Thru Dark Anthony Staziker Silvercore Podcast
episode 125 | Mar 12, 2024
Law Enforcement/Military
Law Enforcement/Military
Experts & Industry Leaders
Outdoor Adventure

Silvercore Podcast Ep. 125: Battlefield to Boardroom. Special Forces Ethos - ThruDark

Dive into the extraordinary life of Anthony Staziker, co-founder of ThruDark, a game-changing technical clothing company. Join host Travis Bader as he delves into Anthony's journey from representing England in football to serving as a highly decorated Chief Sniper Instructor and Demotions expert in the UK special forces SBS. Discover how his relentless pursuit of excellence led to the creation of revolutionary gear. Gripping stories, unwavering determination, and a captivating conversation that will inspire you to push boundaries. Tune in to the Silvercore Podcast for this riveting episode!
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Silvercore Podcast 125 Staz ThruDark

[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I'm Travis Bader, and this is the Silvercore podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years. And we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content.
Silvercore Podcast 125 Staz ThruDark

[00:00:31] Travis Bader: Please let others know by sharing, commenting, and following so that you can join in on everything that Silvercore stands for. If you'd like to learn more about becoming a member of the Silvercore club and community, visit our website at silvercore. ca.

[00:00:52] Travis Bader: He was an extremely talented footballer in his youth, representing England for the English school's football association. Association of the age of 16 and is now the co founder of the multi million pound technical clothing company through dark In between those times, he served an impressive 13 years of distinguished and decorated military service, 10 with the UK special forces, SPS.

[00:01:12] Travis Bader: And his last three years as a highly decorated chief sniper instructor and demolitions expert. He's written the book. The hard road will take you home and stars in the hit show. Who dares wins. I can assure you today's guest comes with some phenomenal stories to tell. Welcome to the Silvercore podcast.

[00:01:29] Travis Bader: Anthony Stas, Stasiker. 

[00:01:32] Staz: Travis. Wow. What an introduction that is. Um, thank you. Thank you for having me. It's an absolute pleasure. And I'm, uh, I'm looking forward to this conversation. 

[00:01:39] Travis Bader: So am I, so am I, you know, at least I wasn't up at, uh, well, zero to 30, like it was a couple of days ago. And I was a, a day early for our podcast, getting everything prepped and ready.

[00:01:49] Travis Bader: And anyway, a day earlier 

[00:01:52] Staz: is better than an hour late as I was, uh, in our original dates. Yeah. HR had slipped, but I didn't tell anybody. 

[00:01:58] Travis Bader: Yeah. It all works out, you know, so through darks, a UK based company, I'm over here on the West coast of Canada. And I first learned about through dark right here in the Silvercore podcast studio.

[00:02:11] Travis Bader: I was sitting down and chatting with a friend of mine, Seb Lavoie, he's ex head BC RCMP ERT, and he's wearing a through dark shirt, and I guess the ADHD kicks in and I'm like. What's this through dark thing about never heard of it before. He goes off. He's like a couple of tier one special forces guys.

[00:02:29] Travis Bader: They got together, the technical clothing company, they apply the same mentality and that they learn through special forces, the fit, the finish, the customer service, every step along the way, you know, you're dealing with professionals. And I thought, all right, I'll bite. I go on and pick up a couple of shirts.

[00:02:45] Travis Bader: Cause I'm six, six, 250 pounds and big and tall usually means. Big and wide, and it doesn't really work for me. And so I picked out these shirts, they fit awesome. And if you've looked over the, I don't know, the last 30 or so episodes, you'll see me sporting a through dark shirt. And in this one, I've got one of the through dark hoodies on.

[00:03:04] Travis Bader: So thank you for making some phenomenal kit. Love it. It's, it's amazing. 

[00:03:09] Staz: Thank you, Travis. No, thank you and appreciate you flying the flag. Also, it was, uh, it's good to see it and kind of crazy as well, considering, you know, we are a UK based company. You're correct. It's it's all what the majority 90 percent of our business or 95 percent of our business is direct consumer.

[00:03:23] Staz: Everything's online. You know, if you've ever, uh, Looked at through darker on any kind of social media platform or, or browse the website. You will probably know that our geeks will attack you from all angles, from email and once you, once you've got on there, that's it. We've got, we've got, we've got, we've got you in.

[00:03:38] Staz: So, um, no, I appreciate that. And it's, um, it's been an incredible journey, I guess. And we can cover off on this, I think from, you know, um, let's start at the start, you know, in terms of myself and a small bio, and then we can talk all the way through. In terms of how I've ended up, you know, with myself and Louis, uh, Louis Tinsley, the co founder of Threwdown.

[00:03:56] Staz: So yeah, I had, um, you know, I kind of, from England, I grew up, um, in the north of England, Lancashire, Wigan. Um, it's a town that's renowned for playing rugby league, uh, and eating pies. That's pretty much the only two good things that come out of, out of Wigan. I had a fairly normal upbringing, an older sibling, uh, my brother Andrew's a couple of, couple of years older than me.

[00:04:16] Staz: Um, it was kind of blue collar upbringing, you know, I just remember being outdoors lots, getting up to mischief, you know, bikes and just causing chaos like any, any kid does, I guess, and skateboarding and biking and, but just being outdoors. That's the main thing I remember is just always being outside and having fun, you know, and enjoying life.

[00:04:33] Staz: Um, having a few scuffles along the way and playing sport and rugby in particular. Um, and then I guess around the age of six, that's the kind of, when I first had my, my first sort of taste of, of, of adversity, I guess. Um, my parents split up, they, they, uh, became divorced. So, what that meant for me and my older brother, we, we relocated to Nottingham, or Nottinghamshire.

[00:04:56] Staz: Mansfield is a pit village, pit town, uh, in the kind of East Midlands of the UK. And, you know, life changes, doesn't it? You know, you're sort of dislocated, removed from that, that position there in Wigan. And, and, you know, you're thrust into a new environment, new, new kids, new school, new teams. And I remember one of the first things actually turning up to, to my, you know, the school and immediately I've, I don't know if you've been to England, but there's about 40, 40 different.

[00:05:24] Staz: Um, kind of dialects and languages and accents knowing from Manchester to Liverpool, to Scottish, to Welsh, to East Midlands, to the South, to London, to Cockneys, to everything. So I had quite a Northern twang turned up at, you know, in Mansfield. I sounded different, looked different, you know, everything that I was good at in terms of sport and rugby, you know, there wasn't a rugby post or goal in sight.

[00:05:46] Staz: It had all changed to football or soccer as you guys probably. I had to learn quite quickly out of a few, you know, you have a few fights, you sort of find your position and your rank of order within that. Within the school. Um, and that, that was me then sort of continuing then on to play sport. You know, I'd always been quite a sporty person, not necessarily academic, but that's not to say that, you know, I didn't enjoy school.

[00:06:08] Staz: I probably just enjoyed school for the same reasons. Most people do, you know, it was the social aspect, you know, and sport in particular, so I started to play soccer. Um, got quite good at soccer around about the age of 10, 11. Um, I started getting involved with a professional, uh, football team, a local football team called Mansfield Town.

[00:06:27] Staz: And then that's when I guess I had my, my main sort of, uh, my main kick in the balls, I guess. And my main, um, face of adversity was when my mum passed away suddenly. You know, it was a, it was a brain hemorrhage. I was 11 years old, you know, and it was overnight. You know, fortunately I was staying with my, my father at the time up north and yeah, my world sort of changed, uh, inextricably overnight and my brothers as well.

[00:06:51] Staz: So we were then in a house with a stepfather that we, you know, and with hindsight now I can look back and say, you know, that must have been a very difficult period of. for him as well to deal with, you know, losing his wife, but now he's got two kids that aren't his kids, you know, and, and we were, we weren't especially easy kids, I guess.

[00:07:09] Staz: Um, so I can look back now and with hindsight, uh, and, and feel, uh, um, feel quite differently about that, but, you know, but ultimately we were two kids and we were left with a, with a stepfather. And thankfully, um, my grandparents, my mother's. Parents relocated from Wigan. They moved down to Nottingham. You know, we, they bought a small little bungalow in the, in the village, a little three bed bungalow.

[00:07:32] Staz: Me and my brother moved in with them. So you have that readjustment then again. Well, next thing I'm living with the two old people, you know, in my opinion, they're too old people and, you know, and, and, and I just transitioned into secondary school as well. And again, looking back now, what. What an, what a, an ultimate sacrifice, you know, from, from, from my grandparents to move down huge.

[00:07:53] Staz: To sell their house, to move away from their, their friends, their loved ones, you know, to ultimately bring up and support me and my older brother. And they did a, a, a fucking fantastic job of that. And I'll be forever in debt to, to, to those, you know, to, to amazing people to this day. And, you know, so that's where I was at 11.

[00:08:12] Staz: I started playing football more, I guess. What did it do to me? It shook me to my core, but what it did do, I guess, looking back now, is it, it really lit a fire in my belly, you know, it made me quite angry at the world, you know, why, why has this happened? But thankfully, I kind of, uh, harnessed and honed in on that, on that, on that anger, you know, and that fire.

[00:08:32] Staz: Yeah, and really put it into, into sport and in particular football, soccer. So I then started playing for a professional team and I go all the way through sort of secondary school, quite turbulent time, you know, again, not very academic getting into chaos and mischief, but football was my one kind of. My one star, the North sort of star that I, that I was kind of really focused on.

[00:08:52] Staz: And I put all my eggs and energy into that basket. You know, I was playing at high level. I was representing England school boys. It's the highest sort of level that you can get to. I was affiliated with premier league football clubs, et cetera, et cetera. Uh, but I also used to like racing motocross as well.

[00:09:05] Staz: Travis probably most. But young boys do. And I remember leaving, I was at Fulham at the time, again, Premier League football team training really well. I was again, England, you know, everything was going great. And we were, we, we'd sort of finished the season. We're back home for a few weeks rest and break. I think it was a Christmas break and sort of them sort of having the guys talk to me and say, look, go back, just maintain your fitness.

[00:09:28] Staz: Look after yourselves. Don't play football. Don't do any sort of sport. Kind of keep yourself ticking over and main thing, don't get injured. You know, I think we all know what this story is. I went back, ripped it up with my mates on the local motocross track and dislocated my knee pretty badly. And to remember at the time thinking, shit, you know, this isn't good.

[00:09:45] Staz: And then trying to push the bike back in the garage while my granddad's looking at me, who's my biggest supporter. You know, he'd never missed a football match in his life, took me to all the games all over the country, all over, you know, and, and him just sort of looking at me thinking, what have you done?

[00:09:57] Staz: And it was trying to hide that. Anyway, I sort of rehabbed for a bit, went back to Fulham, um, told my dad an accident, sort of jogging or something like that. Um, they, Cess the knee had a scan. I needed surgery. They put me through surgery. I had rehab my first game back My knee went again. I just sort of remember thinking oh shit I've kind of shot this now and this and that's a pivotal age for Becoming while getting a YTS a youth sort of scholarship at that at that time.

[00:10:22] Staz: I was released from there at that point It was a quick reassessment. What can I do? I then went to college who joined West Nottinghamshire College on a BTEC National Diploma in Sports Science. That was a two year course. I start rehabbing playing football again. I'm getting paid to play football, all this kind of stuff, semi professionally, but also whilst being at college, just kind of fun, the college side of things.

[00:10:43] Staz: I then start representing the British Colleges team, so the whole of the British Colleges, you know. Um, I start playing for those guys. We actually came across to America. Uh, there's a big tournament at the University of South Carolina. We played the American All Stars. I think we beat them 9 0 or something ridiculous.

[00:10:59] Staz: Uh, and while we were there, um, there was, there was loads of scouts there from different universities around the country, and I got offered a full scholarship, um, you know, one of the universities there, and that was all going ahead, filled out all the forms, uh, incorrectly filled, two weeks before I'm flying, you know, I, I, Uh, the coach gets in touch with me, like, what have you done?

[00:11:19] Staz: Like, what? I filled out an amateur eligibility form incorrectly. You know, it was basic questions. Have you been paid to play? Yes. Have you, have you had a contract? Yes. Have you ever received royalties? Yes. You know, that's, those things are quite normal and part and parcel of the UK sort of, um, football system.

[00:11:34] Staz: Anyway, the college, the league deemed me to be a professional. I couldn't play in, in what is then amateur, uh, league over there in terms of the university. So that kind of put a stop to that. I then left college kind of at a bit of a miss and, and just went on a bit of a rampage for a couple of years, just going out, you know, still playing football, semi professionally being paid, but, you know, drinking and, and that ages well, you know, you're, you're finding women and everything else and you're just, you're just being a young boy, aren't you really, you know, not really just trying to understand who you are.

[00:12:04] Staz: Um, I work, I then go and work in a local council run gym. I become a gym instructor, you know, a personal trainer. Fitness has been a big part of my life. And around this time, sort of, uh, Iraq was kicking off. Uh, you know, you had the twin towers and all this stuff. And I started thinking, I started reading books as well.

[00:12:20] Staz: Books that are, that interested me. Travis, things that I was like, you know, I wasn't. Being voluntold to read at school. It was like, well, what interests me? Like the military and history and everything else. And what 

[00:12:29] Travis Bader: are the zero immediate action? 

[00:12:31] Staz: Exactly. You know, and those were big books for me and really planted a seed in my head in terms of, and look, I thought I kind of felt like I still had some more to give.

[00:12:39] Staz: I was like, is this it is. You know, and, and I felt like I'd almost made it as a professional footballer. And is this going to be me working in a gym? And that's not to slight on people that work in gyms. I just, for me, I thought, fuck, I thought I had more to give. And so I started looking at the military and oddly, nobody from my family had been in the military before.

[00:12:57] Staz: So it's not like it was a path that was, that was, was, was well trodden. Um, so I started looking at what is the best, the hardest sort of basic infantry course that you can do. And for us in the UK, it was, it was a toss up between the Royal Marine Commandos or the Parachute Regiment, you know. Um, I went into the local Armed Forces Careers Office in Nottingham and it was, uh, a big Royal Marine stood in front of me and, you know, he sort of led me down that path.

[00:13:23] Staz: So anyway, I start going through all the tests and all the bits and pieces to join the Royal Marines commandos. I then, I then became obsessed with the Royal Marines, you know, and passing, you know, I joined day one, week one at the commando training center, Royal Marines in Limston and, um, you know, bright eyed, bushy tailed and oversized suit and a suitcase in my hand.

[00:13:41] Staz: And that was me for 32 weeks, uh, you know, and fortunately passed. The whole course as a, as an original. So I didn't get back to you. I didn't become injured. I also received, I also received the, um, King's badge award for the top recruit. And I had the PT medal for being the fittest guy on the troop. So I was kind of like, look, this is, this is my calling.

[00:14:00] Staz: This is me. More importantly, I just, I fucking love the soldier inside of that. I love just kind of crawling around and just the dirt, you know, just being a soldier, I guess. And, but also the camaraderie as well that was associated in that brotherhood that was attached to the military really kind of resonated with me and spoke to me.

[00:14:16] Staz: So at the end of that 32 weeks, you know, I passed out, uh, fucking snakes and ladders, isn't it? You know, life's a game of snakes and ladders. You know, it's one minute you're at the top, you've just been, You know, you've had your coveted green beret and your stripes put on your commando and I'm like, yes, that's me.

[00:14:31] Staz: And you, you join a commando unit and it's all the way back down again, you know, and you're the new, you're the new kid. Um, so I joined, uh, 40 Commando Royal Marines. I deployed, uh, in January. I went out. To my, on my first operational deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, the capital and yeah, sort of a boy in a man's world, you know, learn a lot on that, on that first tour, you know, um, and yeah, very eye opening, uh, things that we can go into in more detail if we want, but yeah, that was a real eye opening tour for me, but also on that first tour import, more importantly, that was my first exposure to special forces.

[00:15:11] Staz: I stood on the gates. Uh, part of my remit when I wasn't out doing patrols would be to man gate and, and the, and the, the security of the camp. And in roles, a couple of kind of civilian, uh, SUVs, out steps. A load of guys, big hair, big beers, just looking cool. Flannel shirts, jeans, different weapons systems, optics radios, you know, but they had British, uh, identification at that point.

[00:15:32] Staz: It was like, fuck are these guys, you know, sign me up. Somebody told. Yeah, somebody told me who they were. I then started looking more into that and into that sort of stuff and, you know, and I think that really planted the seed for me. So after that tour, I went back into the Royal Marines, um, I had selection on my mind.

[00:15:48] Staz: I started looking into it. I then put myself forward for the Royal Marine Sniper Course, again, probably arguably the hardest infantry course that you can do within the Royal Marines. It's very highly regarded as a high attrition rate. Uh, again, straight onto that course, um, passed with a distinction. And I remember, uh, funny story.

[00:16:05] Staz: The, the guy, the chief instructor for the course, um, we'll leave it, we'll leave his name out of this, but, um, we didn't get on too well, he was a bit of a bully, you know, um, he, I later found out he'd failed selection numerous times, um, but anyway, at the end of the course, he's sitting in his office and he's like, okay, what, what congratulations, you've got a distinction pass, um, what sniper billet do you want in the whole Marines?

[00:16:27] Staz: I, which unit, which sniper troop do you want to go into? And I said, look, I, uh, Um, I don't, I'm going on selection, you know, probably quite, um, you know, arrogantly at a time, you know, 21, 22 years old, you know, um, and he sort of just sat back, nearly spat his tea out and sort of laughed, literally laughed in my face.

[00:16:43] Staz: Like, you know, good luck with that. You know, good luck with that. That's a different cat, you know, a whole new ball game. So I left that kind of thinking. You know, he's just absolutely thrown doubt at me and put it again. It just lit a little fire for me. Another little fire to burn away and another reason to really dig into that.

[00:16:59] Staz: So I left, I went back to the unit for a bit and then I, that was me. I was everything. My soul focus, uh, and, and, and my whole being was consumed by passing special forces selection. I, uh, went on a briefing course down here in pool. Um, that's a prerequisite for being loaded onto the joint UK special forces selection.

[00:17:19] Staz: Uh, it's a week long, it's probably, as you can imagine, just a week's beasting, you know, and it's an opportunity for you to have a slight look at the unit and them to have a look at you. Uh, and there's certain tests within that week that you have to pass physically and mentally and aptitude, all that kind of stuff, which I passed.

[00:17:35] Staz: I was then loaded on to the, um, selection, uh, zero two zero eight. So summer zero. What kind of tests were those? Are you allowed to say physical test? Yeah, it was a physical test. Everything from the, the, uh, combat fitness test, where it's a certain weight, certain time things that, you know, if you don't even pass them, just don't even bother, you know, sort of carrying on, um, everything.

[00:18:00] Staz: And then to probably still to this day, one of the hardest yumps or tabs, tabs that I'd ever done. 

[00:18:06] Travis Bader: Yeah. 

[00:18:09] Staz: All those, all those fun things. Um, and it was over the, the Jurassic coast down here in pool and, um, it was, it's called the roller coaster. Uh, you know, so, and it's a timed March of 26 K with 70, 80 pounds on your back.

[00:18:22] Staz: And I was an absolute snotty mess by the end of that. Well, it was an eye opener really just to show you the kind of level that they were looking at and the barrier to entry And then there's the shooting stuff as well You have to be a basic, not basic, a very high standard of shooting and map reading and you know Observation and military knowledge and understanding etc So then I'm loaded on to the joint selection process And there's different phases.

[00:18:47] Staz: Phase one is in Wales and that is the hills phase Uh, and again, that's, for me, that's just really focusing on your mental and physical robustness, uh, over that four week period and your navigational skills, uh, and abilities. It's all individual. Everything is individual. It's timed marches. Can you make the grade?

[00:19:06] Staz: Here's the bar. Here's the bar. You know, and anybody that falls below that bar is just chopped and for context, there was probably 240 people turned up day one on my course and six of us that passed at the end for, for the SBS SAS. So again, a high attrition rate. Um, so at the end of that, that phase on the hills, uh, you then, uh, back, you then go into the jungle, sort of five weeks, acclimatization for the first week, beastings up and down the beaches, then you're flown under the canopy for four weeks.

[00:19:33] Staz: Four weeks. Uh, and that's more focused around team, you know, again, very physically demanding, but it's all around, um, how you communicate, uh, effectively and efficiently within the team. A lot of selection, there's a steep learning curve. It's, can you, uh, put into practice what you're being told? You know, they say the basics were very high standard, you know, consistently is probably the message there throughout.

[00:19:53] Staz: Um, it's like groundhog day, but it's just keep turning up, keep, keep churning. Um, and it's, again, a war of attrition, really people that are there at the end. What's the mental game on that? Like, Oh, I'd say it's horrendous, you know, because most of the, most of the, most of the pressure is applied to and from yourself, you know, because you're constantly evaluating your own performance rather than just saying, look, I'm here.

[00:20:17] Staz: As long as I'm here, you know, don't sort of talk yourself out of anything. And, and that happens a lot. A lot of people, they'll make a mistake and it might not be a critical mistake, you know, because most of the times, you know, you do make a, there's safety errors and violations that you can do some more serious than others, you know, and some are straight.

[00:20:32] Staz: off, get on the chopper, you're out of there, you know, uh, and some are, well, okay, that's, that's a kind of a two strike rule, you know, it's, it's unsafe, but not, not terribly unsafe that someone might die. It's just a mistake, you know, but there's certain things that are put in place and you're in a four man team, you know, so how you, you work together as a team is very, very important, you know, and, and, but also I think what selection does very well over that.

[00:20:56] Staz: Period of six, six to nine months. Is it, it really reveals your true character, you know, who are you, you know, and we all talk about these masks that people wear day to day. And there's a Japanese problem, isn't there? There's three masks, one mask that you want to show everybody and everybody gets to see that mask.

[00:21:12] Staz: We wear it daily, you know, and how I want to be presented and perceived by the world, you know, and my colleagues and my peers and my loved ones. And then there's a mask that, you know, that's, that's the mask you want to show to everybody. And then when you go home. You can remove that mask and you can kind of be yourself, you know, around the people that know you the most and your friends, your loved ones and your family.

[00:21:30] Staz: And, you know, that's probably a true reflection really of who you are, uh, but then the actual mask of who you are is the last mask and, and it isn't a mask. It's you, it's the person looking back in the mirror. It's the person, it's the person that you are when nobody's around, you know, when you're on your own, how you talk to yourself and daily, you know, and, and how you treat yourself and other people and what you think about yourself and what you do when nobody's watching, you know, that's a real.

[00:21:52] Staz: Test of, of, of kind of who you are. Um, but, you know, sometimes it's, it's, it's ugly and sometimes it, it's, it's beautiful, you know? And, and that's the, the, the, uh, I guess the juxtaposition of, of, of life, isn't it, I guess. But would you train that mask? Would you train? No, I think I can. Yeah. Yeah. I think you can, but selection is designed in such a way that it will remove your masks, you know?

[00:22:11] Staz: And there's only so much training. You can do until ultimately that selection process will break you down physically and mentally. You are at your lowest. You know, it's the hardest I've ever pushed myself physically and mentally, and you can't be anyone but yourself and who you are, you know, and there's certain characteristics that they're looking for.

[00:22:28] Staz: How do you act like when you're under pressure, you know, and what type of person are you when the chips are really down, you know, and you're, you're at your lowest. Would you give your last mouthful of food? to your friend who needs it more than you, you know, and how do you communicate to people when you're so tired, you know, and frustrated, you know, because it makes a difference because selection is just selection, you know, and what I didn't realize until I did pass selection up until that point, it was the hardest thing I did.

[00:22:53] Staz: And then I went on tour with the squadrons and was like, Oh, wow. Now I understand. I get it. I understand why it's made in such a way and why they're looking for such. Um, unique characteristics within people, you know, and the jungle really does that. It really does for me, um, amplify how you feel, but in such a small environment and you have one directing staff with you 24 seven, you know, there's no hiding and, and also the people that do wear the masks, even in the trees that slip through, they get found out by other people around them as well, you know, and.

[00:23:22] Staz: Uh, and that gets exposed as well, and rightfully so, you know, you don't want anybody slipping the net, you know, and that's not to say people don't slip the net, some people do, you know, and not necessarily through any fault of their own, but because, you know, sometimes the system, they'll get through, but then that'll get exposed immediately within the squadrons, you know, and then you'll get RTU'd, you know, back to your unit, etc.

[00:23:42] Staz: So yeah, after the jungle phase, you know, if you're successful, you know, so you've got the hills, the physical, the mental, the navigation, the jungle is team, it's soldiering, you know, it's finest, you know, you can soldier in the jungle, you can fucking soldier anywhere. Um, and it's all, uh, around the TTPs and all that kind of stuff.

[00:23:59] Staz: Um, you know, again, very high pressure. Um, high risk sort of environment you leave that and then you're on escaping evasion, which probably for me was the biggest kick in the balls. Travis, I've heard that I wasn't prepared for that. It's the best kept secret. Um, and because your body as well by this stage of kind of 10 weeks in is just, you know, I lost 10, 15 kilograms of which I don't have to lose.

[00:24:22] Staz: You know, I'm already sort of 12 stone went through. So, um, you know, your body is just, it's just grinding down, uh, mentally and physically, it's very difficult to still maintain that high level. Of output. And then you go on the run for sort of five days low, either, you know, in the uk, um, and it's stinking.

[00:24:40] Staz: You know, you're, be you, you, you're moving through a corridor, um, and you are being chased by people that want nothing more than to catch you. It's Marines and Paris, you know, and little to no food. Um, four, five days straight, no little to no sleep. And eventually you get caught at the end, you know, and then you're into the resistance to interrogation phase, which is, you know, 36 hours of professional interrogation, you know, with all the things that you have laid into that as well, which I won't go into too much detail about, but yeah, that was a, that was a fucking crazy time, you know, but for me, that was the.

[00:25:11] Staz: The, the, the, the hardest thing about that was physically, it was hard, but mentally, that was probably one of the most difficult things I did because you're, you are left to your own devices, your own thoughts, you know, in stress positions and everything else. And you're being interrogated, et cetera. And you're, you're so fucking tired.

[00:25:28] Staz: You know, I can't explain it. Did 

[00:25:29] Travis Bader: you think about. Just throwing it in saying, ah, that's it for me. Or was that ever an option? 

[00:25:35] Staz: No, no, I didn't. Um, and I think, I think you can't, if you hold on to any form of quit or reason, uh, and, and people pull themselves off for, that sounds weird, doesn't it? People pull themselves off.

[00:25:48] Staz: People remove themselves from the course for all sorts of. Weird and wonderful reasons and excuses, I call them. Uh, I didn't go on selection with an excuse. I didn't have anything waiting for me. For me, it was, well, if I don't do this, I'm gonna leave. You know, and for me, it was, it was all or nothing. There was no plan B.

[00:26:06] Staz: You know, I think if you have a plan B, you, you don't fucking, you don't, you won't, um, you won't execute on plan A. Uh, and a lot of people do well, I've got this, if I, you know, I could have done it, but I didn't want to, and this, and I've got this way in a home and my missus is this, and I've got an opportunity to go and do this and like, what the fuck for me, that's the wrong type of attitude to bring to a course like, um, so at the end of the escape and evasion, again, I'm now looking like an else, which victim I can, I've lost even more weight.

[00:26:35] Staz: Uh, less food, tired, uh, could sleep for days. You then go into the skills sort of phase in terms of the TDI, the weapons and respect SWAT basically, uh, element of selection, you know, Resi masks, explosions, abseiling, all that kind of good stuff. All the fun stuff. Yeah. But again, you know, the, the, the course and the standards are set, you know, and you've got to fucking shoot straight and move quick and take on information while when you're not down range, you're, you're being showed new kit and equipment and radios and com and you have to assimilate that information and put that into practice as well.

[00:27:06] Staz: And at the end of that, you're pretty much on the way there to being successfully, uh, badged, which I was, I went down the pool, uh, received my, uh, quite an unassuming, um, ceremony, you receive your belt and your beret, um, and then that's it, you're into, into the squadrons, I guess, and then I did my boat handling course, my, uh, swimmer canoeist course, uh, and all that kind of stuff, and then I was in, that was me then for 10 years, you know, in the special boat service, and I had, uh, you know, as you said earlier, uh, decorated and, and, Fabulous fucking career of which I'm extremely, extremely grateful for.

[00:27:39] Staz: I met some incredible people, you know, um, probably arguably one of the, uh, what it was at the time, the busiest operational time for the service, you know, it was overseas, it was. back to back deployments and, you know, and all of my deployments were different, you know, and I was very, very fortunate, you know, that said, and I use the word fortunate hopefully in the right context, you know, we lost guys and had some shitty times as well, but you know, what a, what a amazing, amazing career and life I've had up until that point and all the courses and it wasn't just war fighting, you know, we went away and did some fantastic core free fall courses in America.

[00:28:15] Staz: I was in mobility troops. I did lots of things with, you know, motocross and all the kind of cool stuff that you do. Uh, but it was, it was fucking rock star, you know, for me, for me, it was the best job in the world, you know, um, but it was the most selfish job in the world. You know, it took its toll on my first marriage.

[00:28:35] Staz: Um, you know, so at the end of kind of 2000 and sort of 16, 17, you know, as a sergeant, I was kind of moving through the ranks. I'd done all this cool stuff, all the operations, and then I moved into a training role. I was the chief sniper instructor for the unit that included everything from sort of pistol to CQC and everything long range as well, as you'd expect.

[00:28:55] Staz: Um, and then I moved back into one of the squadrons as one of the operations seniors. Um, but I'd kind of looking back now, I guess. I went on all the command courses and bits and pieces and the wind was just kind of not being favorable anymore. It was out of my sails and I just thought, fuck it, I need to change it.

[00:29:14] Staz: I've, I want to end on a high, you know, I want. Change course and direction. I've spent the best part of 13 years in the military, you know, the most defining sort of years of my life. I feel like and felt like I'd given enough, you know, I'd sacrificed enough. Um, but, you know, selfishly, I've learned so much as well, which I thought I could apply externally.

[00:29:33] Staz: To the military, so around about this time. Um, the other, the co the co-founder of Thda, Louis Tinsley, a very, very good friend of mine. We'd been friends since we were in the Marines back in 2006. He was leaving the, the service. He was also in the SBS. Um, we served together, but albeit we were in different squadrons, but always remained very tight, very close, uh, he was being medically discharged from the service, from injury.

[00:29:57] Staz: Like most, most of the guys are, we're all carrying, uh. Uh, bad injuries, um, and we sort of started talking about what, what it could look like on the outside and what the options were. And look, you know, most people with our skill sets, you know, you're, you're, you're looking at security, very well paid, very well paid, uh, yeah, uh, close protection jobs, et cetera, which a lot of my friends did out in Dubai and other places.

[00:30:21] Staz: And we did a bit of that as we were leaving the service and transitioning into ThruDark and ThruDark was born. The idea was born whilst we were still serving. Um, you know, we, we, we, we just cherry pick some great jobs. We were working the Superbowls and working for the NBA and UK and America. And with a couple of cool dudes, Street and Sonny that we knew from America, you know, they, they, you know, looked after us with those jobs.

[00:30:42] Staz: But, you know, we also, we were all chips in physically, mentally, everything. We put our own savings. And we, um, aligned with a very good personal friend of ours, Steve Clark, who's the founding investor of through dark. Um, he's been here from the start with us and he sort of backed us from the very beginning and believed in our idea and our passion.

[00:31:01] Staz: Um, so yeah, I mean, like most fucking good plans are formulated, it all starts over 10 beers in the local pub. Ian, Louis and Steve and he knew we were leaving and sort of started picking our brains a little bit like what are you guys doing when you're leaving I just assumed you're going into security and I know you've been doing a little bit of that but what is your actual, what's the plan?

[00:31:20] Staz: So we spoke to him about ThruDark you know and um, and what that could look like and I guess Fucking hell, looking back, you need a lot of naivety, don't you, for like your whole life, I guess. For sure. And, you know, we, we sort of, we'd used some of the world's best kit and equipment, you know, in special forces from weapons and optics and clothing, you know, some of the big brands, which I know we all know about.

[00:31:41] Staz: And, but we'd still thought that, You know, naively, well, why haven't they done this? And why does it look like that? It's not fit for purpose for this. And I think we can tweak that and make it better. And you know, how hard can it be almost? Um, so off we went and we left and we set up, you know, we had a small sort of founding investment between myself, Louie and Steve, and off we, off we popped, you know, we were in a small office, a corner office that Steve gave to us.

[00:32:05] Staz: Uh, and. We were off to the races, you know, and we had a few products to start with. And over the six, seven years now that through dark has been going to where we are now looking back and it, look, it's not too dissimilar to any startup story. Is it? You know, it all starts in a pretty incredible room. Yeah, but it's, you know, it's, we had an idea, we had a vision, we had a goal.

[00:32:23] Staz: And some of, well, a lot of the, um, things that we learned within the military are transferable, you know, everything, basic things like the whiteboard, you know, long term borrowed from work in my front room through dark. And we still got, I've got an image of that on my phone and it's not too dissimilar to what we've actually executed on.

[00:32:39] Staz: Um, but look, me, it's, it's about. Fucking hell, looking back now, is business harder than special forces? Fucking absolutely is, you know, uh, for different reasons, you know, and it's difficult. There's a lot of pressure, you know, and for me, my situation is slightly different to Louis, but you know, I've got three boys, three amazing kids, you know, I've got a wife and everything else to support and it's difficult.

[00:33:03] Staz: You know, I left 33 years old. And I think for me, I just reframed it differently in my mind. I thought, look, through that, let's, let's, this is now the new North star. And this is what we're going to move towards, you know, with the passion and the purpose and the energy, the enthusiasm, everything that we've done throughout our times in our lives up to this point, you know, we will make it a success, you know, and we'll just keep pushing.

[00:33:23] Staz: But that said, I guess my worst case was always that I could fall back into the service. You know, I could always go back with my tail between my legs over to the. the SPS and say, look, it's not worked. Can I go back? And, and we're quite guilty of that. Sometimes as people, we forget to sort of stop sometimes and say like, actually where I am right now and what I have is what I wanted and nothing more than five years, you know, and that's important.

[00:33:48] Staz: Um, so I thought I could always go back and do that, or I could go and work security. That's fine. fine. Um, but ultimately me and Louis were just so focused on, on, on the brand and through dark and what we wanted it to be and how we wanted to, to, um, one first and foremost revolve around products, you know, the product being perfect, um, or as close to perfect as possible.

[00:34:09] Staz: You know, it was high performance, technical outdoor clothing. We design, develop and test everything ourselves. So it's, it's authentic. It's credible. We have a cool story. Uh, and it's us too. It's founder led. You know, and, um, for the most part, people can see that and don't get me wrong. We've been very fortunate with our network and people that we know, you know, we have a lot of friends and ambassadors, you know, and people that have helped us out along the way and really given us a leg up.

[00:34:32] Staz: You know, if we look back at our inception video and the people that we lent into for that, it's been incredible, you know, and other people across social media and the platforms that they've, you know, that they've grown and had themselves. So, but it's all new. Everything's a learning sort of phase, isn't it?

[00:34:45] Staz: For us. And it's been incredible, but right now, as I'm sort of sitting here now, it's kind of six years in and the company's going from strength to strength year on year, it's been doubling, you know, we are sort of 35 to 39. Soon to be 39 full time staff, you know, that doesn't include the agency support and bits and pieces and you know, and it's, it's still feels incredibly close knit.

[00:35:06] Staz: You know, there's a lot of values and ethos that we brought across that hopefully has been applied and runs through the core of the company. You know, um, we've just moved premises again into a new space and. As you can imagine, it's all being painted black. The paint is dry. Yeah. And look, we've got ideas for all sorts of weird and wonderful and cool things in terms of product really, but we're fortunate that we've kind of built the teams around like we did in the military and, and, um, the success of the businesses.

[00:35:38] Staz: It's absolutely, fundamentally associated to those people that we currently have right now in the business. You know, it's, there's only so far you want to go fast, go alone. You want to go far, you know, go together. And I know that's cliched, but you know, you've got to be very careful and very, um, uh, cognizant of who you allow into your circle and your business and your table, because that's super, 

[00:35:59] Travis Bader: super important.

[00:36:00] Travis Bader: Who do you allow into your circle business and table? 

[00:36:03] Staz: Well, it's different. So if it's, if it's personal circles, then that, that's sort of, that's very different. And that's, that's built up through trust, you know, uh, and years, I guess, and, and, and it has to be earned. Um, if it's, you know, cause I'm quite a loyal person, if I'm friends with somebody, that's it, we're, you know, we're locked in.

[00:36:19] Staz: But I think the business perspective is different, you know, you still have to lean into that, that, that respect and, and, and earning the respect. But as the business grows now, you know, I think special forces for me is. It's a different environment in so much that everybody is there not for self, they're there for a unified mission and a unified goal, you know, so you never have to question that, you never have to question why I'm about to run off the back of a helicopter into a hail of, you know, you know, Um, bullets because I know the person to my left and my right has got my back, you know, I can trust them.

[00:36:53] Staz: They've been through that process. They've been through a selection process, but more importantly, we're all there for the same reason, you know, that same mission and goal, difficult, different in business to do that. You know, you have to get people to get bought into what you're doing and why you're doing it.

[00:37:05] Staz: You have to have different levels and layers. Associated to what and why they're doing it, you know, and, uh, and that's difficult sometimes to get buy in and for the most part, we've kept the majority of the team, but some people have to fall off, you know, and for different reasons. And I think when you start the business, it's like a, you know, uh, uh, year one, it's a very small sort of wave.

[00:37:26] Staz: You stood on the beach for probably a shit analogy, but there's a little wave and you're, everybody's just on their little boogie boards and we're all having a bit of fun. And then year two, the waves getting a bit bigger and you're still boogie boarding year three. It's now a fucking wave and you're on a surfboard and, you know, and you're looking at left and right, who's still here and who can actually surf, you know, who can swim.

[00:37:45] Staz: Some people can't, some people fall off the wave, you know, uh, it's the same in, in on selection. It's the same in business as well. And sometimes ultimately it's not a fault of anyone's, you know, it's just the size of the fucking wave, you know, and what you're asking people to do and you need different people with different skill sets at different.

[00:38:01] Staz: various points throughout the business life. Um, so now, you know, it's year six, year seven, the waves are getting fucking bigger and we can see the other sets coming down as well. And they're going to be even bigger. So, you know, strap in and enjoy the fucking ride. But in terms of characteristics for people, it's really different.

[00:38:17] Staz: Now there's people right now in the business that we brought in that are specialists and that on paper, I thought, God, this guy's just. It's just so different to me, you know, it's such a, you know, a geek or just, God, I just could never see myself going for a beer with this person. I judge most things like, can I go for a beer with this person?

[00:38:34] Staz: No. And, but actually I've been wrong as well in this world. 

[00:38:39] Travis Bader: You don't want everyone to be like you. 

[00:38:41] Staz: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. You want that diversity of opinion. You want people to challenge you, you know, and you need dreamers. You need doers. You need a mixture of all sorts, don't you? And I think that's what makes, makes it beautiful, you know, because you're in an echo chamber, aren't you?

[00:38:54] Staz: In the military and special forces, you know, we're all the very, my missus used to laugh, my wife. She's like, she can spot us a mile off, you know, local town. And she's like, he's from the. Well, that guy's for, you know, cause you just carry yourself a certain way. You communicate a certain way and for probably quite some of the old guys as well.

[00:39:10] Staz: And I think business is different, you know, and it depends. You've got e com teams, you've got product teams, you know, you've got customer support teams, you've got directors, you've got leadership team members, you've got people that specialize in copy and social media that are very different to. But, you know, I think that's what makes it great.

[00:39:27] Staz: Um, and interesting as well. And that's mine and Louis job really, as co founders, to make sure that we are bringing the right people in and that they're, they're managed correctly. But also they give them the opportunity to, to shine, uh, and also to fail as well. So that's a big part of it. You need that.

[00:39:42] Staz: Don't micromanage people. I'm, I'm, I'm not a micromanager. I'm all for people coming in and dropping the ball and then saying, Hey, what happened? That's fine. I fucking hell, I dropped the, I dropped the ball daily, Travis. You know what I mean? We all do. That 

[00:39:54] Travis Bader: means you're trying, it means you're pushing, right?

[00:39:56] Travis Bader: You're, you're going beyond your boundaries. If it's the same mistake over and over, I tell my people, we'll have a conversation. We'll see what it is and why it is, but by all means, fail. Right. 

[00:40:06] Staz: It's the only difference I've seen though, that I have recognized from the military and the civilian world is that fuck those debriefs that we used to have in the special forces are brutal.

[00:40:14] Staz: You know, it's a, after a very quick hot debriefs, it's like, no stone is left unturned for obvious reasons. But you know, the communication is sometimes it's transactional, but for the most part it's big board rules. It's transformational conversation. But, and that happens in business, but you just have to manage that differently.

[00:40:30] Staz: You can't speak to people. Like you used to speak to people in the 

[00:40:34] Travis Bader: military. 

[00:40:36] Staz: I'll be getting, I'll be getting pulled into HR, but, um, no, for the most part, people understand and they get it. Um, and so there's, there's been a lot of learnings for me as well, personally and professionally, and I've really, really enjoyed it.

[00:40:47] Staz: You know, 

[00:40:48] Travis Bader: people say it's not personal, it's just business. I don't know. I've always been of the mindset that business is personal business. Is built on relationships. These relationships take time to establish, which require trust. It's all personal. And anyone who would say, oh, this is just business. I don't know.

[00:41:05] Travis Bader: I have a hard time seeing that. I 

[00:41:08] Staz: agree with that. And I call it, it's slightly, the term I use is science and art. You know, and you can put as much science as you want into a business and that, that, that could be a communication platforms or your slacks and processes and systems and meetings and all this kind of stuff.

[00:41:24] Staz: And, and there are absolute fundamental, uh, positive net positives to be had by implementing, um, uh, systems and you have to, and they have to be managed correctly by the, by the geeks. Um, and that's the science element, but if you, if you lose the art and the people. Then very quickly, you'll lose the soul, the substance of the company and why you started, you know, it's founder led first and foremost, and it's inspirational, you know, inspire, ignite and inform the three things I try and do every day in the business when I'm with my people is inspire, you know, ignite and inform people that's communication, but it's also leading from the front and you can't do that on a spreadsheet.

[00:42:01] Staz: You know, you can't do that on a Slack communication channel, you know, there's only so far that that science can take you, you know, and, and, and it's a fine balancing act, isn't it to be had, but that's where, where in lies the beauty, I guess. I used 

[00:42:13] Travis Bader: to spend a lot of time, like, how do I hire the perfect person?

[00:42:16] Travis Bader: How do I go through and just find all these perfect attributes only to find that I was wasting so much time on the front end. When I should get really good at firing, right? Like, and when I say good at firing, I mean, in a way that's going to be helpful for the person who's working with us, if, if they're not the right fit, I can find them work at a friend's company or some other place.

[00:42:36] Travis Bader: And you know, no hard feelings just didn't work out here. Um, get good at firing, not good at hiring. I got to imagine coming from a, uh, SF background, that's probably something that gets ingrained in you. I mean, you can probably spot people a mile away going through selection. Now he just say, yeah, they're not going to make it.

[00:42:55] Travis Bader: I can see right now they don't have those attributes. Can you do the same in 

[00:42:59] Staz: business? Yeah. Um, but I could sort of touch on it slightly a little bit before where there is instances where I've been wrong, that's when you lean into team, you know, because sometimes you think, am I not seeing something and that's why you have the.

[00:43:13] Staz: The directing staff on Selection, you get changed around between which DS you have. So you get another opinion, another set of eyeballs on you. And then you have prayers at the end of the process and say, Okay, Travis is up. Okay, Travis, yeah, tell me your thoughts on Travis. And it goes round the room. And the idea is that you shouldn't be, um, your decision shouldn't be swayed by other people.

[00:43:33] Staz: It's not confirmation bias. It should be, no, no, no, this is my honest appraisal of Travis and what I've seen. You know, I've seen him do this good, seen him do that bad. He communicates like this, he acts like that, you know, and he does this and that, you know. And that's, that's all I've seen. Like, I, I, I don't know what you've seen or what you've heard, but that's my account of what I've seen.

[00:43:51] Staz: And that should then Inform, uh, the, the larger, more true narrative, I guess, but there are instances of where that your face just doesn't fit, but that that's easier. That's not just a, we don't like you. And, but ultimately you have to be liked, you know, you're going to be asked to work in small teams, you know, and you could be the best fucking soldier in the world.

[00:44:10] Staz: You could be the best accountant in the world, you know, in a business setting. You don't work well with others. That's it. You're fucking out. And I think that's what experience gets you. Look, I'm not saying experience. I've just turned 40. I'm still wet behind the ears, Travis. I've got a lot to learn. But in my short time on this planet, you know, that's, that's what experience and exposure to different scenarios and people and environments gets you.

[00:44:32] Staz: You know, and that's what I'm grateful for, for Selection. It, you know, it does allow myself and Louis to Um, have very direct conversations, but you know, we're, we're honest and open as well. You know, we try not to let that steer our decision making process in terms of how we feel towards somebody because, but it's difficult, you know, like I said earlier, you, you can be the best accountant in the world, but if everybody fucking hates you, then I'm sorry.

[00:44:53] Staz: You know, you hire slow, fire fast. It's that, it's that moment of that hiring process has to be. Delivered in such a way that it's slow, it's slow and they get introduced to different touch points of the business, you know, so I'll have the first interview, it might be just myself and Louis and maybe one of the directors.

[00:45:11] Staz: We'll get a feel for the person, their skills. And after that one, very quickly we'll say. This person's not gonna fit or okay, there's something there. Let's give them another shot An interview and now we'll bring the specialist in so the person's coming in for an ecom role What the fuck do I know about sure back end ecom, you know Specific technological kind of questions, so I'll get a specialist in and I'll get them to grill him But I'm watching how he just reacts to the questions, you know, uh, not so much about the information because the information, it is what it is, it's science, it's black and white.

[00:45:43] Staz: If the guy doesn't know what he's talking about, the girl doesn't know what they're talking about, that'll get sniffed out straight away by our, our digital director, you know. Um, but for us, it's more about the person, the fit, the culture, are you going to fit in here? And we've got all shapes and sizes and manner of people here at ThruDoc, and, but they each bring Really unique skills, which, you know, are fantastic.

[00:46:04] Staz: And sometimes it's hard because you just need to hire somebody and you're like, fuck, we've got a big, there's a big hole. There's a ship, there's a hole in the ship that needs fucking plug in quickly. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the perfect fit. It just has to be plugged until you can find the perfect fit.

[00:46:19] Staz: And that happens, you know, and, uh, that has happened and does happen sometimes. Well, as long as everybody's aware of that and what we're doing, and it's, and it's communicated, um, honestly, uh, with integrity, then that's fine. So you 

[00:46:31] Travis Bader: talk about this fire in your belly and you attribute at least some of it to certain events in your upbringing.

[00:46:38] Travis Bader: Now you've got a brother, Andrew, a couple of years older. Did those, those events that happened to you, some of them happened to him too. Did they manifest in a similar way? This is just out of straight curiosity of, you know, nurture nature sort of thing. 

[00:46:54] Staz: Yeah, I'm not sure with the, I think there's, there's a bit of both, isn't there?

[00:46:57] Staz: Nature, nurture, and you are a product of your environment. Absolutely. I believe that, you know, and as kids as well, I think, uh, you know, I've got boys now and I'm quite cognizant of this and I'm always, you know, trying to develop myself and be the best version of myself for my kids, but always within the, I read the, uh, is it Ryan holiday?

[00:47:16] Staz: The daily dad, have you got that? It's yeah, I see that. I've got the daily dad, which is every day is just a small one. I love that, but it just keeps you, it keeps you aware of what you should be doing and where you should be striving for in terms of your kids. They're great observers, I think, you know, and I think great learners and look, I'm going through it with my eldest boy at the minute.

[00:47:36] Staz: He's struggling a bit with school and everything else. And, and, but we're all different. We're all unique. And all three of my boys are all very different. You know, similar upbringings, et cetera, et cetera. And that's the beauty of life, isn't it? You know, and I think for me, my kind of path was set. I had, you know, looking back, some pretty traumatic experience as a kid and a lot of setbacks, a lot of knockbacks in terms of, you know, moving and divorce and then losing my mom at a young age and then.

[00:48:01] Staz: Football and failing football, and then, you know, feeling lost and then trying to find identity and then joining the military and then going all the way through that. And then, you know, special forces and then always trying to search for something and, and, and then leaving and then, you know, forming, you know, founding ThruDark with Louis.

[00:48:18] Staz: Um, I think for me, I've always just wanted to push myself. You know, physically and mentally, I'm always doing, and who knows, I might get to 70 years old and then actually have to face my demons, Travis, and understand more deeply about why I do things, you know, and it's like London, running the London marathon at the end of April and all this stuff.

[00:48:35] Staz: It's always pushing. And, and since I left Jiu Jitsu has been a big part of that as well, you know, 

[00:48:39] Travis Bader: training the ears is going to pick that 

[00:48:41] Staz: up, but I think, you know, for me, it's like. It's difficult when you leave the military, isn't it? Because it's an echo chamber that we spoke about. You're surrounded by like minded people and individuals.

[00:48:55] Staz: But you have a purpose. You have something to train towards and something to force. And then it's bigger than yourself. And, and you leave. And because you attack so much of your identity to who you used to be, it leaves a massive fucking hole when you leave. And that's why a lot of people struggle when they leave.

[00:49:09] Staz: the military or when they leave, you know, um, professional sport, you know, and the statistics for themselves, you know, a lot of people struggle and, and it's difficult. It's hard. So I think for me, one of the main focus was always been around keeping myself physically fit. I think that's a massive part of, of, uh, who I am.

[00:49:26] Staz: Uh, it keeps me sane, you know, it's the whole oxygen mask thing as well as a look after yourself before other people and, um, and I don't think that's selfish at all. I think that for me, the morning is always some form of physical activity and it's been Jiu Jitsu has been a big part of that and Sam over at Reorg, who used to be a Royal Marine, he was a.

[00:49:43] Staz: PTI for 20 odd years and founded RE ORG, which is set up to help ex veterans and people who have left the emergency services. Um, yeah, he's a fantastic individual. Uh, he was the first black belt in the Royal Marines. Um, and he introduced me to Jiu Jitsu, uh, you know, a few years ago when I left. And, um, that's been a quite staples for me, sort of training four times a week.

[00:50:03] Staz: Um, I don't meditate, you know, I've tried the apps and bits and pieces probably. And in fairness, I probably just didn't give it enough. Time, energy or effort or commitment. I just sort of did the usual 10 minutes for a few days and went, I said, shit, you know, but I think for me, like jujitsu was great. It's perpetual, perpetual learning, which I love.

[00:50:22] Staz: There's no end goal. There's no end site. Yes. You get the better of the belts to train towards. You need short term and you have the now the near the next goals attached to that. But ultimately it's about development. It's about yourself. It's about every day, not fighting anybody else. You're fighting yourself almost every day, you know, and learning more about yourself.

[00:50:40] Travis Bader: So at a young age, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I'm curious. Has anyone ever accused you of having ADHD? 

[00:50:47] Staz: Um, I don't know. I've looked online. Um, I probably, I certainly tick some of the boxes. Um, but no, I've never had any sort of assessment or anything like that. I think, I think most guys in our like minor work are.

[00:51:00] Staz: You know, they're all strange in some way or another, but we don't mean strange bad either. I think you need elements of ADHD and, uh, and, and, uh, straight lines and everything else. There's a peculiar sort of makeup of people within the military and business as well. I think a lot of co founders and business owners probably share a lot of the very similar, uh, personal characteristics.

[00:51:25] Travis Bader: You know, there's. Uh, a common trend that I see over and over again, when you read through some of the popular books out there, special forces individuals, but they come from backgrounds of adversity. Do you find people in ESF community that come from posh backgrounds that had everything, or is that a pretty, is that a bit of a rarity?

[00:51:46] Travis Bader:

[00:51:46] Staz: think, um, it is an eclectic mix in Special Forces. I remember looking left and right, and you're always judging people, aren't you? We do it naturally, like. Sure. And you look at these, okay, he's a man mountain, what am I doing here, and shit. And, you know, and they end up falling off, off a cliff, you know.

[00:52:00] Staz: And, um, you, you get all manner of means, but the, I'd say 90 percent of SF is made up of, What's the quote? The bastard sons of illegitimate parents. It's people that have had adversity, you know, people that have had had a real rough fucking upbringing, rough time, you know, and people that, um, I've got a chip on the shoulder, but hopefully I've harnessed it in the right, right direction for the right reasons.

[00:52:22] Staz: Um, you know, we have ex professional footballers, ex professional rugby players, ex people that used to be helicopter pilots, people that are. And then, and then, uh, people like, uh, what do you call, uh, travelers, like gypsies, people from Roman gypsy backgrounds, people that are, um, that, that have been locked up, people that were just, just tearaways, cavaliers, mavericks, rogues.

[00:52:45] Staz: You know, but ultimately we form this band of brothers that get on real well, you know, and, uh, and because I think you respect, you know, everyone's got that glint in their eye, you know, that little bit of, you know, special sauce or something that's just a little bit different. So I think, yeah, from having that fire in my belly, that really, cause you, you need that, you need something to hold onto when you are at your lowest and you just have to fucking deep and it goes beyond kind of the physical and you really sort of.

[00:53:09] Staz: Uh, dialing into the mental aspect, for sure. 

[00:53:12] Travis Bader: So you were awarded the conspicuous gallantry cross. Did I say that one 

[00:53:17] Staz: right? Yeah, yes. Correct. Yeah. 

[00:53:20] Travis Bader: Um, can you tell me a bit about that? Can you tell me, probably not the exact incident, but, um, uh, what that entails? 

[00:53:28] Staz: I have, I've done it before on a podcast and got told off.

[00:53:30] Staz: Um, so the. The CGC, Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, um, I know it's different to your guys kind of medal structure, but, um, it's awarded for, uh, for valor, um, on the battlefield. So for combat, for combat action, um, the, the structure or the only one above that is a Victoria Cross. That's our medal of honor. That's our highest honor that you can award and within special forces, if you, if you're being awarded a VC, it's, it's posthumously, you know, it's, you're not.

[00:54:00] Staz: You don't live to tell that tale. So it's the next sort of a medal down from that, the CGC, uh, I think there was only three that have ever been awarded within our kind of world. Um, and then the one below that is, um, the military cross and then it kind of moves down and down and down. Um, medals are a fucking weird one, aren't they?

[00:54:18] Staz: You know, and I. Chapter in my book called medal, uh, you know, medals are for mothers. Yeah. Um, we certainly don't join or do the job that we do for recognition. We don't do it for medals, you know, or anything like that. Um, that's not to say that it's not nice to be recognized for the work that you do, but I always felt like anytime anybody was receiving of a medal, it was always.

[00:54:40] Staz: Um, you know, you will be receiving that on behalf or behest of everybody else, you know, for the whole unit and for the squadron and for the team. Um, the, the, the, the reason I received my medal was I was wrote up for two separate jobs, uh, that was kind of combined together on one operational tour, but this tour was slightly different.

[00:54:58] Staz: You know, all the tours previously I'd been with the squadrons, but this one, it was different. I was in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2013, and I was. Um, I was in charge of a local partner force, um, uh, within, within the city. And it was a strike, uh, element of a find and fix. And yeah, there was a couple of jobs there that just were huge jobs that were multi nation I jobs that had huge strategic and, uh, implications.

[00:55:26] Staz: Um, yeah, I was also working above and beyond what, uh, where I should have been in terms of rank and. And everything else and somebody pulled out the job that they couldn't do it. So I stepped up and was, you know, an acting sort of rank and had a lot of responsibility. Um, and you know, I had a couple of very successful missions off the back of it and a few close shaves as well that were associated to that sort of stuff.

[00:55:48] Staz: And, um, yeah, so it's, it's, it's a strange one. And I write about it in my book. It's, um, you know, I talk about medals being for mothers and that's great. It's nice for legacy and for other people. You always feel slightly. Strange receiving medals and recognition in our world. It's kind of, you know, and everybody was really supportive and like most guys are, but you know, it's, you still sort of feel a bit, Ooh, it's strange.

[00:56:12] Staz: And like, I'm just doing my fucking job, like, you know, but you know, it is what it is, but yeah, it's, it's a different, I also mentioned actually in the book about having to sell my medals as well when I left the military, um, which You know, at the time I'd left the military, um, I was fucking, I was super stressed, spinning multiple plates.

[00:56:35] Staz: I was leaving the service, forming ThruDark, and I was going through a very difficult divorce, uh, financial separation, etc, etc. You know, I'm sleeping out of my friend's cars, like just sofa surfing, uh, my friends just in a real bad place. Um, but, but also trying to make things work with the business, et cetera, et cetera, taking a lot of risk, uh, and, and super stressed, you know, and the, uh, actually the, the medals got brought up as part of the financial settlement for my divorce.

[00:57:06] Staz: Um, my, uh, ex wife had them valued, um, all her solicitors did, and they, you know, no. You know, they sort of saw it as a piece of art, you know, it's like a the wall. It's worth what it's worth and that got brought into the finals, you know, immediately I was, my initial reaction was emotional and was fucking not a chance.

[00:57:26] Staz: What the fuck, you know, all this kind of stuff. And, um, and then actually when I sort of looked at things objectively and removed emotion from the decision making process, what, you know, I had the pride element, but then I had the thought of saying, well, actually, what will it allow me to do if I sold these medals, it would give me a clean financial break.

[00:57:46] Staz: You know, I would, it would remove all the debt across both parties. It would put a roof over my son's head, you know, it would give assurances to those guys as well. She deserved it as well, we've been together 13 years, you know, so absolutely, I didn't feel bad in that way. Um, but also it would allow me to be financially secure and set, you know, and to move into ThruDark.

[00:58:07] Staz: So, there's a saying, isn't there, fucking drowning sailors don't hold on to gold bars. Right. You know, and at that time, I was fucking drowning. Um, so will I regret the decision? I don't know, Travis, you know, I do have an option. I know the person that bought them to buy them back, you know, so if through dark is a huge success in a few years and, you know, I take some money off the table, then that's an option to buy them back.

[00:58:27] Staz: But the trinkets for me, I, the main thing that's attached to that is. What I did to, to, to deserve that and to earn that, you know, you can't sell that. So if I want the trinkets though, and I want to put them on a wall, then I can, I can buy that back. You know, but when I, when I weighed it up, like a decision, like a business decision, it made absolute sense to me at the time.

[00:58:49] Travis Bader: So removing that emotion from the decision, is that something that, uh. Do you have a process for doing that? Is that something you find quite easy? It's going to segue into my next question, but, 

[00:58:58] Staz: um, I think, um, I think it's a great question. I think, and this is what I'm going to fucking divide opinions here, but I dare say your audience is mainly male, but I think that's the difference, isn't it?

[00:59:09] Staz: You know, men are from Mars and women have. Venus, generally speaking, and it has its benefits and negatives obviously attached to it. We are quite logical creatures, you know, and I can remove emotion for the most part from decision making processes and never make a decision off of emotion. I think it's one of those things I try and do day to day.

[00:59:27] Staz: So anything when it when it comes to business or life, but that can sometimes seem like you're not an emotional person. It's not that for me. I think it's more about making the right decision with all the information that you have at the time. And I've always tried to lead like that, you know, and I've always tried to live my life like that.

[00:59:44] Staz: I'm not, don't get me wrong. I, there's times when I've not got it right, you know, and I am an emotional person in so much that. You know, I'm quick to anger sometimes, or, you know, but I recognize that more now in myself as I become older. And, you know, I read things like the chimp paradox by professor, professor Steve Peters.

[01:00:01] Staz: And it was really kind of turnkey lock open my, my own thought process about how I think about things, you know, and that chimp brain and having the computer and autonomous brain as well. And, you know, it's really helped me understand my, how I deal with things as well. So interesting. Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting.

[01:00:19] Staz: I think, you know, we are different. And when, when you, when you're making bigger decisions. I think that it's, you're wise to seek counsel. You know, Louis is great for me. He's somebody that I can really dial into. And he's, you know, we're very similar, but very different as well. So, you know, if I'm thinking something, I'm like, Hey Louis, let me fucking soundboard you here.

[01:00:37] Staz: And he'll give me an honest answer. Honest appraisal of whatever it, that could be anything that could be, you know, Hey Louie, I'm thinking about buying a new house. What do you think? Or Louie, what do you think about this? You know, something a bit more serious about medals and he'll go, well, let's, let's look at this.

[01:00:52] Staz: What does it look like? You know, what are the pros? What are the cons? How do you feel about it? What do you want to do? Make a decision. You know, no decision is a decision. So make a fucking decision and see it through. You know, and, and you, and you live by that decision and look, sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we get it right.

[01:01:10] Staz: And that's the beauty of life. 

[01:01:12] Travis Bader: So Andy McNabb, Stephen Mitchell wrote the book, uh, tons of books, but he's written a couple of books about the, the good so called paths guide to success. Have you seen those ones? The what? Sorry. The good psychopaths guide to success. Oh, the psychopaths. Yes. Have you seen those?

[01:01:31] Travis Bader: Yeah. 

[01:01:31] Staz: Yeah. I 

[01:01:32] Travis Bader: have. About, you know, people look at psychopathy and they say, oh, this is a terrible thing. And they associate it with criminal psychopathy or ill intent, but, but there's also the judges and the. And the surgeons and the, the people who got the special forces soldiers, they have a job to do, they've got to go in and they've got the ability to compartmentalize these things in a different way than, than other people.

[01:01:54] Travis Bader: Um, wouldn't I'm curious about, and of course, you know, snakes and suits, and they talk about psychopathy within, uh, workplaces and high level executives and how that can be a good thing. How can it be a bad if, if it's a, uh, it's a negative environment. I'm curious about your takes on that. I remember reading the, um, uh, uh, what did you say?

[01:02:18] Travis Bader: Someone asked you about PTSD. And I, I, I got a chuckle, but he said the PTSD, I mean, like, you know, I'll look back at things, but more, more in a nostalgic way. And I don't know, you know, that could be taken out of context, obviously, and you don't go through a difficult times without that imprinting in certain ways on the brain and the body and, and having certain reactions to it.

[01:02:39] Travis Bader: But the ability to work through these difficulties and other, how otherwise people might look at as negative experiences, but work through it in a way where you can find a positive outcome is, uh, is very interesting. And I just love to hear your thoughts. 

[01:02:57] Staz: Yeah. Um, there's a few things to unpick there. Um, I'll start with, I've never, I've never actually done, there's a guy, um, a, uh, questionnaire, isn't it?

[01:03:06] Staz: That you can do online. It's the psychopath sort of question. I've never done it. I might do it after this. I'll report back my findings, but I'm pretty sure I know what they are. Um, but I think if we unpick that sort of stuff, for me, I've always been a very, very positive person. I've always looked forward.

[01:03:22] Staz: You know, the only reason, you know, I hate, I don't live in the past. I don't worry about things I can't control, you know, so for me, a lot of that worries the misuse of imagination, you know, and day to day, that's where most people, if you look at the things that consume a lot of people in terms of worry and stress, you know, 90 percent of the worry and stress doesn't actually come to fruition.

[01:03:42] Staz: You know, I know that's easy to say, don't worry about what you can't control. It's like fucking cheers, you know, all this fucking stress I'm trying to manage, but actually there's a lot of truth in that, you know. Control what you can control, write down things, you know, make a journal and then actually turn it into a process driven Thought process rather than an emotion driven process, you know, and writing things down.

[01:04:02] Staz: There's power in that. Once you put pen to paper, you see it, you can action it. And then if you can't control it, fucking delete it and erase it, physically erase it off the paper and erase it from your mind. You know, and if it happens, it happens you deal with it when it doesn't, you cross the bridge when it comes to it.

[01:04:16] Staz: But. PTSD is such a complex situ, um, complex, uh, and real, um, um, scenario, and, and of which I'm not an expert, you know, uh, clearly I'm not a, a psychologist, and it's a very nuanced and, and difficult conversation and topic to get into. I've seen people that personally and professionally that have been affected by this, and I don't know if it's short term or long term or what, I just don't know if the systems are set up right now to deal with, with, um, people in particularly, uh, particularly well, I don't think we fully understand.

[01:04:46] Staz: Uh, how it affects people differently. I think there are current, um, uh, preventative measures and, uh, everything else, and a lot of great work that's being done by MAP and everybody else that are just taking far too long to come in, you know, and be signed off when we can see that it's fucking working. You know, given the context of how serious the situation is and how many men, you know, the biggest killer of men right now under 40 is suicide, you know, more people have killed themselves than been killed in the wars.

[01:05:16] Staz: You know, it's just. Fucking atrocious, you know, and I think it's not one thing. It's, it's many things layered, um, which makes it far more difficult to, to kind of pin down, I guess, you know, I'm fortunate I've never had issues. I say I've not had issues. I mean, a lot of my. Um, my issues probably, uh, manifested in different ways, like drinking too much, you know, around that, that kind of echo chamber of people is a big drinking culture within the military, within professional sport.

[01:05:44] Staz: And it's almost encouraged, well, it is definitely encouraged and it's a way to open up and men talk and, you know, but probably don't talk as we should do, you know, we just talk 10 pints deep and, and, and you only talk to the people that understand, you know, I can't speak to anybody else because. They don't know, they don't understand when actually we should be opening up and having conversations and deeper and wider, far wider conversations with other people as well and our family and our friends and our peers and our loved ones, you know, and, but it's, it's a difficult one because part of me takes quite a hard line on it and I'm just kind of like, you You know, that's, that's a burden where men, you know, that's a burden that we carry, you know, and we carry the stress, you know, we carry that fucking can, you know, and, and that's part of being, being a man and being a guy and, and, and dealing with those responsibilities, you know, and, and that's something that we should, we should, you know, pressure is a privilege and we should take that on.

[01:06:36] Staz: You know, fuck me. It is difficult. There's been times where, you know, I've been super stressed and I felt that when I was leaving. I touched on it earlier when I was leaving the service and, you know, having the financial stress and worry and not having a bed to, to lay your head down at night and fuck out.

[01:06:50] Staz: That's a, that's a real stress. You know, that's not a write it down on a piece of paper and fucking delete it. That's a shit, where am I sleeping tonight? And shit, I've got no money in the bank and oh, how am I going to do this? And how am I going to feed my fucking kids and my family? You know, they're real stressors and, um, and everybody's got different break constraints, you know, and everybody breaks at different, different times and for different reasons.

[01:07:11] Staz: And that's why it's so complex of an issue because we're all different, you know, and it affects people differently as well. 

[01:07:17] Travis Bader: What are the, what are the things that keep you up at night? 

[01:07:21] Staz: Um, I think I'm quite good. I, I'm not a massive stressor. I, I put into practice what I've just been preaching, you know, and nothing keeps me up at night.

[01:07:35] Staz: Only things that, you know, sometimes I, right now at the moment, you know, my granddad's not very well, you know, he's the father figure for me, somebody that I've looked up to and is his, you know, his guidance and, uh, and his values have been imprinted on me. Um, and, you know, I think, you know, he's not well at, you know, stage two cancer and he's, he's not well, you know, and that sort of stuff can, can lead to worry and, and, and distress, but I can't control it, you know, and, and so there's parts and elements of me that worry about that, but then I think it's only small compartments of worry and that kind of.

[01:08:09] Staz: Try and park that. And then there's the obvious stuff like family, isn't it in, but it's difficult because I always look and I'm, I'm, I fucking hate this shit practice gratitude and all that, but actually I think at the very start, you know, what I have right now is what I wanted five years ago, you know, and.

[01:08:25] Staz: You know, a nice house. I've got food on the table. I've got a loving wife and brilliant kids and great relationships and friends and, and, and a network of people that I can lean into, you know, and, um, I'm so fucking fortunate. Most of my problems, Travis, are first world problems, you know, problem. I think a lot of people have is that we forget that sometimes and it just takes a little slap across the face to go, listen, man, just Fucking take a step back, zoom out, you know, and look at, do the commander's kind of appreciation and, uh, and look, and most, most of the times the things that are going wrong in your life, you can fucking change.

[01:08:58] Staz: And if you're, if you're honest with yourself, you can change it. If you're not happy with how you look, fucking change it. If you're not happy with your job, fucking change it, you know, and I think there's. A lot of people, uh, they, they project outwardly to the world and become victims. And, and I fucking, I hate that, you know, I fucking hate that.

[01:09:15] Staz: Um, um, so for me, I'm, I've always been somebody that's kind of always glass half full, but positive. But if I want change that I fuck it starts with me and I make the change, you know, and it's hard. It's fucking hard. People turn around and it's all right. It's okay for you. You've got this and that and fuck you.

[01:09:29] Staz: Listen, you've not seen what I've done and, and, and what the things like the sacrifices I've had to make to get to where you are. If you asked any. What they've sacrificed to get to where they were. Everybody wants to be the professional athlete. Nobody wants to do what the professional athlete has done.

[01:09:44] Staz: Everybody wants to be in the military. Everybody wants to be special forces. There's no, very small percentage of people that actually want to do and put in the, you know, that time. Those hard yards to become special forces and then to actually do the job. Because it's fucking hard. You know, so it's, it's hard, you know, and a lot of people talk about the thing, you know, talking about the thing, isn't doing the thing, telling people you're going to do the thing, isn't doing the fucking thing, you know, and right now isn't doing the thing, it's fucking do the thing.

[01:10:13] Staz: And unfortunately, people don't like the hard truth of just saying. Fucking have a plan and fucking execute on it, you know, and you train for a match like training for a marathon I'm training for my fucking hate running Travis, you know, but my fucking knees and my back and my hips are fucking script But you know, I'm I'm doing it for a good reason I'm doing it to give myself something to train for and to keep myself engaged It's for a good cause for a good charity and I think well, let's let's work back from what does end state look like 26?

[01:10:42] Staz: My okay. Well, let's get a program in place. Let's work back and You still have to fucking do the training and you've still got to run the race. I've still got to turn up at the end of April and run the fucking race, you know. And unfortunately a lot of people talk themselves out of that. 

[01:10:55] Travis Bader: You talk about victim mentality and I see that time and time again, in our popular culture, throughout our media, my kids, they're both in high school right now, got a daughter who's going to be turning 17 and a son who's going to be turning 15 here.

[01:11:10] Travis Bader: Um, and I see it within the school systems and how it's, how it's, uh, just sort of indoctrinated. It's always somebody else's problem, right? Don't get me started on the school systems. Oh my God. If it's like it is over here. Like I will specifically look for adversity and ways to build resilience within my children, because I can see that as a massively lacking thing within our school systems.

[01:11:36] Travis Bader: I was going to ask, what's it like over there in the UK and what are you, what are you doing with your kids? 

[01:11:42] Staz: Well, okay. Now, yeah. Um, probably very similar to be honest. I mean. And this isn't, this isn't sticking the, you know, swinging the lantern as well and saying, well, back in my day, it was fucking different and we used to do this and that.

[01:11:56] Staz: Cause we've all had that. We've all had elements of that. And listen, the world is moving and progressing in such a complex, you know, fast evolving way across how we communicate, access to information, social media. The pressures are different on kids than what they were when we were younger. They are. And, and, um, and they have to be, they almost have to put their own suit of armor on to deal with that shit.

[01:12:18] Staz: So that's its own separate topic and subject, you know, social media and influences and people and what they, who they look to as their talisman, which is fucking horrendous, can be horrendous nowadays and what they think is good and what. I think is good. It probably very different. Um, I think it comes down to, you mentioned it.

[01:12:38] Staz: There was resilience, you know, um, if you're not pushing yourself physically and mentally, you know, you're not fucking, you're not setting yourself up for success moving through life. You know, and it's I have this like kind of I spoke before to people about about your kids and it's a great example of when do you tell your kids not to do something or when is it date?

[01:13:01] Staz: When does it become dangerous? And like, I'll do it now. And you know, my, my, my eldest is 12. Lucas, I'll be seven and he was a Soon to be three, so quite differing ages there. But for me, it's always been like when they climbing a tree and this is where you're very different to the wife because I'm like, no, no, I've got this.

[01:13:20] Staz: I got this Watson climbed the tree. Now you're going to let the I'm going to let Lucas, I'm going to let my eldest climb higher. You know, he's pretty much free reign now. If he falls, he falls and that's it, you know, and, you know, to a point, obviously. And then you let the seven year old, yeah, he can go to a certain height that I'm, that I deem to be okay and safe.

[01:13:38] Staz: And then the three year old, same again. But you have to let them climb the fucking tree. Like this helicopter parenting just does not fucking work and it's bullshit. So I think you've got to let them climb, be there, be around. And so you're in a safe position that you can stop them if they fall. And it gets to a certain height though, doesn't it?

[01:13:53] Staz: Where you go. They're climbing up and you go, what if he falls from there? You're doing the assessment in your head, if he falls from there, he'll bounce and he'll, might cry. It won't be bad. Then they go to the next stage of height and you go, if he falls from there, it's definitely gonna hurt. It'll probably break, it might break something.

[01:14:09] Staz: And then there's the next height where, fucking hell, that's really gonna fucking hurt. And it could be catastrophic. And that's when you, you know, you give them the whistle and tell them to come down. But you have to, they have to be allowed. To be given that, that room to maneuver, you know, they have to run, you know, these parents don't stop running.

[01:14:26] Staz: Don't run, you might fall. They've got to fall. You've got to get, you have to get, you have to get gravel rash. You know, and even when you're older, you have to have gravel rash. You have to understand what it's like to touch the fucking fire, to fall off your bike, to fall from a tree, to go and do jiu jitsu, to fail, you know, all these things now in school like that.

[01:14:45] Staz: There's no winners. There's no losers. What the fuck is that teaching people? You know, I just don't understand it. It just doesn't work for me. And the more and more we move kids away from, you know, competition, and sport, and physical exertion, and that resistance, and that resilience, I think is, that's, that's a bad move, in my opinion.

[01:15:05] Staz: It should, everything around school, uh, syllabus and system should be revolving around physical fitness. Because if you're not fit in your mind and your, and your body, You know, that's just not going to transfer well across all aspects of academia. You know, for me personally, I don't agree with it. And, and they're trying to fucking shoehorn everybody in and the system hasn't changed for years.

[01:15:26] Staz: I think somebody said how it was, it was, was it the CIA who made, who developed the school system in the U S for, for getting little robots to sit behind desks 

[01:15:34] Travis Bader: and a couple of different, uh, yeah, 

[01:15:37] Staz: I can fucking. Yeah, I can believe that, you know, and, and thought is not like kids are brilliant. You've ever had a conversation with kids.

[01:15:44] Staz: It's fucking brilliant. I love it. I sit in the car with the kids and I'm like, I just let them go on this mad world that they live in. And I think that's a beautiful thing. It's amazing. The creativity and the, and the schools are just fucking none of that. Stop that. Stop that. Stand in line. Don't say anything.

[01:16:02] Staz: Sitting a kid who wants to sit in class for an hour. Nobody does just be. It's just not natural at all, you know, and, and then they worry with them when kids are just fidgeting around and can't fucking sit still and they're going out of their fucking minds and, and I think it was the, the, the comedian Jimmy Carr.

[01:16:20] Staz: Exactly, exactly, and then, and then they're not exercising, brilliant, it just adds to it. of the fucking peril. Um, and that kind of looking forward thinking, what is this? It is this fucking life. This is fucking shit. You know, then you, the Jimmy Carr said it, didn't he? The, um, um, the British comedian, if you know Jimmy Carr, but he was saying about like the world doesn't need any more shit scientists, you know?

[01:16:41] Staz: So very quickly, very quickly, we should be looking at kids from a young age and just be set sort of always saying, okay, he's creative. Okay, he's science. He's art. Okay, he's physical. Okay, now let's start nurturing those kids towards what they're very good at. Right. You know? Yes, based knowledge and understanding of maths, English, I get that.

[01:16:59] Staz: But they don't need to be fucking rocket scientists, you know. I remember being sat in, and I'm still shit at maths now, Travis. But I run like, you know, you would an amazing, 

[01:17:09] Travis Bader: but I got a calculator. 

[01:17:11] Staz: Exactly. But you have, you use that in the real world. Mm-Hmm. , you have systems and things and automation and calculators to make things I don't need to know about fucking, you know, trigonometry and pi theorem.

[01:17:22] Staz: It just, I've never used that in my fucking life. I've not looked, I'm not a, you know, um, a biologist or I'm not a, I just don't get it. I don't get 

[01:17:30] Travis Bader: it. Yeah, people double down on an individual's deficiencies. Oh, you're really bad at math. We better get you, we'll get you a tutor. Why not say, wow, you're really good at music.

[01:17:39] Travis Bader: Let's get you a music tutor. Let's double down on what you're good at. 

[01:17:43] Staz: If you, was it Einstein? If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it'll spend all its life thinking it's fucking inept and stupid. I think there's too much of that in schools right now, you know, um, so it just needs reforming, it needs changing, it needs, you know, making, something needs to be fucking changed and unfortunately that's a big cog that turns far too slowly, uh, you know, it's, it's difficult at the minute, you know, and, but this sensory overload that, that, that kids are currently, you know, these dopamine hits that they're exposed to right now, it's on a whole new fucking level, which I don't think we're fully aware of the implications and the effect of that.

[01:18:19] Staz: All the long 

[01:18:19] Travis Bader: term effects of that. Yeah. It's going to be interesting to see. If your son turned around and said, dad, I want to follow in your footsteps. I want to be a Royal Marine. I want to try the SF route. What would you say to him? Let's say your eldest. 

[01:18:33] Staz: Um, I would support any decision that he made to do anything.

[01:18:36] Staz: If he turned around to me, Travis said, I want to be a fucking ballerina. I would support that. My job as a parent is to support. Uh, and, and, and influence to a, to, to a degree, if it's a bad, if I think it's a dangerous or a bad decision, I can influence, but I've got to support. That's my whole job. Look, there's that analogy, isn't there, that I'm the fucking bow, you know, and, and I, all I need to make sure is that the kid, the arrow, once they're in that fucking bow, and I fucking pull back, that's, that's my job, to make sure that, that they are, have the best possible chance.

[01:19:09] Staz: of hitting the target, you know, and I'm the bow, they're the arrow, once the fucking arrow leaves the bow, you know, it's over to those guys, you know, and things happen, changes, wins, targets move, all this stuff, but ultimately, you know, I just, it's cliched, you want, you know, what do you want your kids to be?

[01:19:26] Staz: You want them to be healthy and happy, you know, and not enough of that at the minute, you know, what do you want to be when you're old? I want to be, I want to be happy and healthy. And, and, and. There's not enough of that going on at the moment, you know, it's, it's, you've got to do this and you've got to pass this test and if you don't do this, it's fucking, you know, it's so, it's suffocating for kids right now and it's difficult because they see on social media, this very small window of somebody's life and think that's it, like looking through a fucking letterbox and going, wow, look at that guy, they've nailed it.

[01:19:57] Staz: Well, ultimately, I know people on social media that are very unhappy. Very unhappy people, but if you looked at that fucking social media platform, you'd think that the happiest people on this planet, you know, and all the shit white on there and post on there. And I look at it and go, wow. And I know them and I think, well, how many other people are doing that?

[01:20:16] Travis Bader: A lot, an awful lot. I mean, I guess I get stuck in this whole paradox of, well, I want to be positive. So I'm going to portray positivity. And so I'm always going to put positivity out. Why would I get on social media to portray negativity? But the difficult thing is you lose 

[01:20:32] Staz: authenticity, you lose 

[01:20:34] Travis Bader: authenticity.

[01:20:35] Travis Bader: Is what's really going to win the day. Like I had, um, Mark Kenyon, he's with meat eater and they've got a Netflix show, the hunting and all the rest. And he says, you know, I, I, I see the path to social media fame. You can be the hero and you can have all the great hunts and all this stuff. And I try yourself to sleep.

[01:20:53] Travis Bader: Well, that's what he said. He says, you know, I tried going down that route and it just didn't work. The second I started showing my failures, the second I started, uh, sharing my struggles, all of a sudden, bang, I took off. And I think that authenticity is what's missing a lot of times, or people of a young age have a hard time discerning that.

[01:21:12] Staz: Yeah, it's hard. You know, it is hard and we're all guilty of it. You know, nobody wants to show that. The shit side of things that are going on, but, but it's quite refreshing sometimes, isn't it? Just to see, you know, the satire and the comedy. That's why people love comedy, isn't it? Because it's fucking, it's honest.

[01:21:27] Staz: It's honest, and it's, and it's raw. 

[01:21:29] Travis Bader: So you're talking about, you know, looking up to people, guiding lights. People need someone to look. Who do you look up to? 

[01:21:36] Staz: Um, I look left and right. I've got people that immediately in the business that I, uh, that I respect, you know, like Louie, you know, the co founder, somebody that I can look to professionally within the business and in life as a, as a, as a, as a person of value, somebody that I can trust, you know, there's not many people that, you know, how many people have you got on your phone that three o'clock in the fucking morning, I could ring him I wouldn't have to tell him anything, other than, I need you, can you come to me right now?

[01:22:05] Staz: He'd fucking jump out of bed, jump in his car, and he'd be with me, you know, um, ASAP, you know, and how many people have people like that in their lives, actually? Not many. Very few. You know, so you gotta fucking hold on to those people, and there's people professionally that I have like that as well, you know, that I, that I'm, I'm, um, I have very much professional respect and, and, and admiration for, uh, and then, you know, it's, I look at people like my wife, you know, Fucking have you ever, you know, the job that they say job, you know, being a parent and being a mother is fucking hard, difficult ones to balance and to shake out as well.

[01:22:41] Staz: And, you know, then there's, you know, there's other people like my granddad, you know, that have been. I didn't realize it till I got older, you know, just how good of a man he is and the values that at the time I didn't appreciate, you know, because when I was younger and I moved, you know, we moved in with them and he had old school moral values and, and there was a lot of beauty in that.

[01:23:02] Staz: You know, and it really did set me up for success. So there's people like that. And then there's other mentors that you meet along the way. People that I met in the service, in the SBS, in Special Forces. You know, people that I looked up to professionally, that I, you know, I had a huge amount of respect for.

[01:23:16] Staz: Uh, and I've been lucky in that regard, in terms of being surrounded by, you know, incredible leaders, um, you know, all the way through my career. So, you know, I have been fortunate in that respect, that I've had a lot of people around me to guide and to, uh, and to help. And support me, I guess. 

[01:23:34] Travis Bader: So what's coming up next for through dark.

[01:23:37] Staz: Fuck geez. Um, loads of stuff, man. Like I said, we're year six. Um, it's, it's product that we're excited. I'm excited, you know, for the future, this next two years. I keep saying this next two years is going to be really vital. And it is the main thing for me is not so much what's coming up. It's trying to enjoy where we are right now.

[01:24:00] Staz: And everybody I speak to that's been successful are always like, Oh my God, I wish I was a you again. And. Where you are right now in this amazing growth stage of being an entrepreneur and growing your business, growing your brand is doubling and the revenues are made in the valuation. Wow. And it's like, but actually stepping back and I still pinch myself.

[01:24:20] Staz: I walk into the office. I'm like, fuck, you know, all these people. And, you know, it's incredible. We're all going on this journey together, you know, dark and it's, and it's inspiring. And, yeah. Um, you know, but there's obvious things that I have and goals that I have, you know, that I want to hit along the way, you know, you know, in terms of launching product and, uh, working with specific brands and partners and people and, and everything else.

[01:24:43] Staz: It's about, um, aligning to things that we feel that do correctly align with our values, uh, through dark as well. And, but it's hard, it's, um. You can only fit so many bits of fruit in your basket, you know, and I've learned that along the way I'm terrible for it, always trying to shove fucker fruit in the basket and ultimately things fall off.

[01:25:01] Staz: But for me, it's about staying true to who we are and what our vision is and our, and our, and our brand ethos and our goals. You know, we want to be a world leading outdoor technical clothing brand that just looks cool as fuck that people see it and they go. That's through that. Yeah. They're not fucking sold out.

[01:25:16] Staz: They are who they are. Their brand is their brand. And, you know, and that starts with the founders mentality with me and Louie, you know, leading the charge from the front, but also empowering the people that work with us as well. And I think that's great. Great. It's been amazing journey so far to be a part of, 

[01:25:32] Travis Bader: is there anything that we haven't talked about that we should be talking about?

[01:25:37] Staz: Um, politics now,

[01:25:41] Travis Bader: religion and politics. I'm 

[01:25:43] Staz: joking. Well, you dragged me down that fucking road. 

[01:25:50] Travis Bader: That'll be over a couple of points. 

[01:25:52] Staz: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. No, I just think it's, um, I think, you know, we've covered most stuff there and, and thank you. It's been a really, really cool, um, conversation. Hopefully some people have, have gained some something from it.

[01:26:04] Staz: I dunno. And for people that didn't know about Through Dot, you know, checkers out and everything else were, uh, active across all the social media platforms and, and the website as well. My book, I guess the why I'd like to cover the, why I wrote the book, because people from the background certainly don't write books.

[01:26:18] Staz: It's frowned upon within the totally, within the, uh. Yeah, you know, within our sort of cohort, um, by some people, but, but not, not, not the majority. Um, I think we've covered it earlier. One of the main reasons I joined special forces was, was the end of it. Now that books, uh, you know, and Duncan Faulkner and all these kinds of books.

[01:26:37] Staz: So. I thought it was a great way to inspire the next generation of people coming through. You know, I tried to do something slightly different. It's not just an autobiography, although each chapter it's kind of weave in three stories, personal, professional, uh, and business. Um, so you have a, you know, a kind of special forces story, a personal story and a business through dark story and what I've learned.

[01:26:58] Staz: Um, across, across the whole period and, uh, and that's what I kind of wanted to do with the book is to kind of inform and hopefully inspire, uh, ignite for some people, um, a reason to maybe start their own business, uh, or to join the military or just to be the best versions of themselves. And books massively helped me with that.

[01:27:15] Staz: Podcasts are another medium that I use that, that really help. And that's why I do. You know, these things as well and podcasts, you know, it's, it's, um, it's always hard, isn't it? If you really look at yourself and you critically ask yourself why you're doing things that, you know, and hopefully it just leave a bit of a legacy for other people and, you know, my kids and inspire other generations, you know, for the most part, social media for all it's, it's woes.

[01:27:36] Staz: It does have a lot of positives, you know, and the messages that I receive on the platforms are incredible. Um, so I think, no, we should always, you know, it's all, it's. It's, it's, it's unfortunate that for the most part negativity is, is almost gaslighted constantly across social media platforms, but we should always look for the positives in things and in life and in situations and in opportunity.

[01:28:01] Staz: So that's what I'd like to gain from, from this conversation and from the book and from through dark as well. Well, 

[01:28:07] Travis Bader: I'm going to have links in the description for the book for through dark and anything else where people can follow the Instagram social feed, all the rest. So Stas, thank you so much for being on the Slipknot podcast.

[01:28:18] Travis Bader: I really enjoyed the chat. 

[01:28:20] Staz: Mate, Travis. Thank you. We'll run it back again in a couple of years and see where we're at. I've enjoyed it, mate.