by Scott R. Tucker

May 9, 2021

Jeremy Knauff

Jeremy Knauff is a Marine veteran who ran a successful marketing agency until a health crisis nearly killed him and destroyed his business. He rebuilt from that devastating loss by developing a process that his agency now uses to turn clients into the authority in their industry.

Episode Highlights:

  • 01.25- Trials and tribulations of Jeremy Knauff
  • 02:30- Jeremy Knauff went through a health crisis
  • 03:34- Jeremy developed a process to turn people into authorities in their industry
  • 11:07- Veteran's are great at doing the job but are not great at demonstrating capabilities and self-promotion
  • 12:21- Adapt and overcome 
  • 13:43- Leveraging the digital landscape to becoming an authority 
  • 17-43- Becoming an authority by sharing knowledge and experience, and building a community
  • 20:42- The foundation of building authority in an industry
  • 23:57- The Spartan Media 

Key Points:

  1. Learn from failures and build resilience from them. If you can't work the same way that you used to, find smarter ways to do things.
  2. Get out there whether it's digital or in the physical world, to demonstrate capabilities and heighten self-promotion
  3. Sharing your knowledge and experience, and building a community around your brand, are the key to becoming an authority


  • “We learn so much more from our failures than we ever will from our success”- Jeremy Knauff
  • “In the marketing industry, if you don't have case studies or clients that you can use as an example,  you're nobody”-Jeremy Knauff
  • “The bottom line is there's a lot of opportunities out there if we're willing to take it.”-Jeremy Knauff
  • “Regardless of the circumstances, focus on your goal, adapt, and overcome.”- Jeremy Knauff
  • “Leverage the digital world to find and learn new knowledge and skills, stay up to date on it and keep refining because that's how we're going to be good at it. “- Jeremy Knauff

Transcript of episode 033 with Jeremy Knauff CEO of Spartan Media

Scott Tucker:  Scott Tucker here with Veteran Wealth Secrets in and yeah, we're going live on Thanksgiving because we all know the situation we're in. So I know people are. Or sitting around and I unfortunately don't have a whole lot planned because my family are all in different States, but loved the opportunity to connect with you all and share some more Veteran secrets.

And, one of the things I like to talk about a lot, especially in the transition, the Veteran transition community is understanding the new opportunities in the modern economy and that these aren't skill sets you typically get in a military career. So you gotta. You'll find the people to learn them from or the resources to learn them from, but when you implement them, they were in high demand.

And I'm super happy that Jeremy Knauff from Spartan media has joined us today on Thanksgiving. Thank you, Jeremy. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your insight. Let's just get started real quick. What's your background? I know you have a pretty powerful story. Having been a successful entrepreneur, I had a health crisis, after the military and had to start over again.

Do you wanna tell us a little bit about the your trials and tribulations? 

Jeremy Knauff: Yeah. It's been one hell of a ride, Scott. I got out started my first business. The first business crashed, that was a. Complete disaster. 

Scott Tucker: We always got to have those that's the point, 

Jeremy Knauff: right?

Reality is we learn so much more from our failures than we ever will from our successes. So as much as some of those. Experiences were painful and difficult and challenging. I wouldn't trade them for anything because had I not gone through them, I wouldn't have learned what I learned and I would not have built the the resiliency that I have.

So as shitty as they were profoundly impactful in a positive way as well. So I wouldn't trade it for anything, but so I had that failure bounced around for a while at a couple of different jobs. And then went out and started. My next company ran that successfully for many years.

And then I took about a year off as I started to come back started my company and then brought on basically all of our clients came right back to us. And then that's when this health crisis kicked in and we had been working on we're still trying to fix that. We don't know exactly what it is.

We've been hammering every possible thing that we can for the last, what? Six, seven years. I think it is now. Yeah, it's a, that's been a whole journey there, but. As that, when that happened my business crashed went down to zero. We burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. Just trying to stay alive racked up a bunch of debt.

So basically I had just started this new company which was already running well cause like I said, all the clients came back to us, but everything went to zero. We burned through all of our savings. We've racked up massive debt. So now here I am trying to build a business from less than zero.

And that's where, one of the things that we've been focusing on lately is, turning people into authorities within their industry. And that's where I developed this process. Because I was at a point where. I was just in constant, excruciating pain. I was constantly tired. I, if I had to go interact with other human beings, I had to really psych myself up and put on this fake face and hide the pain and fake my energy for the brief periods.

So it was like, like a sprint, right? So I could not work the same way that I used to. I had to find smarter ways to do things and because of how this all played out. There was about a two year period there where I was pretty much bedridden. I was either on the couch or in my bed. So the business was effectively dead.

So two years with basically no income we had already burned through hundreds of thousands of dollars at this point in medical costs. So I had to find a way to get back on top fast. Yeah. So what I ended up doing was developing this process that will catapult you into becoming an authority.

And I leveraged my way up and rebuilt my name because part of the problem I had was I had taken a year off and now here's these two years where I'm pretty much doing nothing. In my industry anyway, in the marketing industry, if you don't have case studies, if you don't have clients that you can use as examples, you're nothing, you're nobody.

So I had to get around that. I had to build things back up and I had to do it in a powerful way. And that's how I got to figure out this process and develop this, which. Put me where I was to catapult back up to the top of the industry. So that's the journey in a super compressed story there.

Scott Tucker: Yeah. I'm glad you found this idea of becoming the top authority. Cause a lot of veterans, we come out, we're the quiet professional. Don't want to stand out and so on and so forth. But the bottom line is we'd come out looking all the same. You could put a sergeant's resume next to a colonels and most people are gonna read it and go okay, it looks like you're competent.

Whether you're starting a business and you're reading self-employed or you want to get hired for a particular type of career, field, or industry becoming known. Is what makes you stand out and there's various ways to do that. What do you think are the opportunities for veterans to take advantage of these, all these digital tools?

And maybe it's not only digital you tell me, but to really stand out and be different because gosh, there are so many opportunities yet. People were like, I don't know how to find them. And I was like have them find you. 

Jeremy Knauff: And I'll definitely happy to answer all those. But before I do that, I want to back up for a second and talk a little bit about the mindset.

know, You talked about looking at the resume of a Sergeant versus. I don't remember what I don't know if you said last score or whatever, but the reality is yes, we have a problem where most people, if they looked at what a Sergeant did or a gunny or a Lance corporal, it's all gonna look the same.

And part of the problem we had in the military is you don't go running around talking about what you're doing and how awesome you are. If you do that, we have some very colorful language for that in the military. So we come out and we've got this idea that. People are just going to recognize us for our awesome, this, and the reality is that's not even close to how it works.

So I had an interesting experience that was eye opening for me, refresh my memory. Scott, what branch were you? I was army. Okay. So you probably already know that in the Marine Corps things are. A lot more strict, right? Like you guys are a little more laid back. Not quite as laid back as the air force, it's not quite as rigid.

Scott Tucker: So real quick. I remember when I first started hanging out with Marines just a few years ago, they kept on saying kill and I was like, Jesus guys, like chill. Like we're all fat civilians now come on. 

Jeremy Knauff: So there was a point in my career fairly early on where I was handling.

For any of the Marine Corps veterans who were listening the MCI program for anyone who's not in the Marine Corps, that's basically a correspondence education course within the Marine Corps for all kinds of different programs. And within my unit, I was in addition to my other infantry grunt type stuff that I had to do.

I was the person in charge of managing that for our unit. Now, typically at the time I was a Lance corporal, typically that would be handled by a Sergeant. So I was doing the billet of a much higher rank because I was very good at a lot of things. So they just dropped a lot of shit. My plate that's. That's how the military works.

Yeah. So we had this change of command ceremony and. A little bit of backstory, little bit context. The MCI program in the Marine Corps was at least when I was in, it was just a complete dumpster fire. We would stand for a Marine Corps Institute. Okay. So we would, we would, these guys, I would take their classes and then they would submit the tests and we'd send that off to headquarters Marine Corps up in Virginia and half the time.

It would get lost half the time. They would not get the results. And this was important because this played a role in whether or not a Marine got promoted or not whether or not they had the opportunity to go to certain schools or do certain things. So this was a really important issue. And I had gotten it to the point where ours was really dialed in and we weren't having the problems that other units were having.

So fast forward to our change of command ceremony, our captains leaving, we're getting a new captain. Now I hadn't met the guy yet. Never talked to him. So the chain of command ceremony happens. I'm back at the company office afterwards. He comes walking in and he's Knauf, bring me the MCI program, documents into my office, and we're going to go over these and we're going to make some changes.

We're going to do this and this. So me being the young Lance corporal that I was, I said to him, no, sir, we're not going to do this and this. We're doing it this way. , here's why we're doing it. Here's why, what you want to do. Won't work. And then just dead silence. And he's staring at me for what felt like an eternity and gave me a lot of time to think about what a colossal mistake I may have just made.

And he's just staring at me with this intense Marine Corps stare. And he's this mammoth guy just giant. He looked like I'll tell you who he looked like in a minute, but so he stares at me. And then after this long awkward silence is over with, he just nods his head and says, All right, Lance corporal sounds like you've got it under control, run it your way.

And for me, that was a little bit of a, kind of a red pill moment because I had always thought, which was ironic considering how much he looked like Morpheus from the matrix. But it was a red pill moment for me, because I had always, even within the military had always been fed the story that, you just do your job, bust your ass.

Do you know, as well as you can and people will recognize it and you'll get the opportunities based on that. And the reality is that's not the case. You have to demonstrate your expertise. You have to demonstrate what you're capable of and present that, not just do it, but then present what you've done so that people can see what you're capable of so that people can see how you can solve their problems or help them in some way.

And that's something that I think. As veterans we're not great at, we're not great at the whole self promotion thing. We're not great at demonstrating what we're capable of. We're great at doing the job. We're not great at presenting what we've done. Does that make 

Scott Tucker: sense? Yeah, no, absolutely. I relate to that cause I remember, I was an officer and, once the XL above me got fired for losing a radio.

All of a sudden, I don't, I'm not a platoon leader anymore. I just, Hey Scott, you gotta be the X. So now it's Oh, now I'm staff guy. And my last job in the military, I was at headquarters Yukon, which is all, colonels and stuff run around. And I'm just a young captain. And I sit around, I just wait.

And I was like, all right, somebody tell me what to do. And the only thing I really did that last year was the Christmas party. But and I just, and I was always like, man, I should be like, You like figuring something out, being helpful. And I didn't know when I came out as a veteran and entered the financial industry, same thing, I just sat around and waited till somebody was telling me, Hey, what's the SOP here?

And life doesn't work that way. 

Jeremy Knauff: No, there's tons of opportunity out there if we're willing to take it. That's, that's the bottom line. The way I look at it, in the military, we had a mission, and. The mission was usually not going to go exactly. According to plan. We all knew that, but we all knew.

I think you guys in the army probably had the same concept. Commander's intent, right? If everything goes to hell, this is what we want to achieve. No matter what, regardless of the plan, this is the end goal. And when we approach life in that way, like we know what we want to accomplish, then we just find different ways to get there.

And when we apply that same thinking to our civilian life we get the same kind of results. You think about it, the military. If given the resources, if get not even the resources, if just given the, let the chains off the dogs, let them do what they need to do. They're going to accomplish the mission regardless of the circumstances.

You take that same thinking and apply it in the civilian world, you're going to have the same outcome. And I think a lot of us just don't do that. 

Scott Tucker: They may adapt and overcome. And so where does becoming an authority work? I have a theory, but w when someone says, I don't know what I want to do, I don't know what to, what I want to do when I grow up.

I actually kinda think. Good. If I go search it by being out there open, become known, and maybe along the way you discover it as you're meeting people and stuff. W what's how do veterans leverage the digital landscape to become an authority, but also maybe find themselves, find their passion.

Jeremy Knauff: Yeah. And I don't think it's so much that you find yourself fill up yourself, because you're going to go through things and as you're experiencing things, you'll find maybe something is good for you or something isn't good for you. But along the way, you're developing skills, you're developing particular character traits and that's what makes you who you are.

And that's why we've seen most people not really accomplish anything because they just float through life and just take it as it comes. And they never really. Change or evolve or develop new skills, develop new character traits. But as far as the, specifically to veterans, what we need to do is we need to get out there.

We need to put ourselves physically out there, whether it's digital or, in the physical world Get on social media, get out there and start sharing your opinion. If you have a particular skill set, maybe you're somebody who's really good at overcoming adversity like David Goggins share your thoughts on that.

Maybe you're somebody who's a brilliant financial mind. Get out there and share your knowledge. What happens when you share your knowledge is, and this is really how you do it when it comes to self-promotion. People get it very wrong. Most of the time you've got people who will go out and be like, Hey, I'm the best you should work with me because I'm awesome.

That's just douchey. That doesn't work. But when you can get out here and you can say, Hey, here's what you need to do because of X, Y, Z. Here's how to do it. That's a totally different scenario. You are sharing your knowledge. You're showing somebody how to do something and they can then look at that.

And determine, Hey, does this guy actually know what he's talking about or not? Yes he does. Because X, Y, Z, here's all these facts that he shared. Here's the steps. Here's the process. Here's what he's done. When we do that we're promoting ourselves without directly promoting ourselves. And that's how you accomplish that.

And as you build a. What I'll call a library of this type of content, right? This is something that's not going to happen overnight. Everyone always talks about these overnight successes. They don't see the 10, 20 years that winning, leading up to that, I've been doing what I'm doing for basically 20 years building my knowledge, building my experience, writing articles being on podcast, sharing my knowledge all over the place.

And, I had somebody a few years ago who was a pretty good friend. And they were like we were just, this was shortly after the health crisis kicked off and he's yeah, man, some of us were talking and we were, talking about like your meteoric rise.

It's not just right. It's not just, but any context, like he knew, cause I have known him for years. It wasn't just that it was to most people from the outside. It looked like that because I had always pretty much been behind the scenes. Like I knew. People in the industry but I wasn't super public, but I had been publishing.

I've been doing things. But what they saw. After the health crisis started was just like astronomical growth, but that was preceded by what, at that point 15 years of busting my ass, sharing my knowledge, doing all of this stuff. And I just applied a different process to that. And it just blew up.

So that's what we need to do. And there's so many ways we can do this. Social media is an obvious platform. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos are really great platform for this kind of thing, because you can get out here and share, you can do it, Great, big mammoth pieces of content you might get on and do a a video about, investing in stocks and it might be this huge comprehensive thing.

And then you can turn around and break that up into littler bit. So it might be like, what is a technical trading? What is value, cost, averaging, things like that these various financial nuggets but what you're doing is you're sharing knowledge and then that over time builds up. A great example of this really is Gary Vaynerchuk.

This guy is just an absolute content machine. Now, granted, he's got a huge team behind him. He's got guys following him around all day with cameras. We don't have that. However, we all do have these little devices in our pocket. We can be shooting videos all the time. It doesn't have to be super high quality production value.

It can just be you on your phone sharing a particular piece of wisdom. You could create a group, start sharing your knowledge within that group. Now you've got this whole captive audiences tribe, and that, that tribal mentality, like we know how that works because we've got that right. Like you see somebody and you find out they're a Veteran.

What's the first thing you do. Oh, Hey, it's this guy's awesome. You don't even know him yet. But you've got this bond because there are Veteran, so same kind of concept. As we're out here promoting ourselves. If you could start to build a community around your personal brand, now you start to get significantly more leverage.

So by sharing your knowledge, sharing your experience and building a community, that's how you get to become an attorney. 

Scott Tucker: Yeah, it's it. It's not just about putting up a LinkedIn profile and say, I now have a personal brand because they told me, Oh, I got to go open a LinkedIn account now. And it's about giving value.

The misconception, it used to be this way. You had to get certifications. You had to get the extra degrees and you had to get all these things that's not necessarily required anymore because it's all about giving value. Could you have an experience or knowledge that somebody else behind you doesn't have if you share that.

Who cares what your 

Jeremy Knauff: qualifications are. And even look at the big companies, Google and Apple and Amazon they're even getting to the point where they don't care about degrees. Now, Google has a program where they're wanting to look at the side projects, th the development things that you've created on your own.

That's what they're looking at rather than, Hey, do you have this college degree? Because the reality is college is so far behind the real world when it comes to things like tech that, When you're a student and you're just developing your own little projects on the side. Maybe you've developed this.

Yeah. Or this piece of software, this special website that does some special functionality. What you're doing is you're demonstrating your ability to operate great in the real world and create real value. And that's what they're looking at. 

Scott Tucker: And I know it's Thanksgiving day. I know you've got a Turkey or you're ready to cook, so let's wrap it up.

Specifically, what you do at Spartan media and how will, these are the new skillsets that, that can be applied. How many companies would love to have a Veteran come out and be like, Hey, I taught myself social media marketing. I taught myself SEO in a weekend. And I started applying it and little by little, I built on it and it grew how do more veterans better understand the opportunities in this industry?

Jeremy Knauff: So I wanna throw a little caveat out there. It's not just the industry, right? All of us, regardless of what we do need these skills, because. If we're going to run our own business, we need to either be able to do this stuff or be able to evaluate another agency, another freelancer, to see if they actually know what they're doing to handle it for us.

So either way we need the skills, we all need a personal brand. We all need to be out there and be public and build this authority within our own respective industries. So we have to have the skills, no matter whether we're in that industry or not. So that's the foundation from there. It's a matter of learning.

When I first got into this industry, Most people thought that the internet was going to be a fad. Yeah. That's yeah, that was back in 1999. So clearly that has turned out not to be a, an accurate hypothesis, but We are at a point where we all need to be leveraging digital. We all need to have a personal brand.

We all need to be out here creating the exposure. And there's so many resources for finding this that didn't exist back then. You can go online and find Various information. I You've got what social media examiner you've got search engine journal, forum. You've got all of these different publications where you can learn this stuff.

And then you can also find like specific people and follow them and engage with their content and learn specific things like, in my case, I teach a lot about I teach a lot pretty much across the board on digital marketing SEO, web development authority marketing the whole nine yards, but just get out there and find that information.

And stay up to date on it because what's going to work today, may not work tomorrow. What's working today. Wasn't even a thing a year ago in a lot of cases. So we have to find the current information, stay up to date on it and keep working, keep practicing and to keep refining because that's how we're going to get good at it.

The same way we did in the military. You didn't go to bootcamp, blow a few rounds on the rifle range and then be like, all right, I'm Marine. No, you went out to the range and shot whether it was raining. Snowing hot, cold, whatever. And you just consistently practice and continually refine your skillset.

And we need to take that same approach out here. 

Scott Tucker: Yeah. I like to say, we don't fight today's Wars with yesterday's weapons and technology. And the reality is. W we're not taking these things on deployment. We're not taking them in the field. We're not taking them on ships. So how many hours are we behind our civilian counterparts?

We're just playing around on this stuff in their free time. It's fascinating how many veterans I've talked to don't understand what Google drive is. And so it's we need to learn. We need to learn these things. If we want to compete. In, in the in the marketplace. For opportunities, but Jeremy, thank you so much for coming on Sharon.

What is, I think the most important aspect of allowing veterans to get what they want Zig Ziglar says, if you help other people get what they want. You will get what you want, even if you don't know what it is yet. But getting online is the best way to do it. Jeremy, tell us about Spartan media as we go out, who should be contacting you?

How do they contact you? What can you do? 

Jeremy Knauff: Yeah, we it's a full service agency, but what we mainly do is we help people get recognized as the authority in their industry create more exposure so that they can get more press land, more clients and earn more money. I'm not difficult to find for obvious reasons.

If you Google my name or Spartan media, you're going to find me. I'm all over the place. Social media, I've got a column at entrepreneur I'm not tough to 

Scott Tucker: find. Great. Great. Thanks. Thanks again, man. Really appreciate it. And enjoy your Thanksgiving to everybody else. Enjoy yours as well. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

You bet.

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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