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John Starling is a native of Maryland, a veteran of the United States Air Force, a graduate of The University of Baltimore, a former teacher of at-risk urban youth, a member of The Order of Black Belt and the founder of a free and first-of-its-kind MMA (mentoring & martial arts) school for low-income young people: The School of the Way.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur and eventually the President of Smith Growth Partners, he served as the Director of Marketing and later as the Vice President of Marketing and Internet Business for a major player in the REO/Asset-Backed Securities Market.
For more than 15 years he has co-founded, founded and operated three different management consulting firms: Macdonald-Starling Strategic Planning and Development, LLC; Smith Content, Inc.; and Smith Growth Partners.
Over the course of his business career John has advised, consulted, trained, written strategic plans for (and facilitated retreats for) hundreds of companies—from start-ups to companies represented in the Fortune 50. A creative force and a growth strategist to his core, he brings clients objectivity, integrity and a range of experiences that few people in business ever gain.
He is a sought-after public speaker and a regular contributor to SmartCEO magazine, where he published a popular series on business growth strategy and the martial arts—and the parallels between them as an achievement model.
John has served on numerous boards including The Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics, and the Alumni Board of Governors at The University of Baltimore.

In his spare time John enjoys coaching youth soccer, sailing and writing original country music that he performs solo and with his band “John Patrick Starling & Drownin’ River