This week’s conversation is with retired U.S. Army Major Matt Brady.

Matt is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was ranked #1 of 940 cadets in leadership for 7 consecutive semesters and graduated in the top 5% of his class overall.

While serving in the Army on active duty, Matt flew over 2,000 hours in the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior (Reconnaissance), MH- 47D, and MH-47G Chinook helicopters (Army Special Operations).

A seasoned combat veteran, he has deployed 12 times to both Iraq and Afghanistan and commanded forces during multiple high stakes/pressure conflicts including the 3rd Infantry Division charge to Baghdad in 2003 and “Operation REDWING,” the tragic SEAL mission depicted in the movie “Lone Survivor.”

His awards include the Air Medal for combat Valor in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bronze Star Medal.

Matt retired from the U.S. Army in late 2016 after two decades of service to the Nation.

There is so much to unpack in this conversation.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the “Lone Survivor” story but for those who aren’t, definitely take a moment and look up it.

While Matt was fortunate enough to survive that mission, the decisions he faced that day lived with him for years afterwards.

And that’s a focal point of this conversation.

What was his thought process like in an incredibly hostile situation? One that was near impossible to prepare for?

How did he cope with those decisions after the fact and how did it impact his life?

You may rethink what you deem as a “difficult decision” and the things that are worth “dwelling on” after listening to this conversation.

A philosophical guidepost I have is: Am I really committed to what I’m doing? If I’m not, I’m not going to waste my time. That goes with relationships and job activities. Can I really commit to this or is it just transactional?

In This Episode:

  • How he knew he wanted to be in military from a young age
  • The role his family played in encouraging him to go to West Point
  • His typical American upbringing was shattered by his brother’s drug use and how that drove him to make his family proud
  • Rebounding after he got into West Point
  • Wanting to please his family as a way of achieving his own happiness
  • Losing loved ones and in short period of time, pulling back from relationships, and that leading to isolation and withdrawal
  • His experience with the Lone Survivor Mission… preparing for a mission that was a one-way ticket
  • Being pulled off the mission and how he dealt with knowing he would have died had he gone
  • Having to react quickly and lead 50 men in on a rescue mission
  • Breaking down his decision making process under intense circumstances
  • How the Lone Survivor Mission has given him perspective on what things in life are actual problems
  • What he dwells on… “The Abort Criteria” …. whether or not he made the right decision to drop the Navy SEALs in the first place
  • The downward spiral his life took as he struggled to move on from what happened
  • How he’s now going about rebuilding and rebalancing his life, looking to seize every moment
  • His personal philosophy


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On doing things for others: “It’s less about expecting things in return and it’s more about just loving the best that I can.”

“I bet it probably helps people more than they think to actually just talk about difficult things instead of keeping it inside.”

“There’s got to be love involved with the relationships that I build and the things that I spend time on.”

“I had to rewire everything that I knew to be true. This was really the turning point for me to live, start living, and not dwell anymore, not fixate. That’s what I had been doing for the past five years.

“My philosophy is to live by the Golden Rule. It’s ‘Do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself.’ Would I be happy if I were on the receiving end of what I’m about to do or what I’m about to say?”

“If I dwell on a decision I made, regardless of the consequences and what it may have led to, it will have significant mental health consequences.”


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U.S. Army Major

U.S. Army Major Matt Brady (Ret) is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He attended Harvard Business School as the only active duty military member of his class, graduating in 2016 with a Master’s degree in Business Administration.