Chris Hoffmann: The Ambitious Vet
By OSD Staff Writer Jason Carter.
Marine Corps veteran and author, Chris Hoffmann, recently released his new eBook titled 10 Steps to Predicted Success Out of the Uniform. What makes Chris’ book special, and sets it apart from similar books in the genre, is that Chris’ book speaks the language of veterans. In other words, it uses the military terminology, jargon, and humor familiar to veterans, in its instruction. Moreover, being a veteran himself, Chris knows what it means to struggle out of the uniform, and he uses the lessons he has learned to help his fellow veterans gain focus, be successful, and better their lives.
Chris grew up in a small town outside of St. Louis, Missouri. He joined the Marine Corps when he was 19, partly as a way to escape a broken home and partly as an attempt to find himself. With no positive male role model in his life, Chris says, “My whole search up until 19 years old was me trying to figure out what it took to be a man. I was going nowhere fast…I needed to go somewhere I could better myself and the only out that I saw was the United States Marine Corps.”
Three years after joining the Corps, a defining moment in Chris’ life and career came during a deployment to Afghanistan. “I found myself there,” Chris says, “I found myself in Afghanistan.” While there, attached to a small quick reaction MP unit doing 12-hour patrols, Chris met a marine Sergeant who transformed his life. “This sergeant put me in check,” Chris says. “He grabbed a couple personal development books and threw them at me. He was like, ‘Chris, you got to get your shit together. You can spend this six months being out in the middle of nowhere, staying the way you are, or you can go back [home] a totally different person.’”
Heeding this advice, Chris read Think and Grow Rich, one of the Sergeant’s recommended books. Chris says, “Right when I finished Think and Grow Rich, I was like, holy cow! I get to say how my life goes. I got to gain a deeper perspective— and a bigger perspective— on what life really is, and I realized that I didn’t have to be in this box that I was in inside the Marine Corps. That’s when I decided that I was going to get out and start chasing bigger and better things.”
After his EAS in 2012, instead of returning back home to Missouri, Chris stayed where he was stationed in San Diego. But starting over in a city ranked among the highest in cost of living in the United States was difficult, especially considering that Chris had “no savings or college education.” In fact, Chris did not have much at all. Other than a one bedroom apartment that he could barely afford, his only possessions were a school desk and wrestling matt that doubled as a makeshift bed.
As far as work, Chris found intermittent success in the fitness industry. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Chris says, “I walked right into one of the largest commercial gym chains in the US and within 12 months I was one of the company’s top three sales reps nationwide. Then, funny thing is, I got fired at the end of the 12 months because they said I could not adapt. They said I was overly professional and could not adapt to the culture, which is kinda bullshit.”
This setback, however, led to Chris starting his own personal training business. “I was contracting out of small apartment complexes and condos, making fitness more convenient towards the consumer,” Chris says. “I was making good money, but I got burnt out pretty quickly. That’s when I had this transition where I was just like, you know what, I’m tired of the superficiality of the fitness world. I want to go within. I want to go into inner human performance. I want to figure out how to break mental barriers and study performance. It’s one thing to help women fit into little black dresses or post-pregnancy women lose weight, but that’s a short-term fix. Let’s figure out what helps people have long-term sustainable fulfillment and change, and let’s go and figure that out.”
After his revelation, Chris used his GI Bill to go back to school, where he finished a degree in Psychology. He then invested his money in a program called Success Resources, which offered a variety of business seminars. “One of them was called Life Directions,” Chris recalls. “I took it, and the trainer in front of the room was just like, ‘you can tell when you’re flowing with the current of life, when you’re in line with your natural skill sets that you’ve been gifted and you’re talented with.’ And at that time in my life, I felt like I was swimming against the current. Long story short, I was just like, I want to feel like I’m swimming with the current of life. I want to feel like I’m going with the natural skill sets and talents that I have.”
His instructor then told him, “Chris, you’ve got to brand what you’ve mastered,” he recalls. “I thought about it and I was like, ‘What have I mastered?’ And I looked back at it and I was like, ‘holy cow, I’ve mastered the transition.’ I know what it takes to be successful. I tried to commit suicide two times back in 2013 when I hit a breaking point when I was living on black beans and only had a wrestling matt and school desk to my name and I wanted to give up on everything. I’m here for a reason, so why not just go for it.” That was when, three years ago, Chris drafted his new mission statement, which he recorded on a piece of paper. He wrote:
“My mission is to coach and empower transitioning vets, enabling them to live a life of passion, purpose, and peace. I will do this by providing them with tools, seminars, coaching, and support.”
He then spent the next year of his life in, what Chris calls, “market research mode: participating in Zoom calls with top performing veterans in business to people who were just getting out of the uniform. I wanted to hear the pain points they were dealing with, what the top performers out of the uniform were succeeding at, and what system they had learned to thrive out of uniform. Then, as far as those who were just getting out, what were their biggest pain points? What were they struggling with? And how do I mold the two together?”
At the end of his research, Chris concluded that it was not the lack of resources available to veterans that inhibited their success, it was “the lack of perspective.” Chris says, “Most veterans don’t actually know who they are: their identity. They don’t know how to make an impact out of the uniform by utilizing the skill sets they’ve acquired in the uniform. They are seeking camaraderie. They want that brotherhood. They want that feeling of a support system out of the uniform that they felt while they were in. So those were the pain points that I chose to attack.”
Chris partnered with a company called BlueRio Strategies, becoming a certified veteran development coach. He then developed a program designed for transitioning veterans, which he put two veterans through at no cost and “[has] been putting veterans through it ever since,” Chris says. He also started a podcast called The Ambitious Vet, created a Facebook group to empower veterans, and, most recently, launched his new eBook, 10 Steps to Predicted Success Out of the Uniform, on Amazon. “We call ourselves The Ambitious Vets,” Chris says, “veterans who are getting out with a big vision, that want to know what it takes to be an impact in the civilian world, want to know how to influence the world, and also want to know how to become known for something out of the uniform.”
Eventually, Chris and Glenn Banton, CEO of Operation Supply Drop, crossed paths at a Military Influencer Conference in 2017 and the two became friends. Though they have not officially partnered together on any projects, Chris says, “Glenn and I have been communicating, talking behind the scenes, on just how we can cross promote, how we can bring more value to veterans out there who are looking to figure out how to make it out of the uniform.”
Going forward, Chris is excited to see his relationship with OSD grow, and where that relationship will lead. “Maybe it looks like me taking control of a chapter out here [in San Diego], or something like that,” Chris says. “But I’m definitely open minded because the missions are the same. Our missions are aligned.”
Readers interested in learning more about Chris, or the work he is doing with veterans, can listen to The Ambitious Vet podcast here, find his Veteran Empowerment Transition Facebook group here, and find his eBook, 10 Steps to Predicted Success Out of the Uniform, here.