#72: Leadership Lessons From A Navy Seal

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This is a podcast episode titled, #72: Leadership Lessons From A Navy Seal. The summary for this episode is: <p>There are so many great leadership lessons to learn from Jocko Willink &amp; Leif Babin's book Extreme Ownership, and that's what we're talking about today: leadership lessons from a Navy Seal. And remember: it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.</p><p><br></p><p>Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show: </p><p>1. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. </p><p>2. Leave us a six-star review. </p><p>3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. </p><p>4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.</p>

Speaker 1: Wow, we got three cameras.

Dave: Well, I've never seen this.

Speaker 1: Is this thing ugly here?

Dave: Just put it down.

Speaker 3: No, it's good, it's good.

Dave: crosstalk provide character.

Speaker 1: Professional.

Dave: How are you doing?

Speaker 1: Ooh, I'm on fire crosstalk.

Dave: ...three cameras here today.

Speaker 1: We have three cameras.

Dave: One, two, three. Four mics.

Speaker 1: Four mics.

Dave: We did double check that we are recording. crosstalk checklist.

Speaker 1: I was telling BG before he needs to have a checklist crosstalk.

Dave: I will have a checklist. You were in New York last week, back in the hood. How was that?

Speaker 1: Preaching and meeting some people down at a conference there, one- day conference. It was amazing, it was good to be back in the city, but down there, collecting leads.

Dave: Collecting leads, you were collecting leads manual leads, I did. I did see that.

Speaker 1: Hand-to-hand combat.

Dave: All right. So today I want to do a podcast episode, that's what this is obviously, about leadership.

Speaker 1: Oh, oh.

Dave: Yeah. So I finally got around to reading a book that you've been telling me to read called Extreme Ownership.

Speaker 1: Uh- huh( affirmative). Extreme Ownership: How U. S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko and Leif Babin.

Dave: What's up, Jocko?

Speaker 1: Okay. And so I figured we could take a bunch of leadership lessons out of that book and dive into them and get your thoughts and dig in crosstalk.

Dave: I love Jocko, if you don't follow Jocko on Instagram, follow him. Black and white shots only.

Speaker 1: Humble you.

Dave: Humble you. 4: 30 AM every morning.

Speaker 1: If you think you get up early, you don't, watch that man.

Dave: You don't. Yeah. Sometimes 3: 30.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: And also we haven't given away books in a little bit. So I think we should give away some books today.

Speaker 1: I love it. I love it. All right.

Dave: But you got to stick around to the end. So, okay. Couple lessons, couple things that stood out, I got my notes and I'm going to... I want to kind of interview, hear what you got to say.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Dave: So first thing he talks about, this is all leadership lessons from a Navy Seal which is, obviously a completely different level of ownership and leadership crosstalk nerds in the tech world crosstalk.

Speaker 1: software.

Dave: But he said, the only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. And I think that boils all the leadership lessons down into one thing. Tell me why that got their reaction.

Speaker 1: I love it, I love it when you read something and then, Seth Godin can do this, a lot of writers that we like can do this and can boil down something that you kind of feel, but you can't articulate it simply.

Dave: Right.

Speaker 1: He does it simply there, which is like bottom line is does the team succeed or fail? It doesn't matter if you succeeded, but if someone on your team failed, then the whole team failed.

Dave: So, and how have you felt that, you feel that right? Nobody cares, nobody really cares what you do, right? You have to be responsible for all the pieces right?

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Putting it all together and make it a win. That's what's amazing when you see amazing sports teams, right. Not that I'm really into to sports, but when you look at amazing sports teams that they are able to come together, right. Group of individuals, and then someone's able to take them to the next level. I always think of Belichick with the Pats and they're able to pull that off kind of repeatedly. Not once, not twice, not three times.

Dave: Well, the one thing they all have in common is it's always the puzzle pieces, right.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Dave: And then the person at the top doesn't make excuses, right. If they win, then it's good.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Dave: If they didn't win then okay, it's basically lose/ lose if you're the leader, right.

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah.

Dave: Even if your team wins, you don't want to take the credit.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: And if your team loses, you have to take your responsibility.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I love the expression we either win or we learn.

Dave: Yeah.

Speaker 1: But then someone like a Belichick Orleans or someone like Jocko is about we either learn or we crosstalk. we learn in both cases.

Dave: And then he says, there's no bad teams, there's only bad leaders.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: Right. And that talks about putting those pieces together. You're responsible for that song.

Speaker 1: Man. That's an easy thing to say, but so hard to-

Dave: So hard.

Speaker 1: ...to kind of stomach, if you're actually leading a team of any size or in any context.

Dave: One of the things that you talk about... So, off this podcast, we had a talk last week that was kind of just about... I had to get slap back to reality a little bit. And we talked about-

Speaker 1: I like where we're going with this.

Dave: We talked about EV.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: Talk about what EV is and explain... We had a conversation kind of just about leadership and building teams and placing the company ahead of myself right.

Speaker 1: Or ourselves.

Dave: Or ourselves, right. And you always talk about EV, and I think people probably listen, but they don't know what is EV. crosstalk.

Speaker 1: So EV, stands for enterprise value, right. It's something that we've talked about for many years and it's about basically the thought and the value is to always solve for EV, so software enterprise value. What that means day- to- day is to put the company and to put the goal, just Jocko's talk about, success ahead of individuals. So when we make a decision, are we solving for EV, when you are kind of fighting to want something for yourself or for your team, are you solving for yourself, for the team, or you solving for EV. And if we always default to solving for EV, then it's going to lead that team to win.

Dave: Yeah. Makes decision- making easy, right.

Speaker 1: Way easier.

Dave: It pulls you in the right direction. And so having that conversation about, what are we really solving for?

Speaker 1: Yeah, it's not you versus me, versus someone else. It's just we're both solving for the same thing.

Dave: Right. And one of the things that had come up in which punched me right in the gut and the way that you said it. We were talking about you and Aaliyah, so two founders and you were look, if there was an opportunity where somebody could do a better job, I would replace myself, right.

Speaker 1: Any day.

Dave: That's the ultimate measure of solving for EV.

Speaker 1: Something and same for inaudible. And it's been the same for years, for us and including our Drift for us, the goal is to succeed. If it succeeds with us, that's great. If it means replacing ourselves in order to succeed, we'll do that too.

Dave: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Because at the end of the day, it's about getting that Super Bowl Ring.

Dave: All right. I want to move on from this one, the next one, which I know you're going to scream about is, he said," When it comes to performance standards, it's not what you preach. It's what you tolerate."

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: This is something we talk about all the time.

Speaker 1: Oh yeah. I've talked about this for years, right. And I forgot when this week I brought this up again. But it's about, in my context, I've always talked about it in terms of cultural values. Because I kind of hate cultural values in some way, because most people talk about them as things that they optimize for, in the hiring process. But the cultural values only matter when you are willing to fire based on those values, and so that's when it becomes crosstalk.

Dave: Yeah. And the, what you preach verse what you tolerate thing, that even boils down to why it drives you insane, if somebody leaves a piece of trash or a cup on the table, right.

Speaker 1: inaudible Wiki posts this week, internally about, a value or norm that we want, which is around ownership, right. And those are kind of tells, when someone's willing to do that, that they might not have an ownership mentality, right. And they might not care about the details because it's hard to care about the details in your work that you do, if you don't care about the details around you.

Dave: So I love that when it comes to performance standards, it's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate, right. And it's easy to talk about something, but you're not really a be about it until you show people, we've taken action on this. We talk about it all the time and we did something, whether that is, move on from a teammate to cleaning up a mess to who you partner with to all that stuff.

Speaker 1: Yeah. But there's that toleration part, that is the hard part, so people avoid it, right. We all know when we see it, that it's off, it's wrong. It's something that's not supposed to happen, but we tolerate it. And we kind of turn the other way. All right, hit me Jock.

Dave: I got two more. Okay. Another one was prioritize and execute.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Dave: This could be a underlying theme for the whole thing, there's so many things that are in here, from big rocks to the 80/ 20 rule.

Speaker 1: This just reminded me of big rocks.

Dave: Yeah, go.

Speaker 1: So something we talk about all the time, which is big rocks are one thing, about focusing on that one thing. It's funny, last week I was in New York at that conference, it was about 100 CEOs of different sizes, all pretty decent- sized companies. And at my table, one of the conversations was about one of the CEOs was talking about how he only does one thing a day. So he's basically preaching this, right. Obviously he does other things, but that he prioritizes one big thing per day and I didn't mention that, that's kind of our obsession, something that we've talked about a lot here. But it's an easy thing for all of us to continue to slip, right. But it's all about prioritizing that thing down to that one big rock that you can move forward. That's going to have that impact. And then you can fill in crosstalk.

Dave: And I love that, when you hear another CEO is thinking the same way. Because the thing that Jocko said, he said," Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed. If they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team is going to fail at each of those tasks, instead leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute."

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: "When overwhelm fall back on this simple principle, prioritize and execute."

Speaker 1: Yeah. I'd say one of my biggest, I won't say gifts. But advantages is that I can only focus on right now, right this second as Dave knows.

Dave: yeah.

Speaker 1: Right this minute.

Dave: You can.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: But you also have this ability to be everywhere, I don't understand. I don't understand how they work like that.

Speaker 1: Now and everywhere.

Dave: Yeah, I don't understand.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Dave: All right. So, and then on the heels of prioritize and execute, this was, to me, this a number one and we know it, keep it simple. His number one leadership and management principle is called the simple principle, it doesn't get much better than that, right. And of course he believed in planning and having plans and tactics and all that stuff, but he was talking about planning, they're about to raid a place in Iraq. And they have a brief for the raid that they were going to do. And he said," Here's the true test for a good brief, it's not whether the senior officers are impressed. It's whether or not the troops that are going to execute the operation actually understand it. Everything else is bullshit."

Speaker 1: That's amazing. Because one thing that I loved in his book that he talks about related to this, is that that most people, when he gives leadership talks. And he's kind of trying to train executives and business people, they always kind of say the same thing," Oh, it's easy for you Jocko." Right." It's much harder for us. Why is it easy for you?" Because all those people are enlisted, right, so they have to follow your orders, right. And all the people that work for us can walk out at any time, right, and your people can't walk out. And he says, it's exactly the opposite, right, he's bringing people into, as he calls it, harms way, right. And he has to convince each individual to do this thing, they don't just follow along, they just don't do what he says, right. And even though from the outside, it looks like he can just bark some orders and they'll just crosstalk.

Dave: An nobody's going to die, if I don't, whatever, do some marketing thing at Drift, right, that's the reality of it. But I love the analogy of keeping it simple, the only way people are going to understand, we talk about... This is even a bigger principle for us at Drift, other than leadership, it's our brand, it's our marketing, it's our product. Keep it simple.

Speaker 1: Why? Because humans need simple stuff and they always respond to very simple things.

Dave: Yeah. And then the last one was, you are what you do, every single day. And for him, he said," Discipline starts every day, when that first alarm goes off in the morning." That's your decision point.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And that's why we have so much respect here, kind of everyone that works here for other people that just do it every day, just get it done, right. That's the ultimate, that's the highest level because it's easy to talk about it, it's easy to do, one day, two days, three days. It's really hard to bring the heat everyday like DHD brings.

Dave: Every day. That's a good nickname for Danielle. Somebody in iTunes, they wrote a review. They called her Daniella.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: We're going to have to crosstalk.

Speaker 1: Come on.

Dave: Come on, man.

Speaker 1: Come on. No swag for you. crosstalk.

Dave: It's a good effort, keep it simple. That's somebody who tried to make her name more complicated than it actually is, Daniella.

Speaker 1: DHD brings the heat everyday.

Dave: Yeah. All right. So those are a couple of leadership lessons, but honestly, we want you to go read this book, go listen to it, go check it out. And so we haven't done this in a little bit, so we're going to give away some books.

Speaker 1: Yeah. But before you crosstalk the book.

Dave: Oh.

Speaker 1: You need to head on over to iTunes.

Dave: Oh, okay.

Speaker 1: Leave either six or five- star review, up to you, you decide, right. Six would be better.

Dave: Somebody actually wrote," This is from N. Bremble from Canada." The title of this person's review says six/ five stars.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Dave: iTunes. Won't let you give five, so this person gave six.

Speaker 1: Okay, give six?

Dave: Yeah.

Speaker 1: And six or five stars.

Dave: Whatever you want.

Speaker 1: Whatever you want, it's up to you, leave those. Shout out, DHD, Amy, in the comments, win a prize. By the way, last night I was... Jamie. This is for you.

Dave: Sup Jamie.

Speaker 1: Jamie. So I had dinner last night. Jamie is a venture capitalist that I know here in Boston. It was a pretty small dinner.

Dave: The VCs listen to this podcast.

Speaker 1: He says he listens to it every day.

Dave: Jamie.

Speaker 1: Jamie listens to it on his commute.

Dave: Good.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And on his way up to Vermont every weekend with his family, crosstalk. But Jamie told me he hasn't left me a five- star review yet.

Dave: Oh, my goodness.

Speaker 1: All right. So Jamie, you need to get on it. And he was pimping us to everyone else at the dinner. What's up Michael Simon from LogMeIn.

Dave: You got all the names out there on Seeking Wisdom. So look, you're in the company, you are who you surround yourself with every day and that's this community, of people on Seeking Wisdom. So do that, and then let's do this.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Dave: While you're listening to this episode, you had to made it all the way till here, right.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Dave: Take a screenshot on your phone, not on the computer, on your phone. Screenshot on your phone. Tweet that you have to tag @ Drift, and you have to use the hashtag, Seeking Wisdom.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Dave: The first five people that do that, when we post this episode, we're going to hit you up. We'll get into your DMs.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: We'll send you a copy of this book, Extreme Ownership, so you can learn all the things that we learned, and we'll hook you up with a bunch of inaudible.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm(affirmative). Man. inaudible generous.

Dave: Think about that.

Speaker 1: Slow down, dude.

Dave: This podcast is free, everything that we do here is free, the product even starts at free.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: And we're going to give away books on top of this.

Speaker 1: Data. How are we going to measure ROI?

Dave: I don't know, we'll talk about the budget after crosstalk.

Speaker 1: Budget is blown.

Dave: It's gone away. All right. So this is one shout out this week, this is a really short one. This is from Pasttwooff from Australia.

Speaker 1: Man. inaudible

Dave: They said," Listen to 30 episodes in less than a week, completely addicted." Enough said.

Speaker 1: What's up. All right, Jamie, I'm talking to you five- star review. Let's see it.

Dave: See ya.

Speaker 1: See ya.


There are so many great leadership lessons to learn from Jocko Willink & Leif Babin's book Extreme Ownership, and that's what we're talking about today: leadership lessons from a Navy Seal. And remember: it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.

Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show:

1. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

2. Leave us a six-star review.

3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter.

4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.