Respect Camp: Justin Follmer

June 06, 2023

Respect Camp: Justin Follmer

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.

Also in Ascend Together Initiative

Respect Camp: Justin Kline
Respect Camp: Justin Kline

January 25, 2024

Self-Respect can hit in two different ways. One is through fitness. You have to take care of your body in order to thrive. If you just sit on the couch and eat potato chips then you will live a short unhappy life. Self-respect is treating your body like a temple and taking care of it to the best of your ability. The second way self-respect is important is mental health and asking for help. I’ve always played the game of admitting any of that is a weakness. After seeing so many of my peers find so much relief I finally found out how much seeking help and talking to people about it all can help. Without taking care of myself both physically and mentally there is no getting to the objective.
Troops Direct
Troops Direct

January 01, 2024

Today, nearly 200,000 of our American service members are deployed in more than 100 countries around the world. But our troops are not as equipped as we’d like to think. Many times, they need resources faster than the government can supply them. Red tape, supply chain issues, or equipment failures mean that our service members are sometimes in the field without the equipment they need to protect themselves or to do the job effectively. When our troops need operational gear, they don’t need it in a few weeks or months. They need it now. Troops Direct fills the gap to protect our service members by supplying them with the equipment they need— usually within days, anywhere around the world. Our troops sacrifice daily to protect us, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. It’s our duty to support them - to provide what they need to accomplish missions and come home safe and in one piece.
Respect Camp: Shawn Patterson
Respect Camp: Shawn Patterson

October 03, 2023

This year I am partnering with Legacies Alive, an organization focused on supporting our Nation’s Gold Star Families, by undertaking the 2023 Legacies Alive Challenge. On September 24, 2023, the 12th anniversary of Tyler’s death, I will begin a 425-mile, four week hike from Tyler’s hometown of Dana Point, CA and finish in Ricardo’s hometown of Salinas, CA. My mission is to honor, celebrate, and pay tribute to not just Tyler and Ricardo, but to all who have died in service to the United States of America. The money raised will go towards building permanent memorials, for both Tyler and Ricardo, in each of their hometowns respectively.