In the heartland of America, where generations of families have found solace in the embrace of tradition, there lies a tale that speaks to the very essence of resilience and determination. It is the story of Justin Follmer, a modern-day gentleman with a journey shaped by the unwavering commitment to service and an unyielding pursuit of personal and professional growth. As a small-town boy hailing from central Pennsylvania, Justin grew up in a lineage steeped in patriotism, where military service was not just an obligation, but a cherished legacy. Drawn to the path paved by his forefathers, he embarked on a remarkable odyssey that would test his mettle and forge his character. Now, in his seventeenth year as a financial advisor and a successful entrepreneur, Justin seeks to champion the cause of small business owners, while embracing the profound wisdom of renowned thinkers like Dr. Jordan Peterson. Join me as we venture into the extraordinary life of Justin Follmer—a tale of resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and the unwavering pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment.
“I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania. My family raised generations there and rarely ever left. With the exception of my siblings, most of the men in my family served in the military in some form. I knew that I too would have to join their ranks and essentially “earn” my right to live in this country. I think this country would be in a better place if every person had to serve in some capacity. Anyways, I attended a local private college in my hometown after graduating high school. I chose to study business and finance and then I enlisted in the Marine Corps. They had some programs for college students that fit my goals. I went to Parris Island in the summer of 2003. Graduated recruit training and went back to finish my junior year of college in ‘04. During that school year, I would drill with the local Marine Corps Reserve Unit. This Unit received orders to active duty in preparation for OIF II. We deployed to Iraq in August of ’04. I was a truck driver (MOS 3531) and we supported several air wings and various other units stationed at Al Asad in the Al Anbar Province. I got to spend a couple of months at a forward operating base towards the end of our deployment. When I got back home, I finished up college and moved to Philadelphia to start my financial career.
Since then, my wife and I moved to Charleston, SC in 2009 and I’m now entering my 17th year as a financial advisor. The last seven years have been owning my own firm. The Marine Corps has a unique ability to teach mental toughness and I attribute my service to the reason behind my business success. Since those early days, I’ve gotten the pleasure to work with and advise some pretty amazing people. I’m at the point now where I get to choose who I work with, and small business owners are my favorite type of people…so many unique opportunities to build wealth in the small business space.
Working solo was a significant challenge. There’s that saying “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” In the early days, especially when I launched my own firm, it was just me doing everything in the business. I approached it from the idea that I can do it myself faster and cheaper. It took a few years for me to realize that that is a recipe for disaster and burnout. I had to mentally adapt to this new solo-environment and chose to outsource what I don’t do well or hate doing. Since then, business has grown and I’m capable of viewing my company in a different light.
God blessed me with an incredible wife. She too was bit by the entrepreneurial bug. Because of this, we’ve supported each other in each business pursuit. She runs a successful wedding planning business. Without a support system, or even someone to bounce ideas off of, it makes being a solopreneur very difficult. Entrepreneurs are the types of people willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40. We’ve both grown to having an employee now, which has its own pros and cons. We also connected with other solopreneurs as a result and have built a little community of like-minded folks. These struggles are the reasons why I like to advise and work with small business owners the most – mainly because I am one and have a lot of experience for the different phases they may be going through.
I’d like to bring on 10-15 new small business owner clients over the next 3 years. If they’re veterans, even better! I’d also like to find a better balance between my personal time and business. But as any entrepreneur knows, we tend to live our businesses 24hrs a day…and that’s not healthy. I need to prioritize personal growth, or at the very least, make it as important as business growth. I want to spend more time in the mountains to reflect on life and all that I’ve endured.
I respect anyone willing to defy what is considered normal. To pursue a journey against any and all odds. They don’t even have to be successful at it…but someone who doesn’t quit. Early in my own journey, I spent a lot of time on the road…that’s how I would decompress: just drive. But I would listen to a few motivational speakers instead of the radio. I thrived on ET, the Hip Hop Preacher, and will always remember his words when he said “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, THEN you will be successful.” That hit me hard so many times.
Another one… I think one of the most brilliant minds today is Dr. Jordan Peterson. I started listening to his lectures a long time ago. What sticks with me each day is when he says, “You should be a monster but learn how to control it.” To me, this means having very dangerous tools at your disposal, but learn when to and when not to use them. That’s incredibly powerful to a small business owner.
I’ve never met either of these men, but would love to one day and just personally thank them for their unknown assistance in helping me.” - Justin Follmer
Justin Follmer's remarkable journey embodies the essence of unwavering determination and respect… respect for oneself, for others, and for the values that define us as a society. From the battlefields of Iraq to the forefront of small business advocacy, he has exemplified the principles of service and growth. Recognizing the power of collaboration and the wisdom of shared experiences, Justin forged connections within a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. In forging relationships within this community, he discovered a reservoir of support, guidance, and empathy that fortified his journey. Resilient in the face of adversity, he drew inspiration from motivational voices like ET, the Hip Hop Preacher, and Dr. Jordan Peterson, empowering himself to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship with controlled ferocity. As Justin has come to understand, respect is not merely an abstract notion but a living, breathing force that thrives in the crucibles of shared experiences and triumphs over adversity. Through his commitment to supporting small business owners, particularly fellow veterans, Justin embraces the transformative power of respect—the recognition and appreciation of the unique journeys and struggles that shape us.
His story serves as a reminder that the concept of respect transcends mere admiration or acknowledgement. It calls upon us to cultivate empathy, to seek shared understanding, and to celebrate the audacity of those who defy the odds. Justin Follmer stands tall as a symbol of unwavering dedication, an advocate for small business owners, and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. In a world where tradition converges with the spirit of enterprise, his journey inspires us to embrace the transformative power of respect in our own lives, propelling us towards a brighter and more inclusive future.
Interestingly, instead of this experience completely isolating me and causing me to distrust everyone, it’s incentivized me to be more open and more vulnerable to other people. It’s in trying to avoid pain – in constantly trying to please others, or protect yourself – that pain will find and break us apart. I choose to open myself to the judgment of others because their reactions will tell me if there is a place in my life for them or not.
We live life dialed to eleven.
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