Interview with Brian Carlson, Founder of the Drive For Freedom Foundation
(I grew up with him by the way)
First of all, Brian, tell me a bit about yourself and what irons you have in the fire?
I am now 43 years old. I am married to Jennifer Ann and have two children with her. David age 7 and Anna age 5. We make our home in Green Bay Wisconsin. My wife and I have a private in home care giver business. We have an invention in the market place. I also like to write children's books. I have authored two books now. I write more the satisfaction of hearing a few folks say they enjoyed it for their own personal reasons, than trying to accomplish any significant financial success. Every day we live in peace and try to be positive for those around us. I am for the most part happy.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Drive For Freedom Foundation?
The Inspiration for the DFF dates as far back as my third year in trucking. I had actually thought about it then. There have been so many people complain their whole lives rather than just try and implement solutions and follow it with action in order to effect change that I wanted to stop the cycle and prove that if one applies oneself to an idea and pursues the aspiration with vigor you can get results. Love of truckers and the open road also inspired the DFF. It was also inspired by the belief that if I worked hard, I could silence the crowd. So many say it won't be different. I say they are wrong. It is different already.
What is the mandate for the DFF, and the goals? How have you been able to accomplish fulfilling them?
The mandate of the DFF is to ultimately boost morale to a level that has never been experienced. You lift spirits; it brings out the best in people. To watch drivers try to become a better more productive version of themselves. The main goal is to save people from dying, reduce insurance costs, by reducing deaths, bridge the gap between driver, public, company to save money and see drivers achieve longevity at a company to experience a decent retirement. A multitude of other goals are mixed in to the over-all mission. One driver at a time we are achieving this as you have seen. Many want the same things; it’s just finding the right people.
Does it bring anything to your family that you’d like to share?
Yes it has been somewhat stressful, in that trying to grow an organization--grass roots movement from the ground up, it has absorbed a great deal of my time. But Jenny understands. However, it is also instilling respect towards truckers, my children see their father and mother living generously and serving people, which in turn will help them build character, and we are seeing the results in both Dave and Anna, they are extremely well mannered and helpful. We have cohesion; therefore the Foundation will have it. It starts with us. If we break down, so will our goals for the drivers.
Tell me about the DFF and it’s day to day operations. How does it differ from say, a union or a corporation?
Day to day is very much the same. Follow up with drivers, help write letters, make many phone calls, continue to launch fresh ideas and trying to increase membership by having the drivers reach out when possible. Encourage drivers when they get down. Just care and be there. It can all be very stressful. Many times I go to bed with 5 driver’s problems as well as my own.
Unions are not cohesion. Unions are about 1 thing, how much can we get now. Worry about the fallout later. It has destroyed families and cities among many other things.
Corporations are about bottom line. The DFF has financial goals however, one must show the value of human beings first, then get them agreeing in principal. Then accomplish the monetary goals. It’s a longer process, but longer lasting positive results.
Yes the public that knows of us are embracing the DFF and its growing.
Are the drivers seeing positive changes in their lives through their association with the DFF?
Yes I believe so. You would have to ask them first. I always say. I am not here to convince you it’s working. Ask the drivers if it’s working? They are my best proof that what I have built is serving its purpose. Maybe ask about 10 drivers what they think. It’s not my job to convince you. It’s the driver’s job to convince you.
Where would you like to see the DFF in a year? Five years? Ten? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
The DFF and I are one on the same. As long as I stay inspired the dream will continue to materialize. We would like to reach at least 5000 plus members by the 5 year period. Once we achieve this? It will grow exponentially.
Do you receive support (morally, legally, etc) from the public and private sectors? How would you like to interface with the public better?
We do receive financial support from many different sources it’s just not a great deal as of yet.
What we need to do is allow the DFF and its mission to speak for itself.
Once we get the Media’s Attention. This is not our main goal. We wish to have the drivers efforts speak for themselves, Actions speak much louder than words always. If we never get media attention, we will still do our job. We accomplish our goals the results will shine brighter than any news coverage we could get from any reporter, which neither has the neither time nor inclination to even remotely understand the daily struggles of an American or Canadian trucker. The rest is history. The whole Philosophy of the DFF goes completely against the grain of society and the world as we know it. People first, hard work, lift others above our self. Humility, Integrity, dignity and decorum. Be the best at what we do. Earn respect and then receive it. That hammers swings in both directions. With every human being without pause. Or at least it should. We do all this the money will take care of itself.
Is there anything else you would like the public to know that I haven’t thought of to ask?
What we would like to share with the public. Is that the DFF was designed in part to save the American tax payers Billions of dollars. We also would ask them to work with us, ‘Over the Road’ instead of viewing us as a nuisance. Both sides have issues to work on. Saving lives is an American obligation.
Live the Creed, win the hearts of the masses, bring back the brotherhood of trucking and return the name Knights of the highway once again. It can be done. It is being done, one driver at a time. Founder & Chairman, Brian Carlson