Brent Gleeson (@brentgleeson) is a former SEAL and a prominent entrepreneur. He’s been very successful as a digital marketer and real estate. He’s also a well known speaker merging his leadership lessons from the SEALs and how to apply them to business. Most recently, he’s also an author of the book “Taking Point: A Navy SEAL’s 10 Fail-safe Principles for Leading Through Change.” Mark and Brent talk about his work and his principles of leadership. Listen to this episode to gain insight on how an Unbeatable Mind is necessary both in the military and the business world.
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Talking Points with Brent Gleeson
Hey folks. Welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. I am here at SEALFIT Headquarters with Brent Gleeson.
Before I get started with Brent–and of course, I’ll give him a more proper intro. Good to see you Brent.
Brent Gleeson: Good to see you.
Mark: We are having our final SEALFIT Academy of 2017 on October 13th? Is that right, Geoff? Sounds right. October 13th. And this is an incredible event. It’s 3 days. It’s the full download of the SEALFIT and the Unbeatable Mind training methods and philosophy. It’s an incredible event, and you’re not going to want to miss this. So if you’re looking to do it, this is your last chance until April of 2018. Check out our website–sealfit.com/events–for all the info. And hope to see you there. It’s one of my favorite events. I spend at least 15 hours personally coaching that event and we have a blast.
One other quick announcement– we are leaving SEALFIT headquarters. I mean, literally, we have been run out of town.
Brent: You’ve been here a long time.
Mark: We’ve been here for 10 years and this has been an incredible place. And we get visitors from all over the world to come. And it’s very exciting for them. This is the epicenter. But we’re leaving. We’re kinda like having like a bitter-sweet party around here, you know?
Brent: What’s the new destination?
Mark: We’re going to move to Carlsbad, but we’re not going to have a gym, but we’re not going to have a gym. I mean, we will have a gym, but it won’t be a membership gym. We’re giving up the Crossfit. Our Crossfit members are all sad.
And we’re going to have like, a studio gym. We’ll be able to film and we’ll be able to serve the community better around the world. And we won’t be as distracted running a retail operation…
Brent: Well, I was going to say–won’t that open opportunity to focus on that core business that’s related to some of the other things you do? As opposed to being sort of disjointed and distracted.
Mark: Well, that’s what I think. But it’s also a transition of our culture from kind of like a casual, gym based culture. Early days of SEALFIT. To trying to grow a real company.
Brent: A little more corporate.
Mark: A little more corporate feel. It’s a good problem to have. But it is bitter-sweet. And our… it’s really for me… My playground is going away. (laughing) That’s really what we’re talking about here.
Brent: (laughing) You probably love this place more than anybody.
Mark: I love this place. I just walk out and do burpees. It’s like heaven.
Brent: I remember… probably about 8 years ago or 6 years ago… came by for a quick meeting about the website. (laughing) You put us through the most horrendous… I just came for a meeting. I was puking in the corner.
Mark: I was thinking about it the other day. I was like, “Oh yeah, Brent. I’m really excited to see Brent again.” And then I was remembering that we did this crazy backsquat workout…
Brent: A hundred bodyweight squats, followed by pull-ups…
Mark: Every minute we had 5 pull-ups or something. And who was your partner at the time?
Brent: Our COO. Well Brandon was there and then our partner… our COO. This guy Miles, who’s super-fit.
Mark: Right. Miles was the only one who did the workout.
Brent: He sat down. It was like, “Oh, bro, you’re quitting already?” He’s like, “No. I’m done.”
Mark: (laughing) That was awesome. The rest of us… I don’t think we finished.
Brent: (laughing) Stifling vomit. Then we went on a 4 mile run afterwards.
Mark: That was awesome. That was the early days.
All right, anyways, as I said. Brent Gleeson. A friend of mine. Former SEAL team guy. Entrepreneur–successful entrepreneur. And author now. Speaker and author.
So we’re going to talk about leadership. We’re going to talk about the teams. We’re going to talk about whatever the heck comes to our minds, so welcome, man. Thanks very much.
It’s been what, 6 years since we..?
Brent: Something like that. Seems like a couple of months. But, time’s flying.
Mark: So you know, our audience is SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind tribe. So we like to keep the conversation around things that are motivating. Performance. Mental toughness. Resiliency. Leadership, all those things.
We stay clear of politics and war. I don’t, like, tell war stories and stuff like that.
So… (laughing) although politics would be kind of fun to talk about right now…
Brent: (laughing) I was gonna say. Especially if we’re going to talk about leadership.
Mark: (laughing) We’ll steer clear of that.
Brent: (laughing) Different context.
Mark: Right. Exactly.
So, Brent, tell us about your kind of formative years. I kind of like to start there. Your formative years… where are you from? And what were some of your early influences? And what kind of led you to the SEAL team path?
Brent: It was actually kind of a funny story that sometimes I’ll allude to in keynote presentations, cause people are interested in your journey from the civilian world into the SEAL community.
I grew up in Dallas. Did my undergrad at Southern Methodist University. Degrees in finance and economics. So obviously the path was going to be into corporate America…
Mark: Just like me…
Brent: (laughing) Yeah. Exactly.
So I took a job as a financial analyst with a large investment firm. And simultaneously I also had one of my roommates who also graduated–his path was to enter the Navy. So he went to OCS–Naval Intelligence. He’s had a phenomenal career in Human Intelligence. He’s now the youngest director of the counter-terrorism op center that we’ve ever had.
Mark: No kidding?
Brent: Yeah. I know. And I know all his dark, dirty secrets so I can’t believe he’s running that show. But that’s another story.
But I also had another fraternity brother of mine actually a year behind me. And he was on the path. This was just before 9/11, so keep in mind this was peacetime. Different mindset. Since we’re going to be talking about mindset, and mindset transformation.
So he was a senior. I was working in finance. So I had played rugby in college and I was a swimmer in high school. So obviously wanted to find a way to stay fit while I was working.
And so we started training together. Helping him prepare… strength training, running…
Mark: He wanted to be a SEAL?
Brent: Yeah, sorry… He was going to graduate, join the Navy, and attempt to make it into BUD/S. So we started training together. We started running Marathons and swimming every weekend. And every week. Every night, we would… I’d get home at 7 o’clock from my finance job, and grab a backpack with fins. Run 4 miles to SMU, swim in the pool for an hour, run 4 miles home. We did this every night. Ran 10 to 20 miles on the weekends.
But at the same time, this was to prepare him. Not to transition me out of my finance job. But I also started becoming, through all of our dialogue and our time spent together, and books he would recommend–started becoming very fascinated with SEAL history, SEAL culture. What it means to be part of that type of…
Mark: Do you have anyone in your family in the military?
Brent: My dad was in the Marine Corps. In the reserves during Viet Nam. Never deployed downrange, nor has he ever been the type of person that says, “You know. You should join the military.”
If anything, probably even more he was happy that I (laughing) got a job. Had a job. And didn’t have to pay for me.
Mark: My parents were very similar. They’re like… my dad went to the Army for 2 years. 11th Airborne. Which was disbanding, because they were a ragtag band of misfits. (laughing) But it was because he had a judge that said, “You can go to the Army or go to jail.” And he goes, “I’ll opt for A.” You know?
Brent: Pretty easy option there. Smart move on his part.
And so we started training together. I started reading every book I could find–mostly the Dick Marcinko books, but also the green faces and other Viet Nam era books. And obviously started becoming gradually more fascinated with the culture, the mindset, that high performance team anatomy, so to speak.
And… So that coupled with the fact that I was really bored at my entry-level financial analyst position. (laughing) As you can imagine.
Mark: (laughing) I wonder why? Imagine that.
Brent: Over time that mindset shift was, “This is something I need to do.”
Mark: So was it that you got interested in the military? Or that you began to look at yourself and say, “Hey, this is something I can actually do.”
Brent: It wasn’t the military in general. It was the SEAL teams.
Mark: Yeah. Same thing with me. It was the only thing on my list. It wasn’t like, “If I don’t make it in the SEALs, I’ll go in the Marine Corps.” It was like, “If I don’t do that, I’ll either die because they killed me in training. Or, I guess, something else. I don’t know. But I don’t want to look at the what else.”
Brent: I wanted to choose the most elite path that the military had to offer. And my buddy was going in. It’s kind of cool to have a swim buddy going in. And so we started training heavily together. And then, one day, I just flipped the switch. Quit my job. My buddy and I moved up to Crested Butte, Colorado, where we trained for an additional 4 months for about 5 hours a day at 10,000 feet altitude.
And then joined the Navy. And we both went through…
Mark: You both enlisted and went to boot camp?
Brent: We enlisted, yeah. We had our officer packages ready to go, and eventually we said, “You know what? Screw it. Let’s enlist. Faster path to BUD/S.”
Mark: And this was still pre-9/11?
Brent: This was pre-9/11. And this was also back when you still had to choose a rate. So I chose the shortest A school that was in San Diego. It was Sonar Technician. It was 4 weeks. I slept through the whole thing and was honor man. (laughing) It shows you the rigors of that course.
Mark: (laughing) That’s promising.
Brent: (laughing) Yeah, exactly. A little scary.
And so literally a couple months into being in the Navy I was checked into BUD/S.
Mark: Right on. That’s pretty… usually it takes a little bit longer. But that’s because of the A school, right?
Brent: That was by design and the path that I took.
Mark: And nowadays BUD/S prep can really stall people.
Brent: Right. We didn’t have formal BUD/S prep back then. There was some informal things at boot camp, but there wasn’t the formal BUD/S preparation.
Mark: Right. So what class were you in? What year…?
Brent: So it was interesting journey because we learned very early on about the pain of loss and sacrifice and what it was going to… it was almost foreshadowing to the post-9/11 reality we live in. But our class leader, John Scott, actually died during Hell week.
Mark: I remember that. Was he the one who died of a heart-attack?
Brent: Yeah. It was Thursday night of Hell week.
Mark: Running, right?
Brent: No. We were doing caterpillar races in the pool. And for those who don’t know what caterpillar races are, it’s a… it’s not as cheeky and fun as it sounds. It’s… when you’re 5 or 6 person boat crew swimming on your backs, with your legs wrapped around each other’s waists. So even fresh that’s a hard exercise to execute successfully…
Mark: (laughing) And this is Thursday of Hell week.
Brent: This is Thursday of Hell week. So it was… I believe he had a pre-existing heart condition that somehow didn’t pop when screening medically. So long story short and sparing details–he had a massive heart failure.
Mark: In the pool?
Brent: He drowned in the pool, yeah.
Mark: Oh, good God. Okay.
Brent: But it was interesting because when they were…
Mark: Did they call training? Or just basically pull him out and training continued on?
Brent: We were over at NAB, Naval Amphibious Base. They brought us back across the street. Put us in a classroom for a couple of hours while they were…
Obviously we knew something was bad. AT that time, we did not know he had passed. So a couple hours went by and we were approaching Friday morning. They came in and pronounced him dead. Put Lieutenant Perrato in charge. It was a very short conversation. Very candid. And then they called training.
Mark: No kidding. Okay.
Brent: So (laughing) to lighten the mood a little, it was a bitter-sweet moment because we were not formerly secured on the Friday afternoon, so the instructors beat the hell out of us. For the rest of 1st phase…
Mark: I’m sure. “You owe us.”
Brent: Yeah. “You owe us a day.” And so they took the next 6 weeks (laughing) to pay off that debt.
Mark: No kidding. How many guys in your class? What were the stats?
Brent: We started with a little over 200. 23 of the original graduated. We had a couple filter in during SQT. But 23 of the original.
Mark: What year was that?
Brent: That was 2000.
Mark: 2000, okay. So then 9/11 happens. Where were you at… serving, when 9/11 happened?
Brent: Well I was literally… I had a week downtime between BUD/S and SQT. So I was visiting a buddy up at UCLA. And we woke up Saturday morning–or whatever day of the week it was. I forget. And it was all over the news. Went back. We checked in a little bit early.
Mark: You still did SQT though, right?
Brent: Yeah, they did not accelerate training by any means.
Mark: Right. And back then SQT was at the team level, not at BUD/S.
Brent: It was. But not consolidated the way it is now. You still graduated from BUD/S. Got your trident, and then you go to SQT. Excuse me, no. You graduated from BUD/S. You go to SQT but we didn’t do Freefall School back then. But it was like it is now.
But we were actually another double-edged sword. Bitter-sweet moment. We were the very first class to get our tridents when we were graduating from SQT. Literally the class before us, you get it at the team after doing your…
Mark: Right. That’s what happened to me. We graduated BUD/S. Went to SEAL team 3. When they had enough of us, they classed up what they called STT–SEAL tactical training. We went through that. Then we went back to the team.
And 6 months later, we had a board. And we had a PQS. I mean, it was a nightmare.
Brent: (laughing) So glad I didn’t have to do that.
Mark: (laughing) Yeah. You guys had it easy.
Brent: But the problem is we showed up with our tridents. Let’s say the guys who were there before weren’t too keen on that.
Mark: (laughing) I’m sure they were not. That’s interesting.
Brent: Not that hazing was ever…
Mark: So what team were you at then?
Brent: Team 5.
Mark: Oh, you were at team 5. Rough and tumble team 5.
Goggins and the Unbeatable Mind
Brent: Well, we can get into this later, but since we’re talking about Unbeatable Mind, but from my perception one of the people I admire most from that Unbeatable Mind mindset is David Goggins who was in my class and we went to 5 together.
Mark: Okay. Goggins is insane.
Brent: We were in the same boat crew during Hell week.
Mark: Talk about a focused mind. You know, I’ve never met Goggins. I’m surprised our paths haven’t crossed. We need to get him on this podcast, by the way.
Brent: You do. He’s a fascinating individual, and…
Mark: He just doesn’t experience pain the way other people do. Or he’s able to shut it off and just keep moving.
Brent: Yeah. He’s not a people person, per se. But he’s so… once he puts his mind to something–nothing and nobody will deter him from achieving that goal. Like breaking the world pull-up record on the Today Show.
Mark: Well, I was just going to say… to do pull-ups for, what? 24 hours straight? Is that what it was?
Brent: 24 hours.
Mark: And how many did he do? Like 14,000? Or some insane number?
Brent: Yeah, something like that. Well, he tore all the ligaments in his right arm the first time around. And then healed, came back like literally 2 months later and broke the record.
Mark: Oh, no kidding.
Brent: So, yeah. Well he still did hundreds of pull-ups after tearing all the ligaments in his arm.
But do you know his story? I don’t know if you want to get off on this tangent… Do you know his story from… How he transitioned. His entire story is pretty fascinating since we’re talking about the Unbeatable Mind. Not just some average white guy Joe like me.
But he was in the Air Force. I think a TACP or combat controller, and he had been a football player. Big dude. 240 pounds. He went to the detailer. He said, “Hey, I wanna do a lat. transfer. To go to the Navy. To go to BUD/S.”
And they’re like, “Roger that, but just…”
Mark: He was an enlisted guy? Or an officer?
Brent: Enlisted guy.
But they gave him some advice. “You’re pretty big. You might want to lean down significantly.”
He said, “Roger that.” Came back literally 2 months later, I think, 35 or 40 pounds lighter. And super-fit. Not unhealthily light. He didn’t just starve himself.
But he lost all that weight. He did a lat. transfer, and then filtered into my BUD/S class. So we went through BUD/S. He was in my boat crew in Hell week, which was fascinating experience. (laughing)
Mark: I bet.
Brent: A good motivator. Almost too good.
And then we went to 5. And then we all went through our workups and we deployed to Iraq. He deployed, I think, to PACOM. Then we all came back. During Professional Development PRODEV he opted to go to Ranger school. So I don’t remember what the process is for doing those types of cross trainings.
But he went to Ranger school. Came back 20 pounds even lighter. And I don’t know what they do to people at Ranger school, but he also now wanted to be an ultra-marathon runner. (laughing) Cause being a SEAL wasn’t enough.
Mark: (laughing) It’s not enough.
Brent: It’s not enough. So this… David’s Unbeatable Mind sits down at his laptop. And what does he do? He starts at the top. He Google’s “Hardest Ultra-marathons in the world.”
Mark: Right. Wasn’t the Badlands in there?
Brent: The Badwater comes up. It’s a 135 mile race through Death Valley.
Mark: To the top of Mount Whitney.
Brent: Yeah, yeah. Not fun.
And so he calls them up.
Mark: That was his first race?
Brent: Well, no… it’s… so he calls them up and he says, “I wanna sign up. There’s a race coming in 6 months.”
They’re like, “Who are you?” Like, the world’s most elite marathon runners do this race. And he’s like, “Well, I’m David Goggins. Team guy.”
They’re like, “Okay, David Goggins. What was your last time on a hundred?”
He like, “Well, I’ve never run a marathon before.”
They’re like, “You’ve never run a marathon? And you wanna sign up for the Badwater?”
So more or less he got laughed off the phone. Gave him the requirements. “You need to do 2 qualifying times in 2 ultras. And those qualifying times then can possibly get you in to this race, or one of our races.”
So ironically 2 days later there was a race called the San Diego 24. It’s a 24 hour run around a 1 mile loop.
Mark: No way! What fun.
Brent: I think the goal is to run a hundred miles in a certain amount of time within that 24 hours.
And so 2 days later, zero training, he goes. And he runs in at about mile 75 he was experiencing massive kidney failure. He’d fractured most of the bones in his feet.
Mark: Good God.
Brent: So he quit. No, I’m kidding. So his wife told him to quit. He did not. He said, “No, screw that.” He basically ran another marathon. Finished. And then went straight to the hospital.
And had… he was very serious stuff going on. But that time qualified him to get into The Hurt, which is in Hawaii. Another horrendous ultra-marathon that’s on a trail. And you gain and lose thousands of feet of altitude in that run.
Mark: No kidding.
Brent: So he did The Hurt. Did very well. Was pissed that he didn’t win. (laughing) Cause now he’s a 2 time ultra- guy. Against the world’s most elite runners. Like 3 or 400 of them. And those times qualified him for the Badwater. And that’s the story.
And it’s really cool cause a lot of what he does is to raise awareness for the various SEAL foundations, and raising money for families.
Mark: Now, he’s not on active duty anymore is he?
Brent: No, he’s retired.
Mark: Do you keep in touch with him?
Brent: Yeah, yeah. I was just talking to him the other day.
Mark: We could do a podcast with him to.
So, yeah. He’s a great example of a team guy with Unbeatable Mind. I would say most team guys have that kind of mindset. You need that to get through BUD/S. Unless they kind of lose it. I’ve seen that.
So, you were at team 5. You went to Iraq. Where did you serve over there? What was the timeframe?
Brent: We were actually the first task unit from any of the teams to go in spring of ’03. So we went over there March ’03. Literally right after the city fell. So we were the first SEALs really doing the initial capture or kill, DA types of raids over there. We were working closely with our agency partners.
Mark: Were you staging out of Baghdad…?
Brent: Yeah, we were out of one of the palaces. Near the Baghdad airport. Within the palace grounds we had a compound. It was called Camp Jiniposy.
Mark: Yeah, I’ve been there.
Brent: Yeah, I’m sure you have.
And so we were the first people to set that up, and operated out of there. The op tempo back then was super-high. Literally just doing DAs.
Mark: You going after the Deck of Cards?
Brent: Deck of Cards, Blacklist… whoever our AC partners would bring to us. A lot of it, of course, was from ground intelligence. Last minute ground intelligence…
Mark: And this was at a period before we even thought about the insurgency. So this was still post-invasion kind of clean-up. Pre-insurgency. So the IED threat hadn’t really ramped up yet.
Brent: It was during that deployment it started to. And I remember that because we were initially using vehicles as insert platforms. Cause a lot of the times our targets were anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes away, in and around Baghdad.
Mark: You didn’t have hardened Humvees at the time.
Brent: No, we actually intentionally un-hardened them. We took the doors off. They weren’t up-armored. We took the roofs off because… and that was our way to adapt to our surrounding conditions. It was too difficult getting in and out. All that gear and using vehicles as insert platforms… we’d roll up to a house. Jump off with ladders. Jump over the walls.
Mark: Yeah. Most people listening wouldn’t know that up until then, SEALs really didn’t use vehicles for insertion and extraction. We walked or used boats or submarines or helicopters.
Brent: It was the newest form of our existence in an urban environment.
Mark: Right. Now we did have the Fast Attack Vehicles, right? Which were team 3 and then they kind of carved them out for all the west coast. The FAVs were in the first Gulf War. And I think they brought the FAVs over there. They were pretty useless at that point. For the invasion, right? But that was it.
Brent: Yeah, they weren’t that helpful then. We actually used them on our very first mission. Literally… it’s kind of funny, cause we weren’t even in Iraq yet where we got tasked with our first DA. We were still staged at Olie Ocili air base in Kuwait and Intel came down that retreating Iraqi forces had taken control of the Micurion dam, if I’m saying that correctly. Was a big hydro-electric power plant and dam in central Iraq. And so…
Mark: Was this when Harward running the show over there, or who was the JSOC commander?
Brent: Harward I believe. Jamie Cartwright, our CO was running the show for us. Or XO, ‘scuse me. Intelligence said that the forces that had taken over the dam were going to destroy the dam–blow the dam–causing mass power electrical outages. Flooding the areas below. Kind of trying to slow the American advance through that area.
So we were tasked with a mission to fly all the way up there. CH-47 Helicopters in conjunction with the Polish GROM–the Polish’s Elite Special Ops units. They were going to be acting as a blocking force and also hitting some of the smaller structures around the hydro-electric power plant. My platoon was acting as the primary assault force. Literally fast-roping right onto the X. So that was our very first… (laughing) All of us… none of us had been to any type of combat before, because it was peace time up until that point.
Mark: It was all new, right. How was that experience for you?
Brent: We used those vehicles for… our mobility team used those just for patrolling.
Mark: How did that op go? For your first combat op, how did that go?
Brent: It was a relatively soft target, so it went basically seamlessly. We took control of it as per the mission profile. We also held the target for 3 days until conventional forces arrived.
But it was smooth, it was well executed but it was also food that it was a soft target.
Mark: Did you meet some resistance or not?
Brent: A little bit, but not much. The resistance lasted for about 2 seconds. (laughing)
Mark: (laughing) Right.
Brent: “Screw that. This is not good.”
Mark: “These guys look like they know what they’re doing.”
Brent: Point your AK, throw it away… So it was smooth.
Brent: Later missions on that deployment were different.
Mark: Now this just popped in my head. It’s a little bit of a deviation so we’ll come back to your story. But when I was over in Baghdad, the GROM was of course there, and they had women on their team. Did you work alongside women…?
Brent: No. I knew that they did. They used them like some of our tier 1 assets too. But we were just working with some of their primary assault…
Mark: All right. What do you think about women making it through SEAL training? Cause it’s kind of in the news recently, cause they had the 1 girl who recently dropped out.
Brent: It’s been in the news recently. I’ve been asked to comment. I’ve declined to comment. Not because of my perception…
Mark: You mean publicly? On TV or something like that?
Brent: Yeah, I’ve done some news stuff or other things before so…
Mark: It’s a hot potato for the community.
Brent: Yeah. Hence me not commenting.
Mark: I haven’t commented on it publicly either. I just think it’s a fascinating subject. The official line is, of course, welcome them. But the standards won’t drop and we hope that there’ll be some female teammates in there.
Brent: Well just like the GROM or our tier 1 assets do, I mean, they’re a valuable asset to the community depending on whatever capacity they’re serving.
Mark: Well they already are. A lot of people don’t realize that. There’s tons of women in the SEAL teams, they’re just not Navy SEALS. They’re Intel, they’re admin, they’re communications. EOD even, I think. So they do a valuable job, that’s for sure.
Mark: Okay, so that was your… did you do another mission, or another tour after that combat mission?
Brent: Yeah, another one in Iraq. And then one in Africa. And then…
Mark: So you had 3 rotations all together? And why did you get out?
Brent: So, it’s 2 things. And I’ll preface this by saying I always… I think we always do. We always regret leaving the brotherhood. Leaving the teams. I serve in different capacity now. I… let me back up. My plan had never been to be a career SEAL. I wanted to kind of see how it went. Keep in mind it was peacetime when I went in.
It was pretty busy, when I was in. And obviously if we had a crystal ball, I mean none of us could even fathom how long these conflicts could have possibly gone on.
Mark: Still going on…
Brent: Any given day you could have asked anybody back then, saying “this is going to end any second.” That’s why we wanted to deploy so quickly.
Mark: 2001 and we’re heading into 2018 and there’s no sign of any change.
Brent: Well, I remember back then. There was that focused sense of urgency, “We gotta deploy, we gotta deploy. Cause this is all gonna be over soon.”
(laughing) Well, here we are.
Mark: Well, that happened to me in the first Gulf War. We were like, “Hey, we’re jacking up, we’re getting ready to go.” And we were literally packing our pallets, and then they said, “Sorry, it’s over.”
We’re like, “shucks.”
Brent: That was our mindset back then too.
But, so I wanted to stick to my plan. Go to grad school. Get back into business. Wasn’t sure in what capacity that was going to be. I figured I would go back into finance.
But I continue to serve. I’m on the executive board of the SEAL Family Foundation…
Mark: You didn’t stay in the Reserves?
Brent: No. But it’s funny because most of the guys that got out around the time that I did were back in a platoon inside 6 months.
Mark: Right. They got sucked back in.
Brent: But I’m on the board of the SEAL Family Foundation. Helped raise millions of dollars for the families over the past 5 years.
And I mentor guys into the program. So that’s my contribution to service and how I give back.
But yeah, I wanted to go back into business. And so…
Mark: So you went to USD, right, for your MBA? Did you do the MBA there, or the MSEL?
Brent: Combined program. MBA and MRSE, which is a Master of Science in Real Estate. It was a new program. Cause I also wanted to… my finance focus after undergrad was in real estate finance investment. So… and my dad’s been a real estate…
Mark: Didn’t you launch New Condos Online out of business school? Or come up with the concept while you were there?
Brent: Yes. So we… initially I thought maybe I wanted to be real estate developer, and then we started seeing potential murmurings of an economic collapse. “We’re not in a bubble. This is going to keep going.”
Mark: This is when–2006, 2007.
Brent: 2007. And even our economics professor was… “No. We’re going to double dip recession. This is all going to end soon.”
And, you know, us young excited entrepreneurs were like, “Oh, whatever.” But that being said I learned so much about real estate development during some of that program that I felt that that wasn’t a fit for me. So I went the technology route and built basically an early version of Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com those types of sites.
Mark: Mm-hmm. Specifically for condos. New condos, right?
Brent: Attached housing. Condos, townhomes. All over the world.
Mark: All right. And so you launched. How did that first entrepreneurial endeavor go?
Brent: Great. It… Back then we were faking it ’til we make it. (laughing) We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Mark: (laughing) I’m still doing that.
Brent: (laughing) Exactly. Same here. We’ll get into all that later. But I’m just doing it in a different capacity now. But we went out and we raised friends and family around the money. Just like 20 grand to build the site. To get some momentum. It was just 3 of us so we wearing every entrepreneurial hat you could imagine.
Mark: The other guy’s students–fellow students?
Brent: Yeah. Very cliché, I know, to meet in grad school.
Mark: That’s the way it goes.
Brent: Then we got some momentum. Developed some sales. And we did a series around of about a million dollars through angel capital and then financed the business that way. And grew it…
Mark: So you… was it focused on buyers or renters?
Brent: It was basically a lead generation search engine. Just like a Trulia or Zillow or a homes.com. So our clients were real estate developers, home builders or the marketing media firms that represent them that are buying ads.
Mark: So people would come search for what’s available in their area.
Brent: Right. So our users are people looking for a home. Our clients were people selling homes.
Mark: Right. Easy day.
Brent: And it was easy day. We were… back then, before the crash, we were in a bubble.
Mark: Technology wasn’t easy back then. I mean, you probably spent a lot…
Brent: Technology wasn’t easy, but the market was easy, because people were throwing all kinds of marketing dollars at real estate. And it didn’t matter what it was. I couldn’t believe we even got our first clients. (laughing) The website was just atrocious. But I look back on it now… you’re always going to think that on your first stab at something like that.
And then the economy crashed and we started seeing the near future and the severity of what was going to happen. And usually in any type of economic downturn–especially in the housing market–the first budget to be cut is going to be marketing. Which is actually totally the wrong strategy. People who survive through downturns are ones who invest.
Mark: Right. They double-down.
Brent: They double-down. And that’s why a lot of home builders are out of business. A lot of the buildings got taken back by banks. All those things.
But we decided to diversify ourselves amidst the fear and uncertainty of what was going on. And, like we say in the military, the VUCA environment–volatile, Uncertain, Complex Ambiguous.
And so what we did was we decided to… We’d learned so much about digital marketing and media that we decided to start a small digital marketing agency. Just as an offshoot and an alternative revenue stream to the first company. So we borrowed $100,000 from that business to start the new business. We gave those share-holders equal common stock shares in the new company. First company started shrinking, and this company took off. Doubled in size every single year. I just sold my shares in it in August.
Mark: Nice. That was Internet Marketing Inc. I remember that was right around the time I met you. You were so excited because you got that domain name, and you were off to the races.
Brent: Yeah. It… And we were very blessed. We learned a lot through successes mostly… failures. And we hit the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies every year for about 7 years in a row. But we also learned about the dangers and nuances or rapid growth.
Mark: Of growing too fast.
Brent: Smartly not intelligently.
Mark: So how’s that company doing now? What’s the status?
Brent: Company’s doing great. I sold my shares in August. Sold my half back to the company to pursue some other things.
Mark: Right, right. Yeah.
That brings me to leadership. A passionate subject for me as well. Like, I love leadership. I actually was at USD myself getting a doctorate in leadership when I was mobilized to go to Iraq in ’04. I don’t know if you were over there in ’04. I think probably not. Were you?
Mark: Cause you were there ’03 then back. And then you would have been over there ’05 or so.
So I was over there in ’04 and while I was there… I had all my course work done, and I was basically dusting off my dissertation and putting the finishing touches on the project. And while I was there I had this epiphany. I said, “There’s no way I’m going to do this. I’m not interested in academics. I really need to go home and focus on my business and my family.”
And so I think it’s the only thing I’ve ever quit in my life. And it’s still on my bucket list to go finish my damn PhD. (laughing)
Brent: (laughing) Wait, it was a transition.
Mark: (laughing) That’s right. I transitioned out of it. My “why” changed, so when your “why” changes, it’s not a quit.
Brent: It’s just a shift.
Mark: That’s right. A shift. And also the other thing… Brent, you can probably appreciate this is that none of the leadership professors in the academic world… I shouldn’t say none, but very few of them actually know anything about leading. And they’ve never led someone in combat. So I said, “You know, I’m gonna go teach people how to become better people. How to develop trust. How to maintain control and develop resiliency and that’s what SEALFIT is. So SEALFIT at its core… people think it’s a fitness company. No. It’s a leadership character development company. And that’s where Unbeatable Mind came from. Very cool.
So you started taking point. And you wanted to develop leadership and you’re working with corporate clients now? How’s that looking?
The Start of Speaking
Brent: Yeah. It was kind of a funny transition. About 5 years ago in December of 2012, I’d just started writing weekly columns for Forbes and for Inc.com. But not about marketing, about leadership. And the column was called “From the Battlefield to the Boardroom.” And I write every week. I still do.
Mark: I think Basu has done some articles for that. Or is that your column?
Brent: Jeff Boss has and some other guys. I don’t know if they do regular columns, but I’ve had these columns for years now.
But one Saturday morning I was sitting with my wife, drinking coffee. Open my laptop and check my email. And I got an email from the president of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Asia-Pacific. So he’s now one of my best friends. We’re godparents to each other’s children.
But he’s just a very energetic, very successful… to the borderline prodigy level… in banking. Australian guy. He’s only 46 today and he’s one of the top 4 executives in the entire global company. But he’s also obsessed with Special Operations culture and how it applies in the corporate world, the business world.
He’s super-fit. Does a lot of Crossfit and things like that. And he emailed me saying, “I read your article.” And it was actually the first article I’d ever written. “Read the article. Love the concepts. I would love to have you come speak at our global leadership conference.”
Brent: (laughing) Didn’t ask if I was a speaker. Didn’t ask if I had a website or videos or anything. I’m glad, cause I didn’t have any of that. Cause I was running this other business. As the entrepreneurs we are, of course I said, “Absolutely.”
Mark: (laughing) “Sure. I’m in.” Of course.
Brent: It was, like, 4 weeks away.
Mark: We don’t learn to say “no” very easily.
Brent: No. I turned to my wife it’s like, “Oh crap. I just sort of said yes to something that I have no idea how to do.” Going back to our fake it ’til we make it.
And went out, developed the presentation of course. Just like you would. I trained and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. Hours a day to get into practice. And you know, your first time doing something like that is…
Mark: (laughing) Sketchy.
Brent: To say it’s nerve wracking is an understatement.
Mark: Most people would rather jump out of a helicopter.
Brent: But I did it. And it was a packed schedule of evening keynotes and workshops during the day. All about leadership. They also wanted to focus on culture transformation. This was still pretty new…
Mark: It wasn’t just a single talk. You had to prepare a bunch of workshops…
Brent: Yeah. Looking back, I should have charged way more.
Mark: (laughing) Yeah. I’d say $100,000 at least.
Brent: (laughing) Yeah. I didn’t charge anywhere near that. But it was a great brand opportunity. It was the first global brand that I ever worked with in that capacity. And the topics were not just around leadership, but around culture transformation and how to navigate that type of change. Because they were still only a few years into their merger between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Two very different cultures. Not just geographical cultures/differences. Cause they’re a global company. But corporate cultures.
And so that was kind of the fundamentals of what we were talking about in the workshops and facilitated discussions. Long story short, it went really well. And they bring me back every year to do Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong. And London, now. That’s where I was last week.
And so I leveraged that… I love doing it. I realized I had a passion for it. An affinity for it. And so I leveraged that opportunity to get other opportunities. And more and more.
So I’m then doubling the frequency of speaking and consulting ever since then. Which of course, was taking me away from my other business. So from an executive and fiduciary responsibility standpoint, it was time for me to pursue this passion and let the other leaders in that organization take the reins and do what they need to do. While I go do this.
Taking Point, the Book
Mark: Right, right. So what’s the overarching theme? I’m taking… I understand what Taking Point is, but explain it for the audience what Taking Point means. And if you were to boil that… or maybe the way to look at this is you’ve got a book coming out, by that name, “Taking Point.” In February and you probably have a series of principles. Do you wanna talk about some of those?
Brent: Sure. Sure. And you and I are very aligned on our philosophies around these principles as they apply to someone’s personal life, their professional life, or an organization or a team as a whole.
But the book is not just a leadership book. It’s a prescriptive model with ten specific principles. The subtitle is “10 Principles for Leading Through Change.” So, as you know…
Mark: Good. Sort of relevant these days.
Brent: Yeah. Today now more than ever, any organization of any size across the globe is facing the need for almost constant transformation. Think about it from a military context. In this post-9/11 reality we’re in, the military–not just the SEAL teams, but the military as a whole–had to transition from being… We went into these conflicts as what you might think of as a hierarchical, top-down, slow moving, 20th century organization.
Mark: Static, 20th century force.
Brent: Exactly. And we had to transition not just our systems and processes but our culture. I mean, you can imagine how hard that is in the military of course. (laughing) As you know. But transition our mindset and our culture to think differently. To become a modern 21st century organization. To break down the vertical silos, the horizontal silos that impede communication flow. Impede information sharing. Because we had to move at the speed of war to fight a more decentralized enemy. And to fight a decentralized enemy, we had to decentralize our controls as well.
And so that’ kind of the foundation of what this is as applied to business. So the principles having to do with 1st understanding your existing organizational culture. And does it even align with your strategy? What you’re trying to achieve?
And how do you audit that culture and leverage the positive aspects of the culture to meet specific objectives?
In this context, transforming the business to become something better. Whatever that is.
The next principle is about trust. Learning how to measure and improve trust. Internally and externally within an organization.
Mark: And how do you do that? Or, how do you recommend doing it?
Brent: There’s a lot of tools to do it. But a lot of it is first doing a kind of diagnostic analysis on the existing level of trust. And you can see that through behaviors. You can see that through even things like surveys. But you could just see it by other things. Is there real collaboration within the organization? Or is it a fake thing that we just talk about? Or are there structures that impede true collaboration? Are we sharing information across departments, across divisions? Or is everybody kind of in their bunker? In their silo protecting themselves as opposed to pursuing something bigger than themselves. The ultimate mission, so to speak.
Mark: Risking their comfort zone for the team and the mission.
Brent: And pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. Now a lot of companies, their structures impede that because they don’t reward that type of behavior. Senior leadership doesn’t exhibit that behavior. And that goes into another principle about accountability. Same thing, but a different word is how accountable are we as an organization?
In the SEAL teams, accountability essentially starts on day 1 of training.
Mark: Yeah. You gotta take extreme ownership.
Brent: (laughing) You do. Absolutely.
But again, in a lot of my favorite business books are about transitioning your culture to be one that’s founded on the principle of accountability. And not just that as a fun buzz-word, but what are the measurable financial returns, when you focus not just on a set of financials, but improving accountability. Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and building that high performance team just like we do… just like we spend months and millions of dollars in the SEAL teams.
Mark: Right. Now I assume you employed these principles whether you knew it or not at Internet Marketing Inc.?
Brent: I sometimes did it well and I sometimes did it poorly.
Mark: (laughing) The reason I ask that kind of cheekily is that I’m a great trainer, and my books have been well received. But some of the principles I need to like, look back at my own organization.
Brent: (laughing) Well my wife throws this back in my face all the time. She’s like, “You’re not controlling you emotions. You’re not being accountable. Where’s the trust?”
I’m like, “Hey. Don’t worry about it.”
Mark: (laughing) “Back down. I’m teaching other people how to do this stuff.”
Brent: But no, it’s a good question and I’m very transparent about this in the book. That a lot of my quote-unquote “wisdom” comes from a series of pretty costly mistakes. As you know, in business, every mistake has both a hard and soft cost. Every single time. Whether it’s hiring the wrong people or aligning yourself with the wrong customer. Or letting a culture just haphazardly come together as opposed to designing that culture from day 1.
I got most of that stuff wrong and then had to go back and un-eff it for the following years. So when I talk about it, I sound super-smart, but mostly just cause I’ve screwed it up a lot.
Mark: That’s interesting.
So of the 10 principles, is there like a dominant one? Or like a first premise kind of one? That must precede all the others?
Brent: The book in Part 2… Part 1 is about building a change culture. Part 2 is about preparing for the change battle. There’s things in there about communicating the vision consistently and regularly throughout the process. And engaging everybody in the organization to help push the mission forward. But Part 3 is really more about winning the change-fight. So what is the long-term part?
And these… even though the principles are outlined sort of in a chronological order, they’re not necessarily meant to be followed in that way. Because chapter 9 and 10 in my opinion are the most important. They’re about discipline and resiliency.
Now of course there has to be discipline at the beginning and throughout an organization. Whether they’re trying to transform or just achieve certain business objectives. But the ones that will… because all of my research and studies and experiences at my own companies, literally 70% of most organizational change efforts fail. Due to either initial things, where the culture doesn’t align with the strategy. The levels of trust, accountability.
Or you can gain some significant momentum, but then in the long haul, competing priorities seep in. Other opportunities come along and even the senior leaders start to lose sight of the mission and the vision of what they’re trying to accomplish. Because they lack discipline. And they also resiliency because… change fatigue–just like battle fatigue–change fatigue sets in. People get exhausted. Most of these efforts take twice as long and cost twice as much as anybody initially anticipates. So you can imagine, people start to lose heart.
Even the early adopters–who are sort of your transformation evangelists, start to question “Well, are we going to see this thing through to the end?”
And then the nay-sayers, who are telling you, “This isn’t going to work. Yeah, yeah. We’ve seen this before.” They start being the “I told you so” people. And they’re empowered…
Mark: “Another one of his hare-brained ideas.”
Brent: (laughing) Yeah. “Another one of those stupid ideas that never panned out.” And those people can be very influential people in the company sometimes. And so without discipline and without also simultaneously building a resilient organization… just like, think of it in special operations. We build resilient people because resilient teams need to be made up of resilient people. They prepare for change. They’re ready for it. We anticipate it. And it’s that difference between planning and preparation. Plans are great, but plans are gonna change.
(laughing) One of my favorite quotes is “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”
And so that’s the whole philosophy behind business…
Mark: My experience from the SEALs and to this day I feel this way is that not only do not only do we plan and anticipate change, but we actually eagerly embrace it. Because that’s where the lessons are. That’s where the challenge is. And that’s where the growth comes from.
Any time things get to the status quo for too long, the team guy gets a little itchy and twitchy. “Bring it on. What’s happening? Where’s the change? Where’s the challenge?”
So getting that into an organization’s gotta be a real challenge. For people who haven’t been trained in the SEAL mindset. So how do you do that? How do you develop…?
Brent: Well, I think I do it similar to the way you do it. Through Unbeatable Mind and SEALFIT. You’re transitioning mindsets. Cause a lot of organizations, “Well, we need to train for these new things that we’re doing. New processes, new systems.” They don’t train for mindset transformation. They don’t train for behavioral transformation.
And then, even if they… those mindsets start to shift, they don’t oftentimes even reward those new behaviors. And so that will become a temporary thing.
So it’s really… and that’s all in Part 2… It’s all about mindset transformation. Not just in the senior leaders, but senior leaders first have to transform their mindset to adopt the new vision and believe in the mission before they can get anybody else to follow them into battle. So to speak.
Mark: Right. And how do you recommend that mindset gets changed or transformed? What’s… do you have specific ideas for…? Besides, “Hey, this is a new vision and we’re bought into. Now let’s believe it.” What specific steps do you recommend to train or to transform mindset?
Brent: It’s obviously… initially senior leaders have to first understand what they’re trying to accomplish and be totally aligned in how to get there. A lack of alignment will destroy, frankly the achievement of any goal in any organization. I’ve seen it in other companies.
So when there’s lack of alignment at the very top, a lot of bad things follow. You will not transition anybody’s mindset because the leaders haven’t transitioned theirs and they’re not aligned in what the ultimate vision and mission are. They haven’t defined their “why.” They don’t understand the true purpose behind what they’re doing. It just seems like the new flavor of the month. “We gotta go in this direction.”
And some people are like, “yeah.” Whether it’s at the Board level, or C-level or VP-level, some people would be bought into that, and start transitioning the way they think about the reality around them. And where they’re headed and how to get there.
And others will say, “We’ll see how this goes. Probably not going to work.”
But when that happens it’s very difficult to engage other potential evangelists within the organization. Or change agents. Or whatever we want to call them–to adopt that new vision and communicate it regularly and consistently throughout the organization. That’s how you transition mindsets. If you have a line at the top, and you have the desired… you can break it down. One of my favorite books about accountability breaks these things down into 4 pillars. You have the new vision with your existing results and your desired results. Desired results are what the new vision is trying to achieve.
Below that are the actions that people need to take to achieve those desired results.
But then when you get into the interesting part is below that is, “What are the mindsets and beliefs that people need to embody, and truly have, authentically. Not just say they do. To take the action to get the result.
And below that are what are the cultural experiences we’re creating in the organization that help instill those beliefs? And how often are we doing that? And that’s where mindset transformation starts to happen. But again, like anything else, it’s gotta start at the top. And if you can’t achieve that mindset shift and alignment amongst everybody in the senior leadership teams, typically–again, that’s why most of these types of efforts fail. And why a lot of businesses fail. That’s why 90% of startups fail. So…
The Future for Brent Gleeson
Mark: So what is your “why?” Like what is your vision for the future and how you’re going to impact the world?
Brent: Well one of the reasons that I sold my shares in my last company and have been really pursuing this passion if because I realize that I’m very passionate about… again, when I speak, what I write about, this is not me getting up there and talking about how cool it is to be team guy. We got plenty of that.
Yes, I like to motivate and inspire. Whether it’s someone from a personal perspective or from a professional perspective. But it’s really about teaching and educating people, leaders, managers. But I’m talking about leaders and managers from the top to bottom. Throughout the entire organization.
And help them learn how to improve their leadership and management style. Understand the differences between the disciplines of leadership and management. Two different things.
Understand how we can align culture with strategy. Understand how to improve trust and accountability. Take on sort of that SEALFIT mindset–the Unbeatable Mind mindset–to not think about all the obstacles and barriers that are in the way. But have a more future-thinking mindset. And how we’re going to get there. An opportunistic mindset.
That’s what… I wrote an article last week and another one today about resiliency and the pillars of resilient organizations. And some of them are those things. To your point earlier, they’re well-prepared for change. They embrace change. They want it. And they have systems and structures of not top-down hierarchical mechanisms from a leadership standpoint. But basically ecosystems and networks. Pure networks of people and leadership is disseminated down the chain of command more fluidly.
And then, of course, they actually empower those people. We throw that word around a lot. It’s not usually an authentic thing in companies. Cause they also give them the resources to succeed.
So I’m very passionate about that. I’m also… another part of my “why” is also to use the things I’ve done, things I’ve learned and some of the influence that I hopefully will continue to gain to give back. So the 2 passions of mine under that “why” umbrella are the SEAL Family Foundation. That one specifically because I’m on the executive board. We raise millions of dollars a year and disseminate it very quickly to the families in need. Whether that be through the families of some of our fallen or injured brothers. Or scholarships. Or other types of family oriented programs.
But then also… my family’s also the ambassador family for March of Dimes. Which is one of the oldest… March of Dimes is one of the oldest and largest that’s focused on research around premature birth. And healthy pregnancies.
So it’s funny, we learned how to use a 3D scanner to build a heart, but we don’t know what causes premature birth.
Mark: Are you on this because of an experience with that?
Brent: Yeah, so… And it’s funny because I’ll give a keynote presentation and somebody will ask… Sometimes somebody will pull me aside, “What was the hardest part of that? What’s the toughest thing you’ve been through in your life?” Assuming that I’m going to tell them some horrid combat story. Or BUD/S or Hell week.
It was actually the day we found out that our daughter had a birth defect. So our 3 year old daughter, Parker-Rose… And it’s horrible process. First, you get a call from the Fetal and Genetics Center. The call you don’t want to get. They’re like, “You need to come in now.”
That’s never a good thing. So you go in, you check in. You wait in the waiting room. Around a bunch of other people who look devastated.
Mark: Or terrified. Exactly.
Brent: Your wife’s crying. I’m quivering. You go into a room and first you meet with a grievance councilor. Before you even know what’s going on. Which of course magnifies the pain and fear of… So, you know, you’re Unbeatable mindset is being challenged significantly.
Mark: Yeah. It’s gone at this point in time.
Brent: And they tell you, “Well, your child has some birth defect.” Could be paralysis. Your child could have passed away. Brain damage. Whatever.
Then you go and meet with the doctor and we found out what it was. It was something called “gastroschisis.”
So most defects are because some part of the body has not close or connected all the way. So Spina Bifida, cause the spine doesn’t fuse. Brain damage cause the skull doesn’t fuse.
This is where her tummy hadn’t formed all the way. So all of her intestines and half of her stomach were on the outside of her body. Through the whole pregnancy.
Mark: Good Lord.
Brent: Yeah, so I actually touch on this story in the book about resiliency. Despite all the warriors I know, she’s the most resilient little kid I know.
Mark: No kidding.
Brent: And so she had… long story short… it was a very stressful pregnancy and Nicole had to go in to get fluid checked 3 times a week. And the whole thing.
Mark: How far into the pregnancy into the pregnancy did they find this?
Brent: This was right after they did the initial blood work. I think, a couple of months.
Mark: First trimester?
Brent: First trimester, yeah. Towards the end of the first trimester.
And so she was born, went right into surgery. Like, literally 20 minutes in. To put everything back in.
But she’s a healthy little girl. She had another emergency surgery a year later because she had a complication, but she’s had none of the complications that a lot of gastroschisis babies have. She was in the NICU for half the time. She was in the NICU for 25 days instead of the average 40 days. So she’s our little Unbeatable Mind warrior baby.
Mark: Hooyah. That’s awesome.
Brent: But that’s…
Mark: So you wanna give back to the March of Dimes.
Brent: So those… from a giving back standpoint those are the 2 charities that are close to my heart and “why.” And also why I like the transition that I’m in now. I have a much more flexible schedule. This company. Not big, but we had 150 employees. You need to be there.
Whereas now I have the flexibility to give more time to these things and also do…
Mark: And the family things.
Brent: And the family. Yeah.
Mark: That’s cool. So you wanna keep it like that? Or do you see “Taking Point” and growing into a consultancy?
Brent: Yeah, “Taking Point” like a lot of speaker’s or consultant’s books are designed to be a prescriptive curriculum for a consultancy. That can also be… my wife tells me this every day, because although she likes me being out of the last company, she doesn’t single parenting when I’m on the road every week. You know, you travel a lot for this type of thing. And it’s tough on mama. And so the vision is to gradually–not too quickly, but gradually use the book… it’s full of case studies and research and why it can be a curriculum for a consulting practice. So then, of course, train other consultants. Deploy them to speak.
And also like-minded individuals, whether they be guys from the community or military or other types of smart business people out there.
And to also create a very diverse cross-functional team of consultants that can touch on different things. Whether it’s emotional intelligence or culture or leadership.
Mark: We just launched our first coaching program–coach certification program–for Unbeatable Mind.
Brent: Awesome. Very cool.
Mark: Yeah. We had 20 people in it. We had 100 applicants.
Brent: How do you create a certification program?
Mark: (laughing) It’s a long conversation. Probably. But we aligned ourselves with the ICF–International Coaching Federation. And they have an accreditation process. So we’re meeting their standards, so we’re accredited ICF… And I could give you the details. And so…
Brent: (laughing) I should go through your course.
Mark: (laughing) Crawl, walk, run. First year, we’ve got 20 people. And they’re our guinea pigs and they know it.
And our stuff… it’s not a simple thing to teach what we teach. Cause we’re doing integrated development which is vertical development. Trying to vertically develop leaders and then eventually that’ll go into the organizational space. We’re kind of focused on the individual right now. And vertical development is a relatively new field, so we’re actually trying to evolve consciousness in the individuals. And my “why” is to eventually… to have that evolve global consciousness. Know what I mean?
One person at a time. Like McRaven’s speech, you know, if we can get 10,000 people evolved, then those 10,000 people will get 10,000 people and on and on.
So I think it’ll be fun. We’ll have some conversations but there’s probably some collaborative stuff we can do. Either in philanthropy or in leadership development.
Brent: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been trying to get my client the Toronto Raptors down here cause they want to put their guys through some SEALFIT magic.
Mark: We just did some work with the Flyers.
Brent: Nice. How’d that go?
Mark: It went fantastic. They absolutely loved it. It was with their development team.
And (pause) I’m not sure they want me to say this on public… (laughing) but I think it’s okay now. But anyways we did have an incident where one terd freaked out in the ice bath after 3 minutes. Literally freaked out and got taken away in an ambulance. It’s crazy.
Brent: (laughing) He signed a waiver.
Mark: (laughing) I know. We didn’t do anything! Anyways, his dad is like, “Yeah, he was hypothermic.” It’s like there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell.
Brent: You’re like, “No. No he wasn’t. He was only in there for a minute.”
Mark: He was weak. Sorry dad. Sorry to break the news.
Brent: But you probably knew it already.
Mark: Exactly. And so did the Flyers. And that’s the bottom-line.
Anyways, that’s very cool. And what do you do…? We gotta wrap this thing up pretty soon. But what do you do when you’re not traveling, writing, speaking… which is probably all the time. Do you have a hobby? Or what do you do?
Brent: Because I have… 2 of my children are under 3, or under 3 and a half being a father is the top priority as per my priority list and my wife’s. Fitness. I just gotta fit it in when and where I can. As much as I can.
Mark: You have a home gym? Or do you just…?
Brent: Well, we live in a gated community in Rancho Santa Fe and there’s a big community center with an awesome gym there. But I also have a home gym to. So it depends on when I’m fitting it in. And that’s what I’m gonna do right after this.
Mark: So do you like to do workouts like 100 back squats with every minute on the minute…
Brent: (laughing) No, I don’t. That was the one and only time I’ve ever done. That’s why I’ve never done it again.
No, I like to do some strength training, but try and fit… still keep doing distance running, distance swimming, open-water swimming.
Mark: Nice. Yeah, I love getting on the ocean. It’s very therapeutic.
Brent: It’s time-consuming, but it’s super-therapeutic. I’ve never felt better. When I got out and I was in grad school and working as an entrepreneur, one of our investors was a former frog-man from the Viet Nam era. He knew my dad in college. They swam together. And then he went to Merrill Lynch. Been there ever since. He retired. B
But he also… he was an all-American swimmer so he loved–much to my chagrin–he loved to swim in the cove at 5 o’clock in the morning every morning.
Mark: (laughing) And you’re the swim buddy.
Brent: (laughing) Yeah. And he wanted a swim buddy there. Every morning.
But he invested in my company, so am I going to say no? Obviously not. But it was… it’s depressing getting in the water when it’s dark and cold outside. But you feel like a million bucks, and it’s the best way to start your day.
So, fitness mainly is the thing I try to keep up with. And other than that it’s family. And then I don’t have time for much of anything else these days.
Mark: I can appreciate that.
Brent: Reading, I would say. Reading and cooking.
Mark: Oh cool.
All righty. So “Taking Point” the book is due out… is there a day in February? Yes, so it’s being published by Simon & Schuster. February 20th will be the live date. Technically speaking it’s available through my site. brentgleesonspeaker.com for pre-order now. But we’re not doing any big pre-order… it’s too early to do a pre-order push, but technically speaking you can pre-order it.
Mark: Would you be able to send me a pre-copy or parts of it?
Mark: And would you be open to me riffing on some of the principles?
Brent: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Or tearing them apart. (laughing) Actually, no. Please don’t do that.
Mark: I’ll give you my perspective on them. (laughing)
Brent: (laughing) We love transparency in the SEAL teams, right?
Mark: I think everyone listening… cause everyone on this… we’re all professionals. Everyone who listens to this podcast is a professional. And I think everyone including myself is fascinated with the subject of leadership.
I’ve been studying SEAL principles for leadership development–just like you have–for years. But…
Brent: You probably longer than anyone.
Mark: Yeah, probably. But I consider myself a neophyte still when it comes to human nature. It is vast. The potential that we have is vast, everyone’s different. There’s so many different ways that consciousness works and that motivation works, know what I mean? I’m all about other team guys starting to really think this stuff.
Cause I was alone for a little while. Not 100%, but when it comes to really thinking about character development…
Brent: To thinking about it to your point from a vertical development standpoint, nobody’s really doing that. Especially most organizations. They invest in essentially what would be management development. It’s not real leadership development. Nor is it the type of leadership development that modern, 21st century organizations…
Mark: It’s not going to work.
Brent: It’s not going to work.
Mark: I haven’t mentioned this publicly, but Reader’s Digest who published “The Way of the SEAL,” it’s now going into its 5th year. Next year is the 5th year anniversary. So they came to me and said, “Hey, we want you to do a 5th anniversary edition and focus on leading in accelerated times.
Brent: So you going to add a couple chapters?
Mark: I’m adding 2 chapters. One, “Leading in Accelerating Times.” We’re going to go through VUCA and talk about how to deal with volatility and complexity.
And the other on building elite teams. So it’s right in sync with what you’re doing. And then I… the nice thing was, I actually got to edit the book. Because, you know, once you put a book out by a publisher it’s like… you’re done.
Brent: (laughing) It’s done.
Mark: But my “Unbeatable Mind” book is self-published, so I’ve edited 3 times. And I’m about to do it again next year. And I’m working on a leadership version and a teen version, for young adults. And that’s self-published so you can go in there and tweak it anytime you want, which is kinda nice.
But it was kind of a nice…
Brent: (laughing) That’s the scary part of formal publishing.
Mark: (laughing) It is kind of scary, yeah. But it’s nice to be able to go back and to update a book. I’m actually changing out some stories that aren’t relevant and I’m taking a lot of references out to SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind, cause it sounded a lot like a big marketing pitch. (laughing) Which it was.
Brent: Of course, it was back then.
Mark: Make it more credible…
Brent: I’m excited to see it, and I’m excited to get your take and I wouldn’t be shocked if we’re aligned on a lot of those philosophies.
Mark: Awesome. Well thanks again for coming down here.
Brent: Thank you very much. Good to see you again, brother.
Mark: Really appreciate it, and we’ll see you around.
All right folks, that’s it. Thanks for your time. We don’t take it lightly. We know you’re busy. Unbeatable Mind podcast is available pretty much anywhere you can get a podcast now. That’s fairly recent, so if you’re a Google guy or girl, then it’s available on Android. Our website, of course, has all those details.
And if you’re not on our email list please go to unbeatablesite.wpengine.com/podcast because we have a lot of cool things. We send the podcast out with special offers by email every week. So you certainly would see that. And then you see everything else that we do. We have a lot of early bird specials for events and stuff. So you only see that if you’re on the email list, so go check it out.
Thanks again. Train hard. Stay focused.