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Podcast Episode 22: Know Your People And Look Out For Their Welfare

Have you ever wondered what the Army teaches its young leaders? Listen in as Jonathan interviews Shannon McGurk, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (retired). Shannon shares the lessons he learned from his 20 year career as a Ground Cavalry Officer and China Foreign Area Officer in the U.S. Army.

In Principle 5, Know your people and look out for their welfare, listen in and learn why it’s not enough to know the names and birthdays of your people. It’s important to understand what motivates them and what is important to them. Commit the time and effort to listen to and learn about them. Showing your genuine concern for the people you manage and lead builds trust and respect for you as a leader. Merely telling your people you care about them has no meaning unless they see you demonstrating it through concrete actions. They assume that if you fail to care for them daily, you will fail them when the going gets tough. Can you demonstrate sincere concern for others? Learn here the important link between caring and leading.

Post Source Here: Podcast Episode 22: Know Your People And Look Out For Their Welfare


How to Take Charge in a New Organization: Accepting Reality (Part 1 of 5)

Bottom Line Up Front: There are many ways to succeed. This approach has worked for me. I offer it to you in the hope that it may benefit you.

Three of the keys to getting off to a good start in a new organization: Accept Reality, Earn & Strengthen Trust and Demonstrate Competence. Do these three things well, with brisk authority, without being pretentious and you’ll increase the likelihood you’re on solid ground, setting yourself up for success.

In Part 1 of this series, learn how to accept reality. For the purposes of this example five managers report to you. If you’re managing more than five managers you’re probably short-changing someone. Try to get it down to five or fewer.

Congratulations, you’re in charge, but people spot fakes so don’t be one.

Congratulations, you’re in charge.

A lot is going through your mind.

There are many ways to succeed when you’re new.

Each scenario will be different.

Each one of us must be genuine—you might even say authentic– in his own way.

So, before reading any of the following, commit first to being yourself.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

This doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate all the advice I am giving into your own style.

Change the words but not the messages because the messages are good and they work.

Here are three key principles to taking charge of a new organization:

Accepting Reality,

Establishing Trust and

Demonstrating Competence.

All of these three work together.

Demonstrate to the people you lead that you seek to do these three things right off the bat and you’ll be off to a good start.

However, let’s not kid ourselves.

Leadership is complicated.

All the different components of a good leader reinforce each other.

How you do all of the things a leader does will communicate who you are to your organization.

We are only focusing on three in this series of short articles.

Today, it’s all about accepting reality.

Dear World

Accepting Reality

A leader’s first responsibility is to accept reality and then deal with it or improve it.

Anthony Robbins and others have said this means you see things as they are, but not worse than they are.

See things as they are, and you can start to formulate a plan with your team to improve things.

But before you can accept reality you must know what it is.

Finding out what reality is in a new organization is a little tough, but you can earn trust while determining reality. By so doing, you demonstrate competence.

The trick?

Learn what reality is objectively, but also subjectively through the eyes of your subordinates.

Then, interpret it correctly. Help them lead your entire organization to better solutions to the problems you face together.

Sounds easy, huh?

Say this to your managers first thing in the morning on the first day.

In the first hour of the first day tell your management team 3 things after exchanging a little light small talk (so they don’t think you’re a psycho):

First, “I’d like your assessment of our organization by the end of the day. 1 page, hand-written, top 3 strengths of the organization, 3 most pressing problems, and a brief narrative on your general assessment of how we are going to get where you think we should be in 18 months.”

Second, “I’ll be meeting with you as a group in 30 minutes.”

Third, “I’ll be meeting with each of you individually by the end of the day.”

Doing this shows you have a plan, that you’re willing and able to communicate it clearly and that you’ll take action. Taking action is important, but only if it’s not disruptive. Don’t be disruptive early on. Taking action also makes you feel better and that’s important. It’s hard to steer a parked car, so get things moving.

Never underestimate how important your own well-being is to the organization you manage and lead.

Remember, too, that nobody is qualified for a new job on the first day unless he’s sandbagging (sometimes it’s smart to sandbag, but we will assume you’re not sandbagging); he is only qualified in varying degrees to learn that job.

You have told your team you’ll meet with them individually.

You expect their assessment of the organization at that time.

So far, so good.

Now you meet with them as a group.

The first meeting with your subordinate managers or close advisors as a group

At the first meeting you should lay out the ground rules.

Here’s what has worked for me.

Say, “I’m happy to be here. There are some things I feel strongly about. Here’s what they are:

First, I don’t ever want to hear you criticize, condemn or complain in front of other employees.

If you want to do that or the business case demands it, you and I will do it behind closed doors.

Second, if you’re on my team I assume we are working together, so I won’t speak ill of you.

Likewise, don’t speak ill of me or this organization.

Third, never bring me a problem without at least one solution. Three solutions is better. I don’t care how outlandish the solution is, just bring me something to get the solutions flowing.”

I think it’s accepted wisdom that you have to discard 20 bad ideas to get one good one.

Seems about right.

Get your team in the problem solving mode right out of the chute.

Let that all sink in, and then say,

“I have heard good things about each of you. I won’t be making any major changes for at least 30 days. Also, I can handle any reality, so don’t be afraid to tell me any news however bad. It’s what I don’t know about that concerns me, and finally, in addition to your assessments of the organization and where you think we should be in 18 months, let me know soon what your own professional and personal goals are. If there is any way I can help you attain them I will. That includes positioning you to move to another organization from a position of strength at this one on your own timeline, if that’s what you want. My assumption is good people are always looking and always being scouted so let’s be up front with each other on that score. Now, what questions do you have for me?”

Wait a respectful amount of time and close the meeting.

Say something like, “Thank you for your time. I’ll see each of you shortly.”

Stand up and walk out of the room.

We will be covering your first one-on-one meeting with your direct reports in a later series.

Next Week: Earning trust.

Call to Action: Review this email, go over these steps, and make them your own. Re-write them using your own words but do try to stay close to the spirit of what this advice offers. It has served others well and will serve you well, too.

Post Source Here: How to Take Charge in a New Organization: Accepting Reality (Part 1 of 5)

Driver Training: What You Didn’t Learn in High School

Dear Brendan,

I’m going to transition my notes to you on Situational Awareness (SA), and bleed this topic of SA over to vehicles and cars. There is so much to discuss and cover here it’s difficult to pick a starting point. For the purpose of this discussion a car is a 2- or 4-door sedan. A vehicle is anything else—truck, bus, van, jeep, or tactical vehicle.

I will begin by saying most of us spend a lot of time in our cars. With this said it’s important that we know our own driving capabilities and the capabilities of our vehicles. I’m sure we have all spent more time in our vehicles and sitting in traffic than we would like. This gets me thinking back to all the places I have driven and the time spent driving on various types of roads and in various environments. I have driven across the USA (VA to CA). I have also driven up and down the west coast to and from WA State and California. I have lived and commuted in the Washington DC area. I have driven from VA to GA a couple times while I attended training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). I have also had the pleasure or headache of driving overseas in parts of Europe, Central America, Asia and Iraq. I’m currently spending way more time than I would like commuting to and from my job with the Seattle Police Department.

I’ll share with you some of my training that focused on various driving skills that I have learned since I began driving at the age of sixteen. We can all remember the joys of driver’s education in high school. But buckle up my friend, as we are about to take driving to another level. Now your mind probably just jumped to all the Hollywood high-speed car scenes and the “Fast & Furious” series of movies. Let’s take our foot off the gas pedal long enough to stay on target with the message I’m trying to get across to you. SA Driving 3

From the time I was 16 years old I have been gaining driving experience and training in all types of vehicles and driving environments. I went through some off road driving courses in the Marine Corps. I have completed various driving training at FLETC. It was the same driving courses and periods of instruction given to most State Troopers, City/County police at their Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST). I later went for more training for the federal government. All types of vehicles, all types of skills.

We drove regular 4-door cars, mid size 4-wheel drive trucks (Toyota Tacoma), to up-armored SUVs, and armored BMWs. We did high speed driving, crash and bang driving – to include roadblocks. We drove on wet surfaces, paved streets, and off road (dirt, mud, gravel). We learned the importance of the little things, such as air pressure in your tires and how to check our vehicles for IEDs. I’ll draw upon these experiences and training as we go forward in our conversation. We can bring all this training to bear in our day-to-day lives– whether you are here at home with your family in the USA, simply driving to and from work, or are OCONUS (Outside the Continental US—I figure as a bonus I’ll clue you in on all the crazy acronyms the USG uses… that’s US Government!) on business or a family vacation.

Since I’m currently dealing with the headache of a long commute into Seattle and the heavy highway traffic I will start off with good old fashion “road rage”. Oh if only you could see me now as I’m writing this. I’m actually shaking my head and smiling thinking back to some of the questions Seattle PD asked me regarding driving. Road rage was one of them. You and I both know that all their questions are asked for a reason and that reason is that it has happened before.

Wow, what a world we live in. It’s always entertaining just remember to be safe. Do not become complacent.

SA Driving 1Okay, road rage 101. I’m sure you have noticed that no matter where you go people in traffic always seem to be in a rush and a hurry to simply cut you off and move ahead two inches in a traffic jam that if it was moving any slower you swear you would go back in time. I also am not a fan of those that seem to be riding on your rear bumper as you are in traffic or anywhere for that matter. It’s simply not smart nor is it safe. So let’s think about this from a tactical point of view. How can we best defend ourselves and loved ones from attack if they are also in the car with us while sitting in traffic, parked at the mall/grocery store, or we and our family are simply trying to get into or out of our car.

One of the easiest things to do is make sure you leave early and plan your trip. I mean simply map it out, use GPS, and be prepared. This alone will put you in a better mindset. You will make better decisions and not feel rushed. Let’s not fall into the common mistakes of rushing through a red light, changing lanes without checking our mirrors, or my favorite riding some guys bumper down the street like that is going to make him drive any faster or safer. This is all careless driving behavior and it will catch up to you. Remember this, as I like to tell my oldest daughter that is now driving on her own as a responsible teenager. “Arrive Alive”.

Now keeping with the SA theme of my past couple notes to you, let’s remember to keep our head on a swivel. Good SA is key to driving safely. Let’s not forget we are moving fast in many cases asSA Driving 2 are other cars or vehicles moving fast and coming towards us. You do not have a lot of time to process everything happening around you. Be smart and be safe. It is often times the little things that get us in big trouble or bad spots, such as texting and driving or being distracted with a phone conversation while driving and not paying attention. Your main focus is driving, looking at the roadway – any obstacles… Look where you want the vehicle to go. To speak shooting for a minute, think eye-muzzle-target. It all translates to some degree.

Do you know your vehicle? This is important. Here’s a safety tip. As soon as you get in your vehicle you should lock your doors. Next many people put on their seatbelt. I say wait, take a moment to look around and increase your awareness. Now, buckle up. I have some good stories about failing to lock your car door. I also have some points I’ll try to touch on later about seatbelts on or off. If I do not get to these here, be sure to reach out to me later and I’m happy to cover down on these areas with you in more detail. Remember you are vulnerable to a degree in a parked vehicle and being able to get out quickly should be an option. Having your seatbelt on, while good once the car or vehicle is moving, will slow you down if you have to take action or dismount while stationary. Not being able to dismount your vehicle quickly costs you time and time could cost you or your loved ones everything up to and including their lives. Just remember to think things through.

I’m going to close out this note to you now and pick up quickly where we left off in my next note that is soon to follow.

Your Friend,


Post Source Here: Driver Training: What You Didn’t Learn in High School

Podcast Episode 21: Set the Example

Have you ever wondered what the Army teaches its young leaders? Listen in as Jonathan interviews Shannon McGurk, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (retired). Shannon shares the lessons he learned from his 20 year career as a Ground Cavalry Officer and China Foreign Area Officer in the U.S. Army.

In Principle 4, Set the Example, learn exactly how powerful your own example can be to those around you. Learn why Army leaders are taught that they can’t ask others to do what they won’t do themselves. What signals are you sending by your example? Is it possible that you may be sabotaging yourself by not knowing the effects of the powerful warning, “I can’t hear what you’re saying because your actions are drowning it out!” The example we set– in appearance, bearing, and, especially in the words we choose to use on a daily basis– shapes our every success and frames our every failure. Listen in to understand more clearly why setting the example is crucial to effective leadership.

Post Source Here: Podcast Episode 21: Set the Example

Do you Feel Betrayed by the System? Go Outside the Station

Bottom Line Up Front: When you are exhausted, maybe older than your opponent, maybe not suited for the job you are doing because you have lost your advantages or edge, go outside the system. Take on an intimidating hostile environment to strengthen yourself. Learn new skills. But. Be. Smart. About it. You will triumph and it will be scary and exciting. Get started. Read on.

Spoiler Alert and Note: It’s better when you know the ending. If you’re a men who says, “Don’t tell me, it’ll spoil the ending…” look at it from a different point of view. We know how Macbeth ends, we know how Julius Caesar ends. We know how The Dirty Dozen ends. We watch again and again even knowing how great stories end because it’s fascinating to see the story come together. What people say and do is more significant when you know the ending. If I spoil the end of the movie “Outland” for you (Sean Connery beats the bad guys, wins and gets the girl back), you’ve been warned.

“Outland”: A Gritty Sci-Fi Re-Make of “High Noon”

In Outland– Sean Connery’s peerless sci-fi remake of High Noon— Sean Connery plays William O’Niel, a Space Marshall hired by the mining company to keep order.

Shortly after his arrival at the colony, he realizes he has been chosen by the corporate bosses because they think he is susceptible to bribery. They think he will cave to the corrupt leadership. They run the operation and are using powerful narcotics to boost production.

We see O’Niel in the climactic combat scene, fighting his enemies and discovering he has been betrayed by a close and trusted friend. He has fought outgunned and outnumbered, has been cut off from support, is fighting single handedly on behalf of people he has lost respect for because they won’t support him in the effort when they stand to gain the most by his fighting.

O’Niel’s wife is weary from being married to an idealistic man who clashes with authority figures everywhere he goes. She has asked him to reevaluate his own decisions which appear selfish to her and have been destroying their marriage and harming their only son. She has taken their son and left the mining colony. She is ready to head back to Earth.

O’Niel knows he must confront the corrupt power structure he has discovered.

Fighting Alone Against Overwhelming Odds

He is a man fighting alone in the face of overwhelming odds to assert his own dignity and be true to his ideals.

There comes a point in his defining fight for his own survival in which he has to do something truly courageous.

What does he do? He goes outside the station.

O’Niel is fighting for his life. He is exhausted and has overcome many obstacles. He’s fighting men he must kill. He is betrayed by his own deputy, whom he must kill because O’Niel is that close to triumphing.

Just when you think he cannot win, O’Niel decides to do something crazy. He puts on an atmosphere suit, leaves the pressure controlled environment of the colony, climbs onto the external superstructure and begins to attack his enemy from outside the space station.

Outside the Station

He goes outside the structure into a hostile environment to gain an edge against his adversary, out-thinking his enemy and putting himself in a position to kill him and thereby win the struggle.

This is a way to look at the economy now if you have been outgunned, out-witted, outmaneuvered by your own opponents or enemies.

If you have been fired or laid off.

If you are over 30. Over 40. Over 50. Over 60. Over 70. And have to learn new skills.

If you have been betrayed by a broken system you have served faithfully to the best of your ability.

Even if, as most of us have done at one time or another, you realize you yourself have been a proud, arrogant, disruptive and misguided idealist who has been so hard headed that you have brought your troubles on yourself. That’s what I was. Too stubborn to see that in my idealism I was the problem because I refused to compromise with men I saw as lesser than myself.

Go outside the system.

Be smart. Plan. Think.

Go out into the global economy and look into the safety of a structured but broken system that protects people who benefit from it by staying on the safe side.

Go outside the structure. You will get a different perspective.

Turn time to your advantage by seeking other levers—a different perspective, a different weapon or tool, or even just (just?) the boldness of going on the attack from a direction nobody else would have dreamed of using.

Oh, but keep that pressure suit on.

Call to action: Evaluate your life. Use the resources on our website. Today. Ask yourself this question and be honest with yourself: Are you where you want to be financially and if not do you have a plan to get yourself and those you love and lead to higher ground that will give you greater freedom of choice and more options?

Post Source Here: Do you Feel Betrayed by the System? Go Outside the Station

How to Perceive a Threat: Situational Awareness Continued

Dear Brendan,

Lets get back on target. In my last note to you about Situational Awareness, (SA) I said I would follow up with a separate note about body language and human behavior. So here you go.

To have good SA you have to know what you are looking for. You have to be able to put this information in context and be able to take action. If you look closer at the OODA loop you’ll see you have to break down the “Orient” part into these three things:

1.) Understand the baselines of what is or is not normal for your environment.

2.) Understand mental models of human behavior that we should be looking for.

3.) Have plans of action based on your observations.

Wherever you go, you should establish a baseline for what is normal for that environment and look for anomalies.

Let’s talk about anomalies for a minute. Anomalies are things that happen but should not, or don’t happen that should. Anomalies are what attract our attention as we take in our surroundings and what we need to focus on to achieve SA. To do this you need to orient yourself.

Establish a baseline for your environment, then focus on any anomalies.

Next we can talk about keying off behaviors.

We are all human and cannot focus on everything at once. So it’s impossible to have complete SA all of the time. We can only focus on and handle so much information at one time. With that said let’s focus on our safety and that of our family. We know we live in a dangerous world and things can go sideways quick, fast and in a hurry. So, knowing that seconds can mean the difference between life and death, how we direct our attention is key to survival.

We need to focus on the things that give us the most bang for our buck. I’m going to use the six domains of human behavior that the USMC uses in their combat hunter training program. This is how Marines on the battlefield quickly process information and determine if someone is a friend or foe.

  • Kinesics, people’s conscious and subconscious body language
  • Biometrics, human beings’ “uncontrollable and automatic biological responses to stress”
  • Proxemics, the way subjects use the space around them and interact with surrounding people
  • Geographics, reading familiar and unfamiliar patterns of behavior within a given environment
  • Iconography, the expression of beliefs and affiliations through symbols, and
  • Atmospherics, “the collective attitudes, moods, and behaviors present in a given situation or place.”

Let’s look closer at kinesics. Body language is a key area of interest for SA.

Now we will break it down further to look at dominance/submissive behavior, comfortable/uncomfortable behavior, and interested/uninterested behavior.

Dominance/submissive behavior:

Generally speaking, most people try to get along with other people. For the most part people act in an accommodating or submissive manner. Because most of us try to simply get along with others, dominant/aggressive behavior can mean an anomaly and the person displaying this behavior should get more of your attention. Keep in mind just because someone acts in a pushy or overbearing way doesn’t mean they are a threat. You have to put it into context. You may expect a boss/supervisor to act in a dominant way in relation to their employees and the employees to behave in more of a submissive way to their boss/supervisor. But seeing a customer act overly aggressive or out of control towards an employee is not very common. This is something/someone you would keep an eye on.


Most people will/should look relatively comfortable in most everyday situations. If someone looks uncomfortable that is an anomaly and deserves extra attention. Again this doesn’t mean they are a threat. They could simply be stressed because they are late for work or an important meeting. Maybe they just got bad news about a family member. Just be aware and keep an eye on these types of people displaying such behavior. Another display of uncomfortable behavior could be someone looking over his back all the time or scanning the area non-stop. Now this doesn’t mean he’s a threat/bad guy, because good guys also check six and scan the area. But this behavior should get your attention. We know most people will have their head in the clouds, texting, or just staring off in a daydream state. Now you can reverse this and if everyone is in a panic but there is someone acting comfortable this is a clear sign or an anomaly. A real world example would be if an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) or VBIED (Vehicle-borne IED) went off and one or more people are calmly walking away or video taping it on their cell phones while everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. That is a perfect example of an anomaly. If you were running the show you’d want to detain those people for questioning about the IED/VBIED.


As mentioned earlier most people don’t pay attention to their surroundings and are too caught up in their own thoughts or playing games on their cell phones. So when people show interest in another specific person or thing that most other people would not pay any attention to this is an anomaly that deserves your full attention. Continue to observe this person.

Here are a few other behavioral threat indicators to be aware of. Like the old saying watch the hands, for the hands will kill you. There is a reason why military types and law enforcement officers (LEOs) always watch/check the hands first on any person they are approaching/engaging. One, they want to make sure the person is not holding a weapon. Two, the hands often give away hidden intentions. It’s common for a person to touch or pat the area where they are hiding something or carrying something they do not want you to know they have.

Be aware of people that are “acting natural”. It’s difficult to “act natural” when you are not truly focused on the task you are supposed to be doing. People that are “acting natural” will appear distracted and either over or under exaggerate their body language or movements.

Example: Insurgents/foreign fighters will often times act like they are working/farming in the fields when they are actually collecting intelligence on U.S. forces. Others have pretended to be construction workers while emplacing IED’s.

So do not be misled or fooled by smoke and mirrors. As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. Lesson learned is that things are not always as they may appear.

Here are some final take aways. Predators/criminals are like animals and are creatures of opportunity.


They will normally attack those that look weak and vulnerable. Just as the tiger will go after the slower, weaker, injured, animals because they are easier to catch and kill. The same can be said of humans. Criminals typically target people that are not paying attention, look vulnerable/weaker or easy to catch off guard.

SA is a way of life. It is a mindset. You need to reinforce this within yourself and family. Good SA will help keep you and your family from looking like a soft/easy target. So remind your wife and children to look alert when they are out and about. To get their noses out of their smartphones, tablets, their music headphones off their ears and pay attention to their surroundings.

When your wife or daughter is walking to her car alone at night she should have her keys at the ready and should be scanning the area. It’s smart to invest in some everyday carry (EDC) items for them. This could include a Surefire flashlight, folding knife, etc. I will write you another piece on EDC at a later time. I will also discuss tactical flashlights, impact weapons, edged weapons and so much more over the course of our journey to secure this personal protection high ground. So be thinking ahead on all these fronts. Please know you can always drop me a line and I will circle back to you and address any specific questions you may have.

Keep the below in mind and ask yourself which are you?

“There are three types of people in this world: There are people who make things happen. There are people who watch things happen. And there are people who wonder what just happened.”

Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are your ready?’

Your Friend,


PS: I recommend the book, Left of Bang. It is about how the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program can save your life. Authors: Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley

Post Source Here: How to Perceive a Threat: Situational Awareness Continued

Podcast Episode 20: Seek Responsibility

Have you ever wondered what the Army teaches its young leaders? Listen in as Jonathan interviews Shannon McGurk, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (retired). Shannon shares the lessons he learned from his 20 year career as a Ground Cavalry Officer and China Foreign Area Officer in the U.S. Army.

In Principle 3, Seek Responsibility, learn the importance of taking a proactive approach to solving problems. Learn why military leaders are taught to assume responsibility for situations as they proceed through their day. There was a time when a leader’s AOR (Area of Responsibility) moved with him as he walked down the street and included everything within his field of view. Is this something you could do, too, in your daily work? Learn here the important link between seeking out the challenges you face versus waiting for those challenges to find you.”

Post Source Here: Podcast Episode 20: Seek Responsibility