Published on:

25th Apr 2023

Scott Taylor and Keri Laine Interview.

Showing up and being present goes a long way. Keri Laine, founder of Keri Laine Executive Solutions interviews Scott Taylor, Consultant at Taylor Global Strategies, Former Navy Seal and Virginia House Representative.


Keri Laine 0:00

Scott, thank you for joining us on The inroads podcast appreciate you being here.

Scott Taylor 0:09

Good to be with you.

Keri Laine 0:10

The purpose of our conversation is to learn a little bit about you and the successes that you've had. And take that a little bit further diving into the fabric of the person that you are that got you there. So let's start with tell us a little bit about you and what you're doing today and lead up to that from where you started.

Scott Taylor 0:28

I'll go from where I started. So thanks for having me, of course, Good to be with you. And your audience. was raised on the eastern shore of Maryland by a single mother working on a farm and paying taxes by age 11. Wow. And then left that well. Well, I guess we'll get into our, our shared history and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, but left that small town to join the Navy about a month after high school to with the goal of becoming a Navy Seal and was able to get through training, unharmed, spent about eight and a half years in the Navy SEAL teams all throughout South and Central America doing counterdrug and teaching host nation Special Forces stuff and then went to the war in Iraq, finished up my time in the SEAL teams did some entrepreneurial stuff like real estate, went to Yemen for in and out of Yemen for four years doing security consulting, and then got into politics. Don't ask me how I'm not sure. I'm not sure which professions more dangerous, the SEAL teams are politics. But I spent some time as a state congressman in Virginia, and then a US Congressman as well. And now I am the president of the bilateral trade group, the US Qatar Business Council.

Keri Laine 1:34

Wow. So that is massive. And it is really impressive. And the idea that you the theme that I imagine that would carry from each of those journeys is a lot of fortitude, and a lot of danger with us a lot of bravery, I imagine.

Scott Taylor 1:49

If you're going to be dumb, you better be hard.

Keri Laine 1:53

That's gonna get quoted, right? So if you were driving in the car, and you had your five-year-old self in the backseat, what would your five-year-old self be most surprised by?

Scott Taylor 2:03

Um, my five-year-old self? That's a little tough, cuz it's a little, you know, five years old. I guess if I, if I was looking back and then being a five-year-old and saying, well, then my future some of the things I just mentioned, you know where I'm from, and you know, where people go from where I'm from, usually they stay there, of course. But I think becoming a Navy SEAL would have been a big thing, becoming a father, as you know, of course, my son is the biggest accomplishment in my life. Also, using my GI Bill and getting an undergrad and a master's degree from Harvard University. I definitely wouldn't have thought that was going to happen. Yeah. And then getting elected to US Congress, you know, going from the cornfields and having Maryland to the halls of Congress is would be a big thing, I think for a five-year-old, looking at his future.

Keri Laine 2:50

Looking at looking ahead. And so do you think that what it took for you to go into each of those moments? Do you think that is more nature or is it more nurture?

Scott Taylor 3:00

I think a little bit of both, I think you one starts out with, with another core of who you are, of course, and then and then you, you utilize mentorships as well as the things in your environment to help you reach your potential and whatever it is, is your goal. And I think in between each of the big things that I've accomplished in my life, have kind of like looked around, I'm like, what, what's next kind of like, what am I going to do and then and then eventually sort of settled on on some sort of goal. And then I think in the nature piece of it, rather than the nurture, I just have a sort of incredible discipline and maybe someone say hardheadedness, but, but also like I, I have no, I have a very strong mind, I think. And so and then I'm sure we'll get into this. But with each success, you know, it was always like, little teeny steps over and over and over again, that led up to the, to the success, which takes discipline and focus and stuff like that. But certainly, again, between those big accomplishments, there was a lot of a lack of focus, if you will, all over the place until I was focused. And then I knew what I was going to do once I set up on it.

Keri Laine 4:09

then you knew it was next. So if you imagine you're in this car, and you have a GPS system, right, the GPS system is the map that tells you where to go. And all of us have an internal GPS, essentially, your character, your morals and your ethics. Sure, where over the course of this journey, have your morals and ethics either been enhanced and affirmed or really challenged?

Scott Taylor 4:29

Am I still five years old?

Keri Laine 4:30

No, you're an adult now. You're a little bit further down the journey.

Scott Taylor 4:34

So I think, you know, I try. I try to keep an open mind. And I'm constantly learning and I'm very curious by nature. So I think, I think in general, you have this sort of this moral compass, that things that you were taught whether it's you know, your mother teaching you manners, and stuff like that, but also along the way, my thoughts certainly have adjusted and not my moral compass, necessarily, but just my understanding of the world around me certainly changed because of the diverse and broad things that I've been exposed to all around the world, quite frankly. So I think I'm I mean, I'm constantly learning and I'm open to constantly learning, and making sure that my moral compass is pointing in the right direction.

Keri Laine 5:17

So you're seeing different perspectives as you grow and scope as an enroll and in different places of the world and different responsibilities and things that are up against you that you have to sort of make sure that that's tested like you said, and you're still staying on point with what that is. But what that brings you is that propulsion and momentum to keep moving forward, which helps you reach your goals. Now–

Scott Taylor 5:37

Sometimes you, you know, you realize, okay, what you thought was you were doing the right thing moving forward, and then your perspective changes, right? And you're like, not, not that you're doing the wrong thing suddenly, but it just doesn't matter as much.

Keri Laine 5:47

Right. Right. And that goes back to the open to learning.

Scott Taylor 5:50


Keri Laine 5:51

Listening to whatever that intuition is, or whatever the data inputs are.

Scott Taylor 5:53


Keri Laine 5:54

That help guide you. And being in tune with that, which I think is one of the things that people have a big challenge with staying aligned with what that goal is and who they are. And those external forces, because talk about external forces of the background that you've had, you've had some legitimate real life, external forces against you. And one of those is what's actually internal. And so when your character is tested through situations like this if you were to talk about the character attributes that you would need to get through some of the history that you've done, what characteristic traits would you say helped you get through that?

Scott Taylor 6:28

Competitiveness, competitiveness? Again, the ability to focus on things? The lack of well, not the lack, but the never quit attitude. Of course, you know, when you talk about the SEAL teams, you're talking about 70 to 75% attrition rate for the people who actually get there. That's not even including the folks who tried to get there. They didn't get there. Yeah. So you, I mean, you have to have this just incredible will, a will to succeed and will to get through whatever, whatever it is that you're doing. And, and so, you know, I don't know exactly where that comes from. Sometimes I try to contemplate, okay, when we look at, you know, look in the past and figure out, where there's some external forces that that sort of helped me get that sort of mentality or attitude, and I don't know yet, but, but definitely the, you know, the, the will to win, never quit attitude, the ability to focus when, when you have when you need to focus. And then I think, again, the you know, being I have an insatiable curiosity. So I learned a lot and I'm able to associate different things with all with, with a diverse perspectives. And I think that's been very helpful for me and being accessible, successful as well.

Keri Laine 7:40

And then you can connect where the dots align.

Scott Taylor 7:42


Keri Laine 7:43

And what sorts they.

Scott Taylor 7:44

Whether that's networking with people, or whether that's just with, with things or and or both.

Keri Laine 7:48

Moments or situations. And that either helps. Like if you look at the windshield, it's bigger in front of us for a reason, because that's driving where you're headed. The rearview mirror is where you look back and you decide if you need to speed up slow down change lanes, just quick little glances. But it helps give you that context from a peripheral standpoint.

Scott Taylor 8:03

Everybody has that in their mind and your mind is this massive supercomputer that's constantly associating things all day long, right? And, and some people are more open to doing that than others. Right. And for me, it's I've always been open to, to those associations that helped me connect dots, whether it's, again, whether it's people, whether it's in business, whether it's in war, whatever it might be, I think it's necessary that you, that you keep an open mind for that.

Keri Laine 8:27

So with, with that, that's something that I think when you talk about being in war, whether it's being in war, the way that you've discussed it, or whether it's a business at war against, you know, external customer or competitor headwinds, or somebody's at war with themselves as an entrepreneur trying to build a business and they're not sure if it's going to work, the idea that there's this conflict, you've actually been an around real conflict. So it almost seems as though your history and what you've done comes with such bravery, but there had to have been times that you were afraid of failure, or that something would go wrong.

Scott Taylor 8:58

Well yeah.

Keri Laine 8:59

Where was that?

Scott Taylor 9:00

Like? Like, I think every, every significant thing that I've done, I've always been you know, there's also there's fear there, right? Yeah. I wrestled growing up. I can remember. Even if I knew I was going to beat the guy in like, 30 seconds. I'm still super nervous. Yeah, you know, I think I don't think fear is a bad thing. When I was jumping out of an airplane. I'm there's fear there, right? It's not the fear as long as you don't let fear stop you completely or make you freeze. You still you know, you have to be you have to be calm and chaos. You can be scared. In fact, I think that's helpful some sometimes because it sort of gives you a heightened sense of awareness. And so that can help with you know, making sure that you got you complete the details necessary to whatever the job is. So fear is fine and I embrace fear I'm okay with it. You know, I'm totally okay with It totally calm and in chaotic situations. And I think that's what you have to be you just have to push, push through it. But anyway, I mean, I think that, you know, when you mentioned entrepreneurs, I mean, you deal with businesses all the time, and I'm sure there are folks that are entrepreneurs or business owners that are, will want to start businesses that are gonna watch this, and listen to this, this podcast. And so, you know, it's a scary thing. It's super scary, you know, when you put everything on the line for something that you believe in, that you want to start and be successful, and maybe you have a family, or whatever it is, it's like, it's super scary, you know, very scary. But nothing is ever as bad as you think it's going to be. And nothing's ever as good as you think it's going to be either, right? And one of the great things about this country's specifically is who gives a shit? Yeah. So you fail, we'll get back up, dust your knees off, and keep moving forward. And you probably will fail, but you're going to be better for it. As long as you don't dwell on and freeze for the next thing. You know, I've actually this goes back to the question that you asked me, I have failed at everything I've ever been successful at. Okay, period. And I don't care. Yeah, you know what I mean? Like, it's okay. Yeah, you learn a hell of a lot more from your failures than you do your successes. Yeah. So to me, failure is just part of it, it's part of life is part of the deal. And it's a great educational tool.

Keri Laine:

Absolutely. I love how you put that I love that. If you were to define on the flip side of that success, everybody thinks that they're on this journey, and they're gonna arrive to success, and they're gonna reach a landing point. And I think we've all seen that that's just not how it works. There's evolutions and periods of success, but we'll define it differently. So how would you define what success is?

Scott Taylor:

Um, you know, and this is one of those things that sort of have changed throughout my life. And I imagine that's going to be the same with everybody, what you what you, what you think, is that you're successful. And, you know, there's been plenty of times when I've reached a goal, or, you know, which is great. There's your for you for a second thing, and then you're like, oh, shit, okay, what's next? Yeah, you know, I think, to be successful in life, period, and life is precious, and you never know how much time you have. Are you happy with yourself? Number one? 100%? Are you? Are you happy? Are you, are you confident who you are as a person? Have you, you know, your moral compass? All those things that go into that? Are you okay? Are you, are you good with your family, your kids, whatever. To me, that is the like, you know, being a good father, being someone that my family and my friends like, to me is more important, that make me those things make me more successful than any money that I'm ever going to make. You know, all along the way. I like to, of course, achieve goals and stuff like that, just because I like I like, like doing that. That those are, those are great. But they're also temporary successes, as you alluded to. The biggest thing to me in life is what I, what I said, I mean, that's really, if my family likes me, they want to hang with me, if Sterling, my son when he's old when I'm when we're older, Jay and I are old or something he still wants to hang with us. Okay, I'm successful.

Keri Laine:

Yeah, then that's what they're worth. It's a different intrinsic value that doesn't have anything to do with the superficiality of what the external culture or pressures may be. And I think that is back to the alignment of being who you are and listening to the intuition.

Scott Taylor:

Are you happy? You made me make a million dollars a year? Maybe you make, you know, $50,000 a year? Are you? Are you enjoying life? Are you enjoying your family? Enjoying yourself? Yeah. Are you? You know, can you look yourself in the mirror and be like, I'm kind of happy. You know, like, I'm cool with the 50,000 a month or cool with a million dollars. I mean, there's plenty of people who have tons of money, who are so unhappy. And I would argue that is not what success looks like.

Keri Laine:

Well and that's what my next question is, is there do you think people get the idea of success wrong?

Scott Taylor:

Because they think it's it's things it's money, it's so do I have a Lamborghini or something like that, you know, like, that's not success. It's just not, it's just the thing, you know.

Keri Laine:

You mentioned giving back and talking about the Big Brothers program that you were in. So there's a part of you that also intrinsically is connected to service of giving to others. So talk to me about that attribute and how you think that's made you successful as well.

Scott Taylor:

So let's, let's go back a second time right now, as you know, we share, we share this. We're both littles if you will, yeah. You know, I met when I was 11 years old, I was on probation. I was, you know, going down the wrong path. Not that I was like, some killer or something like that. I just had a single mother who was always in the hospital working, she worked at the hospital. So I had a lot of free time. And so I was getting in trouble and had no direction and I had no you know, male influence that was, was really helped me know, helping me and mentor me. So I got signed up for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. And so I remember I remember the day I met Andy, my big brother, who's 83 Now I'm sitting with my sister, we're on a couch. And he walks in with this lady Gigi, who was like setting it up. And I just remember looking at him like, time was 51, 52 And I'm like, God, this guy's old. You know, like, What the hell are we gonna have in common? He's just always gray hair, you know? But with that guy, changed the whole trajectory of my life. I mean, I mean, literally, everything like you wouldn't even be speaking to me right now if it wasn't for that guy. He came to he happened to like sports. He was a coach. I played a lot of sports, and fat fast forward when he when I graduated high school, he said, Do you know why I picked you? And I say, what? A No, you pick me? Yeah, I mean, I thought I thought they matched us up. Yeah. He said, Well, they match, match me up with three people. And we each one of you wrote a letter. Do you remember writing a letter and like not I remember reading a letter. I'm 17 now that was when I was 11. And so he said in your letter, and let me preface this by saying, again, my mother was always working. I played sports. No one was there, you know, for my games. He said, In your letter you wrote, I just want someone to come to my games. Oh, you cry. And so that guy came to every single match, every single game that he could like, my whole time in high school, when before high school and everything like that. And just the fact that he showed up, didn't have to say anything, right? Like just, just showing up is the big thing. So I mean, he but there's so much more. And I know we don't have enough time to go into it of how he changed my life. But that he changed, there would be no Harvard, there would be no navy seal stuff. There would be no Congress. If it wasn't for Andy my big brother.

Keri Laine:

do you think it was him validating a part of your worth that you felt but hadn't yet been reflected?

Scott Taylor:

100% 100%. Again, it's you know, it's just, it's just being there and instilling confidence and self-worth. I think a lot of kids don't have that, you know, the in, there's no way I would have left that little small town, probably if it wasn't for Andy validating me in instilling confidence and self-worth in me to where I've had the confidence to say, You know what, I'm gonna go be a damn Navy Seal. Oh, yeah. Never mind, I didn't even know what that really meant. When I was in high school, we know, it was hard.

Keri Laine:

It's that even adults nowadays have issue with self-worth and back to the entrepreneurial. There's a lot of people that struggle with how much do I charge and, or they'll undercut because they feel like their services aren't valued the right way. And there's a lot of struggle where it's, they believe that they have something to offer, but they don't know how to claim it. And that starts with somebody saying, I see you. And I'm here for you, like you said, even if I don't say anything, and that can make a huge difference. Sounds like he was a great mentor to you.

Scott Taylor:

The best. I mean, I still speak to him every day. I just talked with him earlier.

Keri Laine:

Now you have to tell me mentioned. Hi, Andy. Okay, so if you were on.

Scott Taylor:

Let me say one more thing about that. Because this is important. I think for anybody that's out there listening, who is on his side, right? The mentor side. If you spoke to Andy today, he would tell you that he got more out of it than I did. Yeah. Which I disagree with 100%. But he would say that to you. I got more out of this in Scott got. Which is pretty incredible. When you think about it.

Keri Laine:

It's and you know, you and I talked before that I have a big that was a little and we've had the longest standing history of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Central Florida. We used to get awards for it. And it's so funny you say that because she would say the same thing. And I think there's that there's that element of living outside of yourself and being connected to some bigger purposes, that are less egocentric and more, whether it's servant, or whether it's giving back or whether it's giving time, whatever it may be some that it just seems to come back to you in a way that helps pave more of that road for success for people. Sometimes people think you just have to have grit and work hard. And like you said, there's people that Chase either the paycheck or the title, whatever it may be and it's not ever filling and they're not going to get.

Scott Taylor:

That’s the thing. You might, you might achieve those things but it might not be it, might not be.

Keri Laine:

Yeah, it's that listening to your story going from where you went. You had this drive to accomplish goals like intrinsically you were trying to achieve something and then the next and then the next thing that is eternal fortitude and drive that money can't buy right. The experiences can shape and reaffirm and people like Andy can see it. And that's how you end up continuing for that's your fuel so to speak. So if you were to look at this whole driving analogy, everybody's got a tank, the tank gets empty sometimes. What would you recommend people do for the need to refill their tank mentally and emotionally?

Scott Taylor:

I think that varies for each person and what they what makes them feel recharged, but everybody should just, you know, self-reflect and like, hey, what? What made what gives me more energy, right? Is it being around my friends and family? As you know, for me, it's probably a couple of things. I have a set of friends that I'm still close to that I grew up with that no matter it wouldn't matter if I was the president united states, they would still give me shit, right? If my head got too big, they'd pop that bubble pretty quick. But I love them. I love them. And I love laughing with them. My stomach hurts and I'm laughing with them. I love being around them. And I also love travel. Right? So I like to you know, when I lost my race in Congress, for example, I needed to I needed to get away to recharge and refocus. And I literally flew to Baron Kia Colombia, right so I spent a lot time in South America like South South America. Barren Kia is like this little, you know, industrial city on the coast of Colombia. It no, you wouldn't go there for vacation. Yeah, but I did. But just, just to relax and get away. No one, no one knows me, right? You know, and so I think whatever, refills your battery, and it's going to be a little bit different for each person, but you need, you need that in your life, you know, and I can't go too long without hanging out with those friends. I talked to him on the phone every day, but it's not the same thing. I gotta go see him. And when I, when I leave them at number one, I miss them, of course, but I'm recharged I'm happy, which can enable me to let go of things that might be bothering me and then refocus.

Keri Laine:

and it goes back to that paradigm shift where you get different perspectives. Once you get farther and farther away. It's more in the rearview mirror. And it seems to matter less at that point.

Scott Taylor:

Again, you know, nothing is as bad as it seems nothing's as good as Yeah, it's always somewhere in between, right? Yeah. And people. You know, honestly, like, it really paralyzes a lot of people when they have big failures. It's ridiculous. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it's really ridiculous to be paralyzed with a failure. Or if you have the ability to move forward, you're not dead. You know, you keep, you keep moving forward.

Keri Laine:

Yeah. If somebody doesn't have an Andy, or where they don't necessarily feel seen, what would you recommend that they do to self-validate in a way?

Scott Taylor:

You know, I don't know about self validate, because I think that's, you know, again, that's going to be personality driven. You know, because I had that, that validation from Andy so early, like, I don't even need it, ya know, from any, but I don't need validation from anyone right? Now, I'm totally, totally fine. But obviously, there was a time when I did you know, at that age, and that could be different for different people at certain times in their life. But I would say, Listen, you know, when you, when you look at mentors, and how to find mentors, there are tons of people out there, who, usually it tends to be folks that are a little bit older, like they want to give you the wisdom, they'll talk to you all day long. And that stuff. Some of it, you might be like, Oh, geez, but there's probably great nuggets in there somewhere. So I mean, I would just, if I were, if I were, if I was, if I needed something, or needed, whether it was validation, and maybe I'm doing a new business or something like that I need I need validation that what I'm doing is okay, or is it sucks or whatever, just reach out to people and have no fear in reaching out to people and trying to get their feedback. And you would be surprised when you ask for something how much you get. And most people just don't ask.

Keri Laine:

Right. And the worst I say is no.

Scott Taylor:

And who cares? And then you just go I just got somebody else.

Keri Laine:

So if you were to be looking in the rearview at the end, for you, and you were to be the final destination, looking back and saying, Okay, this journey was what it was supposed to be, what would you see?

Scott Taylor:

You know, I would, you know, I've had a, I've thought about this a lot before, because, you know, unfortunately, I've buried a lot of my friends, right? From war, from war. So I've, I've had understood the, you know, the finite timeframe of life, from a very early age. In fact, it's interesting, Andy, who's 83 now, he's 40 years older than me. A few years ago, his friends started to die, you know, because, you know, they're at 87 years old. And you know, life takes its course. And so we were having this conversation, and then I, I found myself sort of consoling Andy about losing his close friends, which is kind of crazy when you think about because I was like, get in my, you know, early, late 20s, early 30s.

Keri Laine:

But you've seen it a lot.

Scott Taylor:

Yeah, of course, I've already, you know, buried more than I wish on anybody. And so, so I've thought about this a lot, you know, and if it was tomorrow was the end? Would I be content with, with where I've been? And I think the answer is 100%. Yes. Because I have used some I use my you know, I use my time of course, first and foremost, my son, you know, being there for him as much as I could possibly. And then and my friends and the people that I care about and love and but also the serving, serving other people, I think that you, you, you get the most when you give Yeah. And you get the most out of it when you give and again Andy I go back to his example under the heat that he feels like he got more than, than he gave which is crazy to me, but whether I serve my community, my country, or our friends and family, I feel like yes, I have given a lot more than I've taken and so it's so if the end was tomorrow then I'm content.

Keri Laine:

Feel like you've filled your purpose. What was the advice you gave to Andy when you were consoling him?

Scott Taylor:

Oh, how much time we got? No, it was just you know it I think it wasn't it wasn't advice per se it was just being there for him you know, and, and we you know, having conversation we're over talking about it. It was really was just sort of the same thing that he did for me and that was showing up and being there and listening you know. Listen to him and listen to his old stories and and with with his friends of course and like that.

Keri Laine:

Knowing that he was heard Of course, and that went full circle. Yeah, both of you. That's pretty awesome. Well, we are really, really grateful for your stories and for your sharing. I appreciate you coming on because it's, it's a perspective that on paper, and this is the point of it on paper, you could have a certain belief about what it takes. But what's fascinating is the thought and the person that you are underneath. It led to some of these roads, but it led to so much bigger of an impact to your family and to the communities and to the people that you've come across. And that's really we're, I think the heart of the matter is, you know, making sure that you're going after that alignment with what matters and what you were when you started on the farm and what you went through to what you've done now every step has led you to be able to impact more and more. And that's the legacy like leaving the legacy work that is very, very profound. If you were to leave this podcast with one wisdom, one little nugget of wisdom on anything.

Scott Taylor:

Don't pee in the wind.

Keri Laine:

There we go.

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About the Podcast

Hosted by: Keri Laine
A series of conversations with the elite of the elite…. diving into the heart of their journey, with the hopes that others seeking to pave their way will be inspired by their stories.

KERI LAINE EXECUTIVE SOLUTIONS: Helping private equity and venture capital firms maximize profits by developing strong leaders, building efficient teams, and creating frameworks for success.

About your host

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Keri Laine

Keri has held C-level roles in various size organizations, public and private. In the past fifteen years, she has specialized in helping technology, manufacturing, and engineering companies disrupt their sector with entrepreneurial, innovative success across the globe. Keri has led organizations through employee growth of 100 to 4,000, both public and private with revenue stages from $40m to $5.6b.

She has facilitated 27 mergers and acquisitions globally, spearheading the talent and human capital perspective as well as business integration, strategic planning, internal communication, and change management.

She is a former global Chief level Executive that has taken three organizations public.

She is also certified in Change Management and is a Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach who has coached more than 200 top executives and entrepreneurs.