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Episode 210: The New Standard of Leadership, with Eric Kapitulik


Welcome to the absolute advantage where good leaders become great. We learn from leaders all over the World Teixeira their stories and lessons and inspire you to grow and show up for those you serve in a way that creates the greatest impact. Welcome everyone everyone. I'm Kelly Hatfield and so grateful. You joined us today as you all know the the ripple effect is a concept we explore on this show regularly. It's about how we show up as leaders in life the actions we take and how that ripples into the world we have an amazing opportunity as leaders to serve an impact others and our guest today is all about making a greater impact by developing better leaders and creating more cohesive teams our guest today is the founder and CEO of the program. Eric capita lick a former special OPS officer in the Marine Corps Ultra Endurance Athlete and corporate executive. WHO's helping companies like fidelity investments Goldman Sachs nationwide insurance red bull kind healthy snacks and professional sports? It's teams become that much better through the practice of shared adversity and improved leadership and team cohesion. He's here today to talk about his book. The program John Lessons from elite military units for creating and sustaining high performing leaders in teams. So Eric. Welcome we are so grateful. You've joined us today. Kelli thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Excellent well you know. I'm I gave a very very broad brush. Strokes thirty thousand foot as far as just a general general Biography there but your story is fascinating. So can we start with that because it really is the we need to know bat before we can really appreciate what you're doing through the program. So can you talk a little bit about your journey. And what brought you to where you are today. Yeah thanks Kelli I really appreciate it. Well I think hey you. I'm not so sure. Luck plays much of a role in many things in our life but one of the things that certainly played a part in is who you end up with as your parents and I are really lucky and my dad's was retired now but was a Connecticut Connecticut State Trooper. My mom was a high school French teacher. I was born and raised on a farm in northeastern Connecticut. Very fortunate to be a three sport varsity athlete athlete in high school. Went on to play college. Lacrosse at the US Naval Academy upon graduating had really the great privilege of my life outside of Dad and husband my mate. My most favorite title is marine and had the opportunity to serve eight years on active duty in the United States Marine Marine Corps. After eight years on active duty of I founded the pro grab in the program is a team building and Leadership Development Company that works with college and Pro Athletic Teams in major corporations throughout North America. Excellent now why. Why wasn't important and for you? I too found you know the program. Whoa whoa what was that? That that was the catalyst for you really feel like I need to bring this to it to the masses so to speak right right. You know. It's funny because now after a dozen years in business in in having the privilege of working with more than one hundred appeared in sixty teams annually. We I get told all the time. it boy eric. What a great idea idea? And I'm always quick to point out. It is a great idea isn't it. It's it's a great idea And the the I highlight that because when I first started the program twelve years ago my initial idea was inbetween business school. In founding the program I worked in finance of for year and a half as as my job goes it was a very long year and a half and that. That's not that's not a bust on the finance industry or of the great people I worked with in four. That's a more reflection on on me. It just wasn't the right fit but during that time. I had the opportunity in worked as an assistant. Lacrosse coach with a local high school Lacrosse team. If I had I played high school across I played College Lacrosse at the Naval Academy and had that opportunity to be an assistant coach it was a local. Oh Prep School in the Boston area. While coaching I noticed that a lot of prep schools that we were at these beautiful weight room facilities but at best they might might have a science teacher or English teacher. Making sure that kids didn't kill themselves in the weight room in the afternoons. So what I decided to do do was start. A company that would provide hourly strength and conditioning coaches and in our first year in business we actually had three clients doing that. However at that same time I received the call from John? Tillman currently the head. Men's Lacrosse coach in in really a one of if not the most successful men's Lacrosse coach in the past decade. He's the head coach of the Maryland. Lacrosse Cross team now. At the time. Twelve years ago when I first started the program he had just been named the head coach at Harvard University. John Coach coach Telemann had been an assistant coach at Navy win. The last thing I did in the Marine Corps was I worked in the admissions department at the Naval Academy automate when I had gotten there when I arrived there after my tours of duty out in the fleet marine force right when I got there in some marine some of the Navy lacrosse players had gotten in trouble and the head coach called me and said Cap. Can you come down here in just where these guys is out for. A couple of days do a year Kinda workouts. And that's what I did will now fast forward years later. The assistant coach on that Navy team is this John. Tillman now the head coach at Harvard and he calls me up and says cap. I just took over the softest team on the softest campus softest state you know type of thing can you come down here and just where these guys out for. So that's what I did. I just worked out with the team for a couple of days but while doing it I thought you know what happened to call some of the team captains out to lead some of these exercises with me and these are great young men. I mean they're smart. They're athletic good. People people. You know morally mentally physically all of that but quite frankly they were just very poor communicators to the rest of the team. mm-hmm in being that communication is key as a leader into having a as a the most successful team that we can have it was just such a glaring deficiency that it made me think man. They've got strength and conditioning coaches but boy they they really need some help in developing their leadership. The coaches gave me that same feedback. Well after a near one we were three men's College Lacrosse. Teams teams. That I coaches whom I knew I played for against with whatever after after that first year it was no longer us working out with the team. it was US providing leadership development services. I'm very proud crowd of the Pronoun I when I talk about. I founded the program but just as quickly I want to highlight that I would be out of business. Now if it wasn't for the week and We began to provide not strength and conditioning services bought leadership development team building services at that time. Awesome now what I'm really interested in. So can you talk about the program itself and what it's designed to do and and just explain it for those that are listening because we're refer. We're using the program but I really liked for them to Hobson foundational knowledge as we move through some of the other consoles onsides sure so the program has one mission. We developed better leaders and create more cohesive teams. That's all we do develop better leaders create more cuvee since teams we do so through shared adversity. And it's our belief the program of Personal Development Leadership Development in team building through shared adversity. And that we only grow as individuals rules in as a team when we're outside of our comfort zone so Kelly I have it. We do a number of different services. I personally will get hired to speak at forty to fifty the different corporations throughout North America about leadership and attacking adversity will provide the classroom based services consulting consulting services. But what the program. What are key? Services is our experiential service where we bring as I said collegiate and professional athletic teams in major corporations throughout North America through our experiential -perience training services. We do are what's called our leadership challenge. We have five different versions of our leadership challenge where we I teach individuals in teams the standards for being great team leaders and great teammates as we discussed is at the program. Individuals and individual talent allows us to do well in life allows us to win games but great teams compete for championships. Chips in great teams are comprised of great team leaders and great teammates. We I teach. The standards are being great team leaders and great teammates. Great Team leaders number one accomplish the mission number two. They take care of their teammates. Taking care of our teammates means that we make every decision we ever make with our teams best interest at heart. I great teammates are hell to to standards great teammates. I set the example in setting the example. Oh means we meet the standards of our organization and then great teammates hold their teammates accountable to achieving as we discuss we appreciate eight that all of us in life WanNa be well like we all want to be good friends but you go to the movies with good friends and you go to battle with great teammates and great teammates. Mate's hold each other accountable. We teach that we do that in a classroom setting from anywhere from forty to forty minutes to an hour and then we go in conduct three to three and a half hours of experiential training. Where we're putting certain individuals into dedicated leadership leadership roles given them task conditions and standards that they must complete with their team? They have to take that task condition in standard back to Their team communicate it. Get ideas get thoughts and suggestions back from the team formulate a plan communicate that a plan and then execute on that plan all under stress and duress in adversity as we believe at the program or all. Everyone's a hero when when it's seventy degrees and sunny out. Unfortunately that's not when you need them team leaders and great teammates when it's not so our training training is set up so that we not only teach people how to be great team leaders in great teammates but we then help develop those skills in a challenging training environment. I love that you know in doing the research An- and Understanding better about what this was all about. I what is it about about the You know obviously that military piece comes into this and I get it. But what is it about the physical like I see some of the adversity. He is these are physical challenges that the team is doing together in. This isn't team building per se. This is this is on a whole other other level because as you said it's teaching them all of these things along the way it's not necessarily specifically team building where it's raw and let's have have fun and you know although this is a very fulfilling experience and you are building team through shared adversity. There's some real key things that are being taught as you just as mentioned but why the physical part of it what is it about bringing some you know. Physical component in. I know that's where the adversity comes from. But but can you talk a little bit about that because I find that fascinating you know just from the athletic standpoint. I know you're in you know. Obviously military have been a AH ironman competitor and ultra athlete. So can you talk a little bit about the physicality of it and why that's important. Yes absolutely and I really appreciate the question because it's really key to what we believe in who we are and what we believe in I we. We always was chuckled. Because people when they when they might hear you know my background in our instructors background in indoor here about what we do as I describe it they might go they might say oh. It's like boot camp and my guys and I always got bye guys are used a universal term. Guys the men and women that work with me. We always chuckle because we always think whenever we hear somebody say oh. It's like boot camp. We immediately think you've you've obviously never been to boot camp because it it is definitely not boot camp right. It's the the the the physicality of Laura event. Look you can hire people to make you do push ups until you can't do push ups anymore A lot less a whole lot less expensively than hiring the program that that this is not what we do. The physicality of our event has nothing to do with bigger faster stronger better shape or or any of those things. The physicality of our event is based on the participants. If one of the toughest cells we have with Corporate America is we have the privilege of working with some of the greatest collegiate and professional athletic teams throughout North America. Will they create these really cool height videos of are working with them and corporate America. Google's and Ben Watches us in what we're doing with Baylor football with Notre Dame football with Oregon Basketball Florida state women's soccer and they think. Oh my God you're GonNa you would kill and they're not even saying you know figuratively they're saying it literally you you guys are GonNa Literally Kill our people and we have to always sell against that and highlight that the the physicality is simply meant as a means of creating adversity. That's just as a means of creating adversity with some of the teams and and I mean teams by company corporate teams or or schools or whatever any organization we adjust the actual physicality physicality the event who the participants simply making it such that people are outside their comfort zone. It would some of the teams. We work with Kelly just just being out out of doors is is way outside their comfort zone. Let alone we're outdoors and it starts to sprinkle rain. I mean that people people that it's just uncomfortable for them and it's in those environments that we prove those uncomfortable trouble environments were refilled stress that we have an opportunity to develop and improve our teammate ship in team leadership not not necessarily. We did the program staff more importantly to our teammates that we work with. You know I love this. I love the whole concept and the idea And I'm excited for people to hear what you have to say today. One thing that I love and I'd like you to share and dig into a little bit more for our listeners. Today is ah talk about the one more philosophy and and what that means to you and how that you know kind of plays out. You're sure sure we define hard work at the program. I discussed earlier. The standards that leaders are held. The standards at teammates dates are held. We have to prepare every day. If we're going to be the best teammates in best team leaders that we can be on all of the teams of which which were privileged enough to be apart. We have to prepare to do so in the way that we prepare to do so is by number one being physically mentally and emotionally emotionally tough number two not making excuses and not letting other people make excuses for us and third by working hard and we define hard work at the program and we define it. It's our trademark saying artwork is not what we do during normal business hours. That might I be giving great effort but it's not hard work be as hard work is not based on an individual basis on an aggregate basis. It's based it's done on a relative basis. Are We outworking our competition therefore what we do during normal business hours competitors are doing. That's called giving great eight effort instead. What hard work is is one more and we have to figure out what are one more is as an individual as a team and make a commitment to doing it each and every single single day it might be For the for the sales people out there might be three extra cold calls at the end of our day for furred bird directors of sales or or directors in in any role. It might be God. You know I'm really. I struggle having tough conversations conversations with individuals on the team. Okay maybe maybe you're one more is having one tough conversation per day. One tough conversation per week it could be that as a leader. You struggling giving praise okay. You're one more might be it not having tough conversations sation your one more might be finding opportunities to give praise to your your co workers but we can all figure out what are one more is is that which were not good at and make a commitment to doing it each and every single day I am this leads us into kind of a discussion. I want to dig into that. We we had off air Prior to prior to beginning to record and I was talking about how you know oftentimes leaders leaders on as we strive You know from war and to achieve more that their areas of our life like maybe we're just killing it on the career aside and his leaders within our organizations but maybe we're not showing up as leaders in other areas of our life or You know we put so much of a focus on the career earlier. The relationships suffer or health suffers. So it and you had a really great insight around this that I love for you to speak to that a bit because this is really you know. We're talking specifically about teams right now as it relates to the program. But let's dig into kind of a more or holistic viewpoint of leader and talk about that a little bit because I think that's important and it's something that's often missed. Yes thanks Kelly for for asking asking about it because it's certainly a passion of mine. It's I look at what we discussed earlier as as really just Keita. Who I am now? If we're going to be an achieve everything that we can achieve in our life if we can be the best versions of ourselves as individuals and as a team that requires us to make a commitment to being the best teammates and best team leaders that we can be on all of the teams of which we are apart. Now you can say well. That's just your opinion and yes. It's our opinion. It's what the program program believes. It's what we teach. It comes back to that term success. What does it mean to be successful? And we all have different Definitions of it for from for myself and for my teammates at the program. Success is yes having the greatest latest company that we can possibly have to be able to accomplish our mission of developing better leaders and creating more cohesive teams throughout the world doing that better than anybody else in the world and we hope getting reaching financial goals. While doing so but it doesn't end there we would feel as if we fell well short of the mark if were also being the best teammates invest team leaders that we could be on all of the teams of which were privileged enough to be a part that includes being the best fathers the best mothers husbands and wives the best coaches that we can be of our of our children's teams were all all we all belong in our part of lots of teams and we have to be the best teammates invest team leaders that we can be on all of those those teams and if that is what you want to do. Well then it's it's going to take sacrifice it's going to take work it. It does for us. It does for everybody in life of making sure that we're doing everything we can to achieve exceed meet or exceed those standards of being a great teammate. Ingrate team leader not just in our businesses or business team but on all of the teams teams of which were apart. Are we trying to be the best who may invest team leader that we can be as a husband a wife. Are we being trying to be the best team. Invest Team team leader that we can be as as a father mother. Those those are as important if not a way more important than any other role that that we fill in life you know something stands out to me and I want to dig into this just a little bit further because because you know one of the things I wanted to talk about was You know holding within our organizations how to hold our leaders and teammates to the highest standards but a question popped up for me when you were just explaining that about ourselves. What are some of the things that we can do to hold ourselves and and make ourselves accountable to that higher to that highest standard? You know a this. You know the things that you're talking about. Yes you know. I'm one hundred percent on board Lord. I also understand that so much of what we do lives in that unconscious mind and we're we're creatures of habit. What are some of the things that that use? Who's that you suggest or that you teach in terms of holding ourselves accountable for this Kelly? That is such a great question and it doesn't surprise. Asked me that you that you of all people ask it and see the importance of it if there is one issue you outside of developing better leaders in developing better teammates. If there's one issue that leaders talked to us about through Ou'd awed North America for not just main to to California and Florida to to to Oregon but but also all of the companies in great great business leaders that we have the opportunity to work with in in in in Mexico as well and always were talked in D- The leaders discussed with us. Tell us God walking you do what can I do. What can we do our people? Just don't hold each other accountable honorable I they. They just don't hold each other accountable and yes we feel. That accountability is key to success that having teammates that are going to meet and exceed the standards of the Organization of which there apart in then demet hold their teammates accountable to achieving. Think those same standards. It's a key to success however if we're not I holding ourselves personally accountable everything else is for. Not what the the the first lesson I learned as a young twenty two year old Marine Corps infantry officer was don't ever ask your marines. needs to do something that you aren't willing to do yourself. Don't ever ask your Marines to do something that you aren't willing to do yourself but we do all the time. Kelly look just as parents right. How often do I see parents telling their kids to try? Try New sports eat their vegetables. Hey you got to try new things. Okay if I'm that kid. I challenge we talked to youths throughout America. I challenge anjem. I tell them. Hey look when your parents tell you. Hey you gotta try new things here asked them okay. Mom and Dad Great. I'll try new things. What's the new thing that you tried today? What's the new thing you've tried this week? Tell me tell me. When did you get outside your comfort zone this week? Okay you're telling me I've got to work harder and math. Okay tell me what do you what what what are you practicing. Hard doing. It starts with us. Don't ever ask or marine. Don't don't ever ask our sons daughters husbands and wives co workers to do you something that we aren't willing to do ourselves too often. I'll just use an and that's that's on for everything in life. Okay that's for everything in life with that said. Let me give you just one which we feel strongly about excuses. Says are just roadblocks to our success. You get Kelly. There's so many things that we don't control in life. The most successful individuals in the most successful teams stay focused on that which they can control. Not what concerns them but that which they can control. Roll one of those things that we can control is our effort in our preparation. That's it but instead of staying focused on our effort in our preparation instead. We stay focused on excuses. Well at the boys a tough economic environment boy that guy. He just doesn't understand what I'm not very smart but he's really difficult to deal with. We were pointing fingers at at all these things that we don't control instead. Let's be some people. Let ourselves talk about our effort. Our preparation one one example. One thing I might give one suggestion that I would give it to. Your listeners is just start with not using time as an excuse. Well I have time to do it. I ran out of time. I I didn't just start with that. Even if you have to make an excuse a different excuse go go ahead and make try and make a different excuse but stop using time as an excuse for why you were doing or not doing certain things. I love that I've laughing because it's one it's a commonly used when I hear it within the organization I've said it myself You know so I I love that. I'm chuckling as you say it for that very reason. It must be one that you commonly than here as you're you know working with your your clients. We hear excuses. Not just excuses Kelly. It's it's that the idea of trust is the foundation of every relationship. That's true as husbands wives mothers and fathers. That's that's true as business leaders and in the business teammates the teams that were fortunate enough to be a part trust is the foundation of every relationship one of the surest surest ways to undermine. That trust is asking people to do something that were not willing to do ourselves if we're asking them to hold each other accountable and it is a necessity for team success. We have got to hold ourselves accountable. I you know something Eric that you just said. They're an epiphany. And I'M GONNA to try to articulate this as best I can all right so trust is the foundation of every relationship and when we are not holding ourselves accountable so we're not keeping our word to ourselves. We erode at that trust like so that goes for us to right as leaders personally the trust that we have a for ourselves. If we're if we're not holding ourselves accountable or worse were making excuses or were saying we're doing things than we don't do so basically we don't keep that word to ourselves That erodes at the trust we have ourselves and then I would imagine again that's kind of that ripple effect you know throughout the different areas of your life which I would imagine what a road confidence finance so this all kind of like layers on top of each other is that is that the right way of looking at best to Kelly. My wife accuses me correctly correctly of sucking the air out of every room and so in an effort to do so I would i. I will just say yes correct. I can't I cannot add something more to to that right there. Ah One hundred percents and I'll leave it at that. It's interesting too because as you said it I'm like that's so fascinating I just had this kind of light bulb come on because I'm Mike if you can't trust yourself because you're not keeping your word to yourself. Then how does that that has to move to outside side of yourself to those you serve to you know to the teams that you have in every area of your life like you speak to so anyway. Thank you for that. I just had that moment and I I appreciate that a high. Just good good wonderful. We'll as where or you know kind of winding down here I have You know one more question for you but before I ask that. How can our leaders connect with you? So if they're interested interested in your speaking engagements if they're interested in working directly with you or in the workbook that kind of goes through some of this. How can they reach reach out and connect? Yes thanks so much really appreciate the opportunity to to discuss that. The best way is to simply go to our website. WWW dot the program dot org. You can find out more about the program all of our services As well as of finding out about our new book that was recently published and is now available either through the program website or Amazon and Barnes and noble. All of that can be found on our website. And that's the best way you can. You can fill out a quick button. Here that says contact us were or request more information and we follow up on those right away question for you and this is a you know self-serving to a certain degree so help me understand a little bit about said the more hands on approach where we're working directly with you and your team you talk about working with professional with you know with Athletes and professional teams and large corporations. Is this a program that can be that is that is accessible to small companies that have under a hundred employees or is that really. What the workbook that you? Who created as forest is to support companies at that level? Can you speak a little to that. Yeah sure Kelly thank you for asking no we. We'll work with. We put events on for six people people Firms you know really the the. The question is not Size of the firm. It's investment by both time and money. What how much time do you want to spend? How much money do you want to spend? And then we craft in a a training package and or we hope fall one consulting package to that initial training package based on. Yes the size of your firm but mostly based on the time that you want to spend the money that you want to spend in developing a world class culture. That's the book not workbook but but book that we just wrote is we simply felt compelled myself and my co author author Jake MacDonald WHO's Lead instructor with us here at the program he and I after working with more than one hundred sixty teams annually annually throughout North America. We just felt compelled after a dozen years of doing it to to make the program what we teach who we are what we teach accessible to individuals to to to those teams that at one simply read what we believe in what we teach. Yes how to how to be the best teammates and how to be the best team leaders. How do we create a world class culture? We just felt compelled to share that with more than those companies. Those teams that work with us in a in a more personal manner of that was really the impetus of or writing the book. Perfect okay excellent. Thank you so much for explaining that I appreciated needed. I just wanted to make sure that that everybody knew that this is accessible to them. So last question you know as you well know great leaders ask great questions so what are some of the questions you ask yourself as a leader as a great question I would say that you you already mentioned it. Kelly and I think it's you highlighted it. It's it's we feel key to our success in by success. I mean key to me being the best team in best team leader after that I can be on all the teams of which I'm privileged enough to be a part in what is key is being authentic. If I say we have to be the best teammate. Invest Team leader that we can be for us to achieve our ultimate success. If that's our definition of success then I have to ask myself every single day. What am I doing to be the best team in best team leader that I can be at the program what we discuss? What we believe what we write about in our book is number one being physically mentally and emotionally resilient physically weekly mentally or emotionally tough not making excuses and not letting other people make excuses for you working hard doing one more will? If that's true true I've got to be authentic to that M I being physically mentally and emotionally tough. Today Am I.. Developing it there is no just maintaining in life that that's not the program that teaches that that science you either get better you either grow or you die. There's no middle ground or we redeveloping our physical mental and emotional toughness every m. i. developing it every single day. Am I making excuses army. Not Making excuses. Am I working artemije doing one more. Those are questions. I ask myself every single day numerous times. I love that that was my next question was how do do you know is that is their practice that you have for asking yourself that you know those questions because you know we all now you know how quickly time can get get away from us if you're not gonNa really focused on something and and you know it just doesn't work if you're asking it once a year you know so I love that. You're you said multiple times throughout the day. That's right Kelly. I would just like to highlight to you and to your visitors to your to your listeners. Visitors listeners I that time can get away from us if we're willing to use the excuse of time getting the time gap so if we if we just say look I prioritize it. We all have twenty four hours in the day. So what are my priorities right and if getting better is a priority for you then figure out in quite frankly everything we do in life is habit-forming Kelly. Everything is it's not that. Some people are disciplined and other people are undisciplined indisciplined. No some people act in a disciplined manner other people. Don't it's all about our habits. Everything we do in life is habit forming asking that question. Those questions of being the best teammate. Invest Team leader that I can be achieving those standards that reinforce being great teammates in great team leaders that I discussed discussed earlier. Am I being physically mentally and emotionally tough in my developing. Not Making excuses working hard doing one more asking that question. That's not normal for anybody. We just have to make it a habit brilliant. Thank you so very much. Eric You're the wisdom the insight that you brought to today's discussion. I know it served Our audience and just so grateful for the time you spent with us today. Yeah I know how precious it is and again I'm just Have a ton of gratitude. I'm so glad our paths crossed. So thank you so much for helping our listeners. Get the absolute absolute advantage Kelly. Thank you again so much for the opportunity to join you today. Thank you for listening. Go to absolute advantage podcast. Odd Dot Com for more resources and be sure to give us a rating and review on your favorite platform

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