Military Book Reviews

Third Shift Entrepreneur

Third Shift Entrepreneur: Keep Your Day Job, Build Your Dream Job by Todd Connor (John Wiley & Sons, 2021, 333 p)

The mythology and assumption that starting a business requires outside capital, the blessing of a venture capitalist, a polished pitch deck and time in business accelerators is false. Those things represent the scaffolding for a specific kind of business and pursuit, which require outside permission. This is a book written for the vast majority of businesses, organizations and initiatives that exist beyond that narrow frame which you can start today, with the resources you have, as the person you are, and from where you are in life. This is a book about giving yourself permission and learning to start small.


Third Shift Entrepreneur: Keep Your Day Job, Build Your Dream Job is about exploring and acting on entrepreneurial impulses while working full time for a traditional employer without expending significant personal financial resources. Author Todd Connor is a former Naval officer, leader, and serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of Bunker Labs, The Collective Academy, Emerson House, and various other organizations.

Third Shift Entrepreneur is an engaging fictional story that describes a Third Shift Entrepreneur. Third Shift Entrepreneurs still have their primary job along with other commitments, like family and life obligations. Those activities make up their first and second shifts. The third shift comes after they meet their first two obligations. Connor provides twelve non-fictional observations that are key to reflect on while starting a business. Two examples are Obsession, a constant idea or passion you have, and Internship, a way to learn the business by creatively getting close to it in your free time. The author also provides examples of actual entrepreneurs that used the observations to start their own businesses.

The author’s description of the Third Shift Entrepreneur mindset is, “an intellectual, deeply personal, often vulnerable and ultimately disciplined pursuit as you do battle not with competitors but with yourself. Becoming an entrepreneur is an act of cultivating this resilient cycle of putting things out there that matter to you and then assessing the response.” In one story, Kenneth is a Lyft driver who asks his airport passengers questions about their business activities to understand why people travel to his location. “I occasionally do customer research while driving for Lyft to determine things like pricing, flesh out my go-to market strategy, and learn about potential channel partners and other customer needs for retreat experiences.” 


Thanks to Todd Connor for writing this valuable book for current and future entrepreneurial minded individuals. The hybrid fictional and non-fictional format used by the author is highly appealing, especially for readers that enjoy learning in non-traditional ways. Personally, I have taken a Third Shift Entrepreneur approach in two primary ways. The first is through community involvement. I have learned different leadership methods, formed unique relationships, developed new skills, and have experienced different perspectives and cultures by serving in the local community wherever the military stationed me over the years. 

The other way I have applied the author’s methods is through writing. I had never substantively published anything until I discovered DoDReads and completed my first book review. That progressed into publishing reports and articles on space, leadership, national security and defense, and op-ed pieces. Getting a piece published in the Wall Street Journal was a huge success. 

This book is excellent for anyone that needs a little encouragement to explore new opportunities while still working at their primary job. It is informative for military members who eventually will separate from the service and may need additional income or desire to pivot to something new. It will also be very useful for veterans and military spouses who are considering starting their own business. 

Christopher P. Mulder is an active duty Air Force officer and 2021 graduate of the Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program where he learned about leadership, strategic messaging, relationship building, and veteran challenges and opportunities.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the US government or other organization.

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