Dave Burlin | Marine Corp Veteran and Marketing Guru for DJ Connection| High Speed Low Drag Podcast 37

Dave Burlin is a Marine Corp Veteran who has transitioned over to the wedding industry as a regional sales leader.

He is also currently the marketing guru for DJ Connection.

One of Dave’s latest projects is called “Discharge to In Charge” and is aimed to connect private resources to veterans as they transition back into the civilian world.

HSLD: Besides the little background that we’ve give about you, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Dave: I am actually a Marine Corps veteran. I got out in the fall of 2003 and have worked a series of jobs since then. The first job was at the youth academy where I went back to the military style workforce. I worked at different jobs until about 2010 when I jumped into the wedding industry.

In the wedding industry there are a lot of different businesses. I found DJing to be a huge passion of mine.

I fell into a great organization- DJ Connection. The founder of the company was the entrepreneur of the year by the Small Business Administration. He’s a personal mentor of mine and they’ve just got me fired up over the last 4 years- really getting everything going from Tulsa to Dallas to everything in between.

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HSLD: Let’s start with your success quote. What is it?

Dave: This quote is from a great author and inspiration for me. His quote goes:

Finding your true purpose isn’t always about discovery. It’s often about recovery. – Jon Acuff

That quote is by Jon Acuff. He’s a great author that I’ve resonated a lot with in the last two years and that’s been a personal mantra for me.

I’ve helped a lot of veterans find a job but I want to make sure that the job is working towards their true purpose. I want to help people reconnect with that so if they do that, they tend to be a lot more successful.

Sometimes it’s really not about finding something new. Sometimes it’s all about looking back on your past experiences and finding something that really does get you excited that you can be passionate about.


Marine CorpHSLD: Let’s focus on your military experience. Tell us a story of your most pivotal moment in the US army and share with us some of the lessons you learned.

Dave: I joined the Marine Corps pre-911. I actually joined in January of 2000 where we had not experienced any kind of conflict. It was a different kind of Marine Corps than it is now.

I was on my first appointment when 911 happened. It was my 21st birthday. Whenever we got closer after we came back in the Spring of 2003 that’s when they started taking different units to Iraq.

We were first battalions and first marines and we did not go with the rest of the military. When 75% of the United States forces went over, my unit did not go.

This was extremely challenging. I always tell people it was like riding the bench in the Super Bowl.

In that challenge, we were in California and myself along with many other marines had gone to a lot of off time and ended up making some pretty bad decisions that ultimately got me into a lot of trouble.

I ended up processing out a little bit early so my transition was a little bit different. There was a lot of adversity going on as more and more veterans came back and they started struggling with the same things like alcohol addiction, drug addiction and things like that.

It has proved to be a very useful experience for me but I would say that the most pivotal moment was the day that I had to answer to those mistakes.

I had a choice- I could have lied about it and tried to do everything to get out of it. I talked to my command first Sergeant and took full responsibility for myself and the actions of other people under my command. Ultimately, I walked away with no benefits and no penalties either but in that I learned so much and it has become more valuable to me through the years than if I were to have done it any other way.


13271850984_ec1631f53c_zHSLD: What was the biggest lesson that you learned from that moment in your life?

Dave: Really have a plan!

 That was the biggest thing for me. I did have a plan of what I wanted to do but the obstacle took me off that course a little bit. I had to get a new plan.

I have talked to people who are just getting out now and that is where they really struggle with their transition because they don’t know exactly what they want to do or where they want to be.

Looking back I really would have liked to have more of a plan in place and maybe had a mentor on the outside that maybe had a job waiting or maybe give me direction on where I wanted to go.


HSLD: What was that first civilian step that you took and what were some of the struggles that you met?

Dave: My first job was driving a ditch switch. I worked for a company in the oil fields of Oklahoma and it was very different. It was definitely a step outside of the norm.

It was cold. It was miserable and I just sat on a ditch switch and dug a ditch all day long.

That was the first job on the transition out.

I realized that that job did not have any purpose for me. I needed to find something that really fuelled my passion and that’s what I found when I worked in my next major job which was for a large youth academy here in Oklahoma.


HSLD: How did that transition to the youth academy successfully happen?

Dave: I talked about the idea of working for that youth academy to everyone that I knew.

That’s one of my mantras- Whatever your goals are, share them with passion. Tell everybody you meet. Let everyone know what you’re wanting to do.

I wanted to work at the youth academy and I had a random dinner with my girlfriend at that time- it was a double date- and I talked about it and the guy just said “Hey, one of my best friends from college is one of the supervisors. Let me connect you.”

I made the connection and did the interview. I was brought on full time. Six and a half years later I changed the lives of over 2800 of Oklahoma’s at risk youth and it was an incredible journey.


Punch Fear in The Face BookHSLD: Can you share with us an AHA moment that you have had that has really spurred you on?

Dave: Last summer I picked up Jon Acuff’s book “Start”. I picked up the audio book and I was able to listen to it.

It really sparked this idea of starting a new journey as I had been in the entrepreneur space and I had been listening to the idea of punching fear in the face and actually starting on this path.

One of the challenges that Jon had in a little side group that he had involved a Time magazine article. The article said that I was supposed to write about my successes from the future looking back.

The AHA moment for me was when I realized the power of writing goals.

I wrote a Time Magazine article about the first time that I spoke at TED. As I shared that passion with so many people I was actually able to speak at TED in Tulsa about veterans returning home just last month.

I got to share that with about 150 like-minded individuals and soon I will be able to share that through the TED platform around the world.

The power of written goals has been phenomenal for me.


HSLD: What is one thing that has you most fired up about your business today? 

Dave: I am really excited about some of the projects we have on the table. The DJ thing that I talked about earlier is just growing.

The thing that I’m really fired about is Thrive 15– an educational program made for entrepreneurs. We have some great mentors on there. I get to work with great people!

I’ve worked in making this free for veterans forever. They will have access to over 200 videos- from how to grow their team, how to buy property and just different things.


thrive15Dave’s Lighting Round Answers

  • What is the most difficult adjustment you had to make to the civilian world? Finances- I’m not great with taxes, and spending vs. budgeting. I’ve picked up some bad habits from an early age and even today I struggle with it.
  • What is the best business advice that you can pass along to people that are making their transition now? Stand of the shoulders of giants. There are so many other people who have done what you’ve wanted to accomplish and you may surprise yourself at how accessible they may turn out to be.
  • What is one of your habits that you believe contribute to your success? I always have a book in my hand or an audio book in my car. I truly believe that “Leaders are readers and Readers are leaders”. I’m always listening to something and always learning something.
  • What is the biggest generalization that you had to overcome in the civilian world? We’re brainwashed especially as marines and that I’m a mindless robot.
  • If you can recommend one book what would it be? Start by Jon Acuff.
  • What’s the best way that we can find you? And one last parting piece of guidance. Write down your goals. The power of written goals has been huge for me. Be held accountable. As far as connecting with me, my twitter is @Daveburlin , my facebook is Dave Burlin and also on Linked in or thru gmail- dischargetoincharge@gmail.com