This year we lost an incredible WWII veteran and award-winning entrepreneur, who many considered to be one of the nation's top thought leaders and grandfathers for the "vetrepreneurship" movement to inspire more veterans to explore entrepreneurship as a career path. He was also a big proponent for the U.S. Small Business Administration's annual National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW), with this year's theme highlighting, "Veteran Entrepreneurs: Success Across Generations," that included him. He has also been personally recognized by both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, among other legislative leaders who adopted Jack's ethical leadership in business as a compass to run their offices by.
Jack Nadel (October 4, 1923 - September 24, 2016) lived just short of 93 years, enjoying life to the fullest and bringing joy to all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Born in New York City, Jack enlisted in the military during World War II at the age of 19. When he was honorably discharged as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1946, he had flown 27 missions in a B-29 bomber over Japan and returned home a hero. The young Nadel served as a combat navigator and radar bombardier and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. He and his fellow flight crewmembers also received the Presidential Unit Citation, a top award for the Army Air Force.
After the war, Jack began a successful career as a global entrepreneur, having founded, acquired and operated more than a dozen companies worldwide, despite having started in life with nothing. He was a true "vetrepreneur" who took the valuable skills he gained while in the military--along with his own ingenuity, opportunism and fearlessness--to go on to have seven successful decades in business after his service. He was a firm believer that peace and prosperity were woven deeply together. In his own words:
"In our search for world peace, the truth is that people who achieve in the global marketplace and trade with each other do not fight--economic development helps us all, and entrepreneurs are our army toward peace and prosperity."
Jack also knew firsthand and statistically that fellow veterans made ideal entrepreneurs and economic contributors, and believed that veteran entrepreneurs are "America's most untapped and highly skilled economic development resource that we should immediately start empowering."
After the launch of his last, and final book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, he decided to create and sponsor a national Veteran Gifting Program, so that other veterans considering business ownership could learn from his own successful transition and journey into entrepreneurship with a free digital copy of his book--winner of five Global Ebook Awards, including three Gold Awards for Best in Business, Leadership and Careers/Employment. In his spirit and to honor his legacy, and through the support of his wife, Julie Nadel--who has decided to continue his mission--that program is still available for U.S. veterans on his author website.
In addition to his veteran gifting program, Jack participated in a U.S. Small Business Administration webinar series for veteran entrepreneurs, met and advised with The Jonas Project and some of their young emerging "Warrior Entrepreneurs," contributed his "Nadel Method" for free publication in G.I. Jobs Magazine, recorded and appeared in 16 different online courses for Thrive15.com--a business-school-like learning platform that offers free subscriptions to members of the military, their spouses and veterans through their "1 for 1 HandUp Movement"--and provided physical copies of his book at the local community college veteran resource center during their annual Veteran Appreciation Week--among many activities and efforts to share insights and help others succeed.
Jack's signature business--Jack Nadel International--has 25 offices around the world and was the embodiment of his indomitable spirit, and today is thriving in its sixty-third year under the leadership of his nephew, Craig Nadel. Jack won every honor in the promotional marketing and advertising industry, including being inducted into the Promotional Products Association International Hall of Fame.
In 1988, he was invited by President Reagan to participate in an important Presidential Trade Mission to Japan, to support better trade relations and share his vast experiences with doing business overseas in Japan and other Asian countries.
During his career, Jack authored a total of six business books and one novel including the award-winning works, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, and his novel, My Enemy, My Friend. He was always at the cutting edge of technology, and in his 80's, he continued his writing in the digital realm, writing for The Huffington Post, and interviewing with Forbes, Entrepreneur, Vetrepreneur, and on television and radio, as well as lecturing at colleges and universities.
At age 90, Jack was a recipient of the first Entrepreneurial Lifetime Notable Achievement Award from Santa Barbara City College, selected in 2013 as the nation's number one community college by the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program. Jack mentored and met with many aspiring entrepreneurs, who have gone on to very successful careers, including several veterans. He also hosted a popular TV show in Santa Barbara, "Out of the Box with Jack Nadel," on which he interviewed well-known celebrities and experts--all with the aim of improving the human condition. In 1990, he founded The Nadel Foundation whose mission continues to help improve the standard of living and quality of life, beginning with his local community. With his wife Julie at his side, Jack was a hands-on philanthropist, maintaining active ties to the organizations and programs they support.
Words found from someone who had never met--or heard of--Jack, yet simply read his recent obituary in the Los Angeles Times and was inspired to share a link to it with her friends on social media, that we found sifting among the thousands of posts talking about "Jack Nadel" the week he passed.
"I am among those who regularly reads the obits in the LA Times. I read them for the stories of lives well lived, often fascinating beyond the novels and films that I cherish. Occasionally, I discover a life that was truly extraordinary. This morning over coffee, I was treated to one such life, perhaps the best story I've found in the obituaries--ever.
I'd like to share Jack Nadel's obituary notice as the definition of American Exceptionalism. Please read it through, his was a rich and full to bursting life. I had just started the first paragraph when I stopped, turned off the radio, and began again--this time reading aloud to my husband. Toward the end, I was surprised to learn that he lived in my town, Santa Barbara, and then delighted that Mr. Nadel had been honored by the college where I taught for 20 years, Santa Barbara City College. Jack Nadel was an exceptional American."
In his honor, we republish some of his poignant words about "Empowering Veterans Through Entrepreneurship," published to promote last year's National Veteran Small Business Week and vetrepreneurship, yet incredibly relevant for this year's call to action and national dialogue:
Every day, Americans wake up to frightening headlines from all across the globe. Warring factions of terrorist groups, especially in the Middle East and Africa, show no signs of desiring peace, and the threat of nuclear attack is ever present. Undoubtedly, America's military will have some long-term role to play in these conflicts, even if we limit the number of our troops on the ground. This, in turn, means there will be a steady stream of veterans returning from active duty for the foreseeable future. In fact, over a million men and women will be returning to civilian life in the next few years, and there is much we can do to honor, empower and support them.
One way is to guide their civilian transition toward entrepreneurial careers. Military training instills valuable attitudes and team building skills that can be directly applied to starting and sustaining a successful business. Next week, the National Veterans Small Business Week, sponsored by the Small Business Administration, will host over 50 events around the country to assist veterans who want to pursue entrepreneurship. This "Boots to Business" initiative will help these young men and women to strategically define their business concepts and introduce the many mentors and resources available to them through the SBA. It will also be a time when more people talk about entrepreneurship--a national conversation that should last well beyond this time frame, and here's why:
Entrepreneurship brings more resolve to our economy and to individuals.
I firmly believe that economic problems are a root cause for the world's upheaval and that good jobs are the solution. Job creation, of course, means more entrepreneurs will be needed, and I think the American economy can be a source of inspiration and validation for the rest of the world.
Entrepreneurship promotes peace.
Let's face it, there are few terrorist attacks that emanate from countries where people have good jobs and are well educated. Most observers would agree that the greater the number of successful entrepreneurs, the greater the economic security for everyone concerned. In a recent TED talk, Somali native and human rights advocate Mohamed A. Ali spoke about "The Link Between Unemployment and Terrorism" and how entrepreneurship promotes peace. In addition to providing an alternative to terrorism, more entrepreneurs creating improved goods and services will certainly reduce the need for foreign aid as countries become more self sufficient and less affected by business cycles.
Entrepreneurship opportunities abound.
Since the end of World War II, the global marketplace has undergone dramatic changes, and I believe there are now more opportunities for entrepreneurs in this new century than ever before. At age 92, I know this firsthand because I have personally witnessed these changes while operating more than a dozen successful businesses around the globe in ever-changing conditions throughout the decades, all the while maintaining sustainable success. (And Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines also seem to think that my advice is worth featuring).
I wrote my last book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, as a crash course in business. At the same time it also recounts my life as a veteran turned international entrepreneur. After flying 27 combat missions over Japan, I came home determined to be my own boss and start my own business. The book reveals the successes and setbacks, the disappointments and the many joys of being an entrepreneur. I think veteran entrepreneurs, aka "vetrepreneurs," and fellow Americans alike can relate to my journey. Mine is truly an American Dream story since I started with nothing. My goal now is to help the next generation start new businesses that will create better products and services and generate new jobs and wealth.
Entrepreneurship education should be affordable and accessible to all.
A great percentage of Americans have to go through a number of changes in order to achieve the results they are looking for--that much is clear. And it starts with how we advise people to educate themselves. I am convinced you do not need four years of college and an MBA degree to be successful or start a prosperous business (and I'm certainly not alone). I am a reflection of how hard work and perseverance, critical thinking skills and a dedication to learning, self-motivation, discipline, an ability to take on risk, manage stress and build a team around me are the real attributes needed. These attributes can be taught, but they should only be taught by those with hands-on experience. The road to success is constantly changing, and those who have charted a path to prosperity are better equipped to advise. Resolving real problems requires both experience and creative thinking. Many companies and businesses have collapsed in this new economy, and those that succeed need to maintain a laser focus and be ready to make changes on the fly, take initiative, and calculate risk. This is where military training gives veterans a big advantage.
These days, a good deal of instruction occurs online and on demand 24/7. Course work is now accessible on all devices both big and small to fit the schedules and accommodations of individuals trying to advance their professional development. I have written several columns here on The Huffington Post addressing these very ideas. More than ever, well-known schools are making greater numbers of their courses available online, but even more importantly, the market continues to create and support more flexible ways of teaching with digital learning platforms using methods and modalities harnessing available technology. With this in mind even at my advanced age, I have continued to create accessible and valuable materials to share what I've learned from my career for the next generation.
The American Dream through entrepreneurship is still alive and well.
My life is a testament to the idea that anyone can take steps toward bettering themselves financially in this country, as there are countless resources, either free or low-cost, ready for the taking. I started my life on the streets of New York with a population whose desire was to assimilate into the American lifestyle. My grandparents were attracted by the stories of money in the streets. They quickly found out that there was no money in the streets, but they did find something just as important: unlimited opportunities for those with great ideas and a willingness to work hard. I am an all-American opportunist, and that is backed by the fact that I have been able to found, acquire, and operate a number of companies around the world that have been successful. The key has been to respond to the opportunities of today with today's methods.
I'm pleased to announce that I have joined forces with an organization that not only supports veterans with their outstanding "1 for 1 HandUp" program providing free entrepreneurship training to veterans, active duty and even military spouses, they understand and are creating today's effective and desired learning methods for this generation and the next. My articles in The Huffington Post attracted the attention of Thrive15, an educational learning resource that is now teaching entrepreneurship online and on demand, by mentors who have proven track records as business professionals. I have for many years maintained that the most effective instruction a newbie can get is from someone who has been there, done that and achieved long-term success.
Helping aspiring entrepreneurs helps us all.
Looking towards new and accessible learning materials will give more people their best shot with not only a more affordable and accommodating means of educating themselves, but it will also place a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ahead, rather than a pile of student debt. There is one other dazzling side effect to revising our educational methods and supporting all entrepreneurs.
In our search for peace, the truth is that people who achieve in the global marketplace and trade with each other do not fight. Economic development helps us all, and entrepreneurs are our army toward peace and prosperity. Let us do all we can to help our returning veterans and give them a second opportunity to serve their country.
This article was written in memory of Jack Nadel and all veterans--thank you for your service. This was also written to honor those who are brave enough to start and build their own businesses and futures.