Women of the Military

Mutt's Sauce - Changing one Airman's Story - Episode 68

Episode Summary

Mutt Sauce owner, Charlynda Scales, tells about her military experience and how she took a family tradition to start a company that is changing her future. She continues to serve in the Reserves, recently became a mom, and is running her growing company, Mutt Sauce.

Episode Notes

This episode is sponsored by Nomades and Insure the Heroes Inc.

Charlynda Scales is a TEDx speaker, brand ambassador, Air Force Veteran, social media influencer, and the founder and CEO of Mutt’s Sauce, LLC, a company that makes “the sauce for every meal.” Mutt's Sauce was the Grand Prize Winner of Bob Evan's Farms' 2017 Heroes to CEOs Contest.

In this episode, Amanda chats with fellow Air Force veteran, Charlynda Scales. Charlynda shares her journey to joining the military and her experience as a female service member.

Growing up, service was a part of Charlynda’s family culture. Every generation had at least one person who served. After her cousin who served in the United States Marine Corps got hurt, the baton passed to Charlynda. She filled out an ROTC application form on a whim. Much to her surprise, she received a full scholarship to the college of her choice - on the Air Force’s dime.

Starting ROTC

Charlynda was a freshman at Clemson on September 11, 2001. She tells us how that terrible event shaped her time in ROTC, and ultimately, her time in the military. She walks us through her role as a service member and shares some encouragement for anyone who feels like their job isn’t very important. Sometimes you feel like the work you are doing isn't important because it isn't the out in the front or even overseas fighting the fight. But every job in the Air Force is important for the mission and the mission can't happen without everyone doing their part.

Mutt Sauce

We also hear how Charlynda started her company (Mutt’s Sauce, which is so good!) and what motivated her to make the transition from active duty to reserves. She keeps it real for us and talks about how it was hard to hang up her uniform (if only temporarily). And she also fills us in on some of the challenges that come with life as a Reservist. She serves as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) in the Reserves which is a different type of service than the typical one weekend a month two weeks a year. Instead, she backfills different positions for various lengths of time. 

And lastly, we hear all about what’s coming up next for Charlynda, as well as hear her encouragement and words of wisdom to fellow women who are considering taking the leap and pursuing a career in the military. This episode is full of information and rock-solid advice, so you definitely don’t want to miss it! After you listen, make sure to find Charlynda on social media so you can keep up with her and all things Mutt’s Sauce!

Listen to the whole episode here.

Connect with Charlynda:

Mutt's Sauce website: www.muttssauce.com

Mutt's Social Media: @muttssauce (Twitter, Instagram),  

Charlynda Scales website: www.charlyndajean.com

Charlynda Social Media: @charlyndajean (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Mentioned in this episode:

Air Force ROTC

7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Joining the Air Force

Related Episodes:

From the Navy to the Air Force - Episode 15 (IMA)

Helping Others After Service - Episode 44 (Reserves)

From the Navy to Entrepreneurship - Episode 27

Thank you to my Patreon Sponsor Col Level and above: Kevin Barba

Episode Transcription

Amanda Huffman: Charlynda is a TEDx speaker, branch ambassador, Air Force veteran, social media influencer and founder and CEO of mud sauce, LLC, a company that makes the sauce for every meal, which is true, I've tried them. Mutt Sauce was the grand prize winner for Bob Evans farm in 2017 Heroes to CEO contests. So welcome to the show. I'm excited to talk to you. 

Charlynda Scales: Hey, how are you, Amanda? 

Amanda Huffman: So, let's start with why did you decide to join the Air Force?

Charlynda Scales: Sure. So, mine's a generational story. We're a four-generation military family. And it's kind of like when you're a teenager getting ready to go to college or graduate high school. The conversation is about what branch you're going to go into. And I was probably the first one who said I really just want to go to college. I don't know. My older cousins who is in my generation because every generation has a service member. He went to the Marine Corps, but he got hurt while he was in there. And he came back from the Marines and he told my granddad's like hey, you know, he got hurt, but uh, we're all patting him on the back and like, yeah, Diwan you served my grandpa's like that don't count. Who's next? So, like, how does that not count? Because I think if you raise your hand, you take the oath, whether you were on duty, like 30 days or 30 years. I say you serve. So. But my granddad he was pretty traditional. He thought that you had to retire. So that to him was service and I, I found a way of going to college, I learned that I'd been considered for the ROTC scholarship, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and they said I could go to any college I wanted to I just got accepted by Clemson. And so, I went there and they let me know when I arrived that you owe the Air Force service after we pay for college cars flying by the seat of my pants, Amanda. I just I did what I could to keep the family tradition going. That was how I got started.

Amanda Huffman: So how did you find out about ROTC?

Charlynda Scales: When there was a kid in my high school class, math class, and I am historically really not good at math. I'm not good at it. I had a math anxiety. So, a lot of my high school math classes were spent doing anything except for math. My classmate was filling out the ROTC scholarship application, also not paying attention in class, and he was about to ball it up and throw it away. And I asked him what it was like, you had to do stuff in high school. Like this thing is hard. So, my mom actually means a lot of programs and made sure I was heavily involved in high school. So, I just erased his answers and spent the rest of the class building it out. Just to pass the time. That's crazy. Yeah, really just like chance meaning or you like solid form and then you apply I just filled it out. Well, you know, all the conversations were happening at the house about DWANE coming home from the Marine Corps and, and it's like one of those things like live volunteered, not really, but I kind of did, you know, I didn't raise my hand at the dinner table and automatically and say, I'm going in grad dad, like, you know, for me, it was my passive way. healthy. I had it in my hand. I was walking down the hallway and my guidance counselor, had asked me what it was. Now she knew that I was slightly depressed because I wanted to be an athlete. I thought I was going to get all these support scholarships, and tore my ACL senior year very first soccer game. I actually wanted to play for the Clemson women's soccer team. So tore my ACL. No sports scholarship prospects. So, I didn't know how I was going to pay for school. I didn't know that I was in the household. That was like when you turn 18 say goodbye, cuz you're not saying so I was like, Oh, well, she asked me, she said, what is that? I said, some scholarship application now and I was like something for the airport. She said, Well, let me see it was turned it in. Turn it in. She's like, hey, got someone here. Talk to you. Like Who is it? So, I guess the active duty person who comes in interviews you for the scholarship, and I'm just nonchalant. Yeah, sounds great. We have a lot of great things done in high school. Well, thank you very much. I think you'd be a great candidate. Well, that's good. And next thing I know, we got I'm invited to the scholarship awards ceremony for the school. They amount to that what scholarships and my mom and I knew we got. I got JC Penney award that was like maybe $500 to $1,000 from books. I was like, I don't even know why we got invited for something this like this, but okay, glad to be here. And we kept waiting for my name waiting for my name. They said in our last awards or full ride military scholarships to college of your choice. And they announced me and a buddy of mine and my mom, she like caught the Holy Ghost in the back. Yeah. I learned I got a full ride.

Amanda Huffman: And so, you went to Clemson on a full ride ROTC scholarship 

Charlynda Scales: I did. 

Amanda Huffman: That's awesome. So what year was that when you graduated?

Charlynda Scales: I graduated High School in 2000. 

Amanda Huffman: Okay, so you started ROTC before? 2001? September 11. 

Charlynda Scales: Right.

Amanda Huffman: How did that change the environment of the ROTC unit when that event happened, or?

Charlynda Scales: Yeah, because there are a lot of people who had service members on active duty in their families. It was very palpable. I mean, you can definitely you were affected by everything that was going on with them, supporting them, and even my college roommates and the day that it happened. My I woke up to my college roommate crime. And her boyfriend had called her to tell her that he was a marine and was one of the first units that we're getting shipped out. And so he's calling until like this what we signed up to do, we're headed out and she was confused and hurt and scared. We had the TV on watching all the aftermath, as he's talking to her. It was just, it was unbelievable. It was a, it was a hard period to go through and, and the reality of like, wow, like, I'm only here in school for four years, and I don't know how fast we're going to get the job done. But as conflicts go even when the war seems over, there's still people who are going to have to stay in place. So, there's still a chance I'm going to go over there. So, I didn't know what to expect. But my family was at first, I'm like, Wow, so the one that was supposed to go into the Air Force, the one that was like going to be like, low key. She goes server country with a super low key and now 911 has happened. She's, yeah. So

Amanda Huffman: So, what was your job when you graduated from Clemson

Charlynda Scales: Acquisitions, Program Management. So, it's about time they're trying to match you to your career, like what you study. I didn't really understand what that was because I wanted to be an intelligence officer, or OSI, especially investigations. I that's always been my thing. Like, I love digging for facts I love like, what unsolved mystery I'll solve it. That was me. I was always like a person love that kind of stuff. And I love transparency. So, I think Intel is like, you're asking people to be transparent and when someone's not, you're like, oh, we'll get to the bottom of this. I don't know, besides me my personality. They said, you know, having a business background because management was my major. They needed Acquisitions Officers, and I just had to learn what that was when I went on active duty, basically worried about cost, schedule, performance, you're acquiring capabilities for military. So, we need global security Okay, well, what does that translate to? So, you have a strategic vision was that technically translate to set of planes and Humvees technologies and so I like that challenge of helping translate the, whatever our capability gap is to whatever it is that we need to build or buy.

Amanda Huffman: So, what sort of programs to did you get to work on when you were in the Air Force

Charlynda Scales: Started out in Georgia in the Air Force small arms team. So that's like your hand guns, grenades, general officer pistols, all the ROTC students that have weapons, handheld weapons, at those who want to fighter bomb racks. So just making sure that the bomb racks on whatever fighter aircraft that we have are functioning properly, we replace them, we fix them, we send out teams to do that and inspect them and I'm moved to see 130 modification for Graham's. So, one of my biggest programs was the wing replacement was about a billion dollars to replace all the student wings. So literally, the piece between the two wings is called the center wing. And if it cracks or something happens with it, the wings can fall off in the middle of life. They had that happen. And so, they're like, well, let's look at the age of the aircraft and let's look at the agents and oh, we need to replace all of them. So that was a big effort, but one of my side projects my side hustles while I was there, called the military airborne firefighting system. My only job as a lieutenant was supposed to be to help them qualify a new tank because it says, like a big tank. Roll on to the back of the C 130. When there's a forest fire, you open up the back of the C 130. And it sprays retargeting. Have you ever seen those planes or spraying red stuff around the fire? That's a math way so One of the tanks needed to be upgraded. And so, the other units in like North Carolina. Other parts of the country like the Midwest and east part of the country had the older version of the tank. But there was one sitting in California that was getting an upgrade. And they said no threat. Low won't have a lot of forest fires are happening. projected for this year, less California burns to the ground, you'll be fine. Well, 2008 to 2008, California wildfires that were raging, they were on every headline. And I was one of the only people who was associated with the federal government with firefighting program. So, it was like for program managers between us the reserves for service we all had to get together and put out this fire. And as that point also having to communicate and at 24 to three and four-star Generals on how we're handling this. And it's a lot It was a lot to be thrown into randomly at a young age. And I learned a lot about messaging. You know how politics can sometimes intervene in the military. And there was one headline I remember it said, California is burning down in the unit and California with the plane is doing nothing. Like there's no pilot or navigator who would get in a plane with that tank that has not been flight tested. He just wouldn't do it to print a big hunk of metal in the back of a big giant metal plane and telling them that you know, you don't know if it will, the cord will snap in the tank will fall out and kill somebody, or, you know, it's too heavy, and we'll bring the plane down. All that happens during the testing that had not happened yet. So, we’re about saving lives not risking lives.

Amanda Huffman: That sounds like a crazy, throw you into the fire and like, see what you can do?

Charlynda Scales: Yeah, I think you know, I want everybody no matter what their background is sometimes they have to see how they help put bombs on target. And that basically means know where you fit into the big plan. Even if you're admin of personnel and you're like a paper pusher. People can't get stuff done without you, which leads to something else which leads to something else and people who literally hit the button and take out ISIS or something. All of that somewhere in that equation of what they do. You were important. So never discount. You know the people who would they want to call the airborne Rangers. They're sitting in offices. But yeah, I left. Left Robins Air Force Base went up to Hanscom Air Force Base, work with security forces to help them get technology They needed something that was quick. There's a lot of like, quick acquisitions, something they needed for a mission that they had to go out on. Then you know, year and then I worked in staff so did a staff job at the headquarters that came to Ohio, which I told myself I'd never lived in Ohio and they said, careful what you wish for. And I'm still in Ohio. I live in Ohio now.

So yeah, I came here and I worked trainer aircraft. So, what pilots I got to go school they got to learn on aircraft, and sometimes they get up there and the students don't know what they're doing and they're like, Where's that? What is this button and our, our program with basically people who are really great at like arrows, aerospace science and stuff like that? They are mechanics and they have these big manuals like they would do some basic Stop everything. And they're taking a call with the senior instructor and the students saying, what is it? Red light came on. What is that? Are we going to die? No, you're trying to troubleshoot you. So that was interesting. Trying to replay stuff on the trainer aircraft, destructive when they're in flight. And I think that was it once I got, oh, I worked in the requirements office at the headquarters that air force, Materiel Command headquarters and basically, people were saying, this is what I need. And I found I found $2 million and kidnapped by this. And then we would sit there as acquisition people and say, how do you know that's $2 million? Well, the contractor told me it's just $2 million. Do you sign on the dotted line that they're going to, they're going to be nickel and diamond new for the next 10 years. And that $2 million contract will end up being probably $20 million. Today, all right, so I would work with requirement to basically tell them you need to be focused on buying capabilities not buying shiny objects. When you do that, you get a defense and you're like, Oh, I got a budget to do that. Just because you have the money doesn't mean if you spend it spend it responsibly. 

Amanda Huffman: How many years were you in the Air Force?

Charlynda Scales: I'd say now 12, because I went to the Reserves back in 2015, after 10 years.

Amanda Huffman:  And why did you decide to switch from active duty to reserves?

Charlynda Scales: I started my company Mutt Sauce while I was on active duty, which I would recommend for people to try to start a business at the same time. It's a lot you know, I didn't realize how much energy and time goes into entrepreneurship. I really just wanted to do something for my friends and family by making new bottles. But as we grew, you're doing shows on the weekend festival stuff like that weekend. So, you're already working Monday to Friday, the Air Force all day long. Maybe you get home at eight but you still got emails piled up from that sauce, you got to answer those. So, you're in bed by like two, then you got to get up get unit PT at five. Like take that times that by two years. I had to make a decision to make. And I went to the reserves because I still I was so hard to just take my uniform off and to be like now, I never serve again, because I didn't really want to leave the service and I was thinking about my granddad to you know means retirement. So, I was like, well, I won't take my uniform entirely off.

Amanda Huffman: So, it hasn't been a good switch for you to switch to doing reserves.

Charlynda Scales: I've had my I've had my transition woes with transition into reserves because I became an Individual Mobilization Augmenting, and I am a different type of Reserves and people think from traditional where you have mandate like you have a drill days and stuff like that I don't have drill. We don't have to go to drill we don't have to weekend. We do have annual training days we do have developmental days that we have to do so 12 developmental days to four no training days. You basically are in an active duty unit so you're not even reporting to a reserve unit you're reporting to active duty unit. They can't tell the difference between you and active duty person but I am a as a joke that stands for, I'm alone. There's not many of us and there's no one when you switch over is like Hi, welcome to being an IMA and here's what you need to do and we're going to help you process and into new unit and we're going to help you get all your OPR stuff done and you might be in a unit where you have a civilian meeting for management? You might be in a unit. They're like, Yeah, I don't know what to do with you, like, manage yourself? 

Amanda Huffman: Do whatever you need to do.

Charlynda Scales: Do whatever you got to do hi doing here's, here's what you can do make your own job because honestly, you're not there long enough to do you know, sometimes they're hesitant to give you stuff, because they're like, you're not going to be here long. So, I'm not going to give you anything too intense. And that that was a hard, hard thing to manage for me. So, I actually just signed to go inactive for a little bit while I searched for something here in Ohio because my unit was in Maryland. So, I had the added stress of figuring out what am I going to be able to be gone from Mutt Sauce for a month in Maryland, and away from family and everybody. So, there's a base right here, Wright Patterson. I'm just trying to look for something here. I do love the flexibility of being a reservist and being able to if you want to do something on the civilian side or your company, you have that flexibility what I did my boneheaded mistake, because I have so many. I walked back on the base the very next day after I got out of the service as a government contractor, so people asked when I went full time Mutt Sauce, it wasn't until October 2018. I got out in 2015 I didn't go full time with my sauce till 2018 because I was like, Okay, well, I'm just going to do what I think entrepreneurs do, they just jump off the cliff. And then as I was like, jumping, I'm like, Oh, God. I need money.

I need money. Or you know, more of it was like, I was very comfortable. And I don't I'm not ready to be uncomfortable. So, I took a government contracting job. And then from there, I just kept getting offered higher salaries because program management does pretty well. In the civilian sector, especially defense. I just kept getting offered higher salaries. And I'm like, this is the worst Jedi mind trick. I was, you know, I'm like, let me just take this salary, then you know, you're at six figures and you’re like 29 or 30 making six figures.

Amanda Huffman: So, what led you to leave being a government contractor?

Charlynda Scales: I got fired. Yeah, I know.

Amanda Huffman: I knew the answer. But why did you get fired because I think the reason behind why you got fired is more important than you getting fired. 

Charlynda Scales: I think it's awesome. 

Amanda Huffman: That's why I wanted to ask the question.

Charlynda Scales: Yeah, I think it's awesome because you know, a lot of us were stubborn, too. You know, we get in our head, but there's a certain thing or we're superhuman, we can handle it all. And maybe in our heads we do, but the people that are around us, we're like, No, no, you need to prioritize. And that's what it was I, in my actions, I was prioritizing mud sauce. And I didn't realize that. That's where you where your actions are. That's where your heart lies. So, my heart was with Matt Sauce, and it showed my actions and my supervisor said you've been gone like 14 of the last 40 days. I was like, Yeah, I believe I was going to talk to you about that, and he was like no. Yeah, we need to we need to make a mutual decision, but I was like this is not mutual. Like let's circle a day on the calendar as your last day. Just like I have feeling you need. This is like night We did we talked on a personal level like I feel like you know, had this not happened you would have kept trying and trying to do go set you just can't maybe you need to put your energy into one and see what happens like clearly it's doing well so you but this is with half of your energy Imagine if it had all of your energy.

Amanda Huffman: So, in the last year, how is that change being able to put all your energy and focus on Mutt Sauce?

Charlynda Scales: It's a roller coaster, Amanda. 

Amanda Huffman: I know 

Charlynda Scales: It is a roller coaster is you had the highs are high and the lows are like crash and burn. And, and when it depends on you, that's a lot of pressure. There's no one it's like, it's like the difference between when I was running. I would play soccer. I love soccer. I was good at track. I love soccer because if you lose the game. You're all on the bus, you're consoling each other. Oh, we'll get it next time guys is not the blame game you should have passed. We didn't do that. We lost but we try. Track is when you get your butt beat by whoever else is just you sitting on the bus like did not train hard enough. Something they're just you. So that's why I'm like there's when you're in this position where you're, you know, just you if you don't have a huge team and even if you're the entrepreneur, even if you're the owner, there's a lot of beating yourself up that you do. And that's been the hard part about entrepreneurship. When things are slow, like I just talked about board of advisors like I'm having a baby bye March, maybe February. Winter is our hardest season to get through. How do we make enough sales that when this child arrives and I am not able to be there 100% of the time how are we still selling in December January February March April and May we gotta have a without struggling to plan and I hate having it out without me plan, but you do need to have it without you plan.

Amanda Huffman: Congratulations, I didn't know that. 

Charlynda Scales: Oh, yeah, I'm pregnant. 

Amanda Huffman: That's going to change everything.

Charlynda Scales: It is it was recent development a lot. I announced it at the military influencer conference. This year, this this year is in my seat at the end of my speech and that was, that was a point of bravery. For me too, because I was like, I really just want to be like, and here's a picture of my baby that I was pregnant the whole time. Yeah. No questions, no questions. That's been a big thing of my journey too, with months off in the military is I've always had a desire. I've always been Family Centered because I grew up in a very family centered environment. And to not have the ability to build a family these past 10 years was frustrating. I thought that I was going to be that person that has a company had a great career to and nothing really to show for it. And people are like, well, what to show for you got a great company. To me, I have nothing to show for it because there's nothing to pass this on to this. There's no nobody to pass it along to. Legacy is my why. So, it doesn't matter. All the accolades, money, none of that matters to me. That's not what I value. And this was something I'm like, it's bugging me, I can't sleep, it's bothering me, like feels incomplete. Without this happening. And if I can find a way to make it happen, I will. The door opened up for the possibility and paid for.

Amanda Huffman: That's great. I think that you've given so much good information about not only your time in the service, but about the realities of how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, especially when I have my husband has my like, fallback plan so and so it's so I have him to rely on and so I understand like what that safety net feels like I'm kind of lucky because it's another person and not me working. But I can definitely relate to the highs and lows. I think the last question I want to ask is what advice what would you tell young women who are considering joining the military?

Charlynda Scales: Well, you know, it's in some ways we have in great ways we have made so many strides in leadership positions in in opportunities. You see Rangers now we've seen so many things that women are shattering glass ceilings, Captain Molly May Potter. She now sits on the National Board of the Air Force Association. I mean, she’s in her 30s and the other board members are general officers. So, to see some of these strides happening in our country is awesome. And I would tell them to focus on how you can contribute to us moving forward. Don't be held back by some of the things you may hear. We're still struggling with Because you can be that catalyst you can be that person to help make it finally change. Sometimes it's just, it's just using your voice telling your story. And it's powerful because someone may be like, you know what, I’m approaching 40 and I don't have any kids and I've been stewing over waiting on Mr. Right forever and so that it was like forget that he'll be there when he'll be there. You know, but there's so there's children out there that need moms there's you still physically do it. And for me, I have to give thanks to Wright Patterson medical, those are the ones that helped me. I mean, they're there and they said that you guys have put in so much in the last person you ever think about is yourself And I said, Well, yeah, and they're like, and that is why we're here and trying to help you. Whatever your goal is, whatever your wellness goal is, whatever your personal goals are, we're also here to help you. We're not just here to fix you when you're broken. I appreciated that. I know, I just really appreciated that they understood. And I would tell these women like Be confident in that little voice inside of you. That's like, this might not be the norm but it's my desire. That's the thing. That's the one you need to listen to. Because that's, that's outstanding. It's not normal. Entrepreneurs look insane. They sound crazy. That is that is like the Hallmark sign that you're on to something great. So, I was just being encouraged to listen to the voice. Sounds crazy, do it. Scary jump and be a part of the forward movement. Just think about that. Don't think about the scary stuff. They won't tell you. We have movement. It's 2019 we're still dealing with well come in here, put the uniform on and help us. Help us out. Help a sister out.

Amanda Huffman: Yeah, and I really like the listen to the inner voice because I feel like when I joined the military, we have no military background in my family. And I felt like a crazy person. But I had this like voice that was pushing me to join. And so, I did. And I was afraid. But I jumped anyways, and it all worked out and all works. Yeah. So, thank you so much. I really had a lot of fun talking to you. I mean, I kind of knew, because I knew you a little bit before. So, I was looking forward to this but it was great interview and I just appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me.

Charlynda Scales: Yeah. Appreciate you two men and thank you for lending, another outlet for us to tell our stories. I think that's very important. So, you know you're going above and beyond and that should be applauded as well. 

Amanda Huffman: Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai