Total Focus

Make Better Decisions Under Pressure

In mid-2016 I took on a whole new challenge.

By this time I had written three books with my Navy SEAL sniper buddy, Brandon Webb, each one more riveting and action-packed than the last. The Red Circle told his life story, centering on the two-word sentence that became the anthem for the entire epic: “Excellence matters.” Next, Among Heroes told the story of eight SEAL friends, all of whom gave their lives in the pursuit of excellence, honor, and the SEAL way of life. And finally, The Killing School (coming May 2017) traces the lives and exploits of four Spec Ops snipers, from childhood through lethal mission and aftermath.

Three compelling sagas. And now, it was time for something else. Something completely different.

The challenge: Take everything Brandon learned during his years in the field of battle and apply it to the world of business. Because, as it turns out, the same broad principles apply. And Brandon has proved it: Over the decade since leaving the service, he has built a business that today is valued at over $100 million.

Navy SEAL turns CEO.

This, as you can imagine, was an utter blast for me. This terrain — entrepreneurship, the battlefield of business, the world of leadership and personal development — this is my stomping ground. This was like Br’er Rabbit being tossed into the briar patch. I have never fired a sniper rifle, but I’ve started businesses and understand how this beast works from the ground up.

After just a few conversations, Brandon and I had identified seven key principles, learned in the crucible of the modern battlefield, that applied impeccably to the crucible of business. Seven principles for how to make better decisions under the intense pressures of entrepreneurship and business leadership.

Call it, 7 Habits of Highly Deadly Businesspeople.

 In the course of the book, you’ll not only follow Brandon’s adventures from start-up failure and bust, to start-up #2, growth, restructuring, and phenomenal success … you’ll also get to meet some extraordinarily accomplished entrepreneur friends of Brandon’s, people he calls his “Spec Ops buddies of the business world” — including Matt Meeker (cofounder of Meetup.com and BarkBox), Solomon Choi (founder of 16 Handles), Kamal Ravikant (bestselling author of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depended On It and Rebirth), and Betsy Morgan (former CEO of Huffington Post and president of TheBlaze).

Foreign Language Editions

Coming soon: Russian edition. (And, I’m willing to bet, more on its heels!)

Excerpt from Total Focus

STARING THROUGH MY SCOPE at the man in my crosshairs, I take a slow breath. An Afghan farmer. An Afghan farmer with a rifle slung casually over his shoulder. A farmer who looks a lot like someone trying not to look like someone who’s up to something he shouldn’t be. I feel the pressure of my finger against the metal trigger.

Feel that pressure slowly increase.

January 2002. I’m standing sniper overwatch for my SEAL platoon as they approach a group of villagers in this mountain community in northwest Afghanistan for an exploratory chat. Everything seems cool. Everything looks innocent. Except for that farmer.

Something is off.

The thing is, these are Pashtun people, exactly the kind of people who, a few years from now and in this same region, will shield Marcus (Lone Survivor) Luttrell from the men trying to kill him. Our goodwill with these folks is a precious commodity, especially because we’re out here in Taliban country. If I shoot this guy, and it turns out he is as innocent as he’s trying to appear, we can kiss that goodwill good-bye, and I will have to live with his blood on my hands for the rest of my life. But if I don’t shoot him and it turns out he was up to no good after all, some of our guys could get hurt as a result. Hurt, or dead. I can’t call this in. There’s no more intel to gather. It is what it is, and it’s up to me.

I have a decision to make.

Do I pull the trigger?

I TOOK A DEEP BREATH and looked down at my laptop. It was now twelve years later, and I was no longer in the service; I was sitting at the bar of the Jane Hotel in New York City, staring at an e-mail that held an offer to buy my business for $15 million.

Amazing, I thought. Considering that only a few years earlier, I’d been broke. No, worse than broke: with a negative net worth, because I’d owed nearly a hundred grand after my first business venture collapsed around me, taking all my life savings with it. And now here I sat, my new business barely two years old, and this big media company was trying to buy it from me. For $15 million. Amazing, all right. Still…

Something was off.

If I said yes, I would be $15 million richer, arguably set for life. It would mean I’d won. Right? But it would also mean the business I’d built with my own hands, for a community I cared about deeply, would no longer be in my control. And the people who’d built it with me: What would happen to them?

I couldn’t call this one in, either. I had all the information I was going to have. There was no more advice to ask for or guidance to seek. It was what it was—and it was my call. I had a decision to make.

Do I pull the trigger?

Do I shoot the farmer?

Do I take the offer?

Both of these are decisions that, once made, can’t be unmade. There’s a lot of blood involved in one, a lot of money in the other. Both could affect the lives of a lot of other people, to say nothing of my own, for years to come. The two situations are different in a thousand ways, similar in a handful of ways, but identical in one:

They both require total focus.