About the Episode
As a veteran, entering the workforce can be an adjustment for a multitude of reasons. One reason my guest, Larry Yatch experienced, was the lack of ownership in responsibilities as he witnessed firsthand.
Today, we dive deep into Larry’s new book, How Leadership Actually Works, and how he has taught entrepreneurs how to lead successfully.
Larry Yatch is an elite leadership strategist and the creator of the SEAL Success programs, a collection of skills-based training, workshops, and courses that enable high performers to find fulfillment, connect with their teams, and make a sustainable impact in their field. A graduate of the US Naval Academy and former ten-year officer in the Navy SEALs, Larry has spent nearly a decade since his retirement as a trainer and speaker, helping senior executives optimize their personal growth and leadership strategy for superior performance. In addition to numerous military honors, Larry is recognized as the go-to expert in leadership development, team performance, and project management.
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- What failure looks like to a Navy Seal
- Business Partners
- Taking responsibility in life and in business
- Returning to life as a Entrepreneur after a deployment
A good friend of mine that has been on the show is a returning graduate of the US Naval Academy and former tenure officer in the Navy Seals. He has a brand new book out, which is freaking phenomenal. How leadership actually works. Larry Yatch, welcome back.
It’s awesome to be back, Rick. Good to see you again.
Yeah. Good to see you too. I mean, before the show, I was just telling people have well in the production or many ways how beautiful and sexy you are. Right and it’s, it’s inside. It’s outside. We were joking about that a bit. But dude, your brain is just absolutely incredible. My team has had an amazing opportunity to work with you and your team on developing playbooks for us and today we’re going to talk about your book, and I’m super excited about this man. This has been a long time in the making.
Oh, it has I mean, both in, I’d say the experiences that led to the insights that I share in the book, but then the entrepreneurial journey of executing those insights and proven amount of the real world you know, add another 10 years on top of that, so probably got a total journey of two decades.
Wow, man. So when I heard you right, and reading between the lines, the idea for this book came somewhere in the middle there of the last two decades.
Yeah, I would say more towards the second half. Right. So what I think is a big difference between this book and most of the other seal books that you read is, this isn’t a collection of stories from my seal experiences, which ultimately can be very entertaining, but isn’t often all that useful, and the second thing that makes it different is that a vast majority of seal books are, especially books on leadership for business, principles from the seals that are being shared with a business owner. Mine what I was working on is less no real stories and the principles are things that I’ve been implementing in the business world longer than I did in the seals so much more applicable to your average business owner than your average seal book.
That’s intriguing, man, because I mean, we’ve had the great privilege and honor of spending a lot of time with you over the past couple years, and I love when you start talking in this range of an expansive mind. You know, because just some insight that I’ve seen on you and I compliment you on this. It’s like what you’ve learned in the seals was very, very rigid and for good reason, right? Yeah, definitely. Yeah, good policies, procedures and tactics, all of that. Now, every time we’ve spoken, there’s always been something to where it’s like being outside of that box that you were given and what we can expect from your book is a lot of those things that you’ve taken from the seals have grown in the last couple of years.
Definitely, and it’s like I said, the experience in the seals provided a different environment. In which they experienced teams. Then going into the business world. It was, I’d say, a whole lot of failures to start with, which produced a completely different set of experiences to compare against the seals, and it was in the comparison of what I found in the civilian world in the business world, against what I just felt is like breathing in the seals. It was in that comparison that we got to find the real nuggets of gold that are the best benefit to others.
Dude, you must be in my head or something because I mean, of course, I’ve known your bio, and you’ve had over like 200 successful missions in the seals, right?
Yeah, for both training and the real world, and our training missions are arguably more dangerous than most real world missions in the way that we train. We always believe the more you bleed in training, the less you die in combat. So we produce as much if not more risk in our training missions and our real world missions, and having that high the success rate is based not only on the raw material that seals I got to use but more importantly in our ability to coordinate action at a very high level.
No doubt and this is the cool part that I’m hearing from what you’re saying is you had this huge track record in the seals of just like crushing winds right, week after week, day after day and then you enter the business world and it’s like, “Whoa, this is what failure looks like.” Yeah, over and over again. I love that iconomy man.
Yeah, remember, it wasn’t my choice to not be a seal anymore. I got injured so I was kind of faced with that. Decision. Point A What do I do now? Right. My only purpose in life up to that point was to be in Special Operations go to war and I was right in the middle of all of that when surgeon scalpel took that away from me and at that point being faced with going into entrepreneurship. It wasn’t my choice. Most of the entrepreneurs that we work with are kind of born entrepreneurs just like I was born a CEO, right. Like that was what I was meant to do with my life. I didn’t like entrepreneurship. To me it was a choice, not something that I was driven to do. I remember sitting there in the transition period, I’ve still in the Navy and I just kind of started my first company, and I was reading Inc. I used to love reading Inc Magazine
So I’d sit there and read and it was the Inc 500 that went through the whole list and read all this stuff and I was sitting there thinking like wow, I mean this is gonna be really easy, right like to be able to do these things no one’s trying to kill me. There’s no one’s trying to blow me off. Like, I get to work relatively normal hours. I don’t. I don’t have to work in the world’s worst environments like this is going to be cake, and I was very, very wrong. Like that was not the way it went.
When did that smack you in the face the first time can you remember that moment?
I’d say the first one was when a business partner stole from me. Oh, God, that sucks. Yeah, and it was like, it just blew me. That blew me away that someone would act with their best interest like their interests over the one the interests of the group and then specifically the interest of their team, right, which I was part of, which was so opposite of the mindset in the seals, right? I cared more about your life than I cared about my own, which is what gave us unbelievable power as a team, and so I think that was the first time I was like, “Oh, I’m Not in Kansas anymore.” It was kind of like, you know, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type moment. Yeah, I’d say that was the first one, and then the second one was when I was building a team where I had to build a bigger team. Right? So now we’re talking about 2030 people, and I remember asking a guy we had, like, a news crew coming into our facility and asked God to take out the garbage and he’s like, yeah, no problem. I come in the next day and the garbage isn’t taken out. I went and asked him, “Hey, why don’t you take out the garbage or why isn’t the Garching?” Now he’s like, “Oh, I didn’t have the key for the dumpster or something like that,” and I just, I couldn’t believe that. That was it. Like, the key was in the office like he had other dumpsters to use like that. Just having one little obstacle that he got confronted with and that was it. Like, okay, then I just won’t hold my responsibility, and, and or tell anyone that he didn’t like it. That was another one just blew me completely away,
Let’s unpack these if we could because I think this has to do a lot with you as a person too, because they’re cool stories, and I’m assuming, obviously, in your book, there’s tactics that are based off of these experiences, too. Yeah. So the first time you had a partner steal from you, and you know, he’s, obviously you’ve overcome that and you didn’t let that hinder you from actually building a team in the first place. You know, it didn’t stop you in that moment, but I could see where you would not you but generally, I say you like people, right? It faces that first obstacle coming from such an amazing team environment. So where it’s like your life is literally in the hands of the people that are around you. Right? Not even so much from at least how you might describe even on the very first episode you’re on here which will reference in the notes, but I remember you talking about how everyone else depends on you for their lives. It isn’t actually like you depending on yourself for your own life. It’s depending on your team for them to get your back so that you survive.
Yeah, and that was taken for granted. Right like it wasn’t even a thought and what was interesting about this is I started something then add up so then went into full like counterintelligence mission like full blown, built a dossier, like a complete dossier on like what happened and then set up the conversation of like, okay, where’s all that? I was just wondering where the equipment was, and he started lying. Right? So I let him lie for a good 20-30 minutes and just kept deeper and deeper and like, Well, what about these Fedex receipts of where all the equipment was shit? Like, is it still in the warehouse? Or are these receipts not accurate, and it was really interesting to just settle back into the old way of doing things like oh, I just have a mission now to execute on being able to find a tree.
So I think, to some degree, being able to fall back on that background of being able to protect myself, right now, having done that homework was part of the thing that made me not feel out of control. Because even in this situation where someone was stealing, I still was in absolute control, or at least perceived perception and control. So I think that helped quite a bit, and then the other piece was really using it as a learning point, right? I wasn’t a victim to this guy. I I created the situation where he thought that was the best choice, right ownership of the environment I created versus being a victim to someone who was making bad choices. I looked at him and somehow I created the environment where he thought that was the best choice, and I failed in that as opposed to being a victim of him. I’d say the two big pieces that help me get through that feeling. Okay, like okay, well, I’m just gonna do this differently in the future.
That’s a lot of self reflection man and said, I commend you for that too. Because what was the conclusion you came to? What was the environment that you felt you created in order to where he thought that was the best choice?
So this predicts that particular situation he arranged originally created the deal. She called me in to do one job. As soon as I saw the job he brought me in but I said this isn’t gonna work. So I designed an entire literally created surveillance system from scratch to solve the problem. Solving the problem is going to take three years in nine months, and becoming the most important person there. His ego couldn’t take it, which is what it came down to, and so understanding that I really wasn’t caring for him. Very well, by coming in and taking everything over, even though we were sharing the revenue very well. Like for me, I don’t care who wins like, as long as we win, I don’t care if it’s you or me or someone else that does it. Understanding that not everyone thinks like that, and understanding that there are needs in a partner I didn’t care for his needs very well. So I didn’t understand what his needs were. I thought as long as we both make money, we’re good, and if I make him look good, that’s important, but that’s that that didn’t fulfill the needs that he had. So it was I being a good partner and you know, from my perspective, I was from his perspective, I wasn’t what matters. Well, it matters that from both of our perspectives,
This is a good partnership. Yeah, you’re talking about ego. I mean, he goes, one of the biggest things that can trip up anybody, and oh, for sure, leadership issues. Sometimes it goes hand in hand, right. The reason why people seek leadership is because of some sort of satisfaction of the ego drive that they have in themselves. They just make up a word. That is suffocation. I don’t know. I’m glad we could laugh about that stuff. But anyways, they’re trying to satisfy this ego that’s phenomenal. I’m gonna try to use that word again sometime, maybe not today. In that process, it is how you reconcile that though, you know, and I think this is a good lesson, a good teaching point for you and it’ll come from nobody’s mouth better. How do you reconcile your ego with leadership, you know, if you’ve chosen to be in leadership, or you’ve been thrust into that, you know, because corporations, a lot of times we’ll just throw people into leadership positions. How do you reconcile your ego with the leadership responsibilities that you have?
I think there needs to be a separation between ego and confidence because we can mix as you know for me it’s all about words, right precision, that language and so we can make assumptions here as to what people are hearing, when they hear ego we can miss they could miss the mark. So let’s make a distinction between ego and competence. For me, confidence is being able to make an assessment of my ability to to satisfy a standard of performance. Right so a real override if I have a high degree of confidence, that means that I believe that I can meet a standard of performance with a high percentage of success. If I have low confidence, then I have a low likelihood. I believe I have a low likelihood of meeting a standard of performance so that confidence level is dependent on an assessment and that assessment can be grounded or ungrounded. So ungrounded assessments of confidence are what I consider to be ego. Right when I think I can do something that I don’t have a history or grounded assessment based on. Right? So that’s a big difference and an ungrounded assessment of confidence is ego, a grounded assessment of confidence is confidence.
Interesting, because I think when the way that you just described ego might be at some point, every single entrepreneur that’s out there like whatever, I’ve never done it before.
I can do it as needed.
I’m thinking back on myself right now, though, like, wow, I think that was kind of me. You know, like when I decided to take my company public. It’s like I’ve never done it before. I don’t know who cares but you know what? I’m going to do it anyway, and you know what, I’m going to succeed. I have no basis to say that I can succeed. I just, I’m just going to do it. No looking back.
So I would argue that comes from ego. Not everything that comes from me goes back. But I think I challenge myself a lot of times because my ego is tied to fear. Right? So if I don’t have confidence, then I’m going to feel fear because I don’t have control, and if I have fear oftentimes people resort to ego to protect themselves.
Love how deep we get, because now I’m thinking the flip side is that in a lot of circumstances, it might be bad to suppress an ego. Would you call that something like false humility in those circumstances or would that just be fear?
Well, if I have to, let’s take it back to the leadership.
That’s where I’m looking. Yeah, cuz I mean, a lot of it, you know, there’s probably a group of people I’m thinking where I’m basing this on is that could be or have the potential to be badass leaders and should be you know, but in those moments, they’re like, I don’t think so. You know, it might not be for me for whatever reason it is.
So, if I have if I’m lead, like so if I need to, to gain control of those around me, because I’m acting out of fear. I’m not going to lead well, and so that if I have ego driving me, right, because I’m scared that I have an ungrounded sense of confidence, and I need to live in that ungrounded sense of confidence in order to have a perception of control. In order to do that, I’m going to control those around me. I will not I will never be a good leader. Now, how could we step into leadership effectively, or one having a grounded assessment of your abilities, right, having true competence, and then one of the strongest tools of a true leader is vulnerability, because a leader is just coordinating action with others so if I can ask for help. Through vulnerability, I can get people to do almost anything because people need to have a purpose. So when I vulnerably asked for help from a place of having grounded confidence. Now all of a sudden, I’m inspiring, effective action. of difference.
Yeah, no kidding. I think you know, because I could be, I could be a dick, right? It’d be like, hey, Larry, let’s answer the question of your book. How does leadership really work? But I think we’re actually diving deeper into this today, and it’s phenomenal because all of these would you say most of these have come from experiences over the last 10 years of your life. What’s the percentage of failures out of this?
Yeah, much more, much more than the time I spent in the seals. Right? These lessons, like if someone would have talked to me about the difference between ego ungrounded confidence and true confidence, talked to me about leadership out of fear and need for control versus leadership from vulnerability and a need for help. My life would have been 100 times easier and the CEOs wow it would have been 1000 times easier in business.
That the seals teach you to have a certain element of control at all times. And that’s why you brought that into business.
A false sense of control. Interesting. Like I need it to pretend to have control over things I didn’t have in order to take action in environments that would have frozen anyone in fear.
How did you overcome that personally?
Tell me more.
I’d say two things: conditioned response and emotional disconnection. So as a leader in the seals, I had to be emotionally disconnected. I wasn’t allowed to experience my emotions when they came up. If I did that would have slowed down or paralyzed my decisions which would have resulted in mission failure and losing seals. So one is there has to be a psychological break, right that a break on you know, a normal human is mental, physical, emotional, energetic, right all together once a seal has to be mental. Wow, right physical you can’t feel because you’re going to be in
I’m fairly certain we lost you go Oh, yeah. I heard. If we get started just from where you know, a seal just has to be mental. That’s it, and then you started going physical and we dropped you.
Oh, at the back, sorry. In order to effectively work in a combat environment, you gain a disconnection from all the parts that make you a complete human. So I believe it can be completely human. It is meant as a mental side of physical and emotional side. As a seal, especially as an officer in the seals, you can only be mental. I can’t. My physical side I can’t be connected to because I’m going to cause putting my body in danger, and it’s going to suck. I used to have miserable, painful experiences. So if you’re worried about that, you would make different choices. On the emotional side, any emotions are going to slow down or taint the decisions I made so you can’t experience emotion, and I don’t get to decide when I have energy and feel connected or when I don’t have energy and don’t feel connected you have to execute no matter what. So that energetic cycle can’t be connected to wow. So it is just mental and in order to do that you have to have a major psychological break. That Psychological Break has to occur before you become a seal. That’s why I say the common trait among all seals is you gotta be messed up in the head. Like you have to start off broken and then budget just reinforces it and the training adds on top of it every single session.
Wow. So they’re looking for individuals that have some sort of I don’t know conditioned response already.
If I can get an associated personality can’t be can’t be a complete human and make it through SEAL training.
Interesting. But because that means that obviously I never knew you back then, and I see you now very much so as a complete human. You have 14 years of repair. Yeah, no kidding man, which a lot of that has probably gone into your book.
How Talon, why? Because it’s very hard to, it was not effective to lead men in that dissociated state when they’re all disassociated to try and lead normal humans in that state. It doesn’t work well. Hence my initial failures, which required me to then understand well, how normal humans interact and coordinate action, which is a lot more challenging than seals. So the last 12 years have been more valuable than the first 10.
I like how you say normal humans because I don’t think that entrepreneurs are necessarily normal.
Where I think this is where I think it’s an interesting overlay. Right? As an entrepreneur, you are not like any of the people on your team. Yeah. Which is where most of the problems come in, right? Because you’re like, why don’t they do what they’re supposed to do? Why don’t they act like I act? Why don’t they think like that, I think because you’re not normal? Right? If you are normal, you’d be working for someone else.
Truthfully, I tried that but it didn’t work so well for a few years. So that’s why I’m making the connection. It’s because you plan it’s like you have to be broken to be a seal in for me, it’s like I know because, you know, we you and I have done work together to you know, from a coaching perspective that I knew that I was broken. When I decided to be an entrepreneur, I just liked it when you came out of the seals you were already broken, and then it was reinforced in the seals, which I think corporate America kind of reinforced that for me. When I was working in corporate America, the brokenness that I already had and the disassociation that I already had, I’m making these connections now as we’re talking about, it’s mind boggling.
Yeah, I’d say for domains that are all the same. So it’s the same person with a different purpose. Special Operations, entrepreneurship, surgeons, and professional athletes. Wow. All four are the same person with different purposes. They have to be you can’t be normal, and be good at any of those four things. They’re all abnormal, because a normal person can’t wouldn’t and couldn’t do what needs to be done to get to those four levels.
That’s mind blowing. As I do that, I’m like, Yeah, well, no, that makes sense. I mean, a surgeon literally cuts people open. I don’t think it can be normal. To be like, yes, I want to cut people open for a living.
The risks, think of the risk associated with or the responsibility. Yeah, that is associated with cutting people like I’m going to be responsible for their lives literally. Yeah. You know, there’s what heart surgeons that have the heart in your hand, literally.
No doubt, and so how do you start to repair this brokenness? Or how did you anyways I guess is a better question.
I would say the like if I was it would touch talk. The fundamental principle, like a core principle, is it’s all a trick. Like we’re tricking ourselves. Right? We pretend that we can’t be present in the moment. Right? Trauma teaches you to be stuck in the past behavior or the future of it happening again. But can I actually be in the future or the past? No, all I can do is pretend in this moment to be in the future in the past. So it’s this, the core secret to it is presence being present and how do we become present we have to be aware, we have to be aware of the environment that we’re in, we have to be aware of our interpretation of that environment, and we have to be aware of our individual state. In absolute awareness, awareness, I have absolute presidents and absolute presence. I am I’m That is heaven, right that is nirvana. That is enlightenment. That is God that is love. It is at this present moment. And it’s only in our pretending to be outside of this. That we actually have any suffering in our life.
That’s I don’t know of a truer statement, man. Anytime there’s moments, I mean, I don’t do this much anymore. Quite frankly, because of a lot of the work that you and I have done and work I’ve done with other people, but you know, you helped me blow this up for me to where it was always really like living in the future. That was one of my things. I didn’t care too much about the past whatsoever. It’s like it’s done. It’s done, but I was always living in the future.
You also have a lack of future. So you are living in the lack of a future. Yeah. Right if we get really specific about it, which is like a double sided trap.
Mind blowing, then, I was never there. You know, prior to just a couple years ago, I wasn’t and it still blows my mind how I was able to achieve some degree of success. Being that way. You know, being that broken individual not even realizing or being aware of that brokenness in the moment. I just thought that the drive would always take me to where I needed to go, but it was the drivers limiting me.
Our traumas produce our superpower and our kryptonite, just like the story of Superman. I mean, I love that story. So much. Based on the fact that the biggest trauma in Superman’s life was the destruction of his planet and all the people he would ever care about love, in that he was sent to the earth. being sent to the earth gives him superpowers. The only thing that takes away a superpower is when a piece of his planet Krypton, Kryptonite is brought near me and then all of a sudden this core trauma leads to his weakness. Human beings are the exact same thing: your core trauma, your brokenness, your disassociation is what gives you your superpowers. But that same trauma or overuse of those superpowers creates your kryptonite.
I love it. Man. I think everybody could benefit from some one on one work with you. No joke. A good place to start I think would be your book and I’ve only I haven’t read through it yet. I’ve looked at just the synopsis of it, and man, it’s just so intriguing to me and tense. Yeah, no doubt and I can’t wait. Is there an audio book coming? Is it there?
Oh, sweet. That’s how I am, that’s how I roll man.
Audible and it’s not my voice so I won’t put you to sleep.
That I think your bombshell moment on this episode was eerie talking about the four people that are all the same purpose or the same person just with different purposes in life.
It’s amazing, and what I love about that is we’re not alone. Like you’re not oftentimes being one of those four people. It feels very isolating. Yeah, but we aren’t alone. We are a type right? We are, you know, a subset of the overall population and if you’re able to find one I think I always find comfort in knowing that I’m not only one. Yeah, and understanding that and thinking of the path it takes you have to take to be a surgeon or the path you have to take to be a professional athlete, or in the special operations like most of the people on here on a path of entrepreneurship, right. That path is just as hard as becoming a surgeon, becoming a professional athlete, becoming a special operator, and just because you don’t get the same notoriety as those three doesn’t mean it isn’t any easier. It is just as hard as I would say I go to war and go to buds any day over starting a business again.
Yeah, right on man. I feel you have two questions before we close this out today. Because there’s these four types of people right and the audience of the show is generally speaking entrepreneurs. You know, I don’t know many pro athletes that are listening, I think I know a couple. But generally speaking, entrepreneurs because if we’re these four people, right, or one of these four people, and we’re broken, what’s the first step to get help for that?
I would say so, I mean, I’m going to answer this kind of in an odd way, which I guess I answer everything in somewhat of an odd way. So I guess I don’t want to love you. Yeah. Yeah. I believe in our natural state. Let me be more specific, our natural experience as a human should be that of joy, fulfillment and happiness, and that anywhere that we are experiencing anything but joy, fulfillment, and happiness is an arrow pointing at where we are not living in truth. So I’ve been using suffering as an indicator of where I’m missing something like my life should not say, every day, my experience of life should not be that of it’s sucking every single day, and if it is, I’m, I’m living in an untruth, I’m missing something. So if I was to give the very first step for anyone, it’s living in the truth that your life should not suck every day. Our natural state is joy, happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, anywhere that I have suffered is a gift from the part of me that is greater than being the universe source God whatever your belief system is, that’s the gift to point us in the right direction. So starting to look at where in your life are you suffering? Where in your life are you not experiencing joy, fulfillment and happiness? And then start asking questions of why am I missing something? If that’s my experience, I’m not wrong for doing it. But I’m missing something. It’s an indicator. I’d say that’d be where I’d start.
That’s powerful, man. The follow up question to that is the flip side of it. Right? Because these four people are obviously not the majority of the world. For those that are listening, and you have one of these four people that are in your life, what, what’s the best way to support them while they’re going through this process? of, you know, putting the pieces back together, or even helping them become aware that they’re broken in the first place? What’s the best way to support them?
I think our ability to change is dependent on our ambition, and our ambition is a desire for change. Without a desire for change. I’m going to stay exactly where I’m at. As someone that cares for an individual that that is, is living in struggle or unhappiness or lack of fulfillment. Having them understand that it can be different. Right now our ambition is driven by clarity of our dissatisfaction with where I am today, clarity on where I want to go, and a perception of power that I can get there, and so filling in those three dots for the individual, letting them realize that it is okay to be dissatisfied with today. It doesn’t have to be like this, what do you want and that is actually then your natural state and then saying being on their team to produce a perception that they can actually change something that would be like oxygen to a drowning person.
Oh, man. I can only imagine you know, because being you and I both being in that minority of one of these four people, I can only imagine putting myself in the shoes of the people that are around us sometimes.
I think we make them more miserable than we are no doubts, no doubts, and we feel like we’re alone, and all they want to do is help.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Man, I appreciate you. How leadership really works is available everywhere. I’m assuming Amazon, you know, wherever, just search it. It’s awesome. I love doing this for the first 10 People that DM me off this episode, you know, we’ll send you a copy of Larry’s Book, you know from the show at our expense because everybody needs to get this. I know this. You know, regardless, I think if you’re one of those four people, if you’re not one of those four people, I think you need to do that because then maybe you’ll get an insight into the cyclonis that is one of these four people. Larry, you’re an awesome man, SEAL Team leaders.com Larry hatch. Appreciate your brother. Thanks for coming on man and going all in.
Oh, my pleasure.