Thom, author of Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life, is the CEO of Adamantine Alliance, a high performance leadership training organization. Thom served 23 years and fought in three wars, he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, and five other valor awards for bravery.
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- Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life – Thom’s book
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3 Key Points:
- Honor your word and never give up on yourself.
- Failure is the key to success so wake up and start again, as if the hardships of yesterday never happened.
- Remember to live a life of balance – don’t just focus on wealth.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:13] – Thom spent 23 years in the navy and retired just 3 years ago
- [01:29] – He has developed an executive training program where he teaches people how to 2.5x their lives in 5 areas: physical, intellectual, wealth, relationship, and spiritual
- [02:10] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Thom learned that the basics drive everything and people are the center of all productivity in the world. Two basics that are true are: honor your word and never give up on yourself
- [03:41] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Failure is the key to success. After graduating from the SEAL teams and leading men in combat, Thom and his wife Stacey faced an even harder task of finding out “what’s next” for them. Thom launched his book into a space he didn’t know anything about and it didn’t work. The book did well, but they were independently published and lost capital
- [05:06] – “Money doesn’t solve problems. What does solve problems are the great men or women in your corner that will help you not make a bad decision”
- [05:33] – Thom and Stacey felt like they were going to fail
- [05:45] – They had $2k left to their name and they realized they had to honor their words
- [06:34] – Value what you say
- [07:24] – Every morning, get up like yesterday didn’t happen
- [08:16] – “You can’t buy success”
- [09:03] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Thom’s ah-ha moment came when he was asked to train a CEO. Thom always thought, “Can I teach this to anybody?”, and the ah-ha moment came when the CEO got value from him
- [10:18] – Balance is the key to success
- [10:26] – The 5 pyramids in our lives are physical, intellectual, wealth, relationship, and spiritual
- [10:41] – Balance means you need to turn all 5 on everyday
- [10:58] – “Most executives don’t turn them all on”
- [11:40] – Every 30 mins spent without your phone and interacting with your loved ones has a 13x factor in life
- [12:10] – When CEOs make their relationships work, their companies bloom
- [12:30] – One client of Thom’s was on his 6th marriage
- [13:37] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I have 5 measurable goals in my life in those 5 pyramids and they’re big. In a week, I have a 50-mile ultra that I’ve been training for”
- [15:32] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “When you have a mentor, listen to them”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I don’t need sleep… I tell my family I love them every single day and every day, and I pursue what I find valuable”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Facebook
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Extreme Ownership – “it’s authentic, it’s genuine, and it’s real”
- 18:37 – Connect with Thom on his website
- [18:48] – “Play bigger than you think possible”
Thom: Yes, let’s do it.
John: Rocking. Thom is the author of UNBREAKABLE, A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life. He’s the CEO of Adamantine Alliance, a high-performance leadership training organization and he served 23 years and fought in three wars, earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, and five other Valor awards for bravery. Thom, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Thom: I spent 23 years in the teams as John mentioned and I retired three years ago. I think I call it graduated into the business community. And kind of a deeper dive into that, I’m sure we’ll get into but I’ve developed an executive training kind of curriculum and protocol where I teach people how to tune affix their life in five areas: physical, intellect, wealth, relationship, and spiritual. And that’s what I do.
John: Well, we’ll definitely going to be talking more about that later because those are five areas that’s all entrepreneurs need to be making sure they’re keeping their fingers on the pulse of. But specifically, Thom, if we can just maybe break down what you consider one of your major areas of expertise and something that we as entrepreneurs probably don’t know for any number of reasons but that we probably should.
Thom: Yeah, you know what I’ve learned I learned in the SEAL teams and I’ve actually seen to be true in the business community is that the basics really drive everything. And people are the center of all productivity in the world and never lose sight of that. And two of the basics that I know to be true that are time honored and kind of written in blood if you will. The first one is honor your word and that is the paramount basic thing that every entrepreneur needs to be able to do.
And the second kind of pillar of success is to never give up on yourself. If you can do those two things all the time, then get out of the way. Everything will happen for you. But those are the two things that are most often lost in people’s lives and in business.
John: Honor your word and never give up on yourself. And I think those actual final two words are a key, Fire Nation. Never give up on yourself because you hear a lot of people say all the time like, “Never give up, never give up.” And like what do you mean by not giving up? Well, if you never give up on yourself, you follow these principles, then your journey will continue. And on that note Thom, just to prove that you haven’t just gone from great success to great success, let’s hear a story of what you would consider your worst entrepreneurial/business moment to date. Take us to that moment, Thom. Tell us that story.
Thom: Failure is the key to success and most people don’t like to say that. I just know that to be true so in graduating from the SEAL teams and leading men in combat, I had to face the harder task of what is next for Stacy and I and our family? So I had launched the book into a space that I didn’t know anything about and here’s what happens when everybody has a good idea and then it hits the market is it doesn’t work. And usually it just not that it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work royally. And what happened to Stacy and I is the book did so well, but we were independently publishing so we had to have capital. And we didn’t have capital.
And a lot of business people have that problem when they have a startup or any place during the cycle of business is they lose capital. And I had a great mentor at the time and I went to him with the problem. And he goes, “You’re at a crossroads. Ask for money or ask for mentorship.” And I’m like, “Well, cool. I like the mentorship but we need the money.” And he told me a story and it held true for three years. Money doesn’t solve problems. What does solve problems is great men or women in your corner that will help you not make a bad decision.
So I chose the mentorship because I knew in the SEAL teams that the mentorship was everything as well. And I didn’t have the money to pursue a big book purchase. So I had to do it in small increments and what it felt like to Stacy and I is that we are gonna fail. We didn’t have enough capital. We invested our own money into it and what I know is when you invest your own money, you have to make it work. And we had maybe $2,000 left to our name. And we had to realize for ourselves we had to honor our word. We said we were gonna do it, we’re gonna keep doing it.
And we had to overcome the thousand reasons to quit. And they’re all believable and seductive and you can sell everybody on every reason to quit. We just put our heads down and got it down.
John: Now looking back on that Thom, what would you say is a huge takeaway that you can maybe share with Fire Nation? Our listeners who are going to experience that maybe for the second, third or potentially even the first time. What would you want them to know that you learned from that moment in time?
Thom: There’s a lot. So one of the key points I brought up earlier is if you can value what comes out of your mouth, like when you say you’re going to do something or you say this is an idea that I’m going to pursue, honor that. Honor that. I think that’s the greatest gift every human has is the power to say something in the space that it hadn’t been created before. And what I mean by that is we said we are gonna be successful in the business community and we didn’t have evidence of it.
But Stacy and I had to give honor or respect to the value that we say we’re gonna do something. And I know that is vague, but I can’t find a better way to say it. And then the real big takeaway that anybody can be taught to do this is every morning get up as if the day before didn’t happen. Even the good day before and start that day honoring your word again. And be relentless and you gotta overcome every no as if it didn’t happen. If you can do that, anything you’re willing to give your word to become measurable and possible. The rest of the stuff is kind of meaningless. Get a great staff, get great investors, have a marketing strategy or strategy.
That’s cool but you’re gonna wanna quit on yourself. You’re gonna get overwhelmed. Get up the next day as if the day prior didn’t happen and get after it.
John: I love that. And there’s a quote that I’ve actually used a few times on this show is that “You can’t buy success” Fire Nation. You can only rent it. And that rent is due every single day. So just like when Thom said wake up every morning, reaffirm those core values, the honoring of the word, the never giving up on yourself, the other parts of the puzzle will fall into place. Now Thom on that note of storytelling, let’s kind of shift to another story. This one being one of your greatest ideas that you’ve had to date in the business world. What is that aha moment that you’ve had that you can really take us down that road, share with us that moment in time and then kind of walk us through how you turned that experience, that idea, that aha moment into success?
Thom: My aha moment came from the experience of being asked to train a CEO. And what I had learned in the SEAL community, I knew to be true. I knew through that training and through the methodology there that success is 99% possible when you follow a certain paradigm. And so my aha moment came from can I teach this to anybody? And the first one was a CEO of a nice company. And the aha moment came from when he actually got value from what I had spent 23 years learning in his life. And it actually was an aha. I’m like, “Oh my gosh. It worked.”
John: Now let’s kinda maybe dial in a little bit on that and kind of get a little more granular. What was one thing specifically that you implemented in this person’s business, in their day to day that really worked? Can you kind of share what that was and what worked because of it?
Thom: Sure. So what I know to be true after three years that I saw then was balance is the key to success. Not over-leveraging one thing. And what I mean by balance is there’s five areas in life and all human beings have them. I call them pyramids and the first one is physical. The second one is intellectual. The third is wealth. The fourth is relationship and the fifth, spiritual. What I saw and I continue to see what balance means is you have to turn them on every day. How you turn them on is the training, but what I saw in the business community is most executives don’t turn them all on.
They over-leverage one and they just stay in that lane or in that channel or that pyramid.
John: So let’s get a specific example here. Like just you can even make one up. Let’s just get what that would look like.
Thom: Most executives don’t spend a lot of time dealing with relationships at home and that’s a truth. And so what I do in the training is teach a way to involve yourself, not a lot of time is spent, but dealing with the significant people in your life. Your children or your wife or your husband if you’re a female exec. And how that looks is every 30 minutes you spend without your phone, interacting with your loved ones has about a 13x factor in your life.
Thom: And very few executives do that because they want more money to have more family but they never get back to the family. And how that showed up with every single client is just the fourth stage of the training that I do. So by the time we get to the fourth stage, we deal with relationships. When they hit relationship work, their companies bloom measurably. I call that the 2 ½ x-factor that happens in the fourth month. And one of the guys had – it’s a sad story but I’m gonna tell it and he allows me to tell it so I won’t use his name. He was on his 6th marriage. 11 kids, paid out 900,000 a year in child support and alimony. After a month of relationship work, he got them all together in his house and Stacy and I were invited. And created a new context for family. He now doesn’t pay that amount of money and his company bloomed from five million to eleven million in seven months solely because relationship became more available.
John: And I love that word bloom, Fire Nation. Where are the different areas in your life that need to bloom because you’ve allowed them to wither or frankly and die because you’ve just been focusing too much on other areas of your life, of your business? And Thom, this kind of leads us into my next question which is what are you most excited about right now? And again, let’s get real specific here. What are you fired up about today?
Thom: I’ll tell personal stories. So I have five measurable goals in my life in those five pyramids and they’re big. And in a week I have a 50-mile ultra that I’ve been training for. And that fires me up. It fires me up because when I retired, I’d had a lot of back fractures and the doctor said I’d never run again. And I’ve run ten ultras. And in the wealth category, we’re picking up five more seminars and clients this week. And it’s out of control. And my daughter’s now a freshman at West Point and she’s going into finals in the next week or so and that fires me up that she’s there and she’s thriving. And all that connectivity in the spiritual world and not the religious world, but how spirituality becomes effective. Everything is a measurable connection in Stacy’s and my life and I love those connections.
John: Now did your daughter give you some good-natured ribbing that Army finally beat Navy in the football game this year?
Thom: Well, I went to West Point as well so I still have that.
John: Oh, there you go. Okay. So that’s interesting because you went in Navy SEALS, so how is that transition from going in from West Point, an Army into the Navy with the SEALS?
Thom: You pursue your passion and wherever it takes you, that’s what you do. So I really wanted to be a SEAL first and ended up there anyway.
John: Alright. Well, so your daughter, yourself, and then I was an officer in the US Army for eight years so we’re all happy about Army’s victory. Good stuff.
Thom: I’m happy. Finally, they’ve converted.
John: So Fire Nation, we got some awesome stuff that’s gonna make you happy in the lightning round so don’t you go anywhere. We’re gonna be right back after we thank our sponsors. Thom, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Thom: Let’s do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Thom: Fear. And I say that from – even though I’m a SEAL, fear still exists and fear always grips you into non-action. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to make myself look bad in my wife’s and my kid’s eyes. And just that weird sense of not wanting to fail stopped me. It doesn’t all the time but it did initially.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Thom: When you have a mentor, listen to them.
John: What’s the personal habit that contributes to your success?
Thom: I don’t need sleep. I get about five hours of sleep. I work out an hour a half to two hours a day even if I’m traveling. I tell my family I love them every single day. Every day I pursue what I find valuable.
John: You know it’s interesting because a lot of people always focus on when they’re laying down in bed and when they’re getting up, but it’s really the quality of sleep. So I’m just having to assume that you’re getting pretty high-quality sleep during those five hours because sleep is important in my book.
Thom: I could sleep right now. As a SEAL you’re taught when you say sleep, sleep. And gosh, I slept through combat. It’s scary but I’m like, “I’m done. I can’t keep my eyes open.” And I would just turn off for five minutes.
Thom: I think I can hit REM sleep in five minutes.
John: Wow. Can you share an internet resource like an Evernote with Fire Nation?
Thom: I think Facebook is great. It’s available and people are on it and they’re engaged and a lot of people don’t look at it that as being valuable, but we do and that’s what I find very valuable as an internet resource.
John: If you’d recommend one book to of course join UNBREAKABLE on our bookshelves, what would that book be and why?
Thom: The one book and it is a SEAL book because I know and love the guy who wrote it and it’s authentic and it’s genuine and it’s real and it was written by somebody who’s actually done something is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.
John: I have his white tea right here in my counter. I love that guy.
Thom: Oh, he’s legit. And he still scares me.
John: Oh, let’s end today on fire Thom with one parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Thom: You can follow us on the internet on thomshea.com.
John: Thomshea.com. Now, what’s that parting piece of guidance?
Thom: Play bigger than you think possible and honor your word and never give up on yourself.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You have been hanging out with TS and JLD today. So keep up the heat. And head over to eofire.com and just type Thom, T-H-O-M in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore. Of course, don’t forget incredible book, UNBREAKABLE. Go check it out and Thom Shea. That’s T-H-O-M-S-H-E-A.com. Check him out both on his website and of course on Facebook as well. And Thom, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Thom: Thank y’all.
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