Ten Questions With Spencer Baker

Spencer Baker

Spencer Baker, Founder of Great Life, Tampa Bay

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the Military In Transition Facebook Group whether it would be worthwhile to read articles based upon other peoples’ experiences.  It seemed that the overwhelming response was in line with my thinking.  After talking with a lot of people about their retirement story, I realized that each conversation gave me a little bit of perspective about my own story.  This inspired me to start an article series to share the stories of some of the people I’ve talked with.  I hope that reading these stories puts a little bit of perspective into your life as you write your own transition story.  

This is the first article of its type, so bear with me as I work through the rough edges.  It took me a while to figure out how I would structure this, but I eventually decided to do this in the form of a “Ten Question” format.  Like 20 questions, but 1/2 the time (hopefully).  However, I will probably need to adjust this as I go along.  If you see room for improvement, please let me know.  My goal is to publish one interview each Wednesday.

My first guinea pig (I mean, interviewee), is a good friend of mine, Spencer Baker.  Spencer and I have known each other for over 15 years, since we went to the Navy’s Supply Corps School, in Athens, GA as ensigns.  Spencer’s been in the Navy for over 20 years, first as an enlisted submariner, then as a Supply Corps Officer (read: logistician).  With that said, let’s begin!

1.  What is your military background? Career, family, etc.

I’m a Navy Supply Corps Commander, and have been in for 21+ years.  I’m retirement eligible, currently stationed MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  I’m married with 5 kids between 6-17 years old.  We just bought a house last year.

2.  What is it that you want to do after you leave active duty?

A: I want to own my own business.  That business would be a consulting practice where I serve as a management & leadership consultant for executives at the VP and above level.

3.  What is it about your service experience do you think has best prepared you for your transition?

A: Navy Supply Corps Officers are the ”business leaders” in the Navy. Financials, storage, transportation and distribution, customer service, retail and wholesale, supply chain management and contracting are all things that we do. Our daily efforts in the Navy are all traditional business skills.

4.  Think of the most challenging part of your life to this point. What is it that you’ve done that helped you through it?

A: Deployments. All of them require a kind of “blind faith” and trust in your spouse to help keep the family in order and your relationship in good health. It’s a VERY active role… Not ever letting a day go by without affirming your spouses’ value, contribution, and that he/she occupies the NUMBER ONE spot in your heart. You can’t just imply it, you have to SHOW it in a manner that resonates with your partner.

5.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in your financial situation as you transition?

A: 9. Very confident. My “plan Z” is a stable Govt or DOD sector contractor job to provide an easy transition that will cover expenses. My plan A is to own a private management and leadership consulting firm using organizational assessment tools and targeted personnel development programs. Plan A is higher risk, but also has a higher potential for personal fulfillment and financial reward.

6.  What’s your biggest fear about your transition?

A: Identity change. Will my wife recognize the “guy in the suit” in the same way that she identified with the man in the uniform? What will it feel like to see “retired” on my ID card? How does it sound to say “I used to be in the Navy”? It is an adjustment- not to JOB related changes, but to patterns and interactions with my own thoughts and with other people.

7.  If you had one question that someone could answer for you (not a problem to solve, but a question that they could answer), what would it be?

A: None at this time.

8.  What would you like to see “out there” that doesn’t exist, but if it did, it would solve a big problem for you, and other people like you?

A: Business websites that REALLY ARE turnkey operations with tech support. We still live in an age where you have to “buy” your hosting and design and listing and registration, load your content, and manage your monetization as SEPARATE activities. Burdensome.

9.  What person has helped you through your military career and/or transition the most, and how did they have an impact?

A: Both mentors and friends. This is a hard one. Because most of my mentors are still on active duty, their advice has been primarily “how to succeed and get promoted in the Navy” which is really not that complicated (not EASY, but uncomplicated), but they have no insights or advice for employment outside of the DOD Govt/Defense Private realm.

I have a mentor at ABC/Disney in NYC that I met through the American Corporate Partners program. I also work with a retired Marine Corps Colonel who previously did financial planning, and now owns a management consulting firm here in Tampa.

Forrest Baumhover has been a great peer-mentor because we have been talking about transition and plans together now for about 3 years, since our last assignment together in Philadelphia. We mix various personal and professional discussions with just normal “coffee talk” when we get together.

(Forrest’s note:  I did NOT put this in here…it happened on our second draft.  However, I will thank Spencer, since he’s technically senior in paygrade to me, and hopefully will give me consulting discounts in the future).

10.  Do you want to be contacted by people who think you might be able to help them? If so, how do people get in touch with you?

A:  Sure, you can contact me and follow my page at “Great Life Tampa Bay” on Facebook.

Before I sign off, I would like to thank Spencer…he is a great guy, and not the self-promoting type, so I hope this article does him a solid and sends some traffic his way.  I also learned a couple of lessons here (like don’t try to do this remotely when you’re TDY to Kazakhstan), which I’ll attempt to incorporate into future interviews.  Stay tuned for next week’s article, where I interview a military spouse about her experience.

Lastly, this is not a one-way street.  If you’ve got a story to share with people, or would like to get yourself some exposure ‘out there online,’ please feel free to touch base with me at the Military In Transition Facebook Group.

About Forrest Baumhover

Forrest Baumhover is a Certified Financial Planner™ and tax professional. His firm, Westchase Financial Planning, focuses on the unique financial planning needs of servicemembers and families looking to separate or retire from active duty.If you’d like to learn more about Forrest or his services, please check out the About Forrest page at the top of this article.
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