March 18, 2021

#001: The Talent War Authors – Mike Sarraille and George Randle

Hosted by George Randle, Mike Sarraille and Fran Racioppi

What can business organizations learn from the military when it comes to talent management and leadership development? Those who have been in the trenches, leading people through some of the most difficult and risky missions in the world know that people are everything. Mike Sarraille and George Randle are two of the authors of The Talent War, an incredibly insightful work that examines the parallels between the talent management practices of special operations forces and the most successful organizations in the world.

Aiming to empower small and medium businesses to achieve excellence every day, Mike and George founded the Talent War Group, a cadre of highly-experienced SOF leaders and business executives who understand the critical importance of human capital management. Listen in as they share some of the principles they talked about in their book as they join Fran Racioppi on this first episode of The Jedburgh Podcast.

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This is the Jedburgh Podcast. I’m the host, Fran Racioppi. Each episode, I speak with transformative leaders, visionaries, drivers of change, and those dedicated to winning no matter the challenge. The show is founded in the lineage of the special operations Jedburgh teams of the past and is sponsored by the Talent War Group. A percentage of all proceeds is dedicated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation

In this episode, I spoke with former Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille and former Army Officer George Randle, co-authors of the book, The Talent War. Mike and George explain how any organization can achieve elite performance if they make talent management their top priority. They share their concept of hire for character, train for skill. They talk about their definitions of transformative leaders, they explain how there are entrepreneurs at every levels of organizations, they share their experiences of failure and they talked about how they self-assess themselves in everything that they do.

Mike Sarraille is the CEO of the Talent War Group. Mike is a retired US Navy SEAL with twenty years of experience in special operations. He’s the Founder and Board Member of the VETTED Foundation, a 501(c)(3) veteran executive education platform. Mike earned an MBA for the University of Texas McCombs School of Business. He has extensive experience building and leading elite teams in both the military and corporate sectors, successfully transitioning lessons learned from the battlefields of The Global War on Terror, the businesses and their leaders. Mike is a recipient of the Silver Star, six Bronze Stars, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals and a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during combat operations.

George Randle is a Managing Partner at the Talent War Group. He’s also the Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition at Forcepoint, a human-centric cybersecurity company. George has more than two decades of experience in talent acquisition at Fortune 100 and Fortune 1000 firms. He’s a veteran of the United States Army where he served as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Company Commander in Germany, the Middle East, Africa and Central America. George has trained and coached thousands of veterans on interviewing and career search skills and continues helping our veterans to successfully bring forward critical leadership and management skills that make them valuable assets to every company they join.

In November 2020, Mike and George released their first book, The Talent War: How Special Operations and Great Organizations Win on Talent. Concurrent with the book release, they founded the Talent War Group, bringing together over 40 of the highest performers in special operations, academics and business to develop a cadre capable of solving the leadership, organizational and business problems facing small to medium-sized businesses. Their goal is to empower these organizations to achieve excellence every day.

Mike and George, welcome to the first episode of The Jedburgh Podcast.

It’s good to be here. I appreciate you having us on the first episode. 

Number 001 which means, I don’t know if you have this in the special forces’ community, we owe you a case of beer.

We have it, and it’s usually of my choosing. I’ll come up with a good one, but I am from Boston. I’m thinking Sam Adams is going to be the way it’s at. They have a new hazy one that I might like.

This is the Mark 1 Mod 0 edition. Mike, an Army guy, can say Navy terms. That does occur in this world. 

I have many things I want to talk to you about. I want to talk about The Talent War book, the Talent War Group and the leadership collective aspect of that, the characteristics of success and the traits that define human performance at the most elite level. I want to talk about the Army. We’ll talk about the Navy. We’re going to talk about special operations. Before we start, George, I don’t know if you know this story. I called up Mike in December 2020, and I don’t know if it was right before he had his surgery or right after, but I don’t think he was fully involved in the conversation.

I said, “I have a great idea. I want to start a show, and I want you to back me and we’re going to go out there and find prominent visionaries, transformative leaders, drivers of change, people who have won in everything that they’ve done, but not only one experienced adversity. They got knocked down, they got dragged out and they had to stand up and say, ‘How am I going to get back in this?’ That’s going to be in business, academics, athletics, and we’re going to bring them on this show. We’re going to talk to them about how we did it in special operations. We’re going to talk about how you do it in business, how you do it in athletics, and how do you wake up every day with the drive to win.” I paused, and Mike, he let out a little noise. He may have been crying. Maybe he was laughing. I don’t know. He said, “Yes, let’s do it.” I have to ask why did you say yes? 

I knew you’re from Boston. As you pitched the concept, I immediately thought of Tom Brady. I’m like, “Let’s do this.” George is a Kansas City diehard Chiefs fan. He’s still suffering from that one.

The better team won.

It was like watching the excellence in action. One, I know you, I know what you stand for. Ultimately, we all talk about leadership a lot. The ultimate level of leadership that John Maxwell talks about in his 5 Levels of Leadership is people follow you for who you are and what you represent. I’m selective about who I’ve let into my tribe. I know who you are and what you represent. This show is going to go far and you’re going to get famous guests on like George and I that bring a much larger audience. I’m going to apologize for that in advance, but I’m excited to see where you take this.

One of the important things that we got to do as we launched this, I was talking to someone about it, is it’s not necessarily about attracting everybody, but it’s about attracting our guests. It’s about attracting the ones who resonate with what we want. That may not be a billion people, but it can be a lot of people. It’s going to be a lot of people. The important thing is, are the people who read this and the people who sit on the other side, are they our audience? That’s what’s important. George, we’ve got to talk about this concept of the talent mindset and it’s this concept of “hire for character, train for skill.” You talk about it in the book. It’s how special operations teams recruit, assess, select. You’re given hard skills in communications, equipment, medical, weapons, explosives, logistics, but what does it mean when you say to someone that, “I’m going to hire for character and train them for skill,” if they don’t know how to do those hard skill things? 

It’s two things. One is a quote that Mike and I have made because it clarifies the talent mindset, which is “When you’re treating your human capital with the same rigor, discipline and focus as your financial capital.” When we wrote this book, what makes special operations special is they had to be experts in potential based hiring. It isn’t the logistics, the high-speed gear, the new night vision goggles, the latest weapon, the latest imagery. It’s none of that. It’s always about the people. When we wrote the book, we have put in a ton of examples where everybody hired for experience and you get people that don’t have the character traits. That’s always where it goes off the rails. When you get in stress times of COVID, it’s character that matters. It’s not the skills, it’s not the experience. Experience isn’t predictive of success. Sometimes it is, but it’s not necessarily so.

How do you get a leader or a hiring manager or someone who’s in that decision-making authority to adopt that culture, to get them to say, “I don’t care if this person doesn’t have ten years in the industry. I don’t care if they don’t know how to do these certain skills. I can teach them that, but I’m going to take the risk. I’m going to get everybody on my team and everybody in the company on board to say, we’re going to invest in this person?” What do you say to those leaders and how do you get them to change that attitude? 

I’m doing this for several years, sometimes it would have been quicker and faster to use a great big stick, which would have got my point across a lot earlier and they would learn the lesson a lot quicker, but it’s telling the right story. If you’re out there and you’re a leader, and you’re trying to make the point to your fellow leadership or your HR talent acquisition, trying to make that point, look around your own company. Look at your A-players within your own company. I’m willing to bet you that over 50% of the A-players in the company, the roles they’re in now, they didn’t have the experience for, or weren’t hired into. Those are your argument, to hire more of those A-players. It’s probably the best and quickest argument that you’re going to make to leaders in your own company versus the standard kind of trust me. Now that Mike and I’ve written the book, it certainly helps us. One of the things we want to do is provide people a tool that they can walk through with people and share them the arguments of why hiring for the character is so important. You’re going to have to tell the story from the point of view of the rock stars that you have on board and how they’re making a difference, and how that experience doesn’t have anything to do with them being an A-player in your firm. 

This is super important to me because my first job out of the Army, I worked at Merrill Lynch and I was recruited there to be a financial advisor. I got a note on my LinkedIn. I was at the end. I was getting ready to get out. I only had another month left in the Army and I had no idea what was going to come next. I tried for everything, but everything shut me down because I didn’t have those hard skills. At that time, it was before I had my MBA, I didn’t know how to read a balance sheet. I didn’t know what a P&L was. I didn’t have these 15, 20 years of experience. I had thirteen years in the Army, but it was difficult to translate. I got this notice on my LinkedIn that this financial advisor from Merrill Lynch, who’s now one of my best friends, I have to give a shout out to Rick Nelson, he said, “I don’t care that you’ve never done this. You have a history of demonstrated success in what you’ve done up to this point. I can teach you how to be a financial advisor.”

What was important when they took me in there is that I showed up on day one and they said, “Welcome. You have four months of training.” For the next four months, that was all I did. The stack of books was a foot high. It was, “You’re going to sit here for eight hours a day and study.” You have another quote where you said that, “Humans get better with investment.” I’m hoping that maybe you can talk a bit about what does that mean. What is the investment that has to come in those people when they show up on day one after you’ve made this decision internally that you’re going to bring them in, you’re going to hire for the character and the potential, but now what that they’re standing in front of you in the door? 

I know Mike and I want Mike a chance to hammer this home because he’s led by example here at EF Overwatch and with the Talent War Group that we pour into training into our people constantly because you’re going to get it back 3X, 4X and 5X. To your point about the experience and stuff and people coming on, you having four months of training, the experience, all it does is maybe shorten the learning curve a little bit, but it’s still just as tall when you walk into a brand-new environment. We had Brian Decker who contributed to our book, the ex-Special Forces who’s now the Vice President of Player Development with the Indianapolis Colts. He said, “I was hired for what I don’t know, rather than what I know.”

He was hired for his history of success, to your point, but once people get in the door, they have to learn your culture. They have to learn your systems, the formal and the informal systems. They have to learn your product, your go-to market sales motions and how you take care of your customers because even competitors that are as close as you can get do things differently. The experience only matters when it comes to shortening the height of the learning curve. It’s still going to be steep for anybody walking in the door so you’re going to have to invest in them. That’s on the onboarding new hire piece. That doesn’t even go to what Mike nails, which is mentoring, coaching and training those people. 

Mike, you talk all the time about how no one who comes in the special operations in any of the branches has ever been in special operations before, yet the entire selection process is designed to go out and find those people. What about that?

Fran, you’re the perfect example of that. You came from a strong pedigree, but you didn’t know a darn thing about special operations. If we took you on one day of assessment selection and said, “Go run a direct-action raid or go run a reconnaissance mission,” you would look at the instructors and say, “I don’t know how to do that.” They knew you had all the attributes to be a high-performing individual within the community. The assessment and selection process, which is extremely difficult, is designed to elicit behaviors. “Does this person demonstrate the behaviors that indicate they are going to be a high performer within whatever role and domain?” That’s why special operations have become so good, but they didn’t get there overnight. This assessment and selection process, and for the readers, assessment and selection is what we call it in the military, this is what you call highly.

Assessment and selection for special operations has been honed, innovated, adapted and evolved for many years, and we still get it wrong, but we do have the longest behavioral interview, which has a high probability of selecting who’s going to be highly successful. The thing that a lot of people don’t understand, and you talked about stepping into Merrill Lynch and you step right into a training program, is upfront, a company assesses the recruits and they select the right ones or who they think are the right ones into their company, but that assessment process never stops. After that, it’s train, develop and assess, almost on a continuous loop. “Is this person ready for the next level of the organization?” Once they get there, the training starts all over again, as well as the development and you assess him or her for the next level and the next level.

It’s a never-ending cycle. I want to touch on one thing you did ask George, “How do you convince a boss to step away from old archaic ineffective practices, such as hiring for experience and test hiring for potential?” Most of the time that is hard to do. You plead your case. You tell a good story, but sometimes you’ve got to let that boss fail. Override, we’re not going with this individual. We’re going with the man or woman with fifteen years of marketing experience and let that hire fail. Let them fail then reinforce why.

I want to build on that and talk about how we lead off this show every time. One of the first things we say, and one of the first things that every reader is going to read in the beginning is the core principle of the show. That’s, “Organizations will fail without transformative leaders.” In essence, what I hear you saying is that you’re asking that leader of that organization to invest in a potential transformative leader with the maximum potential to bring to that organization. Mike, you’ve talked about transformational versus transactional leaders. Can you talk about the difference between the two and how you classify those? 

First off, in order for someone to be effective, they have to understand the hard skills of any job or function, but what ultimately separates a high-performing leader aside from somebody who’s a high performing tactician is that a transformational leader builds genuine relationships with their people. That requires time and effort. I’m of the believer that a lot of people step into leadership positions in life, and they’re not willing to pay the rent every day. That rent is time away from your own family to get to know your people, what drives them, where they want to be in five years, and putting that time in. You did this all within your ODA, Fran. For the readers, an ODA is an Operational Detachment Alpha. Twelve bad-ass Army Green Berets will go into any environment lone and unafraid as we say.

For the record, that came from a Navy SEAL. I know you give the love. 

I’m one of the biggest outspoken fans of the special forces’ community, I’m a fan of all of them. You had to know every one of your guys. I’m sure, to a degree, you knew how many children they had, boys and girls, birthday sometimes. I know that has nothing to do with the actual function of the job, but when your people know that you care and are willing to invest in them, sometimes the parallel of yourself, then they will move heaven and Earth to drive that organization forward. They’re going to follow you because of who you are and what you represent. That transactional leader does the job. At 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM they hit the clock. They don’t care about their people. They just want to go home, and they’ll reconvene during the next business day. We are all big fans and believers that the US military is the world’s greatest leadership development program. Even though we taught it at length to all military members, sometimes it didn’t stick. We saw these transactional leaders that only cared about themselves and their units usually were not as effective or failed on the battlefield. 

You see a lot of these transformational leaders who sit in positions of entrepreneurs, the public sees them as people who have a tremendous amount of charisma. They have a vision, a drive, and had this great idea. If you think about it in terms of people who’ve built great organizations has been a transformational leader, somebody who had this vision. You take this term, entrepreneur and entrepreneurial, which I often have a difficult time with because it gets overused. It gets classified in so many different ways. It becomes stigmatized. People think that in order to be an entrepreneur, I have to have a great idea. I have to have the next Facebook or Twitter, or some autonomous vehicle. If I don’t sit at home late at night and come up with this amazing idea, I can’t be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs live in all functions of organizations. They live in every department and they can even live at the most junior level in an organization if you’re in an organization where people give bottom-up input. I’m interested in, for the both of you, what your definitions of entrepreneurial are and where you see them fitting into organizations and how do you create an environment where everybody can be an entrepreneur, or is it centralized at the top?


Leadership sets the tone. The leaders, when they set the tone, they also set a culture. If I were going to set a culture of any organization, whether it’s a Fortune 500 with 10,000 employees or a small startup with 5 employees, I want everyone to be a disruptive thinker. I want everyone to have a sense of autonomy over their lives and their jobs, ownership to make decisions at their respective level or to seize opportunities without coming to me so that they can move quickly. If you build that culture, naturally, people are going to lean forward. The biggest thing I’ll say is when you do set that culture at first, and then one of your young, subordinate leaders makes a mistake and you come down on, you’ll kill that initiative right off the bat. They’ll never want to take another risk again. 

We dealt with this with one of our young employees. He made a command decision. It didn’t work out. In fact, George was texting me on the side saying, “Handle this one with care because this is an opportunity to gain more ownership as a leader.” We backed him, we said, “You made a command decision, it didn’t work out, but we want to applaud you for the fact of making that decision.” If I was going to run an organization, regardless of domain, whether it’s investment banking, services-based company, manufacturing or tech, I want to create a company of entrepreneurs at every level, but you want disruptive thinkers. You want people with this curiosity in their belly. Always looking at the way we do things saying, “Is this smart? Is there a better way to deliver a better product or service to our customer that will outpace our competition?” 

I know a lot of companies are using the term intrepreneur, which I love. When I look back at my time in special operations, I’m sure much like you did, we bred it into our people, and often we handed them real-world problems for which no book solutions existed. My term was Officer Troop Commander, and I was never the dude with the idea, but I would watch my guys in the face of a problem. True bottom-up leadership. Look at the problem and they would come together, and they would solve it a lot more effectively and faster than I ever could on my own. 

I usually have the worst ideas. I have the ideas where they were looking at me going, “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” As a leader you have to be willing to sit there and say, “You’re probably right.” I hadn’t done that before. I came into that organization for my potential and skill. My hard skill was planning and bringing resources to the organization. It was to develop deliberate action plans that others would execute at a high level of precision and skill. It wasn’t necessarily to come up there and say, “I have the best idea to do this thing.” I was sitting in a room with people who’ve been doing that thing for twenty years. You’ve got to be able, as a leader, to sit back and say, “Maybe I don’t have the good idea.” I still spoke up because you want to have that conversation in case there is that opportunity. You don’t want to be afraid of that, but all the time, everybody had a better idea.

One thing I wanted to take off on that Mike had that I love because I’ve spent the last several years in the corporate grind. I’ve been in some bureaucracies that make the army look like it runs smoothly and without a hitch. One of the terms that Mike used, I loved all of them, but one that stood out to me is the curiosity. Mike and I, when we wrote the book, we operated under the best idea wins. I’ve stolen that term from him and plagiarized it as much as I can. The curiosity thing, the people on the teams that I built, I like when people go, “What aren’t we doing? What could we be doing?” To Mike’s point, they’re empowered to see an opportunity and seize that opportunity, especially in Corporate America, because everything’s so siloed. In my function, HR and talent acquisition, people can get overly siloed. The first thing is they go, “That’s not my lane. That’s not what I do.” I love those people who are curious about our function. They know our overall mission and they say, “Why aren’t we doing that and then come up with something to deliver and build out our capabilities and competencies?” That curiosity to me, when I hire people into my teams, is huge. 

Three words come to my mind when I think about this, and it’s accountability, responsibility and ownership. You talk about empowerment. You talk about, can you create an organization where there’s empowerment at every level to solve problems, to contribute to the idea, to be somebody who can stand up and say, “Yes, I can do this?” Own that problem. Once somebody in the room as a leader says, “Go ahead. This is yours. Go execute, develop the plan, let me know what you need and do it.” You then have this differentiation, it’s a small differentiation, between accountability, responsibility and ownership. What do you think about that? 

You can carve those words up in a lot of different ways. When I talked to my team, we stress the ownership piece because the accountability and responsibility falls on the leaders, generally speaking, or from a raw or pure definition standpoint. Ultimately, I am responsible and accountable for everything that happens on my team, good, bad, right, wrong and different, but that ownership piece is what I want people taking. I want them to understand that I have faith in them, and to Mike’s point, that if they fail, that’s on me, that’s not on them. They don’t have a fear of failure and they know that we have a great amount of faith in their ability to take ownership and deliver solutions that we never thought of. Ownership and backing them up means that person feels like you believe in them, you have faith in them, and you trust what they’re going to do and what they’re going to deliver. 

These are three hallmarks of a highly effective organization when you look at it. When we talk about accountability, I always default back to my special operations time. It sucks. I’ve been in the business world now, but I always default back because I’m a believer that special operations are one of the most effective, agile, innovative organizations in the world. That’s why the business world has a fascination with it. As I look back at these three key words, accountability. What set the special operations community aside was when we talk about accountability, we’re talking about self-accountability. Is that you were a highly disciplined individual who’s going to hold themselves accountable because often you were in a place where nobody else was around and you were going to be asked, “Did you do it the right way?” You had to make sure that you were taking the right actions.

Responsibility, it does fall within somebody’s wheelhouse. If it falls within your wheelhouse, I know there are people who are going to step up and say, “That’s my role and responsibility. It falls in my lane and it didn’t get done,” or it did get done. Regardless of who was responsible for the task, I expect every single member of my team to step up and take ownership over the problem. Even if somebody’s name is attached to it, and help that individual solve it, help the organization learn from it, become better and hopefully never repeat that same mistake. 

Mike, you said a phrase, do it the right way. What about when somebody gives you the phrase that, “I know you love because I know you well.” They tell you, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

The people that usually said that were the people that had a lot of tenure in an organization. What I’m saying, without calling George out, is they were old as hell. They were experienced in life, but if they were older, they were set in their ways and are at a point in life where they don’t want to change, innovate or adapt. We all know that the one thing that’s constant in life, yes, death and taxes as Benjamin Franklin said, change is also that third constant. Everything is always changing around us. Our competition is trying to maneuver, the battlefield is changing in a business setting that is a hypercompetitive digital transformation environment. If you’re not willing to constantly change on a daily basis, then you will become irrelevant within your domain. When somebody says, “This is the way we’ve always done it,” you should have, as a leader, that allergic reaction of, “That person has no more curiosity. They’re not willing to do what’s necessary to adapt and win.” 

We’ve got to go a little deeper on that and I want to tie it back to the show and this concept of who are the Jedburghs. That’s transitioned back all the way in, through their time in the CIA special activities division, into special operations, in all branches, but there’s an element of rapport. When the Jedburghs jumped in to occupy France, their number one mission was to link up with the French resistance forces and they had to build this team. It’s not like they jumped into every single area and all of a sudden, every French resistance leader embraced them and said, “Yes, please, we want to work with you.” They met people like this.

They met people who said to them, “No, we don’t care that you have this idea. We don’t care that you bring weapons and ammunition, and we don’t care that you’re here to help us to defeat the Germans.” They said, “This is our area. We know this area better than you. This is the way we do it. You have to do it our way.” When do you experience that leader? I’ve experienced it in the corporate world all the time, where you go in, you’re a transformative leader and you say, “I want to do it this way.” If somebody says, “No, I was here from the start, you weren’t. This is the way we’re going to do it.” You have to bridge that gap. 

It happens to me a lot, all the time. I had this guy named Colonel Smith when I was in the Berlin brigade. He spent a lot of time in special operations. He told me something that I thought was important because there are those people that are going to tell you that. Corporate America, when you have a new way of doing something, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a 180. He said, “George, plagiarize the good shit that’s working and then make it better. Add something to it. You don’t always have to break glass to do something different, find the good in something.” I took that lesson. Being in talent acquisition, we’ve been thought of as order-takers since the ten commandments came down practically. When somebody says that, Mike and I have an allergic reaction to it. There are the realities in Corporate America that you’re going to have to tell the story, you’re going to have to plagiarize the good part and say, “What if we shift ten degrees to the right? What if we modify this? I have a better result that I expect to get than the result.” The scary part that when people say we’ve always done it that way, generally, they’re accepting mediocrity and saying we can’t get better. That’s a frightening situation. 

Their ego is so massive. Fran, as we talked about the Jedburghs, the Jedburghs, Scouts and Raiders were all the precursor to the United States Special Operations Command, which started with the US Army Special Forces. Not only were the Jedburgh teams not always accepted by the French, they weren’t accepted by a lot of the senior military leadership. They were not hot on that concept. I remember the early days of Afghanistan. If you remember, a lot of senior military leadership cringed at the picture of Special Forces soldiers with the big beards on the ground who were doing just that from a cultural standpoint to look a lot like a tribal elder who also had a big beard. That didn’t resonate well with your conventional-minded leader who naturally pushed back.

What I would tie that into is when you step into a corporate setting and you’re not the boss and your boss is that person that is rigid and pushing against it, you don’t have much choice and you have to fight the long game on that one. If you go direct frontal assault with your boss and say, “Your idea is stupid. I gave you a better way of doing that,” that’s probably not going to work out well. I always think of the SF community as taking an indirect approach. This is almost like psychological warfare. One, support your boss and try to get little victories of painting him down a path of why your idea may become more efficient and effective, but that’s the long game. You have no other choice in that scenario. 

I have a great piece of advice I was given, and I have to share it because I can’t remember doing it. There’s a gentleman by the name of Ron Iden. Ron Iden is the Chief Security Officer of Walt Disney. He’s been a mentor of mine. We’re going to have him on, I’m already talking to him. Ron was in the FBI. He had an entire career in the FBI and then he came to Disney when Disney started realizing that they may have a security threat. That was a long time into the tenure of Disney before they decided to hire a head of security. He’s the only one who’s there. He’s their only Chief Security Officer. He’s been there for decades. I asked him this question, I said, “Ron, how have you lasted there?” He looked at me and said, “You cannot jam it down their throat.” He looked at me, and here I am, I’m from Boston, you don’t like it whether we jam it down your throat, until you smile and say, “Yes, I liked it.”

It doesn’t work. You go head-to-head with your boss, it doesn’t matter what they think, you’re going to lose every day. His perspective on it was you give them a little bit. You’d give them the options. You tell them how it could have been, and you have to be able to accept a little bit of risk. When you accept a little bit of risk, you’ve got to be there in the back when it happens and come forward and say, “Remember that thing I told you? If we had done it this way, maybe we wouldn’t be there. What do you think we give it a shot now?” If you can do that time and time again, and you take the 2 inches, the 3 inches a little bit more every time, eventually you’ll get there, but if you’ll look at someone and say, “I’m putting a stake in the ground, and this is it,” you’re going to lose.

How often have people, as we call it in the military, you put your sword in the sand. How often does that work out in their favor? It’s usually 1 out of 10 times, they lose almost all the time. The other thing, even if you warned your boss to take a certain course of action towards an initiative and they decided to go with their plan and their plan fails, that’s where a lot of patients and tact come in. In your mind, you want to say, “I freaking told you to go with my plan. Yours failed.” You’re going to miss an opportunity to gain that inch or two, to ultimately get to where you want. 

I want to hit on that because there’s this element of risk. Mike, you’ve talked about risk and risk tolerance, risk identification, and risk as an opportunity. My background with security and business continuity, that was always our job. It’s to identify threats, and threats turn into different levels of risk, but then you have to work with leadership to identify their risk tolerance level. How much risk are they willing to accept? You have to come together and say, “Based on how much risk you’re willing to accept, these are the things that we can do.” That’s easier said than done when you’re not the ultimate decision-maker. As you’ve talked about this mindset of creating a risk culture where risk is acceptable, how do you train that? How do you get people to accept and take a step back and say, “I’m willing to fail on this?” Nobody wants to be the one who goes in and says, “I understood the risk, I accepted the risk and we still failed.” 

I’m going to have to trace back who I heard this phrase from because I’ve got no original ideas whatsoever. With great advice, steal somebody’s idea and make it better. Plagiarize the good and make it better. That doesn’t hurt my ego. It might’ve been Bill Campbell who said, “Reward failure.” For the audience, Bill Campbell, the Trillion Dollar Coach, the secret coach of Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs’ best friend, former CEO of Intuit. The guy was amazing. He told a story of where, when at Intuit, one of his senior VPs took a calculated risk but did everything right. We should cover that there’s a difference between calculated risks and recklessness. There were a lot of risks involved with the initiative, did everything right in terms of planning and due diligence and trying to mitigate risk down to the lowest level and failed. 

Bill, being extremely smart, knew that everyone thought Bill was going to come off the top rope and cut the guy’s head off. He did the exact opposite. He walked into the room with all the other senior leaders and said, “I want to applaud you for the risks that you took. The company is better for it. We didn’t win this one, but we’re going to reset. We’re going to take what we learned and create another service line.” People were shocked. You use some colorful language to get his people to grow some other things and to start taking the initiative. Fran, I’m preaching to acquire you. We bred this into our young, special operations soldiers of, “No risk, no reward.” 

It’s not saying, “Go big or go home,” but we taught them to look at risk and see the upside, not the negative. Most humans, 99% of humans see risk and it automatically triggers fear. How do you teach somebody to look at the upside? Our guys are jumping out of planes. They’re diving below the water at night in the ocean. These men and women learn quickly to see the upside risk and how to take advantage of it to move their organization forward, but embracing failure is a big part of that. You accept the risk, you calculated it, you seize the initiative, but you ended up failing and you reward that person. By doing that, setting your behavior, you showed them that they still won. They didn’t lose. They learned. The organization is better. Special operations were equipped to win the Global War on Terror.

Every battle we were tasked with, I know we can argue we lost the war, but all special operations soldiers win every battle they were tasked with because of what the Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, and the Air Force Special Operations did in the ‘80s and ‘90s. They were accepting risk, training, trying new techniques, parachuting from 15,000 feet and then bumping it up to 22,000 feet where they needed oxygen and then taking it to 30,000 feet. I remember the guys telling the story about they pushed the limits, and they went to 36,000 feet. After that jump, they’re like, “That was not a good idea. Let’s go back to 30,000.” 

There was information. They used information that they gained in each one of those iterations to iterate on it and make it better. It wasn’t where they stood up and said, “We’re going to go straight to 36,000 feet.” They looked at it. They had data. They understood that data. They understood that new classification of data then created a next level of opportunity. It still had its risks. They understood and defined them, but it created the next level of opportunity that they went to. I would argue that the opposite of that is hubris. If you stand up and say, “I’m going straight to the top like I’m going to look at my boss and tell my boss, ‘I don’t care what you want to do. This is what we’re going to do,”’ that’s hubris, and that ends in failure. 

For the readers, we talked about change. Change being constant. As we get over, we resist change. Risk is a lot, it almost parallels that. Look at investments. When you’re younger and start to work with a financial advisor, you usually start out aggressive with your mutual funds or ETFs. Over time as you get older, they switch that risk management to conservative. Understandably, that makes sense, but as we get older, we become more senior in organizations, we have to remember our roots of the days when we were willing to test things, accept the failure, learn and grow. History is littered with organizations, Fortune 500s that became complacent, they thought their business model was sound and we no longer need to innovate and adapt and they’re no longer with us now. Blockbuster is a great example of that, who could have bought Netflix, the price tag I read was $50 million, which based off the balance sheet they could have bought it ten times over, but they said, “No, we’re good. We don’t need you.”

Let’s talk about this failure for a little bit because you talked about something in the book that I laughed a little bit, and I know George has spoken about it at times in some of the things he’s done and some of the interviews he’s done since you have released the book. It’s where he said, “Human behavior is at times comical.” I watched the clip. 

Spend a week in HR and it will frighten you into being an entrepreneur and only having one employee. I promise you. 

You made that comment, George. I saw it, but then it stopped, it got cut off. I don’t know if that was the end of your point or at the end of the cut, but I was like, “I need an example.” That was the journalist in me, because the other thing that I haven’t told you, and I don’t know if you know, is I studied journalism. That was my undergrad degree. I went to Boston University to become a journalist. I watched, in 9/11, all these guys with long hair and beards, riding horses, changing the world. Still, I looked in and I was like, “I’m going to be a war correspondent. That’s what I’m going to do.” As couple of years went on and I saw this, I said, “No way, I’ve got to be the one who is making the impact and changing the world.” I wanted to be that transformative leader. I said, “No, I can always be a journalist. I can do it later.”

A side note that some of these you said. Back to my point, you classify people in three buckets when you ask them about their failures. That’s one, people who cannot think of a time they failed, two, those who failed but cannot show what they learned from it, and three, those who describe failure, how they overcame it and how they improved moving forward. No one’s going to argue that in the interview process, you want to hear three, but I need to ask you, do people do number one? Do people come in and say, “I’ve never failed?” 

Yes. It takes all of my professional discipline not to kill the interview at that point. I’m still courteous. I still make sure they have a good experience, but usually that spurs me on, especially when I’m interviewing executives and somebody says, “I’ve never failed.” You’re telling me that you’ve never set a goal and not come up short. You’ve hit your number every month or exceeded it every single month without failure for the past 25 years. If I look at it that way, usually you can dig. Two things that it tells me if they say, “I haven’t failed.” Number one, they’re not humble. Number two, they’re not introspective. Those two things, by themselves, rule you out.

Do you know the old expression when you’re up there briefing some PowerPoint slide to a general officer, you think you have the answer, but you don’t, and you ended up twisting in the wind on the end of a rope? I’ll do that from time to time in an interview when somebody tells me they haven’t failed. For the readers, if you’re interviewing, I don’t care if you’re a C-Suite executive or otherwise, failure is one more opportunity to learn and get better. If you’ve succeeded and you’ve not had any obstacles in front of you, I want to meet that person. If I dig long enough, I’ll find them. It’s frightening. Out of ten people that I ask, five of them will fall in the bucket of number one. 

I would have put two.

It’s comical. It’s tough to maintain your professional bearing and sit there and say, “Can I get your wife or husband or mom on the phone?” Everybody has failed at something they’ve tried. It tells me they’re not introspective and they’re not humble.

They haven’t tried.

That’s the other thing we talk about, talent. Mike and I, if somebody tell us that they failed, the failure part of that question goes away. We forget about it almost. We’re now zeroed in, dialed in on what did you learn. From that, the next time you tried that, how much further did you go from that learning? That’s what we’re interested in the interview, not the fact that you failed. It’s the self-development, it’s the self-improvement. It’s the person that says, “I can always get better.” That’s ultimately what you’re looking for in an interview, but you still have people, “No. I haven’t failed.” 

I have to imagine that people are scared about that question.

The first bucket shows a lack of humility. The second bucket shows a lack of self-reflection, and number three shows humility, self-reflection and resiliency. That’s why number three is so powerful. If you don’t have humility, if you’re suffering from hubris, you’re a cancer to any organization you step into. It’s the complacency that you think you have everything figured out. Fran, George and I talk about this a lot and you know about it, self-reflection is a tool we utilize. One, in the military, we call that the after-action review, the debrief. Self-reflection is the personal process you use to identify how to get better. If you lack that, you lack curiosity and drive to become the optimal human being.

This has opened up a whole bunch of the character traits that you define in The Talent War. In the definition of the character traits, you identify these nine, but then you talk about this concept of the whole man. We’ve adopted that on the show as a collection of folks in conversations with folks who have specific traits. They’re good at a bunch of things, but it’s the whole of the individual that makes them great at what they do. Can you talk to the Whole Man concept and the criticality of the Whole Man concept as you assess your leaders? 

Fran, in 2008, I had a great opportunity to bring out two Navy SEAL young junior officers that passed SEAL selection. I was a guest instructor at phase II of the Special Forces qualification course. Naturally, they brought me in, and they showed me the process from Special Forces Assessment and Selection all the way through the Q Course. That’s where I was introduced to the Whole Man concept. I was blown away by how further ahead the Army Special Forces community was on establishing a process, other than oral history, a process of asking themselves, “What are we truly looking for in these candidates other than being physically fit, confident and resilient? What are the attributes we’re looking for?”

As I dug into the history, they help panels of battalion commanders and command Sergeant Majors from the community of breaking down the attributes that made certain Green Beret so highly effective at being a Green Beret. They came up with a list of twelve. They dove into the Whole Man concept, which comes from Ancient Greece philosophy that people that have a fit mind and body are more equipped to deal with the pressures of life, especially a special operations life, where you’re thrust into the most volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments. You need a set of attributes that make up the whole man in order to be effective in an environment like that. 

Let me give you a simple example from a talent acquisition perspective, doing this for several years, you’re hiring more than the resume. You’re hiring the person. We wanted to get that concept out there that was so richly developed by the Special Forces. The other thing is, what drives your company is not the bullets on that resume, it is that whole person, it is those attributes. When your company is behind or you’re trying to innovate, to drive sales, or to break in a new market, it’s the whole person. If you don’t know that concept, and it’s why we put it in a book, you’re just hiring off a piece of paper. It’s like rolling the dice in selection.

I have to put you on the spot and talk about your own selection processes. You came together, you wrote this book, The Talent War, and it is a good book. I’m not just saying that because I’m affiliated with you in the Talent War Group and you’re sponsoring my show. It is a good thing. I was telling Mike that I’m building out a talent management cycle for a company that I’m working with. I took the book out and I started going down chapter by chapter, “Did I cover this?” It’s turning out to be good because I plagiarized the good stuff. I took everything out of the book for this project. You had to select each other. I haven’t ever written a book, but I have to assume that this is almost somewhat like an arranged marriage of some sorts, but this is a long process. You have both commented that writing the book is one of the most challenging things that you’ve ever had to do. It’s one thing to have to do it on an individual level. It’s another thing to have to do it collectively. What did you look for in each other when you set out and said, “I want to write this book and I’ve got to find the partner to do that?” How did you assess each other in terms of these traits, these characteristics, and look at to say, “We can do it?” 

George and I didn’t meet in the military. We met on what I consider to be one of the last professional social media tools and extremely powerful LinkedIn. George reached out, realizing that I was in Austin. He was in the military, he followed extreme ownership, and he said, “Would you love to meet for breakfast?” We met at the iconic Austin breakfast joint. From there, it was almost like a bromance in action because we both believed in the same exact things. We knew the power of a strategically minded HR leader and how they can change organizations. From there, we started to work together. I’m not taking credit for this, I was watching some horrible reality TV show with my wife, which I’m forced to do every evening. It was Married at First Sight, which is a god-awful show. I’m not a fan of any reality TV. It’s the devil reincarnate, but I blurt to her, “I’m going to step out and call George.” She’s almost tired of George at this point. I’m sure his wife is like, “Mike is calling.” Full stop, I got to take the call. I called George and I’m like, “Nobody ever wants to be the Navy SEAL that’s like, ‘We need to write a book,”’ because that’s the cliché of clishits.

Every SEAL writes a book. 

It’s part of the training. If you had known George, you would have brought the special operations expertise where he had the talent acquisition piece. We knew the concept from the start. That’s the first step. From there, it was not easy because one, halfway through and you’re like, “This is complete crap. We’re never going to come up with something good.” Two, getting over the fact that you’ve got to put yourself out there. When you publish the book, you are putting yourself out there. We’re stewards of our own relationship. We’re the guardians of our reputations. That’s what George and I wanted to say at guard is that we wanted to put something out there that was going to be impactful for business owners. It got to a point to where we were in tenth revision of the final manuscript. We were like, “We hate our own book.” Somebody is like, “Good. That means it’s time to release it.” We’re like, “What are you talking about?” They’re like, “If you hate your own book, it means you’re ready.” We could have gone through twenty more revisions and the thing still probably wouldn’t be released, but we said, “Let’s get it out there.”

That’s a long journey. You have talked about how it took a year or so.

It’s supposed to take about two and a half is what they told us. First of all, we both nerd-out on talent. You have that in common, but then you can’t be around Mike and not see the passion and drive about whatever he’s going to dig into. It’s Mach 2 with his ass on fire. That’s how it works and immediately want to gravitate towards that when it came towards talent. Mike, we need to be honest, the hardest part of the whole book process was the audio recording of the book. That smoked me. The first in my head, I’m thinking, “He’s bullshitting me. I know he is.” It starts to resonate in my head. I’m like, “If Sarraille is telling me he smoked, this is going to be brutal.” He didn’t even describe it enough, doing the audio version of that book was truly one of the tougher things I’ve done. To read your own material, Mike reading mine, reading all this stuff we put together and doing it right, it was tough. It took a lot of time. 

It was 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM for two days straight for each of us. I went home and I looked at my wife and like, “Don’t bother me. I’m going to sleep.” 

I did the same thing. I was like, “He was right.” It was brutal. When you see the drive, the determination, the resiliency, you could see those things and immediately when we’re talking, we knew that this is a synergistic moment. Let’s see where we can go with it. It keeps exponentially expanding. It’s an amazing gift. A lot of people don’t run into it. It’s been a gift to do this. 

George and I rarely learn from our experiences because we’re already talking about doing a second book. Once you get your hire through the door, that’s where the talent management and leadership development piece. You never stop pouring into your people. Fran, you’re passionate about this subject too, but if there’s one book that has not been done, it’s taking special operations in creating a book on specific to startups, of creating those small teams and how you drive a startup based off the special operations methodology. I’ve not seen anyone do it now. You’re usually a generalist type of books in nature. 

You have to understand the how. There are a lot of people out there who say, “I have a vision,” but not a lot of people can execute. If you can come up with the how and how do you sit there on day one and say, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to execute on this vision. What are the small things that I’m going to do every single day to move towards that vision?” You can be impactful for anybody trying to do anything. I like how you talked about writing a book forced you to share and open yourself up. You started this tribe, what Mike has referred to a lot as this tribe, the Talent War Group Leadership Collective. Mike, you’ve been vocal about the loneliness that you had when you left the Navy and you moved to Austin. For me, as your friend, as your colleague, I think about that and I say, “If Mike went through that and I went through that, more people go through that, a lot of people go through that.” Everybody who transitions out of the military at some point has to stop and say, what did I lose?”

One of the most unwritten things that you lose is this sense of comradery. This group around you, who thinks a lot like they share the common values. It’s easy when you sit down and say, “I don’t have that anymore. How do I get that back?” Mike, I’m wondering and hoping that you’ll share how you combated that feeling of loneliness, mentally, physically and emotionally. How do you sit there in a new place and a new life, looking for the next challenge and say, “I’ve got to wake up and move forward?” 

My first reaction to that is I didn’t deal with it well, and to be honest, Fran, you’re probably in the same stage, I don’t think you ever put that baggage down. We came from one of the strongest tribal environments known to man, and it was the ultimate support network. When you leave that, the military doesn’t do a good job of transitioning you out. You get your DD 214, for the readers, that’s your exit document, and you’re done, you’re gone, you’re on your own. When I moved to Austin, I engaged in some behaviors that don’t need to be mentioned on this show, I wasn’t engaging in healthy practices. I was in a mode of self-loathing and there was despair. It took a former commander of mine who happened to live in Austin to pull me aside during the lunch, he said, “Mike, I’ve served with you. What are you doing? I’m getting word all the way from San Francisco about things that are going on in Austin. You need to get help.”

In the military, it was suffering silence. We are getting better about saying that. The most courageous thing a man or woman can do is raise their hand and say, “I don’t feel right. I need some help.” That wasn’t my generation. This former leader stepped up, put me in contact with a gentleman, Dr. Chris Frueh. We got on the phone. Dr. Chris Frueh is a Behavioral Scientist and a Psychologist who has worked at the VA for a long time. He’s got several books under his belt. From Hawaii, he would talk to me. We talked through it, and I had to open up, I had to do something that was uncharacteristic of me. I was closing off people for about two years and I wasn’t allowing anyone or looking to join another tribe. I was reclusive in a lot of ways.

Dr. Chris Frueh and a good woman, my wife, helped me work through that process in my own way in my own timeline. The ultimate thing for me was I suffered from what I call survivor skill, not PTSD. A Navy survivor skill is a form of post-traumatic stress, but I was not upholding the memory of the guys you and I lost. If they were looking down, they were not happy with me, saying, “What are you doing? We gave you the gift of life. Live it, be happy, be productive, be impactful on other people’s lives.” When I finally started to realize that with the help that Dr. Chris Frueh and my wife had given me, things started to turn around and I started to do something that I had not done for several years, and that was smile. I smile all the time now because I’m surrounded by people that I love and love me. That’s the power of a tribe. 

I appreciate you sharing that with us. Those times are hard. There are a lot of people who don’t make it through and don’t know what to do. They sit there and that swirl continues, and it ends badly. I went through the same thing when I got out. I’ll never forget the moment that I was handed my DD 214, the document that has all your records. Twelve and a half years of my life are contained on a front and a back and a page, three-page document, handed to me by a nice lady, but an administrative person in an office, they take your ID card, and walk you out and say, “Thank you for your service.” I looked and I said, “Twelve and a half years, and that’s what I got.” I got in the car, I cried. That’s it. I was scared. I did not know what was next. I had no idea what I was doing. I knew that when I looked at the rear-view mirror, my tribe, my team, my friends, everything was gone. I didn’t know what was happening. I appreciate you sharing that. George, I want to give you the chance to respond and do the same.

It didn’t hit me right away. We talked about it in the book. My crew was a little bit different. I got out not long after being in Line Company Command. I had the tribe and I love my time, but I knew I wouldn’t be in leadership anymore, or at least not for another 7, 8 years I wouldn’t be back with troops. It didn’t hit me until I went to my first job because I had gotten into a veteran. We wrote about it in the book. The first day I walked in the door and started meeting people, I was like, “What did I do?” I was doing so well. I knew everything around me. I trusted the people around me, and here I am in Mississippi. I’m like, “Shoot me now.” It was a challenge.

When Mike and I are counseling, coaching, and mentoring veterans that are transitioning, we make sure to drive home the point about self-care, building your new tribe and staying connected to your tribe that you’re leaving behind in certain ways. Don’t just walk away from it because it’s a big deal. I have a new tribe with Mike in Overwatch and what we’ve created down the Talent War Group. It’s so funny for me because I exited in the ‘90s and here we are in 2021. I’m in a whole new tribe and feeling it all over again. It’s something to be grateful for. I suffered through it, not like you, and didn’t know what I didn’t know back then and thought, “Go for it.” It was a real gut punch. 

It’s so easy, Fran you know this, to hate the military, but people ask me, I’m like, “I love the military.” I didn’t like wearing a uniform. I didn’t like anything in garrison. I didn’t like standing in formation. There were a lot of things I didn’t like. It’s so easy, much like risk, to look at all the negative things, but when you look back in the military and the genuine lifelong relationships you built with some of the biggest characters, men and women who were the same people that you watch do selfless acts on the battlefield on a nightly basis, especially as a leader, I know officers to step back and be like, “I led those people.” It’s more like they led us, but I’m like, “You’ve got to be some of the luckiest SOBs in the world to have even been associated with men and women like that, especially having a title, leader.” That’s insane when you think about it. 

They say that work is not work if you love what you’re doing. I hear that all the time. We talked about the introspection. That’s one of the big things that was paramount to Jedburghs, it’s paramount to all special operations that followed them, you have to be able to take a step back and say, number one, “Am I doing it right?” Number two, “Do I know what right looks like, but more importantly, am I doing what I want to do?” Now that you have both made this evolution, you wrote the book, you’re taking the next steps, and thinking about another book to have more of the pain, when you self-evaluate yourself, what does that process look like for you? 

I was thinking about that because you gave us a little bit of a heads up. My first assignment was in Berlin when the wall was up, and I got to travel around Europe. As I traveled around Europe, the more that I saw, the more I realized there was so much more to see than I had time to do. When I think about introspection now, and now having the good fortune to have met Mike, done this book, officiated his wedding, by the way, being around Mike is a bit infectious. I get up every morning and the introspection is not, “Am I doing it right.” It’s like, “What did I learn from yesterday? There’s so much more to do. I need to get my ass busy because there’s a second book out there. There are more people to talk to.” There’s so much more out there to do. I feel like I’m picking up speed even as I go. I love that. 

There’s a big introspective piece about being in the moment. Do you appreciate what you have? Do you appreciate what you’ve done? We all have come from a world where the foot is through the floor. It pushes the pedal through the floor, down to the ground and there is no stopping. There’s no looking around. There’s no looking back. There’s no pumping the brakes to say, “Do I appreciate where I’m at?” That is one of the biggest things, I sit here now, several years after getting out and say, “You’ve got to pump the brakes. You’ve got to appreciate where you’re at. You’ve got to love where you’re at.” You’ve got to take a step back and say, “I enjoy what I’m doing right now. There are going to be things that are ahead, but am I having fun, living life and enjoying it right now?” 

The other thing is, with the team that we built here, we take time to celebrate that. Not just being in the moment, but to celebrate those wins and celebrate those accomplishments, those things that maybe in 2020, we didn’t think were possible. We take the time. As soon as we’re done celebrating, it’s like, “What’s next? What’s ahead?” Let’s create something. Let’s have fun. Let’s take some risks. Let’s change something about this, our little corner or our big part of the world. 

I am still figuring this out and maybe I’ll still be figuring out until the day that I die, but I know that the greatest impact in life is not currency. The greatest impact in life is that you have on the people around you. “Am I surrounding myself with positive-minded people that are going to push me to become better?” Proverbs 17:27, “Iron sharpens iron so as one man sharpens another.” “Am I surrounding myself with good people? Am I impacting their lives?” Ultimately, I judge my life. My biggest fear is that every day looks like Groundhog’s Day. “Am I doing things differently? Am I trying new things? Am I getting out there outside of my comfort zone?” As long as I’m following those three tenets, you’ll live an impactful, fun life for what you could write a book that your grandchildren would be proud of. 

It might even be with an Army guy too. Do you want to talk about getting outside your comfort zone? He did it. You have to give him due credit for that. We were at his wedding. I’m sitting there and thinking, “You’ve got to talk about being outside of your comfort zone.” I’m like, “Army guy surrounded by Navy SEALs, marrying a Navy guy. You better get this shit right.”

George, they put you in charge.

There was no part of me that thought anybody else was in charge other than Jordan. I need that cleansing statement out there. Jordan, if you’re reading, I promise you, I was doing my part. That’s all. Don’t put that stuff on me, Fran. Don’t get me there. 

I’m a Catholic, I told my parents, “We’re not doing it in a church. It’s not going to be the hour and a half ceremony,” and they were offended. They got over it quickly. We had George serve as the pastor. I said, “George, I hate weddings. By nature, weddings are boring. You’ve got to make people laugh.” George says, “Roger that, I got it.” In the course of a few days later, he’s like, “What do you mean by making people laugh? Is it like there are no restrictions?” I’m like, “Go with what you think is right.” My wife is a bit younger than I am. During his duties, he talks about how he and I met and how he realized that our significant others went to high school together. Those significant others being his daughter and my wife. The crowd is crying in laughter. I’m on my knees. My wife was on her knees too, in her wedding dress. He nailed it. The crowd is like, “George was the best part of that wedding.” We’ll take that. 

Do you want to talk about the definition of accepting risk? That’s it right there. That’s either big reward or it’s going to be ugly. Who knew what was coming? It was such a great day to marry two great friends, two dear loved friends.

We’ve got to close out. What we’re going to do here on the show is we’re going to end every one of these episodes with three things that were critical to Jedburgh’s success. What I mean by that is they had to wake up every day and do three things well. If they didn’t do these three things well, they couldn’t do anything else. That was that they had to shoot, they had to move, and they had to be able to communicate. What I want to ask you is, when you wake up every day, for each of you, what are the three things that you need to do to win?

There are three components that I need you to hold dear. One is a growth mindset. You have to have a growth mindset in life. It’s what you use to go to war with complacency each day. That’s the realization that you are a work in progress until the day you die. It’s like leadership, Fran, I know we talked about leadership, the one thing I want people to understand is that we are not preaching from a pulpit. We’re not saying we have leadership figured out. We are stewards of leadership and we’re fascinated with it. That’s why we love to talk about it. We do have some experience under our belt. That growth mindset is critical to success. Two, humility. You’ve got to be humble. You’re never the smartest man or woman in the room, don’t try to be. If you lead a team of 5, 10, 50, 100, consider that the biggest brain trusts you’ve ever been given and that they will solve any problem more efficiently or faster than you ever could. Lastly, it’s the tribe that we talked about. Everyone needs a tribe. We often use a word in the military called esprit de corps. An esprit de corps, for the readers, means a sense of homecoming, fellowship and loyalty. When you are surrounded by a tribe, and you don’t need to be in the military to be surrounded by a tribe, you’ve truly got a support network that you can lean on to continually grow as an individual. 

Mine can only be additive because he’s right. It is tough to follow, but he’s right. I’m only going to add to that. It would be 3 and 6, and I had it tattooed in Latin on my arm. Pertinacia, fides and amore, so persistence, faith and love. You have that mindset and that tribe. You’ve got to persist and drive every single day. You’ve got to have faith in you, in your tribe and in the team that you’ve assembled to do great things. Take a moment, appreciate those around you and love them. I’ve got a brother in Mike and a sister in his wife. Those three things on top of what Mike did, every day, if I can do those things, then it’s going to be a great day. It keeps me dialed in and moving forward pretty fast.

Mike, George, I’m honored to sit here with you, to be a part of the Talent War Group, and to be in your presence. You have truly done amazing work with writing the book. You’ve done amazing work with bringing this organization together. I appreciate your candidness here with me. I’m living my dream. We talked about introspection. This was my dream. I wanted to do something impactful for people. I wanted to get out there. I wanted to give back to people all over of all walks of life, who can learn something from the things that we’ve done. I thought I was going to do it several years ago when I went to school, and my life took a different turn. I’ve taken a lot of different turns since then. 

I appreciate the opportunity that I have here with you, gentlemen. I cherish every day. I appreciate coming on the first episode of The Jedburgh Show. We’ve got so many more to come. We have professional athletes lined up. We have academics who have operated at the highest echelons of academia. We’re going to have CEOs of large corporations, public companies, small businesses, people who’ve had to endure and grind every single day to win. That’s what we care about. We’re talking to transformative leaders. We’re making a difference in lives every single day. We hope to have everybody joining us again. We’ll see you next time. How you prepare today determines success tomorrow. 

American Jedburghs went out to form the foundation of the United States Special Forces and the Special Activities Directorate of the Central Intelligence Agency. Thanks for reading. We’re brought to you by the Talent War Group, an executive search firm and talent advisory. We’ll drive you to attract, retain and develop top talent with services like leadership development, talent acquisition, and keynote speeches. We work with you and your teams to create talent solutions to business problems. To get started, visit Follow me, Fran Racioppi and the Talent War Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and send your comments and inquiries to As former members of Special Operations Forces, The Jedburgh Podcast and the Talent War Group contribute a percentage of all profits to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, supporting the families of our fallen warriors. Thanks for joining us on this episode. How you prepare today determines success tomorrow.

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