Shortly after graduating from high school, Antonio Passaro, Jr. joined the Virginia State Police and served as a Senior Trooper and Special Agent assigned to high tech crimes. Throughout the next 15 plus years, he was recognized by, among others, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District for “outstanding and dedicated public service to the nation and to his community.”
In support of his career in law enforcement, he has earned Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on management and planning, as well as a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership with a cognate in Criminology and Criminal Justice. His dissertation topic was Operational Safety Planning. Recently, Antonio completed NASA’s Federal Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, whereupon he was assigned to NASA Langley. He has also recently completed the FBI-LEEDA Law Enforcement Leadership Institute Trilogy, which is an elite training program incorporating the three elements of Supervisory, Command, and Executive.
In his spare time, Antonio served as an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice. In 2013, he accepted a full-time professorship and the newly-created Department Lead of Criminal Justice position at Tidewater Community College (TCC) at their Norfolk, Virginia campus. Over the past seven years, Antonio Passaro, Jr. was promoted from an Assistant to an Associate to finally a Full professor, all the while serving as department chair for the entire college. Further, he has represented TCC at the state level by chairing or co-chairing the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Criminal Justice Taskforce and Curriculum Committees.
In addition to his full-time job, Antonio Passaro, Jr. has also acted for several programs on the Investigative Discovery Channel, such as Wicked Attractions and Ice Cold Killers, as well as a feature film called A Moment of Clarity.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
At the age of 16, I remember very vividly having a vision that I wanted to go into law enforcement. So, when I finished high school, I was walking through the hallways of the community college all set to sign up for classes. Initially, when I went there, even though I had law enforcement on my mind, I was going to go to school to be an engineer or an architect. I’m very artistic. I love to draw. I love art. Anyhow, as I was walking through those college hallways, I kept passing the criminal justice classes. They caught my interest. I made my mind up then and there to take a different route; to enroll to study criminal justice. So that’s what I did. By the time I was 22 years old, I was a Virginia State Trooper.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m very disciplined. In the academy, every morning we had to make our beds. We had to cut the corners and make sure the bed was perfect—completely nice and neatly done. Those were the rules we had to follow. To this day I still make my bed. It’s a simple task, but once it’s completed, then you’ll be able to complete another. And then another task, and then another task, and then another task, and by the end of the day, you’ve completed a lot of tasks. The moral of the story is make your bed, because if you start off the day doing something as simple as that, you’re going to be productive.
So, what does my day look like? The first thing I do is make my bed. After that, I turn on the computers and start work related to the online classes that I teach on criminal Justice. I’ll teach and grade papers for a while, and then I work out. I work out for at least two hours a day every single day. Then I go back to the computer and work some more. I have an ongoing list of things I need to complete, so I’ll work my way through that list so that, by the end of the day, I can relax with my family and friends. I try to be productive every day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
What I try to do to make things come to life is have a vision. I have to have that vision first. Then I’ll conduct research. I just finished a PhD—that’s a research degree. If I have a vision of something I want to come to fruition, I know I have to do the research to make that happen. And then I do it either in collaboration with other colleagues or by myself. I don’t listen to the naysayers, I don’t listen to the negativity. If I’m determined to do something, then I do it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love training and education. I think that more people are embracing it than ever before, and I really hope that trend continues. I hope people keep getting on that wagon, if you will. The more training you have, the more education you have, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in life.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I have to say what’s coming into my mind is self-motivation. I am self-motivated. I have an entire gym in my house—and when I say that, I’m not kidding. I literally have an entire gym. My friends say to me all the time, “how can you work out by yourself like that?” I reply, “I’m a self-motivator.” I don’t need to go to the gym to get motivated. I motivate myself. I get things done every single day. My office is literally on the corner of an entire gym. To be a successful entrepreneur, one has to be motivated.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I had the chance to turn back time, I think I would’ve told myself to finish my education completely sooner. I’ll just say this: I’m 45. At the age of 45, I finished a PhD. If I could go back, I would’ve told myself two things. One, finish education and don’t take any breaks—which I didn’t! I went to school my whole life. But I don’t think I would’ve applied to any jobs. I think I would’ve stayed home with my parents and finished college completely. I think the other piece of advice I would give myself is to stay away from the naysayers and people who say that you can’t do anything, even though that was part of the motivation for me to move forward. You know, every time I heard something negative, it was fuel to my fire, and that’s what inspired me to continue with school and to get where I am today.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Well, I am a Dallas Cowboys fan, and a lot of people don’t like the Cowboys. But you know what? I stay true to my team and I still root for them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Push-ups. And be kind!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listening. Listening to other people. If you get to know me, I’m very outgoing. The life of the party, if you will—that’s me. What I’ve learned is that you’ve got to step back a little bit and listen. What I try to do is listen to what people are saying. You wouldn’t believe the things that you hear and the ideas and notions others have that you wouldn’t think of yourself. I try to step back and listen to what people have to say.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failure to me is not writing things down. What I’ve learned lately is to take up journaling—not the profession, but the practice. What I mean by that is it’s a great idea to buy a journal and start writing things down. If a great idea pops into your head, even if it’s in the middle of the night, you have to get up and write it down or else risk losing it forever. You wouldn’t believe how many great ideas slip away because they weren’t written down the moment they were thought up.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a lot of different accounts that require passwords. I wish that someone would develop some way to simplify all that. I wish that there was some really secure piece of software I could use on the computer that wouldn’t require me to sit there and try to remember all my passwords. Or how about this? Someone invents a program where you don’t have to change your passwords every 14 days? Because remembering the new ones gets pretty aggravating. I understand that there are security concerns better than almost anyone, but I wish there was an easier way to keep my personal data safe without having to change my passwords every 14 days.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a piece of workout equipment. Do you know what a cowbell weight is? It’s like that, but it’s actually a ball. It’s a weighted wall ball. It’s a ball designed to work out your abdominal region.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I do a lot of typing and writing, so, for me, it’s Microsoft Word.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There’s a book called Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. It’s just phenomenal. It just really gets you to think about the nature of leadership. It’s a leadership book. What the book says is that it’s not about the rank that a person holds, it’s about taking responsibility for all the people around you and the fact that you have to want to be a leader.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two:
“If you want to win, there’s absolutely no way around hard, hard work.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The safety of the people is the highest law.” — Cicero
- Work hard.
- Be honest and transparent in all matters.
- Never quit, never fail.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.