“You all know that you were the motivation behind my first book, ‘The Red Circle.’ I wanted to share my life experience and lessons learned with you in that book, and I want to continue to do this through our talks together and through letters like this. After all, the greatest gift we can give each other and the ones we love is not money or material things, it’s our time. This is a big reason you guys should appreciate your mom for what she does for you; she’s an incredible person who’s devoted so much of her time to make sure you guys are taken care of, so love and appreciate her for it.”

That was the opening of a letter I originally wrote to my kids during the holidays. I’ve since formatted it for an adult audience, and wanted to share it with the SOFREP readership. The rest follows. 

My three amazing kids during our annual holiday ski trip in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

I was in the Navy for 13 years, six months, and six days. Most of my time in the Navy was spent in the SEAL teams, but I also served as a helicopter aircrew search and rescue swimmer/airborne sensor operator (active and passive sonar, mostly). I learned a lot about teamwork and leadership from both my SEAL and aircrew experience. Now that I’ve transitioned from SEAL to CEO, I can look back at my time in the military and my time in the business world since leaving the military, and at what it has taught me about being a better leader.

SEAL Team 3 GOLF platoon before my first deployment to the Middle East. Only months later, I would be on the USS Cole with a sniper team shortly after it was attacked by suicide bombers in Aden, Yemen.

“But I’m not a leader!” you might be saying. But you are. The truth is, at some point in our lives, probably at many points in our lives, we all lead. Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, coaches and teachers, church members, community members, trusted friends, employees and bosses, all those who serve, these are all leadership roles—positions where other people look up to you. Yes, some are intrinsically better at leadership than others. But whatever your innate leadership abilities are, you can build on them and succeed brilliantly if you know how and you make the effort. And if you don’t make the effort to improve yourself, your chances of doing so are zero.

So here are a few thoughts on fear, trust, loyalty, judging character, and daring greatly.


When I got out of the Navy in 2006, I was scared. Yes, a Navy SEAL admitting he was scared, and it’s true. I was terrified. I can only imagine it was similar to what someone feels getting out of prison. Leaving a known environment and structure with its black-and-white rules was no easy go. I had a fixed routine one day, and the next I woke up to find myself in a totally different world, where the only real rules were that there were no rules! I could understand and exploit this sort of environment as an unconventional warfare operator working overseas, but back home, outside the military? This was new territory to me.

Fortunately, one of the most valuable traits I learned to hone in the special operations community was tenacity. If it were humanly possible, then I could accomplish it.

It’s OK to admit your fears; it actually takes guts to openly admit you are scared of something. I remember being terrified the first time I went to skydive. As a new SEAL, I had lost a good friend, Mike Bearden, someone I really looked up to, in a parachute training accident. When it was my turn to be trained to skydive, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little voice in the back of my mind trying to talk me out of it. When you hear the voice, recognize it for what it is, and then tell it to get back in the closet of your mind and stay there.