I first came across the name Jocko Willink through the Tim Ferriss Podcast.
To read through his resume is to understand what a true badass he is. Pulled directly from his bio on Echelon Front, his consulting company:
Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. As commander of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi, he orchestrated SEAL operations that helped the “Ready First” Brigade of the US Army’s First Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city.
Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War. Jocko returned from Iraq to serve as Officer-in-Charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams. There, he spearheaded the development of leadership training and personally instructed and mentored the next generation of SEAL leaders who have continued to perform with great success on the battlefield.
During his career, Jocko was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and numerous other personal and unit awards. In 2010, Jocko retired from the Navy and launched Echelon Front where he teaches the leadership principles he learned on the battlefield to help others lead and win. Clients include individuals, teams, companies, and organizations across a wide-range of industries and fields.
Oh yeah, he’s a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Dean Lister “The Boogeyman.”
His voice is filled with grit and gravel and reminds me of Wolverine or Batman. He speaks in the no nonsense way I imagine a SEAL commander to speak when briefing a team on their objectives.
He’s also a surprisingly eloquent and dynamic speaker which as it turns out was a skill he worked on and deliberately studied when he pursued a degree in English.
There are 5 episodes so far and I’ve loved every one of them. In fact I’m re-listening to them because there are just so many gems. In a time when there are so many podcasts to listen to and so much I want to learn, it’s rare for me to backtrack and hit the rewind button (which I should probably do more of). This was the first podcast that made me push every other podcast on my list to the backburner so that I could listen to all 5 of these episodes again. They resonate with me so much that I may even listen to them a third time through.
He discusses the various nuances of effective leadership, working out, and brazilian jiu jitsu. And of course there are war stories. Literal war stories from his own experience, not the figurative war stories of fighting with online trolls and haters that other people talk about.
In Episode 4 there’s even poetry. Jocko tells the story of being a spectator at a UFC fight after cornering one of the fighters and being completely taken in by a videogame commercial that captivated the entire arena.
He was bewildered and embarrassed by how deeply this Hollywood produced commercial resonated with him and immediately went home to study the haunting poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death, by Alan Seeger.
Here’s the commercial by the way:
It was funny and refreshing for me to hear such a badass admit he was embarrassed, but that’s how he is throughout the podcast. He’s humble and freely admits times when he’s been uncomfortable, afraid, embarrassed, and made mistakes. He’s unapologetic and unashamed about revealing these vulnerable moments which runs completely counter to the testosterone laden bro culture seen everywhere in the media.
He co-authored the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, which has just moved to the top of my reading list.
Here is his appearance on the Joe Rogan Podcast which I haven’t had the chance to listen to yet.