Jun 28, 2017
Summary & Ideas for Action
Jim Hake is Founder and CEO of Spirit of America. Jim founded
Spirit of America after the events of 9/11. The Spirit of America
provides privately-funded humanitarian, economic, and non-lethal
assistance to projects around the world.
[2:21] A Stanford grad - Silicon Valley captivated him. New
opportunities spark new inspiration. He worked for a startup in
school. Later, he started a company with partners. With success on
the early internet, they sold the company. After four years, Jim
left to start an internet company. The dot.com bubble burst, and
his company failed.
[6:52] Jim was looking for a buyer when the attacks of 9/11
occurred. Jim immediately committed to help. Tragic circumstances
may awaken heroic aspirations to help in meaningful and substantial
ways. Jim decided to do something substantial to make a meaningful
[8:30] Once Jim had an idea, he stuck with it. He had no
Government or nonprofit experience; he just moved forward. A
National Geographic Channel story about Special Forces Sgt. 1st
Class Jay Smith organizing baseball for local Afghan youth inspired
Jim. Baseball helped Jay and his team build better
[11:29] Jim realized other men and women serving would like to
do the same. He wanted to provide resources for them. Jim learned
his own background as an entrepreneur was relevant to Special
Forces. The Special Forces lack access to venture capital. Windows
of opportunity close too quickly for channels.
[15:10] Jim gives examples of projects in the Middle East to
support the war effort. SOA has provided targeted humanitarian
assistance, economic assistance, and non-lethal assistance to get
basic services back up and running, and build trust and prevent
insurgency, in 50 countries, to date.
[17:08] Jim describes a large, long-term successful operation in
Niger, working under the guidance of the Theater Special Operations
Commands (TSOCs). They represent the best of American ideals, and
support the U.S. mission abroad working with the military and with
diplomats, in their missions.
[24:43] Jim stresses the importance of listening to learn. Jim
knew, starting Spirit of America, that he had no knowledge of what
to do in a village in Afghanistan or West Africa, or what the
military should do. So he knew his organization would need to
listen to and respond to the front lines.
[28:30] Jim considers the struggle between listening, and being
aggressive. Be aware that between the two approaches, neither one
is always right. General Mattis said, “We’re going to be no better
friend, and no worse enemy.” General Mattis gives repeatable
direction. It is simple and understandable. It involves active
listening and verifying understanding.
[32:42] Jim has worked with a lot of great people, but his
father was his greatest mentor. His father had a sign, “Instead of
thinking of reasons why you can’t, think of how you can.” He also
told him, “You can do anything, you’re a Hake.” Jim learned
confidence to try things, experiment, and become what he is today.
Early childhood influences set the course for future
[35:30] Former SOS George Shultz, is on the Spirit of America
advisory board. Jim went to his office at Stanford, and asked him
how he stays looking so great. Sec. Shultz stood up and said, “Look
at a young man like you. You have your whole life ahead of you!” At
age 59, it gave Jim a great boost.
[37:24] Jim’s lessons: People everywhere have much in common;
people want a better life for their children; people want meaning
in their life.
Website: SpiritOfAmerica.org Pick a
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LinkedIn: Jim Hake