We are who we hang out with and we adapt to environments of mediocrity or excellence. The choice is ours to make.

So, time to upgrade your sphere of friends.

Over the past handful of years, I’ve come to greatly respect the adage that says excellence comes from the company you keep. (So does mediocrity, by the way.) You’d think I would have learned that principle through being a SEAL. And it’s true, to an extent: being part of the SEAL teams was always about excellence. But it wasn’t until I was out of the military altogether and going through my own learning curve in the civilian world of business that it started to sink in.

The SEAL experience provides a lot of powerful lessons, but it’s an incomplete picture. I’ve seen a lot of guys come out of the Spec Ops world and go charging into business with this untempered sort of warrior mentality, and it doesn’t work. The execution may be strong, but you can’t just lash out at people when you meet resistance. You can’t zip-tie, hood, and bag a non-compliant client.

I learned excellent success principles in the Spec Ops world, principles that apply beautifully to business. But that was only half my education. It was only when I started to hang out with master warriors in the field of business that I began to understand some of the finesse and nuance involved in applying those principles to the world of business.

When I got the acquisition offer from Scout Media in 2014, there were a few people I knew I could rely on for solid advice. But I knew I needed more than that. In former SEALs, like Randy Kelley, I had friends who were also accomplished in business. As a whole, though, my circle of SEAL friends was not going to take me where I needed to go in business.

I needed to enlarge my sphere of friends.

One of those I talked to at the time was Brian Margarita, a friend from San Diego who had subleased office space to me back when I was working on Wind Zero. Brian and I had become fast friends. He was also a member of a group called Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in San Diego. “But it has chapters in every state,” he told me, “and for that matter all over the world.”

He told me to go check out the New York chapter. I did, and it was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. Joining EO introduced me instantly to a whole new group of friends in New York who were operating at a very high level. I’d tapped into a network of people I’ve since come to view as my Spec Ops buddies of the business world.

EO may not be the organization for you (to join, you must be the owner, founder, or majority stockholder of a business doing at least a million a year), but no matter who or where you are, there are organizations and networks that will put you in the midst of excellence.

I’m now a member of YPO.org, and Harvard Business School’s OPM program as well. It’s been one of the best business and life decisions I’ve made to join these groups.


Reach out and swing for the fences. As I said, if you aspire to excellence in your performance, you need to surround yourself with an environment of excellence — and perhaps the most important environment of all is that created by the people you spend time with.


This is an excerpt from former Navy SEAL turned CEO and New York Times bestselling author Brandon’s book, Total Focus.

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