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CW Valor

A comedian, a chef, and a nuclear engineer walk into a bar...

...but in this case, it's no joke. It's just Chuck Anderson, Air Force veteran-turned-comedian chef, heading into work at East Nashville hotspot Rosemary and Beauty Queen.

Photo via Jonathan Kingsbury.


The 33-year-old is the entrepreneur owner of Death from a Bun, the food truck best known for bringing soft, doughy pork-filled Taiwanese bao buns to Nashville.

He’s also a sports podcaster, a stand-up comedian, and a dad to his sweet 4-year-old son named Cole.

So how did such an eclectic dude get his start? As a highly trained nuclear missile and space systems engineer, of course.

In 2001, Anderson was a senior in high school faced with a decision about what to do with his future after graduation.

"And then 9/11 happened," he says, and that sparked his decision to enlist at the end of the year. After graduation, he began basic training with the United States Air Force.

Photo via Chuck Anderson.

Anderson was sent to Louisiana to work on nuclear missile maintenance.

Over his four-year enlistment, the military sent him to Texas, California, and Guam, and by the time he got out, he’d learned everything he needed to embark on civilian life.

"I felt like I’d conquered the world after I finished my enlistment," Anderson says.

His military training set Anderson up for a steady career, but it also introduced him to something else — a passion for food.

When he joined the military, Anderson suddenly found himself introduced to a variety of different food cultures he’d never experienced before.

In Texas, he ate traditional Mexican food, and in California, he tried sushi from the coast.

But it wasn’t until he arrived in Guam that he found his passion. "When I was in Guam, it was the first time I had the soft dough — a soft Asian steamed dough bun, like a baozi," he says. "I fell in love."

Photo via Chuck Anderson.

But when he moved to Nashville, there were no dough buns to be found. That was a problem.

"I’d always had an idea to work for myself," he says. In a city without bao buns, he finally had the opportunity to be his own boss.

The idea for his food truck, Death from a Bun, was born, and with help from veteran entrepreneurship incubator Bunker Labs, it wasn't long before it became a reality.

Photo via Chuck Anderson.

Anderson's Air Force background didn't just inspire his business. It also helps him run it.

"My first real job after high school, someone yelled at me the first day of work," Anderson remembers. "Basic training is built to instill stress, to make sure you can learn and handle things later."

When that stress came in the form of the obstacles to starting a business — everything from learning accounting to legal to plumbing — Anderson drew on his military experience to stay cool, calm, and collected under pressure.

Photo via Chuck Anderson.

His leadership style, centered on integrity, excellence, and service before self, also came from the military.

"Those are the core values of the Air Force," Anderson says. And those are the values that he seeks to instill in his employees. "I trust my guys a lot. They get a lot of freedom. So I’ve got to make sure that they’re working hard when nobody’s looking."

But above all, what the military gave Anderson was a comfort with feeling uncomfortable.

"That's growth, you know?" he says. "The best things that happened to me, I was stupid uncomfortable when I started them." That's how he got started as an entrepreneur and as a stand-up comedian — by finding something that felt uncomfortable and doing it.

"In the military, all the jobs that I thought I definitely was underqualified for, I ended up being good at," he continues. "That confidence comes from just jumping in and being uncomfortable and knowing you can get through it, and at the end, you're gonna be a different person. That's how you grow."

Photo via Chuck Anderson.

That's what gave him the confidence to take on the challenge of starting Death from a Bun — and what seems to drive so many veterans to start businesses too.

Within their community, support for one another combined with their lessons from the military is what helps veteran entrepreneurs succeed.

"You surround yourself with the kind of people who do that stuff, and you realize what's possible," Anderson says. "That's what's led me to where I am."

Correction 10/5/2017: Attribution has been revised to reflect the share image was taken by photographer Lance Conzett of Nashville.​

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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