Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.
Jason Schauble is the president of TrackingPoint, a long-range shooting system that enables anyone to accurately hit targets at extended range. Before leading TrackingPoint, Schauble was a Marine wounded in combat in Iraq. He tells us in an email interview how he found a way to do what he loves and offers advice on how you can, too.
BusinessNewsDaily: Explain you what you do for a living.
Jason Schauble: I am the president of TrackingPoint, an applied technology company in Austin, Texas, that sells the world’s first Precision Guided Firearms (PGFs). We make integrated firearm, ammunition and technology platforms that offer jet-fighter lock-and-launch precision shooting technology as well as collaboration via streaming video and video recording to enhance the extreme distance shooting experience.
BND: How did you end up doing this for a living?
J.S.: I was a Marine for nine years until I got shot in combat in Iraq and medically retired. I then helped build Marine Corps Special Operations Command from scratch. I then worked for Remington for several years and led their government business, including several large-scale development efforts for things like sniper rifles, carbines, ammunition and silencers. When I left Remington, I was looking for a challenge and a place to add value and leadership where I could learn new things and work for someone I could respect, and TrackingPoint has been the perfect fit for me.
BND: What was the crucial decision you made that led you to this place in life?
J.S.: I decided to leave the special operations community after spending my whole life trying to get there. There are a lot of second careers for former action guys as civilians, with other government entities, and with contracting companies for work overseas. The decision really was a quality of life one – a question of whether I wanted to stay married and have a family and be the husband and father that my family deserved. I made the right decision and I have never looked back. Business was a natural fit once that decision was made.
BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?
J.S.: I wanted to be in the Special Forces. I was always fascinated by the stories of the men who served in World War II as commandos or in Vietnam in the SOG teams and I wanted to be one of them and serve my country and learn useful skills and operate in the most challenging operating environments known to man. I wanted to test myself mentally, physically and even spiritually. I ultimately wound up serving as a platoon commander in the elite Force Recon community in the Marine Corps until gunshot wounds cut my career short and forced me to make other choices. My proudest day was when I earned my place as a Recon Marine.
BND: Why do you love your job?
J.S.: I have a four-part answer to this one: 1) I learn something new every day, work on a product that is unique and disruptive and am able to work with the smartest people I know. 2) The PGF concept has a ton of runway literally to the limits of our customer’s imaginations. We are not just changing the shooting world in terms of long-range accuracy — we are allowing every shot video on a target or an animal to be shared and posted online. While that sounds pretty simple, with the current velocity of social media adoption, being the company that made videotaping your hunt possible or streaming video from your heads-up display possible is pretty awesome. 3) Every TrackingPoint employee is an owner and we live our internal mantra of “simple magic” — no matter how much sophistication we put into our products to retain the thought space leadership mantle in the firearms industry, we have to resist the urge to overengineer and overcomplicate America’s greatest tradition — hunting and shooting. 4) I love Texas and specifically the greater Austin area — it's best place to be in the firearms business in the world and the only place we could bring together mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers and gun people.
BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?
J.S.: That all we do is shoot guns all day and go hunting. While there have been evolutions where literally tens of thousands of rounds have been expended in a week (lifecycle testing and Doppler radar drag profiling come to mind), most weeks we are designing new products, writing software, coming up with kick-ass marketing ideas, and testing, testing, testing.
BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have and why?
J.S.: If I was a few inches taller and had some real athletic ability, I would have loved to play pro basketball. I love to compete. Basketball was the one thing that I loved more than anything else growing up and now that my shooting hand is paralyzed, I don’t play anymore. I just read “Grantland” and live vicariously through my kids. Perhaps coaching at the high school level and building a program that allowed me to mentor young men would keep me energized at the same level I am now, but in a different way.
BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?
J.S.: Every executive at TrackingPoint loves hunting and shooting and happen to also be experts in their fields and I have yet to encounter someone who can look me in the eye and tell me that combining a passion they have with their job is a bad thing. I work harder, longer and more efficiently and come home happier when I’m immersed in something I believe in and feel I have the ability to impact the business in a positive way.
BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?
J.S.: Work with people you like doing something you are good at and passionate about. You will wind up spending more time at work in your adult life than with your family or friends, so it is important that you don't settle for a situation where you compromise any of these objectives. Never work for money alone. Sure, no one starts at the top and there will be times where you can't dictate either what you are working on or the people you have to work with, but try to find the best combination available. Also, try to find the positive in people — people make every great idea either succeed or fail and everyone has value. Leadership is about finding what people are good at and love and keeping them motivated. No one likes working with someone who is miserable or motivated by the wrong things.
BND: What's your idea of the perfect retirement?
J.S.: I grew up in a house of books, and while I might be tempted to retreat into that world as I get older, what I really want is to learn more useful skills and be able to teach my boys. I would likely get a large ranch and hire experts to come out and teach my boys and me important life skills that I never had the time to master: how to butcher meats, fight with a sword, plant sustainable crops, fix small and large machines, provide emergency medical treatment, build things out of metal and wood, etc. Essentially all of core skills that made this country great that have gotten de-emphasized in the modern age because we rely so heavily on the Internet and the grid and don't take the time to understand the infrastructure that supports our daily lives. I would want to learn at my pace — as fast or as slow as we want to go. Someday, we may have to build it all again and I want my kids to be useful in that environment.