Total Focus


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So just a little bit about me. I was born in British Columbia, Canada. My parents were hippies. My mom's still trying to figure out how her Harry Potter dream of a son ended up as a Navy SEAL. My dad met my mom hitchhiking in Malibu. My dad had come from Canada, had a gardening business growing God knows what else in Malibu. Met my mom and her girlfriend. Picked them up hitchhiking, fell in love, moved to Canada, had my sister and I. Then he had, he built a construction business from scratch. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, sometimes the first business doesn't go so well. He ended up losing the business. And my mom and him were to the point where they said, okay, we have this life dream, they always wanted to sail around the world. And so they bought a sailboat in Vancouver, Canada. Moved the family, which was my sister and I, onto a 47-foot Ketch, and we sailed to Ventura, California where we were on-and-off homeschooled. We'd take trips, we'd take the boat to Mexico, come back, go back ...

to school. And then I started working on boats. And that's, you guys will see a little bit later why that kind of put me on the path to becoming a Navy SEAL in this next bullet point. So, scared 16 year old kid. So my dad makes this big announcement that we're gonna take this sailing trip to Australia. And at the time, I got my first job on a recreational scuba diving boat out of Ventura, California. And as a 12 year old kid, it was a dream job. I got to learn how to scuba dive, work my way up from just working for tips, and helping people off of their equipment, to being an actual deckhand, and is any scuba divers in the audience? Okay, yeah. That's, no wonder you're smiling. So I had this amazing job, and by the time I was 16, I had all this boating experience. I was, the captain would wake me up at one in the morning to take a shift and drive the boat, you know, an hour out to the islands with passengers sleeping below. It's a lot of responsibility for a 15, 16 year old kid. And including, I remember when I was 13, dealing with fear. Everybody deals with fear on a daily basis. But I remember the first time I can think back where I really had to confront my own personal fear was, we were anchored up at San Miguel Island, which is a northernmost island in the Channel Islands. On the backside there's this big sea lion rookery, which is great for diving, but also, if you guys are familiar with what great white sharks eat, they eat sea lions and seals. So, we had served the passengers dinner, I went to bed, and Captain Mike wakes me up at two in the morning. He says, "Hey, get your gear on. "The anchor's stuck, and we need "to move the boat, it's too rough." And I was, as a 13 year old, all I could think about was, you want me to do what? There's like sharks down there, it's nighttime, that's the last thing I want to do is like get my suit on and go down there, and visibility like this. So, I was scared. And I just literally had this conversation with myself. I was like, "Okay, I guess I just gotta do it." So I remember diving down that anchor chain, seeing these like bioluminescent sea lions whizzing past me, just scared, terrified to death, and this anchor chain was just wrapped around this huge ledge. And then the boat would rock, and this whole ledge would just like move up and down. And took my regulator out, blast a bunch of bubbles up, which would signal the guys up top to pay out the chain. So I got it unstuck, came out, but I was, the first time, as a 13 year old thinking, wow, that was really terrifying. But I had this sense of accomplishment that I'd confronted my fear. And I think there's a lesson there, like as a habit to confront your fears and make that a habit later on in life. I was just fortunate enough to learn that as a 13 year old. So now fast-forward, I'm a 16 year old, deckhand, I want to get my drivers license, you know, I want to kiss a girl for the first time. Like, I didn't want to go on this crazy trip with my dad. But off I go, and we went from Ventura, California, and fast-forward all through Mexico, from Acapulco over to the South Pacific to the Marquesas Islands. And my dad and I just started arguing about everything. What anchor to use... where to park the boat. And then I made it to Tahiti and learned another important lesson, which was there can be only one captain on the boat. (laughs) 'Cause he kicked me off at 16... in Pompeii, Tahiti. And it sounds, it's not like he threw me over the side of the boat or made me walk the plank, but he legitimately said, "Look, this isn't working out. "You're outta here." Like, you've finished your school year, maybe best you find something else to do (chuckling) with your life. So, I found a catamaran that was looking for crew to sail to Hilo, Hawaii. And my mom is crying, you know, my sister's crying, and off I go, you know, with a chip on my shoulder. I grabbed a backpack and a couple hundred dollars, and sailed to Hilo, Hawaii on this catamaran. And was scared. Like, 16, I remember the first couple of nights I probably cried myself to sleep two, three nights, just going, "What the hell did I just do? "I'm on my own!" So, um... I got back. Fortunately, the boat I worked on, Bill the owner said, "You can work on the boat, finish highschool." And that's what I did. And I realized, another thing we'll talk about a little bit later on is the importance of your environment. At the time I was working on the scuba diving boat, I had excellent peers and mentors, but off the boat, my school peer group aged kids, they were getting into, you know, drugs and alcohol, and hardcore stuff. And I remember just seeing that, going, I need to get out of this environment. And I'd met a guy, a regular that would come out and dive on the boat. He said, "Hey, have you ever heard "about this group called the Navy SEALs?" And I knew nothing about Navy SEALs. I wanted to be a pilot since I was a small kid. And I started to learn about it, he's like, "You need to figure this out. "You need to learn about this group." So he gave me a book called Rogue Warrior, which was about the SEAL Team Six, the founder, Richard Marcinko, and I started to read that, and then I ended up talking to a retired SEAL from SEAL Time Five. And I said, "You know what, this is for me. "This is a challenge, and a way for me "to get my college paid for." And so I enlisted in the Navy. And, I was, at the time, now you can join and go straight to the SEALs with a contract. At the time I joined, you had to sign up for the Navy, take a job, work in that job, and then apply, and then they would submit a package, and they'd let you go to training. So when I went in at first, I was a search and rescue swimmer in helicopters and operated sonar equipment. We were, believe it or not, this was I think '94, and they were still concerned about the Soviet submarine threat. So, (chuckling) I went to school with the Navy to learn all about these Soviet submarines. But it was interesting, 'cause you learn how sound travels through water, and the search and rescue swimmer part was a really good experience. I applied for a SEAL training when I was at my helicopter squadron in San Diego, HS-6. And my first package they said no. They said you're too valuable here, and we don't want to let you go. And I was just crushed. I said that's not what (chuckling) I wanted to hear. But I ended up doing another year, and finally got my second package approved. I think I made myself such a pain in the ass at the point that they wanted to get rid of me. I said, I'm gonna switch my strategy around. 'Cause I was trying to make myself so valuable, but it had the opposite effect. But I got my second package approved. I went to SEAL training in 1997 with class 215, and we started with 220 and graduated at 23 originals. So, that's about a 90% failure rate. And it was an incredible experience. Then I went to SEAL Team Three, and a lot of people, what they don't understand, they watch this training on Discovery Channel, and they go, wow, that's crazy. You know, the six, seven months it takes to, we call it selection. To weed out who doesn't really, really want to be a SEAL. Like, everybody wants to be a SEAL on a Friday at the bar, you know, talking (laughs) talking to the opposite sex. But when it comes down to it, at the end of that, it takes about another two years of advanced training, and then you finally get your SEAL pin, and then you get to a SEAL team. So I ended up at SEAL Team Three in San Diego. Did a platoon workup cycle. So you're in this 16 man platoon, you train up, then you get certified. You take this big operational readiness test, and they go, okay, you guys can deploy overseas. I did that. Was on the first deployment, I was on the USS Cole. I was also a sniper. It was something, it's not something I ever aspired to be. It's, I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was extremely gifted at music. He's like, "Yeah, I don't really, "I'm not really passionate about music. "I enjoy it, but I just happen to be really good at it." And that's kind of how I thought about the sniper stuff. Because I got selected. They're like, you're going to sniper school. So off I went, and then we deployed, I was on the USS Cole about, I think, 12 hours after it got bombed in Yemen. They needed a sniper team down there to watch, do an overwatch, we set up a perimeter and make sure no bad guys come in and try and sink the ship, 'cause they blew a big hole in the boat. And it was the first time for me, I remember, wow, if two guys in a little dinghy can almost blow up a Navy warship, the world is changing. So I did that, I come back, and I got into another platoon which I'll talk about a little bit later in the class. It was a platoon that they needed to rebuild 'cause the chemistry, the teamwork wasn't working. And the operations officer, Kevin, said, "Look, we need to rebuild this team, "and we want you to go into this platoon and help fix it." And so I did that, and I was in the ECHO platoon. Then 9/11 happened, and we were the next platoon scheduled to go out the door, so I went to Afghanistan right after 9/11. My son was born November 30th, 2001. So I was like in the caves of Northern Afghanistan. I came back to a 4-month year old. Which was amazing, but it was pretty wild to be in that environment overseas. And then, because I was gone at war, normally you got a say in where you go next. And they just assigned me to advanced training as a sniper instructor. So I went there, then I went on to, I got recruited, two master chiefs in SEAL Team Six said we're gonna reinvent our whole basic sniper course, and in the SEAL Team, our sniper program is about three months long. Before 2002, it was a marginal course, it was okay. It was modeled after the Marine Corps sniper course, which was really a lot of yelling and screaming, and pointing out mistakes. And I'll get into the importance of why that's not a good thing in certain, most scenarios when you're teaching. And these two master chiefs recruited myself and a few other guys to come down and revamp our total, total revamp of our sniper program to modernize it and then learn how to teach better. And the amazing thing is we had a massive budget, and we could bring in anybody we wanted to. So we would hire, you know, one of the PGA Tour's coach to come in and say, hey, how do you deal with mental management? We ended up consulting with this guy, Lanny Bassham, who was an Olympic gold medalist, and really a pioneer in mental management. He got silver in his first Olympic appearance. Went back, this was in the 70's, and he went to all of the leading sports psychologists and said, "I just spent all these years "trying to be a champion, and I just need to figure out "how to win the gold, and deal with this." And he says, the sports psychologist says, "Well, you've come to the right place. "I can tell you, I can make you okay "with being second best." And he's like, "No, that's not what I want." So he had to, on his own, go out. And he had access to the Olympic team, so he put together this program and only talked to the gold medalists, and found there were similar traits, and this foundation in how they think, and how they speak to themselves, how they train. So I was fortunate enough to work with Lanny. And that made a real impact on me, 'cause that, today they call it positive psychology, and it's really what his program was back then, was self-talk, visualization, stuff like that. So, you know, when I talk to people in the civilian world, they go, "How can you apply snipers "and SEAL stuff to the outside world?" Like, that bit for me was incredible. Just learning and having access to the top performers in the world was an incredible experience. And so, we ended up taking our sniper program and making it a world-class program. For a traditional course, we would start with 20, 30 students, and lose about 30%. And what we learned was we were just teaching poorly, we weren't coaching right, we weren't teaching right, we were pointing out all the mistakes. And pointing out mistakes to somebody that's a new learner is like the worst thing you can do. You're just programming them for failure. And so we applied that, and took 30% to zero, and I'll get into that a little bit later in the lesson. Which was amazing to see, this happened overnight. And right about that time, I took over the course as course manager. It was like, okay, you're gonna teach the west coast program. So I was working 90 hour weeks, and this is, I'm over 10 years in the Navy, and I just burned out. I, you know, my relationship was a mess. My wife was about to leave me. And I didn't have a relationship with my children. And I said this is enough. So I made the decision to get out in 2006. And people thought I was crazy. They're like, you have this great career, why aren't you staying in and retiring? And I just said, guys, I've gotta, like, it's time for me, I just knew it was time for me to do something else. So, fortunately, my parents were entrepreneurs. My grandmother was an entrepreneur. She had built and rolled up a bunch of collection agencies in Los Angeles. So I came from that environment, and I knew I wanted to work for myself. So I started a business, and had this great, I went to the SBA, which I would recommend to anybody that would like to start a business. They have amazing resources at the SBA. I learned how to write a business plan. I wrote the business plan. Got some partners, raised some money, put my life savings into this first business, which was to build this racetrack and training facility in Southern California, in El Centro on the southern border. And three and a half years later, got all of our project permits approved, the county voted on the project, yes. And then the housing market collapsed, and an environmental group came in and sued the county. Said we don't agree that you did the proper environmental study. And it just killed the project, long story short. I had to walk away. We lost almost four million dollars. My whole life savings. And then it was right about that time, my wife at the time, who is an amazing woman, she said, "I've had enough. "This is too much. "I don't want to be married to an entrepreneur. "You put me through hell in the SEAL Teams." So here I was, lost everything, I was divorced, she took the kids up to her mom's and her family's ranch, so I was in an empty house by myself, and you want to talk about a low point. And I just, you know, I sat there and figured, okay, what are my options? I could jump off the nearest bridge, or I can like pull my socks up and figure out, you know, that this was a learning experience. And that's what this next bullet point is about. A lot of people think, they tell me, "Oh, you're so lucky. "You're a New York Times bestselling author, "you have this amazing business." And they don't realize I stumbled and fell multiple times, and I think where most people think of failure as, you know, as this bad thing, it's like necessary. It's a necessary ingredient to be successful no matter what you do. So really that, to me, it was a humbling experience, but I just realized when I really dug deep, I'd learned so much about relationships, partnership, raising money, building a business, more chemistry stuff. And I, you know at the time, I'm like, "Ugh, I just have really bad partners." And it was just a bad match. Like, they were really smart, talented people. We just weren't a good fit together. So I went through that. Then I did the practical thing at the time. I had no money, I probably owed people a lot of money, and I took a job. I went, luckily, I contacted Head Hunter. I got placed with a defense company. Got trained up as an executive. And realized about a year in that I just wasn't cut out to put on a suit and tie and come into an office every day. And I was tired of the military environment. But it was a great learning experience. And I had to do the practical thing, which was get a job, pay my bills and meet my obligations, and then to start planning. And about that time, I was really into writing. I was writing for fun, sending articles out to men's magazines. And I started to realize I really enjoyed just writing, non-fiction, some fiction as well. And then I said to myself, well, I'm gonna try and sell a book, 'cause everyone keeps telling me that I didn't have a normal childhood. And you guys have probably (chuckling) realized that by now. And so I went to the publishers. I got turned down by agents, and I finally got an agent. We got turned down from probably 10 publishers, and then St. Martin's Press, Mark Resnick, my editor there, took a gamble on me. And he says, "All right, first of all, "let's talk more about your combat stuff. "I don't care about your childhood and all this crap." He's like, "Nobody wants to read that stuff." And so I, you know, being the kind of rebel I sometimes am, I said, okay, whatever I gotta do just to sell this book, and I just wrote the book I wanted to write anyway. And then when Mark read it, he's like, "Okay, you got me." (laughs) He's like, "Well put it in." So this was 2011... And I'd sold the book, I was writing it, and then the writing got me into blogging. I ran a blog for a military site, it was a men's gear blog, and I grew with this big audience, just doing it on the side. And that got me into digital media. That's when I knew, wow, there's something here. Back in end of 2011, there was all this interest in this special operations community. And you guys, most of you in the audience, are not that demographic, right? But it was mostly these guys, men that were playing the first-person shooter games, they're reading the books, they're really into this kind of aspirational experience, wanted to know about the, what is it like to be a Navy SEAL? And the books and the movies were coming out, and they were seeing stuff on the news. And there was nothing on the internet, so I started with one website and grew that to multiple websites, and mostly military, outdoor related content, aviation. And we started doing podcasts, then we said, you know what, we got approached by a lot of production companies in New York and L.A., they said, "Hey, we want your concepts." And so I gave them a couple concepts, they never called me back, and then next year I would see them show up on TV. I was like, "Aw, man." So let's do our own stuff. So we started producing our own reality-based content, and wrote an app for an SVOD, a subscription video on demand channel. And, see what else, we have a publishing imprint with St. Martin's Press. And today, that's the business I run, Hurricane Group. Two years ago, we launched e-commerce. We saw the advertising world was just like, up and down, massive disruption. Which is something I'll get into later in the class, about just paying attention to your environment. And so we launched e-commerce. We said we have this smart audience, they make lots of money. How can we monetize them, and advertise it to them ourselves? So we started getting into the subscription box business. And if you've heard of some big ones, like Birch Box, we have like a James Bond version of that for men. And then we just launched more of that kind of demographic version to dog owners. We now have a dog box called Cuna. And at that point is when I saw that we started to accelerate growth. Okay, kind of have to go on a tangent here on my introduction. Chris is looking at me. (laughs) So today, my promise to you is to just be real. I'm not gonna bullshit you, I'm not gonna answer a question I don't know the answer to. And I'm gonna be vulnerable. You know, we talked about vulnerability earlier. I'm not afraid to be vulnerable, and I think that's a way to connect with people. And too often today, people are afraid to be vulnerable. You know, they live this certain lifestyle on social media, and it's not really a reflection of actually how they're really doing in the world. So that's my promise to you. All right, learning objectives. We're gonna talk about, in the first part, I broke this into two parts, focus, which is really the anchor of the book I wrote, Total Focus, but there's so much more to that. But it all, like the underlying theme is focus. And we're gonna talk about awareness, personal growth, the importance of action, excellence. The second part, I'm gonna talk about adversity and how adversity is a really powerful learning tool, as well. Teamwork, leading from the front, and then we're gonna finish with a goal-setting exercise, and talk about a vision, personal vision statement. And I'm gonna share and read my vision statement, and I'll go through my goals, and I'll outline it for you guys so you guys will leave here with an outline that you can put your own stuff into. But while we're here, I'm gonna give you some examples of how I plan my goals every year.

Have you ever had a hard time reaching your career goals? Sometimes we come up short because we don’t know how to prioritize, stay composed amidst the chaos and make the right choices under pressure.

But what if you could do your job or run your business with the laser focus, precision and decisiveness of a Navy SEAL?

Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL, successful entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of “Total Focus: Make Better Decisions Under Pressure,” believes that the same qualities that allowed him to stare down terrorists have helped him create a multimillion dollar company.

In this course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid distractions that take you away from your goal.
  • Pursue the right opportunity and see it through to completion.
  • Build an action plan to achieve your objectives.
  • Increase your self-esteem and get rid of self-doubt.
  • Overcome hesitancy and indecisiveness by moving forward with an imperfect plan.
  • Embrace the suck and refuse to quit.
  • Recognize that unexpected challenges may reveal your best shot at success.



  • I had the pleasure of being in the live audience for this course, SO much content, I actually got the book as well and took lots of notes. With Brandon there is no fluff, it's all real actionable steps and strategies to get you focused in very specific ways. we talked about goal setting, team work, vision statement, and that's just a taste, there are so many different categories that we got into. I'll have to go and study my copious notes.. I'm glad CreativeLive added a course on FOCUS! Man I need it as a small business owner it's so helpful to have an expert help me Focus! Brandon was a high level Navy Seal but he's really down to earth, funny, smart and packed this course with massive content. Thanks Brandon
  • So disappointed in this class! Brandon comes with a wealth of experience and great many stories, but these assets did not translate into teaching, which is unfortunate. Besides broad topics and general ideas to have in mind, there were no actionable items to walk away with, no steps to implement. The class did not deliver on its promise. It did not really teach a strategy or method to clearing distractions, staying focused, determining your goals, redefining priorities, etc. Storytelling is a great way to bring a point to life, but if that is all you get for 3+ hours, it gets tiresome and ineffective. So many great classes on CreativeLive -- this is not one of them.
  • The speaker was really interesting and potentially had great stories but his energy level was low. I couldn’t believe this guy had been a Navy Seal. His voice and body language came across as if he was slightly depressed and/ or tired. He also wandered off topic or didn’t explain how his stories related to the course objectives. I sense he had really useful stuff but it just didn’t come over apart from one or two phrases. I watched this live and so wasn’t able to watch the entire course. Maybe it got better later but the first half I watched was kind of disappointing.