Here at TNM, we have a large community of people who are inspired by our words, tips, and real world advice. Last month we featured three of our contributing editors who help us generate content. This month we are featuring some members of our greater community who are equally as inspiring through the Tell Us Your Story: Young Professional Series here on our blog. These people have found their Niche, and want to share their story with you.
Our first feature is Veteran Army Ranger Matthew Griffin, Griff for short, who is now CEO/Founder of Combat Flip Flops, a flip flop and apparel company that gives back. The company’s mission under Griff's leadership is “To create peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict. Our willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, ‘Business, Not Bullets’—flipping the view on how wars are won. Though Persistence, respect, and creativity, we empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade.”
Taking on the Biggest Challenges
Matthew Griffin, Griff for short, is an Army Ranger and business owner who always seeks to make the world a better place.
From the time Griff was 5 years old, he knew he wanted to be an Airborne Ranger. At West Point, he majored in Engineering Management and Leadership. From West Point was an Infantry Company Fire Support Officer, which basically “blows up stuff in support of infantry operations.” At 23 years old, he was responsible for the lives of 32 men, $15 million in equipment, and the implementation of highly dangerous weapons. He notes that this drop was “stressful, but achievable. After going through challenges like that at a young age and seeing the benefits of success, it makes you want to take on bigger challenges.”
Take on bigger challenges is exactly what he did.
Reaching his dream of becoming an Airborne Ranger, Griff served in the 75th Ranger Regiment as a Rifle Company Fire Support Officer with three tours to Afghanistan and one tour to Iraq.
Life After Army
Post military, Griff transitioned to the private sector as the Director of Military Sales for Remote Medical International and the director of Special Operations for Protect the Force. He eventually wanted to transition to a career that enabled him to help others in a different way and felt passionate about promoting peace. Currently, Griff is CEO of Combat Flip Flops, a company he founded with fellow Army Ranger Donald Lee. Both had served several tours in Afghanistan, and while there saw that it was a country whose citizens wanted jobs above anything else. While appreciated, they did not want handouts, and they were some of the most driven and creative people Griff and Lee had met. Griff and Lee started with flip flops, since nearly everyone around the world wears them, and have expanded to even more products such a bracelets, hats, and scarves since.
The company’s mission is “To create peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict. Our willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, ‘Business, Not Bullets’—flipping the view on how wars are won. Though Persistence, respect, and creativity, we empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade.”
As noted on CFF’s website:
1. Every product Combat Flip Flops sells puts an Afghan girl into secondary school for a day.
2. Each Peacemaker Bangle or coinwrap sold clears 3 square meters of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) from a region rocked by long-term war - saving lives and providing economic opportunity.
Visit their website to find out more about the products Combat Flip Flops makes and which countries they provide jobs for, including Laos, Columbia, and Afghanistan.
Griff’s biggest passion is “networking for impact.” To him, this means “finding people with unique skills, putting them together, and helping achieve a goal larger than they could have accomplished individually.” Griff is lucky enough that he gets to live out his true passion each day in his career.
After 35 years, he truly has found his Niche: his passion and his livelihood have finally become one. He gets to bring people together, help them utilize their strengths, and direct everyone toward one common goal. “As a CEO of a small business” he notes, “you have to do more with less. Meaning that you need to get people to work together and accomplish tasks bigger than what they thought previously attainable.”
Outside of work, Griff has many hobbies that are directed toward “the concept of being present in the moment.”
Some of these hobbies include:
1. Archery – In archery, if you have a good sight picture and trigger control, you'll hit the target. To Griff, it is a daily exercise and reminder to be fully present and engaged in what you're doing.
2. Mountain Biking - At speed, you need to pay attention. He loves the cardio mixed in with personal presence.
3. Skiing – He gets to accomplish big tasks on the way up through hard work, gets a great view at the top, and then have tons of fun on the downhill side.
Griff wishes he could tell his 18 year old self to just slow down, and be present. “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” he says, “You'll break less stuff and go places faster if you just slow down.” Now, Griff works to be present in the work day and, thanks to his hobbies is constantly reminded of this.
Q&A on Job Satisfaction
As owner and CEO of a small business, Griff and his team strive to meet goals, take risks, and create a positive work environment each and every day. As someone who has not had any “typical” jobs, Griff has a unique perspective on job satisfaction. At one time, Griff was too focused on driving toward the future that he did not take time to consider the present. He wasn’t his best self which lead to a less positive work environment. But, just like his outside of work activities help him with, he has used daily exercises in presence and finally achieved an ideal performance, team, and work-life balance. Instead of paraphrasing his outlook, here is the section of my discussion with Griff on job satisfaction:
Q1: On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you in your job? How did you get to this place? What could make it better?
A1: 8 - I got here by suffering through a lot of 1. Being better is inevitable by hitting the goals we've established.
Q2: There has been a whole industry created and daily content about job satisfaction and finding your passion. Why do you think that is?
A2: Because everybody is looking for the answer. And if people look/read/watch something, then advertisers support it in order to sell services. If it wasn't profitable, it wouldn't be an industry.
Q3: Do you believe that people leave their boss and not the company? Why or why not?
A3: Maybe. I've worked with plenty of amazing bosses and people, but the work isn't what I wanted to do with my life. But in a general sense, I believe a large amount of job/life dissatisfaction is due to a lack of positive leadership and awareness, aka a bad boss.
Q4: Has there been a time in your life you had made a sacrifice or took a risk that pulled on you? Do you think it propelled you to go further in your personal or professional life?
A4: Yes. Those that dare, win. The only value we have as human beings is the risk we're willing to take. If you take educated risk, then you'll gain value.
1. Find hobbies. In addition to just finding fun things to do, realize what benefit you are receiving by engaging in these hobbies. Anything that is truly worth spending time on should help you be a better you.
2. Recognize Strengths. Everyone has a unique strength that can be brought together with others to achieve something great, and achieve common goals. The military, and Griff’s Combat Flip Flops team are both great examples of this. Each individual would not be able to go so far on their own, but together they have infinite power.
3. Be Present. Literally and figuratively, Griff has realized the importance of slowing down. There is no need to be in such a rush. While it’s always important to set goals and move forward, it is even more important to be your best self in the present and do what you can NOW, so that you can continue later.