Mike started EF Overwatch as part of Jocko Willink’s Echelon Front. We talk about the Veteran Transition Map, and the importance of one’s self-assessment about strengths and weaknesses. We talk about the one thing that Mike would encourage Veterans to leave behind in the military, and why this one thing is such a risk. What it’s like starting two organizations and why Mike thinks Veterans should definitely start a for-profit company over a non-profit company. We talk about Extreme Ownership - and why this mindset is revolutionizing the business world.
Mike Sarraille is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer, a graduate of the University of Texas McCombs Business School, and now a leadership instructor, speaker and strategic advisor for Echelon Front. He is President of Echelon Front Overwatch, a company that specializes in the recruiting, training and placement of U.S special operations forces veterans with companies seeking leaders with an Extreme Ownership mindset to build their ranks and dominate on their battlefields. Mike served fifteen years as an officer in the SEAL Teams and five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted Recon Marine and Scout-Sniper. Mike served in SEAL Team THREE where he led major combat operations that played a pivotal role in the Battle of Ramadi in 2006. Mike assumed duties as the primary leadership instructor for all officers graduating from the SEAL training pipeline. Mike was then selected for assignment to the Joint Special Operations Command where he completed multiple combat deployments.
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Resources for self-knowledge
Clifton Strengths test - https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/
One Score - Big 5 personality Test - https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/IPIP-BFFM/
BTU #54 - How Breakline Education is Helping Veterans; an interview with Bethany Coates - https://www.beyondtheuniform.io/blog/btu-54-how-breakline-education-is-helping-veterans-an-interview-with-bethany-coates?rq=bethany%20coates
More info about Mike:
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining us today from Austin, TX is Mike Sarraille. Mike Sarraille is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer, a graduate of the University of Texas McCombs Business School, and now a leadership instructor, speaker and strategic advisor for Echelon Front. He is President of Echelon Front Overwatch, a company that specializes in the recruiting, training and placement of U.S special operations forces veterans with companies seeking leaders with an Extreme Ownership mindset to build their ranks and dominate on their battlefields. Mike served fifteen years as an officer in the SEAL Teams and five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an enlisted Recon Marine and Scout-Sniper. Mike served in SEAL Team THREE where he led major combat operations that played a pivotal role in the Battle of Ramadi in 2006. Mike assumed duties as the primary leadership instructor for all officers graduating from the SEAL training pipeline. Mike was then selected for assignment to the Joint Special Operations Command where he completed multiple combat deployments.
What was your transition out of the military like?
I was a Navy ROTC instructor for my last two years in the military. I also completed my MBA at McCombs Business School during that time. I started a non-profit at that time as well. Eventually, the Chancellor of Texas A&M offered me a job which I took. But soon after, I received a more lucrative offer from Jocko Willink and felt that I could make a bigger impact in that role. So I went to work for him and also started EF Overwatch.
How did that connection with Jocko come about?
We served on SEAL Team 3 together. He was my Task Unit Commander. He was a coach and mentor to me and still is. We always stayed in touch. I probably should have gone straight to Echelon Front right after the military.
Where did the idea of EF Overwatch come from?
Jocko had already built a successful company when I joined Echelon Front. On the other side, with VETTED I was dealing with catapulting good military leaders into corporate America. We came up with an equation that talent + leadership = victory.
At the end of the day, talent acquisition is about leadership. The reason we chose to focus on the Special Operations community is because they are some of the vetted people in America. In their military training, they are tested day in and day out.
Great companies are always looking to add talented people to their organizations. At Echelon Front and EF Overwatch, we feel that we’re able to pair Special Ops members with organizations. We see EF Overwatch as the premier talent leadership recruiting company.
Another thing that sets us apart is that once we place the military leaders, we then stay with them for up to 12 months afterwards to assist in their transition into corporate America.
Do you have advice for people transitioning out of the military?
Every community within the military is different. But for any military leader coming out, I would advise starting your transition early. You wouldn’t step out on a mission in Afghanistan or Iraq without doing diligent research. You should approach your military transition in the same way. You need to be thorough. Start two years before you’re going to transition and learn about yourself and what you are looking for in a civilian job. Find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Take everything the military taught you and bring that into the civilian side.
I would tell veterans to leave behind that sense of humility that you had in the military. You need to sell yourself during the transition process and in interviews.
Be willing to invest in yourself. If you spend $1000 on resume writing and interview preparation services but then end up with an $80,000 job, that’s a complete return on investment.
Can you talk more about EF Overwatch’s Transition Journey Map?
You can find multiple assessments at our website. In the interview process, you need to be able to speak to your strengths but you need to be able to speak about your weakness as well and what you do to minimize or overcome those weakness.
Can you talk a little bit more about VETTED?
VETTED came out of some conversations during my time at the University of Texas. I stood up a team of about 20 veterans and did several months of research analyzing military transitions and what the gaps were. We ran a pilot program for transitioning veterans and we had a 100% hiring rate with a starting salary averaging $95,000.
What advice do you have for veterans wanting to start their own company?
I would advise going the for-profit route. I learned a lot in the non-profit side but ultimately I think you can have a bigger impact on the for-profit side.
Statistics show that 9 out of 10 new businesses fail so you have to be ready to go all in. You can be passionate about an idea but if consumers won’t buy it, there is no market. You have to emotionally detach from your product and figure out if you have something consumers actually want.
With entrepreneurship, you’ll experience the highs of highs and the lows of lows. When I started VETTED, I was a Lieutenant Commander and put about $80,000 of my own money into the project. I didn’t get any of that money back but seeing the veterans graduate from the program was all the return on investment I needed.
What are your thoughts on the value of an MBA?
If you have the time and you’re committed to it, getting an MBA will definitely pay dividends. During our research for VETTED, we gave an assessment on business literacy to a number of military members. They did not do very well compared to veterans that had an MBA. So an MBA will give you some hard skills that you didn’t get from the military.
What was your experience like going through the Stanford Ignite program?
It’s an incredible program. You’re surrounded by 35 high performing veterans across all services and communities. It was three weeks of drinking from a fire hose. I definitely recommend it.
How would you describe extreme ownership?
During the Battle of Ramadi in 2006, we were thrust into a very bad situation. The United States was ultimately successful in that battle not because of military force but because of leadership. It was at that time that Jocko came up with the concept of extreme ownership but didn’t actually coin the term until a few years later.
We now see these concepts helping with problems not only in the military but outside of it as well. It’s about taking responsibility rather than pointing fingers during difficult situations. We believe that if everyone in your company adopts these principles, your company will find tremendous success.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?
I remember right around the 15 year mark in my military career. Me and many of my fellow SEALs were sitting around talking and we had this idea that we were easily going to find $200,000 jobs when we left the military. We were really wrong about that assumption. Transitioning out of the military is very difficult but you can do it. You have to take extreme ownership over your transition. You are solely responsible for your transition. You have to put a lot of work into it.
The typical first question in an interview is “Tell us about yourself.” That will set the tone for your entire interview. You need to be ready to sell yourself and your value you to that organization.
Even myself, I’m still figuring things out about about one year into my transition. The best thing you can do is talk to people in industries you want to be in. Networking and mentorship will make a huge difference.