What an amazing journey Eric has been on, tackling incredible challenges with minimal preparation or specific skill sets, but armed with an incredible mindset of positivity and resilience. 

Let’s go backstage into the world of the legendary Navy SEAL BUDS training program that has a huge dropout rate and the unimaginable “Hell Week” designed to break even the strongest of physical specimens. Eric is an understated guy and makes things sound like no big deal. He describes how he “burned the boat” when he landed in Coronado, CA for BUDS training – he was certain he was going to finish no matter what. 

Eric went on to a long and storied 12-year career with the SEALS, featuring climbing the highest peak in North and South America with no mountaineering background, climbing El Capitan with just a few days of climbing experience, and jumping out of the airplane on the third flight he ever took in his life! Listen as Eric describes how the Navy has invested millions of dollars in discovering the “winning formula” for a candidate to succeed at the highest and most demanding level of service but has come up empty to date. I think we can discern the secret from how Eric concludes certain comments in the interview. He offers a low-key, matter-of-fact attitude that certain tasks and goals will be achieved no matter what if you believe it to be so. 

While on active duty, Eric served at various SEAL Teams. He deployed numerous times to hot spots around the world, in support of the Global War on Terror. He received various medals and commendations in the process. As a SEAL, Eric was trained in the use of various firearms, demolition, explosives, radio and computer communications, combat diving, parachute operations, combat casualty care (first aid), survival in various environments, climbing, hand-to-hand combat, and tactical driving. He was also a sniper. While on active duty, Eric also climbed El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, CA. 2007 Honnold there. He also completed 2 of the 7 summits, Denali and Aconcagua both without the use of supplemental oxygen. Wow! 

He also co-founded a number of different businesses, most notably the BluCore Shooting Center, an indoor shooting range, gun store, and firearms training facility. He is currently the CEO of StrongFirst – a premium strength and fitness education company with a global presence of more than 2,000 instructors. He is also currently involved with a program called Heart Led Leadership, which offers a yearlong intensive behavioral change program for senior leaders.

Combining the skills acquired from nearly 12 years of active duty as a Navy SEAL, an entrepreneur, and CEO, and a passion for heart led leadership, Eric truly has learned how to manage fear, while delivering consistent excellence. He will have you on the edge of your seat as he shares real-life stories of overcoming impossible odds and team success, and his spellbinding style will keep you engaged as he ties his experiences as a SEAL to experiences in the business world. The Q&A session is also always a highlight. If you want to connect with Eric, check out his Instagram here!


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Get Over Yourself Podcast

Brad (00:01:39):
Hey listeners, you are going to love this amazing journey of Eric Frohardt, former Navy Seal. We are going to go backstage into the world of basic training and trying to make it through that amazingly difficult funnel to graduate the Navy Seal BUDs training and become a member of the seal teams. Eric did it for 12 years, going all over the world, applying amazing and disparate skills. He was a sniper. He was the lead mountain climber. He was a demolition expert. Oh my gosh. But just getting started from a small town experience in Iowa, he went off to college. He formulated a dream one day that he wanted to be a Navy Seal. He wanted to prove people wrong that told him he couldn’t do it. Imagine those people saying you can’t make it to become a Navy Seal. And so off he went and you’re going to pick up a recurring theme in his story, which was a total lack of experience or preparation to take on these phenomenal challenges.

Brad (00:02:41):
And he just went out there and did them. The first time he saw the ocean, was it Navy Seal training. He climbed the highest mountains in North America and South America with no mountaineering preparation. Did a little trip up El Capitan, the most impressive wall on earth with very little preparation. And he did it with this incredibly resolute and positive mindset. Listen carefully during the recording to his speech patterns and how he closes the loop on these comments. Like it was just going to happen. We were just going to get it done, et cetera, et cetera. It’s a great show. We just simply have a conversation about what it’s like to go for these dreams and achieve them and try to leverage those skills into real life. Interestingly, towards the end, he talks about how it is difficult transition to come out of that intense military experience into real life, but the importance of leveraging those skills and that mindset that he developed into his various entrepreneurial efforts that he’s been making in recent years.

Brad (00:03:42):
So please enjoy this interesting conversation. You’re going to be wowed. You’re going to be pumped up and here we go with Eric Frohardt. I have Eric Frohardt coming to me from his new home exciting or in route to your new home, uh, Omaha, Nebraska. So we come to the Heartland to bring you this show listeners, and it is going to be a wild one. We’ve warmed up for just a few minutes and I’ve already heard some amazing, uh, discussion points that we’re going to get into, but Oh man, thanks for joining us, Eric.

Brad (00:04:15):
Yeah. Thanks. Uh, happy to be here. It’s been fun listening to a few of your episodes recently. Uh, very cool.

Brad (00:04:23):
Well, your background is extremely interesting. Uh, you’re still a young guy and you got a long life ahead of you, but Oh my gosh, what a journey? Um, particularly the experience as a Navy Seal, but I want to get right into that, especially those, um, quick transitions that you mentioned about how you, you, you jumped into this, you’d never seen the ocean when you went off to Seal training. Uh, so tell us, uh, kind of, you know, your background and how, how you got into that, uh, extremely intense career.

Brad (00:04:55):
Sure. Well, um, you know, my wife and I joke about this regularly, I just turned 42. Um, you know,. We’re both 42. Uh, we’ve been married for nearly 18 years. Uh, we have four kids essentially ages eight to 15. We’ve lived in San Diego, Virginia, Denver, and now Omaha. And I think, you know, I’ve done seven combat deployment. So in 42 years, we’ve kinda, we crammed a lot into it so far. Um, and really probably the most, you know, one of the more interesting things for me, the most rewarding thing, you know, being married and having kids it’s been really a huge blessing, but, uh, you know, a lot of people are more interested in the, my time in the Seal teams. Um, and I had, uh, so I was in college for one year and, uh, uh, I was playing football and I kind of realized after one season of football that the good Lord had not, you know, made me for that, uh, not quite big, fast or strong enough for it.

Brad (00:06:11):
And then, uh, literally was watching a movie in a dorm room, one, uh, you know, one night in college, my freshman year. And I, there was something about the Navy Seals came on and, uh, you know, I stood up and said, Hey, I I’m going to leave college and become a Navy Seal. And someone was like, deal, never make it right. It’s too hard. And you’re not, you’re not big, fast or strong enough or whatever. And I, I bet them. Uh, and I joined the Navy the next day, you know, on a bet that I couldn’t become a Navy Seal. And, uh, look who would have, you know, who would have thought that would end up with me doing that for nearly 12 years before I got hurt and the Navy decided I couldn’t do it anymore. So I enlisted in the Navy on a bet.

Brad (00:07:08):
Um, I finished that year of college and, uh, joined the, you know, I joined the Navy that next day and I was on the delayed entry and I shipped out, you know, before you know, that basically that coming fall and went on to do 12 years. Um, like you said, I, I had mentioned in our intro that I never seen the ocean, never saw the ocean before, you know, literally before seal training. And my, my, my thought was, uh, my only real experience or I guess my perception of the ocean was based on the show Baywatch. So I’m like, Oh, it’s like, it’s sunny. And it looks pretty warm. And how hard can it be? And as you know, the Pacific ocean is not so warm and cold water is what makes most people quit Seal training so that, you know, that was kind of an eye-opener.

Brad (00:08:06):
Uh, I think, I think I told you it was the third time, but as I reflect, it may have been the fourth time that I got on an airplane in my life, I was wearing a parachute. So I’d never, you know, I’d never taken a flight anywhere. Uh, I’d never, until I joined the Navy. And then I took a flight to boot camp, a flight to another school, I flight to jump school, which was in Fort Benning, Georgia. So that’s three. And then the fourth time I got on an airplane and I was wearing a parachute. So you have this, you know, a kid from a corn field in Iowa who enlisted in the Navy on a bet. Uh, who’d never seen the ocean. Dumb enough to raise my hand when they ask, who’s never seen the ocean. Um, I raised my hand and they went and serve tortured me for like a long enough to give me a hypothermia. So, uh, I guess I’m kind of rambling, but, uh, it was a steep learning curve.

Brad (00:09:07):
Oh my goodness. I mean, a lot of kids are out there watching the Navy commercials. The recruiters are cruising around the high school campus everywhere you look. Uh, but that journey from deciding to enlist and then getting to Seal training, I imagine, uh, that’s, there’s some way to distinguish yourself really quickly. So how did that go from the time you enlisted and also did you inform your football coaches that you were dumping them for, for the Navy Seals?

Brad (00:09:37):
Yeah, so I did tell, I did tell my coach and they were, I, you know, I wasn’t that great in college football. I was, uh, I was really good in high school. Uh, but I played in small town, right? So big fish, small pond situation. I had met, uh, in the spring, we have spring football and I met with my college football coach and they’re like, Hey, we’re gonna, you know, we’ll offer you a little scholarship this year. I said, thanks. But no, thanks. Uh, I’m going to join the Navy and become a Seal. Of course that was, he was like, whatever, you’ll never make it. And, uh, you know, I mean, part of it was, you know, a chip on my shoulder, I’m going to prove them wrong. Uh, really that’s probably most of it. And, uh, you know, I was not really sure what I was going to do.

Brad (00:10:24):
And I, you know, that was the first time I was certain that I wanted to do something. And then when I joined, uh, was pre 9/11, so it would’ve been 1998. Um, and there was not the wealth of knowledge that we have now from all the books and the websites and things like that. So, you know, I got a little pamphlet from my recruiter and, uh, proceeded to, you know, run a lot on the gravel roads and, you know, I didn’t really have a gym, so I do push, you know, pushups in the barn. And then I did kind of Rocky style. I didn’t have a pull-up bar. I just did tons of pull-ups on the rafters, in the barns. And, uh, you know, it all worked out. Um, we, our, our BUDs class, uh, started with around 190 people, 187,

Brad (00:11:25):
The BUDding Seal members. So they have to go yeah.

Brad (00:11:29):
Through its selection to become a seal. So it’s BUDs, which stands for basic underwater demolition Seal training. Um, and you’re not a Seal when you finish it, but it is the hardest part of becoming a Seal.

Brad (00:11:44):
Uh, so how do you become one of those 190 out of thousands of enlists?

Brad (00:11:49):
Good. Um, so you nowadays, when do that, you can have that you can have a guarantee, um, to become one of those 190, if you, if you pass certain tests prior to joining. I didn’t even have that. I had a, I had to take a test in, in bootcamp. And if I passed that test in bootcamp, I could be one of the, one of those who showed up, uh, to, to try out and sure enough, I, I was so.

Brad (00:12:28):
Pretty rigorous tests, uh, physical challenges, or, you know, multiple choice questions. Are you sure you want to do this, that kind of thing?

Brad (00:12:41):
The test then, and I don’t, I’m not sure what it is now. It’s not really that hard. You had to be able to do, you know, like 11 pull-ups and 50 pushups, and it’s not, it wasn’t relevant. It wasn’t that hard yet, a one and a half mile run and some other, you know, a swim test, some sit-ups, it’s not, it’s, it, it was not representative of, of the fitness that would be required of you, you know, to make it through BUDs training. Um, like in BUD’s training, you are the thing that hurts people the most is the running. And, you know, outside of your normal workouts, your body weight calisthenics, your log PT, your O course, your two mile ocean swims or your weekly timed runs. Every day, you are running to, and from chow three times a day, one mile each way. So you get six, six miles of running without working out just to eat.

Brad (00:13:41):
And that leads to a lot, or a lot of, uh, lower extremity, you know, overuse, uh, you know, kind of like, um, stress fractures below the knee, right. Um, so you have to kind of work into it. So you, you do have to put the miles in running wise, uh, but you know, by the, you have to eventually be able to do at least 20 pull-ups 120 sit-ups 120 pushups in a row, you know. Running a four mile run, you know, in soft sand, in like 27 minutes. Uh, I forgot what the time is on the, on the ocean swim, which is, you know, there’s no line on the bottom of the ocean to kind of follow. So you’re kind of zigzagging everywhere. Uh, so it was, you know, it was definitely not, uh, wasn’t quite what I expected.

Brad (00:14:35):
So you get out there to BUDs training and the attrition rate is extremely high. Do you have figures on that for how many of that 187 completed?

Brad (00:14:48):
So in our, uh, I think, I think it’s anywhere from 20 to 25% make it through. And they, uh, I think that number, obviously there’s some fluctuation, uh, I think that’s this statistic average and, uh, you know, the Navy has spent millions of dollars trying to understand what makes someone more likely to make it through and what, and, uh, whether it’s psychology testing or, you know, different fitness tests and they they’ve determined, they can’t figure it out. And

Brad (00:15:23):
Richard Gere solved that question decades ago. Right. He said he had no other place to go. That was brilliant. Yeah.

New Speaker (00:15:32):
They can’t, they can’t measure heart. Right. Um,

New Speaker (00:15:36):
so they really have spent a lot of time and energy doing, obviously the physical challenges. You, you need someone who’s not overweight and lazy, but it seems like they could lock into some personality profiles and check you out for an hour. When you, when you show up in Coronado,

Eric (00:15:56):
There is, there are some personality profiles, um, you know, as part of your selection and your training, and then the longer you stay in, the more kind of, you know, you do have personality profiling and things like that for different assignments. Uh, but you know, the, I don’t know why, but it’s really whether people lie on tests or whatever, you can not, you cannot measure toughness on a piece of paper. Uh, I, our class started that 190, you know, about 180, 190 people, or 187 and six months later. Um, there were 19 of us left who made it through. So almost, you know, right at the 10% mark, we had 22 that total graduated and only 19 of them were from that original 190 that started. So we had a couple of rollbacks, uh, and, and it just, you know, it’s just hard.

Brad (00:16:58):
Wow. That’s fascinating because if you could kind of bottle up those character attributes, it would apply to the business world to hiring and firing and all that wonderful stuff, because certainly the physical challenges are the things people fixate on. But I know from talking to guys that didn’t make it through and whatnot, it kind of, it kind of goes beyond, uh, how strong of an ocean swimmer you are.

Eric (00:17:25):
Absolutely. If you, if you took, uh, a group photo of 190, or who you know of us that started, and you said, all right, take your shirts off. We’re going to circle that, you know, on this photo, the, you know, the 10 or 20% that is going to make it through training, you’d get it, you’d get some right. You’d get some wrong. Like some, some of them looked like they were going to make it, you know, they’re ripped and others, you would have never guessed. Right?

Brad (00:17:58):
Yeah, man, maybe you should have stayed with football. You would have been like Julian Edelman, you know, five, 10, one 82 catching passes in the super bowl, getting, getting open, pass these, you know, athletic freaks that are trying to guard him incredible. Yeah.

Eric (00:18:13):
Maybe, maybe make a little more money and get blown up a few less times. So. Wow.

Brad (00:18:20):
So in your personal experience, I mean, what do you think was your, your winning formula? I I’m sure that, uh, after a while you didn’t care about the guy in the dorm and the 50 bucks or the a hundred bucks, uh, nor the football coach who told you, you wouldn’t make it because I think those are, um, we call those extrinsic motivators, right? And the psychologists validate that those are not as powerful as someone who is motivated intrinsically, uh, you called it heart or whatever you want to call it.

Eric (00:18:49):
Well, I think there’s a couple of different factors. You know, one of them being, uh, you know, I’m the oldest of four, but, uh, I have, and I’ve always been a type and driven. And, um, but my two little brothers are like significantly bigger than me. So that, that might’ve given me a chip on my shoulder. Um, I’m also when I decided to join, um, you know, the Navy, most people said I couldn’t do it. Uh, and then my dad was like, Oh, you can do that. And you would be great at it.

Brad (00:19:30):
Wow! A perfect blend, you know, the naysayers it’s like, uh, it’s like Rocky, you know, all the naysayers within the guy in his corner saying, you know, hit him in the ribs rock. Yep. And then a guy in your corner, man. I love it. Thanks dad.

Eric (00:19:45):
It was very powerful when I told him and he’s like, Oh, I think you could do that. I think you’d do great job at it. And then, uh, also, you know, I’m from a small town, a very small town, and most of the people there are, you know, there’s people from all shapes and sizes and from all around the US. Uh, but you know, I graduated high school with about 30 people and, uh, you know, my parents still live in a very small town and unlike people from a large town, I, you know, I didn’t have any anonymity. So if you’re from New York City or LA and whatever, and you don’t make it, like your family will know about it, a couple of friends will know about it, but no one else will know. My, you know, my town would have known and my like, we’re close family, but that town is small too. Uh, when I graduated hell week, there was like a sign on the, there were, there was, it was written on the bank sign that I had made it through hell week. So there was also some healthy, you know, small towns are not all bad. Right. There’s some good and some bad with it, but there’s no part of it was, I could not, there was no way I was going to go back, you know, with my tail between my legs, having not made it, if that makes sense.

Brad (00:21:09):
Wow. That’s, that’s heavy, man. I I’ve never really thought about it that way. And a lot of times we think the, the small town is this isolating experience, a slight disadvantage when you head off to the big university. Uh, but this is, this is pretty, uh, pretty strong. I, I interviewed someone on the podcast named Amanda Renteria. She was a candidate for the Governor of California. And she told her story of coming from a small farming town, a daughter of a first-generation Mexican immigrant farm workers. And she went off to Stanford and, you know, she was, she was gonna succeed no matter what, because they had so many hopes and kind of, you know, respect riding on someone who actually made it out and went off to this mythical place called Stanford. And it was, you know, you think about that compared to, um, you know, the kid whose parents wrote a check to the, uh, the, the new biology building so they could get their kid in and everything was privileged and entitled. And, um, boy, now we’re talking about intrinsic motivation. You know, you had your, your care and your town on your shoulders.

Eric (00:22:20):
It was that, I mean, there was definitely a piece of that. There was a, a piece of the, you know, my, my family, my town, and, you know, all that sort of stuff. I was not going to, you know, I was going to, I literally passed a kidney stone in hell week, which are like two of the, two of, kind of the hardest things I can think of.

Brad (00:22:46):
Got it out of the way during hell week, instead of on vacation. I’m going to ruin your vacation, but Hey, why not? Let’s just do it in hell week.

Eric (00:22:54):
And I didn’t know what it was. I was, you know, the Navy diagnosed it as IBS, right? Whatever,

New Speaker (00:23:00):
my goodness,

Eric (00:23:02):
You just have IBS here, take this whatever. And I’m, you know, hell week is essentially, it’s five days nonstop. You get a couple of 15 or 20 minute naps. Um, you’re hallucinating and you’re walking and running everywhere and you just can’t, it just it’s nonstop. And on about Wednesday night, Wednesday afternoon, my, I started to get some, some pain in my flank and, uh, you know, found out later it was, uh, that I was a kidney stone. And anyway, I was either, you know, maybe it wasn’t smart enough to quit. Maybe I should have, but I was not going to,

Brad (00:23:41):
I’m sure. Everyone’s saying, Oh, wait until you get to hell week, it’s painful. You’ll be Doubled over in pain. Here’s Eric, uh, trying to pass a kidney stone thinking it’s thinking it’s normal.

Eric (00:23:52):
Yeah. Yeah. I, uh, anyway, so, and at the end of hell, week a it as if it’s not hard enough, you, uh, you go and you get a medical check at the doctor and it’s not a full week. It’s only five days, but they call it hell week. And on Friday afternoon after they, they check you out at the doctor, uh, before you go back to your barracks room and then you sleep until like Saturday afternoon to get caught up and they tell you, don’t leave base. Your immune system is jacked up. You know, you can’t, you, we have to monitor you for the next 24 hours and make sure you’re okay. Cause of edema and all sorts of other issues. And I’m sitting there. And so you’re wet all week in hell week. And, uh, and I was kind of between sizes on boots and they, they recommend getting us a smaller boot size, cause your feet are going to be wet all week.

Eric (00:24:49):
And if you get too big of a boot, you know, you’re going to get a blister. So I’m in a boot and I don’t get a blister, but my, um, my big toenails hurt and they pull my boots off. They had to remove both of my big toenails, um, the day hell week got over. And so there I am walking back to the barracks with my new boots in my hands, walking barefoot on the asphalt with my toenails removed. And I’m like, does this, I mean, I was just laughing at how, uh, how absurd that is. Right. It’s just hard

Brad (00:25:26):
Mercy. You know, you’re like the, um, uh, Daniel Craig in the James Bond movie where he’s, he’s laughing while they’re torturing him. Cause they, he’s not going to let them get the better of them.

Eric (00:25:35):

New Speaker (00:25:35):
So in your experience, did you have some, uh, occasions of soul searching? I mean, they’re trying to break you and I wonder, you know, did you get, did you come close to that or what is the mindset like of a person who succeeds through there? Is there just zero doubt? You don’t allow yourself any, um, any backup plan?

Eric (00:25:56):
Yeah, I, I had, I did, uh, you know, I burnt the boat when I landed on the shore and I was gonna make it or they were gonna, the only way I wasn’t going to make it was, uh, and this happens a lot, like people, I would say, who would, you know, would have been a better Seal than I was just didn’t make it through because they got hurt. So there is

Brad (00:26:17):
Yeah. David Goggins talks about that, right? Yeah. You’ve had a stress fractures and that’s it,

Eric (00:26:23):
There’s plenty of luck involved, like, you know, not getting hurt. Um, and there’s, there’s a few acute injuries, like falling off of, uh, something on the obstacle course or, you know. Some, some acute injuries, but most of the injuries are just overused injuries. So people kind of get rolled back or whatever the case may be. Uh, so really that was, uh, that was how I was going to go out was if I got hurt because quitting was certainly not an option and it never actually, it never entered my mind. So I don’t.

Brad (00:27:01):
Now would you say that your 19 fellow graduates, do you think they all had that exact mindset?

Eric (00:27:12):
I think most of them would have, uh, I’m not, I can’t speak to that for sure, but I believe that to be true. I think that at least most of them, and maybe, maybe a couple of them got close and they didn’t, you know, they didn’t quit. But the thing about that is, um, Seal training is hard and it takes forever, you know, six plus months to make it through. And then you make it onto a team and there are, you know, everyone, there’s an expression. Everyone wants to be a Seal, uh, on Friday night at the bar, but no one wants to be a seal, you know, Tuesday night when, you know, you’re doing training, that’s cold, wet, tired, and makes you hungry and all that sort of thing. Right? Like there are days whether it’s training or combat where you’re going to be as cold or more cold as tired or more tired than you were in Seal training. So that’s really, that’s why they make it so hard. They just want people that don’t know how to quit.

Brad (00:28:17):
Um, you mentioned the cold water is kind of the leading, uh, the leading cause of dropping out when you’re leading offender. Uh, so what do we need to learn the Wim Hoff techniques immediately too? I mean, why is that the thing that, that gets people and I guess, um, if you’re going to get hypothermic, do you feel like there is some mindset factors that can help you there?

Eric (00:28:47):
I think so. I mean, I, I think there’s some mind, you know, mindset training, uh, you know, going kind of just going somewhere else in your head, maybe, um, thinking about good things, um, or trying not to think about warm things because that makes it worse. Um, but I, and I, I, I don’t even, I don’t know. I know there’s some efficacy with the Wim Hoff training and resistance to the cold. Um, I think that would probably help. I don’t, I, I’m not sure. I think they would get you. I mean, they’ll get you to the point where you will have hypothermia anyway.

Brad (00:29:31):
You’ll be like, hold on. I got two more minutes of my breathing drills before I can enter the ocean, sir, can you please wait? Oh, I can’t go in yet. I’m not with my, my, my Sequences.

Eric (00:29:43):
And one thing that was, that helped me out, um, I wasn’t the best runner. Uh, I wasn’t the best swimmer. I couldn’t do the most pushups or the most pull-ups and I couldn’t do the obstacle course fastest, but on all of those things, I was in the top five, 10, 10%. So I never, I never won anything, but I was always, I was always in the, in the top finishers of all of those. So very much a generalist. And there were people who were amazing runners who were just too, too skinny or whatever, couldn’t do the pull-ups right, or the pushups. And then there would be great swimmers who might not be as good at running or, or a gymnast style body, you know, a smaller guy who was super ripped, who could just zoom through the obstacle course, but couldn’t run as efficiently because they’re shorter or couldn’t swim and maybe they were too dense and they sunk, right. So it really helped me. Um, you know, I never failed a single physical event in all of BUDs, but I also never won one of them. And, uh, that made a big difference.

Brad (00:30:58):
Oh my gosh, you’re telling the exact description of a successful triathlete competitor, especially when we get to the level of the pro circuit, where if you are, are outstanding in a single event by definition, it means that you’re weak in another one because you’re racing at the world-class level. And so, uh, you had to manage all those things in such that you would have no weaknesses to the extent that I came into triathlon as a runner in college and high school. So I was that skinny runner guy that could run circles around the track. And I’ll all of a sudden towing the line with all American NCAA swimmers with that physique and their whole, their whole background. And so I had to get worse and worse and running because I had to train my brains out and swimming. But then once you adapt to, in, in my case, all three, you had a little more than just swimming, biking, and running straight ahead. Uh, but that’s, you know, that’s a, that’s a great insight is you, you by definition have to work those weaknesses so that you can be strong in everything. And I guess, imagine someone who’s, who’s really weak in a certain, certain area, it’s going to be so exhausting fatiguing for them to get through the pull-ups that they’re gonna, they’re going to suffer on the other seven events. Right?

Eric (00:32:09):
And, uh, you know, swimming is swimming to me, like was, you know, I tend to sink a little bit, a little bit negative. Um, it was all about kind of relaxing and learning how to kind of plane out, uh, you know, that kind of, we did some, I had the total immersion book and like tried to practice some of that. It’s more of a skill. Like for me, I’ve always been a good runner, you know, certainly not world-class, but uh, running was something I could do well. Uh, but swimming, swimming was one of those things where if you tried harder, you didn’t necessarily do better.

Brad (00:32:51):
Oh, mercy. It’s so technique dependent that, you know, in, in coaching, uh, recreational triathletes for many years, there comes a point where if your technique is not efficient, you probably shouldn’t even practice because you’re refining poor technique and making it harder and harder to break through. You should probably just stay home and watch total immersion videos. So you’re saying you got the total immersion book. I’m curious, uh, I imagine this, the Seal training is much more sophisticated than you might go and see the bootcamp or the kids are coming out of high school and, and trying to get them in shape. Uh, but is it still kind of, um, a few steps back from, you know, the highest level of athletic performance that you’d find in the Olympic training center? Cause I don’t like the idea of taking fit, motivated individuals and giving them stress fractures. That seems ridiculous because you’re losing out on superior talent just because you’re overtraining them

Eric (00:33:49):
Well. And I think, you know, they have to, there’s a different goal when it comes to seal training, uh, selection. And the goal is, you know, we’re talking about people who are going to go into combat with, uh, you know, with their brothers in arms to their right and their left. And the number one goal is not that they’re fit. The number one goal is to make sure that this is a person who with his dying breath will do everything to accomplish the mission. And so the goal of the Olympic training center is to create super athletes. And, uh, and if I was going to get someone in shape, I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t send them to BUDs training. There are better, you’re gonna, you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna leave a little worse off. Right. You might say, but the goal is not that like after BUDs, you take some time off, you change your training completely in how you want to prepare for a combat deployment, right? Especially nowadays, because a combat deployment, you might be wearing body armor. You’re doing these long, you know, hikes. Maybe it’s not important to be able to do a run, swim, run type thing. But the goal of BUDs training is not to get them fit. It’s a hundred percent, um, you know, to make sure that that guy to your right and left would rather die than quit.

Brad (00:35:15):
Okay. So there, now you lost me so far in, in, in our interview here, I’m, I’m dreaming of myself back in my triathlon day where I could swim two miles every morning, no problem. And probably beat everybody there. I could do the obstacle course. I could do the running. Uh, but if my shin hurts, man, I’m going to be crying in the office. I can’t run anymore. I have a touch spot, a hot spot. I need a bone scan.

Eric (00:35:41):
And if you’re training for an athletic goal, like those are the days like, you know, I look at my heart rate variability, or I’m a little bit sore. Like I subscribed to your method of training now. I am a, you can imagine a seal and many of us are probably really good at overdoing it. Um, I think most of, I believe most of the injuries I have come from not just acute things, but just from me hurting myself in a gym. Right. So I am, my goals have changed like now I’m 42. My goal now is when I’m 50, like some of the things you mentioned, can I run, uh, can I run a, uh, uh, a one minute, you know, lap around a track or a eight minute mile, or do 50 pushups, things like that with new goals, I’m like, I’m kind of looking at my heart rate variability, checking how I feel and, and really not pushing it as hard or doing like a sprint day and then a slow day or a heavy kettlebell day. And then, you know, a relaxing day. So it’s a different now it’s different.

Brad (00:36:53):
Hey, you’ve been there and done that, man. You’re allowed to take care of your body now. Yeah. Great insight. Hey, I wonder if they’ve ever done like a, a stunt or something where, you know, a guy like Ashton Eaton comes to town and is put through the program, you know, he’s the world record, uh, Olympic decathlete. I mean, if you had a physical marvel there who was just showing that everything was doable or something like that,

Eric (00:37:20):
We had, um, it wasn’t my class. It was the class before mine and they had a, so they had an Olympic decathlete, uh, who was an alternate for the Olympic decathlon. And, um, he was, you know, up through first phase, he had the fastest swim time, the fastest runtime he could do the most push-ups pull-ups and sit-ups, he could, there were things on the obstacle course that, you know, us mere mortals could, it could take us 60 to 90 seconds to go through and he could almost hurdle them. Right. Because he was a, he was a mutant and there were, there were people like that. And ultimately on the physical things, they always, they always won, but that the instructors will break you.

Eric (00:38:12):
And the more gifted you are, the less likely you’ve been broken or you failed in your life to that point. And they don’t handle it as well. Wow. And, or it’s been, things have come a little easier for them. And, uh, the second hour co-op, they’re like, um, so you really, you have to want to really want to do it, to endure all of that because no matter how fit you are, if you are the most fit person in the world, whatever you use to measure that, and you could do, I don’t know, a hundred pushups or a hundred pull-ups in a row, they would make you do 120, right. They’re just going to push you past that point. And it just becomes, you know, you will break. It’s just a matter of how can you deal with it? So,

Brad (00:39:08):
Oh my gosh. I just heard Tom Brady, uh, talking about, you know, how does this guy make it 23 years in the NFL? He was the 197 pick in the draft the year he was drafted when he got to… He was underdog in high school. He didn’t start till senior year. And he said that at every level, he was obligated to compete because he wasn’t that superstar, uh, from day one, which most of the guys in the NFL, most of the guys that division one, they never had to struggle. They never had to worry about the, the backup, you know, beating them out and all that kind of thing. And he was that guy that had to compete every single level. And that’s what, you know, he, he attributes is a part of his longevity and success formula that he wasn’t afraid to compete. And he was constantly in that position rather than the golden boy. Obviously he, you know, in, in recent years he he’s owned, you know, he’s run the team, you know, to get to that point where he’s probably still not taking it for granted, obviously because he’s training his body at a higher level and all that great stuff.

Eric (00:40:12):
Yeah. I think there’s some definite truth to that. I mean, I don’t begrudge people who are talented. Um, I mean, I’m sometimes jealous of that. Uh, but if you’re, you know, if you didn’t have that struggle at some point, um, eventually you’re going to, and, uh, it helps, you know, the more that you’ve overcome, uh, the better, it’s almost like that as a skill that you can learn, uh, to overcome things. Right.

Brad (00:40:40):
Yeah. And I, I remember I’ve written about this before, because you talk about a natural talent so much in sports and in triathlon. One of these guys, Mike pig, who was one of the greatest of all time at Olympic distance, probably the, probably the best ever. And if you look at him and his background, he wasn’t naturally talented in any of the sports. He was a mid-level runner from a small town competing against, you know, division one guys who had evolved over to triathlete. Uh, but what I identified in training with him was he had an incredible talent for getting up every day and getting out the door without his brain or his, his, you know, human frailties getting in the way he was just talented because he could go all day, wake up the next day. And recovery is a talent too. And it was, you know, it was an off the charts, talent, just like the guy

Brad (00:41:34):
Who picks up a bike and three months later, he can win a time trial. So there’s different forms of talent. And I think that whatever you just described, that mental talent that, you know, resiliency is definitely something that, Hey, maybe you were born with it just like the guy who was born with size 14 flipper feet, like Michael Phelps, you know.

Eric (00:41:53):
Right. A buddy of mine said the other day and I wrote it down and I, I put it into my Evernote because it really, it hit home with me. Um, you know, the only, the only super power I have is superhuman will. I have nothing like no other, I mean, I’ve, I, you know, I’m in shape now. And, uh, there’s certain things I can do, maybe that others can’t, but that’s just from hard work. Right. I just have, uh, and many Seals do and many successful people do it has, it’s not the, it’s not necessarily the physical talents, uh, or the mental talents or whatever it is.

Eric (00:42:31):
It’s just superhuman will.

Brad (00:42:34):
Uh, so the superhuman will took you to a 12 year career, which seems like kind of a long time to be an active Seal. I don’t know what the average is, but you’re out there, man, getting deployed left and right. Tell us what the careers like with the, the deployments. Then you go back to training or you have time off. I’m also wondering, like you did all that hard work. You made it through BUDs training. Everyone wants to be a Seal besides the credit at the bar on Friday night. Uh, do you have other benefits in terms of your military career? I don’t know. Do the Seals get paid before, or you don’t want to, people want to suffer so bad if all you got is a tagline on Friday night?

Eric (00:43:16):
Sure. No, I, uh, you know, there’s, I guess that’s, I mean, that could be a whole episode, but the, um, I, I did 12 years roughly, um, I would have done 20, had I not gotten medically retired. Uh, so I had some, I had, uh, an injury in combat as well as, um, uh, uh, long-term overuse injuries, plus the, uh, discovery of, uh, a long-term medical condition that all kind of built up to me getting a medical retirement. And, um, I, so the Navy deemed me no longer fit for duty. And I, you know, got out basically at the very end of 2009. Um, and up to that point, you know, I had served as Seal teams, uh, on both the West coast and then the East coast and deployed numerous times. Um, my first deployment was started two weeks before 9/11. And, uh, I got, I was in the jungle area and then we got shipped off to the desert because of, you know, 9/11. Uh, and then I did a number of other, you know, deployments, um, and, you know, got married, had kids, uh, towards the end, the last, you know, the last five years of my career, you know, I was gone anywhere from 250 to 280 days a year where there are either training or deployed. Uh, I didn’t even, I, I didn’t even put enough miles on my vehicle in five years to get an oil change. So when I went to look at my odometer in five years, I had put like, you know, 2000 miles on my car. So

Brad (00:45:12):
That’s why they put that, that sticker on there that says 3000 miles or, or 90 days. Yeah. Is that, uh, that sounds extreme for a military person to be gone that long. Is that unique to the Seals?

Eric (00:45:28):
I think it was unique to the Seals or special ops in particular, uh, with, you know, at the time and the, the, you know, it’s called the op temple or the operational tempo and the deployment cycles and the needs of these, of what we were doing, the, you know, the type of missions we were able to do. And, you know, granted, they are shorter deployments than, uh, you know, an infantry guy at the, you know, at the time might be gone 18 months. Then I might do a, you know, a four, four to a nine month deployment depending on, you know, on the thing. But then when I was back, I was, you know, it was always, we trained really hard too, uh, you know, we could, could be any sort of thing, you know, a couple of weeks of parachute jumping and then a couple of weeks of this, that, or the other, just lots of, uh, lots of travel, lots of training and, you know, it’s, uh, it, it, it has come at a high cost, you know, to the community, just special operations forces in general. So few of, you know, so few people doing so much, um, you know, they don’t, they don’t really know, they haven’t really quantified that yet. Right. But it’s, uh, between, you know, between all the, you know, the different wars and then all the, all the, all the travel, all the training, obviously the, the mental side of combat, you know, that’s what,

Brad (00:46:52):
Uh, so then you, um, went into, uh, the life of leisure in a rocking chair after you, uh, were, were discharged or maybe not, huh? You went for some, you had to keep that competitive bug going. So I want to hear about the things you got into, uh, on the next step.

Eric (00:47:14):
Um, the after, so after I left the military, um, and I did those climbs, by the way, Brad, when I was in, so,

Brad (00:47:26):
And listener back to that.

Eric (00:47:28):
Okay. So we had mentioned this on our, You know, prior to starting, uh, but I was, um, I was kind of pigeonholed into becoming a lead climber. Um, when I showed up at one of my new teams, I, I could do more pull-ups than the other new guy. So my team leader was like, okay, he’s going to go do this job as a collateral duty. And he looked at me and he said, I’d like you to be our lead climber. And I was like, okay, I didn’t know anything about rock climbing, um, or climbing in general. So I did a, um, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s similar to the theme we talked about: steep learning curves. I did four days of rock climbing out at red rocks in Las Vegas as my first trip. And, uh, and the next time I did a rock climbing trip to Australia, um, I think it was called Mount Arapiles.

Eric (00:48:31):
And so at this point I have like eight days of rock climbing under my belt. And, uh, then the, the lead climber of the whole team was like, Hey, we’re taking a group and we’re going to El Cap and we’re going to climb El Cap. And I was kinda nervous. I was like, what is that? It’s like, I looked it up, it’s this big wall that takes days. Right. So I kinda, I got pigeonholed and went and climbed El Cap and the, so the ninth time in my life of, of putting on a harness to actually climb rock was the first training day on El Cap. And, you know, granted, we, you know, we had a team of two or three and we had a guide, but we climbed all the pitches except two, which were like really, really hard. And then that guy climbed those. Uh, but the rest of it, we climbed and it took, uh, we spent two days or two nights sleeping on the side of the mountain or the wall in those cots called portal legends. And then the third night we slept on the top cause we had summited. So, um, that was, uh, that was a trip. Uh, and we actually, the route we did was called the Tangerine Trail.

Brad (00:49:48):
So you’re relatively inexperienced, but you’re a strong guy. You’re, you’ve conquered your fears in many ways. Um, what were the main challenges of doing that? Was it, was it physically difficult to climb for that long?

Eric (00:50:03):
It was pretty physical difficult. Um, just cause you’re, you know, we’re used to walking and running around and stuff, and then now you’re in a sit harness all day and you’re, it’s a different, you know, technique. Um, but just mentally, just the mental aspect of even if you’re like thousand foot up on a wall and we’re climbing together and I, I just hand you a water bottle, you know, I hand it to you this way and I wait for you to get two hands on it before I let go. Cause every like, everything you do is like, is epic when you’re that high. Like every simple thing is, you know, Oh, I have to go to the bathroom like, Oh, ha like how do you do that? Like, every movement you make is, you know, can become catastrophic. So mentally, I mean, the, the adrenaline dump when you’re done with that is like off the charts.

Brad (00:51:00):
So everyone’s pumped up watching Alex Honnold free solo that thing. I think you bumped into him, uh, during your trip there. Uh, but if you do make a mistake and you slip off, I guess you’re going to, uh, fall a bit and then get jerked by the rope? What, I mean, what are the consequences and what, what kind of bummer is that?

Eric (00:51:20):
Yeah, if you fall, um, onto your rope, then you’ll be held by your, the protection or the pieces you’ve placed in the rock. Um, so really the mental challenge is when you’re putting your pieces in the rock, your little rock climbing pieces, your protection, just the mental aspect of placing it. And you’re like, is that going to hold? And you’re like, I hope so. And you move on to the next one. And, and you don’t really find out until you fall and you don’t really, you don’t really want to. Um, and just the night, like the first night I spent 600, 700 feet up off the deck, sleeping on a portal ledge three or four foot away from the wall because it was more than vertical. So my little portal ledge was not even touching the wall. It was just spinning in the wind.

Brad (00:52:11):
You’re just hanging out.

Eric (00:52:12):
Yeah. Uh, it was, uh, was definitely, um, you know, one of the more scary things I did for sure.

Brad (00:52:21):
Really, it, it got you scared being, being up there even, even though you can tell your brain, your brain say, Hey, I’m safe. These, these things are steady. It’s still a little bit unnerving for a Navy Seal. Huh?

Eric (00:52:33):
For me it was, you know, having not really, you know, like at least when you’re parachuting, you got tons of little ropes hanging, holding you onto a, uh, you know, a canopy, but like rock climbing, you have one rope and it’s, you know, holding your world. Right. So a little bit more. And I kept thinking about it, like I would think about it that way. And then I would just put it, you know, I put everything aside and, you know, rock climbing is, is really cool. It teaches you to only focus on the moment. Cause that’s all you can do. Like you have to focus on this piece, this, move, this piece, this, and, and that, you know, you can’t really worry about the ones you already placed or the, or the next pitch you really stay present. And I think Alex about that in his, uh, obviously he’s in some crazy flow state climbing nothing without a rope. So

Brad (00:53:32):
Yeah, the most amazing insight I got from the documentary Free Solo and it had, I had to come in my second viewing of it. I think I’ve seen it four times now. It’s just, I call it the greatest athletic achievement of all time in the history of humanity with, with no one near, near in second place. Usain Bolt was up there, Tiger Woods winning the US open by 15 strokes is up there, but that was just stunning. Uh, but I saw him in the middle with his little, uh, comp book writing about his moves. And I realized then that he has memorized the whole bloody thing so that, you know, his first, his first leg up on the mountain is, are his, his toes touching the protruding bump. And then he reaches over with his right hand and grabs on a little shelf and he, he knows the entire route. And that was the real mind-blower that, you know, he’s memorized this to that extent. And so, you know, the word free implies that he’s just looking on this rock, where’s it gonna go next? Like the guy in the climbing gym, but this was something altogether, even more impressive that it was that, you know, deliberate and methodical,

Eric (00:54:40):
You know, we don’t, uh, we always had an expression with our, with our training. Uh, and obviously it was different, but it was combat style training. Um, like we believed that we, we didn’t rise to the occasion. We fell to our level of preparation and look at him, his level of preparation was beyond compare. Right. He had, he had memorized, he had scripted that entire thing. Not only had he done that, he had physically done every piece of it. Right.

Brad (00:55:15):
So practicing training,

Eric (00:55:17):
No surprises for him. Right. So he, you know, and he did the work before that point, even to think about that accomplishment. Right. He didn’t just think I’m going to go, I can rock climb a little bit. I think I’m going to go try free soloing El Cap. He, I mean the amount of work he did, we all, we all look at the, you know, the video and what he did and like, Oh, he must be a mutant. And he obviously is crazy. But he, uh, you know, he definitely fell to his level of training, um, he did more amount, you know, more work than you can’t even capture the hours that he did in a, you know, whatever, a 90 minute documentary. That would be my, that would be my guess.

Brad (00:56:00):
Right. The, um, the guy that, uh, that wants to be a Seal on, on Tuesday morning as well as Friday night. Right, right. Oh, it’s been so fascinating talking about this journey. I do want to talk about your climbing, the high peaks, cause that’s a whole nother world. So, um, this was also while you were in the service. So tell us about those climbs and was that part of training or was this sort of like when you had a six week leave, you’re going to go climb one of the highest peaks in the world what happened there?

Eric (00:56:30):
So, yeah, I was, like I said, I was a lead climber, um, in my, in my little team. And, um, we, you know, we’re increasingly doing some high altitude stuff or mountaineering stuff in Afghanistan, things like that. Uh, and a friend of mine, um, who, you know, he ended up dying. Um, but he had this vision, uh, his name was Keith Robinson. Uh, he had this vision then after we did cap. He’s like, well, that’s enough of big wall climbing. Let’s go do some mountains. And, uh, his vision was to do, you know, the seven summits. So we went and, uh, we, uh, we climbed a Denali. Um, and then that was in 2008 and then we climbed Aconcagua in 2009, uh, which were, which are the highest peaks in North and South America. And, uh, we, uh, we had an opportunity to work with, uh, some really awesome guides on those.

Eric (00:57:33):
Uh, we climbed Denali with Mark Trice, um, famous Mountaineer and mountain guide, uh, and with his group. Um, and the guide in particular on Aconcagua was a guy named Rolo Garibotti. So we had these awesome guides. We had awesome guides on the, on El Cap as well, obviously. Um, but we got to do these climbs and, uh, do a whole different thing, this mountaineering thing. And, uh, you know, for me that was a lot more fun even though probably mentally, not as hard, at least the routes we took, they were not the super technical routes. They were more like grinded out, less technical, more endurance routes, but, uh, yeah, it was a very cool experience.

Brad (00:58:22):
Are you telling me you took the easy route up Denali? Is that what you’re trying to say here?

Eric (00:58:26):
I technically is the easiest route of Denali, but you know, it’s still, there were times where it’s 30 below inside your tent, um, with no wind. So it’s, uh, you know, it can, it, Denali’s still hard. Um,

Brad (00:58:44):
I, I’m kind of seeing that as like a show title, you know, the easy route up Denali and other life challenges or something. Yeah. How about that?

Eric (00:58:54):
Easy, right. Easy. That is great. Uh, now

Brad (00:58:59):
In a novice, in a high mountaineering, when you, when you set off on these trips too.

Eric (00:59:05):
Yeah. That was, uh, you know, I had no, you know,

Brad (00:59:09):
You went to Pikes Peak and Denver, uh, and put a flag up and then tended to Alaska?

Eric (00:59:15):
No, I haven’t even done that. I haven’t done any mountaineering trips. You know, I’m a flat Lander from who moved, moved, you know, to the east, you know, at that time I was living at sea level on the East coast. Um, but I, uh, I will say for, for both of those trips, um, I was in exceptional shape, maybe not acclimated to the altitude, but you can acclimate to altitude. Um, didn’t take too long, but I was in, in really good shape, uh, just simply moving with load for hours and hours because of my, you know, walking around Iraq and Afghanistan with body armor. And, uh, you know, I augmented that with, uh, you know, kettlebell training in a way that, uh, you know, I always prioritize power to weight ratio, so I wanted to get strong, but I didn’t want to, you know, I didn’t want to make the engine any bigger. Right. So I, I always was like making sure I was getting stronger and getting more fit without getting bigger. And, uh, and it was in 2005, I had met Pavel um, and kind of have kept in touch with him since. And, uh,

Brad (01:00:37):
Pavel Tsatsouline ? The kettlebell master of the planet? Yeah.

Eric (01:00:42):
Yes. So I’ve used, um, I’ve used his systems to kind of prepare me for everything from deployments to mountaineering trips. And I will say that like lots of, lots of kettlebell swings and things like that did have, you know, it did feel a lot like I was walking uphill. Right. So, uh, and I didn’t get like kind of the, you know, the didn’t put on the bulk that I may have with doing pure barbells type training. So,

Brad (01:01:13):
Hm. So this, did you personally seek out Pavel or was this integrated into your, uh, you know, your, your assignments, your missions, your, your team operations?

Eric (01:01:25):
No, I, I had met him. Uh, he had come to our command in like 2005. And, uh, like before that I saw a friend of mine doing some kettlebell swings and some snatches. And I was like, you know, the first time you see that, especially in the early two thousands, it was kind of absurd looking. And I was like, well, you know, you’re going to hurt yourself, stop doing that. And I met, you know, I met Pavel and then I would, you know, I went through his training and I just started to, I started to use it to get ready for deployments. And I noticed, um, you know, before that I would have like a, it was kind of bodybuilder style lifting, you know, you have your leg day and then you have your, you know, your back and your thighs day or whatever, and then you would separate it from your cardio.

Eric (01:02:14):
And, you know, it was kind of, it just took forever to, to work out. And now I could do, you know, with kettlebell swings, like the dynamic movements I could combine my cardio and my strength in one move. And I just noticed after six months of doing that, when I went on deployment, I actually moved well with weight. And before that I was more disjointed perhaps because I was doing, you know, isolate, not isolation, body builder style exercises, and not augmenting it with the right Cardio or not, not doing it in a manner that got my heart rate going. So I just noticed when I was on the first deployment, after doing that training, I could all of a sudden, not only move around well would do so, you know, underload so,

Brad (01:03:02):
Yeah, incredible. I mean, you know, functional, functional training for what you’re doing out there. Yeah. Wow, man, it’s been, um, it’s been, it’s been a wild ride and I’m curious now, uh, today, you know, you’ve, you’ve been through all these incredibly intense experiences, kind of like, uh, an athlete playing in the, in the major leagues. And then, you know, now you’re settling into real life with your four kids in Omaha, Nebraska. I wonder what that transitions like and how you kind of feed that, you know, competitive intensity that obviously you honed for for so many years.

Brad (01:03:39):
Yeah. Uh, I, you know, sometimes I go speak to groups and, uh, I would, I’ve always said that the hardest, I mean, it’s, it’s hard to become a Navy Seal and it’s hard. It’s hard to keep that job once you get there because of the accountability. But

Brad (01:03:57):
What does that mean, you mean?

Eric (01:03:59):
You can get kicked out for mistakes.

Brad (01:04:01):
Oh, really?

Eric (01:04:02):
Absolutely. Like if you make a mistake in the shoot house, or if you make safety violations, if you have safety violations, when you’re handling demolition or, you know, we’re talking about dangerous things, jumping out a parachute or jumping out of airplanes, thrown grenades, blowing stuff up and shooting at people who are shooting you. So their tolerance for mistakes is very minimal. So when I say it’s hard to get there and it’s harder to stay, I mean, it’s harder to stay cause they kick people out all the time for screwing up and like they should. Uh, but the harder thing for me that always came natural to me, the harder thing for me has been to get out. Um, just, you would think it’d be so easy. Like, Oh, now I can sit on the couch, get a nine to five. And you know, I don’t have to worry about getting blown up or shot at or jumping out of planes.

Eric (01:04:54):
But, uh, it’s hard because you know, you were, so you were a professional triathlete. Uh, I talked to a friend who was a professional climber, so much of, I think one of the hardest things is so much of how we, uh, build our identity is in what we do. Right. So my identity was seal for so long and did just abruptly lose that. Uh, it was challenging. And then you can compound that with, um, not having an ability to support your family. Uh, cause I, you know, I didn’t have a college degree, all those sorts of things. It’s not like companies, aren’t just hiring Seals unless they’re hiring security experts and things like that. So transitioning, finding a job and then another really hard aspect of it was losing that team environment. Right. So really what I’ve done is like, okay, now I, you know, now I, my identity is not my job. I have a job to support my family. And um, my new team is my family and my other coworkers. Uh, and that’s kinda my new battle if you will. And you know, you just got to find a way,

Brad (01:06:09):
Right. You using those same skills and leveraging those in an entirely different direction, but it sounds like you’ve done a great job with that. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about the Heartland Leadership and what you’re doing with Strong First.

Eric (01:06:24):
So I was the CEO for strong first, for a while, about three years. Uh, I left that job would have been in 2017. I still communicate with Pavel, uh, and we’re still close friends. Uh, and while I was there, I actually hired Dr. Craig Marker. So I’ve heard him on your podcast, great guy. We still compare notes on fitness stuff. Uh, I went and ran after that. I ran some, uh, some firearms training programs for a while and now I, uh, uh, I just do a bunch of different things. I work, uh, you know, I work for the center for Heartland Leadership teaching, uh, uh, working with leaders on, you know, on everything from leadership to team building and just building culture. Uh, I do, uh, uh, and building a training program for a manufacturing company called Tri Tool. Uh, and I also do some work, uh, with a CBD company, uh, called Defy and I’m just helping them. I’ve had great success with their product. So I’m helping getting that into the hands of more veterans. Right. Just kind of, uh, doing a little bit of everything, I suppose,

Brad (01:07:39):
Love it. And the veterans, uh, in many ways have a rough time when they’re done seems like,

Eric (01:07:46):
Yeah. Uh, for the reasons I mentioned, right? Like that, uh, kind of that identity and that, that loss of that team. And really, I mean, don’t, don’t, uh, don’t underestimate how hard it is. You might not make much money in the military, but also it doesn’t really matter because you know what everyone makes. So an E five makes what a E five makes and there’s no keeping up with the Joneses. You’re not fooling anybody. We all know what everyone, whatever everyone makes, uh, and that’s, you know, then you get out and your mood, you live in a neighborhood or whatever. And, and you know, not all of the things you learn in the military, um, specifically translate to the private sector. Right. Um, none of the companies that I’ve worked for hired me because I was a sniper. Right. So that, that would be a specific skill transfer,

Brad (01:08:48):
Whoever it is on your resume. So it probably came up in an interview. So tell me about your snipering Eric, if that’s the correct term.

Eric (01:08:55):
Well, there is physics involved, so,

Brad (01:08:58):
Well, just the, I mean, I’m kind of feeling like the, the transfer from especially Navy Seal that the most elite performer in a huge gigantic organization and, and, you know, coming through that strict and narrow funnel, um, it seems like that would translate directly to such that corporate America would be salivating to find you guys and, and headhunt you immediately and put you in a position in a leadership position. I mean, are you kidding me going into a conference room with these, these bozos that are, uh, you know, blowing smoke and doing their PowerPoint versus a guy who’s been to war? Oh my gosh. I would bet on, on that guy, 10 times over if it’s, you know, for a competition for a hiring position or something, but you’re making it sound like, um, you don’t have that gravy train set up even as a Navy Seal.

Eric (01:09:51):
Well, I think, you know, there are some people that do, um, most of us, myself included don’t have a college degree.

Brad (01:09:58):
So that’s what? You went through BUDs training. Oh my gosh, you should have seen my roommates in college. They were the most degenerate humans. Barely, barely get their mouth off the bong that was at the door, exiting the apartment and had to go sit in the back of class and then, Oh my goodness.

Eric (01:10:17):
Well, I think, you know, I think, uh, you know, corporate America has not caught up with that fact yet. I would, you know, I think most of them still look at a college degree as a prerequisite. Uh, but if you look at like my experiences or the experiences of my teammates or those who were in special operations, or just military in general, like what you learned, like as a, as a leader as not just a leader, but how to be a good teammate, uh, how to, how to execute and get things done, um, and be, you know, be positive member in a, in, in a team and build the culture and that sort of stuff. You know, they, and combine that with, you know, especially in the case of the seals or any of these special ops that have such hard, such rigorous rigorous selection. If I know what I need to do, uh, and to do it,

Eric (01:11:14):
Like, I’m just purely not going to quit. And if, if you just point me in a direction and give me a right and left, like here’s my rules. And here’s what you need me to go do. Then, you know, myself and other people like me who have similar, they’re just not going to quit. It’s going to happen. Right. They’re going to make it happen.

Brad (01:11:38):
Eric, I think we just figured out your next entrepreneurial project here, because we have on one side, this talent pool of people that aren’t going to quit and they’re going to make it happen. And on the other side, we have people pulling their hair out right now today because they can’t get their staff to get off a log and get something done. And, Oh my gosh, you know, the Navy Seal head hunter, uh, corporate organization is ready for action listeners. If you want to hire a Navy Seal, send a note to the show. We will tee you up with people that are going to rock your world. Oh my goodness.

Eric (01:12:11):
I love it. It’s great.

Brad (01:12:13):
Hey man, thanks so much for spending the time. That was a fascinating conversation. I feel like we learned so much about, you know, what it’s like and that, you know, elite world and coming from, you know, the small town in Iowa to the top of the mountain in North America, South America, amazing stuff.

Eric (01:12:34):
Thank you. I appreciate.

Brad (01:12:34):
where can we connect with you? Where do you want to send the listeners?

Eric (01:12:38):
Um, no, I don’t even, I guess I don’t really have much to sell.

Brad (01:12:43):
Navy Seals aren’t banging up social media. Oh, excuse me. He’s not sending out selfies every day.

Eric (01:12:50):
I mean, I do have social media follow me there. Just Eric Frohardt um, doing the, um,

Brad (01:12:57):
what were you doing? The pushups in the snow storm there? That’s a great, I love that Instagram site. Come on, go, go follow on people. Eric Frohardt,

Eric (01:13:06):
Eric Frohardt on Instagram once in a while. Facebook I’m not really too active.

Brad (01:13:14):
Awesome. All right, well, keep it up. Keep up doing the real thing and good luck in your new home.

Eric (01:13:19):
Awesome. Thanks, Brad.

Brad (01:13:21):
Eric Frohardt people. Thank you very much.

Brad (01:13:26):
Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at getoveryourselfpodcast@gmail.com. And we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to thanks for doing it.



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