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David's Macro Blog

Analysis and commentary on business, economics, real estate, financial markets, and other fun topics


Category: Success

SEAL Team 6

SEAL Team 6

SEAL Team 6, whose existence has never been officially acknowledged, is the group of men who entered Pakistan and killed Usama Bin Laden at his home. They are just like the super quiet helicopters used to fly into Pakistan undetected, just 1 hour from its capital city.

Vanity Fair has an excellent article with excerpts from a book by former SEAL Team 6 member Howard E. Wasdin. The whole article is worth reading, but here are the highlights.

On the first morning of indoctrination into BUD/S, we had to do the physical screening test again… That evening, the SEAL instructors stood before us and introduced themselves. At the end, Lieutenant Moore told us we could quit if we wanted to by walking outside and ringing the bell three times.

“I’ll wait,” Lieutenant Moore said.

I thought the lieutenant was bluffing, but some of my classmates began ringing the bell.

The O-course helps prepare a man for that kind of work. It has also broken more than one trainee’s neck or back — climbing over the top of the 60-foot cargo net is a bad time to lose arm strength. Much of our training was dangerous, and injuries were common.

A number of the race horses were the biggest crybabies. They’d probably been No. 1 much of their lives, and now when they had their first taste of adversity – BUD/S style – they couldn’t handle it.

Losers would pay with their flesh — it pays to be a winner.

Our boat climbed up the face of the wave. I saw one of the other boats clear the tip. We weren’t so lucky. The wave picked us up and slammed us down, sandwiching us between our boat and the water.

As the ocean swallowed us, I swallowed boots, paddles, and cold seawater.

I realized, This could kill me.

Drown proofing

Drown Proofing

We arrived at the pool located at Building 164 and stripped down to our UDT swim shorts. An instructor said, “You are going to love this. Drown-proofing is one of my favorites. Sink or swim, sweet peas.”

I tied my feet together, and my swim partner tied my hands behind my back.

“When I give the command, the bound men will hop into the deep end of the pool,” Instructor Stoneclam said. “You must bob up and down 20 times, float for five minutes, swim to the shallow end of the pool, turn around without touching the bottom, swim back to the deep end, do a forward and backward somersault underwater, and retrieve a face mask from the bottom of the pool with your teeth.”

The torment continued throughout each day — push-ups, runs, push-ups, calisthenics, push-ups, swims, push-ups, O-course — day after day, week after week. We ran a mile one-way just to eat a meal. Round-trip multiplied by three meals made for six miles a day just to eat!

We did squat thrusts, eight-count bodybuilders, and all manner of acrobatic tortures until the sand rubbed our wet skin raw and nearly every muscle in our bodies broke down. It was my first goon squad — and the only one I ever needed. I may die on the next timed run, but I ain’t doin’ this crap again.

As my upper body hung over the valley in the V of my homemade trouser flotation device, I felt relief. I had been so concerned about drowning that I had forgotten how frigid the water felt. Now that I wasn’t drowning, I started to remember the cold.

In psychology this belief is called self-efficacy. Even when the mission seems impossible, it is the strength of our belief that makes success possible. The absence of this belief guarantees failure. A strong belief in the mission fuels our ability to focus, put forth effort, and persist.

“All of you have to swim 50 meters underwater. You’ll do a somersault into the pool, so no one gets a diving start, and swim 25 meters across. Touch the end and swim 25 meters back. If you break the surface at any time, you fail.”

Our world is a meritocracy where we are free to leave at any time. Our missions are voluntary; I can’t think of a mission that wasn’t.

Discovery Channel: BUDS Class 234

Do charity and business mix? You bet.

Have you heard of Kiva? It’s the non-profit organization that loans very small sums of money to the poorest people around the world so that they can start a business to provide for themselves and their families.

Ever wonder how Kiva works and if it actually helps real people? Watch this CNBC video to see three different small businesses helped by Kiva.

Kiva shows us how charity and business can come together as entrepreneurs help raise living standards around the world.

72-yr-old Ernestine Shepherd runs 80 miles a week and helps seniors live fit.  Previously, at age 62 she won the 45 and older masters division.

To learn what makes such a great company, listen to CEO Jeff Bezos talk about its recent acquisition of Zappos, innovation, and customer obsession.

Everything Jeff knows seems to be a very short list.

#1 – Obsess Over Customers

Put customers first because ultimately they’ll make or break your business.

Jeff doesn’t clearly state this, but it seems that the main reason for Amazon’s acquisition of Zappos is the fact that both companies (and CEOs Bezos and Tony Hsieh) share similar values, starting with customer obsession.

#2 – Invent

“Don’t accept either/or thinking”, instead invent your way out of any problem. 

Invent solutions on your customer’s behalf. You can invent your way out of any box if you think you can.

#3 – Think Long Term

For any company to be innovative or focused on customers needs, it needs to think long term. Some ventures will take 5 to 7 years to pay dividends. New inventions take time to be understood.

Applying the principle to think long term might pay dividends for customers BEFORE benefiting shareholders.

Note: Jeff candidly admits that Amazon has made a lot of mistakes along the way, with the result being Amazon has learned something.  You don’t get to know much without trying lots of things and making a lot of mistakes.

“Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.”

— Henry Ford

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” 

— Thomas J. Watson

It’s important to note that innovation isn’t the result of focusing on next quarter’s earnings and short term gains.

In summary, if you want to innovate in your business, you need to obsess over your customers and invent new solutions for them, knowing that you’ll make a lot of mistakes along the way.

For more reading on Amazon’s innovation, visit: Whiz Jeff Bezos Keeps Kindling Hot Concepts

Please comment below – I’d love to know what you think.

You’ve probably read about the Marshmallow Test or at least heard it referenced with regards to delayed gratification and success in life.

Recently, Stanford scientists replicated a classic experiment from the 60s, in which they tested children’s ability to delay gratification. Researchers gave each child a marshmallow and told them that they would receive a second marshmallow — if they were able to wait until the researcher left and returned.

Recent Stanford Reproduction of the Orignal Test

Marshmallow Test Reproduced by Dr. David Walsh

The original marshmallow experiment was conducted by Walter Mischel in the 60s. Afterward, Mischel followed the children’s progress through adolescence – finding that those who were able to wait without eating the marshmallow were better adjusted, “more dependable”, and got higher SAT scores too.

The lesson: Kids who wait — later in life do great! Or perhaps you’ve heard it this way: “Good things come to those who wait.”