Hello, my name is Zac Northup. I am the founder of StandWatch.org and StandWatch Academy. I am a veteran, entrepreneur, reformed financial advisor, and publisher. For close to 17 years, I ran my own consulting firm where I provided advice to multi-billion dollar companies and small mom-and-pop businesses alike, helping them discover new ways to reach new customers. Prior to that I published a small defense journal where I was fortunate enough to interview many members of congress, service secretaries in the Pentagon, senators, soldiers, and an occasional presidential candidate or two. Prior to that, I was an officer in the United States Army. I have a B.A. in Political Science from Marshall University a M.A. in European History from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Almost everything I know about business I have learned over 20 years of success and failures that have taught me valuable lessons. I have published hundreds of articles on everything from the War on Terror to how technology can be used to help businesses in rural areas and small towns succeed in a hypercompetitive, global, environment. Occasionally, on the side, I help elected officials understand the importance of veterans issues.
In 2015, some friends and I started StandWatch.org with the intent on developing ways to help veterans who had fallen through cracks in the healthcare system. About a year into that work, we discovered that a vast majority of veterans don’t want help. Instead, they want to be the ones providing the help. They want to give back, particularly when it comes to young people. That’s where the idea for StandWatch Academy began. It started as one of many programs we were operating. Today, it’s become our only focus. Our mission is to teach young people how to conceptualize, launch, and lead their own nonprofits, social enterprises, or small businesses. More broadly, we seek to “Teach through experience those who strive to make their communities better places to live.”
Why am I focusing StandWatch.org’s efforts on expanding a veteran-led academy that teaches leadership and entrepreneurial skills? Education is going through a massive disruption brought about by economics and technology. The increasing cost of college, a transformational job market, and the proliferation of inexpensive teaching tools has created a vast number of new ways to educate our young people. The traditional classroom has broken down and is leaving too many students behind. In this environment, particularly in rural areas and small towns, we must use new methods to teach students basic entrepreneurial skills, and the leadership required to take chances and succeed. We must show students that, where opportunity seems limited, in some cases it’s infinitely better to create a job than find a job.