These days you'll find Brent Gleeson in a blazer, on a stage, speaking all over the world to business leaders. But just a few years ago Gleeson’s attire of choice was desert camo, accessorized with the most high-tech equipment as a member of the world's most elite fighting force. However, before his time as a SEAL, Gleeson was in graduate school at SMU in Dallas, he worked in finance, and was an entrepreneur. The blending of those two lives led to this. His newly released book, “Taking Point.”
"It's not your typical SEAL book that gives you some leadership philosophies but actually teaches you how to successfully lead lasting change in any company or organization," said Gleeson.
The book contains simple philosophies derived directly from his experience training for and on SEAL combat teams. Like surviving BUD/s training, something only 20 percent of candidates who enter the program ever finish to become Navy SEALs eventually.
“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable… The culture taught us that change is a given and that the strongest embraced change and used it to their advantage.”
"We have many sayings in the SEAL team, one of them is 'Embrace the Suck’,” says Gleeson. "Those who can really embrace the suck and can maintain a positive mental attitude, and mental fortitude during the worst times of those early days of SEAL training, through ‘Hell Week,’ those are typically the students that will make it to the end."
Gleeson speaks around the world on the topic of and writes in his book about tactic SEALs use in post-combat meetings and how that same principle is useful for success in companies. It’s the concept that every person in the room, no matter their rank, has a say and is welcome to speak freely.
“When we go into that room, every sailor leaves his rank at the door. You go in as equals, and everybody is free to speak his mind. Transparency is key.”
"You all walk in as equals, and you are allowed to speak your mind whether you are a platoon commander, commanding officer, or the newest person on the team. And it's how we encourage that managing up culture as well, it’s not just about feedback going down," says Gleeson.
And most importantly, Gleeson addresses the need for any business to be meticulous in its training of employees and to approach significant projects with accuracy and caution. He draws this from the SEAL ethos, 'Don't run to your death.'
“We have a saying in the Teams: ‘Don’t run to your death.’ Simply put, take it slow, move through the target, mitigate risk, and use aggression as needed.”
"Have attention to detail,” says Gleeson. “If you can get the small things right and you can do these movements or whatever you're doing slowly, eventually you can do them faster, and faster and it becomes part of muscle memory."
Gleeson and his wife Nicole will serve as Co-Chairs of the SEAL Family Foundation Gala to be held Saturday, April 14th. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to the foundation.