This week’s conversation is with Admiral Bill Owens on leadership, courage, and relationships.
Bill is currently the executive chairman and co-founder of Red Bison Advisory Group, a company which identifies opportunities with proven enterprises in China, the Middle East, and the United States and creates dynamic partnerships focusing on: natural resources (oil, gas and fertilizer plants), real estate, and information, communication and technology.
He was previously chairman the board of CenturyLink Telecom, the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and was also on the advisory board at SAP USA.
The list goes on and on of important businesses that Bill has been involved with.
Bill began his career as a nuclear submariner. He served on four strategic nuclear-powered submarines and three nuclear attack submarines, including tours as commanding officer aboard the USS Sam Houston and USS City of Corpus Christi. Owens spent a total of 4,000 days (more than 10 years) aboard submarines, including duty in Vietnam.
He was appointed to vice chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking military office in the United States, by Bill Clinton in March 1994.
It’s through these experiences – serving both in combat and in Washington that has given Bill a unique perspective on the world.
What’s become a common theme in these conversations is the guests have clarity. They know where they came from and what they stand for.
Bill sees himself as a utilitarian. A person who seeks the greatest good for the greatest number.
In this conversation, Bill discusses how he came to live by those principles and shares some incredible stories from serving abroad and beyond.
It takes courage and conviction to make many of the decisions Bill has been faced with and we dive into what being courageous comes down to.
We also discuss what it will take for companies to be successful in the rapidly evolving digital world and why having a mindset that embraces change will be vital going forward.
It was truly a treat getting to spend time with Bill.
“I’m willing to weather the storm to seek the greatest good for the greatest number.”
In This Episode:
- Grew up in North Dakota with not little knowledge of the outside world
- How he made his way from North Dakota to Annapolis to join the NAVY
- His unique perspective shaped from serving both in combat and in Washington
- Why he believes the military is way too large
- The mentality he developed in the military: “I’m ok and you’re ok”
- What he learned from his time working on submarines during the Cold War
- How he would go about fixing the political issues with North Korea
- The way the Vietnam War shaped his views on the military
- What he learned at Oxford University in England with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
- How he dealt with struggling to express compassion
- What being courageous comes down to
- The keys to remaining calm in intense situations
- What it will take for companies to be successful in the digital world
- Why having a mindset that embraces change matters.
- Habit to build: Expose yourself to different people
- Gratitude fuels optimism
- What keeps him up at night -His thoughts on mastery
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“I know who I am, right or wrong. I feel pretty confident about this. If you have confidence that you know who you are, that you are the result of great experiences, and great people, and great associations, then you’ll feel quite comfortable doing the right thing.”
“I think that courage is something that can be taught by example. When we are exposed to it, we can find a way to do what’s best.”
“There is is a lot to learn from exposing ourselves in business and in life to people who are very different than us and believing them to be as credible as we are. Not being biased and listening whether it’s the news or whom we associate with.”
“When you’re a master of life, I think you feel good about who you are. Then you have to give credit to all those things that have happened to you that make you feel good about who you are. All of us have a lot of those blessings if we just allow ourselves to think about them and re-celebrate those good things in are life. They far outweigh the bad things.”
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