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Ryan Morphin:

Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha. I’m Ryan Morphin. On today’s episode we have Jocko Willink, from the Jocko Podcast and Echelon Front, talking to us about leadership and trends in marketing. This is Non-Beta Alpha

Ryan Morphin:

Jocko, welcome to the show.

Jocko Willink:

Thanks for having me on, Ryan. Appreciate it.

Ryan Morphin:

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the business of social media marketing. You’ve turned your veteran experience and your service to our country in a very positive way into leadership coaching and into helping corporate America become better leaders. I want to talk a little bit about that as well as how do you think about social media marketing? Because a lot of our advisors and a lot of people in our industry are a little late to the game, to be frank, and are just coming around the corner. And then I’d love to talk to you about your podcast because we have a podcast as well and want to get some insights from you there, but maybe we take a step back. And why does corporate America need leadership training in your opinion?

Jocko Willink:

Well, we started off this conversation by talking about leadership being the most important thing on the battlefield. And unfortunately, in many organizations, people think that leadership is preexisting in human beings. They think you already have that ability, and it’s simply not true. Have you ever heard of Hamburger University? Ever heard of that?

Ryan Morphin:

No.

Jocko Willink:

Hamburger University is the school that McDonald’s managers go to in Illinois, and it’s a six month school. And so when I was in the SEAL teams towards the end of my career, once I realized how important leadership was, and I really started saying to my chain of command, “Hey, we need to teach these young SEALs how to lead. We need to teach them.” And they’d say, “Well, it’s always been on the job training.” And I said, “Listen. McDonald’s sends people to a six month school to learn how to flip hamburgers. And we’ve got guys going on the battlefield with lives at stake, and we’re not giving them any official schooling. Why? We were the first military organization in the world that doesn’t have leadership training for their troops. We need to do that.”

Jocko Willink:

And it’s the same thing in the civilian sector. All the time, there’s companies, they promote people, they hire people, they bring people into positions, they promote them into positions, and they don’t give them any leadership training. And so what they’re doing is they’re doing the best they can. And just like in the SEAL teams, you’d get some guys that were great leaders in the SEAL teams. And when you would pull the string and figure out their lineage, you could figure out that at some point in their career, they had someone that they worked for that was an outstanding leader. And then you’d get someone else that was a bad leader, and you’d pull the string on their career, and you’d find out that they worked for a guy that was a tyrannical leader or an egotistical leader. And you’d realize that’s where they learned from. If you work for a great leader, yeah, it’s great to learn from them, but if you work for a bad leader, you don’t learn from them or you do learn bad habits.

Jocko Willink:

And the other thing is leadership is a skill. It’s a skill. It’s like playing guitar or playing basketball or painting. It’s a skill. And, sure, you’ve got a certain level of talent that is associated with it, but you could take the most talented person in the world athletically and if you don’t teach them how to play basketball, they’re not going to be good at it until you teach them those skills. It’s the same thing with leadership. And that’s the third leadership book I wrote, Leadership Strategy And Tactics, was because I saw a gap. I saw a gap between understanding the principles of leadership and then actually taking them in the field and applying them. There’s different skills. There’s different maneuvers that you can make as a leader. You have to learn them.

Jocko Willink:

And if you think that you’re just going to have them, you might get some of them right, but I guarantee you’re going to get a lot of them wrong. I hate seeing people learn lessons the hard way, the way I learned them. No, pick up a book, listen to the podcast, and you can start to see, “Hey, here’s a tool that I can take and apply.” “Hey, here’s a situation. Jocko talked about this two weeks ago. I know what to do here.” It’s a skill set, and that’s what we’re trying to do, teach people the principles and then the skills to actually bring those principles to life in an organization.

Ryan Morphin:

And you’ve taken Echelon Front, which is your consulting business, and you’ve started to work with Fortune 1000 companies and really help American business execs realize that they’re not born leaders. They’ve got to be formed. They got to learn that leadership skill. How have you used your marketing prowess on your podcast and your social media? How do you look at social media as a marketing asset from your perspective?

Jocko Willink:

This is an interesting question because if you were to ask me how I thought of social media as a marketing tool, I would say, “Hmm, I don’t really see it that way.” But, then if you were to trace down the finances that I have in my life, you’d see that a vast majority of them come from my social media and my podcast. Why is that? Well, just like being a leader, what you want to do is you want to take care of your people. When I look at social media, when I look at my podcast, my goal isn’t to take something from people. My goal is to give them something. That’s my goal. My goal when I make my podcast isn’t to get people to give me something. My goal is to give them something. And if they want to give me something back, that’s great. If they don’t, it’s okay.

Jocko Willink:

I think in the finance world, if you go into your social media and think, “Okay, how can I best advertise and get people to give me something,” if that’s your mindset going in, guess what people see? People see someone that wants something from them. If you go in and say, “Hey, look, I’ve got some experience. I’ve got some knowledge. I’d like to help people out. How can I help people out? What can I do? What can I teach them? What can I share with them? What lessons have I learned?” And if you go into it with that attitude, people will say, “Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for telling me that. I didn’t know that. I’d like to give you something back. Oh, by the way, I see that you have a website here I can click on, and I can take a look at some of your products,” or whatever the case may be. For me, these social media aspects are more about trying to help people and give things away, and then if they feel value in it, maybe they’ll give you something back.

Ryan Morphin:

Well, and I’ll tell you, I’ve been taking a lot off of your podcast. You just started a new podcast called The Thread. I think it’s got about seven episodes. And the other one, you have 246 episodes. What’s about the new podcast? What’s the subject matter? How is it different than the other podcast?

Jocko Willink:

There’s actually a couple new podcasts that I’ve put out recently. One of them is called The Debrief. And The Debrief is shorter, half an hour, 45 minutes. And it is just … it’s basically pure leadership. It’s myself and Dave Burke who works with me at Echelon Front. And what happens is when we work with clients, he and I talk, and I say, “Hey, what’s going on with this client?” And he tells me what’s going on. And we debrief what happened or what a solution will be. And so a few weeks ago, I said, “Hey, when we do these debriefs, we should actually sterilize them so no one knows who we’re talking about, but then we should share this information with people so that they can learn.” And that’s exactly what we started doing.

Jocko Willink:

The other podcast you mentioned, the new podcast, it’s called … you said it was called The Thread, which is correct, or sorry, it was correct. We had to change the name of The Thread because it was already a podcast. And they sent me a cease and desist letter immediately. And I kind of laughed-

Ryan Morphin:

You know you’re doing something right when that happens.

Jocko Willink:

Yeah. And I never realized it. I just kind of do what I do. And so I realized that there was another podcast called The Thread and that we were beating them in their own category, so they didn’t like that very much, I guess. And unfortunately, they didn’t think through it very well because if their podcast is the same … it’d be like being authorized to bring out a soda and you could call it Coca-Cola, right? If you could call it Coca-Cola, hey, you got a bunch of people that would be going and buying it just because of the name, so people would have listened to their podcast.

Jocko Willink:

Anyways, we changed the name to The Unraveling. And what that podcast is … again, it’s a little bit shorter because if you’ve listened to my podcast, I have a tendency to make them a little bit long. And that one, we are looking at things that are more rooted in what’s happening in today’s world. I don’t quite want to call it a news program because the news, as you know, is headlines and 17 seconds about a subject from two people on the screen that are arguing with each other. You don’t get anything from it. You don’t gain understanding of the world. The Unraveling is to unravel things that are occurring today and see what the roots of those things are. And it’s been awesome to do. Yep.

Ryan Morphin:

You’ve built up this social media brand. You’ve created an educational platform on leadership. And now, you start to link the website assets and you started creating products. And I can tell you COLDWAR is at our offices. Our employees who are back in the office are taking it every day, or at least they’re supposed to. I take it every day. I take your D3. You guys make boots. You’ve got an energy drink. How have you started to productize this from that standpoint? And from our corollary in our industry, it may not be consumer business to consumer products, but business to business. How do you think about how do you start to vertically integrate all these different offerings?

Jocko Willink:

Yeah. This, again, goes back to a military analogy. In the military, if you’re looking at an enemy position, right, you see the enemy. What you want to do is you want to attack the enemy, but you don’t want to attack the enemies strong points, right? You want to attack where the enemy is weak. What you do is you start to send out reconnaissance elements that start to probe and look and see where the enemy is strong and where the enemy is weak. And then once you find a weak point, you put your resources on that weak point and you attack. And you get through the enemy lines, and then you flood more resources in there. And then eventually you take over even the strong points.

Jocko Willink:

So, I find myself having that same attitude when it comes to the business world, which is there’s a bunch of places that you can go. There’s a bunch of areas to attack. And what I do is basically send out little reconnaissance elements to see, “Oh, it seems like there’s a demand for that. Why don’t I put some resources against it?” “Okay. It seems like people like that, and they want more, why don’t I give them more?” And sometimes I put out some reconnaissance elements and say, “Hey, what do people think of this?” And what do I get back from it? It doesn’t seem like that’s real popular. Okay. I won’t put any more resources in that direction.

Jocko Willink:

I think keeping an open mind is the other piece of this is you might put your resources over here in this product, and you think it’s the best product ever, but the market says no. And you might say to yourself, “Well, they just don’t understand.” Okay. Well, if you take ownership in that and say, “Maybe I’m not explaining it to them well enough, that’s my fault. I need to explain it better.” Okay. But if you say, “They just don’t understand, and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” well, eventually you throw away all your resources.

Jocko Willink:

That’s what I’ve done. I look at things in my own life. I mean, COLDWAR, it’s a great example. Before COVID, I traveled all the time. I was shaking people’s hands, thousands of people. I’m on airplanes in airports, in planes, trains, and automobiles. I’m in meetings with people all day. And so you’re getting constantly … your immune system is constantly under attack. And so I wanted to take something that had all the ingredients in it that I knew would keep my immune system strong. We put that product together. And we put that product together before COVID. Same thing with the vitamin D. Why do I take vitamin D? Because when I’m on all those traveling trips, don’t always get the amount of sun I need, so I made vitamin D. Then COVID hits, and we’ve got two products that couldn’t be any more well-suited for boosting the immune system for something like COVID. There’s some luck involved there, too. And I have no problem being lucky sometimes.

Ryan Morphin:

Well, with hard work luck tends to accelerate, but I’d ask you, looking at the podcast industry, I mean, your buddy, Joe Rogan, just took a nice payday from Spotify, do you think that’s the future of communications? Do you think it’s going to start to compete with TV and radio? And what are your thoughts on that?

Jocko Willink:

Yeah, I mean, I don’t even … I don’t think it’s competing with radio anymore. I’m not sure anyone listens to the radio anymore. I think it’s already crushed radio. I think TV is pretty close behind. I personally know I listened to way more podcasts than I watch TV. When I started my podcast in 2015, 17% of America was listening to podcasts. It was a pretty small number. The last time I checked, it was 78%. And that was over a year ago. I haven’t checked lately. The convenience of a podcast, the fact that it gives you time, you could never … if you’re going to read a book or you’re going to watch a TV show, you got to sit down and watch a TV show. You can’t watch a TV show while you’re driving. You can listen to a podcast while you’re driving.

Jocko Willink:

You can’t watch a TV show while you’re mowing the lawn. You can listen to a podcast while you’re mowing the lawn, do the dishes, whatever. It gives you more time, and it gives you an ability to get more done. I think podcasts are … I think they’re … I’m sure you’ve heard some of these comparisons. I know one of my other friends, Jordan Peterson, has said that the podcast revolution is more important than the Gutenberg press, which is when they started being able to print books. And they have some pretty good evidence to back that up, which is when they made the … when Gutenberg made the press, the printing machine, they could print. They could print books. They couldn’t print that many because it was hard. It was arduous. You had to lay out a page at a time and then print 20 copies. And guess what? They were printing in one language. The language was Latin. Not that many people could actually speak Latin.

Jocko Willink:

And then if you happen to speak Latin and you happen to have a ton of money to go and buy one of these things that you could then attempt to read, then that could be considered a revolution. When you look at a podcast, you don’t have to know how to read at all. It’s completely free to get as long as you have a phone, which almost everyone has a phone. It costs nothing to produce. I mean, it’s funny, I do my podcast in a converted closet in my gym with a thousand dollars worth of equipment. And we get the same numbers listening to it as actual prime time television, where they spend millions of dollars per episode. It’s a crazy low barrier to entry. And the other thing about it is it sorts itself out and good podcasts rise up and ones that aren’t that great fall down. And I think it’s a powerful medium.

Ryan Morphin:

No, I couldn’t agree with you more. No, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think the podcast revolution is real. And a lot of our advisors and people in our industry are starting to broaden their reach into the podcast space. We have as well. And I know how much work it is to create a show and produce a show because we do it on Saturdays here. And it’s like what you said, it’s giving people content that you think is valuable and it comes back around. This last piece I was going to ask you, we call the human factor. I was going to ask you six quick questions, just whatever comes to top of mind. First one is if a vaccine was created today, would you take it, yes or no, for COVID?

Jocko Willink:

Oh, for COVID. I have no idea. Probably. Hey, I’ll tell you what, if it would help move the country forward, I’d take it right now. Yes. There’s my answer. I’m tired of being stuck in the house. I know everyone else’s, too. Let’s get it done.

Ryan Morphin:

Absolutely. And anybody who wants to hear more of his thoughts on that, The Joe Rogan podcast about two months ago is phenomenal. Second question: who wins the election in November? What are your thoughts?

Jocko Willink:

I don’t think there’s any human being in the world that could predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, much less in November. I have no idea. And I [crosstalk 00:17:34] going either way.

Ryan Morphin:

Do you think we’re in an economic recovery? And if so, what shape is it going to be?

Jocko Willink:

I think if we don’t start turning things on for real in the very near future, we are going to face a significant problem. I think that if we turn things on in the next couple of months, then I think we’ll be okay. And I think the shape will be … I think if we turn things back on and we opened the economy back up, I think we’re going to take off pretty rapidly. I think if we don’t turn the economy back on, we’re going to go down in the other direction. I think both of those angles of either increased or decreased look pretty similar. And it depends. You got to let America go back to work at some point. And the sooner, the better

Ryan Morphin:

It’s interesting. We’re nerds about metrics. We ran a regression model. And the schools that are open, the cities that have opening schools, had the highest job creation in the last few jobs reports. And so I think you’ll see that positive correlation, so your comment about getting back to work is critical. I think we need to understand what the real risks are and the data has been so bad, but. This summer, is there anything that you achieved or did you do with the quarantine that you were proud of?

Jocko Willink:

Oh, I wrote two books. Does that count?

Ryan Morphin:

That definitely counts. Overachiever. There you go. I love it. Any silver linings you see in the economy right now in 2021?

Jocko Willink:

I think there’s going to be opportunity. The way I look at everything is, hey, there’s opportunities. There’s opportunity to do things a little bit different. Here we are on this call right now, right? Before COVID hit, Echelon Front, my company, 99% of the interaction that we had with clients was face-to-face. March, whatever, 14th or 15th, my trip … I had a trip to the East Coast, going to New York, doing my thing, that got canceled. And then for my team, just in those last two weeks of March, 37 live events got canceled. And I got on the phone, got on a Zoom call with the team and said, “Okay, we could just hold our breaths until this is over, right? Look, we have money in the bank. We all make good money. We could just hold our breaths for the next month until this thing is over. But, I don’t know how long it’s going to last. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to …”

Jocko Willink:

We had a little tiny platform of virtual training, and I said, “We’re going to expand that. We’re going to go. We’re going to go hard.” And the first thing we did was set up a bunch of calls with people that had canceled on Zoom so that they were forced to see, hey, you want me to come all the way to see you in New York city or in San Francisco? I’m right here. I’m right here. I can come into your office. I can talk to your people. They realized that. They started booking, and that’s what’s happened for our company. What does that mean? It means we can actually talk to more people. We can get the word out to more people. We can do it cheaper for our clients. And it turns out to be an opportunity. Yeah, I look at any tough situation that I’m in, how am I going to win?

Ryan Morphin:

I love that mentality. As a content creator, this is a hard question to ask you, but what are you watching or listening to or reading today to help you improve as a leader, as an individual?

Jocko Willink:

Yeah. As you know from listening to my podcast, I have to read about a book a week or maybe a little bit more of books that I’m going to cover on my podcast, so that consumes all my free time. Before I started my podcast, I had what you might call free time, like, “Oh, I don’t really have anything to do right now.” Once I started my podcast, that doesn’t exist. When I get on a plane, when my kids are watching something on TV, no matter what’s going on, I have work to do.

Jocko Willink:

And so what am I reading? I’m reading book after book after book after book. What am I listening to? When I run or workout, I listen to podcasts. Like I said, I listen to Rogan. I listened to Tim Ferris. I listened to Martyrmade, who is on that podcast with me. The guy that created the podcast Martyrmade is a great guy named Daryl Cooper. He’s on The Unraveling with me. I listened to his podcasts, and I listened to a bunch of other podcasts, but most of my time is spent reading.

Ryan Morphin:

Well, Jocko Willink. I appreciate you coming on today, sir. Thank you for your service to the country. Thank you for your continued service and waking corporate America up about the leadership issues we’re facing and how to address them tactically, not just a pie in the sky. And we really appreciate your time spending some time with us in your busy schedule. We appreciate you and thank you so much.

Jocko Willink:

Yeah. Thanks for having me. And look, I talk a lot about what the military does, but the military doesn’t exist without the strength of the economy, so what you all are doing out there trying to rebuild the economy and make the right decisions and helping people make the right decisions, it’s outstanding. I appreciate what you’re all doing every day. Keep doing it. Keep getting after it.

Ryan Morphin:

Thank you, sir. Have a great day.

Ryan Morphin:

Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to like and subscribe on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. This is Non-Beta Alpha, and now you know.

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