Total Focus

Lesson 8/10 - Teamwork


Total Focus


Lesson Info


Alright, this is a great quote. I was fortunate enough to, does anyone know that big company SAIC, they're a government contractor, do a lot of like research for the government. Dr. Beyster, he built the largest, at the time, I think employee on business, $8 billion turned it all over to the employees when he retired. I walked in his office, had a mutual friend of mine that just, he set up a lunch and he has this sign in his office and this is one of the smartest guys I know, it's like: None of us is as smart as all of us. And that's so true. And I'm going to read a quick excerpt. And so, you know this is a lesson on team work, when I'm, I talked about earlier the lessons, the good and bad, leadership lessons and this is a excerpt, it's a little bit long but I'm gonna read this as part of the book that gives a example of both good and bad leadership, right. And just to set the stage, this was on a mission I was involved in Afghanistan, this was before and we were on this mission to co...

llect intelligence and destroy this terrorist training camp up in the north of Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan. So the, and we had been out, we were supposed to go out for a short mission and it ended up being extended. We just we packed and only planned to be out there for a day and ended up being out there for almost a week. The sound of choppers slowly drains away, taken the last of the days light and warmth with it. It's January 2002 and my SEAL platoon has been out and about in Afghanistan since dawn with a 20 man Marine security team and a handful of techs, doing a one day search and destroy sweep of the notorious Al Qaeda cave complex at Zhawar Kili. Those choppers were supposed to be for us to take us back to base but at the last minute the command had turn them around to leave us out here to expand on our mission. We only planned for dusk to dawn operation, now we're out here on our own for the night for over a week as it would turn out. The commander who opted to accompany us at the last minute decides to take charge. He says "OK, we're gonna go up in the hills "and lay up in the bushes over night." And any of you have been in the high desert, in the summer it can be warm and then what happens when the sun goes down? It's freezing right? So, my chief at the time, Chris, he says... He looked like, him and I and all of us looked at each other like this is crazy. Like we're SEALs, we're packed and prepared, we had special gear and equipment, but the Marines that we had brought with us kind of watch our backs while we were sweeping these caves. Like they were, some of them were wearing white athletic socks and we just were like "This is a bad, bad idea." So, we looked at each other with disbelief, both thinking the same thing and I'm the one that opens his big mouth and says it "Hey sir, that's a bad idea. "Our guys are freezing here "and it's gonna get worse. "If we lay up in the bushes, "we're gonna have cold casualties." The commander shakes his head, Commander Smith, he's like "We'll just have to suck it up." And I said "Suck it up, this is a truly terrible idea." Nobody has brought any warm clothes or cold weather gear. Temperatures already dropped near freezing. If we follow what this commander is saying, we're gonna end up with some serious case of hypothermia, but what are we supposed to do. There's a chain in command, strictly speaking, our number one guy in charge of us, our officer in charge was Chris Cassidy and Chris was on the ground with us as our platoon commander, this guy Smith was over above him, like by rank, he out ranked him. Cassidy for reference is the second Navy SEAL astronaut. He's actually running the astronaut program at NASA right now. Okay, so number one guy is in charge of our platoon is Cassidy. Then our assistant OSC, number two. Next comes chief, Chris, and then myself. I'm just one of the guys, Commander Smith even though he was not assigned to the mission or apart of our platoon, has placed himself on top of the chain of command. Chief Chris and I glance at each other again and this time he gives it a shot. He's like "Sir, with all due respect, that idea sucks. "Let me take Brandon and some of the other guys, "we'll go clear and occupy that abandoned village we saw "a few clicks away. "We'll set up a perimeter, "we have a place to like stay indoors, "light a fire and everybody is warm at night." "No" says Smith "We're not going to do that." And Chris, our chief says, "Yes, we are." And then, actually Cassidy says, "Yes, we are." And that's the lieutenant right underneath him. He's like, "Yes, we are." He's actually the one that gave the order. He doesn't give a shit if Smith outranks him, this is his platoon, he's been listening to what this guy has had to say. Cassidy nods at our chief and me and we set off to clear the structure. We ended up staying there for a whole week. Nobody freezes to death, not even Commander Smith. Our week in Zhawar Kili turns out to be one of the most successful missions in our Afghanistan campaign. We captured, destroyed roughly one million pounds of enemy ordinance, equipment, ton of intelligence, destroy one of the largest training facilities in the country. And if our OIC hadn't listened to his team, it could've been cut off at the knees our first night out. Unlike Smith, Cassidy is an excellent leader, one of the best I've had the honor of serving with. And unlike Smith, he understands the value of his team. There's a popular image of a successful entrepreneur as a loner or rugged individualist who bucks the trends of conventional thinking and goes in alone, ignoring the doubters and forging on to the beat of his own drum. The fool on the hill, as the Beatles put it. This goes really well with the American myth of the lone frontiersman with his musket beating back the savages, saving his farm against all odds. Reality isn't like that, we have a saying in the SEAL teams: One team, one fight. This principle puts all others in context because no man or woman is an island, no successful business is a solitary enterprise, it doesn't matter if you're in manufacturing, IT, marketing, service, technology or trucking, you are in the people business. No matter your business model, your industry, people are key to your success. Having the right people is far more important than having the right tools, in some cases the right technology, the right plan or the right financing, with the right people you are unstoppable. So that's just like an excerpt out of the Team Work. Anybody relate to that, at all? Yeah? Good. So, alright, what makes a good team? I would say, like leadership, vision, which really provides a purpose, chemistry, and then the cove team above self. When I was a SEAL, we actually, I learned as a new guy, SEAL, after a training operation, say we went on a dive, we would come back, I knew that I had to take care of the team equipment then I would ask my buddy or friend, teammate if he needs help with his stuff, then I could take care of my stuff and then I could take a shower. And if you try to do the shower first, it's not going to be a pretty situation. So that's kind of my, what I pulled out of there is what I see as the key ingredients of good team work. Does anybody have anything else, they want to share? Well I used to play in coach soccer so, you know the team work obviously isn't in everybody, learning to be their best and also learning how to work with others on the field and developing that communication without, with talking as you play and also just you know you start to jell, you start to feel without having to talk too. It's really why in professional sports you see sometimes the teams with the most budget, or you know the biggest salaries and they got, you know, maybe one or two big players, they don't win championships because they don't have that chemistry. Mhm. Yes? Communication. Yeah It seems the teams that I'm involved in, as long as everybody is listened to, pre, you know whatever, 'cause we produce sets and such, so before we go and then were live, talking about hashing everything out, making sure everybody understands what they're doing, taking that time to communicate well. And then when you do start working, you don't have to. It's like-- The communication is so important, I'm so surprised that even highest levels, especially you see it in government, right? The, like I could ask people in this room what our foreign policy strategy is and I'd probably get different answers, right? And that's a problem, the problem with organizations as well, did anyone think of a company that they clearly like just know exactly what their mission is? We talked about it earlier, kinda like SpaceX, is it, like, what's the mission? Does anybody know? It's to colonize Mars, like that's, everybody that works there knows like that the, that's what their gonna do. And that's very simple but when you have such a simple, clear communicated plan, like that's so powerful. Is it just creates alignment but if nobody knows what's going on, maybe it's like the top, you know executive and is like holding it as a hostage to the rest of the team, it doesn't work out well. That's a good question out there. What would be your advice if you aren't at the top level but you want to be heard? Kind of the situation described in your book, applying that into the business scenario, what would you recommend the approach to be? That's a really good question because I think a lot of people, I see it in bigger organizations, especially where they want to be heard and then they don't realize that there's, I mean I call it the chain of command in the military, but in the work place, there's you know you have the supervisor, I think it's something that's extremely viable and missing in business is to just be candid and share and to not be afraid but do it in a respectful way. I see plenty of people go I'm smart, I have this great idea, and they just do it in a very non-respectful way and it ends up not being received well. So just figuring out what delivery method that is and just being honest 'cause, you know I love that, when somebody... I get challenged all the time by my team and I love it when someone says, on my team "Brandon, I don't think that's a good idea and here's why." I'm like thank God somebody spoke up, you know? 'Cause it's easy to think, God, I have all the great ideas. So, hire for culture and apply for culture. I talked about it earlier, my story of ECHO platoon was, it just says an example of how we handled chemistry issues and say management that wasn't working. In a SEAL team, you'd have, let's call it 10 different SEAL platoons, and they name them Alpha, Brava, Charlie, Delta, Echo. Sometimes you would have a platoon, not unlike a sports team where business unit, that just isn't working out it's like full of talented people, but for some reason something is not happening right. So we would break it up and actually rebuild it. And that's what, when I came back from my first appointment and the operations officer asked me, and that had happened, everybody knew at SEAL team three like Echo platoon, we all knew who that platoon was 'cause they were not having a good time. And so I think that's important and not always, sometimes it just is a chemistry thing. It doesn't mean the people on the team are bad people or they're not skilled or extremely talented, it's just something is off chemistry wise. Maybe the leadership style isn't jelling with the rest of the team. So that's something I always look at and now I hire for... Like I'm in a situation where I built this business and it's largely distributed. My media and e-commerce business, I have close to 100 employees, they work from home for the most part. Our tech team is in the Philippines, our customer service team is in the Philippines, run by, you know, US leadership. And, you know, I have to hire the kind of people that are gonna be self starters and that are gonna get along and fit with the culture. I remember, I had this really good sales person I was interviewing for an ad sales rep and he just could not get over that he wasn't gonna have an office to show up to everyday. He's like "I wanna leave home." He told me this "I'mma leave home with my briefcase "and take the train and go to the city "and work in an office. "You need to get me an office." I'm like "Not gonna happen buddy." But I was just like "OK, get this guy, "this guy could sell a lot of ads "but he's not gonna to fit with our culture, "there's just no way." And so it's something that I always look for, that culture. And then this is my personal experience, fire fast. Fire fast, I've learned that, I remember the first time I had to fire somebody, it was terrible, like I was extremely upset about it. I mean there was crying involved, it was just really really bad. Firing somebody is not a pleasant experience. But what I learned is it's almost unfair to the other person to just kind of string it out, it's almost like a relations, it is a relationship, right? Like it's just, if you know it's over, whether it's a financial decision, performance, whatever, the best thing to do is to let that person go find something they're good at and fire fast. Quit fast when you fail, also important. We, I remember we tried to expand our clubs into Europe, and man that was a big bad idea. My idea, bad idea, lost $250,000 in about 10 months. But I was like, I can see it right there. OK, I'll own it, it's my idea, we're gonna show it down right away. We know a lot about doing business in Europe because of it like the tax situation with the EU and everything but it, you know, but also it's not a shame to acknowledge that you failed something and then stop it. This is an important lesson I kind of learned on the outside is: Reward people the way they want, not the way you want. What's important to you, isn't necessarily gonna be important to another person. I learn, you know, whether that shows up a lot as monetary reward. There was a case where like I was talking to my team about bonuses and one other person just wanted more time off. And so we redid our whole, rethought our whole vacation policy, because I realized what was important to me is not what's always important to somebody else. I would say that the number one thing that my team talks about working for hurricane is the flexibility to spend time with their family and pursue their passions. And that's a pretty amazing thing to have people say that back. And I know people on my team that could go make twice as much working somewhere else. I really focus on making sure that we have an environment and we literally have almost an unlimited vacation policy and no one has abused it but it's, to create an environment where you're really giving people what they need and the fact that, you know, I know my guy had a brand Jason can go be at his kid's soccer game and be a coach, like that's pretty cool and he couldn't do that if he was working for Oakley, where I got him from. Listen to your people, the only way your gonna figure out what they want is if you listen to them. And we all know this, whether it's personal relationships or whatever, so many people just sit there and they're just waiting for their turn to talk, they're not listening back, right? So you gotta listen to what people say and your customers too. I have so many vendors that approach me and they're just like giving me what they think I need and they're not taking the time to learn about my business and it shows up to me right away. And I get a lot of, approached by a lot of investment banks and they're calling my business, the name of one of our websites. I'm like, you can't even like do the time to go on one of our website and figure it out? So, take the time to listen. Choose your partners carefully. I love people that say it's just business, it's not personal. It's personal, like it's always personal. Okay. I love that book Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson. Has anyone read that one? It's a great book, I mean he's an amazing leader. And when you look at what he's done to kind of take the biggest egos in the NBA and create alignment and so they jell as a team and he's done that but in a really unique way and It's a really really good book, highly recommend it.

Class Description

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