Carl Churchill | Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java | High Speed Low Drag Podcast Transcript

This is a conversation between John Lee Dumas and Carl Churchill.  Carl is the Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock-n-Load Java, an internet retailer of premium coffee to consumers.

Carl Churchill sends a cup of coffee to a deployed…


vetrepreneur-mag-coverHigh Speed Low Drag Episode 12.

Welcome to High Speed Low Drag, the podcast for veterans and soldiers transitioning into the civilian world. War veteran John Lee Dumas interviews other veterans who are crushing both business and life, revealing the path they took to achieve outstanding success. Veterans, are you prepared to ignite?

John: Veterans, are you interested in owning your own business? Join me, Antonio Centeno and Tom Morkes, all successful entrepreneurs and veterans, as we talk about what it takes to build your own business from scratch by leveraging the skills you developed while serving your country. And you’ll have the support of a community of veterans that are committed to helping you succeed. Visit That’s

High Speed Nation, John Lee Dumas here and I am fired up to bring you our featured guest today, Carl Churchill. Carl, are you prepared to ignite?

Carl: Yeah, brother. You know I am.

John: I love it. Carl is the Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock-n-Load Java, an internet retailer of premium coffee to consumers. They deliver coffee with free shipping options directly to your front door and every bag bought sends a cup of coffee to a deployed service member, #fuelforwarriors. Love it, Carl.

Give our listeners just a little overview. So take a minute. Tell us about you personally because we want to get to know you and then we’ll dive in.

Carl: Okay, great. Well, I am a 21-year military veteran. I raised my right arm and joined the Army when I was 17. I subsequently won an ROTC scholarship and ended up going to college on that scholarship and became an officer upon graduation. I did nine years active duty, took a year off, missed it, joined the reserves to finish out another 12 years. During those 12 years in the reserves, I was in a number of startup companies, mostly in the tech and telecom sector, and then moved into the construction mortgage sector.

You know this story ends badly if you’ve been around anytime over the last five to seven years. But what happened was during the recession when the company I was a partner in went down, my wife and I sat down. I’m not good at sitting on unemployment waiting to work for other people. So we decided we were going to get into the social entrepreneurship arena. We said, what are we passionate about and that was the military community and great craft premium coffee. So we came up with the concept for Lock-n-Load Java.

John: Love that concept. I love the story, Carl, and I’m really excited to do a couple of things here. I’m excited to dive into your military experience a little bit. I’m excited to dive into maybe your first and your second one both if we have time because I’m sure both transitions were a little bit different and a little interesting. And I really am excited to talk about this aha moment you had to combine your passion for coffee and your passion for military. Again, #fuelforwarriors, baby. Love it all.

So Carl, before we dive into anything, we always start with a success quote. Take it away.

Carl: I don’t follow the rules well so I’m going to give you two success quotes. Both of them are from my namesake, Winston Churchill, and both of them talk about dealing with obstacles. So as entrepreneurs we always deal with obstacles. The first one is: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” And then the second quote that goes along with that is: “Never, never, never give up.”

John: I mean, Churchill was that person that literally the world needed at the right time. And it was that type of attitude, it was that type of mentality, it was those type of quotes that I know not only inspired him but those around him during those incredibly dark, dark times of World War II and beyond. So I always love it. Your namesake is amazing. Don’t worry, I take full credit for being related to Alexandre Dumas of the Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo even though I actually have no idea but who knows.

But, Carl, I love those quotes. I’m actually going to steal one of those for my podcast Quotes on Fire. The first one I just can’t get enough of.



Now, I want to focus on your military experience. You could tell us a lot of stories, Carl. I mean, you’ve been in the military for over 21 years in both the active and the reserves. So tell us one story though and really make this is as a story. Take us down to the ground level of what you would consider your most pivotal moments.

Carl: Well, I think for anybody who’s served in the military and had the opportunity to serve in combat, something that you never forget is the first time that somebody is firing at you in anger. So for me, I’m a little bit older. The first time I had that opportunity was in Central America in the mid-’80s.

So we were on a helicopter. We were flying out of Honduras and we’re flying over to El Salvador. As we got on — I’d only been in the country for about two or three weeks at that point. Up to that point, it was kind of cool. It was an adventure. There were a lot of neat things happening. We really felt like we were doing good work in Central America. I’d done a number of medical trips and a bunch of winning the hearts and minds type of things.

This time when we got on the helicopter and our guys said, “Hey, things are about to get real here. So we’re going to be going over an active area and you need to understand that we could draw fire.” And sure enough, as we crossed over the kind of nebulous border region, it comes over the radio, “Hey, we’re taking fire.” Rounds coming in and we had one bullet that actually struck the helicopter.

For me, it just sort of crystallized that you can be a passenger in life or you can be engaged in present and understand that this is real, that things will get real. From that single experience — I went on a number of times to be in combat situations but from that experience, whenever somebody says to me, “Hey, things are falling apart. It’s a bad day, blah, blah, blah.” I say, “Hey, it could be worse. Somebody could be shooting at us right now. Let’s all get our heads in the game and let’s understand that we can handle this. We can move through this. It’s not a life or death situation.”

Tom: You know, I just love that because so often in life, Carl, people lose perspective. They lose perspective of reality, of the actual situation, of really how good things are despite how bad things may seem. I mean, do I have to walk more than five feet right now to get an entire glass of crystal cold water? No. But millions of people around the world struggle for that every single day.

We let this like email from one of our many followers or in your experience maybe coffee drinkers, this one negative review just blow our world up. And it’s like, really? You let that one person who probably got up on the wrong side of the bed one email, one comment they make because they’re probably just not a good person, really get you out of the mindset of the world you live in and the people around you that love you and the opportunities you have before you if you keep up a decently positive mindset.

Carl, one more thing you said that I just love and I want High Speed Nation to really drill into it. Do you want to be a passenger, High Speed Nation, on this train of life? Or do you want to actually get off being a passenger, step up to the front and then you actually start driving and take control with both your attitude, your mentality and the direction? It’s a question I want you to answer for yourselves right now.

Carl, let’s fast forward now. Again, I don’t really know if you want to talk about both quickly or just one in-depth. Share with us your transition out of the military and some challenges, failures and obstacles that you’ve faced and some lessons you learned.

Carl: So I think initially, the first transition out was sort of difficult. I think it’s more difficult to transition out of active duty into the civilian sector. As I got out of the military, I just expected the same high level of commitment, discipline, mission-focus that I’d had with my team in the military.

Click here to listen to Carl Churchill | Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java podcast on Stitcher
Click here to listen to Carl Churchill | Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java podcast on iTunes



The first time I had my team and I pulled them in and I said, “Hey, you know, this is going to be a late night tonight because we have something going on.” And people kind of looked at the ground and they said, “Well, I’ve got this” and “I’ve got this.” I suddenly realized, hey, you’re not in the military anymore where people are willing to make sacrifices and stick around and make things happen.

So for me, finding the balance between intensity and sort of mission-focus and building consensus and building commitment from people that maybe didn’t have the same of sense of mission as you had, that was something that took me a little bit to find that balance. But once you do, once you understand that it’s not the same thing, I think it’s a real advantage to have.

I’ll say that when I started up my company — my background is very much like yours that I got out of the military, I sort of got on a treadmill, career treadmill. I was mostly with startup companies. But it took me a while when the recession hit and a startup I was in went under, that was kind of what we’re talking about. Do you want to be a passenger or do you want to be a driver? I had been sort of halfway passenger, halfway driver because I’ve been in startup companies. But I decided it was time to be a full-on driver. Get out of the driver seat. I’m getting in there. I’m going to take control of my future.

I learned a bunch of lessons when that happened. One thing is that you have to understand that just because you want it to be so doesn’t mean it’s going to be. You’re going to work twice as hard. That runway is twice as long as you think it’s going to be to get lift, unless you’re lucky. So you have to be disciplined. You have to never quit. You have to have a sense of service.

John: And Carl, just to qualify that word lucky. I’m a big believer that luck is when effort missed opportunities. So there’s still that hard work in there when you get lucky.

Carl: Absolutely, yeah. I also really like that quote. I think it was by Thomas Edison where he said, “I’m a firm believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the luckier I am.”

John: Thomas Jefferson.

Carl: Oh, is it Thomas Jefferson? Yeah.

John: I’m kind of a quote guy, my podcast Quotes on Fire. I do them all.

Carl: Yeah, that’s great.

John: Yeah, I love it. No doubt. There’s just so many things I want to pull out of there but I mean, Carl, the main thing here is that when you transitioned, you were looking to apply the principles that you learned while you were in the military into the civilian world. Sometimes that’s powerful to do because those are such powerful principles. But the thing is that sometimes they will clash in the civilian world because you don’t have everybody on your team.

So when it’s just you — and to give like a quick background, Carl, when I launched Entrepreneur On Fire, it was just me. So I was that crazy guy that was like, I’m going to do seven episodes a week. Nobody get in my way. Clear the path. You know what? Because I didn’t have a team, I could do that because I didn’t have to gel with other people on my team, on my staff. I was dependent upon nobody. I could work those 14-hour days and just be like, I’m doing this. This is how I want to roll.

But it’s not always the case. Like when Carl found out, hey, I’m used to this type of mentality in the military and it’s not necessarily transitioning over into the civilian world. You need to learn how to adjust as well. Of course, when you’re a leader, you want to be leading from the front by first and foremost providing value first. So you can really know where you can best be implemented and your team can too.

Carl, it’s just so obvious that you and I could spend so many yarns in a positive way about the experiences that we had and combat environments and then our transitions into the civilian world. I’ve had my share of just fall-on-my-face failures. I still do but now it’s within a successful company. But before, I was just falling on my face with nothing to catch me. It was just boom, there it is and that’s just reality.

But what I wanted to do, Carl, is go forward to your aha moment. I want to talk about a light bulb that went off and really do a dive into just how you pulled it all together. So share that with us.

Carl: One of the things — for me, it sort of related to our business and why we got into that is that when we were looking at the coffee business, we started thinking about what are the trends. I’m really big on looking at trends and understanding what’s happening in the environment around you, making that assessment and then knowing what kind of choices you need to make.


You see that in this country, there’s been this trend towards quality. There’s been local foods, craft beers and now craft coffee is one of those things. It’s where people are choosing quality and then the mission of the company over just cheap. So we were — when we at first started out, we sent out coffee to friends and family and we were just getting started and we weren’t sure. We said, “Let’s give this about a year and see what happens.”

In that first year we got an email from somebody and it was a great email. It sort of summarized this and they said, “You know, all these years, I thought I was drinking coffee and then I ordered your coffee and I realized I was drinking disappointment.” And they went to say, “Love your mission. Love your coffee. Love what you guys do.” And that summarized it for us that three’s more than just business, more than just making money. It’s mission. It’s what you stand for. It’s who you are as a company and as an individual.

So that was a real aha moment for us and we’ve built our entire business around that.

John: One thing I loved sharing to you, Carl, was that we as entrepreneurs, as small business owners, we are literally standing on the shoulders of giants. It wasn’t like Carl had just come up with this whole idea of having this really give back type mentality. There were those that came before us. There was Patagonia who was so great at showing what it means to build a company not on profit alone but on actually human services. There’s Toms Shoes. Every time you buy a pair of Toms Shoes, what happens? Somebody halfway around the world is getting their first pair of shoes.

I was just interviewing somebody on my podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire, for ONEHOPE Wine. They’re doing the exact same thing. Every single different brand they had, Pinot or Chardonnay or whatever other wine they have, it all has a specific charity that it gives to for that specific wine. They can really track those dollars down to actual specific actions that are being taken.

Carl, you had your eyes open. You looked around and you realized that, hey, there are people out there that first of all want quality and second of all, they like that feeling of doing something good. I would love to be drinking a cup of your coffee right now, Carl, knowing that somewhere in Afghanistan or somewhere in some deployed part of this world, one of our soldiers is drinking a cup of Lock-N-Load as well. That to me is powerful and it’s powerful to a lot of people too. So I commend you on seeing that opportunity and stepping up and taking it.

Carl: Oh, thank you. We say it’s a labor of love with heavy emphasis on the labor.

Lock N Load Java

John: You got some great one-liners, my friend. Oh, I love it. So let’s do this now. Let’s fast forward to today because, listen, Lock-n-Load Java has got a lot of cool things going on. You’re doing some really important things for soldiers around the world. What’s the one thing that you’re just most fired up about today?

Carl: I’ll tell you that I think that what’s happening for our business is that we have the opportunity now to leverage the business with a recurring business model. I think if you look at companies like Dollar Shave Club, which I’m a huge fan of — even though I have a beard, I ordered the razors for shaving my neck. I believe that our next step is to go into the recurring order business and we recently shifted to free shipping model.

We believe that if we can harness people that just want to put their coffee on autopilot and get really high quality coffee delivered right to their front door, then we can start to leverage that growth and that revenue to do more for the military community. Not only do we ship coffee to deployed service members around the world but we also work with well-run military charities to help families, to help survivors, to help wounded warriors.


So our goal is to really grow that mission and continue to do that. I’m just excited about the way we see people responding to this, responding to our mission and getting that recurring business model up and going. It’s kind of a buzzword among internet retailers right now and we’re excited about that because it gives people the opportunity to put getting great quality coffee on autopilot.

John: So projected earnings is like something that I want to kind of focus on here for High Speed Nation because, Carl, that’s really where you’re looking to go. That’s what’s important for any business. You need to be able to project earnings and what better way to project earnings than to actually have this recurring revenue of people who check the blogs said “Yap, for the next 12 months, the next 24 months, I absolutely want this much coffee at a minimum shipped to my front door. Lock me in, bro.” And bro, that’s the Netflix model.

Carl: Exactly.

John: Amazon just came out with Kindle Unlimited. It just shows you how important this is. I mean, for $9.99 a month now, you can sign up for Kindle Unlimited. $9 a month and you can get over 600,000 book titles for free literally downloaded to your Kindle. I was spending 50, 60, 70 bucks a month just crushing all of these books then now I can just even get more because it’s unlimited and have no guilt to buy because it’s all free, baby. I’m investing in myself. I’m making my cost for a book lower.

So it’s a great model to think about. I’m really glad, Carl, that you brought up to talk about it because with High Speed Nation, as they’re creating and crafting business plans, looking at their direction, these are all things they need to be thinking. Your thoughts?

Carl: Yeah, I agree 100%. I think the key is what value are you adding to your customers? So for my customers, I just want to take one more decision out of their lives. We do have people that say, “Geez, you know, I ran out of your coffee and I needed to pick some up from the store. The good news is that reinforcement for me that I need to order your coffee.”

John: That I was drinking disappointment.

Carl: That’s right. “That I’m drinking disappointment from the store.” No, but it’s being able to simplify your life and provide value to your customers.

John: Actually, I want to bring a pretty important analogy here that I think just really slams its point home about what you’re saying, Carl, is that I just stress out like every month. I’m like, “Oh, my God. It’s almost the 23rd. My credit card bill is due.” I wasn’t stressed out about paying the credit card but I was stressed about missing the actual payment dates because then I would get hit with fees and my interests could go up and all this stuff. So I had all these reminders. I have a sticky note. I had a counter reminder and a phone reminder like, on the 22nd, “Pay your credit card bill.”

And then when I dig an email from Chase and they’re like, “Hey, click here and sign up no matter if it’s a Sunday, a holiday, if it’s Christmas day. We will pay your credit card balance in full. No worries. You can check in, log in, you can pay.” That’s the analogy. I don’t want to dive into it but that’s the importance of what Carl is offering to his clients and what Chase offered to me which now makes me so loyal to them. I won’t move to anywhere else that doesn’t offer that. Forget about it.

Carl: Exactly.

John: So Carl, we have T minus five minutes left and I really want to bring us into the lightning round here. So we have about six questions, so let’s kind of not be like super short but not either super long. Let’s kind of just give a nice meaty answer then go on to the next one.

The first question in lightning round is what is the most difficult adjustments that you had to make to the civilian world?

Carl: I think it was people telling me why things couldn’t be done. I think veterans have the make-it-happen gene and that was hard to get used to.

John: There’s somebody that I follow that I like a lot in the online space, Cliff Raymond’s craft, and he actually says this phrase and I’m a big believer. He’s like, “Stop shooting on me. Don’t tell me what I should do. I don’t shoot on you. I don’t want you to shoot on me.”

Carl: I love it.

John: So Carl, what is the best advice that you would pass along to those making the transition in the military right now?

Carl: What I would say is use your network especially if you’re looking to be an entrepreneur. Support other veteran businesses. Reach out to veterans who’ve come before you, gone before you and get advice from them. Get help from them. We’re all willing to help each other out. And then continue to build that network. Networks are key to success in business.

Click here to listen to Carl Churchill | Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java podcast on Stitcher
Click here to listen to Carl Churchill | Co-Founder and Chief Coffee Officer of Lock N Load Java podcast on iTunes


John: Now, listen, the key end, that phrase “your network is your net worth” is so true on so many levels. So really drill into that, High Speed Nation, and make the most of it.

Carl, what is one of your habits that you believe contributes to your success?

Carl: I would say discipline and consistent effort. You can be smart, you can be lucky, you can be a lot of things, but consistent effort at something yields results. You got to put the time in. You have to be disciplined.

John: It doesn’t have to be disciplined about the big things all the time. It’s being disciplined about the small things too. One of the most utilized quotes that I say on this show, Carl, is: “What’s easy to do is also easy not to do.” And so unfortunately, most people choose not to do it. But if you’re disciplined and you really do those small things everyday because they are easy to do, then you’re going to see some massive results down the line.

Carl: Right.

John: So Carl, what’s the biggest generalization, if any, that you had to overcome in the civilian world?

Carl: Initially, it was sort of this idea, this generalization that everybody coming out of the military is kind of a bullethead. They’re non-intelligent. They’re inflexible. They just bawl their way through things. It’s easy to combat that. You just show that you can deliver by being flexible, by listening, and by being intelligent about the way you approach things.

John: Carl, what’s the one book that you will recommend to our listeners?

Carl: I’m sure they’ve had a lot of great books. I do like the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. But the book I read recently that really resonated with me was Tribes by Seth Godin.

John: Yes, Tribes is great and once you get on a Seth Godin kick, you’re not going to get off of it for a while because his books are all easily consumable. They’re small but every one of them makes an impact.

Carl: Exactly.

John: Carl, I just want to thank you for being so open, honest and giving to High Speed Nation today. Let’s just end with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, sharing the best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say goodbye.

Carl: You can reach us at, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. We’re there, everywhere. Anybody that wants to contact me can email me at I’m happy to help any other entrepreneur and especially any veteran out in any way I can.

John: And a last parting piece of guidance?

Carl: Begin with the end in mind and use those networks like they talk about in Tribes, listen and learn, and finally drink a lot of good coffee for inspiration.

John: I need it. I need it, Carl.

High Speed Nation, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with Carl and myself today so keep up the heat.

Carl, thank you for being so generous of your time, your expertise and experience. I’ll include my address in the by note here so you can send me some coffee. High Speed Nation salutes you and we will catch you, my friend, on the flipside.

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