#80: Why DC Sent His Co-Founder to Meet Jocko Willink

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This is a podcast episode titled, #80: Why DC Sent His Co-Founder to Meet Jocko Willink. The summary for this episode is: <p>"You’re going to Austin to see Jocko." That’s what DC told his co-founder Elias (Drift’s CTO) a few weeks ago. They’ve started two companies together over the last 10 years, and last week, DC sent Elias to go see Jocko Willink— the same Jocko that we talked about on episode #72 Leadership Lessons From A Navy Seal. And now that Elias is back, we had to have him on Seeking Wisdom to tell the whole story, including why he’s been getting up at 4:30 AM ever since. </p><p><br></p><p>PS. You can follow Elias on Instagram @EliasTorres Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the podcast: 1. Get your tickets to Hypergrowth using the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM at hypergrowth.drift.com 2. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 3. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only.</p>

Dave Gerhardt: What's up everybody, on this episode of Seeking Wisdom we're doing something a little different. It's episode number 80, and for the first time we are bringing David's co- founder, Drift CTO, Elias Torres, on the podcast. We've talked about him a bunch. You may remember a story from the first time Elias did CrossFit and threw up. I think he threw up. Let's just go with that. So anyway, him and David had been working together for 10 years. They've started two companies together, but last week David sent Elias down to Austin, Texas for a three- day training with Jocko Willink. He is the Navy SEAL that we actually talked about a couple of episodes ago. The author of Extreme Ownership, DC sent Elias down to Austin for this training and he came back a changed man. And that's exactly what we're going to talk about today. So I just want to give you a little context before we hop in. This was a lot of fun, Elias is an awesome guy, loved having him on with us and can't wait for you to hear about his trip and what he learned. Don't forget Hypergrowth, September 25th in Boston, it's heating up, we can't wait to see everybody there. Go to hypergrowth.drift.com and you can get your tickets with the promo code seeking wisdom.

Elias Torres: I do that, I show up at peoples podcasts.

Dave Gerhardt: That's not true.

David Cancel: It's absolutely true. He has not heard one-

Elias Torres: I have not heard one.

Dave Gerhardt: You have listened to a single episode.

Elias Torres: A single episode.

David Cancel: That's who this person is.

Dave Gerhardt: Unbelievable. I can't even believe that, that's possible.

David Cancel: You haven't known him long enough.

Dave Gerhardt: The hype around this.

David Cancel: You have not known him long enough.

Elias Torres: It wasn't until I went to Austin and the guy he knew about Seeking Wisdom-

Dave Gerhardt: Oh that guy, the fan.

Elias Torres: The fan.

David Cancel: That he was like, oh okay-

Dave Gerhardt: I should pay attention to this.

Elias Torres: Yep.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

Elias Torres: It's real.

David Cancel: Wow. See we inaudible.

Dave Gerhardt: Don't worry. I got my notes. Okay. We're good to go, we're recording every-

David Cancel: You sure you're recording?

Dave Gerhardt: Everything works.

David Cancel: How come it's not blinking?

Dave Gerhardt: Elias is here.

Elias Torres: What's the SOP?

Dave Gerhardt: SOP-

Elias Torres: Standard operating procedures.

Dave Gerhardt: Unfortunately it's here-

David Cancel: It's weak. They don't have a checklist.

Elias Torres: We can't do that... Jocko once said it's here.

Dave Gerhardt: I know.

David Cancel: Do you could do-

Elias Torres: It needs to be written.

David Cancel: You think you could do the OODA loop with no checklist?

Dave Gerhardt: Uh- uh( negative).

David Cancel: We're going to have a-

Dave Gerhardt: There's no way, okay I have a question. This is your first, this is Elias's first time on here.

David Cancel: On a podcast.

Dave Gerhardt: Before we get into what we're going to get into. How long have you-

Elias Torres: That makes sense.

Dave Gerhardt: How long have you known DC?

Elias Torres: I've know DC for almost 10 years now.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay. So the listeners of the show-

Elias Torres: Pretentious.

Dave Gerhardt: ...which there are a lot, there are a lot of listeners of this show, almost 20, 000 a month now.

David Cancel: Don't give out those numbers.

Dave Gerhardt: Oh sorry my bad. I didn't mean to give that out. Erase that part. What's something that listeners should know about DC?

David Cancel: Ah come on man what's going on here?

Dave Gerhardt: That you've learned over 10 years.

David Cancel: Hold on, cut.

Dave Gerhardt: Come on we got to break the ice. We got to get you loose.

David Cancel: Tell them the story about like the pool, swimming.

Dave Gerhardt: The swimming?

Elias Torres: Oh yeah.

David Cancel: He told this the other day, I didn't the story from 10 years ago.

Dave Gerhardt: You guys what is it?

David Cancel: 10 years ago.

Elias Torres: I was inclined to not say the story that he's talking to-

Dave Gerhardt: What is it?

Elias Torres: ....but I'll tell you the story.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

Elias Torres: So one thing you might not know about us is that he's the introvert, I'm the extrovert, right?

Dave Gerhardt: Okay, oh yeah.

Elias Torres: And so you know I strive with social relationships, right?

Dave Gerhardt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Elias Torres: So when I was leaving IBM to join DC for Lookery I had to follow him on something. I don't think it was Instagram. I don't think Instagram was around-

David Cancel: Twitter.

Elias Torres: It was Twitter or something.

Dave Gerhardt: There wasn't Twitter then.

Elias Torres: Yeah.

David Cancel: Of course there was.

Dave Gerhardt: There was?

David Cancel: I'm OG-

Dave Gerhardt: '09,'07oh maybe'07.

Elias Torres: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

Elias Torres: So what happened-

David Cancel: Just go play yourself-

Elias Torres: So he posted a picture of him on the beach in Plum island right.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

Elias Torres: And I used to go to that beach. And so when I first joined him, I was thinking, hey like it's a startup of like five people in Massachusetts. I figure we spend time together and we'll go to the beach right. On my first conversation with DC on the job, DC starts telling me about some guy at his previous company that always wanted to go with him to the beach and his family. And DC is like, no, I'm not going to the beach with you, I work with you. I have my personal, private life-

Dave Gerhardt: It's different.

Elias Torres: I'm a very introverted, you know close person. And that was the beginning of our relationship, when I realized never offer DC to go to the beach.

Dave Gerhardt: No. That's great.

David Cancel: Never.

Dave Gerhardt: That's great.

David Cancel: DG never asked me to go to the beach.

Dave Gerhardt: No, I never ask.

Elias Torres: We've only spent time together once with our families in 10 years.

Dave Gerhardt: Once.

Elias Torres: Once.

David Cancel: That's a true story.

Dave Gerhardt: Amen.

David Cancel: Amen.

Dave Gerhardt: I love it. All right.

David Cancel: That's how you keep relationships alive.

Dave Gerhardt: I love it. That's a perfect place to start. All right so DC, I want you to kick this off because we have Elias because he just came back from an unbelievable journey you sent-

Elias Torres: The journey just begun.

Dave Gerhardt: The journey has just begun. You sent him down to Austin, Texas. It's funny because we had just done a podcast on this book a couple of weeks ago-

David Cancel: What's that book?

Dave Gerhardt: ...about Jocko. It's called Extreme Ownership. Go and read it, check it out. Elias had not read the book.

David Cancel: No surprise.

Elias Torres: I still have not read the book.

Dave Gerhardt: Still has not read the book. Never heard of Jocko.

Elias Torres: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: So what happened, where did this idea come from?

David Cancel: So I've been, I read this book when it first came out, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin-

Elias Torres: It's Leif.

David Cancel: Leif Babin, and-

Elias Torres: crosstalk

Dave Gerhardt: What's up

Dave Gerhardt: Leif.

David Cancel: And it's about taking ownership. Everything that he talks about here is what I think about. And I had heard about him on a podcast about a year ago, and I knew he held kind of leadership training, about a few times a year, right? And this is two ex Navy SEALs, commanders here, hardcore training. And so I thought who here needs the most structure and discipline, the man sitting next to me, Elias Torres. So I signed him up, because I know him so well-

Dave Gerhardt: Of course.

David Cancel: I signed him up to go to this event in Austin, Texas. And I knew that he would not even spend five minutes before landing and arriving there-

Dave Gerhardt: Prepping.

David Cancel: ...even finding out what the conference was about. So I sent him there knowing that they were going to wake them up at 4: 30 AM, have them do an exercise, running around. And ideally the last day there was supposed to be a Brazilian jujitsu event. And I thought, I could picture it, it was worth sending him alone to-

Dave Gerhardt: To picture that.

David Cancel: ...picture of him getting strangled by a 350 pound Navy SEAL.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay. What actually, before we get into this though, like how did this actually happen? Did he call you and say, "Yo I want you to go to this thing." Did he text you and say, " I've been thinking I want to", like how did you actually get there?

Elias Torres: I don't know, I think he just sent me a slack and just said, you're going to this conference.

David Cancel: And he was like okay.

Dave Gerhardt: There was no discussion.

Elias Torres: That's the thing about me though I'm very obedient.

Dave Gerhardt: You are.

Elias Torres: I'm open to learning. I listen and I-

David Cancel: None of those things are true.

Dave Gerhardt: No, the only thing that matched there was, the only thing that I agree with that where I thought he was going to say was he's very spontaneous.

Elias Torres: Yes.

Dave Gerhardt: Right? So like I'm not surprised that you said-

Elias Torres: I'm a procrastinator.

Dave Gerhardt: ... you'regoing to Austin tomorrow, and he was like, sure.

David Cancel: Okay.

Elias Torres: No, no, I'm a procrastinator, I just don't think about this. He told me like two months ago.

Dave Gerhardt: Oh so you've known for a while you were going to-

Elias Torres: Yeah he said-

David Cancel: But he never researched it.

Elias Torres: He said, you're going to this conference and Alicia was doing all the bookings.

Dave Gerhardt: And you thought it was some-

Elias Torres: I never even thought about it.

Dave Gerhardt: Did you think it was some corny like training thing?

Elias Torres: I thought it was like a tough mudder or something?

David Cancel: It's amazing. Amazing dude. He had no idea. So he went and we're going to get into what he learned when going.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, because we're laughing a lot right now this is going to be great, but there are a bunch of amazing lessons. I know you called me on Saturday and you just talked for 40 minutes straight. And I was like, this is something that we need to talk about on Seeking Wisdom.

David Cancel: Absolutely.

Dave Gerhardt: And I sent you a message right after, and you're like, I had the exact same thought.

David Cancel: Yeah. And I had sent a message to the SLT team here before he went and said, " I apologize in advance, Elias will come back more obnoxious than he is now" after this conference.

Dave Gerhardt: That is-

David Cancel: Because he's going to come back with military terms, Navy SEALs.

Dave Gerhardt: Yes. He already, he has the wristband from Jocko.

David Cancel: He got the wristband. Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: What does it say?

Elias Torres: Get after it.

Dave Gerhardt: So he has been transformed.

David Cancel: All right lets dive in here, people got to know.

Dave Gerhardt: All right so-

Elias Torres: But everyone was surprised, even Jocko was surprised, because I missed my flight on Thursday and-

David Cancel: Natural.

Elias Torres: ...I almost thought, no, it was not me. It was a hurricane in New York.

David Cancel: Oh okay.

Elias Torres: But the connection, and so I was like, should I go to this conference? It's one of those things, I've rarely been to a conference where I have like sat down and said, I'm going to go to this session, I'm going to this session. Anyway so I almost didn't go. Alicia gets me another flight early in the morning, so I actually missed the first half of the first day.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

Elias Torres: So I landed in Texas, I take an Uber, no, a Fasten, and I showed up at this spa in Austin. It's like 140 degree weather I think, it was really, really hot. And then I walk into the spa and I'm like, is there a conference here? And everyone's in bathrobes, and like getting massages and stuff-

Dave Gerhardt: You're like this is nice.

Elias Torres: ... and they'relike conference is down to the right and left. So I'm excited at the beginning thinking, you know maybe it's-

David Cancel: crosstalk hooked me up. Spa vacation.

Dave Gerhardt: You need to unplug.

David Cancel: Never, never happen.

Elias Torres: Some silent meditation camp or something. And so when I get there, I walk into this room, this big auditorium right with about, I don't know, over 500 people and then there's Leif and Jocko on stage.

Dave Gerhardt: So you had no idea.

David Cancel: He didn't know who they were.

Dave Gerhardt: Never seen either?

Elias Torres: I've never ever seen either of them, I haven't read the book. I don't know what Extreme Ownership is. I don't know the guy has a podcast.

Dave Gerhardt: It's amazing.

Elias Torres: And I don't even know their names, because I'm trying to piece all these things together. And when I look around everyone is jacked, the arm-

Dave Gerhardt: Sleeves.

Elias Torres: ...sleeves, tattoos, the haircuts. I'm like, what am I doing here?

Dave Gerhardt: How many people were there you think?

Elias Torres: 500.

Dave Gerhardt: 500. How many CTOs were there?

Elias Torres: None.

Dave Gerhardt: You were the only one.

David Cancel: They're all jacked militaries-

Dave Gerhardt: The only SAS guy.

Elias Torres: Everyone is like firefighters, ex- military, construction workers. It was an interesting crowd. They say they have had different crowds in the different towns. And I heard my first talk and I'm like, oh my God this is just full of gems here. I get it. I understand what they're talking about. They make sense. I can use this information. So I was so excited that after the first talk, people were asking questions and I saw people come up to Jocko, Jocko stayed on stage answering questions from people, they were standing in line. So everyone went to lunch and I stayed there. And that's when I got my picture that I sent you. I got a picture with Jocko.

Dave Gerhardt: Well right about now if you're watching on video we'll show all these photos.

Elias Torres: And so what happened was that, and I tell him the story, yes, I'm here, I'm in tech, startups, My partner sent me here. I didn't know who you were. And he's like, " What?" And he's like, " You don't know who we were? You haven't read the book." And so this became my icebreaker with everyone I met in this conference.

Dave Gerhardt: inaudible

David Cancel: Because they're like, who is this guy who just shows up at this conference, doesn't know anything?

Dave Gerhardt: Talking to everybody.

David Cancel: Doesn't know who Jocko is, it's like what are we talking about?

Elias Torres: I met this woman, she lives in Pensacola and she buys real estate all over the United States. And she's like, " You definitely look like a techie."

David Cancel: Show him on camera now, let's get into those gems though.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, all right let's get ... Yeah, so there's a couple of different nuggets and places that we could go. But like the biggest, I would say the biggest thing was we've had a lot of conversations, you know especially YouTube, millions of hours on the phone about like scaling the team.

David Cancel: Yep.

Dave Gerhardt: Right, and as we continue to grow this business what needs to change, and it sounded like you got something really interesting about, there's like a message that we've kind of been hammering home. Like how do you scale the culture? How do you scale a team? And you kind of, that was the big takeaway for me, from what I heard from you.

Elias Torres: There's just so many takeaways. I think I'm trying to figure out, one of the things that really... One of the people went and asked a question and they say, " How do I deal with the ... How to create a sense of urgency? How do I deal with people that are not as motivated? To do their job? How do I get people to take ownership of this stuff?" And that's something that every leader, every startup co- founders is always asking themselves, how do you instill this in individuals? And like I said, I haven't read the book, but one of the chapters in here, it says there is no bad teams, only bad leaders. And that's when I realized that we really in order to scale this company we have to become better leaders. And it's not just about, we are self motivated, we are energized to do this. We're on this mission to change marketing and change how businesses communicate with their customers. But sometimes we feel like our team doesn't feel the same way.

David Cancel: DG.

Elias Torres: Right?

Dave Gerhardt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Cancel: DG.

Dave Gerhardt: Excuse me.

David Cancel: I'm sorry crosstalk my throat.

Elias Torres: So one of the examples was that he talked about discipline equals freedom, and he's big into the word dichotomy-

David Cancel: Me too.

Elias Torres: ...because you know David has both.

David Cancel: Yeah. So backstory is that Elias has been fighting me for 10 years on dichotomy. Basically I always say that you have to do both right?

Dave Gerhardt: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

David Cancel: And this violates engineer mindset.

Dave Gerhardt: Right so as an example, it'd be like-

Elias Torres: It's only a zero or a one.

Dave Gerhardt: Yes.

Elias Torres: It can't be both.

Dave Gerhardt: Like a product it needs to be, we need to ship really fast, and it also needs to be amazing.

David Cancel: Yes.

Dave Gerhardt: And most people don't, it's like well David you can pick one. It could either be fast or it can be amazing.

David Cancel: And I say I pick both. And that drives Elias crazy. So it's funny he goes there and now he's transformed, he comes back and he's like, he's all about dichotomies, which he's fought for a decade.

Elias Torres: Life is a dichotomy.

David Cancel: That's what I've been saying.

Elias Torres: And so what happens like he explained this and he said that if you want freedom, like let's say you want financial freedom, you need to exercise financial discipline. Like everyone just wants like, oh I want to be able to do whatever I want, instead he's like, you're going to have to work hard in order to do what you want. And so he instills as a leader that you have to explain the why, what's the mission? Why you're doing what we're doing. And I think that those are the areas that we can improve Drift right? In saying in working with every single person in the team and say, okay this is why we're doing this. And you want freedom, you want to have autonomy, you want to have ownership? Then take the ownership by exercising discipline. If you are disciplined you're going to have more ownership and freedom into what you do. And I think that that is really at the core of how we can scale Drift for the next few years.

David Cancel: And what do you think... What did he say taking ownership means?

Elias Torres: Taking ownership, it was, look my personality is very simple. If I have too much stress on me I can rationalize and say, oh it was because of that. It was because of the servers died. It was not my code. It was because it's the 4th of July and so people are off and they're not buying. I can always figure out a reason why it's not my fault.

David Cancel: And what does Jocko say?

Elias Torres: Jocko says, you got to take ownership.

Dave Gerhardt: It was actually-

David Cancel: Extreme ownership.

Dave Gerhardt: There's something buried in there, because there's something that you say every Friday night at this management meeting that we have-

David Cancel: But he can't hear me, because I'm not Jocko-

Dave Gerhardt: You say, don't get defensive.

David Cancel: Exactly.

Dave Gerhardt: Right? And this is the, it's the same thing right?

Elias Torres: Absolutely. But he says it in a better way, don't get-

David Cancel: See, see what I say.

Elias Torres: Is the right appropriate way of saying that.

Dave Gerhardt: There's a way.

Elias Torres: I think he wants us to take ownership and say, he says, if you have a bad boss and the bad boss tells you, you got to do 10 things, it's your job as one of the tenants of the laws of combat is prioritize and execute. You got to make the decision yourself, you prioritize and you go do the first thing.

David Cancel: And do you blame?

Elias Torres: You're not going to blame the boss and say, oh he gives me 10 things. Oh I got a bad boss, it's terrible. He's asking me to do both.

Dave Gerhardt: That's actually one of the-

Elias Torres: That's extreme ownership-

Dave Gerhardt: ...this is like could be written by you. That's actually one of the things that you hammer on all the time right? What do you say, you say what's the worst answer somebody could give you? I don't know.

David Cancel: I don't know.

Dave Gerhardt: Right.

David Cancel: That's the worst answer.

Dave Gerhardt: So if I said you, you gave me 10 things I can prioritize, you say, why? I just say I don't know. So the best answer though is you say, well DC I pick these two things, because of X, Y, and Z. I didn't do the other eight because I decided to focus. And you're like, okay, cool. Sounds great.

David Cancel: Awesome.

Elias Torres: Sounds good.

David Cancel: So that was, you know we've talked about one thing in the past here is that you have to repeat yourself over and over, and you have to hear it from different people, because it's going to take someone saying it in just the right way for it to get to you. And so even though I've been saying everything in this book here to Elias here for years, in different ways, it took Jocko saying it in a better way for Elias, for him to resonate with extreme ownership, checking the ego, prioritizing and executing, decentralized command, all of the stuff that you see in here we've talked about in different ways, but you need to hear it from the right person at the right time, in the right context for it to get through to you.

Elias Torres: The reason is I went up to the mountain to bring this tablet for you to read it. No, but you need to-

David Cancel: It is true.

Dave Gerhardt: There's so many lessons in there that we've talked about on Seeking Wisdom all the time right?

David Cancel: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: Which is like, why you read books? Why you listen to podcasts? Because it might be, in reality we say this all the time, every business book says the same-

David Cancel: Same thing.

Dave Gerhardt: ...freaking three things, but it's just in the right context at the right time that you hit it. So maybe you knew you weren't going to learn anything new at this conference, but sending him to hear it from Jocko-

David Cancel: Different voice.

Dave Gerhardt: Different voice.

David Cancel: Yeah. And he came back and tell him, we'll talk about the muster in a second.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay.

David Cancel: But he's also come back and started to take notes. And so we have photos that we'll post of the notes that he took on the bag of a restaurant around here. You know he wrote some notes there that I think we're incorporating into our onboarding here.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.

Elias Torres: Well that's what I can now do, because I get up early in the morning.

David Cancel: Oh why did you start that?

Elias Torres: I get up so I can attack the day.

David Cancel: Okay.

Dave Gerhardt: How many, all right so this is-

David Cancel: How many times have we talked about getting up early in the morning?

Dave Gerhardt: ... real. We're recording this here,we're recording every day.

Elias Torres: What time do you get up DC?

David Cancel: 5:00 AM.

Elias Torres: I get up at 4: 30.

Dave Gerhardt: He's 4: 30.

David Cancel: All right.

Dave Gerhardt: That's pretty good.

David Cancel: And what was the muster? Tell the people about the muster.

Elias Torres: The muster. So yeah there's this thing, there's this word I cannot even pronounce this in French, I think is like the bugle sound, and that's like at 4: 30, 4: 45 we met at the tennis courts.

David Cancel: This is at the event.

Elias Torres: At the event right. So it was such a huge lesson on discipline, because the night before we had just finished this barbecue and we came back and there was a whole bunch of people at the bar at the spa. And I was ready, you know-

David Cancel: To party.

Dave Gerhardt: Get to have a couple of drinks-

Elias Torres: Get a couple of drinks-

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.

Elias Torres: You know

Elias Torres: what I'm saying.

David Cancel: Get loose.

Elias Torres: Get loose you know, talk to some people, the extrovert. But then I thought about it and I said, I have to get up early. I had to get up at 4: 30. So I better go to bed.

Dave Gerhardt: Did you?

Elias Torres: I went to bed.

David Cancel: So Jocko made everyone at the conference get up at 4: 30 AM for what he calls the muster to work out outside at 4: 30 AM to teach them that there's no excuse for not working out every day. Whether you have no equipment, no weights, no equipment, no training that you can get after it in the morning.

Dave Gerhardt: Every day.

David Cancel: Yeah.

Elias Torres: He has an awesome YouTube clip on why he gets up at 4: 30. But we get there-

Dave Gerhardt: What's your inaudible tell us for the people that aren't going to go listen to it. What's the reason he gets up at 4: 30?

Elias Torres: It's something that I've experienced now in my life. So he says, who's going to-

David Cancel: Since last week.

Elias Torres: ...go work out at 4:30-

Dave Gerhardt: No one.

Elias Torres: ... inthe afternoon.

Dave Gerhardt: Right.

Elias Torres: Who can do that? You have family, you have jobs, you have interruptions, you have responsibilities, you have traffic. It's just impossible to do that. And so he says, you got to do it at 4: 30 when everyone else is sleeping, including the enemy. And so he's like, that another thing about Jocko, Jocko is obsessed with the enemy. And I think that, that's very important.

David Cancel: There's a lesson in here.

Elias Torres: There's a huge lesson.

Dave Gerhardt: Save that, let's come back to that. Keep talking about, so the 4: 30-

Elias Torres: 4: 30-

Dave Gerhardt: ...that's the only time in the day that you actually have to yourself, everybody at night wants to get drinks. You got to go meet with investors, recruiting, whatever, team, people want to party. Nobody's asking you to do that at 4:30 in the morning.

David Cancel: Nobody.

Elias Torres: It's amazing, there's just no one around at 4: 30 in the morning.

Dave Gerhardt: Okay so you've done this ever since, you've gotten up at 4: 30 every day-

Elias Torres: Since I came back.

Dave Gerhardt: Is it hard?

Elias Torres: Yeah. So I was getting up around 6: 30, so this is two hours earlier. It's been tough, I've been doing a lot of yawning. I'm going to confess, the first day I did it I was in Cape Cod, I had just driven almost 24 hours up awake, coming back from Austin. I wake up at 4: 30 the following day and I go do the exercises that I did at the conference. So I follow the same routine, I found this app on the iPhone that can keep track of the intervals and the timing. And so I went and did it on the beach, it was amazing. The sunrise was coming up. It was exhausting. I was so tired, because I got up at 4: 30 and I exercised, that I came back to the house I showered and I fell asleep again.

David Cancel: This is not what Jocko would do.

Elias Torres: I did it though, I got up-

David Cancel: Jocko inaudible.

Elias Torres: I got up, that was my first day, and it's been a progression. Every day, I am tired, it hits me. But today is my best day so far, I got up, I drove into town, I did my yoga class at the gym.

David Cancel: Six AM yoga.

Dave Gerhardt: Amazing. I saw, I've been watching... Are you going to bed earlier? Is anything different?

Elias Torres: Absolutely. Every day now I run home, it's like-

David Cancel: He's like DC now.

Dave Gerhardt: Got to go to bed.

Elias Torres: It's 9: 30 and I'm like I got to go home, I got to go to bed. It's like I can't stay up. It's like 10 30 I'm freaking out, because I know it's going to hurt me. And so I think that that discipline, it's the fact that it's more work the night before to get up early, than the day itself.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah totally.

David Cancel: Yeah.

Elias Torres: And the other thing is that I saw in Jocko, if you follow him on Instagram, he posts a picture every day-

Dave Gerhardt: Every day.

Elias Torres: ... ofhis watch, getting up right.

Dave Gerhardt: Accountability.

Elias Torres: Getting after it, accountability. And I've been doing that, I've been doing it as an Instagram story. And so like I know a lot of you guys are watching and saying like, okay did he do it? Is he still waking up at 4: 30?

David Cancel: What's your Instagram name?

Elias Torres: Elias Torres.

David Cancel: E-L- I- A- S Torres, follow him and make sure to keep him accountable.

Dave Gerhardt: Keep him accountable.

David Cancel: If you don't see it everyday coming across please send him a message and let me know so that we can get-

Dave Gerhardt: I love it.

Elias Torres: So that's really what makes me get up, right? Like I have to do it. I need to show that I have discipline, because what I want is freedom.

Dave Gerhardt: Because you have that, those are hours in the day. You have kids, right?

Elias Torres: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: You have three kids, you got to work. You got to do all this other stuff. Those are two hours in the day that you basically got as bonus time now.

Elias Torres: Yeah. Because before I would get up, but what I would get up at 6: 30, but the focus at that moment is get the kids ready, take them to school-

Dave Gerhardt: It's instant chaos once you wake up.

Elias Torres: ... its instant chaos,I get up and we were on the go, and there's no time to do anything for myself.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.

Elias Torres: But at 4: 30 I just gave myself two hours that I wasn't really using them at night, and it was a waste of time anyway.

Dave Gerhardt: DC is so happy.

David Cancel: I'm so happy.

Dave Gerhardt: It's unbelievable.

David Cancel: So happy.

Dave Gerhardt: It's got to feel amazing.

David Cancel: We're converting person-

Elias Torres: Next thing I know I'm going to shave my head.

Dave Gerhardt: This wasn't intentional.

David Cancel: One person at a time we're converting into that morning ritual.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah. All right, so a couple of other things. All right, so you started to down this path about he's obsessed with the enemy, right? Explain that.

Elias Torres: Yeah, I think that I was telling, I was talking to all the older Jocko followers, the disciples at the conference, and it was crazy-

David Cancel: The band of brothers.

Elias Torres: ...because everyone over there, no, I'm just saying like everyone attending, it's just like huge fans. There's people that have gone to multiple times to the same conference. And they were kind of like surprised and upset that I didn't know who he was right?

David Cancel: Yeah.

Elias Torres: But one of the things that I was learning there is that, I kept saying to some people, I don't think I'm a disciplined individual. I think I'm just pure energy. I improvise, I'm a spontaneous person. But they kept saying to me, no, you must be disciplined, because look at what you've done and look how hard you work.

David Cancel: You didn't tell them about me?

Elias Torres: No.

David Cancel: I am the discipline in his life.

Dave Gerhardt: He's like yeah, he's like I just-

David Cancel: He's got two sources of discipline in his life, his wife and me. So me calling him at 6: 30 in the morning, ring, ring, ring, where are you?

Dave Gerhardt: Fuck.

David Cancel: I'm going to work. What's going on?

Dave Gerhardt: Are you coming?

David Cancel: Are you coming?

Elias Torres: Where are you?

David Cancel: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: Like it's 6: 30 what do you mean where am I?

David Cancel: I have to make sure that he actually comes, because he might be spontaneous somewhere else.

Elias Torres: Like at home I'm not like the working guy, it's not like I get up on Saturday and I'm going to go fix the garage door and like-

David Cancel: No.

Elias Torres: ...get the leaks or hang frames on the wall. Definitely not that type of guy. Like I'd rather go hang out with other people-

David Cancel: Kite board.

Elias Torres: But at work I'm focused. I work every day.

Dave Gerhardt: For sure.

Elias Torres: So I have discipline, but I didn't realize that it's just a discipline that it's built inside of me. But the reality is you need to focus on something externally, right?

David Cancel: What about the enemy?

Elias Torres: And so with the enemy is that, first of all you got to keep your ego in check. You got to respect the enemy-

David Cancel: Heard that DG, respect the enemy.

Elias Torres: You got to be confident. You can not be cocky. You got to be humble. You can't be passive.

David Cancel: See the dichotomies everywhere.

Dave Gerhardt: I'm just reading your notes. He said, you blow up the enemy's ego to disarm them. That's interesting.

Elias Torres: That's a inaudible-

Dave Gerhardt: Okay we're getting there-

Elias Torres: That's a special-

Dave Gerhardt: We're getting there later-

David Cancel: A side op.

Elias Torres: You're confusing the notes here, but what we're focusing with the enemy is that you respect the enemy and you prepare and you plan for battle at all times. And you don't know what the enemy might be doing so you need to find out every possible thing that the enemy could do.

David Cancel: Which is very different, because our natural tendency is to disrespect the enemy, to discount the enemy.

Dave Gerhardt: Fuck those guys, who cares.

David Cancel: Yeah forgot those guys.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.

David Cancel: But he came back saying, we're going to respect the enemy.

Elias Torres: We respect the enemy. And we know we can beat them.

Dave Gerhardt: Right.

Elias Torres: Right, we know we can do that, but we're still not going to disrespect and under prepare, under plan for the war.

Dave Gerhardt: So a lot of people that listen to this are, you know they work in startups, they're business people, how did you translate that lesson into like what we can do at Drift? Because you know at the end of the day we have enemies right, but we don't have enemies like Jocko has enemies. So what did you take away from the whole?

Elias Torres: That's not what Jocko says.

Dave Gerhardt: Tell me.

Elias Torres: We do have enemies. Of course. He says he gets up every morning and he's thinking about his competitors and I don't think this guy has a competitor right? Because he has a very unique proposition-

Dave Gerhardt: For sure.

Elias Torres: ...but at the end of the day he's competing with many other gurus that could come to a company and do training, right?

Dave Gerhardt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Elias Torres: And so he has to get after it, it's that discipline that makes him get up, prepare, workout, and do more work. There was a story where he's talking about a bad boss or somebody talking smack in the company and you're like not getting the promotion or something. And he says, this is my technique. You ignore them. And you outwork them. And this guy goes, you work and you work and you work, and you work until this guy has nothing else to talk about except that you out worked them to death. And so this is the mindset, right? And so I think we-

Dave Gerhardt: All right but that's the, I mean DC, we could send him off on a bomb right now, because this is a-

David Cancel: I just hold him back.

Dave Gerhardt: ...topic that we've talked about a lot. Is that today there's a big sense of entitlement, right? Especially in the-

David Cancel: Don't get me started bro.

Dave Gerhardt: ...in the industry that we live in. So you're saying his approach is like-

Elias Torres: I'm getting another one of those seltzers but no name, no name brand.

Dave Gerhardt: No name brand, crack one of those, it's just a seltzer if you're listening at all.

David Cancel: Generic seltzer, because I haven't gotten my free case of seltzer yet from that company I mentioned before.

Dave Gerhardt: It's a shame, we just plug them. All we do is plug them. But the point is like you take the discipline, out work them instead of saying, oh why that person's been here? Like same reason you say I don't want to do promotions based on time right?

David Cancel: Yeah I hate it.

Dave Gerhardt: Just because somebody has been here for a year doesn't mean you just automatically get more money and get a promotion.

David Cancel: That works at the post office.

Elias Torres: Another thing about the enemy is that he mentioned that you always have to be planning. And the reality is that you might be understaffed or you might have less resources than the enemy, but there's one thing that you can always beat them on. And that's on aggressiveness.

Dave Gerhardt: So this is where he said the default to aggressive.

Elias Torres: Default aggressive. I need to read the book again. They just use this thing called default aggressive, when you act in the OODA loop, which is observe, orient, decide and act. When you take in that last step, you know when you're taking the action, you need to choose to always act default aggressive.

David Cancel: Woo OODA loop.

Dave Gerhardt: Sorry, so what do you take out of that? Like how does that translate back to what we do every day?

David Cancel: I love the OODA loop and I love that concept, because I think there's the simple way that I think about is like there's a time to do retrospective. I forgot, the debrief-

Elias Torres: The debrief.

David Cancel: Do the debrief-

Elias Torres: That was more of a lesson on-

David Cancel: ...to go into like, should we do it this way? Should we have it that way? To kind of like have that discussion, but that's very different time and place from when you're in the midst of observing, orienting yourself, deciding on something and then taking action. When it's time to get after and go for it, go a 100% in and then know that you're going to have those other times right back to ebbs and flows where you're going to step back, assess and understand. Right?

Dave Gerhardt: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

David Cancel: And I think a lot of times we mix those things up and when it's a time to act we may be in a time of thinking, and you know observing and do retrospectives, when it's actually the time to act. So you just got to know how to take that-

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah, or just even in your day to day stuff like you could do, you could spend your day doing three things and doing them 15, 20% each. Or if you pick one thing, which we talked about all the time, the one then go in deep on that one thing.

David Cancel: Yeah, and hit it hard.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.

David Cancel: Go in and then take the time once you're outside of that loop to actually understand what you could have done better.

Elias Torres: I think you hear sometimes in the tech world, it's like how a lot of founders don't want to name their competitors right? And they're like-

Dave Gerhardt: Every time we talk, we were just talking about this. Oh no, we don't have competitors. This is a whole new market for us, right?

Elias Torres: inaudible oh it's niche, oh no they do this and we do it a slightly different. We don't really compete right? But that's not what Jocko says. Jocko has to have the focus, that external focus that there's always someone out there getting up earlier, preparing more than you possibly. And you need to be out doing them.

Dave Gerhardt: Right, even if we don't think we, even if you don't think there's a direct competitor there's something else competing for somebody's attention-

David Cancel: For sure.

Dave Gerhardt: ...time, mind, share, whatever it is. All right two other things, and then I want to wrap, so I want to talk about the debrief and I want to wrap up and talk about onboarding. So let's talk about the debrief, because this goes, when he started talking about the debrief, the first thing this reminded me of is Bill Walsh.

David Cancel: Yep.

Dave Gerhardt: Standard or performance right?

David Cancel: Yup, always.

Dave Gerhardt: After the game, breaking down the tape, everything.

David Cancel: And always having it,

Dave Gerhardt: Always.

David Cancel: The same performance. Right that that wasn't a time, it's not to be taken as criticism, but it's like we're going to every time we act, we're going to have time to learn from that action.

Dave Gerhardt: Totally.

Elias Torres: And I think we have a lot of those principles at Drift, I think that Jocko's book and outline it's given us more structure and that's where the paperback notes came from, that we need to structure this, because what happens is that in order to scale we can't have DC and myself explain every single instance to every single new team member every time that you join, for months explaining how we do things. But what happens and we've been pushing always to everyone to be very open and listen to feedback and not get defensive, you know as we like to say here. But the reality is that I was talking to this guy, David Burke, who is an even much bigger bad- ass than Jocko, he doesn't look it, he's like this skinny guy, but he brought in the most heat when he gave the talk on the OODA loop. He's a top gun fighter jet pilot, David Burke, which definitely I made a really good connection, because he's telling me this story over lunch, where he's done 400 landings out at sea with this fighter jets. And he said, most of them were good. Some were, very few were really, really good. Some were okay. Some were bad. But he never really crashed the plane, yet for every single landing he had a debrief.

David Cancel: For 400.

Elias Torres: 400 landings. And this guy is sitting down with a whole bunch of experts and professionals and going through every single step in the landing and identify small mistakes that he made in order so that he can get better.

Dave Gerhardt: Damn.

David Cancel: Damn.

Dave Gerhardt: You know what I'm thinking about?

David Cancel: What's that?

Dave Gerhardt: I do that sometimes.

David Cancel: Sometimes.

Dave Gerhardt: Like then that's the biggest change, right? Like we do it sometimes, the discipline to do it every single freaking time is what-

David Cancel: After 400 times.

Dave Gerhardt: ...that's the difference right?

David Cancel: Yup.

Elias Torres: And so I was like, how do we do this? How do we teach this? And I think what I got, you know pieces of the conversation that I had with Jocko and privately, and then David, is that I came up with what I think it's like I was sharing with David, three ways of giving feedback here to the team. The first one is that we are going to focus our time on creating a better training, onboarding process. That is when you first joined Drift, I got that this directly from Jocko, he says, train them, spend a day, two days, three days on showing everyone here that joins how do we do things here?

Dave Gerhardt: Wasn't there like a Colin Powell tweet or something, or something that he talked about that you've mentioned before about that?

David Cancel: Definitely. About investing, over investing in training.

Dave Gerhardt: Like if you tell somebody this is going to be hard as hell upfront that completely changes the expectation. Like I'm going to hammer on you, but if you've never had that expectation, setting it upfront sets the tone for how this is going to be.

David Cancel: And Colin Powell said in one of his books that what he would do with, and this was with the closest people to him, his aids, he had multiple aids, was that here's the training process that we have. For some of the amount of time I'm going to be micro- managing you on every single detail for months, every, the smallest detail. And then after that amount of time when you're starting to pick those up I'll start to pull away some more, but I'll still be involved. And then ultimately there's going to come a point where you have mastery, you've exhibited mastery, and then you'll barely see me. You're barely get feedback from me. And that is the progression that you're going to go through, but everyone's going to go through that super hands- on micromanage until they can almost like through osmosis and the learning, learn what the pattern is.

Dave Gerhardt: So like you both as founders getting super involved in onboarding now, right is the equivalent of that, right?

David Cancel: Yup.

Dave Gerhardt: You're like this is how we're going to scale this. It's going to be onboarding, it's going to be the first week whatever, we're going to throw it all on the table.

David Cancel: Yeah.

Elias Torres: And we recently had a group of HR professionals from Boston in with companies like as large as 250 people in some cases, and they had just hired for an HR position to create onboarding in the company. So we're going to start that much earlier at Drift. I created that onboarding process that is run by us to really teach people the why of the mission and how do we do things and teach this principles, like discipline equals freedom, taking ownership, right? So training is the first one, training before we start doing that. The second one is debriefing. Is that it's very different to say we're going to debrief and we're going to go talk about it. It's kind of like a retrospective, but it's happening after each mission. As soon as you get back in from the field, and that's the moment where you're going to go talk about mistakes, but it helps the individual to know that we're going to do that. And that is normal in this part of the process here at Drift. And so as I was pushing David for more like, you know ideas of how to implement this-

David Cancel: This David?

Elias Torres: No.

David Cancel: Or the other David?

Elias Torres: The bad- ass David.

David Cancel: Oh the bad- ass one. Not me.

Elias Torres: crosstalk

David Cancel: Yeah.

Elias Torres: And so what happened, what he said was he said, you as a leader need to debrief yourself in front of your people.

David Cancel: This is amazing.

Elias Torres: He's like next time you do something you take on your own individual mission. Then you do it in front of them and you criticize your own mistakes. It's not like, oh yeah I made a mistake like that before, but let's talk about your mistakes, instead he's like, you do it yourself and you show them that it's okay for you to talk about your own mistakes.

Dave Gerhardt: Why you love that?

David Cancel: I love it.

Dave Gerhardt: Why?

David Cancel: Why? Because it's the ultimate, because it fuses a bunch of things that we've talked about, the battle between ego and humility, the other one is kind of accelerating learning, which we're all about accelerating learning, AK Hypergrowth right? See you September 25th in Boston and get your tickets now Seeking Wisdom, promo code. But we're all about accelerated learning, and one of the best ways to accelerate your learning is to be critical, hypercritical about the stuff that you do.

Elias Torres: Yeah. And then the third one is that real time pounding as we called it during the conference, which is if somebody is making a mistake and you're in the middle of the battle, you never going to let that person blow up their face, if they're mishandling the gun.

David Cancel: You got to tell them.

Elias Torres: You got to tell them right there. No, you got to improve it. You're making a mistake. And so those are the three categories. I think if we explain them, if we take the discipline to deliver feedback in those ways it's going to be much easier and clearer for the whole team.

Dave Gerhardt: I love it. All right there's so much we could talk about, but you guys got to go. We got to get out of here.

David Cancel: All right.

Dave Gerhardt: Send us out of here.

David Cancel: So if you like this episode, go to Apple podcasts, they renamed it from iTunes.

Dave Gerhardt: Thank God.

David Cancel: I've been slipping and calling iTunes, Apple podcast app. You can do it on your mobile phone. Leave a six star review, if that fails observe, orient, decide, and then act on leaving a five star review. Shout out Amy and DHG. And if you like this guy here, Elias, and you want him back, if you could understand him, he didn't speak Spanglish. You know, I'm Spanglish too.

Dave Gerhardt: What happened like-

David Cancel: But like we'll have him back for some more.

Elias Torres: No bueno.

Dave Gerhardt: We'll have him back.

David Cancel: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: Elias you got anything to say-

David Cancel: Five star reviews only.

Dave Gerhardt: ...Hypergrowth.

Elias Torres: Do I have to go to another conference so I can get invited again?

Dave Gerhardt: You should be good.

David Cancel: You should be good. Yeah, we'll see.

Dave Gerhardt: We'll see.

David Cancel: We'll see if the people like you and then-

Dave Gerhardt: We'll debrief on this episode.

David Cancel: All right see everyone at Hypergrowth, September 25th-

Dave Gerhardt: It's heating up.

David Cancel: It's going to be real.

Dave Gerhardt: Heating up.

David Cancel: And you're going to meet Elias Torres in the flesh, and he's going to drop you some signs on OODA loops.

Elias Torres: Follow me on Instagram.

David Cancel: We'll link it up.

Elias Torres: inaudible waking up at 4: 44 in the morning-

David Cancel: Please hold this guy accountable, I need help.

Dave Gerhardt: All right we're out.

David Cancel: Talk about them but they haven't sent us free stuff.

Speaker 4: Yeah they haven't done anything with water.

Dave Gerhardt: Just go and talk into that mic for a second.

David Cancel: Bro is this how-

Elias Torres: crosstalk

David Cancel: He just froze, he didn't even crosstalk.

Dave Gerhardt: Testing, one, two, three testing. Can you hear me?

Elias Torres: Yeah.


"You’re going to Austin to see Jocko." That’s what DC told his co-founder Elias (Drift’s CTO) a few weeks ago. They’ve started two companies together over the last 10 years, and last week, DC sent Elias to go see Jocko Willink— the same Jocko that we talked about on episode #72 Leadership Lessons From A Navy Seal. And now that Elias is back, we had to have him on Seeking Wisdom to tell the whole story, including why he’s been getting up at 4:30 AM ever since.

PS. You can follow Elias on Instagram @EliasTorres Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the podcast: 1. Get your tickets to Hypergrowth using the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM at hypergrowth.drift.com 2. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 3. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only.