YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
My greatest accomplishment is being the father of four boys. But it’s not “accomplished” yet. In fact, it won’t really be accomplished until they become fathers and then I get to be a grandfather and then, somewhere, perhaps generation two and three, well after I’m gone, someone might say “he done good – raised four boys who raised good families, were loving husbands and giving contributors to their communities.” Then, just maybe, I can say from the grave that my greatest work in progress accomplishment was “accomplished.”
Why you ask? Because you if you want to make a dent in this world in some positive way it starts and ends with the people you influence – that you encourage to go beyond what they initially thought was possible. Everything in this world was created by people who dared to dream, and many of those people were influenced by their parents. There is no greater leadership challenge and opportunity than raising children to willingly embrace pushing themselves outside their comfort zone – to dare to do the impossible – to appreciate that their limits are inside their heads and that the greatest gift is giving back. When the loop gets closed by one generation teaching the next how to strive for more and then give back what they’ve learned then we as the human race can improve. There is no nobler nor more important a profession than being a parent.
My second greatest accomplishment resembles my first – helping those I work with better themselves whether it be helping someone push beyond their preconceived limit in education, work or play – the greatest satisfaction I get in life is helping others achieve more than they initially thought possible.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
I’ve failed many, many more times than I have succeeded. I’ve failed in almost every conceivable way (with few exceptions – I don’t partake in drugs – so I haven’t failed there), yet my greatest triumphs came from my greatest failings. One of the biggest ones that I still think about on a daily basis is almost running my company into the ground right around the same time I was being honored as the CEO/Founder of the fastest growing consumer products company on the Inc 500 (circa 2009 – #4 overall). It was a perfect storm of events from the economy going into a “second great depression” to my retailers being stuffed with inventory. Within a short few months of receiving the Inc 500 recognition, my bank wanted to call our $15- million loan which would have forced my partners and I to sell our homes and liquidate every asset we owned. The bank wanted to be paid back in full within 30 days. To do this would have killed the “golden goose” along with any chance for more “golden eggs.” Our team went into a 12-month mission to convince the bank to give us 300 days instead. Little by little – we built the trust to convince them that our intentions were pure in paying back every penny we owed them…and we did.
The greatest lesson is focus. It would have done us no good to focus on all the negative elements associated with our predicament. Much like the days of leading Navy SEALs, focusing on the negative doesn’t help your situation – it literally shuts down your creative thinking (this has since been proven) and puts you into a tailspin of more negativity. We stayed positive – and God knows we needed it – because we weren’t granted 300 days of grace by the bank in the first week…as a matter of fact, we were never granted more than “one more week.” Focus funnels your energy to take action – if your focus is on a positive outcome, you’ll find yourself trying to figure out the next step you can take toward that positive outcome. However, the converse is true as well – focus on only the negative outcome, and like a race car driver shifting his or her focus from the next turn to the barrier, you’ll crash.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
YES!!! I exercise (I recently purchased a Peloton which I use quite frequently when the weather doesn’t cooperate) – my favorite form of exercise is a walk in nature where I focus on my surroundings – nothing more – kind of like a moving meditation if you will. I also do what I call pray walks – where I get up, greet the sunrise and have a conversation with the “Big Man” about all the things I’m thankful for (first on the list is my family).
I love to ski, boat, travel and do anything everything active with my boys and bride.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
The water – anything on, in or under the water is my most magical place. When I get the time – I practice “floating” in a chamber full of body temperature water and deprive me of all the senses…I’ve worked my way up to 90 mins – very powerful.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Yes – a week doesn’t go by where I haven’t thought how I can give back either monetarily or more importantly with my own time.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
I don’t like big dinner parties unless they are being moderated by someone asking thoughtful questions where all dinner guests must participate. I’ve been to so many dinner parties where the conversation is superficial and, worse, my hearing isn’t that great (lost 50% of it in SEAL Team) so the structure is a key piece of my ideal dinner party. I want a moderator who is thoughtful and thought-provoking, and there’s only one person that I know who does this exceptionally well: David Rich. My guests would be the following: Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, current leaders of all major faiths around the world, Steven Spielberg, David Lasseter, James Cameron, Walt Disney and my late grandmother, Priscilla Alden Mills (I miss her – she’ll sit next to me). I’m tired of the religious strife we have around the world – we’re wasting valuable resources, and people’s lives on a topic that has become misconstrued and weaponized. The idea is to put the three “founders of faith” in a room with their current leaders and the best storytellers there are to capture the moment. Meanwhile, I want the entire conversation on every news channel in the world without any commentary with the hopes that people can realize that common threads exist and that there are bigger issues to tackle in this world than deciding which “God” you worship is better.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
Your limitations are exactly that: your own limits. You are far more capable than you give yourself credit for…it’s not your fault, we’re built this way. You see our brains are lazy, they want us to take the safe path. They don’t like risk or learning something – it’s hard – it’s scary. But nothing ever great was created by staying on the safe path. Push yourself – dream that impossible dream and then get after it for our true limits are time and energy (okay and the laws of physics, but hey even those were defined by humans – if you think you can develop a new one then go for it!). The world needs people willing to push the boundaries of what’s possible and to do this requires knocking back those demons of doubt barking at us inside our brains. You know this conversation – go lead it with some kick-ass can-do attitude and make the impossible possible. Show the world and yourself what you’re truly capable of….what are you waiting for!?!