38. Building a 500 Million Dollar Wealth Management Firm with David Armstrong

August 17, 2022

38. Building a 500 Million Dollar Wealth Management Firm with David Armstrong
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The Scuttlebutt Podcast - The podcast for service members and veterans building a life outside the military.

In this episode, Brock talks with David Armstrong.

Dave is a former Marine Corps Officer, a private wealth manager, sits on the board of PB Abbate, and a fellow podcaster. Dave recounts the story of the details surrounding his early years leading to joining the Marine Corps and how formative that was for him early on. We hear how he found finance and went on to build his own wealth management firm which is now approaching 500 million dollars in AUM. He spends some time talking about how to differentiate your offering in the financial services space, all lessons that can be widely applied across business. We also get to talk our extra ciriculars including how he came to join the board of PB Abbate and his thoughts on direction for his podcast, Moments in Leadership.

Reach out to and follow along with Dave:

Monument Wealth Management
MIL Website
MIL Podcast
MIL Instagram
Email: themiloffice@gmail.com

PB Abbate


(2:26) - Joining the Marine Corps for Top Gun

(07:43) - A traumatic event to change course

(16:30) - Finding a love for finance

(25:05) - The reserves and how to rejoin the service

(30:30) - A banker over a cycle

(34:25) - Understanding all the repercussions of wanting to be in charge

(46:25) - Why advising has all the wrong incentives and setting out to start his own

(49:00) - How to differentiate a business

(01:20:00) - Advice on finances for people on active duty

(01:38:22) - Meeting Tom Schueman and fundraising for PB Abbate

(01:48:10) - Origins of Moments in Leadership podcast


The Scuttlebutt Podcast features discussions on lifestyle, careers, business, and resources for service members. Show host, Brock Briggs, talks with a special guest from the community committed to helping military members build a successful life, inside and outside the service.

Get a weekly episode breakdown, sneak peak of the next episode, and other resources in your inbox for free at https://scuttlebutt.substack.com/.

Follow along:  
• Brock: @BrockHBriggs    
• Instagram: Scuttlebutt_Podcast  
• Send me an email: scuttlebuttpod1@gmail.com


Brock Briggs  0:00  

Hello, welcome to the Scuttlebutt podcast, the podcast for those looking to make the most of their military service. I'm your host, Brock Briggs. And today, I'm speaking with David Armstrong. Dave is a former Marine Corps officer, private wealth manager, sits on the board of PB Abbate and is a fellow podcaster. This conversation was a real pleasure. Dave hosts the Moments in Leadership podcast. And I've gotten to know him by listening to his show, but never had the chance to hear his story straight from him. 

We talked through the whys and hows of him joining the Marine Corps and the story of why he didn't become a pilot, even though that was his original plan after seeing Top Gun when it first came out. We also talked about him building a wealth management business. Being of a finance background myself, we got to nerd out on that a little bit. If you're in the financial services space, you'll enjoy that. But even if you aren't, there's also some great things to consider if you're a service member, starting a business of any type and looking to differentiate yourself in some way. 

Dave goes on to tell the story of how he met Tom Schueman to get involved with PB Abbate. And how he started podcasting. If you haven't had the chance to listen to the Moments in Leadership podcast and are looking for storytelling around leadership and high stress situations and the frameworks involved for handling those, you'll enjoy his show. I really admire what he's doing there and strongly endorse the podcast and Dave as a person. And that's not just because he hosted me for a nice cigar in DC last week. I'll let you be the judge though. Enjoy this conversation with David Armstrong.

Brock Briggs

There is not very many times where I'm like researching somebody. And I'm like finding more and more things. I'm like, oh, we might actually run out of time here to actually what things to talk about. David, I appreciate you coming on the show and chatting with me. You're a fellow podcaster, a background and a lot of the things that I'm interested in. I know we're gonna have a good discussion on some of this. I'd love to hear I guess just to start out what got you to join the Marine Corps back in 1990, if I've got that right?

David Armstrong  2:25  

Well, this part won't take up very long. That movie Top Gun. 

Brock Briggs


David Armstrong 

Yeah, swear to God. So alright, because I know you don't want a one word answer. Yeah, so here's kind of like rewinding back. High school, I was a really poor student not because I was stupid. But just because I simply just had no interest in academic life. I just didn't want to do my homework. I wasn't interested in it. I was interested in other things. So I had this job in high school. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but spent every single summer of my life, spent down off the coast of Beaufort, South Carolina. 

So I had this weird dual group of friends and everything. But New Jersey is one of the only two states in the nation where they do not have self-serve gas. A lot of people don't know that. So if you're driving in New Jersey and you pull over to get gas, there's somebody who's gonna run out there and fill your tank and you stay in your car. 

Brock Briggs

Is Oregon the other one? 

David Armstrong 

I think it's either Oregon or Washington state. One of those two. 

Brock Briggs

I think it's Oregon. 

David Armstrong

Oregon, okay. So, I worked in a gas station in high school. That was my job after school and I pumped gas and did minor auto repair things like oil changes and fixing flat tires. And to this day, I can fix a flat tire as long as it's not a sidewall repair. And it was great. I learned a lot of stuff. So I was more interested in being down there in the gas station and wrenching on cars or whatever it was. They were working on down there at the station at the time. 

And it was a typical gas station, old school gas station, two garage bays, three pumps kind of thing. It wasn't like a big wawa kind of thing. And I just had more interest in tinkering mechanical stuff playing around with things. And as a result, just didn't have really good grades in high school. And I'm sure my parents sat around, wondering at night, geez, what's gonna happen to David when he graduates high school? Is he gonna graduate high school? Because I was teetering on not even having a 2.0 at that point. 

And my dad took me to see that movie Top Gun, and I was like, that's what I wanna do. I wanna be a fighter pilot, me and 50 gazillion million other people who are seniors in high school at that point in their lives. And my dad was like, well, you've got to graduate high school and go to college and be an officer do that. So I was like, okay, so now all sudden, I had this goal. So I scraped together at 2.0000.5, barely graduated from high school and was accepted to the University of South Carolina. And I actually got accepted to a couple other colleges too. But I chose South Carolina because they had Navy ROTC, and Navy ROTC was Top Gun. 

And then I found out that the Marine Corps actually had guaranteed flight contracts, or to become a pilot. So if you go through all the tests in the medical and everything like that, they'll guarantee you a slot at flight school. So they don't guarantee that you become a pilot. So that's how the whole interest started. That was that and combined with my uncle. My mother's brother was a career Marine officer, did a full 30 year tour, full tour, both 30 year career in the Marines. He was commissioned during Vietnam, went over and did some tours as an infantry platoon Commander 1-5 and 3-5 and then I guess back then you would move into another occupational field after you did your combat time. 

And he was an Amtraker, so he went on and had a full 30 year career as an Amtraker. And during that time, he was a battalion commander at third tracks out of Pendleton. And at some point in my high school career, I went out there for spring break, and got to ride around in Amtraks and things like that. So that was the other thing that really got me kind of going with the Marine Corps, but that started and then ROTC and then I started getting good grades because I had a goal. I had something to achieve, which was a commission in the Marines. So

Brock Briggs  6:37  

It's funny how once you get the right carrot in front of somebody, you know, they can just like, that's sometimes all it takes to figure out how to put your foot on the gas to kind of start working towards something.

David Armstrong  6:53  

100%, that was it. And then my first semester in college, I was actually on the Dean's list. So I went from barely graduating high school to being on the Dean's List. My parents couldn't believe it. So yeah, I wanted a commission and I didn't want Gunnery Sergeant Ripkowski up my ass. 

Brock Briggs


David Armstrong

You know, because you had to. If you didn't get good grades in ROTC, he was coming after you. 

Brock Briggs  7:19  

I had written down that you were actually an artillery officer in the Marine Corps. Where did that diverge, I guess from the pilot kind of goal or whatever?

David Armstrong  7:31  

Yeah, good question. And not that this is a plug for my podcast. But I talked about this a little bit on a recent episode with Lieutenant General Heckl because he's a pilot and the story I'm about to tell you intersects with him. So I did get the flight contract. I went down and did all my medical. I'm having a hard time remember exactly all the things I did, but there was a medical exam. There was this test he had to take. It was like a spatial orientation test and things like that. And I guess I did fine on all of those and I got the flight contract and went down to Pensacola and I had to do a spring break while we're down there, did orientation flying. 

I didn't have to. I was excited about it flying around at the old T-34 Charlie and they just wanted to see if you were an idiot. Yes. And I did all that, was a lot of fun. I was excited about becoming a pilot and then in January or early February, I can't exactly remember the date of my senior year. So you know, a few months before I was about to get commissioned, one of my really good friends from ROTC was a couple years ahead of me. His name was Ken Smith, Carrie Smith. He went by Kin. And Kin was killed in a mid air collision training in Pensacola, Florida to become a pilot. 

So he was a Marine officer, finished up TBS, went down to Pensacola and was killed in an aviation mishap which was a mid air collision with another T-34, an uncontrolled airfield. And the reason I mentioned Lieutenant General Heckl’s name is because Kin’s family was from Columbia, South Carolina. So the funeral was in Columbia and the burial and everything and coincidentally, Lieutenant General Heckl then Lieutenant Heckl was Kin’s roommate. And so he was at the funeral. I didn't know this. I mean, I didn't know. I met him. We were joking about how we stayed up until like 2:30 in the morning drinking at this bar that we all worked at. And so we're at the same thing together but so once that happened, that was it, man. I just couldn't imagine being in that T-34 cockpit again. 

And not thinking about him constantly what happened and I just knew that was my sign that you know, in the aviation community, your first death of a friend is certainly not gonna be your last and I just, I don't know where the mental clarity came from. But all of a sudden, it was very clear to me that being a pilot was not gonna be my ultimate calling. And I walked into my manager's office who was also a pilot. Well, he was a naval flight officer. And he said, give him my flight contract. And he was like, you know, this means you go unrestricted ground officer. You have no idea what you're gonna become in the Marine Corps. I was like, well, all I know is like, I'm not gonna become a pilot. That was it. So after TBS and whole story about how I ended up becoming an artillery officer, too, but yeah, that's how it happened.

Brock Briggs  10:30  

That's really something, some of those pivotal moments have such like an emotional drag on you. And in hindsight, I'm sure that you don't regret that decision.

David Armstrong  10:43  

Not at all. Not at all. It's funny because I never looked back. I never once said, geez, I really wonder or I really wished, okay, wait a second, hang on caveat. Because I will say that on my bucket list of things to do is, I still want to get a ride in the backseat of some high performance jet at some point in my life. So further on in my career at ANGLICO when I saw the F/A-18s and the Harriers come screaming in dropping bombs, every now and then I was like, oh man, that does look cool. 

But I would always find myself saying, I don't, I didn't learn to do it. I just learned to experience it like to be in the backseat of an F/A-18 one time on a cast run or something like that. That's really what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be in the back seat for an hour and experience that, but I never looked up at the sky and said, gosh, I really made a mistake. As a matter of fact, I think more often times than not, I've said, you know, this is really for me being on the ground. Not physically, I mean, the ground side of the Marine Corps.

Brock Briggs  11:52  

Right. Well and that's such a strong case for how a lot of outcomes aren't binary in life. And there are, what you're pursuing and how you want to pursue it change over time, and by, you know, significant life events. And I think that that's admirable that you kind of were able to change your mind. And

David Armstrong  12:16  

And I'll tell you something else, this is just another. This is just what I think. Given by stunted academic growth from high school, right? Because I had to play a lot of catch up, especially with things like math. I bet you if I had gone flight school and made it through, there was no way I would have been selected for jets anyway. I would have ended up a frog pilot, something, not the frog pilot. So I'm just saying, I just probably would have never assessed. I think you've got to be at the top of your class for jets. I probably wouldn't have ended up there. And then I would have really probably regretted that at some point.

Brock Briggs  12:58  

I don't know how it is on the Marine Corps side. But I know at least in the aviation world, on the Navy side because I also, I worked in aviation but on the maintenance side. And even the helo pilots, I feel like all want to be jet pilots. Like deep down, they want it. They may not say it, but they want it and I knew one who he talked about that. And he actually ended up trying to switch like he was a really top performer as a helicopter pilot. And it was funny because he even said he was like, this is a career killing move for me, like changing platforms in the middle of my career. But he did it anyway. And I'm not sure where he's at now. I am sure that he has done fine. But yeah, jets is a very fantastic platform. And there's such a large amount of power in such a relatively small piece of equipment.

David Armstrong  14:01  

Yeah. Now, I will say this, at the expense of just being ridiculed by every single person I've served with for the past 35 years. I will say this. If 18 year old Dave Armstrong was in high school thinking about going to college and getting commissioned in one of the services, right now today, I would probably give a lot more credence to the idea of becoming an Air Force Special Operations Officer. I would probably have pursued learning more about that and possibly even gone into the Air Force to try to pursue some sort of role in that community. 

I think that, you know, I think the Air Force has their human resources side locked down relative to all the other services and I just think that your experience as a member of that branch is probably much more high quality than in the Marine Corps right now. They just have more money. They have more budget and better barracks. They deploy and take care of their people. I just think it's, I shouldn't say take care of people, the Marine Corps takes care of the people. 

What I mean by that is, when you are not out training, I think it's a more comfortable and balanced lifestyle than being a United States Marine. And I probably would have said, I'm gonna go learn more about being either an Air Force special operations helicopter pilot, or one of you know, like they have those different areas of the Special Operations community. And I'm not quite familiar with all the terminology, but I see enough to know that it's a pretty cool opportunity. It's not an easy pipeline to get through. And I joined the Marine Corps because it was hard and wanted to do that. 

Brock Briggs  15:40  

I think that your point about the quality of life there is certainly one that's worth noting. Talking with anybody in the Air Force, everything's anecdotal. And you know, for every one person that says something, it's super great. There's 10 others that say it sucks, but there seems to be a consistent trend of the quality of life in that branch that differs materially from many of the others.

David Armstrong  16:10  

Yeah, I agree. Anytime I walked onto an Air Force Base, when I was at ANGLICO, we went and worked with a lot of the other services. And I was just like, whoa, these are your office spaces? My God, these are nicer than the regimental commanders office space, you know, and it's like they're working space. I'm being a little dramatic there. But yeah, I agree.

Brock Briggs  16:31  

So you were active till 97? And then you did the reserves until 2018. Was that the right move for you? Do you have any second guesses about whether you should have stayed active or not?

David Armstrong  16:44  

Yes, I'll explain this through the story. So I like to joke that when I came in the Marine Corps, I had spent so much time and effort and energy obtaining that commission that that's when I was 23, 22, 23 years old, like that is all I ever envisioned doing with my entire life. And I was going to be the first artillery Commandant of the Marine Corps. That's a tongue in cheek comment for people who don't see my face right now. So I really, really wanted to be a Marine Corps officer. That was all, I never thought that I would ever wanna do anything else. 

And then as I started to deploy and just go places where I couldn't spend my own money, like be on a ship for six months, or you just, you know this. I can only buy so many razor blades and stamps. So I started saving up money not on purpose, just by happenstance. And my dad kind of stepped in and said, hey, you've really got to start learning how to put money into IRAs. And you need to start figuring out how to save and invest. My dad taught me about mutual funds. And that coincided with the internet appearing in the world. And for younger people who don't know what I'm talking about, it was dial up modem and America Online. You would log into America Online. That was the internet. Like America Online was the internet. 

And they had chat boards and groups and things like that. And I got really into one of the message boards that eventually became The Motley Fool. And so I kind of credit which is interesting because the Motley Fool's headquarters is literally across the street from my office where I am in Alexandria, Virginia. I see their signs every single day. And if it wasn't for that chat board and those two brothers starting that whole effort, I probably would have become the first Commandant of the Marine Corps as an artillery officer, artillery Commandant Marine Corps. I actually pride that. 

So that sparked my interest in finance and then I'm reading all this and investing and so I'm opening up a brokerage account and buying stocks and it was 1995, 96. The market was going up so because the rising tide was raising all boats. I thought that I had the gift of investing. And I needed to pursue like I thought I had been given this beautiful skill. I'm going to go pursue it for the rest of my life. This is now what I wanna go do. That started my interest in finance and was interesting because all my friends, they all knew that I was really into it and they would come ask me like, what are you buying? 

And looking back on it, I was only buying things that the story on those internet chat boards made sense to me and I just bought them. I wasn't doing any sort of serious rigorous analytical studies of these things I just saw. Yeah, that makes sense. I know that product I'll buy it where the privilege and idea and that was it. And so because the market was going up and I was making money doing this, I thought, wow, this is awesome. I wanna have a career in this. So I resigned and got accepted to graduate school back at the University of South Carolina. So I went back to my alma mater for my MBA.

Brock Briggs 

What was your undergrad in?

David Armstrong 

I don't even like remember government and international relations. 

Brock Briggs


David Armstrong 

Got commissioned in the Marine Corps with the easiest major on campus, that was my and you know, what's really sad about this. I'll warn some people that are listening to this that are, I don't know, going into college, but mature enough to listen to advice from a 55 year old. It's probably like the three people out there. God, I really squandered a great opportunity to get a free education in something that really would have made sense. So you asked me before about like any hindsight, with a pilot thing. I'll look back and say, in hindsight, one of my regrets was that I didn't take the opportunity to get a degree in something that would have really made sense. 

But, okay, friends, I don't, I didn't really know what I wanted to do other than being a Marine. So I can't really fault myself for it. But I can look back on and say, If I could do it all over again, maybe, but I don't think I had any interest in business. So I probably wouldn't have done well in the classes. I don't really know if my life would have ended up differently. But that was my major. And I just basically did the bare minimum in every single class. And here's the sad part. I don't think that I could, other than a few of the prerequisite classes. I don't think I could tell you five elective classes I took in college the names of them. I just showed up to class, I took the test, and I got a commission in the Marine Corps. It kind of a shame. 

I didn't really learn anything in college. I learned how to study. I learned how to be an adult. I learned how to have adult relationships with women. But I didn't learn anything academically that really impacted my life. I mean, like, I make the joke about the, you know, the adult relationships. I mean, like, that's where you learn to date as an adult, right? You've kind of learned the social things, and the do's and don'ts of dating and things like that. So I learned a lot about social life in college and I learned a lot about friendship. And I learned a lot about how to pay your phone bill and not get into credit card debt and pay your rent and stuff like that. And I didn't learn anything academically in college. It‘s really sad.

Brock Briggs  22:26  

In my opinion, I think that that's what college is actually about. And a sign off saying that you can apply yourself to whatever it is that is put in front of you, not necessarily some feat of crazy knowledge or anything like that. It's, you know, you get out of an undergrad. You're gonna go work at a job that they're gonna train you how to do it. But you need to have like some basic skills of like hey, can you do a presentation in front of some people? Can you do a basic Excel spreadsheet, and I feel very similar about my experience.

David Armstrong  23:06  

Yeah, I learned more than I could ever tell you about in college, in areas that had nothing to do with academics, you know. Those four years were so formative for me as a man, as a person, that was my college education. That was where I matured. That's where I learned how you know, what you do and don't do in real life, how you do and don't treat friends, how you do and don't treat social situations. I really came into my own and I don't think any of my high school friends listen to these podcasts that I do. 

But I was such a completely different person by the end of my first semester in college than I was for four years in high school. I don't think, I have this high school reunion coming up that I'm very likely to go to. And I've seen most of the people, you know, passing here and there went to a pretty small high school class. And I don't think that any of them would have you know, you do those high school things like most likely to succeed, you know, at the end up in the yearbook. I don't think anybody would have said Armstrong's likely to succeed at anything. The last day of my senior year in high school.

Brock Briggs

The last time they saw you, you know, you weren't showing up to class.

David Armstrong

Yeah, right. I was late and smoke bombs off in the hallway, you know, in high school. And that's back when you wouldn't go to jail for 12 years for doing something like that. No, I was a troublemaker. I mean, I was in the principal's office all the time. I was doing stupid stuff. Sorry, we're getting way off topic here. But that's how I ended up with this interest in finance. So that interest in finance is what drove the decision for me to pursue a different career other than becoming the first artillery commandant. 

And again, for people who are listening, I'm totally joking about that by the way. I just can't see my face. So I got out, got accepted to graduate school. And somebody said to me, are you thinking about joining the reserves? And I hadn't really thought of that as an option. And even to this day, I don't know if the active duty component does a really great job of educating people on the opportunities for the reserves and how the reserves actually work. Anybody listening to this, hopefully, you have some sort of influence over that. 

But, so somebody just casually mentioned to me I was like, geez, I don't know. So I went on. I didn't even go online that because again, the internet was just America Online. There was some book laying around that was published by the Marine Corps, like the reserves, it was about the reserves and in the back and had a list of where all the reserve units were. And I noticed that there was a reserve unit in Columbia, South Carolina, where I was going to college. And then I remembered I'm like, oh, yeah, I remember that reserve unit from when I was in ROTC. We would go out there and borrow their rifles when we had to do drill or something. So I called them up. I said, how does it work with joining the reserves? This is what I do. Tillery had just finished up with ANGLICO.

And he was like, well, this is a tank unit. You can't really be here unless you're a tanker. And he said, but we can retrain you as a tanker. And I said, how do you do that? He said, well, you have to go to tech School at Fort Knox. And I said, kinda like I went to Fort Sill for officer basic course to become an artillery officer. He said, that's exactly what you go do. So I'm closing my eyes as a captain. Okay, in the Marine Corps, there's a massive difference between a captain and a second lieutenant. It's like the difference between a captain and a four star general. I mean, that's a big gap in officer social regular regulations, like there's not a lot of familiarity between a first lieutenant and the captain. Like, there isn't some any other services. And so I'm thinking, I'm gonna go to school with a bunch of second lieutenants. I mean, I'm gonna be yelling at them all the time. 

But I agreed to it. So I deferred graduate school for a year and went to Fort Knox. I retrained and became a tank officer. And then I stayed there for another six months because I didn't have a job. I was waiting for graduate school to start up and I went to the, what they now call the Captain's Career Course. But it was the Armor Officer advanced course, I went back to back school at Fort Knox for a year, became a tanker and then joined that reserve unit. So that's how I ended up transitioning over into the reserves. And then I didn't stay in the reserves that long though. I stayed in that unit for the one year that I did training and a full year of drilling while I was in my first year graduate school, and the timing wasn't working out.

They wanted to do an AT while I was in graduate school. And I was given the choice of checking out either going to AT and missing two weeks of graduate school, which just wasn't gonna happen or get out. So I got out. And when I got out, I got out. I resigned my commission. I was out. And it wasn't till 9/11 that I decided to come back in the reserves. I had to go through a whole reappointment procedure, which is where you come in you say like, I want to have my commission reappointed by the Secretary of the Navy because I was truly a civilian. I was out. 

Brock Briggs  28:07  

That’s a big process.

David Armstrong  28:10  

It was a long process. And I think it's probably a lot more streamlined now. Especially after 9/11 when people wanted to come back in. But back then, it was like, I felt like Sisyphus. I mean, it was ridiculous just pushing that boulder up the hill. And so it finally happened. And then I came back. And that's how I ended up in the reserves. And then I stayed in for 20 years doing that and retired at the end of 2018. 

Brock Briggs  28:37  

I don't know how much that you remember, that's, you know, 20 some odd years ago. Now, what were some of the requirements to come back in and get that reappointment? Is it just paperwork? Or what was required of you to kind of

David Armstrong  28:51  

That's actually one of the funnier stories. So a lot of paperwork. So I called. I figured out that my avenue for that was I called something called a prior service recruiter which still exists. And I just said, what do I need to get back in? And I think they were, there had some quotas for this. So they were hot on it. And basically what you have to do is everything except OCS again. So you have to go to do all the paperwork. You have to go get a full maps physical to make sure that you're not coming back in, all broken. They're gonna end up picking that up on the VA tab and then what I didn't know is that I had to take a physical fitness test. I had been out for seven years, you know, a little bit more punchy, a little older, not really keeping up on my three mile pull up set up conditioning. 

And so the Gunny says, hey, meet me over at Bethesda. I live in Washington DC. He says meet me over Bethesda and be in PT gear for your physical. So I thought okay, he wants to be a PT gear because they wanna be able to do blood draw and all this stuff really easily. They don't want me you know, in a suit and tie dressing undressing, stuff like that. So we get there and he's like, okay, the first thing we would do is knock out your PFT. And I was like, what? He's like, yeah, your PFT. I was like, well, I wish you'd give me a little heads up on this. He goes, well, I did. That's why I told you to be a PT. And I'm like, okay, when you tell a civilian to be in PT gear that's not synonymous with you're gonna do a PFT. 

So, right anyway, just kind of laughed it off. And I just did it the best I could. But it was an interesting because they had changed all the rules. At that point, you couldn't swing, we call it a kip, you couldn't swing and do a pull up anymore, and sit ups a change. So I didn't even know. Anyways, worst PFT score my life, but I passed. I was able to get back in, so those things. It's the administration, the paperwork, the physical, and then the PFT, to show that you're still physically qualified. And that was and then it was the waiting game. I just had to wait until somebody processed that package, which took a long time.

Brock Briggs  30:48  

So meanwhile, you got your graduate degree, you got your MBA, and you get into banking. Is that right? All of this kind of happening around this time? 

David Armstrong  31:00  

Yeah. So I was in graduate school. And between my first year and second year of my two year MBA program, I did an internship. And I worked for a money management firm, which was located in Greenwich, Connecticut. It's not around anymore, but they ran $2 billion worth of equity portfolios for pensions and foundations and unions and things. 

Brock Briggs  31:23  

Can I use a modern day finance term? That used to be a lot of money back then.

David Armstrong  31:29  

Right. Yeah. And not only that, but this was 1990. This was the summer of 98.

Brock Briggs


David Armstrong

So 2 billion. This was when the whole long term capital management Russian ruble crisis happened. So there was a little bit of a dip, but still 2 billion was a pretty good clip at that point. Hey, I'd take it now with my shot. But right now it was they had just passed the $2 billion mark when I was there. They had a big party for it's kind of cool. But yeah, so they manage money. It was small. It was a 10 person shop. And this was actually, being there was the genesis of my idea of I wanna own my own firm one day.

Because like everywhere else I had been in my life and in the Marines, I felt like that 10 person shop is like I can run this better than they're running it. And so I'm gonna try to do this one day myself. And that was the match that lit this candle, was that summer. But I realized that I really liked that side of the business. That small little snapshot of experience was enough to say, I want to get into the money management side. And then I started interviewing for jobs for after graduate school. 

But while I was at that money management job, they were all studying for their Chartered Financial Analyst designation and the CFA. I was like, what's the CFA thing? And a guy showed me the books. I was like, well, this is all the stuff I'm studying in graduate school right now. This is actually all the elective classes that I really like. Like, this isn't homework to me. 

Brock Briggs


David Armstrong 

This was a hobby now at this point.

Brock Briggs  32:58  

Financial modeling and the right rules and regulations and all that.

David Armstrong  33:03  

Spreadsheets, I just was like everything was a puzzle to me. Nothing was an academic exercise, it was all a puzzle. And that just got all my synapses firing. And that was what I mean, a wild Friday night was a blinking cursor of a blank Excel spreadsheet for me. And I loved it. I wasn't that much of a loser. But I’m just saying like

Brock Briggs  33:27  

You’re talking my language. I know that.

David Armstrong  33:32  

Right. I loved it. And my wife will joke she was in a study group with me. And she'll joke that, you know, we're together the two of us. We weren't dating at the time yet. I was still in the process of breaking up that relationship she was in. I had to throw a wrench in that relationship. But I got my time in there by being in the study group with her. And at one point, I saw her involvement in this spreadsheet project as a massive burden. 

And I said, I was like, why don't you go out with your boyfriend tonight? I'll just do. You go have a great Friday night date with your boyfriend. I'll do this spreadsheet all by myself. And yeah, because I wanted to do it. And I was excited about it. And she wasn't. So there you go. But yeah, so that was my love language is Excel, although I'm not as good at it now as I used to be. And that's another story. But so, go ahead.

Brock Briggs  34:26  

You mentioned you had this feeling of seeing that things could be run better, maybe in the Marine Corps or at this shop that you were working at. Where do you think that that stems from? Is that just like a business savvy mind? Is that like wanting to be in charge? Where does that desire to kind of like implement change and run things more effectively come from?

David Armstrong  34:52  

I don't know. I think it's just my, right. It's a great characteristic and it's a horrible characteristic. And one side of that, that one aspect of that characteristic has made me successful. And one aspect of that characteristic has made me a terrible person to have on it on a team. And what I mean by that is just as early as I can remember, I have this imagination that just doesn't turn off. And then I also have this, I don't know where it comes from, I gotta be honest with you. I'll make an example. When I was, I don't know how old you are when you do this. But if I was x years old, and you took a tub of Legos, and just dumped them out on the floor in front of me and three other friends in the living room, just Legos all over the place. 

I'm gonna take charge until my three friends like okay, we're gonna take these Legos and we're gonna build up whatever we're gonna build. And that was just my personality. I was like, alright, you start working on this, you start working on that. And then just my creative side, just kind of, I just start seeing things or wanting to build things or, and I don't know where it comes from. It could just come from, I really just don't know where it comes from. So I think those two things together are kind of what made me a really good officer and a really bad officer in the Marine Corps because the good officer, Dave Armstrong, would be given a mission. 

And I would just use my creativity and my leadership to get from point A to point B and get it done. The bad side of Dave Armstrong is that if you didn't give me a project, I was gonna make one up and jam it down your throat until you yelled at me and told me to stop. So for people who are my boss, I think I was probably a colossal pain in the ass because some sort of project that I was working on, the good idea machine turns on and then just look out. And even to this day, we joke in my company about when I turn the good idea machine on everybody goes running in opposite direction. So I think it's those two things. And I have gotten better but not ultimately. I'm not wildly successful at suppressing that sometimes. 

But I think that's where it came from, like always looking at something and saying, if I was in charge, I could do it better, which I don't think is, I don't think it's an uncommon thought from everybody who's in the military. Because you look at somebody like I would do it better, but I just finally had enough of it. And I was like, I'm gonna get out and start taking charge my own life after Marine Corps. And then I was just having this conversation last night with a captain who's considering getting out and I said, you know, you got to tell me why you're getting out. And she said, I don't like the lack of control over where I get sent next in the military. And when I'm in my civilian world, I have complete control over where I get set next because I'm empowered. And I have the agency to say yes or no and I can quit a job and I can't quit. And I was like, okay, I know that feeling.

Brock Briggs  37:59  

I am really fascinated by service members who go on to start their own businesses. That is a large portion of the people that I talked to on this show because I think that that's a very recurring trend. People have been not burned, but they have witnessed firsthand what the lack of agency feels like and the lack of control over their own destiny. And there comes a point when the desire for being able to be the one that is truly making the decision about something past just whether you stay in or get out and feel the repercussions of those things. I sympathize with that a lot. 

David Armstrong


Brock Briggs 

One of the reasons that I got out too.

David Armstrong  38:49  

Well, I thought it was gonna get better when I got in the civilian world because I thought okay, one of the problems with assessing whether somebody is a good member of a team in the military officer enlisted doesn't matter is it's impossible to measure the success of somebody. Okay. Hey, paint the ship. You can measure that, right? But you can't measure the success. I wish I could talk about something in the Navy. I can't, so many US Marines have, but you can't measure the success of an infantry battalion commander in peacetime, you just can't. You can say, hey that exercise was successful because nobody got hurt. 

You know, you can't measure profitability efficiency and things like that. I felt like in the civilian world that with those measurements, specifically, hey, if you're running a portfolio that's doing well, I couldn't measure. That was the thing I liked about money management was I could measure every single decision if I'm running a portfolio of 20 stocks. There are 20 data points to measure whether or not I made the right decision or not. Every single minute of every single trading day, you can measure the success of your decisions. I loved that. That was one of the most appealing things to me about that avenue of my civilian career. 

What I realized was that in my civilian career, you can have a spreadsheet of 20 stocks and measure the success of your decisions. But if you don't have people giving you money to invest, you're just running a spreadsheet. So okay, now there's this whole aspect of not only do you have to make the decision on the 20 stocks. I'm simplifying this but you also have to go out and market yourself and market what you're doing and get people to say yes. And then on top of all that, you have to deal with managers and managers’ managers and their profit margins and their incentive packages and their bonus structures, which are not necessarily aligned to Dave Armstrong, who's trying to get people to hire him to manage their money, completely different incentive packages there. 

So I started to get this frustration. So after graduate school, I worked for an investment bank that's no longer around as the result of mergers and acquisitions, but it was called Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and is actually started by three guys, Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette and Sam Donaldson. Yeah, exactly. Sam Donaldson went on to be the chairman of the SEC, but he was a Marine officer in Vietnam. And it was one of the really great white shoe firms on Wall Street back in the late 90s. And I got offered a job there. And I took it because it was run by a Marine. And not only that, but the hiring manager that hired me was a Marine, also a former Marine also. So I thought, okay, water seeks its own level. This is the place for me. 

And I was interviewing at all the other big firms I knew too like Lehman Brothers at the time, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, just kind of been, I don't know, turned into mashed potatoes. But, you know, the big firms and I worked there for a long time. And then what I started to figure out was okay, the big culture, it doesn't really have this camaraderie and things like the Marine. Like, all those things I mentioned that were really great about measurement, all of a sudden, everybody's own conflict of interest and what they're being compensated for, it doesn't align with what I'm being compensated for. And all those frustrations that I had in the Marine Corps just started to realign themselves. And I was experiencing it all over again. I'll be making more money. But the frustrations came back, right? The frustrations of why can't we do this? And this is stupid. And why are we doing it this way? And well, that's just a bad combo for me.

Brock Briggs  42:57  

And to take that even a step further, I think that finance culture, generally, you take that measurement, and then that measurement becomes your entire life. You know, your entire track record or investing track record, that's the only thing anybody cares about is, oh, well, you know, how much did you make on this trade? Or how many assets under management or whatever. It's like, it's almost dehumanizing, because there's, that's all anybody cares about, and you need to stick around long enough. And I think that that's one of the interesting things about you is seeing this very long career over finance. You've banked through the .com bubble and then making it through 2007-2008. Like that's

David Armstrong  

Oh, yeah 

Brock Briggs 

Interesting times for a financial background. And you're still here. And I love that. I think that’s admirable. 

David Armstrong  43:54  

I don't know how I made it. I honestly don't. I mean those, so I came into the business in the fall of 1999. And I had about, you know, 10 hot seconds until the wheels started falling off for three straight years. So here you are in an environment where you're brand new in the business. You think you're good at it. You've gone through a training program. And nobody wants to hear anything from anybody in my industry because the markets just going down and people are losing money. But somehow, I got enough velocity going to make it and then right as I started to make it was when I came up with the idea of I can do it better and start my own firm. 

And what you were saying before about, you know, the financial incentives and all of that, what really started to frustrate me was when you work for a big firm, and it's, you get you can take any of the big firms that are out there right now. You know them all, right? The Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, GBS, Goldman, all these firms, where they have wealth management firms. As much as they like to say, we act in the best interest of the client. They're acting in the best interest of their shareholders. That's their fiduciary responsibility as a company is to act in the best interest of the shareholders. So what ends up happening there? Well, everybody's management incentive is to drive profitability and revenue growth and lower expenses. Well, nowhere in that last sentence is the word client. 

So what ends up happening is the incentives are aligned to drive behavior that is designed to generate revenue, decrease profits, and increase profitability. And when you do that, your managers coming to my office and saying, you need to be doing more high margin business for the firm. And I'm saying, but that's not what my clients need right now. Actually they need the opposite. They need low cost solutions to their problems. And that my frustrations came back, you know, really strong there because I saw it. And it's still the case right now, which is, the big firms, their goal is to generate shareholder growth. 

And they're doing it on the backs of clients. And now you've got, you know, Dave Armstrong, who likes to lead and likes to change and has a creative mind. All of a sudden, I started thinking, I can do this better myself. I saw it over the summer, I know that I can run a firm like this. And if all of my clients are the firm's like to think that they own the clients, but they don't. The clients are doing business with Dave, not XYZ firm. And I decided, okay, I can do this better. So, in May of 2008, I started my own firm, which is like right into the teeth of the biggest financial crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression. So there you go. There's another massive setback in my, you know, wealth creation life. And I had to make it through that too, which I did. The firm's been around for 15 years now.

Brock Briggs  47:08  

I wanna talk about what you have learned and seen over multiple business cycles and booms and busts. But before that, I want to ask, what is it? If you had to sum it up in like one sentence, what did you start your own firm with saying, I am gonna do this differently? What was that one thing that differed from the last 10 years working for a larger firm?

David Armstrong  47:38  

Yeah, it was to switch the mentality of the client, not really the mentality of the client, but the product, what the product was. And when you say the word product in the financial services industry, you start to think of like this product, like a mutual fund or something like that. When I say the product, I was like, what is the value proposition of what I'm doing for the clients? And I discovered that it was, clients were paying for advice. And inherent in that is your ability to create an opinion that makes sense to them, whether they agree with it or not, how well thought out is your opinion? And how much does that impact the advice you're giving? 

And in the big firms, nobody was interested in talking about or measuring how good my advice was to clients. Clients were measuring it, but the firm wasn't. And so I realized that there was an appetite out there clients to pay for advice because that's, in essence, what they always thought they were paying for anyway. And I wasn't really allowed to market myself like that because at a big firm, they're gonna control the brand. They're gonna control the messaging. They're gonna tell you what you can and can't say for compliance rules. And I kind of thought, well, geez, if I could get out there with my voice in a marketing medium, which back then when I was starting was just a blog. If I could just say what I think to people, I'm gonna resonate with somebody. I may not resonate with everybody. 

And that was sort of our goal when we started the firm was, look, we're not trying to resonate with everybody. We're just trying to resonate with somebody. And if we have 15 years worth of bringing in, you know, clients who we resonate with, we're gonna have a group of clients that we really, really like working with and for. And so that was what I discovered was that those firms are marketing the wrong thing. They're not marketing the advice of the individual advisor. They're marketing the firm. Like if you watch a golf tournament on TV on Sunday, you're gonna see all sorts of commercials for financial services firms. Not one of them will highlight an actual advisor or what they're doing, nor will that firm be able to ever measure or present what that person's value proposition is it actually working. And that was it. That was what started it. 

Oh, here's the other thing too. And you’ll like this because you like finance stuff. I also figured out that there, let's just call it profit and loss equation, was really messed up. So here's the basic math on how it works if you're an advisor to the firm. This is basic Math, okay? If you are successful enough, and I'm just gonna use a million dollars because it's a round number. If you're successful enough as an advisor to have enough clients who in the aggregate are paying the firm a million dollars a year in fees, right? So every single client that you're managing money for, giving advice to add up all the fees that they're paying, if it's a million dollars, that's like your, that's your production. That's what they call that term. That's your production, you're a producer, and you're producing revenue a million dollars for the firm. The firm says, okay, we're gonna split that with you, roughly 60/40. 

So the firm is going to keep $600,000 and the advisors can get $400,000. And then the advisor is gonna have to pay tax on that. So then you figure out your take home pay from there. Well, I started looking at it. And I was like, well, if I'm managing a million dollars, am I getting $600,000 worth of goods and services from this firm? Because I'm buying that. That's how I looked at it. I was like, if I'm generating a million dollars and I'm spending 600 by being associated with this firm, am I getting $600,000 with the goods and services? And I started looking around. I'm like, I've got 185 square foot office with a desk and a computer and a telephone and a light bulb that turns on and off when I walk in the door. That is what I'm provided with. I’m provided with a brand, which by the way sucks. 

And I am provided with these really good natured managers who come in and twist my arm to do things that they're incentivized to do, which has nothing to do with making my clients lives better, given the better advice. I started looking at them and I’m like, I can run this business better. I can take that $600,000 and redeploy it into things that actually make a difference for the clients, like maybe hiring other smart people to also work with me. And so I looked at it and I was like this P&L doesn't make sense to me. I'm not getting $600,000 of goods and services. So once I, now back to this Excel spreadsheet, the blinking, you know, a one cursor. 

And I was like, I just started mapping it out. I was like, okay, this is how much revenue I'm doing. This is how much money the firm is keeping. What would happen? How much is red? How much are telephones? How much are, you know, an employee and things like that. I also looked at it, I was like, I could walk out of here tomorrow and not take half of my clients and still make the same amount of take home money that I'm making right now. And maybe even more because I'll be able to write off all bunch of expenses through the business, P&L and expenses and pay for out of my taxable income running through the business. So there’s a tax advantage there. And that was a huge driver of that decision.

Brock Briggs  53:06  

In my last year of undergraduate and I went for finance, just so that you know, for context here. I got on the phone and just started calling people who worked in the wealth management or IRA space. And I would talk to anybody who would listen to me or answer my questions for an hour. And predominantly, even people that worked at the big firms, talked to several people that worked at Goldman. 

My school had a very good relationship with them, a lot of people at Morgan Stanley and everybody and then several independents. All of them said the same thing. However, they did say that it is not feasible typically, unless you come from a wealthy family and like grew up in a very affluent area. It's unlikely that you could just start out doing that, and that going and getting your licensure and getting some time and clients under your belt at a large firm is advisable. Would you say? Would you agree with that?

David Armstrong  54:19  

I would but I will astrict that by saying the reason that's the case is because the firms aren't hiring, training, and setting these new employees up for success in a proper model. So I’ll use a marine example here that should make sense to everybody. That's a little bit like saying you can't be a good marine rifleman unless you grew up hunting and know how to use a gun. But somehow we're able to take people from some rural town some suburban town, San Francisco, and train them to be Marine infantry men and women. So I astrict that. I think that the way those firms currently run, I'm gonna just call it their new hire training program, sets every single new employee up for failure because they say this and it's some version of this or another. Okay, we're gonna hire you. We're gonna pay you a salary for two years. 

And by the end of the two years, we're gonna expect you to have X millions of dollars of clients. We will then turn you over to that 60/40 split. And you'll be able to then come off of a salary and get onto your own profit payout. I'm intentionally trying to use terminology that people do understand. So sort of make it basic, but it's so great. So you know, you get hired, you walk in the door, and they say, okay, the clock's ticking, you got two years. And so now if you didn't come from a good network, or a wealthy family, or have connections or something like that, who's your first call, right?

So this is where things started to become really unfair for the new advisor. And as I plug for this and I'm not trying to dig up anything. But as supposed, this is why you end up with really poor diversity metrics in the wealth management industry because it is exactly like you said, which is if you don't have a network to execute on, you've got a problem. you've got a much steeper hill to climb. And so if firms would say, okay, so now I'm gonna get into a little philosophy here. But you know, the average age of the financial advisor who's licensed in the industry right now is over 55. So half the people who are doing financial advisor jobs are over the age of 55. And I'm 55, right? So I'm right there. 

So that means that all of these people who've been doing the business for 20, 30, 40 years are in that kind of gonna retire at some point versus all these other people who are just starting out. So I think all these firms have a massive, how do I put this like transition problem with how do you take an advisor who's been there for 30 or 40 years. And they retire. And all these people who've been working for them saying, like, hey, I've been working with Dave for 35. I'm not gonna use myself. I've been working with John and Sally for 25 or 30 years. And now they're retiring, who is gonna give me advice? And the big firms will say, like, well, that's the great thing of the big firm is you're still a client of XYZ firm. But they're not. They're a client of Jim and Sally.

Brock Briggs

They’ve built trust. 

David Armstrong 

Right, right. So there's this succession planning is a problem at these big firms. Because now I will use myself. Let's just say that same client is a somebody that is in my target market, and I've been marketing to them or talking to them on the side. Or they've said, like, hey, I've been using the same guy for 35 years. If anything ever happens, I'll give you a call. But you know, that happens a lot. That's fine. They're gonna say, well, if I'm gonna get assigned a new advisor because Jim or Sally is retiring and I don't know this person. I'm gonna go talk to Dave because I've been talking to him for 15 years, even though I've never done business with him. 

I've been reading his blog and doing all that stuff. And rather, if I'm gonna get a new advisor. I'm going to pick it, not the manager at Merrill Lynch, who's gonna give that account probably to whoever is the most successful person in their office to keep them happy. Another incentive problem. So that's what causes that. So my proposal would be if I, see, this is where you get the I can do it better. This is a classic example. I'm giving you one. If I was running XYZ big firm, I would say, look, we need to look at our budget and say, how many new people are we gonna hire into this company every single year? 30? Okay, great 30. Here's what we're gonna do. We need to find 30 existing advisor teams.

And we're gonna hire this new adviser onto their team. And we're going to go to the advisor who has been doing this for 35 or 40 years and say we're gonna give you a pool candidacy. You can interview and recruit from and tell us which one you think would be a great fit for your team. We're gonna hire them. We're gonna pay their salary. They're gonna work directly for you. They cost you nothing. Your responsibility is to train them and integrate them onto the team so that when you retire, there is a succession plan in place for your clients who you have cared about for 35 years will continue to get the same level of advice and service that they've been used to.

And you will feel good about leaving and retiring and your clients that you care about and their kids are all in good hands because you just spend time training this new person. That's how you set this industry for success. You can't just say, hey, kid, you know, like that scene from that movie Wall Street. Hey, kid, here's the phonebook. There's a lot of good leads there. You just can't do that. And I think that, I hope that the firms are starting to understand that and new hire training will be changing in the next 5 or 10 years to represent what I just advocated for rather than what you were explaining you exist.

Brock Briggs  1:00:23  

How are you doing that at your firm now?

David Armstrong  1:00:27  

So my firm is unique in that we don't have advisors who have their own individual. They're called books, the inappropriately called books of business. So I don't have my own clients. My other business partners don't have their own clients. Every client is a client of the firm. So if you go back to thinking about that revenue minus expenses equals profitability, I look at it and I say, every single person that works there is on salary. They're salaried employees. And there are some bonus plans in place if they bring in a client that is a good match for us. And they say, yes. We bonus people on, you know, adding to the profitability of the firm, that's great. That's a good incentive. But we look at it and we say, okay, we have a certain stress point in our process because we're overburdened and we need some more human labor, human capital to fix the problem we need to advertise for and hire for this role. 

And then we just do it. We just advertise. We pay them a salary. They come in, they work on the team. And every single client is a client of the firm. So whatever project that is that we need to do for a client, they just, they're either involved in or they're not, and they're doing it. So a good example is recently we hired a new employee to work on our asset management team. So one of the things that's unique, why should I say unique? One of the things that we feel is unique about our firm is that we manage almost all the money in house. So we manage our own portfolios. We don't outsource them to other mutual funds or anything like that. And that's because it can keep the costs really low. We actually think we do a pretty good job managing money too. So excuse me that that takes some time and people to work on it. 

And the person who was running the asset management team said, hey, I'm really capacity constraint trading and everything else going on. Could we hire somebody else? We looked at our P&L. We said, you know, if we basically were gonna flatten the profitability for a partner for a year by hiring somebody, okay, are we willing to make that investment? And that's how we look at it. We're like, we need to make an investment in this firm by hiring somebody, bringing them on and unlocking this logjam of work that needs to be done. So we advertise for an asset management associate, you know, LinkedIn. These are all the things that you think about and advertise it, push it out over social media, and we had a whole bunch of people apply. 

And we do all the things like indeed.com and all that. But you know, we ended up with five really good candidates, interviewed five, whittled it down to one and hired him. And now he's on the team and he gets paid a salary and bonus. And as he continues to do better and get more experienced, his salary will go up. And hopefully, because that investment in his salary has created more capacity that allows us to bring in more revenue and hopefully the revenue grows, the profitability grows faster than his raise. That’s how I look at it. 

Brock Briggs  1:03:24  

What did you start out or the backup? How much money were you managing when you left to go start your own firm? What do you do now? And what kind of messaging and differentiation have you brought to clients that has helped to drive that growth?

David Armstrong  1:03:48  

Right. So I started the firm with another guy. The two of us were at the same firm together. And I, there's a longer funny story about how I approached him and said, hey, I think we can, have you ever thought about starting your own firm? And he said, yes. And we talked about it. And we ultimately launched the firm. And when we started the firm, collectively, we had between the two of us, we had $100 million, which is not a lot, right? So you do the same math. If you're managing $100 million and your average fee is 1%, there's $1 million of revenue. That's right, get that $1 million round number, whatever it costs to run the firm, and then whatever's left over is split between the two people. That's what we started with. 

And that was May of 08. So then $100 million turned into 60 overnight because, you know, the market went down so much over the summer. So, you know, we're looking at each other like, oh, geez, what did we do? Well, our expenses weren't really that high at that point. We had when we started the firm, we put in our own money to start the firm and we had some financing available that helped us start the firm and we just made it work. And now we're advertising, I shouldn't say advertising, it kind of is. But what worked. Our value proposition at that point was, hey, we're not the big firms, because everybody hated the big firms. And at the end of 08 and beginning of 09, it was sort of like we believe in being different.

Brock Briggs  1:05:13  

They still do.

David Armstrong


Brock Briggs

Everybody's still mad.

David Armstrong  1:05:16  

Yeah, I know, I know. We started out where we worked at our big firm, we started out. We wear a suit and tie every single day. And then when we started our own firm, anytime we met with a client, we would wear a suit and tie and this one guy, his name was Dave, also. He said to us, hey, if you guys are, if your value proposition is that you're different from the big firms, I look at the three of you guys. There's three of us. Like y'all have suits on. He's like, you look exactly like the big guys. He's like, I'm telling you right now, I feel like if I see three guys standing with a suit on the corner, I just wanna go out and punch him in the face right now. That was my first things where I was like, well, we're saying we're different. 

But we look exactly the same. Hey, we need to figure this out. That was sort of an eye opener. But the value proposition at first was, hey, we're not one of them. We're different. Okay, great. That's an easy thing to say. We actually still say it sometimes. But then somebody came along that we retained to help us rewrite our messaging. And she started digging in on this well, what makes you different? Like, explain to me and then I couldn't. I really, the business wasn't mature enough to really explain what made us different. It was. We're different cuz I say we are, right? That's essentially what she was accusing me of saying. 

And we started looking at it. And that's where we started digging in on this advice thing. And that's really where I figured out the value proposition was because that is the value proposition for most people is they're hiring somebody that they like and trust, who's giving them good, solid advice that they're willing to pay for. It's sort of like, why do you keep going to the same doctor? Well, he gives me good advice when I'm sick. So we kind of looked at that. That was our value proposition was our unfiltered advice and straightforward opinions. And that's what people are paying for. And indeed, we found out to be that was exactly true. 

So then the value proposition became, okay, that's the value proposition. How are we communicating that? Now, that's a brand and a messaging, challenge. How do you take what you know is your value proposition and convince people that you're executing on it, and that is indeed your value proposition? That was a fun exercise because now you're talking about messaging and branding. And what we figured out was that having a really unique voice in this industry, when no one else seems to have a unique voice, resonates with people. Not everybody, some people go back to that we're not trying to resonate with everybody. 

So a really interesting exercise that I did recently was I wrote a blog where I use the word fuck, like 30 times and I was like, fuck this. This is fucking bullshit, fucking TV. This that, the other thing. And everybody was like, I don't know how well this is gonna go over Dave. I was like, well, this is what we do, we test things, right? It is still the most downloaded and read popular blog on all of them. And the feedback I got from people was, you know, it was just so real. It was just, I just felt like when I was reading it, I was sitting across the table from you. And no one else talks like that. No one else is everything you were saying made sense. But you just, you said it in a way that just resonated with me because it wasn't bla bla bla. It wasn't any more that blah, blah, blah stuff. 

And I was like, look, guys, this to me, this is an anecdotal case study that says the more real and relatable we are in our marketing and our interaction with people, the more we're ourselves, the more people can relate to us, the more they're gonna trust in like our advice because they think it's coming from real relatable people and not some big firm. And that was a big pivot point for our business where we decided we were just gonna act like ourselves and be really relatable. So now, you know, I wear jeans and a collared shirt to work and a nice pair of shoes. 

And that's I go into meetings like that, and I don't care. I write and say whatever I want to my blog. I write and say whatever I want to or I say whatever I want to on my podcast. And if people don't like it, then they fall into the group of people that we don't resonate with. And that's fine because they probably wouldn't be great long term successful clients anyway. So it's kind of long-winded answer to answer your question. Our value proposition is just it's exactly it's, you know, unfiltered opinions, straightforward advice coming from real relatable people. Probably look and sound a lot like you sitting in a bar drinking beers.

Brock Briggs  1:09:52  

For people maybe not super plugged in or familiar with the finance industry like that is like a meaningful differentiator because at the end of the day, whether Dave Armstrong buys me Apple stock for my 401k or Merrill Lynch does it like that's not a differentiated. The product of like money management is not and it's really hard to differentiate that. But

David Armstrong


Brock Briggs

What you are able to differentiate on is the service and the relatability and communication with your clients.

David Armstrong  1:10:31  

Yeah, and it's not the money management thing is, you can differentiate it at the margins a little bit, right? Like, oh, you know, I run this tax man strategy. You can, okay, but at the end of the day, it's not the money. If you're competing in my industry on money management, those fees are getting compressed to zero. Nobody is paying for a portfolio manager anymore because you can get on the internet and figure out what your asset allocation should be. You can get on the internet and figure out what are the cheapest ETFs to buy to fill the buckets of that asset allocation and run your own money. You can do that. But you don't get there is the advice. So I come back to the product, if you will, is the advice that you're getting from somebody. 

And a component of that product, a component of that advice, is how you manage money. That is one of the components of the overall advice. But when people start to look at and I can tell immediately when somebody is not valuing my advice because they'll start saying like, what sort of outperformance are you showing on a risk adjusted basis and blah, blah, blah? I'm like, okay, now you're looking at portfolio performance, right? And just assume for a second that my portfolio performance is fine. Not just fine, it's fine. The question to be asking is, am I making progress towards my goals and objectives with this investment strategy? And if the answer is yes, then who cares what your alpha was? Who cares what your?

Brock Briggs  1:12:06  

The ratio is

David Armstrong  1:12:07  

Right. All of that stuff is more blah, blah, blah. And those are words that are used by people who don't know how to ask the right questions about financial advice. Those are people who read something and think that those are the right questions to ask in order to look like a smart informed consumer. When the real question to ask a financial advisor or a financial advisor firm is, what is your process keyword? What is your process for determining what my real goals and objectives are? And then once you know that, what is your process and intellectual capital that you put into charting a course for me, a plan for me to reach those goals and objectives? 

And then what are the things that you use to get me on an investing perspective to those goals and objectives? And are they cost effective? And then what is your process for us going through and reevaluating on an annual basis? True or false? I am on track? Am I okay? And if I'm not okay, what is your process for changing things? Those are the smart questions to ask. Because at the end of that, you'll be presented with a price and you'll say that's worth it or that's not. And if all you're doing is evaluating how well they run a portfolio, then no fee makes sense. I tell people all the time, like, look, if you're just hiring a money manager, do yourself a huge favor, get on the internet and buy some ETFs.

Brock Briggs  1:13:34  

Well, in most everyday people don't have the knowledge or really the care to even dig into some of those finer points of, you know, complicated metrics and stuff like that. Like you said, they want somebody who's gonna keep it real. The 1 or 2% of underperformance is not gonna be meaningful. But what will be meaningful is that you picked up the phone when they called. And I think that those finer points really can help make a business and that does differentiate from larger companies for sure.

David Armstrong  1:14:11  

I do use that example though of service. I do encourage people to be careful about differentiating yourself on service and here's the analogy I use. Let's just say you're picking a really awesome restaurant that you wanna go to. And you google and you see the five star Michelin rated restaurant things like that. And you go in and you have a great experience, right? Like you got great advice on the wine. You got great advice on the menu. The chef is in there, preparing a great meal and everything and then you see an advertisement on the internet that says XYZ restaurant. We are the best restaurant in town because we require all of our employees to wash their hands before they leave the restroom. 

And you're like, well, I expect that in any restaurant. That's table stakes. Like that's like saying to me, because our employees wash their hands after using the restroom, we have the best restaurant in town. That's how service can be interpreted sometimes too, because if I see a firm advertising and they say we have the best client service, I'm like, okay, so you make your employees wash their hands before they go back to work. Everybody expects good service, when they're paying a fee for a client or for a service, whether it's an accountant or anything. I think the service is a component to the advice. So I keep coming back to this advice, like you can try differentiating on service, you can try to differentiate on portfolio management, you can try to differentiate on the financial planning that you do.

But at the end of the day, those are all things that are underneath the umbrella of advice. And that's the differentiator in our business. And so if you're a consumer, and you're going out and looking for a new relationship with financial advisor, need to be evaluating what sort of advice they give, how they give it, and how they're coming up with that advice. And that you should assume that all those other things are in place because they're in business. And then if it's important to dig into those other things, we start with the advice. What sort of advice do you give me and how do you come up with it? That’s what I think. 

Brock Briggs  1:16:23  

You've mentioned something a couple times about how you don't need every client in the world. You know, you may not be for everybody in the service that you're offering, as you know. You don't need 100,000 clients to make a good living. And I really wanna kind of dissect that because I think you've been going about it in a way that is not talked about enough when it comes to starting a business or whether it be in wealth management or somewhere else is you have used the long tail of the internet by blogging from a very early time and the Internet to talk about your thoughts and feelings about money. 

And I haven't read it extensively. But I'm sure a lot of other things where your transparency and thoughts and ideas have been on display for people to find. Will you talk about and I'm reminded of I'm not sure if you're familiar with Kevin Kelly's 1000 True Fans. How, you know, if you find 1000 people to pay you for something that you do really well, you know, you can make a good living on that. 

David Armstrong  1:17:41  

I haven’t read that. I have to look it up. 

Brock Briggs 


David Armstrong

It makes sense. Just the title of the book makes sense.

Brock Briggs  1:17:46  

Yeah. 1000 True Fans. Can you talk a little bit about your history with blogging and how kind of putting your thoughts and feelings out on the internet has maybe been a good or maybe a bad thing for you?

David Armstrong  1:18:03  

Right. So it's been a good thing. I can't think of any bad things. It started back when I was working at a big firm. I started wanting to send a weekly email to all my clients, updating them on what I was thinking. And in big firm compliance world, you end up there, there are some pretty strict rules about what's considered advertising and what's considered communication. So I started to want to send the same communication out to people who weren't clients who were prospective clients, so they could get an idea of what I was thinking too. And I ran, I started to, in their opinion, was running afoul of the compliance rules as they related to advertising to people mass advertising. And so I said, okay, if you're mass advertising, everything has to be compliance approved. 

And so I would have to submit the email to somebody. Somebody who was not even a financial adviser not qualified to give advice, you know, only licensed because of the liability of not having a licensed person, right? They're literally not even in the world of giving advice. Editing what I was saying. And I was like, this is insane. And I won't get into the compliance rules too much. But that was a big driver for starting our own firm too was I just couldn't clearly communicate with people when communication is one of the most important things to articulating your advice to people. So when I started the firm, when I started monument, I changed that email into a blog, and I was blogging once a week. 

And I felt at the time effectively communicating what I was thinking, and now this has changed because I mean, the first 15 I've been blogging for 15 years. So the blogs are different. My writing style is different. The information that I'm talking about is different. When I started out blogging, one of the things I realized I was doing I was just re communicating the news that they had already seen. Apple's earnings were this, the market was up here, interest rates are there. And I saw readership start to die off because people just weren't interested in reading something on Monday that they already knew about on Friday, or even the previous Tuesday. So I started to make it more advice based, like here's what I'm thinking. 

And I started doing that around 2012-2013. And I was like, hey, you know, here's what I think about interest rates. I think and that was nice because with my own firm, I didn't have to have that compliance approved by anybody. As long as I was staying within the compliance rules, I could say anything that I was thinking about, and not worry about the bigger brand, not liking what I was saying. Because if you're at a bigger brand new, you're saying X and their research people are saying Y, well, then you've got a branding problem. So the blog actually, and it didn't intend for it to be like this. But it turned out be what I now call my digital diary. 

So when I'm talking to a new prospective client, and they do wanna dig in on, there's some people who just wanna get on the plane and fly from DC to San Diego. And then there's some people that wanna get on the plane and know what the maintenance cycle was of the left engine, right? There's just some people are like that. And they'll say, you know, what were you saying to people in 2012? What were you saying to people in August of 2016? What were you saying that was going on in December of 2018? What were you saying to people in March of 2020? By the way, those are all dates that are commensurate with some sort of significant pullback in the market close to or exceeding 20%. So just go back and search on my blog, put those dates in and see what I was saying about the market pullback. 

And you can back check the advice that I was giving, and you can't do that anywhere else. So if that same person was talking to somebody at XYZ firm, they said, what were you saying to your clients back in 12, 16, 18, 20? The chances aren't nothing. Chances are they weren't saying anything because their firms weren't letting them. And if they were saying something, it was probably just a regurgitation of a research report that came out. And if a prospective client said, can you send me every single client letter that you sent out? Like that's probably not getting pulled up. So I like it because somebody can just without any effort, just go onto my website and say, well, I'm really curious what Dave was saying in August of 2016 or February of 17 or any of those times where we had some pull backs. It's all right there.

Brock Briggs  1:22:47  

Aside from the just basic connection of being able to communicate and search for different things online, to me on a personal level, what you just described, there is hands down the most powerful tool that any individual has at their disposal for free is being public about an opinion, a track record, anything. And I think on a long enough time horizon, you know, some of those people, they may wanna go back and look at a specific time period. But it may even be enough that you were just saying anything, not that you were even necessarily saying something right or wrong. It shows you have a history and a track record that can be proven that you've been doing this for x amount of time, like that's so, so valuable when you know, a new client is on your doorstep. And they've never met you and they're talking about handing over their life savings to you to kind of manage. That's so cool. 

David Armstrong  1:23:57  

I didn't set it up that way to be that. I just realized that it was that. And that now this gets back to the Dave Armstrong good idea machine, right? You know, I can and you know, why? Why aren't we you know? So I look at after having just said all that I just keep asking myself, okay, like so why aren't we regurgitating blogs right now when we're down 20% from 12, 16, 18, 20. And say, hey, we're republishing this blog that Dave wrote in August of 2016, where he talked about the pullback of whatever, and should sound pretty reminiscent of what he wrote about last week. Like just kind of resurfacing some of the content was almost like bragging, I guess taking a victory lap on saying, you know, my advice really doesn't change all that much. 

Because the advice that we're giving our clients doesn't really have anything to do with how well their portfolio did for a quarter or even a year, right? Because we're modeling all these things out. We're saying we set this whole thing up, we modeled in one of these 20% pull backs every five years anyway. You're just experiencing it right now. Like this is all part of the plan. We accounted for this already. But yeah, being able to show people hey, here's what I was saying. It's pretty valuable. And it's helpful. And I don't really say a whole lot of controversials, I don't take any positions of like, I'm right about this. It's just sort of, it's more along the lines of this is what I think. 

So interesting conversation, because the blog is now I admit this. I'm at this inflection point right now, because I'm blogging a lot less than I used to a year ago because I'm podcasting a lot more. So a couple weeks ago, Erin, and I and Jessica. Erin and Jessica work at Monument Wealth Management with me. We had this podcast about the, I think we call it our second quarter review. We cut it at the beginning of July. And Aaron and I are it's 40 minutes. Aaron and I are on there sort of not arguing but debating whether or not we're in a recession. So my point was that I don't think we're in a recession. His point was, we are absolutely in a recession. You've got two people who manage the money at Monument in direct debate with each other over what they think about. 

And the point that I made was, it really doesn't matter if Aaron is right or I'm right because our opinions don't change our process. We're not making changes to anything that we're doing based on what Dave thinks or Aaron thinks. We just think that's what we think. But our process is all the same, regardless of what we think. And my point was that it really doesn't matter if we're in a recession or not. It doesn't matter who's right or wrong because the market’s down 20%. So who cares why the market’s down 20%. That's where people feel. So I like the fact that we have these debates. And it doesn't really matter who's right or wrong, you can go back in the blogs. And you can say like, well, Dave may not have been right about this point. But he was right overall, which was, this is probably a temporary thing. 

And if you flash forward 18 months from now, the markets probably recovered and everything else because I think that the reason the market is down isn't because we have some sort of huge problem like 2008. I think we just have some sort of overbought, you know, the market was, the valuations are too rich, people are taking profits off the table, their tax law is selling, whatever it is they're doing. They're real economic indicators that we're heading into this massive crisis, which by the way, I still don't think we're heading into a massive economic crisis right now. We can talk about what I think right now. But I say this as a joke, not as a political statement. But Joe Biden says we're not in a recession. Dave Armstrong says we're not in a recession. But I don't know if it matters who's right or wrong. It's, you know, the market is down. The market was down 20%. That's what people feel.

Brock Briggs  1:27:50  

Right. Certainly a contentious topic right now. 

David Armstrong


Brock Briggs 

Personally, it is hard for me to fathom. Understanding or looking out at the next year to two years and thinking that we're in really bad shape with employment, where it's at employment and housing is kind of what I personally keep coming back to. And I don't think that GDP aside, it's hard to think that we're in really, really terrible shape, other than we've got maybe some good Black Friday deals coming from oversupply coming this year. 

David Armstrong  1:28:26  

Yeah, yeah. And also that just the recent ISN reports that have come out to me, none of them are showing recession. But if you went about recession, well, here's my opinion on recession thing. I don't think right now, this period of time will be included in any backward look at a risk section. But I feel very strongly that we are headed into a recession at some point in the future. I will assign a 100% probability that I am right. So here I am. I am putting all of my chips on one number in the middle of the roulette table and I'm telling you, I have a 100% chance of being right on this. We will have a recession. I just don't know when. 

So from an investing perspective and from a planning perspective, I mean, you should always, as an investor, be preparing for a recession. You just can't forecast the recession. But if you make me tell you what I think, I think that with the way interest rates are going up right now that even though we have pretty good economic numbers right now, they're gonna start to collapse. And we will see ourselves in a pretty mild recession that doesn't take a long time to recover from. But we're probably gonna have within the next 18 months. That's my prediction. It doesn't mean anything. There you go.

Brock Briggs  1:29:55  

You have a unique background where you've got similar to me, you've got this love of finance and then also the background in the military. If you were to maybe look back and talk with your younger self, joining the Marine Corps or maybe somebody in a close to similar position, what type of personal finance or long term investing advice, when it comes to money had you wish you had during that time and how to use the military career, whether it's 4 years or 35 years to leverage better financial wealth over the long term?

David Armstrong  1:30:37  

Right. So I am admittedly not current on what the retirement plan looks like in the Marine Corps. I think they're, I think you can do TSP. I couldn't even do a TSP back when I was in. So it was either you were doing your own IRAs or not. So forget the vehicle for a second. The point is the same, which is, everybody should be doing their very best to fully fund their tax advantaged savings strategies as early as possible with any amount of money that they can. That's a hard thing to tell a brand new PFC that's, you know, just out of boot camp. And I don't know how much PFC is made, but I don't think it's a lot. 

Brock Briggs 

Not good

David Armstrong

Right, right. But ostensibly, they have a lot of their expenses offset to, you know, food and living expenses and stuff like that. So, but at some level, any dollar that they put in right now into a tax advantaged savings strategy, is going to have the power of compounding over many, many years. I'm just gonna say 40. I'm just rounding, probably a little over 40. If you say you can have your retirement at, you can have access to your IRA money at 60. And it's 59, but 60, and you're 18. And it's 40 to 42 years of that money, compounding tax free, which is very, very powerful if you look at it on a spreadsheet basis. And every time you put 50 hours in there, and then you keep increasing that amount until you've maxed everything out on a pre tax savings strategy, your tax advantaged savings strategy. 

Now, I again admittedly don't know. But if now or at some point in the future, there is ever a situation where the government does a matching program like in the civilian world where they'll match a certain amount of your 401k plan. And my advice would be to figure out some way to contribute up to the amount that your company will match because it's free money. And another perspective on saving this money is this, if I went to anybody in the military and said, I will guarantee you an investment return of 28% a year on every dollar you put into my investment strategy. Would you invest with me? And everybody would say yes. 

And I say, well, that's exactly what you're doing when you’re putting money into a 401 K plan because you're not paying taxes on it. So you're automatically getting a 20% return on that money. Now, that's open to interpretation. But mentally, if you look at it like that you have at your disposal, and investment strategy that will make you 28% a year. So there's that. And I would say, okay, because you're in the military, you have a very low probability of being laid off or losing your job suddenly. So your need for accumulating six months of an emergency bucket of money in case you lose your job, that priority is a little bit lower. Because you're not at risk of losing your job. 

But for somebody who's, say a firefighter and also in the reserves, you should be saving some money after or maybe in conjunction with maxing out your IRA, your tax advantage strategies. So that would be the second priority for an active duty person. It may be a coincidence, you know, the two things together. Can't give the best advice for everybody on that. But if you follow those two logical steps, that's great. And then once you have the six months of money saved up for that matches six months of your after tax salary. That's important the after tax salary, not your actual salary.

Now you can say okay, well, I've got that and I'm still saving so now you can start putting money into taxable savings and probably doing that in order to create some sort of downpayment to buy a house in the future. Because once you take that money and you turn it into the purchase of a house, now you're leveraging the power of borrowing money from the bank. So again, using a round number, if you buy a $100,000 house and you have to put 20% down, you're really only buying that house for $20,000 of your money. But all of the profits, if that house goes up in value from $100,000 to $150,000, that $50,000 of profit is yours, not the banks. 

So basically, your $20,000 generated $50,000 in return and by the way, you don't pay tax on that. So that becomes a very powerful investing mechanism for somebody to take advantage of because of the power of the house and the tax advantage situation of being able to write off the interest and all of your capital gains are tax free, for the most part. Unless you have like a massive gain in your house. You're probably not running into that problem of paying taxes on your house. Those are three really good sequential strategies that a young person and I wish I had known. I wish I had bought a house earlier in my life especially knowing what I know now about your ability to rent something out in the market. 

So if I had bought a house back when I was a first lieutenant in Camp Pendleton and then charged all my roommates rent, and use their rent to pay off the mortgage, and then when I PCS, put it on the housing market on the rental, hire a management company to manage the house, it would be paid off for right now. And I own a house in Southern California. We're using other people's money to pay the mortgage, buying some maintenance stuff. I wish I had known how to do that better. And I wish I'd known how to leverage or utilize the VA loan mechanism. They're better because I think that's a really powerful tool for people who wanna buy a house, especially now that they've raised the amount that you can borrow up to, it's well over, I think it's $1.5 million. You can borrow on a VA loan now. So everybody can use that. And you can buy a house for no money down. 

Brock Briggs  1:36:46  

I have been threatening to put together some type of like junior enlisted guide to like finance or something like that. Or maybe it ought to be a podcast episode and just spend a couple hours like diving into kind of some of this stuff. But yeah, those are absolutely great recommendations. The newest retirement system actually allows, if you contribute 5%, the government will match you 5%.

David Armstrong  1:37:13  

So there's your bogey. And that's when everybody should be because that's free money. The government's giving you free money. 

Brock Briggs 


David Armstrong 

I mean, if the government do that money on the ground and cash, would you pick it up?

Brock Briggs  1:37:24  

Some people probably wouldn't, sadly. 

David Armstrong  1:37:28  

Yeah. They just don't know if people are getting good advice for what they really know. And if it's of that, but yeah, podcasts on this. There's also, you know, on Instagram, the financial enabler. He's doing a really good job. If you're familiar with his Instagram page. He’s doing a good job

Brock Briggs 

I’m not.

David Armstrong 

Yeah, check that out. He's doing a great job educating Marines on what they should be doing and service members on what they should be doing or not doing with their finances. I find his page to be really informative and geared directly for the young service member or woman. Ember, that's inclusive. Yes.

Brock Briggs  1:38:00  

Maybe I'll need to reach out and have him on. That would be great!

David Armstrong  1:38:03  

Yeah, you should. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I'll connect you guys.

Brock Briggs  1:38:07  

That'd be great. I appreciate that. You have taken a lot of your finance knowledge and learnings over the last 20 some years. And you're now using that to benefit and promote PB Abbate and help them raise money. That's how I found out about you through PBA. Can you talk about you coming into contact with the organization and your role there?

David Armstrong  1:38:40  

Yeah, I don't know exactly how it started. But I can tell enough of a story here to get probably close to right. I was on Instagram, came across Tom Schueman's account. Just like everybody probably comes across his account and started reading some of the stuff and following. I was like, oh, this really great account. I really like it. And then he said something about, I'm looking for the first edition of the Smedley Butler’s War is a Rocket book. If anybody knows anybody who has a copy of this, please let me know. And I knew somebody who had it. I've got a friend of mine from Marine Corps who's just a book person. And I thought he had it. 

And so I reached out to him and I was like, hey, are you married? Do you have this? Yes, I do. I said, are you married to it? Do you donate it for somebody who's running this really great, nonprofit thing? I don't know if he wants to use this as an auction item or not. But if it's just sitting in a box somewhere, can I have it? And he said yeah. So he gave it to me and I sent it to Tom. And I think he was surprised that somebody just didn't complete stranger. So he and I got to know each other a little bit. And then he was in DC for something. And he and I got together with a couple of his other buddies, had drinks one night, and just this kind of connected. I actually liked by our second drink. I felt like I had known him my whole life. 

And so I just started to like him as a person. And felt like we had started out. We had opened the door to becoming friends. And we had kept in touch and kept in touch. And at some point, one of my clients had come to me and said, I am really interested in making a donation to a Veterans Organization. He’s a very successful business owner and he employs veterans. And he felt a moral obligation to donate back to veterans organizations on behalf of all the veterans that he employed and the success in his business. He said, I wanna make a meaningful donation to a veteran's charity. 

And I said, I have recently come across one that I'm pretty excited about. I think they're doing the right thing. And this is PB Abbate I’m talking about. And I really liked the fact that their conditions for entry, you raise your right hand and take an oath. That's it. I like the fact that everybody who gets out of the military at some level misses their tribe. Some people way more than others, right? Even me, I miss it. I don't know if you saw my Instagram. I went out to ITX. And I just watched a day's worth of the Marines training out there. And I was like, you know, the commandant came and asked me if I wanted to get back in the reserves. I'd probably looked down at my stomach and back up to him and say, will you make me a waiver? Because yes, I would, you know. But, you know, we all miss our tribe. 

And PB Abbate is a mechanism that gives you the ability to come back and reconnect to the tribe, no matter what you did in the military, which I really, really like. Some of these other organizations are great, right? Like Special Forces and Navy Seals and stuff like that. And, but they're inclusive of their community, but they're not designed for everyone else. And so I like this because this is really for us, for everyone. And it's not about what you did or where you served or what your rank was. It was hey, come be around your tribe. And I explained that to him. And he said, I really liked the center of that. How do I learn more? And I said, well, I'll put you in touch with Tom. You've got to hear the story from Tom. It just doesn't. I can't tell it right. I can tell a great story. 

I just can't tell somebody else's story in a way that will evoke the sort of emotion that I think you need to have in order to be comfortable making a huge donation. He's like, yeah, I just don't wanna make a donation to something that's pre existing, like, the Semper Fi fund or something where it's just gonna be more money for them. I wanna make a difference. I was like, well, I think a donation, just a meaningful donation to this organization is gonna make a huge difference. So it turned out that they were having their big fundraiser a couple of weeks ago, end of July. And Tom was gonna be in DC. And I said, to my client, I said, hey, I want you to meet Tom and hear about this. And then I want us to go to this fundraising gala together. 

And have you make your donation there. And he said, great. And so it didn't work out to where Tom and my client could get together and talk. But my client is wealthy enough to enjoy the luxuries of having a private aircraft. And he said, here's what I'll do. He said, you tell Tom and his wife and his friend to cancel their plane ticket up to New Hampshire. And I will fly us all up to the gala on my plane. And I'll sit with Tom on the ride. And I'll hear the story from Tom. So we do that. Tom tells him the story. So we're on our way into the gala. And my client said, hey, what an amazing story. And I'm gonna make a meaningful donation. He goes, I'm not gonna do it during the raise the panel thing. We're gonna do it privately with Tom. And he did that. And he walked up to him and so I had no idea what he was gonna do. I knew it was gonna be meaningful. 

I didn't know how much and Tom came back to me. He's like, I'm not a very emotional person. But I'm super emotional about this right now. He's like, your client just gave us a plus $100,000 donation right on the spot. I mean, wow, right? And that whole gala had a fundraising goal of a quarter of a million dollars. And by the time the night was wrapped up, we had reached $800,000. So now I say we because the part in there that I forgot about in the story was that at this point, when I said Tom, hey, I've got a donor. I'm gonna need you to talk to him about it. But I need to know that if he's gonna do this, you know. You're an active duty Marine. What is the plan for this thing?

And he started talking about what his plan was for the ongoing entity and he was creating a board at that point, he had asked me if I'd be a member of the board not because I had had a donor, but because he just wanted somebody with small business experience to help run the organization while he was still on active duty. And I said yes. So that's how I ended up on the board of it. Along with a lot of other really talented people on the board, and this thing's really taken off. 

Brock Briggs  1:46:03  

The mission and the people behind it are really something fantastic. I was very grateful that have Tom on the show very early on and kind of hear the story from him. And I've since I actually took over or started the chapter here in Norfolk, Hampton Roads area. And there's such a need for people looking to kind of be plugged in with our tribe, you know.

David Armstrong  1:46:33  

Yeah, I think it's great. And you know this, but we'll talk about for the listeners, because I think it's important to note but some of the big strategic goals are that I don't wanna call it like a VFW. But people will know what I mean when I say that, so I'll just use that term. But we're making plans right now to open up an actual facility outside of the major military bases. I think we're starting with camp Lejeune. And so it'll be a place that you can go after work to hang out with your tribe. It's gonna be a no alcohol kind of thing. But it's gonna be a place where you can hang out and just reconnect with people and just recharge your batteries. 

And I think that's gonna be a huge success to give people a place to go where they can talk to and be around the people who are important to them from their tribe, whether they're on active duty or just retired in the area. And that's really great. And as you know, a lot of the fundraising is going towards trying to find a permanent base station. And you know, that gala went a long way towards getting us there. It's really exciting. And oh, quick shout out to Michelle LeMay, who hosted everything in her beautiful house up in New Hampshire, and all the board members who put a lot of work into getting guests to come there. And we had some very generous people there that night. It was exciting. 

Brock Briggs  1:47:50  

A lot of great stuff happening there, very privileged to be a part of it. 

David Armstrong

Me, too.

Brock Briggs

That's fantastic. You're doing something else that I think is very meaningful and giving back to the community and you talked about doing a podcast for your wealth management firm, but you also run a podcast called Moments in Leadership. Do you wanna talk about that? And we can kind of get into it?

David Armstrong  1:48:17  

Yeah, sure. It's a project. I like to call it a project because that's what it is. It's a hobby for me. It's expensive. But yeah, so the genesis of that was sitting around. So I was commissioned in 1990. So any of my friends that are on active duty still they’re general officers or they’re out, right? Because 30 years. So sitting around my home here I had, for whatever reason, there was a whole bunch of us in town for different reasons. And we all came down to my place around the Chesapeake for a weekend and we're sitting around the fire pit and we're drinking beers like, you know, idiot friends do. And we all start telling stories, right? Do you remember this? Do you remember that? This guy and that moment and all that stuff. 

And I made the comment that if each one of us took the story that we just told and wrote a chapter of a book, we would have 12 chapters of a leadership book with each one of us with our own story that could really resonate with young leaders who will probably end up on the mandatory the covenants mandatory reading list for leadership. And at 1:30 in the morning with a couple of empty liquor bottles laying around, that was sound like a really great idea to everybody. And then the next day, I was the only one that still wanted to do it. So one of my friends said, maybe what you ought to do is instead of asking people to write which will take forever, why don't you just do some sort of like podcast and just record it. And I was like, you know, that's a really cool idea. I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna figure that out. 

So it took some time to do it. And over the time that I was figuring out how to do it, Justin Kramer from former action guys asked me to be on his podcast. So I did it. And then I listened to it and got to talking to us like you know, how hard is this to do? And he explained, you know, microphone, recording, editing, hosting, it all seemed well within my ability to do technically and decided to start it and asked one of my really close friends if he'd be the first guinea pig guest. His name is Matt Cooper. He's my first guest. He has an interesting story because he was in the Oklahoma City building when it exploded. And he was my first format guest. And I really enjoyed it and got a lot of great feedback. It didn't have any traction, there was no popularity to it. 

But one person says, hey, how about so and so and I just start getting introduced to people. And what I realized was that I was onto something with this. Because it was a way to give people the ability to memorialize all the lessons that they learned as leaders, over the course of a pretty significant career, say 30 or 40 years in some cases, that people could listen to and learn from their experiences in order to become a better leader. And that's how the whole name Moments in Leadership started. I started out, I call it the mill office. And then my wife suggested that I change it, she was absolutely right. She's like, you're talking about these moments in people's lives. And that's exactly what it is. 

And so now, when I talk to people, I actually form it in the phrase you have an obligation as a leader to share the lessons that you've learned because the taxpayer and your service branch has invested a lot of money in making you the successful leader that you are. And you have an obligation to share your after action report with people who can use it to become better leaders themselves. You have an obligation to leave it better than you found it. And that's why I want you to be a guest on the podcast. When I started phrasing it that way, it started to resonate with people. And I am told that it's fairly entertaining podcast, you know, it's kind of informal and people tell good stories. 

And so once one person does it, then another person does it. The next thing you know, you start to get, I started to get some active duty people to say yes. Once active duty people say yes, especially at a three star level people like well if you have a three star general can do it, I can do it, too. So it's starting to become easier to get guests on now. And now that the real constraint is my time because it takes time, right? It's a two hour interview. And then, you know, it takes me an hour to edit every 15 minutes. It seems like so and that's just scheduling people when can you do it. I'm having a great time with it. Right now, I've got this weekend. I'm gonna put the final touches on the interview I did with Tom Schueman last week. And I'm gonna drop that on the date of his book release. 

So we have a fantastic I mean, it's gonna be a great episode because he tells a story that I've never heard before. I'll tell it to you real quick. But I asked him a story. I said, you're a second lieutenant and you're in Afghanistan, and you're going on your very first combat patrol. What sort of oh shit moment was that for you? Like, okay, this isn't IOC anymore. He tells stories like I had a 90 man patrol. And half the Marines were still in the fob. And we are in a complex ambush. Because his very first patrol with half that he didn't even have half of his guys out of the fob yet. They tell the story like wow, I never even heard that story before from you. 

And so he's just got some really fantastic, very current moments in leadership that will really resonate with young officers and enlisted Marines, enlisted service members about leadership at that small unit level in a pretty serious incident. And of course, he goes on to talk about PB Abbate and things like that. But he's had a really interesting career with a lot of violence for very early on in his career. And he tells them, I think the lessons that he shares in that episode that's coming out next week are as valuable as anything I've heard a three star general talk about.

Brock Briggs  1:54:20  

I'm really looking forward to hearing that episode with Tom. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, primarily business and like financial podcast, though. And it kind of is irritating to me because in that space, it's like, somebody finds like a good guess. And then all of a sudden, they like make the circuit and you hear the same person on like three or four podcasts. I don't find that to be an issue though in this space with super dynamic people like Tom and people in the military in general because you're not hearing the same thing just regurgitated. Like you could have 10 different conversations with somebody and the topics are so diverse and deep that you can get something different from it each time.

David Armstrong  1:55:16  

Yeah. I suppose I could be in danger of doing that to myself. So yeah, a couple things. One is like this one has been really interesting because I've never talked about my professional career before at any sort of length with anybody. So that was kind of interesting to hear myself tell those stories. But I think you're right. I think if the same person is talking about different things every single time,  that's sort of like, that'd be I guess, what Joe Rogan does, right? 

But I'm not really but he's a dynamic person. He talks about a lot of different things. You're right. There's a little bit of an uptick, like you do one you kind of get asked to be on others. And that's great. But yeah, it's about, I find it to be more about what they're talking about than talking about, if they're doing the same story over and over again on each podcast, I think that could get old, but they're always talking about new things. It's probably, you gained some familiarity, but you hear some new things from the same person. I guess there's some interest in that, too.

Brock Briggs  1:56:17  

I like that you call doing the podcasts a project. Because I think that that really sets the tone and is the right approach when coming into something like this. Like anything, you're not gonna be good at something right away. And a lot of the most successful podcasters out there, the Joe Rogan's, you know, all of these famous podcasts, they've been at it for years. Like it is a very, very difficult thing to have an entertaining and engaging conversation with somebody especially over Zoom. Not even just like in person, but over the internet is another level of difficulty. 

David Armstrong  1:57:03  

Yeah, interesting about Joe Rogan and I haven't listened to a podcast, but I'm gonna look it up on my phone real quick. Look, because I wanna find out how many episodes he has. But I can talk while I'm looking too. But you're right. 

Brock Briggs  1:57:17  

I think it's in the six hundreds.

David Armstrong  1:57:19  

I think it may be in the 3000s. 

Brock Briggs 

Oh, really? 

David Armstrong

I don't know. So you and I have a little bit going on. So let's do this. Hang on a second.

Brock Briggs  1:57:26  

I wouldn't bet any money on that.

David Armstrong  1:57:29  

Okay. Okay, so all right, his most recent episode. Hang on, I got to scroll. How far back I was. His most recent episode dropped on Thursday. And it was number 1853, right? So I don't know how long ago that Spotify deal was. 

Brock Briggs

That was only last year.

David Armstrong

It was at his 75th episode. It wasn't at his 500th episode. So you're right. He was at it for a long, long, long time. Some of these other podcasts that are popular. I don't know, the only reason I want my podcast to be popular is because I want more people in the military and eventually in civilian leadership positions. Well, I think that's more phase two, to learn from what these leaders have to say so that we can, or I can help influence the professional development of an emerging leader to make the Marine Corps or any branch of the service better than when I left it. And I know it is because when I hear the stories from people about leadership and the things that they did and I reflect back on to my times on active duty in the early to mid 90s. And then I went out and I watched that ITX and I said this on Justin's podcast, but I'll say it again here. I got to go up onto this thing that they call machine gun hill, which is where the machine guns are being run by a section. And there was three empty 40 machine guns up there, which they're not the big 50 caliber machine guns, right?

And there's three of them up there and a marine off to the side who had a radio on in the Peltor headsets in the head in the boom mic and everything all that sexy, cool gear they have now and he was commanding is machine guns action, not only from an employment perspective, but for people who don't know what's going on at an ITX like this. We were specifically at range for 10 For people who are familiar with the range, but it is a range where there is maneuver going on. And the machine guns are literally, literally firing over the heads of the Marines as they're moving underneath the bullets. Very dangerous as you can imagine. 

So, knowing what I know about the military and safety I'm thinking to myself, this is, you know, been there supervision out the wazoo, and there was probably somebody three levels above who's supposed to be there supervising to make sure that nobody gets shot. So I see the Marine off the side of the radio, and I'm like, well, that must be the platoon commander. That must be the lieutenant. That's what I'm thinking. That’s Lance Corporal. That’s an E-3 in charge of that whole thing.

Brock Briggs  2:00:26  

Marines are built, man. They have that authority down.

David Armstrong  2:00:31  

Right. But my point also, you know, Brock, is that like, it's not only is it are we different. We're different now than when I was in. There is no way that was going. Maybe it was and I but I mean, my God! I'm like, that's a lance corporal. That's a reservist who does it one weekend a month, and he is in complete command of this machine gun section. And I think like he is not, I mean, nothing against him, right? But he is not the best lance corporal in the Marine Corps. He is one of the lance corporals in the Marine Corps. And if the lance corporals in the Marine Corps are anything like him, anything like him, we've got a group of young emerging leaders at the Lance Corporal level that are well beyond the leadership capabilities and maturity level than I gave them credit for the day before I walked on that hill and saw that. 

And he had texted with me earlier, because I sent him a bunch of pics of the Lance Corporal. I'm talking about sent him some pictures and stuff. He's like, I heard that podcast where you thought I was a lieutenant. And he's like, I'm just Lance Corporal. I'm like, you know, that was kind of my point, right? But that's really what I'm trying to accomplish with this project. And the only reason I wanted to be popular is because I want more people to hear it. And either gain some sort of self empowerment, or confidence, or just one more little nugget in their knowledge arsenal on how to be a leader or maybe hear a story that changes their perspective on leaders, leadership, right? 

Maybe they hear somebody say, wow, you know, what they're talking about as a bad example of leadership is actually something I've been doing, maybe I need to stop doing that. So I just feel like this medium, this podcasting medium, is so well suited to having, you're essentially tape recording, listen to how old I am. You're essentially digitally recording a conversation between two people and allowing everybody who wants to eavesdrop on it the ability to do it into perpetuity. So next year, somebody can come out and listen to the sergeant major and Marine Corps interview. 

And two years from now, three years from now, because the lessons won't change. The medium is there for people to consume. I actually hope it becomes some sort of level of PME. And I don't mean that from a space of like, I want to become popular for it. I want a project to become popular so that people can listen to it and improve on their own leadership. Because, like, you know, I read rifleman Dodd. I like some of the books I see on the reading list, I just shake my head. I'm like, I don't know if people are gonna learn from that. I should be careful. But, you know, I do look at some of the stuff I think ah I don't know.

Brock Briggs  2:03:15  

You're not gonna be on the PME list after a comment like that.

David Armstrong  2:03:20  

That's exactly why I should be on the PME list but no, I'm not maligning the reading list. I'm just saying that some of the books that we read, I don't know if people really take away leadership lessons from them. So like, you know, if you read Rommel's book, like on attacks, you may be reading this fantastic book on tactical things. But I don't know if that makes you a better leader. It may give you a different perspective on tactics and leading in tactics. Or if you read a book, like The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors about the book on the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which by the way, if you haven't read it, as a Navy guy, you got to read this book, right? And you know, you read those books and you may gain some sort of tactical perspective or something like that. 

But I look at like the actual leadership memoirs, the vignettes, the things like that. I think there’s an absence of them there at the level that they should be there. I admittedly haven't looked at the reading list in a year. So it may have changed, but I just wanna create some sort of filler or augment to all of the PME where people can listen to it on their own time at their own pace, or even hold, you know, platoon level discussions on it or anything. I don't know where this is going, Brock. I don't know what I'm going to do with this thing. I'm just gonna keep doing it.

Brock Briggs  2:04:44  

I wanna play devil's advocate for a second here. So humor me. Leadership is a very airy subject that is different to everybody in every kind of context. Everybody would define it probably slightly differently. We all have kind of a rough idea about what that might look like. The trouble with a lot of podcasts that I hear, not yours, but general podcasts is people get very conversational. And it kind of becomes, podcasting is extremely difficult because, like me and you, I'm trying to, this is me connecting with you. 

And I'm trying to enjoy that. But I'm also trying to have a conversation with others in mind, that I'm not just doing it in a self-serving, like, hey, I'm, this is me and you building rapport. I want others to benefit from that. How do you think that podcasters specifically, maybe even in your niche, talking about leadership? How do they draw the bridge between a conversation and specifically a story and implementing action when it comes time?

David Armstrong  2:06:10  

Yeah, I don't know if I had the best answer for that. But I have thinking going on in my head. So I'll just say it at the risk of not answering your question. So give me a rudder steer here, but I get what you mean about like the connecting and things like that. Okay, here's, this is gonna sound really narcissistic. But here's where I get my improvement is as much as I hate the sound of my own voice, I make myself really listen to the podcast after it's live. And I take it, I generally do that in the car. So what I'll do is I'll turn on my little dictation thing on my phone. And I'll say, next time, don't do this, or, hey, the cadence of your voice sounded argumentative or whatever. 

And I make notes. And I feel like I'm trying, I'm doing that because I wanna become a better interviewer. And I have no idea what I'm doing. I just talk, right? I just, I hear something. And a question pops up in my head. And I ask it and I'm trying to set the conditions for them to share the stories that are meaningful to answer the question and share their experience and their knowledge with other people. So I don't know if there's a technique for it or a great guideline or checklist for how to do it. I think that there are some podcasts out there that do a really great job of like, it's a scripted interview. 

And then there's some people out there that are just off script and ad lib and things like that. Now, I will admit that when I've done some podcasts. So here's my routine that I do with people. I have this thing, I call it my vomit list. And when I ask a question, I've typed it into this document. I've got this documents like four pages long with the questions that I ask or wanna ask. And I send them to people in advance. I say, here are questions I've asked in the past. I don't know if I'm gonna ask you a question off this list. Or I don't know if I'm gonna make up a question on the fly. 

But on the surface, is any of this? Do you not like any of this like generally? You can imagine what our podcasts would be like if you read these questions, and pretend I'm asking. For the most part, everybody comes back and says, I'm fine with questions. I've had one person come back and say I'm fine with everything except question 13. And the reason is because we're about to announce some policy change in the Marine Corps. And I don't wanna get ahead of that. So it would be inappropriate from a timing perspective to talk about it great. No problem, right? And then with the ad lib stuff, I've asked questions and they've answered them and I give my guests a certain amount of rights. 

Well, an unlimited amount of rights. They all basically sound like this. If I asked you something and you don't wanna answer, just say you don't wanna answer it and I’ll edit it out. I just like you and I, you know, we edit our podcasts. I'll just chop it out. If you wake up the next day, and you regret saying something, call me up, tell me what it is. I'll chop it out. I will not debate it with you. I'm not a journalist, right? Like I'm not trying to create a 60 Minutes interview. And I'm not trying to elicit opinions on current events or politics from them. Like I'm not asking people about the Abbey Gate. I'm not asking people about our withdrawal from Afghanistan. I'm asking them to share their leadership moments. 

If they wanna talk about those things, that's fine. But I'm not trying to ask. So a lot of times I'll get on Instagram. I will say like, what kind of questions do you think I should ask, you know, so and so. And I'll get questions, you know, get his opinion on whatever this that the other thing I'm like, you know, no, I'm not asking for opinions on current events I'm asking for like leadership questions. So that's helped me kind of keep it in a lane. I'm sticking true to that. And maybe as it gains in popularity, people listen to it more, they'll understand where my lane is, and they'll be more comfortable being guests on there. I've also had people flat out, just say, no, I don't wanna be on it. That's cool, too. I get it. 

Brock Briggs  2:10:21  

I have one final question for you. We could probably talk podcasts all day and we probably will a little bit offline. My final question and these are all things that I'm wrestling with. So this is where this is coming from. How will you know that your podcast has been successful? Outside of listenership numbers, that's numbers of podcast downloads are kind of a gauge or kind of a rough kind of indication of something. But how will you know that your mission and what you set out to do is being accomplished?

David Armstrong  2:11:05  

So I don't know if there'll be any one defining thing that will alert me to success or not success. I can tell you a couple of things that anecdotally make me think that it is getting more popular. One is and I appreciate this so much. I get DMS on Instagram or emails to the email account from people who are complete strangers. Say, this podcast has changed my perspective. I wish I had this podcast when I was a company commander. Just really, really great compliments. So they're anecdotal, but they're encouraging. And they inspire me to keep going on this. So there's this emotional sort of like when you're told that your work is appreciated. 

There's some plus side on the feelgood side of the ledger, right? So that's one thing, and they're unsolicited. Nobody has to do those things. They do them. So I find them to be pretty true. And that's one of the things that encourages me too. I do look at the numbers. I'm getting up to around 15,000 total downloads and in some world, that's not a lot, but I've only got 15 episodes. So I think that's pretty good. But then I look at it. And I'm like, well, there's 180,000 people in the Marine Corps. Why aren't more people downloading this? Or you know, so I look at that. 

And I think it's also a source of motivation for me to keep promoting it and trying to get people to listen to it. So that's another gauge that I use. Some of the interaction on social media, that's kind of interesting when people share it. I can look at that and say it's doing really good, doing really well. But recently, I think the thing that has made me feel like I'm doing a good job, there's two things that recently came up. One was I got an email from somebody at Fort Sill that said, I make every single Marine officer in my gunnery class listen to this podcast. So here's an instructor at Fort Sill who's making his lieutenants listen to it. And I just hear that and I'm like, okay, if somebody is standing up in front of a class or lieutenants and saying, you need to listen to this episode of whatever, I feel like, I'm getting some positive feedback. 

And it's popular. And then the other thing that happened to me was when I was out at ITX. I was in civilian clothes. And so nobody knew who I was. I knew name tape on nothing. I'm just a civilian. They probably thought I was with range control or something. And somebody introduced me, hey, this is Dave Armstrong. And there were three very senior officers. Colonel level who were just like, hi! Nice to meet you, right? Nothing. And then the person said, he's the one that runs the Moments in Leadership podcast. And also they’re like, oh, fuck, really? Oh, man. And all of a sudden, like, again, it's anecdotal, right? 

But like these three complete strangers who are pretty senior in rank, don't know who I am, because I'm seeing around civilian gear, and then all of sudden, they hear like, that's, and they know, they don't know me, but they know the work. That's awesome, right? Like if I was Joe Rogan out there and somebody said, hey, this is Joe Rogan, everybody would know who I was as a person. But when people know the project and they don't know me, I feel like there's a certain level of institutional acceptance of that at a level that really makes me feel good because I want the project to be known. I mean, it’s nice for me personally to be known, but I want the project to be known. 

Brock Briggs  2:14:44  

That's fantastic. And I think encouraging and pointing towards some of the larger, better reasons for really going after anything. I think that that's super respectable. 

David Armstrong

Yeah, thanks. 

Brock Briggs 

Dave, this has been a great conversation, learned a lot about the financial industry and enjoyed talking finance and business with you.

David Armstrong

Yeah, same. 

Brock Briggs 

Where can people go to learn more about you? You wanna plug the Moments in Leadership podcast. I'll have links to all that in the show notes as well. But whatever you want to plug, let's put it out there. 

David Armstrong  2:15:20  

Yeah, thanks. So I have a website, it's www.themiloffice.com. And that is the homepage for the podcast. So every time I post a new episode there, you can go to it. And then there's links to all the players there. So if you're a Spotify person, or Google or Apple, where we get to it off of that. I don't blog there. I don't really do anything. It is the repository for the episodes. So that's the place to go or subscribe to it. It's on Spotify and Apple. It’s on every major player, you can subscribe to it. I would ask the plug I'll ask is, if you could, you know, rate it and write just a little review that just helps kick it up in the world of being noticed. 

And then I'm really active on Instagram. That's my social hub. That's where I am. That's the pond I'm swimming in every single day. The messages that I post there kick out to Facebook automatically because I think that things are connected. I'm not really over on Facebook monitoring or answering questions over there. I'm not posting on Facebook. I'm on Instagram and that is @themiloffice. So I think you can type in Moments in Leadership too. Either one of them will take you to the account, the Instagram account, which has some awesome artwork by Ben Cantwell. By the way, plug for him, he did my logo, it's just awesome. I love it. 

And then so those are the two pages. And then I do have a small, it's actually gaining in popularity. But on LinkedIn, you can just search Moments in Leadership in LinkedIn. I occasionally go over there and post a picture or something. But the engagement level there is really high because that's where people are on a daily basis. And one person comments on it, just kind of the algorithm just spreads it out. So I get engagement over there. But I'm not really super active over there on LinkedIn, so those are the places to go. 

People have been very generous in emails. You can email me at themiloffice@gmail.com. People have been really kind about suggesting guests and making introductions. Thank you for those, keep them coming. It's more helpful if you know the person say, hey, you should have this person on and I can introduce you. Somebody said like, hey, you should get Sergeant Major broadcast there. You know the Navy across winter with a famous picture of him with a pistol in one hand lifted out of the building. I said, great! Can you introduce me to him? Oh, no. I just thought it'd be a great guest. Okay. Thanks, man! 

Brock Briggs  2:17:52  

But I also agree he would be a great guest.

David Armstrong  2:17:55  

I do too. I do too. And you know what? This is the thing about popularity too, about the whole thing is that it's getting easier to ask people to network me and two people say like, hey, is there any way you can make me an introduction and let me pitch them on this project? That's happening too. But I'm actively looking for him. I'm working with trying to get some senior women on. That's been a little bit slower in the process. I just got, I think some people are worried about being the first. And I'm really working on getting some people from other branches of the service. Right now I'm working on getting an admiral who's a submariner. I'm dying to talk to somebody about leadership on a submarine.

Brock Briggs  2:18:36  

There is no shortage of really inspirational former military people out there. That is a fact you've got a big pool of folks. And I'm sure that we can. We'll talk a little offline and maybe exchange notes on some interesting people to talk to. 

David Armstrong


Brock Briggs 

Dave, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for your time.

David Armstrong  2:18:56  

Well, let me thank you for giving me the time to talk about some of these things. I enjoyed it as well. And thank you so much for your work with PB Abbate. I'll kind of end on that note, which is really encourage everybody to look in your local city to see if there's a chapter like Broxson in Norfolk. There's one in DC. There's one in Austin, it's really great. Wherever you are, look to see if there's a chapter. If there's not, they're looking to start chapters too. So just check it out, learn more, and get involved with that. It's a great way to feel good about getting back together with your tribe. 

Brock Briggs  2:19:26  

Absolutely. Dave, thanks so much.

David Armstrong  2:19:28  

Thank you, Brock. Good to catch up with you.

Brock Briggs  2:19:31  

That's the episode. Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode and want to learn more about the topics we talked about, there's a couple ways you can do that. We talked a fair bit about PB Abbate. In this episode, if this is the first time you're hearing about that organization, you really need to listen to my episode with the founder Tom Schueman. I did an interview with Tom back on episode 12. 

I'd highly recommend checking that out. I also do weekly breakdowns of the episodes to expand on the content, add some more resources and dive into some of the topics a little bit further and an after action format, you can go to scuttlebutt.substack.com. I send out that weekly free email to discuss some of those topics more in depth. And lastly, if you'd like to support the podcast, I'd love if you left a review or told a friend about the show. Both of those things are no cost to you and helps me out in a big way. I really appreciate it. Until next week.