Nothing will make you appreciate what you have at home faster than a deployment to a combat zone. As Navy SEALs, our training and deployment tempos often keep us away from the people and things we care about most for months on end, and finding balance or maintaining strong emotional connections is a luxury we don't often have.
In effort to maintain it, I knew guys who would always carry with them a photo or note from their wife or kids back home. Others carried mementos, good luck charms or even patches from the various fire departments who sacrificed everything in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. These reminders of love, stability and solidarity helped give us strength and inspiration. The connection to the people and things we love is what inspires us to take the fight to the enemy and to make it back home.
I was recently introduced to a retired Navy SEAL, Boyd Renner, and his business partner, Patrick Duffy, co-founders of Endeavor Life Sciences, who understand the power of emotional connection. In fact, Endeavor invents, produces, and distributes, world-first products to help people stay emotionally connected to what matters most to them in life.
Last week, Renner and Duffy launched Endeavor's flagship product, Everence, a technology that allows people to add the DNA of a loved one into any new or existing tattoo. Yes, you read that correctly.
Their focus on emotional connections within life and business resonated with me - and in speaking to them--I realized the power of this product. Instead of photos, notes or good luck charms, we now have the ability to have loved ones carried with us always. We can now be physically connected to the very thing we draw strength or serenity from.
In essence, at the Endeavor Life Sciences production facility, they extract short strands of DNA from their DNA collection kits, amplify and purify that DNA, and microencapsulate the DNA in a medical-grade polymer (PMMA) - purifying the finished product before sending it back to the consumer. The product is sent back in a powder form, along with a certificate of authenticity and extra DNA in an FTA card, which can be used to verify the DNA by a third-party DNA lab if desired.
Everence can be taken to any tattoo artist of your choosing. The tattoo artist opens the safety seal on your Everence vial, mixes it with any ink or carrier solution he or she chooses and applies the Everence/ink mixture just as he or she would in any other tattoo. It does not affect the tattoo or tattoo process. Everence is completely colorless once applied to the body and can even be applied to the skin without ink (via carrier solution) and remain invisible.
Despite the intrigue of the product (and I'll admit, it took a moment to fully understand the magnitude of it), the story of how the idea for Everence came about, along with the entrepreneurial mindset and culture-focused company piqued my interest.
We sometimes forget the power of human connection, inspiration and emotions and how they affect our everyday lives. And they are as powerful and applicable in the military as they are in our professional and personal lives.
Endeavor's understanding of it became clear when Patrick told me, "We believe people can be their best when they feel a sense of close connection to what inspires them." I know this to be true in the military; it's how many of us got through BUD/S (the initial six months of the brutal SEAL training pipeline). And I am continually sharing a similar message with my business leadership consultancy clients when it comes to building a winning team culture aligned behind the values of trust, accountability, mutual respect and resiliency.
But where and how did Endeavor start? I'm always interested in understanding how entrepreneurs began their journey. The idea for Everence came to Duffy while spending time with surviving family members of fallen U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel (Gold Star Families). He noticed the tattoo of a wife and mother who lost her husband, the most important person in her life, and thought - what if that tattoo could carry part of him with her forever?
The next several years were spent assembling an interdisciplinary team of renowned scientists from Brown and Duke Universities, top tattoo artists, and retired Navy SEALs to create, patent, and introduce this revolutionary technology to the world.
"We are living in an economy of resonance, authenticity, and "bonding" not branding - Everence literally puts meaning "under the skin" of the customer," says David Bell, Professor of Marketing at Wharton University and advisor to Endeavor.
The process was not without challenges, as is expected when inventing a product, starting a company and bringing a technology this unique to the market. It was a four-and-a-half year process from inception to roll out. The Endeavor team underwent a rigorous patent process that was ultimately successful. They also dealt with the challenge of remaining completely self-funded. Resisting the urge to accept outside capital was a gamble and source of stress at times. But with doing something so new, Endeavor believed that autonomy in decision-making was important.
One aspect of this budding start-up that intrigued me the most was that they are already actively investing time and money into culture, engagement, employee retention and the work environment. According the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, senior executives from all over the world cite these areas as needing urgent attention. So it seems that this dynamic team is already ahead of the game!
By putting "Teams guys" in charge of building that winning cultural environment. Good idea!
Today, they're focusing on their launch but also their longer-term mission of building their inspiration and development department, headed up by their team of five retired Navy SEALs. This team will be in charge of internal leadership development and company culture. They will bring their experience in building and leading effective teams, organizational dynamics, and culture alignment to create and scale this high-performance team.
The vision? To make Endeavor Life Sciences one of the best places to come to work every day.
They've threaded the understanding of emotional connection and inspiration into the core of their business and leadership teams.
It's always a huge inspiration to see how our transitioning veterans (especially those coming from the special operations community) are positively impacting the world of business and entrepreneurship.
Endeavor Life Sciences, their brilliant founders and focused team are at the top of my list of hot new brands to watch.