Author, Speaker, & Entrepreneur Talks Military Brat-hood, World Travel, Inspiration & Good Coffee

Updated: Oct 6, 2018

Speaker-Buzz Staff | October 04, 2018

Speaker-Buzz recently interviewed former Army Ranger, author, and speaker Joel Carpenter. We were curious to learn what drives an aspiring actor to switch routes to serve in the military. Here's what he shared:

SB: Do you recall your first memory?

JC: I have several early memories, but not sure if I can say which exactly was my first. I do remember picking vegetables with my mother in a backyard garden we had in Northern California near Travis Air Force base. I also remember living in Alaska. I remember the snow and I remember playing in our basement where my parents had built an entire indoor playground for us since the weather often kept us inside much of the year.

SB: What was your childhood like?

JC: I was a military brat until the age of 18 and moved frequently. Every couple years or so I would put down solid roots and just when we’d make friends and get comfortable, we’d pick up and move again. I remember it being extremely difficult at times because I consistently had to start over whether it was school, sports, or friendship. To make matters worse I started kindergarten early at the age of 4 and was also a late bloomer. While it’s tough enough being the new kid, being smaller than my classmates made me an additional target for bullying, but since I frequently stood my ground, this translated to a lot of personal conflict and challenges. Definitely wasn’t always fun.

SB: Tell me how you became an entrepreneur?

JC: In 2009 I was working as a private security contractor for one of the top global risk companies. I had the vision to launch my own risk management and crisis response start-up. I recognized the global security environment was continuing to spiral out of control and it wasn't only happening overseas so I took a risk and stepped away from a very well-compensated position to execute my vision. I learned a lot during this time as far as taking all the right steps to create a start-up: we truly were there. Ultimately the company enjoyed very limited success and eventually ran into the typical challenges with capitalization.

SB: How would (someone) describe you?

JC: Most people who have known me in my life would say I am super-driven and ultra-focused. When I was younger I was known for being the funny guy. Over the years I’ve lost some of that due to some of the seriousness of life. When I was young, I felt like I could find humor in every situation. That seemed to change for me ever since after September 11, 2001. Things all the sudden became very unfunny. I still have my humorous moments, but mostly wish I could get some of that comedic humor back.

SB: What do you find most challenging about life?

JC: I think the most challenging aspects of life come from figuring out ways to remain thankful and stay motivated while overcoming the daily obstacles or challenges that can and often do arise. Whether it’s health, financial obligations, business competition, dominance hierarchy theory, etc. I used to believe the hardest job in the world was being a special operations soldier, but have since realized life can beat you down in many ways and being "spec-ops" can come in various different forms (e.g. "spec-ops-father," "spec-ops-spouse"). True champions have a relentless spirit to persevere through the troubled times and navigate rough waters. Bottom-line, life is amazing and we should always be willing to bring your "A-game" and "give one-hundred percent and then some."

SB: Tell me about someone who has influenced your life?

JC: Looking back I don’t know if I can identify a single person who had an influence on my life. It rather came in doses from many people. In 2006 I had just exited from military service and it felt like the world was crashing down on me. A close friend of my wife’s taught me about the bible in a way I had not seen before. I attended church in sixth grade, but he helped me understand what a relationship with Jesus Christ looked like. True redemption and becoming humbled. It was at the perfect time and no doubt had a major influence on who I was to become as a husband, father, and friend.

SB: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

JC: If I could change anything about my life it would be to always take advantage of every moment to build up others in life.

SB: What’s your favorite ‘80s song and/or band?

JC: Too many to count. Get me an 80’s Pandora channel and I’m good.

SB: What’s your favorite ‘80s movie?

JC: Again, too many to count, but let’s go with "Karate Kid," "Top Gun," "Uncle Buck," "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off," "Teen Wolf," "Back to the Future."

SB: What were you like in high school?

JC: I was told I was really funny. Friends with all social groups, but definitely marched to the beat of my own drum.

SB: What’s the last film you watched?

JC: Top Gun. Had been years since I watched it last. It was a new experience watching it in my 40s. America felt so different back then. Both sad and inspiring to watch.

SB: What inspires you?

JC: I am a writer, so storytelling serves as a major inspiration for me. I get inspired when I hear amazing stories of people who faced unbelievable adversity in their lives, but never gave up. I also feel inspired when I know I can encourage others. Helping others find a small victory or something to believe in that will motivate them to become a better person.

SB: You're writing your second book now; what was the inspiration for that?

JC: My first book "Set Up for Success" was written primarily to assist military service members about to exit from service, but the theme is applicable to anyone experiencing transition. My upcoming book "Further, Faster, Harder," is a memoir that encompasses my life prior and subsequent to September 11, 2001. The title comes from the second stanza of the Ranger Creed "I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier." In more than a couple ways these words have been part of my entire life whether it was growing up a military brat, pursuing Hollywood aspirations, or trying out for an Army special operations unit. I firmly believe that in life we have to push ourselves "further, faster, and harder" than the day before. The irony in "Further, Faster, Harder" is that it begins in Hollywood and concludes with the military. I suppose I'm a bit of an enigma these days considering how many veterans have chose to pursue Hollywood after their exit from service. Admittedly, I've been fascinated with what drives this interest since I have the opposite story.

Upcoming manuscript

SB: What are you known for?

JC: Lately people are calling me a Renaissance Ranger. I think most probably know me for my grand visions. I’m all about projects and ideas that no one would dare pursue. I am a dreamer and always have been, so I reach for the stars, but reaching for the stars means I have to love the project. If I don’t love it, I won’t have the passion to complete the journey.

SB: What’s your favorite corner store or coffee shop?

JC: One of the benefits of working four seasons for the CBS reality series "The Amazing Race" is the travel and because of this I’ve enjoyed tasting coffee from all over the world. I've had everything from Turkish coffee, to Italian espressos and was even fooled momentarily one time by a Nescafe machine in Columbia. So far the best coffee I've had was from a small coffee house in the Philippines. Other cities with coffee houses that stand out in my memory were Tbilisi, Georgia, Krakow, Poland, Cartagena, Columbia and Sicily. I haven’t found one coffee house in the U.S. that can make coffee the way they do overseas, but I recently found a close second in Austin, Texas called Brentwood Social House. They make a pretty darn good cappuccino.

About Joel Carpenter

Joel is the author of "Set Up for Success" and the upcoming book "Further, Faster, Harder." He is also an Army special operations veteran, who prior to Sept 11, 2001, was an aspiring actor and spec-screenwriter living in LA.  Today Joel works with companies to provide inspiring keynotes, entertaining workshops, and dynamic learning & growth. Contact Speaker-Buzz if you're interested in adding Joel to one of your upcoming corporate programs or private events. Send an email to info@speaker-buzz or call p: 737.888.0038

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