Success Through Warrior Ethos

How Shawn Rhodes has Created a Life Worth Living Post-Military Service


He carried himself with a poised confidence that spoke, “I’m not a threat to you but try me and I’ll fuck you up.” Just the kind of person I liked being around.

He stood around 5 feet 8 inches tall with groomed black hair that accentuated his sharp facial features. He wore silver oval glasses that only added to his intense yet intelligent look.

My first encounter with Shawn Rhodes was mid-year 2018. I was at the tail end of a networking blitzkrieg that had me taking meetings with anyone and everyone in order to gain some direction on the path I had just begun walking. A mutual friend and fellow Marine Corps Veteran connected me to Shawn and we set up a lunch meeting.

I remember being very impressed with him from the jump. He was well-spoken, well-read, and impeccably dressed.

Shawn Rhodes giving a keynote speech.

He spent well-over an hour of his time telling me his story and guiding me on easing my path to success. Most of which fell on less than attentive ears, not out of boredom or disrespect, but out of my inability to truly listen at that point in my journey.


As I began planning for Season 03 of Vetting America, I knew I had to get him to come on and tell his story. I was excited to reconnect with one of the few people I truly looked up to, since separating from the Corps.

In just 35 minutes, he left all of us there watching that interview with keen insight into how one can reach the levels of success we were all striving to attain.

“I had to look at — how do I integrate being a Veteran studying combat arts to studying what is going to make up the rest of my life; how to be a good father, how to be a good husband, a business owner, a good service provider for my clients?”

Shawn with his wife and newborn baby girl.

Shawn is a naturally calculated person. When he began taking himself seriously during his transition from the Military, College, and Corporate America — he knew he had plenty of experience to draw upon. He saw his skills as puzzle pieces to a giant mural of his life. He simply had to place them down, face up, and then determine where each piece fit for maximum effectiveness.

“…And I really realized that it had to come down to figuring out what traits made me a good warrior and where was the crossover? Discipline, work ethic, willingness to persevere. Those things that made me successful as a Marine…”

The very traits he needed to maintain, if he was going to build his life the way he had envisioned it, were the ones he earned in the Military. Moving forward, he also knew he’d have to shed his less than savory characteristics to make room for new systems of living to take root which could benefit him greatly.

“…Those things that didn’t really transfer well — aggression, the arrogance, the attitude, the willingness to suffer more than I should have — There’s a fine line between persevering and choosing suffering — but really beginning to look at what made me successful in the past to bridge the gap into the things I know I want to pursue the rest of my life.”

Shawn’s goal was to continue being a warrior in his community, family, and business which forged his two main beliefs on success. One, If you’re chasing something and it doesn’t have a definition, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Two, success comes from a state of being, not doing.

“The Marines — they teach us to be Marines, not to do the Marine Corps thing. The doingness comes out of being a Marine. If you have the mindset, the dedication, the work-ethic to do the things Marines do then you’ll be successful. It’s exactly the same on the Civilian side.”

Shawn talks about transferring that mindset everywhere; to his family, his business, with his friends and other interactions. Out of that comes all the doing he ever has to worry about. This defines the most important things for him to be successful in every facet of his life. 

Shawn believes that we are the combination of the five people we spend the most time with and says that it will dictate our levels of success, income, happiness, as well as every other aspect of our lives.

Shawn Rhodes posing with Veteran and esteemed author, Joe Galloway

This is why he is very conscious of the people he chooses to spend his time with.

“Are they pursuing something with passion, vigor — are they in love with what they’re doing? I want to be around those people because it helps me fall more in love with what I do, even if they’re doing something completely different.”

He finds that people 20 to 30 years older than him contain the most sage wisdom. He looks to those people that he wants to become and then asks them how they got there.

“Find Veterans who’ve walked the path before you and just like in life and society, you need to find the ones who are living their lives the way you want to emulate because not everybody is, not every Veteran is.” 

He asks these Veterans who he defines as successful either in their marriages, careers, or businesses questions like; “When you were transitioning out of Vietnam, what were the biggest stumbling blocks you hit and what would you do differently now, who would you connect with, what would you share?”

Those are the questions he truly enjoys asking.

“Hopefully I can learn in a way that doesn’t have [me] hitting my face on every single wall that every Veteran has before me.”

Shawn Rhodes, the Salty Marine Corps Veteran

Shawn believes that many Veterans lack the self-confidence needed to take advantage of the skill sets earned in the Military.

He explains how a fractured support network of mentors that was once relied upon leads Veterans to feeling disconnected from themselves and costs them their confidence.

He believes Veterans can regain that lost confidence by reaching out into the community and connecting with those people who are successful in the ways they want to emulate.

He attributes his ability to call upon highly successful people for advice as a blessing; “I can call them up and get their time, which is the most valuable thing to them.” This allows him to gain sage advice from an experienced perspective when he needs it the most.

“and very successful people are more than willing to give that advice which is super powerful and valuable.

He says that by surrounding yourself with the people you want to be more like, you can find out whether or not the lives they live are congruent with the life you’re trying to attain.

“Go be in their element and show-up to learn. Be around their energy, their decision making processes, listen to the conversations they are having, find out what’s important to them, what’s not, and that way you can find out if that’s the real path for you.”

He often tells Veterans that the worst part of our lives, in certain aspects, are already behind us. It’s never going to be tougher than our time in the service. The rest of our lives can be truly simpler if we want it to be. 

“They really know how to make you feel a mistake. You’re not going to find that in the Civilian world. People are a lot more withholding in that area. I knew that whatever foo-pah I made [out here] couldn’t be worse than what happened in the Marines.” 

Shawn labels himself as a work in progress. His willingness to fail forward, be awkward, and ask questions has led him to find monumental success already in his young life but he isn’t done yet;

Shawn looks out over a canyon, circa 2009

“Every morning I sit down and through a stream of consciousness just write whatever comes out of my head onto paper, with no expectations of me needing to re-read it, spell it right, or look pretty. I just write and through those pages I recognize that I always have more work to do, to become the man I want to become, in order for me to fulfill my purpose in life.”

A visualization tool he often uses has him looking through the eyes of his seven year old self and asking, “what kind of man would I like to become?” He believes it is very comparable to who he is today. Although he doubts his seven year old self would have been able to imagine the life he has lived, full of wonderful memories, which his Military experience was a catalyst for.

Semper Fidelis,

Adam T. Cummings

Go here to learn more about Shawn’s Consulting Firm; SHOSHIN CONSULTING

Go Here to Learn more about Shawn’s SPEAKER SELLING SYSTEMS

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  1. Outstanding article that will be useful for any transitioning Patriot.
    Thank you Adam and Shaun for your continuing efforts to help our Soldiers come back to us.


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