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Sean Corbett: “You can delegate authority, but not responsibility”

“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” — Sean Corbett In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of dealing with crisis and how to adapt and overcome. The context of this series is the physical and financial fallout that resulted from the COVID 19 pandemic. Crisis management is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in […]

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“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” — Sean Corbett

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of dealing with crisis and how to adapt and overcome. The context of this series is the physical and financial fallout that resulted from the COVID 19 pandemic. Crisis management is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Corbett.

Sean served over ten years in the U.S. Army as an Infantry and Special Forces Officer. During four combat deployments, Sean led diverse groups of over 500 personnel (U.S. and host-nation forces) in complex environments as an operational and tactical ground force commander. Following his military service, Sean chose to take his leadership experience and love for technology and apply them at a Boston-based SaaS company; Motus, LLC. He now works as the Director of Corporate Strategy helping the executive team meet the company’s short and long-term goals, while also attending the Executive MBA program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in a middle-class family in northeast Ohio, and I can remember as far back as grade school always wanting to be in the military. At the time I didn’t really know what that meant, but for some reason the idea of being in a special forces unit and fighting for the country was appealing. It was a weird goal to have for sure, but almost everything I did focused on being like Charlie Sheen from “Navy SEALs” or John Wayne from “The Green Berets.” Maybe not so much Charlie Sheen as time went on…but I focused tirelessly on physical training and academics throughout high school with the goal of either getting into the United States Military Academy at West Point or enlisting in the Army after graduation.

The first day of class my junior year was 9/11/2001. That day solidified what I was going to do after graduating high school. Somehow, I ended up getting an acceptance letter to West Point, so I began my time in the military and the beginning of adulthood at age 18 when I showed up as a cadet that first day in June 2003.

And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?

After an initial one and a half years in sales, I now work as the Director of Corporate Strategy at Motus, LLC. The main focus of my job is to help drive operational execution of our strategy across departments and assist with our ongoing M&A initiatives. It’s a great opportunity for which I’m very grateful. As I attend Sloan’s MBA program and continue to work full-time, I am finding that the academics pair nicely with what I do at Motus on a daily basis.

Today, the value I bring to my company stems from my experience as a leader in the Army Infantry and Green Berets, but that only goes so far. There is much more I need to learn to give back to my company what they have given to me, which is why I’ve decided to invest the time to complete this MBA program in addition to my full-time job. While I continue to learn on the job, I find various ways to provide value and streamline our processes required to complete M&A deals. It’s unique because we are moving fast and sometimes resources are constrained (similar to constraints I experienced during Special Forces operations), so it is a welcomed challenge as we work to take our company to the next level.

Finding successful small companies that can add value to Motus isn’t easy. Once we do identify one, completing the diligence process promptly and successfully acquiring them is easier said than done. Integrating them operationally and culturally is equally as difficult, but it is something I’ve had success with in the past. Integrating two completely different military units that speak different languages, worship different higher powers, and have a wildly different view of reality is what I spent a lot of my time doing for the past decade. After that integration, going out and winning together on the battlefield is an even greater challenge. If it can be done in Afghanistan with an enemy trying to stop you, then it can be done here in our niche area of the SaaS world. Nonetheless, it’s still a great challenge that keeps life at Motus exciting.

Can you tell us a bit about your military background?

As I mentioned, my career started by spending four humbling years at West Point. When I commissioned as a Lieutenant in 2007, I joined the Infantry. After completing the U.S. Army Ranger School, I went to my unit in the 101st Airborne Division and completed a short tour in Iraq. Following that, I completed an additional combat tour with the 101st during the surge in Afghanistan where I served as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Company Commander, and Outpost Commander during large operations across the country. Following my time in the 101st, I completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection and the follow-on year and a half training to earn my Green Beret and a spot in the Army Special Forces.

Upon reporting to the 7th Special Forces Group, I took command of a 12-man Special Forces Team (Detachment). Although this team’s specialty is underwater operations, otherwise known as a dive team, and my unit’s normal area of focus is Central and South America, we only focused on the mission in Afghanistan during my time. I completed two back-to-back combat deployments to Afghanistan with this team from 2013 to 2015. Our mission was to work with one of the country’s few Commando units to increase their capacity to fight while simultaneously conducting operations to remove the many enemy elements that exist in that country.

Following my last combat deployment in 2015, I commanded the 7th Special Forces Group Headquarters Company and completed an additional assignment at Fort Bragg, NC before leaving the Army in late 2017.

Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?

During my first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, I had the opportunity to take roughly 50 American and 50 Afghan Soldiers and conduct a lengthy operation into one of the most dangerous areas of southern Afghanistan. We flew by helicopter and landed on the outskirts of a small village, where we linked up with a team of U.S. Special Forces who came in the night before. Avoiding the hundreds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), we walked into that village, escorted by the team of bearded Green Berets, right into the tribal elder’s mud-wall compound, and we set up a base. We lived there for almost two months among the Afghan villagers while we worked to remove mines from the dirt roads where kids were playing and exchanged gunfire from rooftops with insurgents while below, in a courtyard, young women filled jugs from a well to wash up for evening prayer.

My 100-man element was part of a larger operation to pacify this part of Afghanistan from which the Taliban originated. I can’t possibly explain how complex this effort was, and how much more complex we made it with the strategy we used in an attempt to achieve positive results. The locals in this area were Pashtun, and so was the enemy. The enemy consisted of many foreigners, but they also had fighters that they recruited locally, so there was still a connection between the enemy and the villagers with whom we lived. A few hundred meters in either direction from our village were other villages and those Afghans, while also Pashtun, were from different sub-tribes and often had longstanding feuds. There was no semblance of working together as neighbors to do anything about this enemy burying IEDs in the street collecting illegal taxes and oppressing every civilian within their span of control.

To make matters worse, the 50 Afghan Soldiers that I had with me were generally Tajik. The villagers and my Afghan Soldiers were both Muslim, they were both from the same country, they were both brought together facing a common enemy, but they hated each other. Building upon those complexities, the 50 American Soldiers I had with me, although brave and there for the right reasons, were generally young and certainly not culturally astute enough to tactfully navigate the astounding differences between us and those with which we had to work together. Lastly, the worst part was that I, the commander of this disaster in the making, had no idea what I was doing. This was a Special Forces mission, not a mission designed for a young Infantry platoon. The idea that a higher command would put a young group of 20-somethings into a situation like this and think things are going to work out well is laughable as I look back on it.

As a very junior Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry at the time you can imagine I learned a lot from this experience. A lot of what we did and the decisions I made were instinctual. I think we were all lucky that at the end of our time there the only casualties were some enemy fighters, a few of my Afghan Soldiers, a military working dog, and two Afghan villagers including a toddler (not harmed by us). We survived even though we put our lives on the line every day trying to help these locals that, from my observations, didn’t care one way or another how it ended.

I learned a lot during those two months about leadership, a lot about complex human dynamics, and a lot about myself, but most shockingly, I learned that we were never going to win in Afghanistan the way we were approaching it. I’m sure this is no surprise to the Vietnam guys. You had to be there and be engaged at such an intimate level to get a clear picture, but it was clear to me.

I wasn’t against the effort in Afghanistan, not even a little bit, but the strategy just made zero sense. Strangely enough, I went back two more times after that.

I’m interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.

What’s interesting about this question following the last one is that it should further clarify my point about winning in Afghanistan. Three years later, now with a U.S. Special Forces team and a 50-man element of Afghan Army Commandos, we loaded up helicopters and flew under cover of darkness to the outskirts of a village. Our orders during this deployment required us to fly to the worst parts of southern Afghanistan and eliminate the enemy in the area, so we could have been walking into any one of thousands of villages not yet secured. More than three years after the story I shared above, I viewed the exact same village through my night vision device and could even see my old home (the village elder’s compound) out in the distance.

This time something different happened. There was no Special Forces team there to greet us like there was three years prior, we were that team. Before I could wrap my head around the ridiculousness of being back there and enjoy the nostalgia, my other element (that arrived in a different CH-47 helicopter) called out enemy movement inside their objective location. The enemy movement was confirmed by the Apache Gunship helicopters overhead providing initial air support.

A quick side note that’s necessary to mention: Right before we departed on this planned operation, our command informed us that after talks between Kabul and Washington, and the deteriorating political climate leading up to Afghan elections, U.S. Forces could not enter Afghan compounds, and certainly not engage Afghan compounds with aircraft unless it was an absolute last resort. They sent us into a combat situation with a lot of restrictions and red tape on our side, all of which provided an advantage to the enemy and made it even more difficult for Ground Force Commanders like me.

With my element moving towards the fortified enemy position I was able to confirm a decent-sized enemy force with heavy weapons awaited them. Scrutinizing the situation, as I always did, I was confident that this compound was occupied by the enemy and not local civilians. I authorized the Apaches to engage directly into the compound to eliminate as many enemy fighters as possible before my guys arrived there.

Now for the heroics…

My guys arrived at the compound, and an intense gunfight broke out between them and the ten or so remaining enemy fighters. Immediately, our Afghan Commandos took casualties, and our team had to take control, so the initiative wasn’t lost. They pulled the wounded Commandos out of the way to safety and entered the compound now in a very close quarters firefight — the enemy engaged with automatic weapons from defensive positions and with hand grenades. One grenade exploded putting a small amount of shrapnel into one of my guys, and another grenade landed between two others. There’s debate whether one of them rolled on top of it or not, but the grenade didn’t explode. Two of my other guys were shot during these events and squirmed in pain out in the open exposed to more enemy fire. The real act of heroism came from one of my guys next to the unexploded grenade, who also happened to be a medic. Without any consideration of his personal safety, he gathered himself and engaged some of the remaining enemy fighters nearby and pulled the wounded to safety. While the shooting continued, he treated them himself so that they were stable and ready for extraction when it was safe to bring in the MEDEVAC helicopter.

It was a team effort, but due to this specific Special Operations Soldier’s heroic acts, the enemy lost this fight, and we won. If even one U.S. Green Beret lost their life during these events this would be considered a loss, however, due to the selfless acts of this hero they all survived and are all recovered today living normal lives. For his actions, he received the Air Force Cross, one step below the Medal of Honor. There are many exaggerated stories of heroics during wartime, but this was not one of them. I am proud, and at the same time humbled, to have been a part of this story because it really does juxtapose the best and the worst about war, and particularly the war in Afghanistan.

Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?

First and foremost, I believe this term is often overused. In the context that I’ve seen them, a hero is someone that commits a conscious act that one would not commit if he or she were acting rationally with self-preservation in mind. This act also must be conducted with the intent of protecting one or more other human beings, serving little tangible benefit to themselves. There are a lot of irrational people out there, but very few that are both irrational and selfless at the same time. I’ll admit, that’s an interesting definition of a hero, but I think it makes sense based on what I’ve seen in combat.

Does a person need to be facing a life and death situation to do something heroic or to be called a hero?

I’m sure some cases don’t require a life and death situation for heroics to take place, but I do believe it requires a person to exhibit bravery that goes beyond a “brave” social media post where they can hide behind the computer screen.

Based on your military experience, can you share with our readers 5 Leadership or Life Lessons that you learned from your experience”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Always act with humility and the right amount of empathy as a leader.
  2. Always take ownership of the mistakes that will inevitably occur along the way and always give your team credit for the successes.
  3. Pause. Think. Act. These may have to be done extremely fast, but always do them when leading in combat and elsewhere.
  4. Lead from the front, but don’t forget to seek advice and input from the back.
  5. Never quit, and never turn down an opportunity because it seems like too much work.

Do you think the military helped prepare you for business? Can you explain?

I had the good fortune of working with Your Grateful Nation (YGN), a non-profit that assists Special Operations Forces veterans with their transition from the battlefield to the boardroom, when making my transition from the Army to Motus. I knew that I had gained valuable skills throughout my service, but my time with YGN taught me there are quite a few parallels when it comes to success. All of those lessons I learned above are important ones, and ones you may not learn or fully comprehend unless you have experienced the burden of command or faced the difficulties head-on that come with leading others while facing adversity, often in an austere environment.

Working hard and taking responsibility for your actions will lead to success in the military and the business world. While others may have higher business acumen, those without a successful background, such as the military, that gives you much needed life skills may not yet have learned how to do these basics or have to learn the hard way on the job while struggling to succeed in business.

As you know, some people are scarred for life by their experience in the military. How did you struggle after your deployment was over? What have you done to adjust and thrive in civilian life that others may want to emulate?

I don’t give this much thought personally because it wasn’t a struggle for me. I’m lucky to have other things in life that give me perspective outside of my time in the military. I know it can be a struggle for others though. I believe it’s important to surround yourself with family and/or friends that care about you, and to always have a purpose in life. Without those two things driving a person after an intense deployment, I can understand how there can be a struggle.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

One of my goals while attending business school is to coalesce around my older and much more accomplished classmates to develop a business project that can help people. Currently, I take every opportunity given to help others that are coming out of the Special Operations community or other parts of the military to be successful as they transition out of the public sector and into the private sector. I also take the opportunity to give an address or speak to kids, such as those at my high school, that are trying to prepare for adulthood and give them insights that may be valuable as they grow.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Don’t remind everyone you are in charge, just be in charge.

What advice would you give to other leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Delegate. You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. Choose wisely who you delegate authority to, but in the event something goes wrong (or right), it’s your responsibility as a leader to deal with the consequences, good or bad.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people along the way to this point in my life that have provided me the opportunity to be successful. From my parents, brother, and wife, to leaders, peers, and subordinates of mine in the military, I could tell you a story about each one and what they did for me.

My first commander in the Army (not a trusting person), for some reason, gave me the room to succeed or fail and provided just enough guidance along the way to help me succeed. My peers, one in particular who turned down a Rhodes Scholarship after graduating 3rd in our class at West Point to go to combat, was eventually killed on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we grew up together as young adults, he gave me someone to compete with and an example of how to succeed; in school, in life, and as a leader in the Army.

Because the focus here is on the military and business, I will refrain from highlighting my wife who could not possibly do more to make my life easier and provide me support with everything I do. Instead, I’ll highlight another person that always sticks out in my mind that I met when I first reported to 7th Special Forces Group as a brand-new Green Beret Captain. This person that helped me achieve success was technically (according to rank and position) a subordinate of mine. Luck and a little bit of networking led to my assignment as the Detachment Commander for Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) 7315. This team of Green Berets was already successful way before I showed up, so they didn’t necessarily need me to continue in that manner. I wanted the assignment to this detachment based on their reputation, but also because they were scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan two months later to take on one of the most dangerous and exciting missions in the country.

Reporting to a successful team such as ODA 7315 as the new Captain can go a couple of different ways down a good or bad path. Thanks to the detachment’s Master Sergeant, Chris, I was given the opportunity to succeed instead of being pushed to the side and marginalized by an already tight-knit and successful group of combat veteran Green Berets. Chris and the detachment’s Warrant Officer Mike, the two ranking members before I showed up, recognized the value a former Infantry Captain could bring to their team if properly integrated as a new leader in the Special Forces. Chris, in particular, treated me with respect from the moment we met (forget about rank — this doesn’t always happen in the world of Special Forces which can be somewhat defined by egos and power grabbing). He brought me up to speed on the team’s standard operating procedures, the complexities of individual team members, and how to navigate the politics of unit command.

Most importantly, he gave me the opportunity to succeed (or fail) by letting me do my job and ensuring he always gave me the support and advice to point me towards success. Chris and the others on that team set me up to do very well during my last few years in the military, which consisted of some of the tougher times in my life, including two additional combat deployments. Due to events that transpired following my first interaction with Chris, I can say with 100% certainty that I would not be in the great spot that I am today without his help.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out how to survive and thrive in crisis. How would you define a crisis?

What we are facing today is an unprecedented humanitarian and economic catastrophe, but a crisis is an event or period of time defined by difficulty and perhaps danger. Unsurprisingly, I have heard a crisis defined as a point in time where an important decision or decisions must be made. I will emphasize the importance of this narrower definition because it also establishes what must be done at the highest level. Be decisive and make a decision.

Before a crisis strikes, what should business owners and leaders think about and how should they plan?

There are three critical steps business leaders should consider and plan for before a crisis strikes.

  1. They should envision the long-term.
  2. They should identify what is truly important to them in their life and their business.
  3. They should “war-game” or contemplate different scenarios that could occur leading to a crisis.

With those in mind, business owners should begin to work backwards to outline what they need to do in the short and mid-term for each scenario to protect those things that are truly important to them in the long-term.

Once a crisis occurs, if they utilize a combination of instinct and input from their team, business leaders can begin to dust off and finalize those initial plans of action fairly quickly. They should aim to communicate and implement that plan immediately because indecisiveness in a crisis will result in failure 99% of the time. Don’t quote me on that statistic, but indecisiveness is never good.

There are opportunities to make the best of every situation and it’s usually based on how you frame it. In your opinion or experience, what’s the first thing people should do when they first realize they are in a crisis situation? What should they do next?

When you are a leader facing an unprecedented crisis where nobody knows what to do, you must stay calm, assess the situation and make decisions. If you have no prior experience or data to inform your decisions, your approach needs to be incremental. Make small decisions in the direction that you think is best. They may not always be correct, but they will create momentum and you can begin to gather data to inform your next incremental decision.

Keep iterating, trust your instincts, solicit feedback from trusted advisors and be flexible because it is likely you will have to adjust course a number of times.

What do you believe are the characteristics or traits needed to survive a crisis?

There are a number of people relying on you as a leader during a time of crisis, therefore, you must be able to exhibit the following characteristics in order for your team to persevere.

First and foremost, ‘Never Quit’ must be your mentality and ingrained in your way of life. You must be able to stay calm, project confidence — even if you have no idea what you are doing — and possess the ability to quickly prioritize and incrementally address problems. Other important characteristics that will help people survive a crisis are empathy, creativity and humility.

Working and living through a crisis is uncomfortable, so it is beneficial for you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

When you think of those traits, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I won’t provide a name, but a leader in an organization that I’m part of embodies everything I outlined above. This person sticks out because of recent events that differ from the many combat situations I could reference from my time in the military. I remember speaking with this person when information pertaining to COVID-19 was developing in Asia and Europe, and we laughed about how everyone was overreacting and it would all pass soon. We were of course both very wrong. This leader was unprepared, like most everyone else, and took just about every one of the steps I outlined above. While remaining calm, this person showed compassion and humility, exercised creativity, and projected confidence from the very beginning as the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold here in the U.S. Another important step this person to was to provide transparency about the real potential for the worst-case scenarios that could develop. Everyone depending on this leader appreciated that because a message of “business as usual” or “everything will be okay” would have been seen as a lack of transparency and created more unrest across the organization.

Incremental planning began immediately in a very decisive manner. Input was solicited and acted upon. The plan was changed as things progressed to adapt to and overcome new issues that arose day-to-day. With everyone fully apprised of the best and worst-case scenarios, those within this organization were inspired by both fear of the worst and by opportunities available if we did our best and pushed through this crisis. Most importantly, this leader enabled everyone and fully embodied the ‘Never Quit’ mentality. The result has been members of the organization outperforming all expectations.

This crisis is still ongoing, but thanks to strong leadership and a sturdy foundation comprised of members of the organization, we are in a much better position than we could have been.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

The career path I took in the military caused me to have a number of setbacks. There wasn’t too long a period of time that went by without me being humbled in one way or another. I’m not certain this story was my greatest setback, but it occurred just as I was beginning my time as a young leader with almost no experience.

One of the rights of passage for an Army Infantry leader is to attend what’s referred to as the military’s premier leadership school, otherwise known as Army Ranger School. This is a minimum 60-day course where soldiers from across the military volunteer to learn how to lead in a simulated combat environment. This environment typically manifests itself as a number of crisis scenarios where everything is way worse than it should be, and most students have no idea what they are doing. This is mostly due to lack of experience, very little sleep or food, and because much of the complex scenarios are conducted under the cover of darkness where nobody can see a thing. The training is broken down into three phases and consists of simulated combat patrols, ambushes, and raids that require students to walk through the sand and mud in southern Georgia, up and across the Appalachian Mountains in northern Georgia, and wade through the swamps along the Florida Gulf to engage the “enemy.”

The year I went to Ranger School, the average graduation rate per class was 49%. If you failed in any phase, you had the choice to quit or repeat the same misery you already endured. If you fail on your next attempt during that phase you can choose to quit or go back to the very beginning and start over. Before you even start Phase I, you have to pass a series of tests conducted by the Ranger Instructors, one of which is land navigation with a map and compass. This is where I come in.

I have passed a number of other schools and selections with much more difficult land navigation courses since, but when I was a 22-year old kid anxious about passing Ranger School and earning my right of passage — I failed. There are five points on the three-hour course and you have to prove you reached at least four of them by presenting a scorecard marked by a hole punch unique to each location you are required to find. I was cocky and inexperienced, so I went out the first day and found all five points relatively quickly. When I returned my scorecard, the Ranger Instructor said, “Congratulations Ranger, you have failed the course because you punched the scorecard in the wrong spots. Go stand over there and think about the importance of paying attention to what you are doing.” He was right — I found all five points, but I had punched the scorecard wrong and was only credited with successfully finding three. This, however, is the most forgiving portion of Ranger School because you receive a second chance the next day.

The next day I went out embarrassed, but confident. I didn’t even bring an extra compass, because why would I need that? I went through a waist-deep stream on the way to my first point and busted my compass on a rock. This was a problem. After three hours of frantically searching without a compass, I hadn’t found the four points required to pass and had to return to meet my fate. I was given the option of either quitting Ranger School or staying in the barracks on the Ranger camp for 30 days until the next class began and I could try again. I made a lot of stupid mistakes up to that point, but this decision wouldn’t be added to the list. I decided to stay and live the life of an indentured servant — cutting grass, polishing doorknobs, and mopping hallways — for 30 days.

Completely humiliated, I began the course again 30 days after my initial failure and this time, I was better prepared and stronger than when I started the first time. I experienced everything described above but applied the lessons I learned about humility, which allowed me to successfully graduate 60 days later (and 20lbs lighter) as a qualified Army Ranger.

During this time, I learned valuable lessons the hard way (and I picked up a couple on the fly). Never quitting and quickly recovering from failure is what allowed me to succeed at Ranger School and transition to lead teams through a number of crisis events in my career. Ranger School isn’t exactly a prerequisite for becoming a good leader, but anything that forces you into a state of humility, teaches you creative ways to persevere and trains you to lead with a combination of empathy and strength will prepare leaders to navigate their teams to success when faced with a crisis.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Crises not only have the potential to jeopardize and infiltrate your work, but they also threaten your emotional stability and relationships. Based on your military experience, what are 5 steps that someone can take to survive and thrive in these situations? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Stay calm / relax / breathe.
  2. Pause / observe / gather data and input.
  3. Prioritize issues to be addressed — do not try to solve everything at once.
  4. Make decisions, formulate a plan and communicate the plan with a calm demeanor.
  5. Be flexible, incrementally improve the plan based on new inputs and disseminate.

It’s important to understand but not be overwhelmed by the fact that your actions during a crisis will define you. This experience has the potential to destroy you or it can strengthen you, therefore, the main thing is…to focus on the main thing. Prioritize what’s important to you and never lose sight of that. If you do that, you and those important to you will come out on the other side stronger and better prepared for next time.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that I have positively influenced others along my way like those who have previously influenced me. Many of them continue to serve and hopefully, due to some of the leadership I provided them, they are continuing to do great things for this country.

It’s tough to say how much goodness I brought to the world during my time overseas, and that uncertainty continues to drive me here at home to find other ways to contribute. I hope business school provides me more opportunities to do so. In the meantime, I do enjoy sharing lessons learned and mentoring those that come after me so that perhaps they can have success bringing goodness to the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Probably something that gets kids to stop living on social media. As seemingly unattainable this result may be, we probably need someone much more inspirational than me! Also, ironically enough, we probably have to begin to inspire the movement on social media itself.

I do really like the Good News Network that was started by John Krasinski during this recent crisis and gives everyone on social media something positive and uplifting to see for a change.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Without a doubt, Elon Musk. Despite how intelligent he is, it amazes me that with his introverted personality type he is able to lead companies to the level of success that he has. I’d love to hear from him how he does it and what his approach is. I could also talk to him for hours about AI, theoretical physics and all kinds of other nerdy stuff like that. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but it’s very interesting and I love learning from people smarter than me.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.

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