Leadership to Sea

Dave Meltzer discusses leadership and the Leadership to Sea program.
My Leadership to Sea Experience

After the great feature Forbes did on a day in my life at the Super Bowl, I was interviewed on my home radio station in San Diego, the Mighty 1090 with Scott Kaplan and B.R., Billy Ray Smith. A gentleman from the Navy heard the interview and got excited, so he called my PR agent and asked if I would come to a program called Leaders To Sea, with the Navy.  I’m glad I got to participate, as the program was extraordinary. They bring you out to the naval base in Coronado and they cruise you around with an admiral, who explains all the different functions and issues that are present in the Navy today.

We went around the San Diego harbor looking at all the ships and gaining an understanding of the Navy’s budget, as well as political and socioeconomic issues surrounding it.  Learning from an admiral is great, and I also got to spend time with other corporate leaders from companies like Honda, Ken Blanchard, and Coconut Beach. The insight that I got into, not only our military in general but how the Navy, specifically, deals with leadership and motivation, was invaluable. For example, most people never think about how long it takes to actually produce a ship, which is seventeen years from start to finish. Imagine the type of foresight you have to have in order to implement something like that with budgetary constraints. This education at sea was extraordinary, and that was just the start.

After we got back from the cruise around the bay, we took a military helicopter 70 miles south, right off of Ensenada, onto a moving destroyer with 10foot waves surging over the ship. We were hosted by the officers of the USS Halsey, named after the first five-star admiral in the Navy. But the most impressive thing about the trip wasn’t the Navy‘s ships. It wasn’t the extraordinary technology, strategy, long-term and short-term objectives, or even the leadership. It was the individual personalities that impressed me. The most extraordinary thing that I saw was how my perception of who is in the Navy and what they do for our country changed dramatically.

What made the experience so amazing were the people. To me, my perceptions were not correct about who joins the Navy, who becomes officers, and how much they truly sacrifice for everyone in our country. I think one of the biggest takeaways that me and my digital media head, Justin, came up with when we left, was we felt so great about paying taxes because there’s so much more to the money that we’re spending than just defending our country. We’re empowering so many young lives with skill sets, like nuclear engineers, doctors, electrical engineers, firefighters, and technological operators that can handle unbelievable systems like the Aegis combat system. That is one of the most extraordinary complex defense systems in the world, which goes to show we have the best people and the best technology.

I learned so much about the people in the Navy and how much they sacrifice for us; their living conditions, how much time they spend away from their families, and what they sacrifice economically by working long hours in a very uncomfortable situation. I could hardly imagine being on a boat for 45 hours like this, let alone 45 straight days. If you’re on the boat for 45 straight days, you get the grand reward of having a beer day, where they’ll ship in warm Busch beer. Everybody gets two beers and they’re excited about it. In fact, the captain of the ship actually told me that when he had his first beer day, they were the best-tasting beers that he’s ever had, and it wouldn’t matter what brand they would’ve been. That’s how tough it is on the ship. The internet that they have is inconsistent, making it tough to be in contact with the world. These military members are away from their loved ones, but continue to sacrifice and work so hard.

Another one of the biggest takeaways that I had was the idea that everyone had a role, and then everybody had a collective role as well. This means that no matter if your responsibility was to be the nuclear engineer, or you were the baker, everybody had to have seven common trained duties. Everybody was trained as a firefighter, as an expert swimmer. Everybody was trained to deal with electricity. This was to ensure that no matter what happens on that ship, every single person had the capacity, skills, knowledge, on top of desire, to help save one another.

In the end, the objective of leadership was, “We’re here to keep everyone alive“. This was not just about the people on our ship or the aircraft carrier they were supporting as a destroyer.  Most importantly, the Navy are here to save lives, not only domestically, but overseas. Their main objective was not to kill people. Even though previous leaders like Admiral Halsey wanted to hit them hard and hit them often, the real energy of that ship was to save lives, extend lives, expand lives, and to provide liberty and justice to not only the United States but freedom to everyone around the world.

I will tell you that it was one of the greatest experiences of empowerment and leadership that I’ve ever had. I highly recommend not only people to experience that for themselves but to support those people that are in our armed services, because what they sacrifice for us is unbelievable. Whenever you see someone in the military, please extend them gratitude and thank them. Thank them for their service, because without their dedication and sacrifice, we would not have the liberties, freedoms, and abundance that we have today.

Thank you very much, to everyone that is of service.

By: Dave Meltzer

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