Josh Duplantis with SAWDC

Josh Duplantis with SAWDC

On this week's podcast, Marcus sits down with Josh Duplantis. Josh is the executive director of SAWDC, a non-profit created with the intention of training workers to better fit employer needs. Listen to this week's episode to hear his story and how SAWDC is helping to promote economic development in our area through workforce development.

Produced by Blue Fish in Mobile, Alabama


Josh Duplantis: I'm Josh Duplantis with SAWDC.

Marcus Neto: Awesome, Josh. Well, welcome to the podcast.

Josh Duplantis: Well, thank you. I appreciate you having me.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, absolutely. So we were kind of bantering on social media yesterday, and you said, "Well, why don't you have Mike Rowe on?" because you know I'm a fan of Mike Rowe.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: And I was like, "Yeah, if I could get him on," and you made the joke about, "Well, we've got a local one. It's me."

Josh Duplantis: I did.

Marcus Neto: So, I love it, but ... So for those that may not be familiar with what SAWDC is, why don't you tell them what you do.

Josh Duplantis: Sure, happy to do so. SAWDC is an acronym for Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council, and we are one of seven regional councils that do workforce development in our region. And for us it's nine counties, Mobile and Baldwin all the way up to Choctaw and Wilcox County, in Alabama. So everything workforce development, we're led by a board of business and industry leaders from the local area in order to execute workforce development strategy.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, and I ... we'll get into all the other questions and stuff too, but one of the reasons why I wanted to have Josh on is because I know what you're doing, and this by far is one of the more important things for economic development in this area. Because, if you talk to all of the companies in this area one of the biggest problems that they're having right now is finding people to actually staff the positions that they have open. And people look around and they say, "Well, there's all kinds of people that aren't working," but skilled labor is a difficult thing to find. So why don't you give people kind of, a rundown of what the efforts are that you're ...

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely, and, Marcus, it's funny because a lot of people say, "Well, our economy is shifting," and the reality is it shifted to something. And anybody who follows workforce knows that we're at a record low unemployment rate, and that there are actually more jobs than people to fill them. Most of those jobs do require some type of skillset, so some kind of training. Not many of them are walk off the street and get a job. And so we're very fortunate, but we also know there are a lot of people that don't participate in the workforce, and in Alabama we've got a lot of ... we need to move forward in that area, and it's labor participation, and so getting folks to get out into the workforce and get a job, especially with such a tight labor market.

Josh Duplantis: So, we do it by clusters, and we do that, and we really work in what we consider five high-demand and high-wage jobs in this market, and that falls under either advanced manufacturing, obviously aviation is one of those, healthcare is one of those, maritime, with some of our big ship-building companies, and then hospitality, of course with the concentration being South Baldwin, but also downtown Mobile and other markets. And so really everything that we execute we try to align with one of those things because when you look at the jobs, the jobs available, that's where most of them sit.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, I just think it's very interesting because I am a huge fan of Mike Rowe and the efforts that he has going on in trying to educate people that you can have a blue collar job and make a good living. And people don't believe me, and so I'll say to them, "Well, did you know that Austal's literally hiring welders at a six-figure salary?" or at least they were. I don't know if they still are, so if you're not, Austal, I do apologize, but at one point in time they were offering ridiculous salaries ... Not ridiculous, they were offering very good salaries for people to be welders. And then I also look to our work with Bishop State and they have a truck driving school where in 8 weeks you can learn to be a truck driver and you end up ... they can almost guarantee that you're gonna make $40-50,000 dollars just coming out of that school. Within a couple of years, with a proven track record, if you can get a job, one of these jobs going up 65 to Montgomery or Birmingham or whatever, you can still sleep in your own bed at night and make close to 6 figures doing that.

Marcus Neto: So, gone are the days when you should be frowned up on for having one of these jobs. I actually think it's silly that we ever frowned upon them, because we're still are going to need plumbers to fix the pipes and electricians to provide the electricity and all the people that go into the skilled labor forces. It's extremely important for us. We've pushed people into, and I'm sorry, I'm ranting, just gie me a second.

Marcus Neto: We've pushed people into this mindset where they think that the only route to success is to go to college. And that's absolute bullshit, it's absolute bullshit. We've proven it time and time again by having guests sitting where you're sitting to tell us that either they didn't go to college or they dropped out of college or they dropped out of high school, or whatever, and they're extremely successful. And you know, there's no rhyme or reason, really what it is, is something internally to that person, it's the grit, it's the hustle, it's whatever you want to call it that makes them go out and be as good as they possibly can be at whatever it is that they've been set forth. Not everybody is meant to be an attorney or a teacher or an engineer or whatever. I think what you're doing is just phenomenal. I'm just going to step down off my soapbox. Anything you'd like to add to that?

Josh Duplantis: One of the stats, we're very data driven, we look at data and we want to move, and WalMart is paying these truck drivers $90,000 to start. And then that's just crazy.

Marcus Neto: Where's that route though? So $90,000? And that's really, like, locally?

Josh Duplantis: I do believe it's home every night, you know-

Marcus Neto: Ah, really?

Josh Duplantis: With that. So, it's absolutely nuts, some of the things. And we have, we've spent 20 years sending kids to four year institutions, and of course, I'm very pro-that, I'm a product of that, as many of us are. But, it is not the only way, and we definitely need to de-mystify that, for all folks involved. It really is a market to wear. And even the data on that, I think, last I looked, the average salary for a four year graduate in the city of Alabama is about $34,000 bucks. And I can point you to ten certificates that take two years or less that start, you know, well into the 50's and 60's.

Josh Duplantis: In fact, you mentioned in Bishop, those guys have done a great job. And last night, right down the road here at five, we congratulated seven apprentices that kind of went through a Bishop state apprentice program, and they're working out, making the steel that we all use in our car, or just in our everyday life. And those guys are making $65-$70,000, in their mid-20's. It was great to get to celebrate them, and that's one of the things we're trying to promote. We need to replicate that in things like apprenticeships. Get them to the point where they hold equal value as going to college. We also know that a lot of kids going to college in the Gulf Coast region. About 45% of them graduate within four years.

Josh Duplantis: And so, you really got to look at this point in time in our economy, what's the return on investment versus some of the things you can do, and some of our more technical and skilled traits.

Marcus Neto: It's $100,000 plus to send a kid to a public school in Alabama.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: So, if you go to Alabama or Auburn, it's going to be $100,000. If they stay here locally with the parent, and they go to South, they're probably looking at, probably $50,000. And so, for ... and Jack's shaking his head, because that's where he just graduated from.

Josh Duplantis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Neto: And so, you know, I mean when you start looking at, you know, this like ... full disclosure, we work with Bishop, we're they're agency of record, and so I can use that because it's an example that I'm keenly familiar with. They have a welder's program, they have an electrician's program, they have a diesel mechanic's program. They have a truck driving program, and literally talking to the guy that was over that area, he said "if I had 1000 students go through this program, and graduate tomorrow, I could find jobs for every single one of them." And I'm betting that you would probably back that up, because there's just so much demand in this area.

Marcus Neto: And when you start thinking about, okay, so, Amazon's here as a distribution center, Walmart's here as a distribution center. We have Airbus, they're moving the Bombardier Jet, and all the suppliers for the Bombardier parts, and stuff like that, are going to start moving to this area. You start thinking about the beach community we have, and all the hospitality and stuff like that, that goes in. I mean, there's just a ridiculous amount of people that's needed for that, but they have to have the skill set, and it's amazing to me how many kids grow up and graduate from high school, and they don't know the first thing about how to present themselves to an employer in such a way that they would actually get hired.

Marcus Neto: And that's where guys ... we've had Carl Cummingham on, and his work with Kappa League. You're nodding your head because you know who Carl is.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: I mean, there are people like that, that are making an impact on helping build a community of people that can go in and fill these jobs. Granted, Carl's working with kids that are mostly going to college and going on to, you know, like white collar jobs, and stuff like that. But, I mean, that kind of program. Those are an absolute necessity to the economic development of this area.

Josh Duplantis: Sure.

Marcus Neto: Anyway. All I had to say ... hey, why don't you tell us the story of Josh, and where are you from. We've got to get back on track somehow, folks, okay.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: So, this podcast is not just about what it is that you represent, what you do, although we're going to talk about that. But it's about who you are as an individual. So, to get back on track, why don't you tell us the story of Josh? Where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Where'd you go to college? Are you married? You know, that kind of stuff.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely, yeah. So, I grew up in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. So-

Marcus Neto: Where?

Josh Duplantis: Lafourche Parish. For those folks who think that they're ...

Marcus Neto: Who are from Louisiana, and wondered, "what the heck did he just say?"

Josh Duplantis: What did just say, right? So, about 15 miles south-west of New Orleans. Which is actually probably about-

Marcus Neto: Wait a second, south-west?

Josh Duplantis: South-west of New Orleans, that is correct, and so-

Marcus Neto: Wow-ee!

Josh Duplantis: Further south than Mobile, I'm going to tell people that if they don't believe it. If you look at a map-

Marcus Neto: Your neighbors were alligators, I'm sure.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely, where I grew up there's no north, south, east and west. It's just up the Bayer, down the Bayer. That's directionally how you travel. And so, you know, came up there, and through Pell, and some of the things. Got to go to LSU, which was a great experience for me, and spent really about 15 years in higher ed. Masters from Auburn and PhD from Southern Mis. Also, did a stint when we first moved here, over at USA. I've always been on the, outside the university, where university meets business and community. And that's how we met, I think, probably three or four years ago, through Tom Greer, a mutual friend.

Josh Duplantis: Fortunate to be here. Married a woman from Baldwin county, and of course, like many men I talk to, that seems to be the pattern, you know. And so we live over in Baldwin county, she's a veterinarian here, and we've got two six year olds, or about to be six year olds. And so, we're starting kindergarten, and doing all that stuff.

Marcus Neto: That's cool.

Josh Duplantis: They're reading The Leader in Me books already, so you can be really-

Marcus Neto: That's great. I literally, like this week, went to the high school awards ceremony for graduates for my oldest son. So, you want to talk about, I mean, you're going into kindergarten, and I've got one that's getting ready to go to Alabama, and it's just like, that is just such, it messes with your mind when you start thinking about that, you know, so.

Josh Duplantis: It goes fast.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, it does. It goes fast. Well, so I mean, again, illustrating. You have a lot of higher ed under your belt, but the value that that is, is not necessarily any better or less than the value of somebody ... We've had people sit in that chair that never graduated from high school. Chad Cecil comes to mind, who runs Hansen Air and Heating. And try and not see one of his trucks during the day. I mean, he's doing millions and millions of dollars in heating and cooling and plumbing, and stuff like that. And, there's no rhyme or reason to that, so.

Josh Duplantis: Add to that, I was actually fortunate, I didn't know it at the time, but I grew up in the boat building business. My step father, he had a little welding shop and a labor contractor, so. I was 13, I had a welding rod in my hand, and really that was, back in the 90s, it was not the same industry it is today, as we talk about Mike Row, you know. Like I said, I learnt to weld early on and get some of those technical skills, but, you know, the same conversation happened with me. "Get out of here, don't do this. Go off and get an education" and boy, you know, did I. And it just kind of never stopped.

Josh Duplantis: That's one of the things, even when we talk about guys like Mike Rowe and this idea of dirty jobs, one of the things that we try to work, especially, how do we get the message to parents that, these jobs, they're not dirty anymore. I can take you to these manufacturers up and down 43, you can tour it in a van, you don't see a single employee, why? Because they're sitting a computer screen, a 15 inch screen, watching the process flow from a very safe and controlled and clean control room. A lot of those guys are walking out those plants just as clean as when they went in.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: You know. So, for me, it is work, it's kind of full circle. Because of course, we're dependent on the education system to produce this, kind of what we call the emerging workforce. Kids kind of coming up through our system, and we got employers on the back end, and there's certainly a lot of things we need to de-mystify. The idea of a dirty job, is one of them. Because with technological advances, it's much different than what I saw in the shipyard, you know, 20 plus years ago.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: It's just crazy to see how far-

Marcus Neto: You know what changed my mind about all this? Mike Rowe did play a huge part in it.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: But what changed my mind about all of this was Jesse James.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Neto: So, Jesse James, for those of you that aren't familiar, is a motorcycle and hot rod builder. He currently resides in Austin, Texas. He was in California. What was his ... it was Monster, no there was ... He had some show where it was like, they got these teams together and they had to build like these weird cars, and stuff like that. But, what really changed it for me was when I started seeing the artisanal aspect, to what it was that he was doing for people that were actually wanting to purchase cars or bikes from him.

Josh Duplantis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Neto: The stuff that he was putting together. And then, I don't know if you know this or not, but he's actually become a gun manufacturer. And his guns are absolutely ridiculous. Like, I've never seen anything like this, and so, one day, I remember this distinctly. I was on Instagram, and he posted this bar of steel that was taken from, I think it was taken from the World Trade Center. It was either the World Trade Center, or maybe it was the, actually I think it was the railing from the Statue of Liberty.

Josh Duplantis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Neto: And so, he took this, and he hand-hammered this into Damascus steel. So he folded it over, folded it over and over and over again, and through that process, it takes on some different properties, but he made 45 caliber 1911 handguns with this. And they were some of the most beautiful things. And regardless of whether they're a gun or not, they were some of the most beautiful things that I've ever seen made by hand. And so, when I start thinking about ... And also, I have to say, having the people that have sat in the same seat that you're sitting in. Having discussions with them and seeing the successes that they're having, it's like, shed a light on the fact that, there are people that are doing these jobs that ... You can't argue, they're successful, and so, I just. I don't know. It's kind of changed my perspectives on all that. What was your first job, and were there any lessons that you still remember from it?

Josh Duplantis: Wow, well I guess my first, you know, I did the fast food thing, and I think everybody-

Marcus Neto: That's what I'm talking about, I'm not, this is not your first job out of college, this is your first-

Josh Duplantis: Okay, okay, well besides the welding shop, which was kind of more of the family business, and helping around there, my first job was at Subway. I've been fortunate through the years, to hire a lot of young people, and my favorite story about ... everybody should work a fast food job, right, because customer service and even then, at 16 years old, I'll never forget the guy who accused me of not putting as much imitation crab meat on his sandwich, and how upset he got. Trying to follow the guidelines of Subway, and how much crab you should put on, you know. But that first kind of experience for somebody who's really upset with you in a job, you know. That is a story that will stick with me, and I'll tell you, just get used to it, because if you're going to be successful in a career, you're going to be pushing the envelope, and if you're pushing the envelope, somebody's going to get upset with you.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Duplantis: So, those first, and again, mine was at Subway. I think I actually took a bite in front of him, which was probably not the right thing-

Marcus Neto: Of his sandwich?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, yeah. He didn't want it, you know, so it wasn't going to go to waste.

Marcus Neto: Something tells me you went home early that day.

Josh Duplantis: But you know, I'm very pro kids working those kind of jobs, and learning how to interact with people, because as we know, that's at the core, and as we look across training programs in our world, there's a ... And I don't call, I try to stop myself from saying the word "soft skills" anymore, because what we think about when we say soft skills, there's nothing soft about it.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Duplantis: Ability to work in a team. Ability to show up on time. Stay the whole time. Pull your pants up.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Josh Duplantis: Have respect for your coworkers. You know, I'm trying to say these are essential skills.

Marcus Neto: They're life skills.

Josh Duplantis: They're life skills, absolutely. And I tell you, our employers are screaming for them. Screaming for them.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, it is very important. Now, how did you end up here? How did you end up as ... because you're the Executive Director, is your title, correct, with SAWDC?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: And so, how did you end up in that position?

Josh Duplantis: I think it was an interesting, you know, right out of college, before getting into higher ed, of course, I grew up in the manufacturing environment. I worked for a company called Corgail, moved out west, and spent some time out there in the feeding mills. And so, there's always been that side of me that has kind of understood manufacturing. I've been in manufacturing, I've had a lot of welding sticks in my hand, over the years. But also, I've kind of went on. Got to be a University faculty for a time. So, when the SAWDC opportunity came, it was just a very interesting dynamic for me to be able to kind of utilize kind of things that I've also been dichotomized from me.

Josh Duplantis: I'm kind of in the rental house business a little bit on this side, I've always done that work myself. And so, for me, when the opportunity came, I was doing some teaching and some consulting, and some online course design. It just felt really good to be able to say, "okay, well I understand the education system, because I've been in that", and also at least understand what's happening in some of these manufacturing facilities, and what some of the work is like, so. Really, it was a great opportunity to kind of meld those things, and be able to walk into a plant, and kind of understand, or walk in the ship at Austal and see a guy laying a bead, and kind of know what that's all about.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no that's really cool that you can relate to them at that level, so.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Now, if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running a business, or even running a non-profit, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Josh Duplantis: You know, I guess my ... this one always stays in my office, it's two words, and it's "add value". I think everything you do ... and I have been in business for myself before, and what I tell people in that is, be prepared to check the mailbox and pray there's a check in there. I'm sure every one of us has that, you know-

Marcus Neto: Amen. And some of those checks, you pray for more than others, you know.

Josh Duplantis: That's right.

Marcus Neto: Let it be the big one, Lord, please!

Josh Duplantis: Yes. Let me feed these children!

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: You know, but from a non-profit perspective, because we are a non-profit. A little bit different, per say, in the way we operate, and what we do. It really is all about adding value. You know, for us, it's interesting, because we've almost got, we've got a dual customer approach. We're trying to serve the people in this community looking for a pathway to a good job, and a good career, and on the back side, we're trying to serve our companies. And from an economic and a workforce development standpoint, like you mentioned when we started, man, it's ... A conversation around economic development, for a long time, was you know, tax abatement, and space, and buildings. And you know, now, it's workforce, workforce, workforce.

Marcus Neto: People, people, people.

Josh Duplantis: Is the number one incentive out there in economic development. It's that important. And so, for us in this space, well we're trying to marry this dual customer approach. The job seeker and employer, you know. Adding value to each one of them has got to be front of mind, every day.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, that's very true. Is there anything you all are currently working on that you can share with us?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, so a couple of things, you know, that they're kind of playing off our conversation. We're trying to drive some curriculum down in the high schools. We're actually going to launch a program called Ready to Work. And I encourage any listeners here to, if this sounds exciting to you, to reach out for us, because we are looking for, you know, people from all across industry sectors to participate. But, we're actually bringing it to about five public high schools, a nine week curriculum on those essential skills that a lot of our kids coming out into the labor force, that really don't have a plan to go to any 2-year, 4-year they just don't have. How do I, you know ... Workplace literacy, how do I read workplace documents? How do I get my first check? What do I do with it? Problem solving skills.

Marcus Neto: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh Duplantis: All those different types of things, and then what we're doing in the back side is, we're designing kind of curriculum to expose some of these kids to just, some of the pathways that exists, and some of them are not to say, "don't go to college", but you can absolutely, in the healthcare industry, get a C&A credential as a high school senior, go to work and have one of these hospitals pay for you LPN. Pay for you RN, and pay for your Masters degree, if you want.

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Josh Duplantis: You don't have to do it the traditional way, and it's explaining to young people all of those things. And so, B C Rain is going to be a part of this. They submitted their application to us, and you got a lot of kids there that are hungry for opportunity, and you've got a large part of, the third largest aerospace corridor in the world in their back yard.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: Right? So, you know-

Marcus Neto: And it's not going away anytime soon.

Josh Duplantis: And it's not going away, it's only getting bigger.

Marcus Neto: Its growing.

Josh Duplantis: And so, we're trying to drive that down in the schools, and when we come down to that, it's going to be very community driven. We want people out of our community going to talk to those kids, because one of the things that we know happens in our market, and it's unfortunate, we've got to stop, is, we can't let our kids walk off the stage at high school graduation into unemployment. So, we're designing programs and Ready to Work is one of them. A second program that we're going to launch here, we're currently wrapped up applications, we're actually, I'm proud to say, we're full. But, is our education workforce academy.

Josh Duplantis: Having been an educator, and like we talked about, I was very fortunate to be exposed to industry, because it's kind of, was the family business growing up. But, a lot of our educators, they've gone to college, and gone to more college, and turned around and taught school, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course. Teachers are responsible for creating every other career out there, and we need talented teachers. But what we want to do is expose those teachers to some of the careers that we've talked about, let them know that, if you get an A and P license, you can go down and work at VTMA, and within a couple of years, you're in a $70-$75,000 range.

Josh Duplantis: And, we're going to be 2000 mechanics short each year, over the next 20 years in this country, if we don't do something about it.

Marcus Neto: Ouch.

Josh Duplantis: And so, we've got to get that message to our educators, to our councilors, for them to really understand. So when they see the kid who's saying, "hey man, I don't want to read this book. But man, I like to fidget with my hands." Right?

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: We've got an opportunity for you, in this marketplace. Those are two programs, both kind of educationally focused, but that's something that's on our mind all the time, how do we align these systems? Our K-12, our 2-year system, and our 4-year system, to make sure we're meeting the demands of the great companies we have here in southwest Alabama.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I'm a little bit familiar with ... so, I know that Baldwin county has the tech center, up in Bay Minnete, where they are still teaching some of the skills that you're talking about.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: But you know, I mean, when I was growing up, that was in every school, right?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: So there was metal working, there was wood working, there was shop, there were all these things, in every school. So, I just find it interesting that, you know, we've kind of relegated that to, like an off-campus kind of experience. I'm still thankful that it's there, because I think it's necessary, but you mentioned the kid that doesn't like to read, and likes to fidget with his hands, or work with his hands, and stuff like that.

Marcus Neto: I mean, my fear is that, that shuts down. Because if that shuts down, then those kids are basically SOL.

Josh Duplantis: That's right, yeah.

Marcus Neto: But anyway. What's one person that motivates you from the business world, and not Mobile, I'm saying globally, if you were to look to somebody and be like, "hey, he's got ... he's on message", or, you know, "he's doing the right things." Like, who's that person?

Josh Duplantis: I guess, personally, I mean ... golly, I'm thinking through the podcast I listen to on a regular basis as I'm trying to figure it out.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: I'm a self improvement guy, I love Ferriss, I love Jocko Willink. You know, the Extreme Ownership series.

Marcus Neto: Yep.

Josh Duplantis: I'm a huge fan of, kind of, his take in some of those lessons from the military, which is another population we try to target, our veterans, and the workforce. But, yeah, probably if you take a look at, you know, I drive around a lot, and those are probably my two most popular folks that I kind of look to for this kind of, either business or self improvement type of-

Marcus Neto: Yeah. For those of you that aren't familiar, Tim Ferriss, is one of the guys that he's mentioning. He's the writer of The Four Hour Work Week, which, even though the title is not exactly correct, the way of thinking that he plans out as part of the book, kind of changes your perspective on what you can actually do. And he's really, I think he's the one that kind of kicked off this idea of, you don't necessarily have to work 9-5 in a location. Yeah, you can start a micro-business that's selling something, and you know, you can be anywhere in the world. And you know, vagabonding is the term that, you know, is kind of attributed to that, and I think there's actually a book that he attributes to his ideas-

Josh Duplantis: Yes.

Marcus Neto: Which, I think, I don't remember the title, but it has vagabonding in it. I apologize that I don't know that, but go to Amazon, search for vagabond, and you'll probably find it. But, and then Jocko Willink was actually on Tim Ferriss' podcast-

Josh Duplantis: Podcast, yeah.

Marcus Neto: And, as a former Navy SEAL, has written a couple of books now, and, I mean, do you want to talk about just ... I mean, first of all, if he looked at you the wrong way, you would probably-

Josh Duplantis: You would die.

Marcus Neto: Poo in your pants.

Josh Duplantis: You would die!

Marcus Neto: He is a very intimidating man, but at the same time, his application of military training to business principles and succeeding in the business world, or just in the world in general, are phenomenal. And he wrote a book called Extreme Ownership, and I've read the book, and basically it's like, if you're the business owner or business leader, it's your responsibility. And suck it up, buttercup.

Josh Duplantis: You own everything.

Marcus Neto: You own everything, absolutely. And so, if there's a failure of some sort, it's your fault. If there's a person that isn't performing, it's your fault. It's not their fault, because there's training that they could be getting, or, you know what? Guess what, they're still there, and if you're the one that's the leader, then you could've fired them. So it's still your fault.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, I'm sure.

Marcus Neto: So suck it up, and put on your boots, and get to it, so. But, excellent podcast, if you are so inclined. So, leading into the next question, are there any books, podcast people or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward, how would you ... not those two, but are there any other books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been helpful?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, well, and to go back to the Ferriss point, it's something I always encourage people, as book tools are titans, and you really just, he got a tremendous response from some of the world's most successful people. And it really doesn't matter, kind of, what world ... the business world, arts, athletics, you name it. He's gone on, and these people tell 3, 4, 5 page stories, and ask him some of the same questions that we're asking here, so I'd definitely encourage folks to go after that.

Josh Duplantis: You know, I guess lately I've been in a reading kick, I mean, I guess some of the foundational things is, came in, and thinking fast and slow. Thinking about our reaction to things, and just kind of how we operate in our environment. Whether it's a business world or your personal life. So, I'm definitely prone to some of those types of things, and here lately I've actually been going back to some older stuff, some Wickman stuff, you know, E-Myth Revisited-

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Josh Duplantis: And some of those originals, I don't know why I'm on that kick now.

Marcus Neto: No, I literally gave away that look earlier. So, we record these, we batch record these, and Carla, from Cakes by the Pound was in. She had never read the book.

Josh Duplantis: Oh wow, yeah, okay.

Marcus Neto: E-Myth, and so, I usually try to keep copies of books like that, on hand for business owners that I think are successful, but if they just had a little bit of information, then they would be even that much more. And so, I thought it was interesting, because the whole story in E-Myth is about a lady that-

Josh Duplantis: The bake shop.

Marcus Neto: The bake shop.

Josh Duplantis: The bake shop, yeah.

Marcus Neto: You know, so-

Josh Duplantis: I forget her name now.

Marcus Neto: And so, it was applicable to Carla, so, that's good stuff.

Josh Duplantis: And I think, probably the most gifted book, especially young people, is probably Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing, to show that, to really achieve some level of happiness, both in your business and personal life, is about more than just one thing. It's career wellbeing, and physical wellbeing, right, of being comfortable about what you can get up and do each day, and being, you know, financially, socially, in your network. So that's one, along with Duckworth's book, Grit. Resilience and grit. Obviously a big determinator of success-

Marcus Neto: I haven't read that one yet, but I want to.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, I highly recommend it, she's an excellent author, of course. My wife would say just go to YouTube, or Ted, and listen to her talk, but I would recommend a bit of both.

Marcus Neto: That's funny, a period of 10 minutes instead of 10 hours.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Neto: So, what's the most important thing you've learned about running and organization?

Josh Duplantis: You know, it's probably a little ... I love the Steve Jobs quote, right, "to carry your people and they'll take care of your customers." Most of, I always tell people all the time, in our organization, it's not ... I'm the babbling head sometimes, but we have an excellent team of project managers that-

Marcus Neto: I'm not alone in that feeling.

Josh Duplantis: Right. You know, and look at where's our real return on investment, and it's our boots in the ground, people. You know, and you got to treat them well, you got to make them feel valued, right? Because an organization is just that, right. It's a group of people. And so, it's something I've always taken very seriously in your career, and be transparent with people, and candid with people. Give them responsibility and accountability at the same time, so. Definitely at the forefront of what I try to do. I've been fortunate in my roles to have a lot of folks have worked for me over the years, this is the first career job, especially in higher ed, you get a lot of that. And that's really been a cool thing, over the last 20 years or so.

Marcus Neto: You get to shape them, and-

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, right. And look at where they're at now, you know, 10, 15, some 20 years later. It's really a cool thing.

Marcus Neto: It's one of the things that I was just thinking as we're kind of going along is, as business owners, often times we're hiring people that don't necessarily have the skill set for the job that we're asking them to do. And that's it's our job, regardless of whether you're the manager at a fast food restaurant, or the owner of an advertising agency, or whatever. It's our job to make sure that we get them the training in a way that makes them feel safe, and not belittle them, but makes them feel like you have their back, and you care about them learning and growing into the role that you're asking them to fulfill.

Marcus Neto: So, don't let that be lost on you, if you're out there listening to this a business owner, or even just somebody that is responsible for the people on the team. It is your responsibility to make sure that they are successful.

Josh Duplantis: Oh yeah, and I'll tell you, a young man I hired, and I'll brag on him. We were at a conference last week in Birmingham, and ... we were sitting at the dinner of a ... everybody's been at a conference, you sit down for a conference dinner, and this guy's right out of the Masters program, but he saw a gentlemen three tables over, just sitting by himself. He gets up. Shakes his hand, introduces him, and says, "why don't you join me and my team?"

Marcus Neto: That's cool.

Josh Duplantis: And when we he got back to the table, I said "that is why I hired you. I can teach you everything else. I can't teach you to do that."

Marcus Neto: Right, to recognize-

Josh Duplantis: To recognize that, and bring that person along. And I told him that, right then and there. I said, "that is why we hired you."

Marcus Neto: That is awesome.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: How do you like to unwind?

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, well of course, being here, obviously. I love to be out on the beach, I'm a runner. You know, pretty avid runner, putting in some miles each week. I attend a cross-fit fair down there, and I kind of do that, and so. Really good place to unwind. Fortunate that, where I go for that, there's a lot of kind of, business minded folks, so it's great to have dialogue, and kind of get that. And so, part of a couple of running groups, and yeah that's really it for me. Growing up in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, I mean, I grew up on the water, really. And so, being here, a lot of times you'll see me up in the delta in my 1977 Boston Whaler, or even down at the beach. I will have the worst boat at the Flora-bama, if you look around, that's probably me.

Marcus Neto: But you'll be in a boat.

Josh Duplantis: That's right.

Marcus Neto: That's more than most people can say.

Josh Duplantis: Love being out there, definitely, and definitely getting active on a regular basis.

Marcus Neto: Very cool.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Well, tell people where they can find out more about SAWDC.

Josh Duplantis: Great, so, our website is Very interesting place to go, we've actually ... really have the different clusters, different jobs that people can see. So, really hope that's a good resource for our educators out there who want to look at what's available out there. Of course, my email is jduplantis@sawdc, especially if anything we've talked about today sparks and interest in folks, we'd love to hear that. And of course, across social media platforms, if you just put in Facebook, SAWDC, and Instagram and Twitter, I think it's SAWDC07, because in the state, we're region seven down here in the southwest corner of the state, so.

Josh Duplantis: Yeah, across social media we try to stay pretty active. In fact, that's how we got this set up, right? But also, check out our website. We highlight careers and really try to kind of, push that out and makes folks aware, especially our young people, what's available in this market.

Marcus Neto: That's very cool. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Josh Duplantis: I appreciate it, and again, for folks out there listening, it's a different day in the marketplace, right, especially with labor and so, I encourage all our business owners to participate. Apprenticeships are making a big come back. We've been helping a lot of companies get those set up to create pipelines for themselves, as they look for talent, because, you know, if somebody really wants to work, in this market, they're working. So, there's a way to kind of get those problems, kind of get those pipelines, and make sure that they're out, you know, helping their local school system and their local community college, you know. Because it's really about relationships and alignment, to make things move in our world. Like everybody else's.

Marcus Neto: And I think I'll just add one thing to what you're saying is, that, if you're a parent out there and you are hearing this for the first time, like, it's okay if your kid doesn't want to go to college. Like, again, those days are gone where that's the requirement. They can be as successful or unsuccessful with or without college.

Josh Duplantis: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: It's not about that, it's about their grit and their desire to kind, push themselves forward and be the best person that they can be. That's the scary thing, when you think about being a parent and raising children, and you know, well I want them to be successful and all that stuff. But anyway. My two cents. Josh, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur, because I still view you as that. It's been great talking with you.

Josh Duplantis: Thanks so much. Appreciated being here.

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