In this episode, Brian Beckcom speaks with Lieutenant Colonel Toby Flinn. Col. Flinn is a decorated war hero who did three tours of duty, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
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Brian & Toby discuss:
- Toby’s spiritual journey after college. Toby traveled across the United States and Canada for almost a year, never once staying in a hotel.
- September 11th and the “lightning bolt” that changed his life’s course forever
- The invasion of Iraq and how Toby’s battalion battled Saddam’s forces & liberated the city of Baghdad
- What it was like to see one of your men killed right next to you
- Toby’s experience in the Military as a city engineer and planner, rebuilding cities all over Southern Iraq
- The importance of theology and philosophy as it relates to everyday challenges and life in general
- Parental anxieties and the significance of putting the COVID-19 pandemic into perspective for our children
- Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic, political strife, and civil unrest
- And other topics
Toby Flinn was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Toby graduated from Texas A&M, where he spent his collegiate years in the Corps of Cadets before taking on leadership positions in both the United States Marine Corps and Army. He currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, which he earned after serving several tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Toby is now the CEO of TOBIN Engineers, a construction company that focuses on building projects in remote and austere locations. To connect with Toby, visit his website at www.TobinEngineers.com.
Read the show notes
[00:00:00] Brian Beckcom: [00:00:00] Hey everybody, Brian Beckcom I'm here. I got my good friend, my very, very close friend of mine. Somebody I've known for over 25 years, Toby Flint on the podcast. Toby is great to see you, man. How you doing?
[00:00:13] Toby Flinn: [00:00:13] Good, Brian. Really good to see you. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:16] Brian Beckcom: [00:00:16] You got it, man. Well, I've been looking forward to this for a very long time, you know, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that of all my friends and all the people I've met.
[00:00:27] I've always kind of. Looked up to you in a way, because you've always been, not only a leader know both in terms of being in the Marine Corps and fighting for our country and stuff, but you're, you're, you're, you're a philosopher of sorts. You're a really smart guy. And you know, when you say things, you know, you probably have friends that say things and you kind of need it.
[00:00:49] You don't pay a lot of attention to it, but, but I've always really paid attention to what you said. Cause I've thought that you just have. A really, really good way [00:01:00] of looking at the world. But before we get into all the stuff with the Marine Corps and some of your thoughts on life and philosophy in general, how you doing, man?
[00:01:11] Everything going good.
[00:01:12] Toby Flinn: [00:01:12] We're doing great. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing great. I'm I'm in my home office, which is my garage for the kids. So it's, it's a little warm in here. It is. Yeah. Yeah. So this is, this is my kind of backdrop when I, when I had business meetings and if you're to see the rest of it and you'd see a, you'd see a welder, you'd see a road gym set up.
[00:01:36] You'd see a lot of other things.
[00:01:40] Brian Beckcom: [00:01:40] Well, that's great. Well, it looks good. So, you know, we're, we're, I thought we were going to be kind of through the first wave of the pandemic, but it's kind of looking pretty bad in Texas right now. So. How's the family doing? W what do you got? Four kids now? Five kids. Six, seven,
[00:01:57] Toby Flinn: [00:01:57] four kids.
[00:01:59] Yeah. [00:02:00] So, yeah, we're all doing great. I think that Melanie had to run of it when the kids were in school and, the eight and six year old, she was, you know, she was teaching them that the 13 and 11 year olds were kind of on their own. and so, you know, essentially summer started, you know, March 17th and it never stopped.
[00:02:18] In fact, when school was over, the kids were like, It's over.
[00:02:26] Brian Beckcom: [00:02:26] I was talking to a Methodist, a pastor friend of mine a couple of weeks ago on the podcast. We were talking about homeschooling kids and he had a couple of. Really good lines. He said, he said his wife told him, if you catch me talking to myself, I'm having a parent teacher conference and I'm afraid I might get fired for drinking on the job.
[00:02:45] So, but you know, the other thing he said is his, his kids were, his kids are in college and you know, my kids, I have three, basically teenagers now, 16, 14, and 12. You've got two teenagers and two kids that are a little younger [00:03:00] and that's a little harder, I think, a little more responsibility,
[00:03:04] Toby Flinn: [00:03:04] right? Yeah, it is, it is.
[00:03:06] But you know, it's funny, the more kids you have, the more they kind of feed on each other and then the more they entertain each other. So, you know, as frustrating as they can be sometimes all in the kitchen at one time, they, you know, they're all friends. And so, you know, I'll tell you a funny story. They were probably the hardest part's been getting off the electronics, cause they're on the electronics for school.
[00:03:26] And then when they're off, you know, there's nowhere to really go. And so I told Roman, who's kind of the young Aristotle. I said, Froman, if you don't get outside, I'm throwing you out and I'm locking the door and he didn't flinch. He said, well, those are really good parenting skills. And yet he wasn't trying to sit, you know, he wouldn't do it to be funny, but it was, that's what it's been like.
[00:03:51] Brian Beckcom: [00:03:51] so how, how has it been. Different for you guys. Cause one of the things that I've been telling people, well, you know, in my family, we took the [00:04:00] quarantine very, very seriously for the first two months. And in a way, you know, as bad as things were and as uncertain as everything was in a way. The is looking at it from a positive perspective.
[00:04:14] I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. And so did, so did my wife and, you know, sometimes, maybe a little bit too much, but, but it was, you know, if you're going to look at things, kind of from a positive standpoint, It has been an opportunity, at least for my family to maybe grow a little bit closer.
[00:04:35] So have you guys had,
[00:04:37] Toby Flinn: [00:04:37] did that? We had the same experience. We did, you know, less obligations to, you know, we're not going to soccer, practice, gymnastics, swim. We were, we were kind of locked in and so we weren't going anywhere. You know, Melanie and I are kind of ships passing in the night, many, many days out of the week, as we're picking up, dropping off, we always, we always hit dinner.
[00:05:00] [00:05:00] But it's pretty quick. And so that was really nice to not have anywhere to go.
[00:05:04] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:04] Yeah. So it was Melanie working right now,
[00:05:07] Toby Flinn: [00:05:07] you know? So she's she does, she doesn't like me to use this word, but she's a, she's a blogger.
[00:05:12] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:12] why does it, you like that word?
[00:05:14] Toby Flinn: [00:05:14] I don't know. I think, I think it's the way I say it.
[00:05:16] She doesn't like it. and then she also do put air quotes
[00:05:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:19] up when you say it.
[00:05:20] Toby Flinn: [00:05:20] I don't, it must be the way I did not seen it and just thought of things. but she also teaches a online course for a university in Louisiana.
[00:05:29] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:29] And, and she's a, as I recall, her specialty is in, nutrition, essentially.
[00:05:35] Toby Flinn: [00:05:35] She's a dietician, nutritionist and dietician.
[00:05:39] Yeah. So R D registered dietician
[00:05:41] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:41] and she she's had that, that blog or website for, for, for quite a long time now. Right.
[00:05:48] Toby Flinn: [00:05:48] She has. Yeah, I think she started it when we lived in Hawaii and, it's really, it's really been a good outlet for her.
[00:05:55] Brian Beckcom: [00:05:55] And what's the, what, what's the address for the website?
[00:05:59] Toby Flinn: [00:05:59] It's [00:06:00] nutritious eats.com.
[00:06:02] Nice. Just, just like it sounds awesome.
[00:06:06] Brian Beckcom: [00:06:06] So, so I'm glad to hear your family's doing well. it's been, man, it's been. The last time I remember spending time with each other was Seattle. That's what I was going to say. Yeah. I've still got some pictures from, from that trip. That trip ended up. It was a great start to the trip for me, because I got to spend time with one of my best friends and his wife and his kids.
[00:06:28] And, but, but I was going on in Alaska. The trip took a downhill trajectory. After that, I got noted virus the first day of the trip. So. Probably the highlight of my trip was hanging out with you guys.
[00:06:45] Toby Flinn: [00:06:45] Oh my goodness.
[00:06:47] Brian Beckcom: [00:06:47] Well, Toby. So, well, good to hear your family's doing well. So
[00:06:51] Toby Flinn: [00:06:51] likewise, YouTube, Brian,
[00:06:53] Brian Beckcom: [00:06:53] you, you have a, you were a highly decorated Marine Corps [00:07:00] officer, and I want to talk a lot about your experience in the Marines, but before we do that, Tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, where you're from, where you grew up, where he went to school, things like that.
[00:07:13] Toby Flinn: [00:07:13] You bet, born and raised in San Antonio. So come from a family that came over from Alsace-Lorraine in Germany, France, settled in Hondo kind of Valley divine area, and went to Texas a and M after high school. So left for a. For college and didn't come back to San Antonio to live until about three years ago.
[00:07:34] Brian Beckcom: [00:07:34] And that's where you are now.
[00:07:35] Toby Flinn: [00:07:35] And that's. Yeah. So we came back here when she came off of active duty. Nice. Yep.
[00:07:41] Brian Beckcom: [00:07:41] And then you were, you were one of the, I mean, it almost seems like to me, there should be a name for the group of guys and girls that you and I know who went to college and then. Graduated from college and then went into the workforce in some [00:08:00] capacity and then nine 11 happened.
[00:08:02] And, there's a, there's a large group of people, including mutual friends of ours, Blake Sawyer. I had him on the podcast a while back, same deal and I'm always. Curious about, I mean, because that is a, it seems to me a pretty big life shift. I mean, once you're out of college and you, you're kind of getting settled into whatever you're doing professionally to join the Marine Corps and go to battle is about as drastic of a change as I can possibly imagine.
[00:08:30] So tell us a little bit about, well, I'll tell you what, before we get into that, after we grow, after you graduated from college, you were something of a wanderer. I guess is the way I would put it. Like, you know, who I'm thinking of. I don't know if you saw this the other day in the news, but you remember the kid Chris McCandless who went up to ultimately went to the Alaskan wilderness.
[00:08:54] They just moved that bus out of Alaska. I don't know if you saw that.
[00:08:58] Toby Flinn: [00:08:58] Yeah,
[00:08:58] Brian Beckcom: [00:08:58] the helicopter did out of there because [00:09:00] apparently tourists were going up there and staying and having all sorts of trouble. But anyway, I always think of you kind of that period of your life is kind of the Christmas Candace.
[00:09:10] Wandering around the country period. So tell us, tell us about after college, but before the Marine Corps kind of what you were doing during that.
[00:09:20] Toby Flinn: [00:09:20] Yeah. Yeah. It's a good question. you know, I laughed when you said wonder cause my sister and I are, we have a kind of a secret joke when we see that bumper sticker that says all who wonder aren't lost.
[00:09:30] When we say we can't always look at you and say, yes, you are. Yeah. So. Leaving school. you know, we had some, we had some issues in the family and, so went straight into the workforce, paid off my school. That was my key priority was get stable. Yeah, no, I had to be self sufficient. That was my number one goal.
[00:09:53] So went to work, paid off. All my student loans paid off all my debt. And then there was just so much that I [00:10:00] wanted to see in the world. And I was single at the time I was being buried. I guess it was a time of kind of my formative years, you know, after college where you kind of grow up and you're not, you're not distracted by all the social, options that you have.
[00:10:15] And I decided that I needed to go see some stuff and. I originally had a very, audacious, I mean, I had a plan that was to go around the world, but I, I kind of slimmed it down a little bit, but it started off going to be a river guide in Oregon. and there's some funny stories around that, but, you know, before I started the strip, there was a couple of key things that I, that I really kind of wrote down for myself.
[00:10:40] I said, I'm not going to drink. I'm not going to go party. you know, this isn't kind of the last to Rob before I get married or, or, you know, kind of a, a younger midlife crisis. And that was important to me cause I wanted to make sure that I got all of it that I could out of it. And, and I did, you know, I did everything from white [00:11:00] tables and, and San Francisco and stayed with a good friend of ours, Casey Fisher, him and his wife just got newly married.
[00:11:07] And for some bizarre reason, they invited me to stay with them for about three months. I have, you still have to doubt why they, what, what they were thinking. what were they thinking? What
[00:11:18] Brian Beckcom: [00:11:18] were they thinking? What were they?
[00:11:20] Toby Flinn: [00:11:20] I don't know. but you know, and then I saw you in Las Vegas, I think at your bachelor party, and then I saw you and I think it also in Chicago, I think it was a Notre Dame main and Jane Brian.
[00:11:32] Brian Beckcom: [00:11:32] Yeah, that's right. The way I remember that Toby is, I was just, I've been married for 20 years now and I was just starting to date the lady I'm married to Kara and we went up there for. The I'm Notre Dame game and also to travel around a little bit. And you, you came and met us there. You were there for some, I forget why you were there, but I remember seeing you
[00:11:52] Toby Flinn: [00:11:52] there.
[00:11:53] Yeah, I was just on my figure, eight of the United States. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:11:57] Brian Beckcom: [00:11:57] So you, you, you go, so tell, tell us, [00:12:00] cause this is super interesting to me. You kind of just glossed over this. You said there's some funny stories about being a river boat, God, or a river guide in Oregon. You got it. You can't just do that.
[00:12:08] You gotta tell us a couple of stories, man.
[00:12:10] Toby Flinn: [00:12:10] So w I mean, honestly, the funniest story is this is that, I mean, there's a lot of little ones that we could go on about, but, you know, I did the, the plan was to be a river guide, you know, for all summer. And so. They w I went to the school, it was like a two week school and got done.
[00:12:28] They hired me, you know, the first day. And they said, okay, you'll be staying in this house, up in the Hills and Oregon. I said, great. That sounds wonderful. So I go up to the, to the house in Oregon and it's beautiful. It's up in the timbers. You know what I mean? Anything that's. You know, it's the area where it mosque Rose on everything.
[00:12:46] I mean, it's so green. It makes you sick. Yeah. But beautiful. Right. Especially if you're from Texas, it's just overwhelming. And I walked in the house and you know, the first thing I see is all sorts of drug paraphernalia, [00:13:00] marijuana. And I thought, you know, this is kinda, this is going against the things that I was said I was not going to do or be, even be around it.
[00:13:08] So, you know, That night was a rough night. Cause I thought, I, I think I'm going to have to leave. I'm going to have to kind of give up on this. I can't, this isn't why I decided to do this. It was kind of, and I don't think I could have articulated so well then, but I was really kind of, you know, you know, looking at the concept of life, you know, or finding truth and those things.
[00:13:27] Although I don't think I could have said it as clearly, then. But so I had to get up the next morning and leave. And so, you know, I got hired one day. I worked one day and then left the next morning. and if you just, cause it was not a, it just, wasn't going to be the right place. So
[00:13:43] Brian Beckcom: [00:13:43] can I, can I ask you a question about that?
[00:13:47] Why were you surprised? That a riverboat guiding company would, would maybe have a little bit of marijuana question. Yeah, that's a great
[00:13:57] Toby Flinn: [00:13:57] question
[00:13:57] Brian Beckcom: [00:13:57] to me. It would be more shocking [00:14:00] if you didn't see that. Right.
[00:14:02] Toby Flinn: [00:14:02] Well, I, you know, I think that's a good point too, because obviously we've, you know, there's not many people who have not been around that lifestyle, but, I guess I, I guess I expected it to be a little bit more modest.
[00:14:12] There was, it was basically walking into a college dorm room again.
[00:14:16] Brian Beckcom: [00:14:16] Yeah. And, and you, were you, you, I think it's fair to say you had about as full of a college experience as far as that goes, is anybody?
[00:14:25] Toby Flinn: [00:14:25] Yeah, I would say starting in middle school, I probably had is when I tell stories about what I did in middle school with the kids, they go.
[00:14:32] You know, they, they wait for the punchline and they, and then I say, yeah, we did that in middle school. And they're, they're, you know, they almost hit the floor.
[00:14:38] Brian Beckcom: [00:14:38] Yeah. Well, so, so you're a river guide and your view, you have the job for one day,
[00:14:45] Toby Flinn: [00:14:45] one day. Yeah.
[00:14:46] Brian Beckcom: [00:14:46] So, so what did you do after that?
[00:14:49] Toby Flinn: [00:14:49] So then I had to decide what I was gonna do.
[00:14:51] so I went straight to, I went to Seattle and I decided I'm going to go, I'm going to go to Alaska. I really want to see Alaska. And so I'm sitting in the Barnes and [00:15:00] noble back when we had bookstores, when that was the place to hang out. Right. having a cup of coffee again, I mean, The life was great.
[00:15:07] You know, I had, I had enough money in the bank to last me a year. no obligations and sitting in, in Seattle, really, you know, walking around the war, actually close to where you and I were. I was down there and I said, why don't we go to Alaska? So I got to, I got the book on Alaska. And this just goes to show you how kind of, you know, how, how stupid you feel.
[00:15:28] Sometimes I looked at the map and Alaska is like 3000 miles away from Seattle driving. And I thought that's
[00:15:37] Brian Beckcom: [00:15:37] the math that doesn't look like it's that far,
[00:15:39] Toby Flinn: [00:15:39] no driving, driving. It is that far,
[00:15:42] Brian Beckcom: [00:15:42] but it's only about three inches on the map. Yeah
[00:15:46] Toby Flinn: [00:15:46] cause the curvature, but, you know, by, by boat, it's closer.
[00:15:51] So, you know, once I say, well, that's, that's going to be tough and it's, you know, it's the Yukon trail. And I didn't know if my truck was up for it. So, so then I decided, well, what am I gonna do next? [00:16:00] So then I decided I'm going to go find my, my friend, Casey, who was living in Los Gatos, California, the cats, and ended up staying with them for, I think about three months, took a waiter job at the green papaya Vietnamese restaurant.
[00:16:12] And I got to hang out and. With some Vietnamese folks for about three months in the back kitchen. So, and then after that was, it was, it was a big figure eight and I had got some interesting stories of waking up in Yellowstone with, you know, a moose, you know, this head in my window and Mmm. I didn't stay in one hotel.
[00:16:30] My goal was not one hotel.
[00:16:33] Brian Beckcom: [00:16:33] How long were you doing this? I think
[00:16:36] Toby Flinn: [00:16:36] I was on the road for nine months and I'll never forget Ryan. I was in DC at the monument soon as Smithsonian. And it's like, you know, when you've exercised or you've done something and you've hit a wall, like it's something that you can't explain.
[00:16:51] It's not, it's both physical and mental. That's your body just says you're done. And it wasn't that I was physically [00:17:00] tired. but I was done. It was like Forrest Gump when he just stops running, he's just, I'm done.
[00:17:06] Brian Beckcom: [00:17:06] What a great, what a great way to put it. Cause everybody will remember that scene cause he just ran forever.
[00:17:11] And then all of a sudden he's just like, boom, I'm done.
[00:17:13] Toby Flinn: [00:17:13] I stopped. And I, and I, and I headed back to Texas. So when
[00:17:18] Brian Beckcom: [00:17:18] you, when we're going to talk about the Marines quite a bit, but before we get to that, we, cause this is really a little bit of an into the wild story. I mean a little bit, I mean you figure, right?
[00:17:29] So you were in the
[00:17:29] Toby Flinn: [00:17:29] North. Well, the way up to Canada, To Canada and all that. So I've got a couple of funny stories on that. I'll never forget. I pulled into a, kind of a, a feed store in Montana and way up in the mountains. And I w I was just going to get a cup of coffee, cause I've been driving all night and early in the morning and I pulled up and I had to remember that Toyota truck I had.
[00:17:50] It was a black, old style it's way to truck, just to normal, just a small truck. But if you remember back then Texas license plates, they would say Texas truck. If it [00:18:00] was a pickup. And so on the last way to said Texas truck, and I pulled up to the, to this, each store. And next to me, you know, it was probably a F three 50, duly, a work truck, not a, not a, the kind of trucks you see at an apartment complex.
[00:18:16] And this old codger gets out of the truck and, you know, limping the, you know, kind of leaning over to one side and he walks out and he, he looks at my, my license plates and he looks at me and he says, So y'all call those trucks in Texas and then turned around and continued to March on his business.
[00:18:36] Brian Beckcom: [00:18:36] Yeah.
[00:18:36] That, that, that, that I can totally get that. So Northwest Northwest Canada, California, Montana. And you didn't stay in a hotel once and nine hours, where were you staying?
[00:18:49] Toby Flinn: [00:18:49] either, basically in the parks and in the parks systems. so mostly in the parks, you'll find that it's actually really hard sometimes though, when there's no parks and you can, you kind of get an [00:19:00] understanding of what am I might be like to be homeless, meaning let's say someone who's a professional, but has lost their home.
[00:19:07] It's actually really kind of hard. To find a place to shower, to use the restroom that you to change in. And, you know, you kind of get a sense. There's a lot of people who do that, but anyway, it was difficult. it was difficult. Sometimes it wasn't, it wasn't as romantic as it sounds, but it definitely, it definitely made me pretty, I guess, top cause there was times around where I was thinking, this is ridiculous.
[00:19:33] You know, what am I doing? Get back to get back to work. Like everybody else's. So
[00:19:38] Brian Beckcom: [00:19:38] there's a long tradition in literature and religion and, and, the spiritual traditions generally of basically taking a trip or a journey, or there's all different ways. I think there's a, you know, people call it a, what do they call it?
[00:19:58] A spirit [00:20:00] walk or something, you know, basically the idea is. You go away for, like, for instance, Jesus goes away for 40 days, I think in the wilderness, that that would be one very prominent example. So, you know, when I think about those times because you and I spent a lot of time together in college, a lot of time, and we had a lot of fun and we, we, we became very close and then all of a sudden you're gone and you're just traveling the country.
[00:20:28] And so from my perspective, Again, it always seemed like an, it seemed like you were searching for something. It seemed like you were looking for something. So during this time, this nine months, when you're traveling the country and sleeping in parks, What, what are you trying to accomplish? What are you doing?
[00:20:45] Like what's going through your mind.
[00:20:46] Toby Flinn: [00:20:46] Yeah. You know, I think that, I think that you, that you, that you hit it, Brian, I think you hit a couple points there, you know, it's, it's, it's kind of the man in the cage story from, from Plato, right? So, you know, the guy that leaves the, the, the one prisoner who [00:21:00] breaks free of his shackles, he breaks three.
[00:21:02] And he, you know, the images that he saw his whole life were just shadows. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. He thought that was reality. He gets away, he breaks through and he walks by and he sees kind of the puppeteers on the ground. And then he, then he goes out and he sees the sun and, you know, that's reality. So, yeah, I think that's kind of going back to what you were saying, which is, you know, which is today, let's face it.
[00:21:23] It's the, it's the Bilbo Baggins, you know, it's the, it's the Epic of Gilgamesh, you know, it's those, it says kind of going out and. Some people are kind of called to go out. Some people are pulled out. I was definitely pulled out of that. And I think it was, you know, I could say things like to find yourself, but I think it was to get away, from just.
[00:21:47] Everything and see what was I made of, you know, because let's face it when you're, when you're around people, your whole life, you're sometimes living in what and what they expect you to be. And I [00:22:00] mean, we still do that today, whether it's your spouse and some of that's good. Right. I mean, some of those are norms that we, that we have to have just to live together, but I wanted to get away and be on my own and say what, you know, what is Toby really like?
[00:22:12] Brian Beckcom: [00:22:12] Yeah. Yeah. And that's, that's interesting. You'd say that because. You know, I I've, I've considered and I'll eventually do this. I don't know if you've ever heard of these intensive 10 day meditation retreats where, there's no drinking, it's all vegetarian food. You wake up at four in the morning, you meditate basically for 15 hours a day.
[00:22:32] There's no communication, not even looking at people. And you do that for 10 days. And I've read stories about this. I mean, it's basically complete and total isolation for 10 days with nothing but your mind. Yeah, I've read stories about how, you know, the first three or four days of this are horrible.
[00:22:51] They're terrible because people just aren't comfortable with their own thought process. But after a while people say that by the time they're done with this, they [00:23:00] just have this sense of clarity and this sense of ease. And, you know, especially nowadays Toby, when we're just constantly bombarded by incoming information from screens.
[00:23:13] It's like, we never have a time to just sit back and contemplate life and our place in the universe and things like that. So did you use that opportunity to kind of maybe get some clarity on what she wanted to do? Or was it more like you just, I just don't know what I want to do right now. So I'm going to go travel the country.
[00:23:34] Toby Flinn: [00:23:34] It's funny. I think it was all of those, all of those Brian, we could do it a whole, probably five podcasts on, you know, kind of this kind of the, what you learned from being on your own and kind of going through, I remember having those moments, you said the first four days, I remember the first day or two days leading, leaving all my stuff in storage, going.
[00:23:55] This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. you know, after the, after the [00:24:00] adrenaline rush goes of, I'm, I'm breaking free from the co from the corporate America. I remember thinking this is a terrible idea. what have I done? I've given up everything. but. I mean to answer your question simply, certainly to find myself like, who am I, what do I want to do?
[00:24:17] And, you know, at that age, what you do for a living is very important, right? I mean, that's less important. I think now in our lives is still important, but I think at that age, I was really trying to think of what. What am I like, what am I going to do for the rest of my life? and so I, you know, I stumbled across some ideas, you know, I, in fact, I, you know, in the spiritual life, I really thought hard about, the vocation to the priesthood.
[00:24:40] and I really, pursue that end up finding that that was not, not the past. for me. And, so that was great. You know, there was, there were some great learning points in that, but what you're saying, finding space where there's no noise is so difficult today, it's not a fashionable to [00:25:00] do that.
[00:25:00] We don't actually want to do that. Right. We choose not to do that. If you have a moment, what are you doing? You're not, you're not closing your eyes.
[00:25:09] Brian Beckcom: [00:25:09] Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's interesting. I, I, I started meditating a little less than 10 years ago and there's a famous saying, I forget right now who's said it, but.
[00:25:21] they said the most problems with the human race can be traced to the inability of man to sit in a room by himself for 10 minutes. Right. When I first started meditating, I meditated and I've written about this publicly. I meditated because I was having a lot of anxiety. I was having panic attacks. And I remember just like, you're saying the first time I sat down for five minutes, it seemed like an eternity.
[00:25:42] I could not believe how long it lasted, but once you start. Meditating for awhile. You, you, you get a little bit of distance between your thoughts, a little bit of clarity, but, but it is hard, especially nowadays meditation is not something that just happens. I mean, you have to make an effort to [00:26:00] do it. And especially nowadays, I think it's really, really important to do so.
[00:26:05] So you're, you're on your journey and you're nine months into this journey and you're in Washington DC,
[00:26:13] Toby Flinn: [00:26:13] right
[00:26:13] Brian Beckcom: [00:26:13] on Lake forest. Like you said, you just stopped running. What was it that caused you to stop running?
[00:26:19] Toby Flinn: [00:26:19] You know, it's fun. It's, I'd say it's kind of like being on a long bike ride or run. You don't, you don't know what it was, but your body, your soul has done.
[00:26:29] Yeah. For you. Somebody else could have gone longer or shorter, but for you. It was done. And I think I, you know, and I'd love to say that all my questions were answered, you know, I got it. I know, I know who I am now. I'm going to do this, this and this for the rest of my life. But you know, I'd say that, you know, I took a big risk doing that.
[00:26:52] Right. because nobody was doing that. In fact, a lot of people said, this is a terrible idea. And I remember [00:27:00] asking my mother, mom, what do you think I should do? This is what I want to do. And a mother is usually very cautious with her, with her baby son out of four of us. She said, you know, you might be able to do this when you're older, but you won't want to.
[00:27:16] and I think that was good advice, meaning I might have time later, but you just might not have the drive to do it. So to answer your question simply there is no, there isn't anything that can point to why I stopped, but I think I had, I guess if I could say it, you know, you know, in my mind and soul, as I got what I needed,
[00:27:38] Brian Beckcom: [00:27:38] Yeah.
[00:27:39] Well, shout out to Kathy, your mom, one of my favorite people in the world. How's she doing by the way?
[00:27:44] Toby Flinn: [00:27:44] She's doing great. She thinks highly of you. That's one reason why we moved back to San Antonio.
[00:27:49] Brian Beckcom: [00:27:49] Hey, can I have the, if you're listening, I miss you, man. You used to send me emails, send me some more emails.
[00:27:53] Toby Flinn: [00:27:53] Oh, be careful what you ask for my
[00:27:57] Brian Beckcom: [00:27:57] once a week. Just send me once a week.
[00:28:00] [00:28:00] Toby Flinn: [00:28:00] She's doing great. She's a, you know, she's, she's really showed her spirit. You know, she marched with Martin Luther King when she was younger. She actually works for the FBI at the time. And they, she told me that they even told her you might not want to be doing this again.
[00:28:15] I don't think there was anything, you know, covert about it. It was just. Backyard. So she's, she's really been interested in, but talking a lot about what's going on today, which is probably a whole another podcast.
[00:28:28] Brian Beckcom: [00:28:28] Yeah. Maybe I'll get her on the podcast. She I'd love to love to see her and you know, not, not to get on a sidetrack here, but your mom in many ways, at least in my perspective is a little bit like my dad, because.
[00:28:44] Like my dad had a tragic event happened when my brother and I were very young and he basically had to raise us as a single father. And your mom, as I recall her, something happened to her first husband.
[00:28:56] Toby Flinn: [00:28:56] Her first day has been good. Aggie got killed by a drunk [00:29:00] driver. He worked for the Texas highway department.
[00:29:02] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:02] Yeah. And he was on the job
[00:29:03] Toby Flinn: [00:29:03] when it happened. So it was like,
[00:29:05] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:05] Out of nowhere. And, and that was not your, it was that, that was not your
[00:29:09] Toby Flinn: [00:29:09] biological. That was my oldest brother, Michael and Melissa's father. So they were, I think four and three or four and two, I think.
[00:29:18] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:18] Yeah. And so your mom has always, I've always been, your mom's always motivated me a lot just because I know that she, she went through some, you know, some tough times, some really tough times, but man, when you look at the, the kids she raised.
[00:29:33] And how you guys turned out. It's just a, it's just kind of remarkable. So seriously tell her I said, hi,
[00:29:39] Toby Flinn: [00:29:39] she'll be happy to hear that, Brian.
[00:29:40] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:40] Yeah. So, so you, you stopped running and nine 11 has not happened at this point,
[00:29:46] Toby Flinn: [00:29:46] correct? Yeah. It's not happened yet. This is roughly, this is about 2000. Yeah.
[00:29:51] Brian Beckcom: [00:29:51] And so what do you do next?
[00:29:53] Toby Flinn: [00:29:53] So 2000 come back to, so nine 11 has not come back or hasn't happened yet. And. So I go back to [00:30:00] Dallas, you know, and which is, you know, probably my least favorite city. Sorry, sorry, Dallas. And I went to work for my old boss and, we were there starting, starting an office. It was kind of a startup.
[00:30:17] We were starting a new office for a firm that's based out of Arizona. so it was a, it was a construction business. So commercial construction. So high rise is hospitals, big stuff. And, I went to work for Bryce Hill. You remember Lance Hill? Probably Brian, his father. Sure. really, probably one of the, you know, You know, he's he was a prominent business construction guy in Texas was what did I just leave it at that?
[00:30:44] And I went to work for him. He was a good man and, the nine 11
[00:30:47] Brian Beckcom: [00:30:47] happened. And so what happens to Toby Flint when nine 11 happens?
[00:30:54] Toby Flinn: [00:30:54] So, you know, at this time I was still discerning what I'm going to do with my life. I was looking at grad school. [00:31:00] I'm was looking at law school. You know, a lot of those things people go through still.
[00:31:04] So although I had taken my trip,
[00:31:07] Brian Beckcom: [00:31:07] no kids, no kids,
[00:31:08] Toby Flinn: [00:31:08] no kids. So yeah. You know that, that's an interesting point. I'd kind of decided that I'm not, I'm not even gonna date anybody. you know, I'm going to be, I'm going to be kind of a monk. If you will. I, there was just so much that I needed to kind of learn and fight.
[00:31:20] I wasn't working through wrestling through, emotional issues or any, or any hang ups. It was just, there was so much out there in the world. Brandon. I needed to know, I guess I wanted to know it. Mmm. And I didn't want anybody to slowing me down or I better, better said I didn't want to be distracted.
[00:31:37] Yeah, for sure. And so I'll never forget, was listening to the radio when the, when the airplane hit the towers in Dallas, down downtown Dallas. And, and I went home that night. and my sister's birthday is on September lab. And so we talked and yeah, she was obviously upset about it. I remember going to it to the, to the Catholic church.
[00:31:58] We're closer to where I live now and I [00:32:00] went to pray and yeah, I'd certainly ask that. What do you want me to do? You know, here I am. What do you want me to do? And I've, I've asked you a lot, just, just tell me, you know, I'm tired of playing this game, you know, probably probably angry, you know, Brian, I mean probably angry, like, you know, things are going on.
[00:32:18] I need some direction and you know, you always want something to come down like a lightening bolt load. Very rarely does that happen to anybody. but you know, For whatever reason I decided I'm going to join the Marine Corps. I'm going to do one tour and at the Marine, and if the Marine Corp won't take me, then I'm not going.
[00:32:37] Mmm. For some reason I had that in my mind.
[00:32:40] Brian Beckcom: [00:32:40] Yeah. So, so walk us through that process. You you're, you're working, you got a good job. And now all of a sudden you're going to make a massive change. You know, like I was talking to, with Blake. Getting in the Marine Corps after nine 11 is basically a virtual guarantee that you're going to combat.
[00:33:00] [00:33:00] Right. Right. I mean that, like there, there's almost no doubt about it at this point. Like, like I'll just ask you, like, when you joined the Marines, was your expectation that you would end up in combat?
[00:33:12] Toby Flinn: [00:33:12] yes, it was, it was my expectation. I would have been, in some words I would have been storied disappointed if I, if I had not.
[00:33:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:33:19] Yeah. And this is something that for people that have not served in the military, some people, I think it's hard for, for us to appreciate that feeling like most people do not want to run into a combat zone. Like that's the last thing they want to do. And especially when they're comfortable in the United States and they're a little bit older and.
[00:33:42] Then I'll have to do it because there are younger kids that are already doing it for us. So what was it about, I mean, cause it just sounds a little bit, frankly, nuts to go and fight people. So what, what, what, where did you, where, where, where did that come from?
[00:33:57] Toby Flinn: [00:33:57] You know, I think you could, I think you could trace this back.
[00:33:59] I've never, I've never [00:34:00] done this on paper, but I think you could trace it back to when I, when I kind of traveled around the United States, Brian, I, I broke free. Right. So I left the dominance. Right. So I. I hadn't read Plato's the cave at that time. I think, I mean, I'd heard of it. I kind of heard this story of Epic of Gilgamesh and that kind of Luke Skywalker.
[00:34:19] We all, we understand the archetype hero, which, which is that's, who you've been talking to right on your podcast, Brian, you know, the, the architect heroes who've kind of gone out. Mmm. And so I think that that did that, did that trip away kind of, you know, it allowed me to say this isn't that crazy. Yeah, this is going out into the wilderness again, but now instead of being, you know, you know, kind of slowly being pulled out to go see the United States and travel, I was, I felt like I was being called.
[00:34:46] Brian Beckcom: [00:34:46] Yeah. So what is it like? So, you know, blank said, I found the Marine Corps station that had a slot, so I could virtually guarantee if I could get through, I would get some sort [00:35:00] of commission of some sort. So walk us through. I mean, has it officer candidate
[00:35:04] Toby Flinn: [00:35:04] school first is it is, it is. Well, you and I, so you and I were in the Corps cadets and I joined the military was probably out of a hundred, pretty close to a hundred.
[00:35:14] When I got out of the Corps, cadets don't come from a family of military. So even the Corps cadets was pretty foreign to me. And so it wasn't on my list. And so I didn't even know where to go. but I did find the, the Oso. So basically an officer who kind of selects officers in, in the city, and you signed some paperwork and they give you a physical fitness test and you're before you know it, you know, then you, then you get your, you have to take some tests and drug tests and.
[00:35:44] All of that stuff. And then before, you know, it, you, you get a letter says you've been accepted and then you go, Oh my goodness. I, I actually did this, you know?
[00:35:54] Brian Beckcom: [00:35:54] Yeah. So it's pretty
[00:35:55] Toby Flinn: [00:35:55] quick. Yeah. It's a blur, to be honest with you,
[00:35:59] Brian Beckcom: [00:35:59] are we talking a couple of [00:36:00] weeks, a month, two months, or just like look up and all of a sudden you're in basic training,
[00:36:05] Toby Flinn: [00:36:05] like, so nine 11 happened, right?
[00:36:07] So I was in the first OCS class, post nine 11. So the first, very first OCS class after nine 11, I was in, and that was January 18th. So from September to January 18th, January 18th, I was in Quantico, Virginia. With somebody yelling at me getting my trunk full of Q-tips and white underwear and throwing them all over the parade deck, you know, do the math it's, you know, it's, it's a very short fuse.
[00:36:34] Brian Beckcom: [00:36:34] Yeah. Very short, very short. So first class. Oh, has I imagine. That, that class probably had a mix of people that did it kind of what I would consider the traditional way, where they graduated from college and they're in ROTC program. And then they go immediately into the military, but I'll bet you, there were some guys in your class who were like you, that did got in for [00:37:00] basically the same reasons that you did.
[00:37:01] So what was, what was that
[00:37:02] Toby Flinn: [00:37:02] like? There were, I'll start off quickly with me arriving into Quantico. And there was snow on the ground. And I remember looking at how beautiful Virginia is, you know, the rolling Hills, the landscapes. And I tell you what, you know, this is a common phrase in Quantico. When you drive in, you see landscape.
[00:37:23] to go on and go, when you lead, you see terrain, right?
[00:37:27] Brian Beckcom: [00:37:27] I love that. That's cool.
[00:37:29] Toby Flinn: [00:37:29] And I re I never remember seeing snow on the ground. And I remember thinking this might not have been a good idea. again, similar to the trip around the United States and Canada, this might not been a good idea. And if you don't think that, then you're probably not.
[00:37:47] Taking the risks that you need to take. And I think you could agree with that being a successful business owner. If you're not questioning yourself, is this crazy? then you're probably playing it too safe. Yes to [00:38:00] actually question it was full of, it was probably half and half. And I was probably one of, one of, one of my biggest fears that I was going to have some of the guys that we went to school with and gals who were hard chargers, understood the military, who, you know, really were tight with the, with the military culture.
[00:38:17] And I was not, I was not in that culture. Mmm. And so I was a little nervous of that. I was, I was nervous. I was in a different place in my life and yeah. So. I was, I was curious to see how I was going to handle that.
[00:38:31] Brian Beckcom: [00:38:31] You know, it's interesting that, you know, you talk about being, being afraid and being nervous.
[00:38:36] And I think some people have maybe have an impression that especially Marines don't have fear. And as far as I can tell, not only is it, you know, to me, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fear and going through with it anyway. Right, right. And people that don't have a little bit of fear about.
[00:38:56] For example, joining the Marine Corps right after nine [00:39:00] 11, probably have a screw loose in some capacity. Right? I mean, so, so the point is, is, is you have these, you have these fears, but you do it anyway and you just kind of force yourself to do it. So how was, so it was an officer candidate school first, or the basics
[00:39:16] Toby Flinn: [00:39:16] correctly?
[00:39:16] It was officer can school. So that's 10 weeks. So 10 weeks in the winter in Virginia. And you and I are from Texas. We're not really used to the cold, the cold. Cool. Yeah.
[00:39:30] Yeah. I, I remember breaking ice and I'm not, I'm trying to make this sound glamorous or, or, or more tough than it was, but I remember breaking ice with my to get through, you know, you're, you're, you're, you're going through a pond about this high. Yeah. Breaking your name 16 and. If you're from Texas, you're thinking there's no way I'm gonna, you know, I'm not cut out for this.
[00:39:52] Brian Beckcom: [00:39:52] Yeah. I'm, I'm definitely not cut. I don't like the cold, so I'm not
[00:39:55] Toby Flinn: [00:39:55] sure that's why you're wearing a vest right now. Exactly,
[00:39:58] Brian Beckcom: [00:39:58] exactly. Exactly. [00:40:00] Although I will tell you this, I started jumping in my pool every morning, cause my pool is cold and I hate it. And I figure if I just do some things that I don't like to do, maybe I would make myself a
[00:40:11] Toby Flinn: [00:40:11] little
[00:40:11] Brian Beckcom: [00:40:11] bit.
[00:40:12] And you know, now I've gotten to the point where I really look forward to it actually.
[00:40:15] Toby Flinn: [00:40:15] Isn't that an amazing concept. Why do we, you know, and I exercise in the morning for the same reason, I start off doing something that I don't want to do. And why does it make me better? I don't know. That's a whole, another podcast.
[00:40:26] Brian Beckcom: [00:40:26] That's a whole nother podcast, but, but it is interesting how quickly you can. So, so I, you know, I decided at the beginning of this year that I had for the past couple of years, I'd kind of. been lazy. Like I hadn't been pushing myself. I, my, my business was gone. Well, kids are going well, stuff like that, but I wasn't challenging myself in the way I needed to.
[00:40:47] And I felt like I was getting a little soft, frankly. So I started jumping in a cold pool. I took up Brazilian jujitsu. I did a few other things to push myself. And it's funny because you know, most of the time you don't want to get up and do those things. They're hard, they're [00:41:00] challenging. You can get hurt, but when you do them, man, you feel so much better.
[00:41:05] Then you do. If you just sit around. and try to do things that make you feel good all the time. Right. That's an
[00:41:11] Toby Flinn: [00:41:11] interesting concept. Isn't it? We should talk more about that later.
[00:41:15] Brian Beckcom: [00:41:15] Yeah, for sure. So you're, you're in, so you're you get through officer candidate school, and then after that you go to the basic school,
[00:41:23] Toby Flinn: [00:41:23] you go to the basic UI.
[00:41:24] So you roll you roll right into the basic school. So basically, you know, essentially it's, you know, it's, it's, the TBS is tent is six months and. That's a little less bootcamp fish. I say bootcampers because Oxford, Kansas school is not bootcamp. it's for it's the opposite can school. It's a different, has a different feel to it.
[00:41:45] I never been to boot camp, but my friends who did, I can tell you that bootcamp is more psychological OCS is more physical. You know, I try to crush you that way. I will say this though. It's funny. I did learn some hats, some tricks from the core cadets. It was [00:42:00] about no SCS. It was probably like week seven.
[00:42:03] And there was a guy that was, two bunks down from it. Cause you sleep in a big squad Bay and he said, Toby, he goes, I didn't even know you were in my platoon until week seven. He goes, how did you do that? And it's funny, I learned that don't draw attention to yourself and don't try to be the best. Don't try to be the worst, just keep your mouth shut.
[00:42:25] and that was hard for me. Cause as you know, I started growing up as a kid really bad. And so there was moments when you had to rattle off some things, and I'll never forget, some of the drill instructors, Bay. And they are probably still laughing. It's plan trying to say something and stuttering, and they just good.
[00:42:48] Very, very good humor. But again, another thing that kind of teaches you to be humble.
[00:42:52] Brian Beckcom: [00:42:52] Yeah. You know, and my, my good friend or you are good mutual friend, Carl bag, he had a saying that it's always stuck in my head. He says, you got to [00:43:00] block and tackle first. Like you got a block and tackle first. And so I think one thing you and I learned in the Corps, especially as freshmen.
[00:43:07] He's got to put your head down and you gotta make your grades and you got to block and tackle.
[00:43:10] Toby Flinn: [00:43:10] Yeah.
[00:43:11] Brian Beckcom: [00:43:11] And then afterwards you can, yeah. You know, assume a leadership position, whatever, whatever, whatever it may be. So you get out of. The basic school,
[00:43:21] Toby Flinn: [00:43:21] basic
[00:43:22] Brian Beckcom: [00:43:22] infantry officer. Right.
[00:43:25] Toby Flinn: [00:43:25] So I was, I was a logistics officer, at that time, but joined, but, joined a, a infantry battalion.
[00:43:35] That's a whole funny story too. we, we, we can get to that shortly, but yeah, so a logistics officer, they sent me some, some training. you know, I, it wasn't very long. It was probably not, maybe three months and then straight to, from there straight to camp Pendleton. Mmm. For about two weeks and then straight to the deserts of Kuwait.
[00:43:57] And I mean, there was this, this was before anything was built up in [00:44:00] Kuwait.
[00:44:00] Brian Beckcom: [00:44:00] So as a logistics officer, are you in charge of a group of enlisted men? Or how does
[00:44:06] Toby Flinn: [00:44:06] that, so, yeah, so when you're in an infantry battalion, you know, the Marine Corps is infantry centric, you know, it is as is the army. and, and, and rightfully so.
[00:44:18] So if you're not infantry, you are, you are a second class citizen and they do eat their young. Yeah. And. When you're a logistics officer, if we've been telling you actually have a significant job, because nobody wants to do that step, but I, so you, you, you have a platoon just like your infantry, Brendan, who, you know, I had 45, enlisted, men in my platoon.
[00:44:42] And then, some interesting things happen where I actually became a company commander and that if two battalion. Probably broke some rules, but my bank commander made it happen. And so there was,
[00:44:52] Brian Beckcom: [00:44:52] so what is the logistics? So, so I understand what an infantry officer does. You basically have an infantry platoon, and you're in charge of these enlisted [00:45:00] guys and, and basically.
[00:45:02] you are responsible for their wellbeing. So how was it different or was it different as a logistics office?
[00:45:10] Toby Flinn: [00:45:10] Yeah, it is, it is different. And again, I'm going to preface by saying my experience was very different because if you remember, as a, as it was everybody's, this was the wild West. This was.
[00:45:20] Operation Iraqi freedom. One. This was literally invading a country. Nobody in that battalion had ever done anything like this before. Yeah. so my job was so initially it was to get the, the battalion across the border. So everything from movements in the order of movements to, you know, where are you where you get supplies.
[00:45:45] So the schedule for, you know, how you get from point a to point B. and again, when w when we crossed the border, it was, it was not an, a super organized, no movement. It was going across the desert with, you know, [00:46:00] vehicles getting lost and. Hold on their story there, but, let's back up again. I was actually in charge of construction.
[00:46:07] Brian Beckcom: [00:46:07] Let let's back up just a little bit, because I want to, I want to hear about like, what's going through your mind when you land in a combat, essentially a combat, like, are you looking forward to it? Are you nervous? Is it mixed emotions? Like what are you thinking about when, cause you know, for certain. At this point when you're in Kuwait, you are going into combat period.
[00:46:27] Toby Flinn: [00:46:27] Yeah. I honestly thought there's no way this is going to happen. you're, you're, you're kind of thinking this is not really gonna happen. but then it does happen. You start to see, I was one of the first ones on the ground as my battalion was on a ship coming over. the infantry battalion was, and so I was in the middle of desert with about 15 people living in a tent.
[00:46:47] Like in the middle of nowhere. And so you kind of feel like you're, I feel like I was back in the desert again, right? I, here I am back on, you know, alone. It's very quiet. It was, it was just getting cold. It was [00:47:00] probably early. It was late February. And so in my mind, I'm thinking this isn't going to happen.
[00:47:05] But then you start to see the buildup of troops coming and then you still don't think it's going to happen. You're kind of in disbelief. I mean, you're preparing for it so that when the battalion hits the ground, Brian, we're all we're doing is preparing. So everybody's cleaning, cleaning weapons. There's very limited maneuvers.
[00:47:18] You can do training. You can do, might be a fire, your weapons into a sand pile to make sure that they work. you know, I had a nine millimeter. I was an officer, so. I would have better luck throwing that nine millimeter at somebody's hurting them than shooting him with it, but that's the best you're going to do in that environment.
[00:47:36] And then I'll pause there, but we got the call to go across the border and then, then, then it was real.
[00:47:42] Brian Beckcom: [00:47:42] Then, then the, you know what hit the fan essentially, I would have said.
[00:47:46] Toby Flinn: [00:47:46] It was real. It was real. And it was very non eventful. Initially we crossed into the board, we passed some Bedouin tents and here I am seeing old tanks from Gulf war.
[00:47:57] This is when you're starting to get a history lesson, right. [00:48:00] You're starting to go. I'm going into Mesopotamia. You're not going into Canada. Yeah,
[00:48:07] Brian Beckcom: [00:48:07] what a way to put it to Mesopotamian it and people that are familiar with the history of that region will remember that after world war two, Essentially that divided up.
[00:48:17] Mesopotamian Iraq, Iran, Syria. I think Syria was included, Afghanistan, maybe some of those other countries, but the point is the borders of that region were, were, artificial borders.
[00:48:32] Toby Flinn: [00:48:32] Like
[00:48:33] Brian Beckcom: [00:48:33] we don't, I think appreciate as Americans. The culture in Mesopotamia is very tribal. And within the religion of Islam, there are three main sex, but there are two big sex Sunni and Shia.
[00:48:46] And so you're traveling basically into the biblical country of Mesopotamia. And w what do you, I mean, what's it like going through, you know, the, the w probably one of [00:49:00] the most historical places in human history, I mean, are you looking for people to. Engage or, or what, I mean, what do you, what are you doing?
[00:49:09] Toby Flinn: [00:49:09] Well? So the initial part of the invasion was, you know, was very non-eventful meaning crossing the actual line of departure as we would call it as the Iraqi Kuwait border. But after we started going in through the city, our first city was on NAZA Rhea and that was really messy. So the battalions were doing a picket fence.
[00:49:28] So first Marine division. So one, one battalion would kind of go in on a road and peel off and, you know, and their weapons, outboard and fire and cover while the other battalion kind of plows through. Mmm. And so that was very, you know, that's when it, you feel like you're in a movie, is this basketball
[00:49:46] Brian Beckcom: [00:49:46] actually shooting back at you?
[00:49:47] Toby Flinn: [00:49:47] This is when people are shooting at you and you have a soft skin Humvee, which makes me laugh now because now, you know, it might, you know, that fast forward. Nine years later, I'm in Afghanistan, I'm riding in like a monster truck that, you [00:50:00] know, you know, nobody could blow this thing up. and so we're driving through Jeep.
[00:50:05] Some of them don't even have doors, right. you know, I'll never forget. So in RPG, we're driving at night and RPG went right over the hood of our Humvee and my Marine, Lance corporal, he freaked out. He, he couldn't, he could not, he couldn't hang, he couldn't handle all the commotion. So we had to switch drivers.
[00:50:25] I mean, just. There's a lot of things where you really feel like you're, you're in a movie because you don't have a context what time you'd ever seen it. It's been in a movie, second training. Right. But now it's for real.
[00:50:36] Brian Beckcom: [00:50:36] What was it like the first time somebody fired at you and anger? What did that feel like?
[00:50:42] I mean, what's it like. Like you were nervous or you're scared. It was like the training kicked in and you just kind of do what the training
[00:50:48] Toby Flinn: [00:50:48] takes, do what you need to do. You don't. And that's when I think, yeah, you, you do what you need to do. And you're impressed by the number of people who do what they need to do.
[00:50:57] You don't see people, you see very few [00:51:00] people going high into the right. Meaning the people who have a couple of, you know, you know, they aren't all altogether in their brain. You don't see that a lot. You don't see many people kind of freeze, but you do see both.
[00:51:14] Brian Beckcom: [00:51:14] So, so you, so you go through this first city was the name of the city
[00:51:18] Toby Flinn: [00:51:18] and Nigeria.
[00:51:20] Brian Beckcom: [00:51:20] And then, and then do you take the city or what happens
[00:51:22] Toby Flinn: [00:51:22] after that? No, we don't take the city so general madness, at the time the kind of the strategy was, was to push through. So get to Baghdad. well our mission was to do a faint in our coop and kind of draw some of Saddam's forces down to us as the army kind of swung way to the West and took Baghdad.
[00:51:42] so first Marine division, his job initially was to be a faint, to draw forces, to thinking we were going to come up from the East central East. and again, you know, we're traveling along roads, you know, just like highways. And I would say for the most part, pretty good highways. I rec. You can't swing a cat without [00:52:00] getting an engineer in Iraq.
[00:52:01] lot of them are very smart people industrious. So their infrastructure, you know, it was very good in a lot of places.
[00:52:08] Brian Beckcom: [00:52:08] Yeah. And so you say you're basically a fine or a decoy
[00:52:13] Toby Flinn: [00:52:13] decoy.
[00:52:13] Brian Beckcom: [00:52:13] So you're drawn forces away. And so to kind of walk us through what happens during this time
[00:52:19] Toby Flinn: [00:52:19] period, you know, so, and I'll kind of preface this by saying the first deployment to Iraq was very different than the second one.
[00:52:25] The first one had some hostilities upfront. We went all the way into Baghdad. you know, we saw, we encountered some enemy here and there. We lost our first Marine outside of Baghdad to a sniper. So after all of that, you lost our only Marine or not our only, but our first Marine outside of Baghdad to a sniper, we marched into Baghdad, which is where that picture behind you is taken.
[00:52:49] That's solder city.
[00:52:51] Brian Beckcom: [00:52:51] So everybody watching on YouTube, I've got a picture in the background and I've got, I've got Toby
[00:52:58] Toby Flinn: [00:52:58] and another Marine [00:53:00] yet. He's with you there. I can't, I can't remember his name, Brian.
[00:53:04] Brian Beckcom: [00:53:04] Okay. So where, so this picture is, I think he told me before we started, this is in Baghdad.
[00:53:10] Toby Flinn: [00:53:10] It is.
[00:53:10] Yeah. So that's overlooking solder city, which is in Baghdad.
[00:53:14] Brian Beckcom: [00:53:14] So you eventually, your, your, is it. Battalion. You're a battalion
[00:53:18] Toby Flinn: [00:53:18] harp. Italian. Yeah.
[00:53:19] Brian Beckcom: [00:53:19] Actually made it to
[00:53:20] Toby Flinn: [00:53:20] Baghdad. Yeah. So again, not very exciting, a lot of long days on the road with a couple of skirmishes here and there problems with getting fuel food.
[00:53:31] you know, that's when general manager really made a name for himself, of his strategy of getting to Baghdad, securing Baghdad, and then pushing back South to secure the areas. But so we got into Baghdad and, you know, we, it was, we were, we had liberated a city. You felt like you were, I mean, I always use this phrase when I talked to my kids, but you, you do feel like you're in a movie, people were throwing roses at your tank.
[00:53:56] So our battalion has tanks, you know, amphibious assault [00:54:00] vehicles, a lot of armor. And then they have guys like me and most of the infantry folks, just in soft skin, Humvees and people are throwing roses at you as we go into Baghdad. It's, it's, it's like a parade.
[00:54:10] Brian Beckcom: [00:54:10] I that's. That's unbelievable. So, so the overall reception of the civilian population was, it sounds like it was pretty positive for the most
[00:54:18] Toby Flinn: [00:54:18] part, you know, it was, but you know, you and I both know that there some, and when things happen in.
[00:54:28] You know, you, you don't know whether that's good or bad, but people were energetic I guess is the best way to say it.
[00:54:34] Brian Beckcom: [00:54:34] Yup. And at this point, has Saddam been toppled?
[00:54:38] Toby Flinn: [00:54:38] No. No, not at all. He had not. we had, we hadn't found him yet. we didn't know where he was.
[00:54:46] Brian Beckcom: [00:54:46] How long did you end up staying in Baghdad?
[00:54:49] Toby Flinn: [00:54:49] We were in Baghdad for probably about three weeks where that picture was taken from the, probably the seventh floor of a cigarette factory, Marines.
[00:54:57] We invade a cigarette factory, take it over. [00:55:00] And if you didn't smoke, when you got to that factory, you did when you left.
[00:55:07] Brian Beckcom: [00:55:07] So, so this is, w was, were there any other big events that happened, during your
[00:55:13] Toby Flinn: [00:55:13] first deployment? No, you know, it was very different. the two deployments are very different. This one was very, I would say, relatively peaceful.
[00:55:22] You know, I spent the rest of that nine months, the, my botanical journey that I had an engineering background and he put me in charge of rebuilding cities and kind of being a city engineer and city planner all over Southern Iraq. And we were driving around and. You know, Toyota trucks. Hi Lexis.
[00:55:36] Brian Beckcom: [00:55:36] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:55:38] Just like you saw on CNN, they had all these surgeons. Yeah. These insurgents piled into these pickups.
[00:55:44] Toby Flinn: [00:55:44] We were, we were driving, you know, very, it was not very, dangerous at that
[00:55:52] Brian Beckcom: [00:55:52] time. And then you come back to the Nanda. How long was your first deployment? Nine months,
[00:55:56] Toby Flinn: [00:55:56] nine months, nine months.
[00:55:58] Brian Beckcom: [00:55:58] And you come back.
[00:56:00] [00:55:59] Toby Flinn: [00:55:59] Come back and then train up nine months, go right back for nine months.
[00:56:03] Brian Beckcom: [00:56:03] And was that something you volunteered for? Is that something the Marine Corps said you're going back.
[00:56:10] Toby Flinn: [00:56:10] So once you, so your first kind of tour in the fleet, right? So now, now I'm into fleet. So. and that was also another choice I made when I was at TBS was I need to get into fleet dunk.
[00:56:20] I'm not going to go take a regimental staff job in Quantico or headquarters. I'm going to the fleet. In fact, that's the funny story is that's why I chose logistics. There's a couple reasons why I chose that one was because, I had a best shot of getting into the fleet fast, and to, work fast. And also my future wife was living in San Diego and I could have a pretty good chance to move from San Diego.
[00:56:40] Nice. But yeah. So the Marine Corps, once you get in the fleet, you're, you're in it for four years. you're not, you're not shifting around.
[00:56:49] Brian Beckcom: [00:56:49] Yup. So you go back. How long are you in the United States where you have to go back for another tour?
[00:56:54] Toby Flinn: [00:56:54] Nine months is very busy.
[00:56:58] Brian Beckcom: [00:56:58] How was this? So you [00:57:00] go, you went back to Iraq for your second tour,
[00:57:02] Toby Flinn: [00:57:02] back to Iraq.
[00:57:03] Brian Beckcom: [00:57:03] And how was the second tour? Different from the first tour?
[00:57:06] Toby Flinn: [00:57:06] Very different, things had changed, You know, the, Latasha solder, funny enough that where that picture is taken solder city, his son, his natal solder, and he had kind of, he had developed and kind of grown into a pretty prominent figure in the Shiite population.
[00:57:29] Sistani was kind of the, the, the lead religious leader. And we ended up being in Najah, which is kind of like the Rome. or the Vatican for the Shiite Muslims. So there was a lot was going on. We had things going on at Fallujah. We had things going on and were coming about. So. The NMA had, you know, all the energy was gone.
[00:57:56] There was a big vacuum obviously, and you know, that's a whole [00:58:00] another discussion on, on politics and strategy, but this deployment was all, almost all combat. It was all kinetic. Everything was serious. You weren't drinking tea and coffee and the local shop talking about, where somebody was from you were.
[00:58:16] You were fighting.
[00:58:17] Brian Beckcom: [00:58:17] Blake described the combat that he experienced as basically like a street to street combat for, for the most part, he said it was not necessarily like you would see in a, like a world war II movie. He said, he said a lot of the fights that he was fighting when he was there. We're we're we're close quarter, literally street to street.
[00:58:38] Yeah. Like urban combat essentially. Was that kind of what you were experiencing?
[00:58:43] Toby Flinn: [00:58:43] Absolutely. So we had a very, so we were in Nigeria, there was two major battles at this time. There was one in Najah and Felicia. No, I just came first and was kind of the blueprint for Fallujah in some ways now. Definitely different though.
[00:58:57] Not just, again, it was the Vatican of shied [00:59:00] Muslims, so very protected religious site. And the, the, the folks we were going against, looked at all solder and his militia, they had, they had kind of taken over a cemetery, which is full of catacombs. So think like, think like new Orleans catacombs were there's places to go down below.
[00:59:18] and so the, the fighting happened in the city and in the catacombs. So. Very very different than it was intense. I mean, it's, you know, when you make a mistake there it's somebody's life, you know, I mean, I, you know, I'll give you an example and this is Sergeant Moses wrote check. Great, great guy. He was my machine gunner.
[00:59:41] We were driving into the cemetery. we were. Pulled off on the side of the road. And I took one step out of my Humvee and I heard somebody yell, like he was, by the way he was right behind me. got shot straight through the heart, dead gone [01:00:00] forever.
[01:00:00] Brian Beckcom: [01:00:00] Just your machine gunner, just gone,
[01:00:02] Toby Flinn: [01:00:02] gone. Yeah. And you know, I was, I was standing right next to him.
[01:00:06] There's about three people in the vehicle and you know, that's how, you know, I decided to stop at some point why I think it was because it looked like it was good cover. But the fighting was over to my right, but the shot came from a building to my left.
[01:00:20] Brian Beckcom: [01:00:20] Yeah, man, that, that, it's hard to even imagine what that must've been like.
[01:00:25] I mean, so, you know, I I'm picturing, in my mind, I turned, somebody gets shot through the heart. I'm running for cover. Like I'm. I don't know what I would do in that situation. So what do you, so what do you guys do in that situation? Is it like, again, you're just training, give secure train,
[01:00:39] Toby Flinn: [01:00:39] and I, if there's anything that the Marine Corps does and, and, you know, I spent time in the army too.
[01:00:44] it is the Marine Corps, trains, their young officers and instigators the best in the world. They are trained for this. So, you know, when I saw that, yeah. You know, maybe, maybe two years before I would have done the same thing, Brian, I wouldn't know what to do, but you know, my instinct instincts knew what to do.
[01:01:00] [01:01:00] I
[01:01:00] Brian Beckcom: [01:01:00] like said blank said, and this is something that'll stick with me for a very long time about what you're talking about in the training. He said, we were talking about how sometimes officers are more of a target for the enemy. And he said he never really felt, in, in peril that much, because he was working with the most competent people in the world.
[01:01:21] Like that's the way he described his fellow Marines. Yeah. So, so how long were you in this very intense kind of urban combat?
[01:01:32] Toby Flinn: [01:01:32] I think it was about, I think it was what, roughly three weeks, you know, there was a, there was kind of a courting process going up to it, of getting approval to go in to bomb certain areas.
[01:01:42] So know my battalion commander actually lives in Fredericksburg, not far from here and him and I become, close and kind of rekindled our relationship. He was with us on both deployments. So it's about three weeks. I think, you know, I'm working with the battalion strategizing and then we obviously got support [01:02:00] and that's, that's why I got to see the army come in and the army came in.
[01:02:02] and if you're a Marine, you usually don't have very good respect for the army, but the army, the army came in and they were absolutely amazing. Absolutely amazing. And then I think you might, you might be talking to Nick, call Nick call, going to have a very different experience. And I spend a lot of time and knowledge of together.
[01:02:19] And then he, I stayed at Najah and then he got called to go up to Felicia. Yeah. So that's where he, you talking about someone who's going to talk about some stories of. Of, house to house. It's going to have some stories.
[01:02:32] Brian Beckcom: [01:02:32] Yeah. So how long were you in Iraq, total for your second deployment?
[01:02:38] Toby Flinn: [01:02:38] It was nine months Brian.
[01:02:40] Brian Beckcom: [01:02:40] Another nine months. Okay. So, so you come back to the United States and you're back in the United States. How long are you back in the United States after your second?
[01:02:48] Toby Flinn: [01:02:48] The second one. Yeah. I mean, you know, I think I ended up getting out of the Marine Corps at that one. So I think you always back into Italian for another.
[01:02:56] Nine months in guests, they were going right back.
[01:02:58] Brian Beckcom: [01:02:58] Yeah. And, and [01:03:00] you decided at that point you had done, you had done what you needed to do and you were, you were going to get
[01:03:06] Toby Flinn: [01:03:06] out of here. You mentioned you got married at the time
[01:03:09] Brian Beckcom: [01:03:09] in the army. So you got to talk about that a little bit. So what would you do to combat officer?
[01:03:20] and, and, and then you're in the army. How does it, how does that work?
[01:03:24] Toby Flinn: [01:03:24] No. So I got, so I got out of the Marine Corps. I did one tour, like I said, I was going to do a married Melanie. We started, our family were living in Austin. You know, I've kind of just slowly easing into life. you know, just trying to be normal again, I guess is the right way to say it.
[01:03:38] And. Yeah, it's different when you, when you came out of the Marine Corps and again, and again, you think about when you come out of the Marine Corps at that time or the army or the military, everybody's just thinks so highly of you, you know, and, and contrast that to the Vietnam veterans who, when they came back, they didn't even tell people that they had gone.
[01:03:55] And so you're kind of dealing with a lot of things you're dealing with honors are dealing with. Ribbons that you [01:04:00] got and you're, again, you're kind of learning about, you know, honors, not something you, you kind of say, you want to be, it's pinned on you. And someone says, this is what right. Looks like. And so you're pinned on that right.
[01:04:10] Or wrong. And now you've got something that you kind of have to live up to. And so you're, you're still struggling with all of these things. As you get back to the civilian life and Marine Corps, I get a letter to mail assistant pretty quick once you back. so is in voluntarily recalled back into the Marine Corps.
[01:04:27] Brian Beckcom: [01:04:27] Really. And so did you have to go back into combat?
[01:04:31] Toby Flinn: [01:04:31] So they, so they gave us a choice. They said you can either wait for a letter that comes in the mail and we don't know you, they, you don't know where they're going to send you. cause it could be anywhere it could be headquarters Quantico, or you can find a unit.
[01:04:46] So I, I found a unit. Mmm. And they said, well, okay, well, we're going to send you to Hawaii. And so we ended up moving to Hawaii for two years.
[01:04:54] Brian Beckcom: [01:04:54] And then there was a point in your military career where I think you, you got some language [01:05:00] training,
[01:05:00] Toby Flinn: [01:05:00] right? I did. Yeah. So that's, that was in the army side. I took, I, you know, everyone learns a little bit of Arabic, at least like you do Spanglish in San Antonio or Texas, you know how to say a few things.
[01:05:13] See, But I did. So, the, the, the Corps of engineers recruited me from Hawaii. I don't know how they did it, but they did. And, I was in charge of a, kind of a special forces for nerds team. So it was an engineering team and we going all over the world doing, doing engineering projects, construction projects, but language training was part of that.
[01:05:36] So I studied about, I think about total of seven month, months of Farsi
[01:05:40] Brian Beckcom: [01:05:40] training. You still speak Farsi?
[01:05:42] Toby Flinn: [01:05:42] I do. I do
[01:05:44] Brian Beckcom: [01:05:44] play some in Farsi.
[01:05:52] okay. What'd you just say,
[01:05:54] Toby Flinn: [01:05:54] I said I can speak Dari or Farsi, but my, but my accent is very terrible.
[01:06:00] [01:06:00] Brian Beckcom: [01:06:00] Yeah. I did notice the accent was kind of weird enough. I'm just kidding about that. So, so did you spend some time in Iraq when you were in the army?
[01:06:09] Toby Flinn: [01:06:09] Nope.
[01:06:11] Brian Beckcom: [01:06:11] Okay. You went to Afghanistan. Alright, so you you're, you're one of the, one of the, I want to say few people, but I'm sure there's, there's a good number of people that spend time in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[01:06:23] How long were you in
[01:06:24] Toby Flinn: [01:06:24] Afghanistan? Nine months.
[01:06:26] Brian Beckcom: [01:06:26] What was that like compared to Iraq?
[01:06:29] Toby Flinn: [01:06:29] Very different. it was also a different, different time to Afghanistan. It was, I would say it was relatively peaceful. Afghanistan's a very different country though. I mean, culture different, you know, if you, it's not an Arab culture, so you're, you're kind of relearning some of the things and, and, and customs, but it's, it's a very rural country, you know?
[01:06:49] And so where Iraq is very modernized in a lot of ways, You know, very educated Iraq is, Afghanistan is different. [01:07:00] And if you're talking about differences between Shiites and Sunni's and Iraq, no, Afghanistan has a long history of if they're not fighting an enemy, they're fighting each other and you know, it's all terrain based.
[01:07:14] Brian Beckcom: [01:07:14] Yup. Yup. Was that, so you're nine months in the army. Now this is your third, essentially your third tour of duty.
[01:07:24] Did you do any more deployments after that? Or was, was the third one, your last?
[01:07:29] Toby Flinn: [01:07:29] That was the last one. Yeah, that was the last one. So besides a bunch of trips to Korea and other places that was the last full deployment to a combat zone.
[01:07:39] Brian Beckcom: [01:07:39] And then you come back to the United States and this time do they let you out permanently?
[01:07:45] Toby Flinn: [01:07:45] so no, they don't, I owed some time for a couple of master's degrees and language training. so they, they have a great two for one deal for every one year of school. You know, you want me two years? [01:08:00] They're not stupid. They got it down.
[01:08:04] Brian Beckcom: [01:08:04] They're not
[01:08:05] Toby Flinn: [01:08:05] stupid. It'll go by really quick though. It'll go by really quick though.
[01:08:08] We just sign, just sign right here. Yeah, no worries.
[01:08:13] Brian Beckcom: [01:08:13] So, so you get out of the, you get out of there, so you're in the Marines and then you're in the army
[01:08:18] Toby Flinn: [01:08:18] in the army. Yeah. And that was it. I mean, we're getting talk about. The whole story about how to become a army guy after Marine Corps, because it's kinda like anything you're where you spent your formative years, that's who you are, you know?
[01:08:30] and although I brought a lot to it, I still like that I was talking to a Colonel like yesterday and I kept saying that word regimen and, you know, in the army, they used brigade and you know, but everybody knows that I was a Marine. So they, they kinda just laugh.
[01:08:43] Brian Beckcom: [01:08:43] So tell me you retired as a, what was your final rank when you were
[01:08:48] Toby Flinn: [01:08:48] Lieutenant Colonel, but I'm still in that they still got me for about another year
[01:08:51] Brian Beckcom: [01:08:51] either.
[01:08:51] They really okay.
[01:08:53] Toby Flinn: [01:08:53] In the
[01:08:54] Brian Beckcom: [01:08:54] reserves. Okay. And, and you've now got a family and you've been married for a while. So is it [01:09:00] safe to say, and please say yes to this, that it's very unlikely that you're going to have to go back to combat at this point. I guess
[01:09:07] Toby Flinn: [01:09:07] I could choose to say no right now.
[01:09:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:09:08] Yeah. Yeah. Okay.
[01:09:10] Well, good. So after you got out of the military, what have you been doing since then?
[01:09:15] Toby Flinn: [01:09:15] So the army put me on a trajectory of being really focusing on engineering, Brian. So I think that, you know, as we all take our paths in life, at some point you think, well, what, you know, what's your, what's your profession?
[01:09:26] Yeah. It's been dying during construction. The military taught me all kinds of things and the political diplomatic world, but really in my heart of hearts, I'm a builder and engineer. So, you know, I went straight. I went straight back into engineering, kind of really focused and said, yeah, it's time to make up some time.
[01:09:43] And that's what interesting. When you, when you come out of the military, you, you're kind of starting over, you might be lucky to get some great job as a, if you want to become sort of, you know, strategic planner or something like that. But that wasn't in my, that wasn't on my path. So in some ways you kind of have to start over
[01:10:00] [01:10:00] Brian Beckcom: [01:10:00] and now like a lot, like a lot of officers in the military, You're starting your own business.
[01:10:07] Toby Flinn: [01:10:07] I am. Yeah.
[01:10:08] Brian Beckcom: [01:10:08] Are you, I know it's, you're, you're kind of early in the process. Are you free to talk about?
[01:10:13] Toby Flinn: [01:10:13] Yeah, I am. I've had a lot of support from my current employer. Who's one of the largest engineering firms in the nation, so yeah, it's interesting. It's a, it's been good. I decided I was going to do this.
[01:10:25] And when I was in Iraq the first time, by the way, I said, I'm going to start a business. I make it out of this alive, but it took this long to figure out what that was going to be.
[01:10:34] Brian Beckcom: [01:10:34] And so what is it, what are you doing?
[01:10:36] Toby Flinn: [01:10:36] So it's an engineering firm that focuses on doing work construction work in very remote and ostial locations.
[01:10:44] so state department, is, it is a, is a target market. even the national park service, are our target markets. So what's that, what's the name of your company's Tobin engineers.
[01:10:59] Brian Beckcom: [01:10:59] Awesome. [01:11:00] Awesome. Well, if anybody's listening. And they need a really bad ass engineer. You got one on, on his podcast right now, so well, that's, that's great Toby.
[01:11:11] So, you know, we've, we've been talking for quite a bit and you know, you and I were, we're texting each other a couple of weeks ago about some of the things we wanted to talk about. So I want to shift here a little bit if it's okay with you. And talk a little bit about, you know, right now we're going through some of the most difficult times as a country that we have maybe ever gone through.
[01:11:31] I think that's safe to say we've got this pandemic. There's so much uncertainty around it. We've got a protest, we've got all this political mess where everybody's fighting each other. And it's just a thing. Things are just a little chaotic, right? Actually, there are a lot chaotic right now. So one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the podcast, not just to hear a little bit about your military experience with us, which is awesome, but also wanted to hear a little bit about some of your thoughts about [01:12:00] dealing with anxiety, dealing with uncertainty, how, how people can be a little bit happier during these times.
[01:12:10] So as, as somebody who has been in combat multiple times, somebody that's seen close friends killed, like, like you've talked about. What are your thoughts right now about what we're going through?
[01:12:23] Toby Flinn: [01:12:23] Yeah. You know, it's interesting and it's certainly my opinion is not. It's not what the truth is. Right. But I, but I think it is so open for disagreement.
[01:12:33] Yeah. I would say that, you know, here today, we've got a really good in the United States. And so when you start throwing a wrench in our life here and in any Western society, you know, whether the Amazon doesn't come in 24 hours, we really start to freak out. So we freak out over little things. And so. You know, why don't we do that?
[01:12:54] I think is the question like, Y you know, life becomes easy. We should be able to be pursuing [01:13:00] higher things like, you know, the contemplate of life for truth or so when you don't have to dig a ditch every day, that should open up your mind to do higher things, things of a higher order. However, I don't, I don't know if we've been doing that.
[01:13:15] and I, and I think that, that we're at surfaces. Is it when we have something serious happened? Challenges, what we think is important. We don't, we don't wait. It's hard for us to react.
[01:13:28] Brian Beckcom: [01:13:28] Yeah. It's almost like we've had it so good for so long that we've forgotten about what it's like to get to come together, as a con to truly come together as a country to tackle, problems that that actually affect all of us.
[01:13:47] And so. So, yeah, I worry a little bit Toby that, like you said, I think the way you put it is very good. I worry a little bit that we've kind of lost our edge, or maybe we've gotten a little soft or whatever you want to say. We've just forgotten [01:14:00] what it was like. For instance, our grandparents, you know, they went through the depression, you know, some of them even might've went through the Spanish flu epidemic, our parents.
[01:14:13] You know, my dad was in Vietnam and my grandfather was in world war II. And, you know, the sacrifices that those generations may, you know, continue to impress us. And, you know, we're, we're getting tested right now as a country. And, right now, at least I'm optimistic about the future, but right now I'm not sure we're meeting the test.
[01:14:33] So what, what kind of, you know, having gone through some, some of the most traumatic experiences, some of the most intense experiences anybody could go through. What kind of advice would you have for people that are worried about either, the pandemic what's going to happen with that? They're worried about their jobs.
[01:14:53] They're worried about the protest or if you're a, you're a black male, you're worried about the police, or if you're a police [01:15:00] officer, you're worried about, everything they're saying about police officers now. I mean, what would you tell people about how to deal with these really, really challenging issues that we're going through?
[01:15:12] Toby Flinn: [01:15:12] Yeah. I mean, you've, you've touched on a lot of topics there. and you're not, it's, it's, it's typically difficult to articulate, you know, each one of those areas, but, you know, David, one of the things that knowing I do when, when we hit a counter or some sort of stumbling block, it's taking things day by day.
[01:15:34] If that's practical advice. Yeah. But I think there's a higher way of thinking about these things. And you know, for me, it's a spiritual side. I mean, you know, I, I, I do believe that there is a higher order. I do believe in a God. And if I believe in God, then I put philosophy kind of at a higher spot than I say science.
[01:15:55] And so how does that relate to, to your question, Brian? I [01:16:00] think it does because when you're, when you're more focused on, I guess, A higher order of things, right? Like what makes me happy? Yeah. is it, is it pleasure, honor wealth, power. What do those things make? My, make me happy. Well, you and I have both hopped around those alters our whole life.
[01:16:19] You know, we've found ourselves seeking those things and what do we do when we get there? Well, W it usually doesn't do a whole lot for us. Right? I mean, you, you run a very successful business. Does that mean you're you're immune to anxiety? No, it, it, it, it doesn't. So I think it starts there, Brian, I think it, you know, there's some practical advice that we could give and that's great, but we really have to kind of reach, we think what's important in our life.
[01:16:43] And once we get that close to right things, start falling into place and losing your job is still stressful. It doesn't mean you, it doesn't freak you out, but. It's in its proper place. Yeah.
[01:16:56] Brian Beckcom: [01:16:56] Yeah. That, and that's, you know, a good friend of mine, Ben glass. He was [01:17:00] actually the first guest on my podcast and he taught me many years ago.
[01:17:04] Something that I had never thought about. And it was, you need to design your life before you design your business or everything else. Like you need to ask yourself philosophically what's important to you. So for instance, you know, as a. As a lawyer, there are certain expectations that you'll work certain amount of hours and you'll do this.
[01:17:22] And there's a certain path you have. And you'll, you'll sacrifice frankly time with your family time with your kids. And that's just expected. And Ben taught me that didn't have to be that way. And so, you know, 15 years ago I decided that my kids were going to come first period. The family would come first.
[01:17:41] And so now. The nice thing about that is if I get invited to go do something business wise or something like that, and one of my kids has a sporting events, a real easy decision. The answer's no, the priority is the kids and that, but that's not because I have to make that decision every single time it comes up.
[01:17:57] It's because philosophically I've decided [01:18:00] that that's the most important thing to me. And so now all the decisions that relate to that become a lot easier.
[01:18:05] Toby Flinn: [01:18:05] How do you, have you found that, has that, has that brought some peace in your life,
[01:18:10] Brian Beckcom: [01:18:10] Brian? You know, it has, because I don't have to stress about, am I going to go to this business function or am I going to go to this girl's softball game?
[01:18:18] So, so I've kind of eliminated some of those decisions now, of course, you know, there are times in your life for sure and times in my life where we're going to miss things that our kids are doing because we have obligations. But I guess my point is, if there's a choice, Like, if there's a legitimate choice about doing something with my kids or doing some business wise, it can be the kids every single time.
[01:18:41] And that, that, like you said, that's a,
[01:18:43] Toby Flinn: [01:18:43] that's a philosophical. It is.
[01:18:46] Brian Beckcom: [01:18:46] And that's a, that's kind of a way of looking at the world. So, you know, I, I have a philosophy degree from a and M I've always been very, very interested in philosophy, very interested, particularly as it relates to spirituality and ethics and [01:19:00] religion and things like that.
[01:19:01] So I got to hear from you and I know. We've been gone for a little bit. Do you have a few more
[01:19:05] Toby Flinn: [01:19:05] minutes? Okay. I've got all night.
[01:19:07] Brian Beckcom: [01:19:07] Okay, good.
[01:19:09] Toby Flinn: [01:19:09] So we can edit out all the Marine stuff.
[01:19:12] Brian Beckcom: [01:19:12] No, that's definitely. So, so tell us, like, from a philosophical standpoint, like what are some of the rules or some of the ideas that you use to kind of govern what you do?
[01:19:27] Toby Flinn: [01:19:27] Yeah. I think so first and foremost, for me, I, I really have to look at life in a couple of ways, you know, we're and it gets very confusing now, but I think that we're using the word philosophy a lot and, and philosophy is where theology is born out of. Right. So that's, that is, that is the world of art, right?
[01:19:47] So our, our art in my world is a, is a higher order than. Then let's say science or metrics, which is really just data. but today we're, we're, we're kind of focused on data and science. If I can't, [01:20:00] I can't see it and touch it, then it's probably not real. so that was probably one of the first things that I had to challenge a long time ago is like, which way do I think, do I, why believe in things I can't see, and can't smell, but I feel like I'm drawn to, you know, God is the center of my life.
[01:20:22] And because I submit to that, I'm already at a place where I feel like somebody's watching me. So somebody who is all good, all knowing is watching me and my job is to not let him down is to make him smile. And that sounds simple. Right. But, that's kind of how I live my life. Like if God is not, if I'm not making him smile.
[01:20:47] Then I'm not doing something right. and there's times when I make mistakes, of course we all do. We're all, we're all born that way. But if I'm not making him smile, Brian, Dan, I need to rethink what [01:21:00] I'm doing.
[01:21:00] Brian Beckcom: [01:21:00] Yeah. You know? And so that, that, there was a, so I go to a Methodist church and the pastor before our current pastor said something that, you know, I hear you, everybody hears, these quotes are out there live, and it's amazing how some of them just stick with you for your entire life.
[01:21:17] And so he said something years ago, That really stuck with me. And he said, if you come to church and walk out with a giant frown on your face, you're not getting the message. Like the message is not to be afraid of God and to be afraid of what's going to happen. The message is more about a positive message.
[01:21:37] Like the way that the Methodist preacher that I was listening to put it is if you're not happy about. The word of God and the message. You're not getting the real message. I mean, you should, you should walk out of church pretty much every time with a big smile on your face, if you're really getting the message.
[01:21:55] And so, yeah. And so the way you put that, like, again, we're talking about [01:22:00] kind of philosophical ways of looking at the world, if your way of looking at the world, as I'm going to behave in such a way that I'm going to try to make God smile, that makes decisions a lot easier. I would think.
[01:22:11] Toby Flinn: [01:22:11] It does. And you have to kind of talk more, I guess, technically about it is.
[01:22:17] You know, are you, do you look at the word world as a finite or, or do you think there is an infinite side of it? So if you're always just talking about like, like, you know, my job in engineering, I deal with the finite world all day long. So I deal with data. I deal with numbers, it's all finite stuff. It's great.
[01:22:34] It's wonderful. It puts food on my table. but the infinite is what I'm more interested in. And if you're, if you're focused on this world, right, and this goes into religion, If this is it right? If this is all we got you and me, if this is, you know, if I have to perform at the highest level or things are going to go fall are going to fail, then yeah.
[01:22:54] I'm gonna freak out. If my son doesn't get into the school, he supposed to get into, like, I'm gonna [01:23:00] get anxious about that. But if there is a higher order and this is important, but not the most important. Then I need to put it in its proper place.
[01:23:09] Brian Beckcom: [01:23:09] Yeah. Yeah. You know, and that, that's a great way to put that.
[01:23:13] And I think like a lot of parents, you know, we, we tend to feel anxiety about some of the things our kids are going through. Like I remember calling a friend of mine like two or three months ago and I said, I called him up. And I said, man, being a parent sucks. This is terrible. Like, this is, I'm just anxious all the time about this and that.
[01:23:33] But, but so. What I found is exactly what you're talking about. If you, if you have a little bit broader perspective on things, if you look a little bit, past the immediate present and, and realize that getting into this school or making this sports team or being on the cheerleading squad and stuff like that, is just a very, very, very tiny piece.
[01:23:57] Of life in general, it [01:24:00] relaxes you a little bit like those stressed about things. So how much of your perspective on this stuff do you think was shaped by your experience in the military and in particular, your experience in combat seeing people die, things like that, or is this something that kind of shaped the way you look at the world?
[01:24:19] Toby Flinn: [01:24:19] I think so. I mean, you know, I, if I think back about my personality beforehand, I was always curious and pretty, I guess, pretty level headed on some cases, but I think I was, I would fall into the trap, just like a lot of people. Although I otherwise said, I believe in a guide, I really didn't put my, I didn't trust in that.
[01:24:39] You know, I did that because I was supposed to right. And I don't think I really came back to that feeling by, I actually went on a question. To prove that God did not exist. I think privately. And that's when I came to the realization that he did. But, you know, I think so, Brian, I'm very comfortable in a chaotic environment and [01:25:00] so.
[01:25:01] I know, cause at that moment you have to think if this is it, if I'm going to die on some desert, like if this is really it, then why would I be here? You know? Yeah. I'm not doing it for, yeah. I'm not doing it for the ribbons. He doesn't, what's the point. Like I'm not here just to kind of be a tough guy. So I'm doing it for service and what's what is service?
[01:25:21] Well, service is something higher than you. It's a higher order. It all goes back to that higher order of in the correct order, a unit thing. So. Yeah, I think it definitely did because even, you know, I look back on how I was before I went into this service and did the things that I did, I think I would fall into the same trap.
[01:25:37] Brian Beckcom: [01:25:37] So it's so it's, so it's interesting. The reason I asked you that question Toby is because, you know, I had something that I didn't realize until recently really shaped my character and that was, my, my mother dying when I was 10. And that. That is the kind of thing that if you just look at the science, you know, having a parent die when you're young is considered to be one of [01:26:00] most traumatic things that you can go through.
[01:26:02] And so I think that it kind of made me realize that life is short. And, you know, I remember for instance, my 34th birthday for 35th birthday was my worst birthday I've ever had because that's how my mom was when she died. And I just remember thinking how bizarre it is that I just outlived my own mother, but it gives you a perspective it's like war or other traumatic experiences.
[01:26:29] They give you maybe a little bit different perspective than you might otherwise have. What do you, what are your thoughts on that?
[01:26:37] Toby Flinn: [01:26:37] Or I think, I think what she went through is a very young age. I think there's something to say about, you know, You know, when I, when I hear stories about what happens to children, when they're younger, you know, I heard the analogy one time of, you know, you don't put a flower out in the middle of a field by itself, you know, and that's what children are right there.
[01:26:55] They're they're these flowers, what happens to a flower that's just put in the middle of the field by itself. Well, [01:27:00] it's gonna, it's gonna take some beatings. And so you want to protect that flower. And so what happens when you, when you're that child and encountered some things, when you're younger, you know, it's unmistakable, it's in your, it's in your DNA now and you can see it and you can smell it that you made a choice at some point, right, Brian, to say, we know what is this going to do?
[01:27:18] Am I going to, am I going to be the, am I going to be, the Chad is always kind of complaining about this. Didn't you know, so. I think you and I could share some stories about that and what happens when you're young and you hit some trauma and that's a whole nother kind of level of perspective.
[01:27:36] Brian Beckcom: [01:27:36] and I have, I have very, very conscious memories and people that have two parents don't think about this, but I remember, you know, my dad was in military after my mom died.
[01:27:46] And I remember when he would leave for work. I would, I consciously remember thinking when I was 12 or 13, please, God, let my dad come home because I don't want to be an orphan. You know, now I only have one parent.
[01:27:56] Toby Flinn: [01:27:56] Right.
[01:27:57] Brian Beckcom: [01:27:57] And I remember worrying about that, but I'll tell you [01:28:00] what else. I remember. I remember thinking very consciously again, that I was going to prove to people that somebody that was raised by a single father could be just as successful as somebody that was raised by two parents or raised by a mother.
[01:28:13] And so for me, it was kind of, it was the, it was a lot of the fuel. That drove me to do what I do. But,
[01:28:22] Toby Flinn: [01:28:22] but anyway, when you decided that when you kind of made a conscious decision, you
[01:28:26] Brian Beckcom: [01:28:26] think I was, you know, it's funny, you'd ask me because I'll tell you exactly. So what used to have, so when I grew up, it was me and my brother who was eight.
[01:28:35] I was 10. And then my dad adopted one of his students. One of his black students, general, he lived with us. So it was basically four boys in the house. When, when I was in high school, there was never any food in the house. You know, and, the house was clean, but it wasn't, there wasn't a bunch of nice stuff, but, but I remember my friends would come over and their moms would pack little lunches or dinners for them because my dad would [01:29:00] get so upset with that because he'd be like these moms, they don't think a dad can raise a kid.
[01:29:05] On his own. And I remember thinking, yeah, I'm going to prove to them that that's not true.
[01:29:10] Toby Flinn: [01:29:10] That's great. That's great. That's special.
[01:29:13] Brian Beckcom: [01:29:13] Yeah. So it's very, very, you know, very, very conscious. But then when I get to ANM, of course, when we have parents, we have parents weekend. The tradition is your mother pins that was on your uniform.
[01:29:25] And I was one of four or five cadets that didn't have a mom to do that. And so Carol Ray. Used to pin a white Rose on my lapel. And you know, sometimes when people hear that, it sounds a little sad, but actually it was, I always really enjoyed that because it made me appreciate. Carol number one, who's basically, you know, I consider her like one of the women who almost raised me in a way.
[01:29:54] but, but anyway, it's, it's interesting how these traumatic experiences, we've all had [01:30:00] traumatic experiences in our life. They can shape you in good ways. They can shape you in bad way. You know, I'm sure, you know, people that can, that come back from war that, I don't do very well when they get back.
[01:30:12] Toby Flinn: [01:30:12] Yeah. There's a lot of those.
[01:30:13] Brian Beckcom: [01:30:13] Yeah. So, so what are you thinking about the next two, three, four months? I mean, you started a business and the economy is who knows what's going to happen? The protest. I mean, what, what are you thinking over the next three or four months?
[01:30:28] Toby Flinn: [01:30:28] You know, you mean for, like for, what am I going to do?
[01:30:31] How am I going to wait? What's my
[01:30:32] Brian Beckcom: [01:30:32] strategy. What's your mentality. I mean, you've literally just started a business in the middle of a pandemic.
[01:30:37] Toby Flinn: [01:30:37] Like yeah. I tell you that you talk again, we're back into that role of, this is a terrible idea.
[01:30:47] I had it so good before it was so, you know, I'm going to keep coming back to this because I. I believe in this story of Bilbo, Baggins and the ethic of a yoga mission and the [01:31:00] archetype, you were, all the people you've had on your podcast, which I think is a remarkable thing that you're doing Brian, but people who have gone outside the cave either pulled out.
[01:31:09] Called out or pushed out. what have they come back to tell us, you know, what, what are they come back to tell us different from being out there? The Luke Skywalker, what did you learn when you came back from that? And it's sometimes hard to articulate, but the bottom line is this is it. There is something higher than what you see in front of you.
[01:31:31] You, you have to acknowledge that the love you have for. Another human being. You can't touch it. Can't smell it, but you can see it, right. It's not something you can grab. Hold of. So how would say it starts there, Brian? It really starts with. That idea. And I think the more people decide I need to, I need to go outside of my domesticity.
[01:31:55] I need to get out. I need to take some chances. And again, that's [01:32:00] dependent on your lot in life, right. So, you know, don't say I'm going to go, you know, I'm going to go conquer the world, Rodney. See, that's not the right idea, but there's little things you can do to get out. And I honestly think if, and I challenged myself that all the time, Brian, I think, am I getting too cozy here?
[01:32:15] Yeah, it doesn't mean you're always moving. It just means, I don't think you use the word challenged myself, but am I, am I doing what I need to be doing? Yeah.
[01:32:24] Brian Beckcom: [01:32:24] Yeah. There's a, there's a great saying that the cave you fear to enter holds the gold. Do you seek?
[01:32:30] Toby Flinn: [01:32:30] Ah, I like that.
[01:32:31] Brian Beckcom: [01:32:31] Yeah. I read that two or three months ago and it really stuck with me because.
[01:32:36] You know, for instance, this podcast is a great example. I didn't, I was nervous about doing this. I was like, just like you, I was like, this is the stupidest idea ever. There's already a million podcasts. Who's going to listen to this. I mean, nobody wants to listen to Brian Beckham, talk on a podcast. And I was just like you.
[01:32:52] I was like, Oh my gosh, this is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. And I just did it. I was just like, screw it. I'll just do it. And it's [01:33:00] almost like when, when you have that voice and. Oh, you better be careful. You better not do that. You might fail. It's almost like that's exactly when you know, that's what you should be
[01:33:10] Toby Flinn: [01:33:10] doing.
[01:33:10] That's right. That's right. I mean, I think, I think you're in a, like, knows this is, this is a bad idea. I shouldn't do this. Or. Something's trying to pull me down. Why, why? Yeah. But, you know, I think that there's, I think you you've, you know, we're, we're in an interesting time right now because some people had, have enjoyed the pandemic a little bit.
[01:33:27] Right. yeah. But no, one's no one's enjoying, you know, what's going on with the, with the racial issues right now. I don't think anybody's enjoying that. So it is a, you know, it's interesting to see how all this is going to play out in people's homes and, you know, and that's where it starts. Right. I mean, that's where.
[01:33:46] Anything, we talked about, it starts in the home, how to deal with these things.
[01:33:50] Brian Beckcom: [01:33:50] So you said something about love. You can't see it, you can't touch it, but I mean, it's real,
[01:33:56] Toby Flinn: [01:33:56] it's real.
[01:33:57] Brian Beckcom: [01:33:57] And I would say like [01:34:00] my working hypothesis for the last year or so has been the most powerful thing in the world and the most powerful thing in human history, it's always been the most powerful thing in the world.
[01:34:11] There's a power of ideas. Yeah, and you can't touch an idea. You can't feel it. You can't smell an idea, but when people get these ideas in their head and they spread, it can be very, very positive or it can be very, very negative. And so, you know, one of the things I've tried to do with this podcast is spread as much positivity as I can, you know, try to get positive ideas out in the world because Lord knows we have plenty of negativity and.
[01:34:36] I just want to say, I really appreciate, all your positivity, not just on this podcast, but I'm telling listeners right now. Toby is one. Toby is a kind of guy that if you're talking to them within 30 seconds, you're going to have a huge smile on your face. Cause he's either going to do something dumb or just going to tell you a great joke.
[01:34:58] So tell me I've been I've, I've kept you that over [01:35:00] the time that you, that, that I said we would go, but before I let you go, I gotta just a couple of questions. I want to ask you. I know you, you liked to read and so give us a couple of book recommendations. Like what are some of the books that you've really been reading recently that you've really enjoyed?
[01:35:19] Toby Flinn: [01:35:19] So, you know, I'll tell you this, if you, if you haven't read st. Augusta in the confessions, It's it's, it's a great story. It's probably one of the greatest minds and, you know, just, just bracket religion for a second. Right. Just bracket that this guy, ended up becoming a Saint, probably one of the greatest philosophers in Western society, you know, roughly, you know, I think 300 Ady notes, 700 ADI, I believe, but that's a book that you, that you need to read.
[01:35:53] It's a story of a man that spent a. The prodigal son life and, are [01:36:00] articulate. That kind of process of going out of the cave.
[01:36:05] Brian Beckcom: [01:36:05] There's another book that you recommended to me that I think is a, is a great recommendation is I think it's called God and man in Russia or finding God in Russia. Do you remember that?
[01:36:13] Toby Flinn: [01:36:13] Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Yeah, Walter Sizmek. Okay. Yeah. Thank you for reminding me that if there's any book you want to read, to kind of get your perspective on keeping things important, it's that it's, in Russia with God.
[01:36:27] Brian Beckcom: [01:36:27] In Russia with God. That's right. And as I recall, it's about a preacher.
[01:36:31] Yes. Who lived there during very, very bad time where preachers were subject to imprisonment or death or all sorts of
[01:36:38] Toby Flinn: [01:36:38] clothes. So real quick history, he was an American born Polish priest. And you wanted to go, you want to take an adventure? He wanted to go preach in Russia. Yeah. Well, He went there and that's before world war II broke out and he ended up kind of making some deals and went across the border and got caught and [01:37:00] spent, I believe the next, I think, 30 years.
[01:37:03] And the Russian prisons.
[01:37:05] Brian Beckcom: [01:37:05] Yeah. Yeah. I just got done reading Gulag archipelago, which is.
[01:37:10] Toby Flinn: [01:37:10] Pretty
[01:37:12] Brian Beckcom: [01:37:12] pretty chilling, pretty chilling. It's about the it's about the Gulag system. That'll be it Russia. And the way the guy writes the book is so matter of fact, that it's just, there's no embellishment necessary. And I have been trying to read books like this a little bit, just to get a little perspective on kind of what we're going through right now.
[01:37:31] So last question, Toby, I think, I'm gonna, I'm gonna have you put your Lieutenant Colonel Marine Corps. Hat back on. And I'm going to ask you to tell the listeners who are having trouble right now, whatever it may be, whether it's having trouble with their job and their income, having trouble with the pandemic or stuff like that, worried, nervous.
[01:37:53] What do you tell them?
[01:37:56] Toby Flinn: [01:37:56] I'd say all bad, bad things will pass.
[01:37:58] Brian Beckcom: [01:37:58] Yeah. [01:38:00] Yup. Well put, well put Marine. Well, Toby, thank you for giving me a little extra time. Like I said, you're, you're, one of the best guys I've ever met. I'm really glad that we're friends. I wish we got to see each other a little bit more often.
[01:38:17] Toby Flinn: [01:38:17] Yeah.
[01:38:19] Brian Beckcom: [01:38:19] tell your family. I said,
[01:38:20] Toby Flinn: [01:38:20] hi, likewise. We said hi.
[01:38:23] Brian Beckcom: [01:38:23] Hi brother. I miss you
[01:38:24] Toby Flinn: [01:38:24] hybrid. Okay.