How To Balance Opposing Values: One Big Idea from “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

How To Balance Opposing Values: One Big Idea from “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

February 9, 2020
Traditional computers, like the one you’re using to read this now, run their calculations on the binary system using 1’s and 0’s.

Quantum Computing, or the holy grail of computer science, is said to be almost infinitely more powerful than traditional computers because it runs its calculations somewhere in the gray area between 1 and 0.


Quantum Computer ^

I’m not going to pretend like I understand the in’s and out’s of computer science, but from a conceptual level…

What does this say about a deeper, more universal truth?

On a base level, we all understand the universal struggle between good and evil. Almost every book, movie, TV show, religious book, etc. pits these two forces against each other.

And in the really good stories… the good guys almost never reach their goal without painfully understanding or getting seduced by the “dark side.”

But what about when you’re trying to balance two good values at the same time?

How can you know when to lead and mentor vs. when to follow and learn?

When should you trust your feelings instead of trusting the data?

These are some of the core questions that make up “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

In this book, Jocko and Leif talk about their experiences as Navy SEAL leaders in the Iraq war, the lessons they learned, and how those lessons can be applied to life and business.

In almost every situation they faced, whether it was during training or in live combat, they found themselves counterintuitively trying to balance two values that, each on their own, are positive and good.

The final sentence in the book:

“…if you can think and act with balance, you will achieve the goal of every leader and every team: Victory.”

Leif was leading a team of troops as they were about to breach through the door of a building in Ramadi, Iraq.

His whole team was lined up against the wall and, out of nowhere, they heard the YAK YAK YAK YAK booming of an AK-47 machine gun.

His first reaction was that enemies from inside the building were firing at his team.

For a moment, he almost ordered his lead soldier to toss a grenade inside to neutralize the threat.

That was – until he noticed the shocked face of one of his Iraqi troops and some fresh, smoking holes in the dirt near his feet.

In this moment, he realized the soldier had accidentally pulled the trigger on his gun, firing bullets into the ground.

Had they tossed a grenade inside, they would have opened the door to find the bodies of an innocent Iraqi family…

This story, Leif says, illustrates the delicate dance between hardcore focus on the task at hand and the necessary mental detachment needed to understand your overall mission.

As a leader, you can’t focus so intensely that you get tunnel vision and lose sight of the big picture.

The book reveals these truths in the concrete and dramatic way that the life/death scenarios of combat show so well.

But, in life and business, these “battles” are always underneath the surface of every decision that entrepreneurs make.

The simple awareness of the gray area is the first step towards progress.

This is important because as entrepreneurs and Navy SEALs both know, we don’t have the luxury of a 1 or a 0.

It’s by operating somewhere in between that will get us closer to where we want to go.

Buy the book here:

Watch the Jocko Podcast about the book here:

See Jocko’s team’s leadership consulting company here:

© 2020 – Michael J. McGovern

Don’t Start A Business Unless It addresses One of these 3 Needs: One Big Idea from “Expert Secrets” by Russell Brunson

Don’t Start A Business Unless It addresses One of these 3 Needs: One Big Idea from “Expert Secrets” by Russell Brunson

January 26, 2020

“Michael, I’ve got a great business idea. So you know how ketchup…”

Stop. Time to get primal.

Time to swing our machetes deep through the jungle of human psychology.

Before you dump your life’s savings into that business idea, ask yourself one simple question:

Why do people buy?

Business mythology tries to convince us that a good business idea comes around in the following ways:

  • LIGHTNING BOLT idea that, through divine intervention, strikes into the mind of the superhero entrepreneur
  • This lucky idea happens to come at the PERFECT TIME
  • The entrepreneur dictates the terms by which MILLIONS will FORK OVER their hard-earned CASH without hesitation

And while the occasional miracle like this can happen, the reality, thankfully, is much simpler.

…And much more to do with listening skills than dumb luck.

This will change the way you look at the world and business:

Find A Market Need and Address It!

What’s a market need?

When you’ve discovered that a specific group of people have a gap between a painful problem and a solution to that problem… That’s a good sign of a market need.

What’s a business?

It’s a person or group that can serve a market need profitably.

“But Michael, hold on a sec, I get it, but it seems like people need, or at least want, so many things. For example: My friend, Elijah, bought sushi on Tuesday… the next day he bought shoes… then he went online to order an action figure for his Ninja Turtle collection…

“So, how do I choose what business to start?”

Introducing: Russell Brunson.

As founder of the marketing software, ClickFunnels, Russell is a household name in the world of online entrepreneurship.

In his book, “Expert Secrets,” he provides a mental model about how to look at the world when preparing to start a business.

Imagine for a moment that, though it may seem like people are buying many different products, they are actually only trying to satisfy 1 to 3 of these basic needs at any given time. From the book:

Behind all the opportunities in these areas, bridging the gap between the painful problem and the solution for your market is actually more about the underlying emotions.

Masochists and monks might try to convince you otherwise, but DEEP DOWN:

  • Everyone wants the freedom of being rich (WEALTH)
  • Everyone wants to feel attractive & healthy by being in good shape physically and medically (HEALTH)
  • Everyone wants the social acceptance and sexual satisfaction of having smoking hot significant other OR to have strong bonds with friends/family/etc. (RELATIONSHIPS)

“Is this true?”

Let’s dive deeper into the example of Elijah from earlier:

  • Instead of the usual pizza, he went to buy sushi to start eating healthier because someone recently poked fun at his weight
  • Then he went out to buy nice shoes so that he could impress his new date on Friday
  • And the ninja-turtle action figure? Turns out it was the last one he needed to complete and sell his rare set on eBay so that he could afford his dream vacation to California

The reality is: People buy to address emotional needs and desires.

Since starting a business has to do with what people will buy, challenge yourself to use this mental model.

Look at the the brick-and-mortar businesses you see every day, the websites you see online, what you’ve bought in the past… and ask yourself:

Which of these 3 markets is in play here?

“So, does this mean I can’t pursue my passion project of inventing a brand new ketchup dispenser and applying for Shark Tank?”

No, [technically] nothing is stopping you from doing that…


Find the book here:

© 2020 – Michael J. McGovern

Stop Sabotaging Yourself: Develop Bulletproof Confidence with One Big Idea from “Gorilla Mindset” by Mike Cernovich

Stop Sabotaging Yourself: Develop Bulletproof Confidence with One Big Idea from “Gorilla Mindset” by Mike Cernovich

November 11, 2019

If you know who Mike Cernovich is, odds are you either love him or hate him (Just that fact alone proves he’s a talented marketer…)

Your average joe probably knows him as the conservative citizen journalist that CBS’s 60 Minutes show wanted to paint as a fake news propagator.

With over 500,000 followers on Twitter, Mike is a big name in alternative political media.

But few people know that Mike is also a prolific author, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

In his book, “Gorilla Mindset,” Mike goes deep on all the factors involved in building and maintaining a mindset capable of helping you tackle challenges and achieve your goals.

From mindfulness to nutrition to exercise, he takes a holistic approach on the interconnectedness of winning the “inner game” of the entrepreneurial psychology.

The biggest idea I took away from this one is simple. It has to do with self-talk, or, naturally: The way in which you talk to yourself:

Talk To Yourself the Same Way You Would a Trusted Friend!

If your friend made a mistake and came to you looking for advice… how much longer would you remain friends if your feedback sounded like the following?:

“God, you’re so stupid! Why do you always fuck up? This is going to ruin everything and I can’t really see a way forward for you.”

The answer is: Probably not for long.

So why do we have the tendency to give ourselves permission to talk this way to ourselves?

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

So next time you are facing a challenge or reflecting on how you could have done something better, become mindful of the way in which you talk to yourself.

As you condition yourself to be more forgiving, positive, and solution oriented, confidence naturally grows.

Check out the book on Amazon here:

© 2020 – Michael J. McGovern

How To Build the Life of Your Dreams: One Big Idea from “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson

How To Build the Life of Your Dreams: One Big Idea from “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson

October 21, 2019

There is a reason Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of over $82 BILLION USD.

He realized, at a young age, the power of compound interest – the mathematical principle that as your savings/investments start to gain interest, your interest begins gaining interest and then, with time, the whole shebang eventually skyrockets into exponential gains.

Whether or not Albert Einstein actually said it, the quote is often attributed to him:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world – He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”

The thing is: This concept isn’t just about money…

It’s about everything.

It’s a law of the universe.

And that’s where the big takeaway from Jeff Olson’s book, “The Slight Edge,” (which, by the way, has a 5 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon with almost 1,500 reviews) comes in…

It’s NOT Sexy… But: Small, Incremental Improvements, Over Time, Create HUGE Gains!

Whether it be about getting in shape, improving your relationships, creating financial freedom, learning a skill, etc etc etc…

It’s about taking CONSISTENT, DAILY action to improve, even if it’s at a one-step-at-a-time pace.

These small good habits build exponentially positive results over time and, conversely, bad habits can send us into the black hole of exponentially negative results.

So it’s not just about those once-in-a-while “Big” moments where you experience victory; it’s also about taking pride in doing the small things well…

If you notice the chart above, growth isn’t linear. It doesn’t just shoot up in a straight line.

It lies dormant for a while, and even dips slightly downward (when you invest initial time and/or money) until it eventually “hockey sticks” upward.

During this dormant time: It’s not about the war and it’s not even about the battle – it’s about focusing on the details in between: cleaning your gun, tying your shoes, rehearsing, visualizing, practicing – it all counts along the way…

Until suddenly, your reality looks a whole lot like your dreams.

Check out the book here:

© 2020 – Michael J. McGovern

Without This One Thing… Your Ad will Fail: One Big Idea from “Oglivy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy

Without This One Thing… Your Ad will Fail: One Big Idea from “Oglivy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy

October 12, 2019

So, you want to know what the MOST IMPORTANT thing in an advertisement is, huh? Well then…

Listen long enough to any successful modern-day marketing thought-leader and it is INEVITABLE they will give props to the late David Ogilvy, AKA “The Father of Advertising.”

Ogilvy one of those few anointed wizards of advertising that, since starting his ad agency in 1948 (still in business today and in 83 countries) and writing his books (now eternal scripture for his followers), has influenced almost everyone involved in the advertising process, whether they know it or not.

Let’s cut to the gravy–

Time to confess… Ogilvy made it easy for me to be LAZY on this one…

My biggest takeaway from this book wasn’t from any skillful insight on my part, but because he told me, the reader, without any ambiguity, what I should take away.

And that is…

Promise A BEnefit to Your Customer!!!

From the book:

  • Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell, yet the majority of campaigns contain no promise whatever. (That is the most important sentence in this book. Read it again.)

Now, when I say that everyone loves him, there’s a caveat:

He is mostly revered by the more entrepreneurial, results-driven marketers than he is by the brand-building, big pocketed corporate marketers…

And that is because he had an almost inappropriate level of affection for 2 things:

  1. Research
  2. Direct-Response Advertising

David knew that it wasn’t enough to draw up a logo, write a catchy song, and then blow 50 million dollars on a gluttonous campaign to assault the American people with, what was at the time, the 1950s and 60s equivalent of spam.

He knew that:

  1. Careful product and market research leads to valuable insights (some discipline required)
  2. Those insights allow you to craft a promise that will resonate with the client/customer (some cajones required)
  3. That you should guide the customer on how to make a purchase (knowledge of direct-response advertising required)

There were plenty of agencies back in the “mad men” days (and today) ready to spend 10 years and millions of dollars to create the abstract and elusive “brand awareness” while they prepare their tuxedos for the advertisement award ceremonies.

David wasn’t concerned with that stuff. He was focused on the main thing: Making Money.

So, next time you write to your future client, there are 3 steps:

  • Be bold
  • Make a promise
  • Collect mulah

Get the book here:

© 2020 – Michael J. McGovern