Read and reflect. Sleep on it and let your brain work through your thoughts.
Erick McFerran was born in Independence, Iowa and received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Erick graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Spanish and from Troy University with a Master’s of Science in International Relations with a Global Studies Concentration. Erick is also a graduate of the Signal Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, the Engineer Captain’s Career Course (ECCC) the Civil Affairs Qualification Course, the Advanced Regional Analysis Course (Asia), the Thai language course, and the Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape High Risk (SERE-C) course and was chosen by his Commander with one other officer to represent the U.S. Army at the George C. Marshall Center’s Leadership Program on Advanced Security Studies (LPASS) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Erick speaks Spanish and Russian and has traveled to or lived in 30 countries on four continents. He is an avid outdoorsman, sportsman, and enjoys engaging in the skilled trades and other forms of craftsmanship. In his free time, he also relishes taking his Pitbull, Missy for long hikes.
His past assignments include: Platoon Leader and Direct Signal Support Team (DSST) OIC, Kandahar, Afghanistan, 25th Signal Battalion, 160th Signal Brigade, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Company Executive Officer (XO), E Company, 34th Infantry Regiment, Fort Jackson, SC; Team Leader, D Company, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Qalat, Afghanistan, Civil Affairs Team Leader, A Company, 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas; CMOC Chief for B Company, 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas; Civil Affairs Team Leader and Public Safety Officer, D Company, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR), Grafenwoehr, Germany; and Commander, Bravo Company, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR), Arden Hills, MN.
Since transition from active duty service in the Army, Erick has held the positions of Department Manager at Home Depot, Deputy Sheriff, and most recently as an independent contractor, instructor, and program operations advisor with MoLingos Inc.
Some of Erick’s service awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal (x3), the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal), the National Defense Service Medal the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, The NATO Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon and the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency (GAFBMP). Erick was elected by his peers to be the President of his Law Enforcement Academy class, and as a master’s graduate, he was invited to membership in Phi Kappa Phi-the nation’s most selective and prestigious all-disciplines scholastic honor society.
Where did the idea for MoLingos come from?
Due to my previous extensive worldly travels and studies in international affairs, I have developed an appreciation for the importance of understanding different cultures and languages to better communicate, connect, and understand others. Along the way I discovered the popularity of becoming a polyglot and the desire of most of the people I encountered to learn to speak multiple languages, especially English. Due largely to the catalyst of Globalization and rapid information technological advances, we are increasingly introduced to the ability to establish connectivity across the globe with many different types of platforms that can facilitate anything from a business meeting, to a telemedical consultation, to a virtual classroom setting. These platforms facilitate the ability of subject matter experts to connect with audiences worldwide with nearly the same effect and experience as if they were in the same room. Because many of us at MoLingos had previously-established, vast networks of contacts in the corporate and educational systems of multiple countries, as well as the technical expertise within our own team, we were able to develop the appropriate curriculum, methodology, software, and mobile applications to present an innovative, high-quality product to our clientele.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day usually begins rather early, as much of the business at the moment runs off of Eastern Asian time zones, so we need to be able to conduct business with people who are 10-13 hours ahead of us while we are stateside. We usually conduct lessons in the morning and later in the evenings. The preparation for most of our lessons the following day, I most often do after the morning sessions. When we are building content for our software and mobile applications, I usually work on those for a few hours either in the late morning or early evening, depending on the day. In most cases, I prefer to organize my day so that the majority of the most cognitively intense work, requiring the highest degree of focus, occurs in the morning after a good rest or after I hit the gym when the blood flow rate to the brain is increased. In between the business-related activities, I find the time to do a myriad of other things-again depending on the day and where I might be in the world. Also, it is important to find balance, so I recommend getting away from work tasks and finding something you enjoy, such as taking a walk, having a conversation, swimming, golfing, fishing or whatever shifts your focus elsewhere until you feel recharged. I find that helps to refresh and facilitate reengaging with work once I am ready to return to it.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I prefer to write them out, read them back to myself ,then ideally discuss them with someone else who is a good sounding board. That can be anyone including one of my colleagues, a close family member, or a couple of my old buddies. That methodology reinforces good ideas or isolates the not so good ones, simply by seeing or hearing yourself say them out loud. I tend to think better when I ‘think out loud’, so discussing them with someone else-especially someone who knows little to nothing about it-can provide the added benefit of a different perspective which can shed light on an angle you might not have previously considered.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The facilitation and continually improving ease with which people are travelling-especially internationally- as well as the ability to work ‘off of the grid’, doing anything from online work, to jobs and/or volunteerism in other countries. There are seemingly limitless options to engage in these types of adventures. You can find these opportunities just about everywhere. The possibilities are literally only limited by your own imagination, reasoning, and will to discover them. The world is truly what you make of it. I, for example, have lived, worked and explored in and among several different countries, of my own volition, without a government or corporation sending me somewhere on their time and dime. And they were all grand adventures.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Attention to the details/preparation. It has served well in previous careers, mitigates risks, and leaves as little as possible as a surprise. I often do not even make a routine call to say the bank or the insurance company without thinking through the conversation, any reasonable scenarios, questions, and answers that might occur in the process of conducting business, in order to maintain focus on the objective of the call and to maximize it’s productivity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To relax. Meaning, through a multitude of life experiences, I have found that the universe simply tends to unfold as it should and the best thing we can do is stay as focused and dialed into the moment as much as we possibly can and not worry or stress about anything else. Just do the best you can at or with what you have immediately in front of you right now-in the moment-no matter what it is. Everything else will come as it is meant to come.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That people are not inherently malevolent. I think that is a misconception or really a misperception of the nature of living beings, where it is survival (within each step of the hierarchy of needs-from physical, to social, to self-actualization) that is paramount-not a tendency towards maliciousness, at least for most people. I have certainly encountered my fair share of people all over the world and I believe we are all basically the same. That includes compassion and care for others. I have had the honor to meet some of the poorest people, in the most destitute situations, be the most kind, caring, and generous-as well as those who seem to have it all and are more than happy to share their blessings with others.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read and reflect. Sleep on it and let your brain work through your thoughts. I cannot stress it enough. The human mind is one of the most powerful tools in all of creation and will often lead you to the most logical, well-reasoned, clear, and accurate solution. I also believe the mind does these things as good or better than any software program or electronic processor, if you give it the right fuel to operate efficiently.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Much of how the team has built the company is simply through networking and interpersonal relationships. Many of my colleagues are either from and/or often visit many of our clients and we are constantly seeking innovative ways to integrate with their companies and endeavors. For instance, one of our potential partners runs a golf school in one of our partnering regions, so we developed some ideas for a platform and a program of instruction for how to teach the students relevant terminology and cultural skills for when they travel to other (English-speaking) countries to compete and/or attend college. Another, more recent situation is we are now partnering with a company that essentially administers and runs an entire online school for children and we provide the expertise in our given subject matter. Once you begin generating workable and relevant solutions, continued growth can take on a life of its own and greatly facilitate expansion.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Initially finding it a challenge to sell myself-specifically my skillsets, educational background, and experiences that relate to being effective in my chosen pursuit. I struggled with it and lost out on at least a few opportunities. So I began reading, watching and/or listening to a lot of books, articles, posts, blogs, videos-you name it- on how better to understand one’s own strengths, turn your weaknesses into strengths, and how to put it all together to become your greatest advocate. That works with employers, investors, parents, administrators, and all other types of potential clientele.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is a large generation of Americans, for instance, that are retiring in droves and do not simply want to rest on their laurels-figure out a way to leverage that market for a start. Find a way to help them find purpose in retirement such as through volunteering, adventure or ecological tourism, mentorship programs, reading to or telling stories to kids, etc. There are also a plethora of other opportunities-and not just with the rapidly expanding retirement population-setting up your own business-many of which can be executed from a home office-doing anything from being a Personal Assistant, to a Vacation Planner, to offering Handyman or landscaping/gardening services. Another growing need is to learn to code and go into the rapidly expanding Artificial Intelligence (AI) field where there is a significant need for coders to write scripts and commands for anything from turning on the lights in a dwelling to setting the oven to preheat at 400 degrees, to answering the nearly infinite possibilities for trivia questions.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a new grill, a set of sneakers, a couple of rugs, a full tank of gas, and some dog chews. I strive to maximize my investments, striving to stretch my dollars while seeking the best possible return on investment. These were all things that I needed or enjoyed, and I was able to acquire them all for less than $100, just by engaging in a little bargain shopping. That can take some initial investment in time, experimenting and trying out some different things, but it is ultimately worth it. I have read that the wealthy become and stay that way-not necessarily because of the money they earn, but more as a result of saving the money they do not need to spend on excesses.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft office and YouTube. These may seem to state the obvious but if you look to stay update with them and maximize their potential, you can both do and learn just about anything with those two services.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Power of Now, By Eckhart Tolle. It is one of those books that can put literally everything into perspective. Read it, reread it, reflect on it, and you’ll see why.
What is your favorite quote?
“That which does not destroy me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. Each time you overcome a challenge, difficulty, or traumatic event-even just simply by surviving it, you have become a stronger, possibly even better person, simply for having gone through the experience. Similar to how a muscle gets stronger the more you exercise it, we can develop resilience and become spiritually, mentally, and even psychologically stronger the more we overcome our own inevitable life experiences.
• Introspection is a powerful tool to enhance one’s own betterment and effectiveness.
• Ask someone you know well to be your sounding board for ideas and thoughts before acting upon them.
• Stay focused in the moment and relax, everything will come as it should.
• Read as often and as much as you can. It will only expand your horizons.
• There are many ideas and businesses already out there. Find a key need and pounce on it. You might just do it better than the others.
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.