncertainty and fear and is reluctant to move forward. It’s for the defeated Entrepreneur that has failed numerous times and is unsure if they have what it takes to do anything.

As we hear The Startup Story of some of the most successful companies in the world our focus is singular…

To give you the belief and courage to Start Your Story

James McKinney has hosted 42 Episodes.