Being the spouse of a Navy SEAL comes with unique challenges but Surinder Goode has faced harder circumstances. Now, she’s using stories to help military families find the good. Pun absolutely intended.
“I was born in England, and at a very early age, we moved up to Scotland. I come from a large immigrant family and I always knew that I was born in the wrong country. I never felt like I fit in and I always knew I wanted to come to the U.S. So, when the Gulf War happened I decided I was going to move to the Middle East,” she laughed.
Goode gained the notice of a prince and operated most of his flights on Gulf Air. Not long after that time, one of her friends moved to Coronado to be with her boyfriend – a SEAL. While out there visiting, Goode met his roommate.
“We fell in love and I moved there before I could blink. But before immigration paperwork could be put through or we could even get our marriage license, he told me he was leaving for a mission,” she explained. “I didn’t have a driver’s license, a military ID or a bank account. So, I walked everywhere. I’d even go to Burger King on the days they did two-for-one whoppers to make my money stretch. I realized at that point my military marriage was going to be a case of just chopping and changing to whatever the situation was.”
When Goode’s husband returned stateside, they were married. After things were settled and her paperwork was in order, she was determined to find work.
“I found some work at another airline but it just wasn’t satisfying and they didn’t understand the nature of my life as a spouse of a special operator,” Goode shared. “He’d be gone on these long deployments and when he returned, getting time off was an issue.”
Months later, she was driving her husband to work on the base and asked where he got his coffee. When she realized the base didn’t have a coffee shop, it became her mission to open one.
“I was like a dog with a bone. I went down to the Navy Exchange every day with my business plan, such as it was. It wasn’t the best but I knew they had a need and I could meet it,” Goode said. “I think they finally realized they weren’t getting rid of me once I explained all I wanted was a space with electricity and water, that I’d do the rest. I went to every organization I could think of to get funding and guidance, because, again, I'd never opened a business.”
Goode opened her first Surinder's Coffee Shack on June 22, 2001.
“I funded the first location myself and I distinctly remember the very first day that I went to open up. I pulled up outside the base and I vomited like the exorcist because I was so darn nervous,” she laughed. “I suddenly realized that I gave up a really good job in corporate America to go into business by myself and failure was not going to be an option.”
Within six months, she’d paid off the loan she took out, and within 17 years – she’d opened 13 different locations on bases in the San Diego area. Goode thrived on talking to the service members, spouses and visitors in her shops. Hearing their stories and building the business got her through all the deployments.
When her husband retired in 2021, she felt like she was ready for the transition. But she watched many other couples go through hard struggles. With the divorce rate being high in the SOF community, Goode began thinking that opening a platform to talk about the issues and stories might be a way forward.
The Goode Show podcast was her way and the next chapter.
“I want people to believe their story has a value; it has a great deal of value to the other person that's listening because we all have that common denominator of being married to a service member,” she explained. “Everybody's story, as far as I am concerned, is very unique and there are lessons in every story. I don't think you can get enough lessons or guidance through this military life.”
Goode also speaks a lot about entrepreneurship, lessons learned through her coffee business and from others pursuing something other than the traditional career paths.
As for what she would say to another military spouse with a dream or a goal, it was direct. “The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask,” she laughed. “Ask for help and go all in.”
To learn more about the Goode Show, click here.