A review of “Thank You for my Service” by Mat Best
“Thank You for My Service” by Mat Best was not at all what I expected. This isn’t the first book I have listened to by a member of the special forces who is now running their own business. It is the first one of that genre that had me laughing out loud while I listened to it.
Mat Best is a former United States Army Ranger turn entrepreneur, and “Thank You for My Service” is his story of how he became the man he is today. It takes you from him as a teenager in high school through to being the Vice President of Black Rifle Coffee Company. His story is engaging and hilarious, if rather gory and R-rated, and I don’t want to give too much away. Just go read it or listen to it. Mat is the narrator for the audio book and uses his natural showmanship to deliver an experience I highly recommend.
That being said, it is not easy for someone who has never served in the military to understand what coming home from war is like and the toll that adjusting to civilian life can take. Mat does a great job of presenting this reality to someone who hasn’t lived it. For Mat, it wasn’t dealing with PTSD like you see so often portrayed in the media; it was dealing with the loss of a ready-built community he knew he could rely on. I think that is something many of us can relate to, even if we have never served. There is an innate human desire to connect and to be seen and supported. The military is one of the most direct ways of achieving that because you live, work, and fight alongside a group of people who have the same shared experiences of training as you. It’s the feeling of coming home to people you know aren’t going to leave you in the wind.
This book does a great job of driving home the importance of building a company culture and a team you can rely on as an entrepreneur. It is harder than it looks, especially since most of the trials you face together are going to be a lot less life or death. Mat doesn’t set out to be an entrepreneur, but when he finds himself running a company, he sets out to create a home for other veterans like himself who miss that feeling of camaraderie. By the end of the book, he realizes you don’t have to be a veteran to contribute to and need that feeling – shared values are more important than shared experiences.
It is hard to build and maintain that type of company culture. Mat struggled with it in the book, and we struggle with it every time we hire. The bonds people build can be strong and that can make it hard to scale a core group into a work environment new people are comfortable in. Once you find that balance though, you take a group of co-workers and forge them into a team. That is what I think the most powerful part of this book was. While it was full of amusing stories, the ones where he talks about the relationships in his life that shaped him and now support him were the places where it really stood out as being a good read.
Overall, I would recommend this book to any entrepreneur who is interested in building a community as much as a company. I also recommend you prepare yourself for dismembered bodies and too much information. If you are interested in learning more about the book, join our book club!