Chelsea Fitness Training Centre

Echelon Front Chicago Leadership Conference

Echelon Front Chicago Leadership Conference

I recently attended a two day conference on leadership in Chicago. It was called the Echelon Front Muster 007 (007 because it was the 7th such conference that the company put on). Echelon Front is a company founded by a former Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willing who has a podcast called the Jocko Podcast and who has written several books on leadership with his partner and also Navy SEAL Leif Babin. I first heard of Jocko on the Tim Ferris podcast and have followed him ever since. Jocko and Leif's first book was Extreme Ownership applied the lessons that they learned as Navy SEAL officers in combat to business and everyday life. They founded a company called Echelon Front that puts these leadership conferences on and advises companies leaders on how to improve their leading abilities and is made up of other ex-military personnel all of whom served together during the battle of Ramadi in Iraq. This was the best and most worthwhile conferences that I have ever attended.

If you would rather watch videos of me talking about this subject versus reading please click on the links below:

Click Here to Watch Video 1

Click Here to Watch Video 2

While you can imagine that the messages and presentations at this conference were intense given the speaker's backgrounds what made their message resonate and feel so true was the fact that all of these super tough macho warriors shed real tears when they spoke of their comrades whom they served with who were either wounded or killed in combat. They all were also VERY humble and went out of their way to speak to everyone and anyone at the conference and were completely accessible, which was amazing!

I thought that one positive thing that our many years of wars has done is forge individuals like the Echelon Front team who in turn can teach us civilians VERY important lessons (if we will listen to them) and we can in turn teach these lessons to our families, teams and communities thereby making our communities better all as a result of terrible war.

I believe that the MOST important positive return you can receive from attending a conference like the "Muster" is self reflection and concrete strategies that you are going to employ after the conference on a daily basis to improve yourself! We did a self-assessment exercise based on the main tenants of their leadership method which is to employ the Jocko's "Laws of Combat" which are 1.) Cover and Move; 2.) Simple; 3.) Prioritize and Execute and 4.) Decentralized Command; Below are the results for my self-assessment and the steps I need to take to improve in these areas:

1.) Cover and Move: Teamwork, rather than the individual, is paramount. Breaking down silos to promote mutually supportive efforts to achieve overall mission accomplishment and success for the organization. I found that on this law that I understand my team's mission many times better than my own. That I provide unsolicited support that can interfere with other team member's efficiency.

Because I have done everything my team members have done a million times since I started the business by myself, had to do most everything myself for a long time and am psychotic about the service we provide to our clients which is what my team does now primarily I tend to lose sight of the fact that since the business has grown and I now have a team to provide that client experience that I need to focus on more strategic and systems in the business working ON the business rather than IN it to maximize it's value and sustainability. I often also start or finish tasks that I give my operations manager just to get them done. This is a challenge since all of our team members are part time and if they do not complete something in the few hours they are here I need it done so I finish it.

I will improve in this area by delegating more responsibility to my team and moving some team members to be more than part-time team members. I will have a regular status meeting with my operations manager each Tuesday morning at noon to go over sales and other issues and tasks to provide clear priorities on what needs to be done so I don't step on their toes and need to do it.

2.) Simple: Understands that simplifying plans if fundamental to success. Missions are communicated in a simple, clear, and concise manner so the entire team understands their role and what they are doing to support organizational success.

On this I scored more towards the "Too Little" side of the balance.  My plans are sometimes vague and lack enough direction to be well-executed. Plans fail to address contingencies that are likely to occur. Communication is generally thorough enough to provide understanding. Interaction with team members is infrequent enough to cause lack of clarity. 

Again, due to the part time nature of our team and the desperate hours they work it is difficult to have regular meetings and keep everyone understanding various tasks and plans. To rectify this I will record and send out video text messages discussing plans and meet with my operations manager formally once per week on Tuesday at noon to ensure that our plans our communicated effectively and then to the team as well.

3.) Prioritize and Execute: Understanding priorities and staying ahead of real-time problems. Maintaining a strategic and detached view of problems while providing clear and concise solutions that focus effort on the priority task that will have the most impact for the organization.

In this category I also scored in the "Too Little" side of the balance. I often try to accomplish too much at one time. I spread resources over too many priorities so little gets accomplished. I reassess too often and shifts to new priorities too quickly and I do not always communicate changes to priorities clearly to the team.

I believe that as I mentioned above having a regularly scheduled Tuesday noon status meeting with my operations manager to communicate priorities will go a long way to fixing this. Also having regular once per week meetings with EACH team member will also help move this law to be more balanced in the future.

It is often difficult for me to detach and lead correctly because I view all of my team members and clients as friends and family!

4.) Decentralized Command: Everyone leads! Leaders develop subordinates so they are free to move where they are needed most. The team understands the "why" behind every task to ensure organizational success. 

I scored "Too Little" on this as well. My intent and mission is communicated but not always clear. Some mistakes that negatively impact the mission go unaddressed. Sometimes allows subordinate leaders to go off track. Trust is given with limited assessment or follow up.

I will fix this by having regularly scheduled status meetings with my team. I have put them as appointments in my calendar and will treat them as important as meetings with prospects. This, I believe will significantly improve my communication and expectations with the team.

In the past I have been AWFUL about dealing with team members who are not performing to our standards swiftly and often. Because I view all our team and clients as friends and family it is often difficult to have those difficult conversations when a team member is under performing.  I recognize this and will not have this happen in the future and believe that regular WEEKLY status meetings will go a long way to fix this. 

Other things which I found important from this conference were:

You can't judge how bad ass someone is by their looks. Many of the members of the Echelon Front team are very unassuming looking given what they have been through and their expertise!

There were 750 participants (sold out) at the Muster. Many from the construction industry for some reason. I met Dan who is responsible for the all of Michigan for the ATI physical therapy business who has an office right across the street from us.


Passion in what you do is SO IMPORTANT!

Do a great job no matter how SHITTY you're job is and good things WILL HAPPEN!

Everyone of our classes and events should be looked upon as our own mini "Muster" at our fitness business!

The mission and team is always more important than the leaders and team members.

Leadership is the most important thing in combat, business and life success. Even if you are just leading yourself. If you lead yourself correctly you will have a good life.

Your team and clients must understand the WHY!

Give a team member with a bad attitude more responsibility to lead (make sure it is a task they can be successful at and is not impossible).

The right time to fire someone is when you don't feel bad about it because you have done EVERYTHING you could to support them and help them be successful. But you have to have the tough conversations with them!


If your team is winning and your team is stepping up you are doing a good job as a leader.

Rehears and bounce difficult issues off team members.

Every single decision you make in life effects your long term goals either positively or negatively!

The more decisions you make the better you get at making decisions. Like anything!

Fundamentals are KEY!

There is no growth in the comfort zone!

You must train hard constantly!

Role play challenging client situations with team.

Use the sales FEEL, FELT, FOUND sales technique when trying to have a client / team member do something you need them to do but they are against doing it.


The best companies and organizations have brutally honest self-assessments and self-assess continuously!

To be a great leader you also need to be a great follower.

Conflict isn't GOOD or BAD it's just a FACT OF LIFE!







Schedule a Fitness Consultation