Justin Constantine is known for his inspirational and motivating speeches, but this was not always the path he expected to travel. On October 18, 2006, Justin experienced a life-altering event. While deployed as a Marine Corps officer in Iraq, his team was performing a routine combat patrol when an enemy sniper shot him in the back of the head, causing major damage to his mouth. Since that day, he has inspired others to live a more rewarding personal and professional life by sharing his story of courage and resilience.
Since starting his company, The Constantine Group, Justin has spoken at hundreds of corporate and association events, co-founded a non-profit organization, worked with veteran employment programs, and written two books. He has been recognized by several U.S. presidents and received many awards and honors for his work, including the Purple Heart Medal, the Lincoln award, and holds the title of Champion of Change by the White House.
Justin has used his amazing story to become a remarkable inspiration to people across the nation. Pursuit interviewed Justin to learn more about his journey, all his accomplishments, and the challenges he’s faced along the way.
You have a very powerful story to share. What inspired you to start sharing your journey?
I had no definite plans to start doing motivational speaking right after I was injured. But around 2008, I was asked to speak at an annual Marine Corps event. Everyone really enjoyed my story and I realized that people cared about what I had gone through. I started speaking at more annual galas and law enforcement functions, and everything just went from there.
What was your first experience with motivational speaking?
When I first started speaking, I was working full-time as a lawyer. I was asked by the Tri-State Troopers, a group of police troopers in NY, NJ, and PA, to speak at their annual dinner. Once a year they host an annual event where the officers that were killed in line of duty are honored and money is raised to give to the children of the officers for college. This was my first time speaking at an event; when they asked about my fee, I just asked them to cover the cost of the gas in my car! I received a standing ovation after speaking and that was when I realized that I could get paid to do something so impactful.
Even though you underwent a life-changing experience, you are still motivated to make the most of every day. How do you stay positive even during bad times?
I know first-hand that life can change or be over in the blink of an eye. I want to make the most of my time here and I want others to do the same. Everyone has different life circumstances, but I’m a firm believer that life is controlled by your mindset. I wasn’t in control when I was injured, so I try to take control of my life now as much as I can. It’s easy to get sucked into a bad place when things aren’t going right, but I just remind myself of my long-term goals because we can redefine success even when things around us are hard.
How did your Pursuit SmartLoan™ help with the financial challenges you faced while running your own organization?
I’m very grateful for all that Pursuit has done for me. My loan helped alleviate my business credit card debt by spreading the payments over a longer term with lower interest rates. It also helped me pay for a marketing campaign I’m working on. It has also really helped me with focusing on my long-term goals. When running a business, it can be easy to chase the quick pay days, but it’s so important to stay focused on your long-term goals. Having the loan in my account helps with my payroll, which allows me to work on creating new content and building workshops and focus more on long-term goals because I don’t have to spend time prepping for smaller jobs. Pursuit really brought a sense of stability to my business.
What has led you to become one of the most influential and nationally renowned veteran figures?
I’ve been speaking for about 10 years since my injury, I sit on the boards of several national nonprofit organizations, I’ve written a book about leadership and now another one on veteran employment, but all of this takes time. It takes time for people to know who you are and create lasting relationships. Of course, I’m not trying to be the only national voice for veterans, but I want to contribute as much as I can. I want to continue speaking and educating about issues that are important to me, such as PTSD, the treatment of veterans, and veteran employment, so that other people can learn about these issues too and cause a lasting change in the community.
You’re currently a senior advisor for JobPath. How has your work with this organization benefited the veteran communities?
This organization has been around for about five years and I think JobPath is the future of veteran employment. So many of life’s issues are resolved by having a good career and being a contributing member of society, and JobPath’s robust online platform helps veterans get good jobs they want to stay in. It also helps employers quickly identify veterans and military spouses with the right backgrounds who would be good hires at their companies. As a veteran employment company that is a tech company at its core, the opportunities we provide are incredible, both to jobseekers and employers.
Can you tell us about your work with the non-profit organization you cofounded?
There are a lot of events for veterans out there, but there are so many that it can be overwhelming and difficult to identify which are good and bad. So, I founded the Veteran Success Resource Group in 2015 with an Army veteran who is also a wounded warrior. We started hosting events every six months throughout Washington D.C. and New York – we would invite 30 to 40 non-profits, universities, government agencies, etc. so veterans can learn about what’s in their local communities. We’re working on expanding this to other states, and we recently changed the name to Bourbiz because now we have over 20 distilleries come and give out free samples. They’re really just fun networking events for veterans who are looking for work or looking to be entrepreneurs, all for free.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I want to continue in the field of veteran employment and expand upon what I’ve been doing. I’ve recently written a new book on veteran employment, which will be published by the Society of Human Resource Management in June 2018. I’m also excited about my new work with JobPath, and I’d really like to take all the technology that is available to veterans and expand it to other groups, such as people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and others who need help in the employment sector.
We look forward to seeing Justin’s continued success! To learn more about his uplifting journey and his positive influence on the veteran community, visit his website.