by Scott R. Tucker

April 27, 2021

Grant Demaree

"Use a deliberate, organized method to gather info from all sources"-Grant Demaree, co-founder, and CEO of Onebrief, an AI-enabled operational, presentation-ready tool for joint rapid military planning. 


Episode Highlights:

02:36- Grant went outside of the box in transition 

05:13- Knowledge management is mainly a soapbox issue

08:51- Auto-create and auto-update outputs that a planning team needs, are the central thing that we do

09:37- How does Onebrief’s solution make customers' lives easier?

13:07- People's skepticism in software 

15:39- Grant's recommendation for transitioning 

21:00- Grant’s transition planning 

23:15- How to connect with Grant 


3 Key Points:

  1. Onebrief offers auto-create and auto-update of outputs, a presentation-ready tool for joint rapid military planning. 
  2. In Onebrief , even the largest plans are agile. 
  3. Even with skepticism with software, most people are willing to take a demo and give it a shot.

Quotes:

  • “I've seen that people care a little bit about knowledge management, but care a lot about the quality of briefing because they don't rank it as a high priority.I think, no priority is higher than knowledge management.”-Grant Demaree
  • “People have the right to be skeptical about software, given that we had 57 years of accumulated failures to solve this problem, but what I found is, most people are willing to take a demo and give you a shot.“-Grant Demaree
  • “What makes you operational, whether seeing your forces and the enemy’s forces as a system, is the dominant mode of thinking. “-Grant Demaree

Transcript of Veteran Wealth Secrets 021 with Grant Demaree of Onebrief - The Method to Info Gathering

Scott Tucker:  All right. Hey everybody, Scott Tucker here. And welcome back to another episode of Veteran Wealth Secrets, where we talk about how do you go from. Thinking you have to have a life of just paychecks and government benefits to a life of autonomy and financial control and a big part of that. And this is a lot, what I write about in my book by the same name, Veteran Wealth Secrets available on Amazon right now is.

Getting all the real info we're often told in our paths through the military career and then how to exit the military, that there's only a one way to do it for all that stuff. And we just know that's not the truth. And so that's why I'm excited. Often we talk about, Hey, go out and get your first job, figure things out, find yourself what you want to do.

But that's not always the case. Sometimes people know what they want to do. They have an idea. Probably stems from I'm guessing what you wanted to talk about today but excited to have a fellow West point grad 2013 grad grant Demery. Did I say that right? I know you, but it's funny as I was a language major, but often I still get pronunciations pretty bad, but no, I'm excited to have you.

I know you want to, one of the things about getting out of the information out of the military is. Get all the information, get it efficiently. And then how do you go through it to figure out what the heck you want to do with your life? That's what we do in the military all the time. Planning for an operation, so on and so forth.

So excited to get into those topics. I actually. My last job in the military is working at headquarters, Yukon, where we saw all sorts of high level plans. And I was just to know three captain sitting there and I, not really participating cause I didn't know much about operational planning.

Grant I'm interested to hear how you got into this, what, why tell us a little bit about your time coming out of the military, it's, it looks like about two years ago, right? Relatively 

Grant Demaree: recent. That's right. About two years ago. Really good to be here to thank you.

I broke all the rules. And it's a thoroughly transitioned the way I did. I would not endorse that path fund as it was for me. Okay. 

Scott Tucker: I know what you're saying, what, but what was it? That caused you to go outside the box and say, Hey, regardless of whether or not this is smart or safe or whatever, something obviously caused you to do that.

So what is it you think drawing it? Was it something from them, from the military you didn't like I don't want to work for somebody ever again, or did you see it problem that needed to be solved so much that you just had to go run with it? 

Grant Demaree: So I actually applied to grad schools and thought I was going to go studied math at Georgia tech.

And in fact I was all accepted and had that as the plan. And I'd had entrepreneurship in the back of my mind for a while. I. I certainly wanted to found a company and I'd been involved in some operational level planning both in the bold response in Liberia and then to join task forces in Iraq.

And I thought, this is horrible. It's almost 100% PowerPoint. The number of errors that could have been prevented and the speed that could have been brought about by even slightly better technology. I almost can't believe this problem hasn't been solved yet. And of course you dig into it and you find out actually a lot of really skillful people have tried to solve that problem.

And it just never really caught on. I said maybe I will be the first and go on Scott. 

Scott Tucker: No, I was just going to say at Yukon, I was there in 2007, 2008. In the knowledge management branch, and that was like a whole new concept. The idea of how do we manage our knowledge? Duh, sounds like a smart thing you ought to do in the military.

And we were using technology specifically, SharePoint and man, it took years before there is any semblance of usage. It's what do we expect from our it's funny we learn new weapons systems and new technologies there, but when it comes to things like. Oh my God. How do we use email efficiently?

How do we, you learn how to use word and then getting stuck on things like PowerPoint. It's been the joke for DECA decades, PowerPoint ranger, how was that not being solved, but what is it you're doing right now that is solving the problem? 

Grant Demaree: So a couple of things I noticed, I w we actually started with a huge number of interviews of all the people who are stakeholders in planning at these operational level commands.

So think joint task forces, service component commands, combat and commands. And I believe at last count, we're at 263 such interviews. And the first surprising thing I found that I didn't think was going to be the case is that knowledge management is mainly a soapbox issue. And by soapbox issue. Folks who could solve it generally don't rank it as a particularly high priority.

And to be clear, we've talked to everyone from the most recent Sams graduates to combat and commanders and chiefs of staff at these large commands. And what I've seen is people care a little bit about knowledge management, but they care a lot. About the quality of briefing from the planning team to the commanding general or Admiral.

In fact, I've found that no priority is higher than that. And in acquisition of software to help joint planning, really what the buyers care about is. Bring about timely informed command decisions and what the users care about is can you free me from my PowerPoint burden while still allowing me the victories in front of the commander of giving a really good presentation.

In other words, PowerPoint one, because it spoke to your need to give a really good presentation. And the days before PowerPoint everything was done on slides. And you brought them to a command graphics department. Like you physically took them to a command graphics department. They gave you your transparencies, you put them on an overhead projector.

Of course, PowerPoint is better than that. So I think it's a no brainer that PowerPoint one, because it spoke to it's folks to folks need. And my theory, especially post all of these interviews is that table stakes, just to get started. Is to meet people's needs for a presentation that genuinely communicates with the commander needs.

And anything beyond that, I think. Correct. So out lot of the failures of PowerPoint that is even though it gave you really good presentations, it meant that all your data is dead, that lives in a whole bunch of separate slides. My estimate is that the U S forces in Afghanistan has made about 15 million slides so far.

And of course that data is lost forever. 

Scott Tucker: Wow. I know the one time I had to give briefings to a general, often I was a liaison officer down and led need air base to the fighter squadron down there. And as the army liaison, I had to give the ground brief once a week to the general. And honestly, it was just a bunch of the slides that have way too much information on them.

And I just had to update a couple of numbers each week. It was like the Iraqi pipelines working, or the power grids at 20%. It was like, how is this relevant at all to the general as for information was, it was just totally felt like I was checking boxes. It was disheartened hardening, but What is it?

We get misled by things like PowerPoint, because you can put a lot of information, make it look all fancy and stuff, but really it's about being deliberate with your information. And, I wanted to talk about one from a perspective of, what is it you guys do, but I'm also curious grant, if you have any thoughts on how that applies to.

Personal life, making decisions, following a career, figuring out what you want to do as you're getting out of the military, or maybe well, after the military, just figure it out. Hey, I do want to go be an entrepreneur or work for another startup or whatever. 

Grant Demaree: And so it sounds like there's two questions there.

One is what we actually do. And one is the more interesting to the audience of what I think about approaching entrepreneurship or working for startup and so on. So easy question first, what do we actually do? What we ought to create? And we auto update all the outputs that our planning team would need to make.

So for instance you need a sync matrix to show. How is this plan on floating in time? If you make a change on our sync matrix, then it's automatically reflected in your order automatically reflected in the slides or conceptual visuals that you might bring to the commander. And so on. In other words, auto create an auto update.

We do some other cool things with your data, but I think auto-create an auto update is the truly central thing that we do.

Scott Tucker: Okay. Okay, cool. Who then, yeah, let's just wrap up more about one brief, like who is your customer? Cause even people on active duty, they might be listening to this show about thinking about, Hey, how do I want to prepare for transition or whatever? But a lot of veterans in these roles are active duty still in these command roles they're looking to, I, what I get from senior, Lieutenant Colonel types is they're just frustrated with their command because, they might be put in charge of a project where they've got senior people that they're in charge of everybody's got ideas.

Like who's your customer? Could you give us an example of how your solution. Made their lives easier because that's really what this is all about. I'm going on with this because I'm just remembering, you're bringing back so much, bad feelings around PowerPoint. It's Oh my God, this is still going on.

I've been out for 12 years. So 

Grant Demaree: We just came from an exercise with no major defense customer. And unfortunately I can't give their name. But what I can say is that it was a it was an exercise around a defensive Thailand scenario. Basically a fictional country, Chinese proxy has invaded Thailand and the task at hand.

And of course this is a simulation and an exercise is create the operational level plan to respond to this thing. And on their first day of using our software with relatively little training, meaning the things it's just pretty intuitive. They were complete and operational design and. From all the other exercises I've seen, that was more than three times as fast to get to the stage they were, that they would have gotten to an, a nailer software.

And I think the reason that's happened is they didn't have to spend time making slides and they didn't have to spend time sharing knowledge between anyone because all the right components, each faculty, or assumption each specified task, each risk and so on. We're all reusable and we're all tracked in terms of where they came from as reusable building blocks.

In other words, they were just way faster. And of course, when it comes time to revise that thing well with auto update, and now it means that even the largest plans are agile. 

Scott Tucker: Are you getting any, because what I'm finding is whenever there's innovation, you got to have early adopters and then the latest is What's the name of that guy, the innovation curve I'm assuming you, I, that there'd be some old generals out there, but Hey, that was quicker, but I want my PowerPoint slides or some old Colonel who's just been doing it some ways for so long.

They're not willing to adapt. They're fighting back. Are you seeing that? Are you seeing people that are like, Oh my God, this is so much better. Let's move quickly in the other direction. I'm assuming it's a ladder. 

Grant Demaree: I would say there's some mix of both. Honestly, people have been really good at this sort of thing.

From what I've seen, one, anyone is skeptical when you hear about software like that. And I think they're right to be skeptical. Meaning if you're the Colonel J three of a co or J five of a combatant command, and you seen so many of these pieces of software come and go. We're not the first people to say, we're going to solve planning.

I believe we're the best, but there's actually been a program of record to fix this since 1963 under secretary McNamara. Now that is there's 57 years of accumulated failures to solve this problem. I'd be skeptical too. Wow. Okay. Anyway so I think there's a real skepticism. What I've found most people are willing to take a demo.

People are pretty willing to hear you out and give you a shot. And not every one of my demos has been great. Some of them have been amazing. Some of them have actually caught up something new that I hadn't thought of, but I found that people are, people were pretty willing to take a demo, especially when you get someone who arrived in I don't know if this guy's right, but I do know this guy's genuine.

And if he's right. A massive acceleration in making timely, informed, committed decisions. That's a huge deal. That's a massive transformation. And I think you can imagine some consequences. That's the difference between 2004 Iraq reaching a reasonable plan to combat the insurgency after about a year versus reading that plan before the insurgency had hardened.

Same idea in a pay con today. If it's March 20, 20, and most of your, a lot of the assumptions behind your confines, your own plans or campaign plans have changed due to Hey. I might think you have, are, there are five a call and say, Hey, you should, or you should change all of these revise, every one of these things today.

And I'll say half that's cute. You don't get it. Revising an old plan takes two years. So we surely will not do this 

Scott Tucker: right. And they just shut it down. It's one thing to have an idea like, Hey, I can fix this thing you've been working on for 57 years, our entire military, how many millions and billions of dollars probably been spent on this.

And you obviously got to have some specific skillsets. Are these, is this stuff that you've been good at, or you always been a software guy or did you recognize, Hey, at some point I'm going to need to build my skill sets that, know, you said you didn't yet ended up not going to grad school.

Would that have helped you out in any way or was getting into it in applying skills you either already knew or learned on the fly to get this thing going so, so quickly where you're already doing demos. I know a lot of software companies in the works for awhile and they don't get the demos very quickly.


Grant Demaree: I'd say. I'm heavily in favor of jumping into it. And I know that's not what the conventional advice says. In fact, I had planned to not jump into it. I had planned to stay in the army three months longer than I actually did it in order to get my GI bill benefits. I had planned to go to grad school.

And even I had planned to take my first three months out of the army and stay with my folks so that I could save the money on rent. And I didn't do any of those things. I ended up saying, no, I'm going to jump right into it. And I would love to cast that decision of how we're going to boldly venture in the unknown, but it's not even close to true actual thing that it frees you up to do that.

And that's. I think my recommendation for transitioning is how much have you saved. In other words, if your starting position is a hundred thousand dollars in your bank account, you can end your single, you can afford to mess around for quite a long time and not be at any risk. Whereas if you're close to zero or even negative with of course that compounded if there's additional folks and just support.

Then you're really stuck. You have to make money right away. You have to go into a job that maybe you would have picked something different if you'd have more time. So the way I did it, I did not prepare particularly well. In my early years in the military, I was very focused on I'm just going to be the best officer I can, but the good news is it really pays to be a single deployed captain.

So my last year with with OIR and I was able to extend and ended up spending 13 months there and essentially zero that was spent. And the effect of that was well, once you include the remaining pay on my what do you call the leave when you leave terminally terminal leave? Yes, I have.

I've forgotten all my army terms already. Now, when you add it all together it means that I was starting with about 90,000 in savings. Of which essentially one a hundred percent was accumulated in the final year, in the army. In other words, name in pre last, the last year and said I'm really in a bind aren't di if I leave without money, then I must get a certain job right away.

Or I must at least use the GI bill and stay long enough to make that happen. At the very least my options are constrained. And I said now if I find a way to get myself deployed and stay there and make myself useful enough, that folks will we'll break down barriers to help me stay there.

That will, that really improves the options 

Scott Tucker: available. No, I mean that, I'm glad you brought that up. I That's what I try to preach so much. Cause it's we always joke about a guy getting in the military. First thing they do is go buy the shiny car, regardless of rank. If you're not making any money as an 18 year old, son, you're making a thousand bucks a month and you don't need any of it because all your food's paid for your lodge, it's paid for, what, if what's the shiny object we could, have people get excited about that?

These do save some money. And if they are saving that, it's not just in retirement accounts. Cause he can't touch that either. If you're 30 years old, getting out of the military, wanting to do something different and I think. You know what I'm screaming from the mountaintops. And I think you're a perfect example of this is Hey, if you're a little bit intentional, whatever the number is that you can save specifically for that moment of transition, because that's the opportunity to go find yourself, to relax, to start a business to do some other investments, maybe some side gigs where you're learning skill sets, but not necessarily, doing the job so to speak.

So to get back to that kind of that other question where I wanted you to. Take some of that, that systems skillset and the software down to the individual person in that decision. Is there anything you could, you can glean on, Hey, how do you deliberately gather info process it when we're in a world, especially right now, it's asymmetric warfare and on a day to day basis, when it comes to, how's the civilian world work and how's the financial world working, how's our politics work and where do I fit in as a Veteran?

I mean it's daunting and you see it in these veterans every day, who are, who say to me, I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. I don't know how to translate my skills. And I think, Hey, we're looking at too narrow of a data room for lack of a better term on how this world can work for you, if you choose it.

Grant Demaree: So a couple things first of all, you know what they say, a new car is a great investment.

But in all seriousness, don't talk to that. 

Scott Tucker: Unless you're filthy rich, which is the point, then go buy many cars. Yeah. 

Grant Demaree: But real world people don't do that I have observed is that there's a tiny number of people who get money and say, what I really want from this car. And the vast majority don't live anywhere close to that.

But anyway, in terms of transition planning Maybe after this, from it to an extreme, I own a company that is literally oriented around planning. So perhaps this is a little too extreme, but I had an actual transition plan that I spent a while on. I found that you really need some time to figure it out.

I took my RNR leave from from Iraq to, to the Scottish Isles and I took it just a couple of days and sat outside and wrote that thing out and said, here's. Here's what I really want to accomplish. Here's the things that are genuinely valuable to me. Here's the things that are there less, so wrote out a bunch of options.

What happens if I go to grad school? What happens if I start a company? What happens if I go to someone else's company first to try and find out more stuff and so on. And then I sent that to a lot of my friends and it was really interesting as everybody, everybody has sent that thing too. Had probably responded with at least 500 words and 500 pretty interesting words, but Hey, have you thought of X and so on.

And I'd say that after a couple of iterations, the the TPV seven as we eventually called it was something to be proud of. And to be clear, one of my, one of my buddies said out your transition plan version, and it was like, like transition plan version. It was like, ah, it's the TPV. My God acronym doesn't make sense, but but it stuck.

So I transitioned on the the TPV seven. 

Scott Tucker: Okay, cool. I love the idea of going and getting feedback from your peers, one way or the other. I remember I sent something out. Once asking it was more of a personality test. And I was shocked to get feedback like that. But I'm glad you were able to.

Go figure out what you wanted to do when you got out, found out a way to implement it. I think so many are afraid to do anything that's different outside the box. So really appreciate you coming on today to, to share your wisdom. Can tell us how do people get ahold of you who should be reaching out to you?

And where can they go? 

Grant Demaree: Okay. My my emailGrant@onebrief.com. A good number of people actually jumped to me a lot of people who are thinking of starting companies in the defense space, and I'm pretty willing to chat, meaning if you're thinking about starting a company, even if it's not in my space, but especially if it is, there's just so much stuff that's not written anywhere that we've found out over the last couple of years.

And I'm pretty happy to share that. And then obviously folks who could benefit from using one brief with one caution I don't think there's a clear demarcation of where the tactical level ends and where the operational level begins. Some people say they will. The core echelon is actually tactical.

Maybe that's true. I think that what makes you operational level is whether the seeing your forces and the enemy forces as a system is the dominant mode of thinking. And if thinking of it as a system is correct, which could be the case at a special forces group. Which is, maybe not operational echelon by doctrine, but certainly is by, can you benefit from our product that said a brigade combat team is definitely not.

Which means we really need to stay focused on who are we building our product for their amazing products, the tactical echelon. We're just not one of those amazing products. If you're below the level of division or product, probably can't help you. I'm still happy to talk, but I don't think we're going to give you anything offense.

But above that, I am. I'm very 

Scott Tucker: happy yourself. Yeah, what's the slides or if you're doing 200 PowerPoint slide briefings that's probably level, I think, as a platoon leader, wasn't doing quite that many slides, but awesome, great. Hey, really excited for what you're working on. And honestly, if it can make us end these Wars quicker and more efficiently, I'm all for that.

I'd like to get everybody home after all this time. So I'm glad to see a young grads out there. B being innovative and I look forward to seeing you in, around in the entrepreneur circles. I know there's a whole bunch of. New ones out there. So I hope you're tapping into those, but happy to share if I know anybody, actually, I know a lot of people in the contracting space on the marketing side of things that I think might be interesting for you to chat with.

Yeah, let's chat about that afterwards, but anyways, grant, thanks again for joining us and for everybody else, we'll see you next time. Take care. Bye-bye.

About the author 

Scott R. Tucker

Scott R. Tucker is an author, speaker and the founder of US VetWealth, a lifestyle and financial consulting brand that helps service members go from paychecks and government benefits to wealth and liberty. He likes to say, "I Help The 1% Who Serve Our Country Become The 1% Who Influence It." A West Point graduate, serial world traveler, military financial expert, and entrepreneur, Scott brings valuable experience and insight to those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.

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