To say that Brandon had an unorthodox childhood would certainly be accurate. He was wailing his lungs out from the instant he was born, which was on June 12, 1974. It seemed as though he screamed for the better part of his first year, staying awake throughout the night and sleeping through the day. That was not a great situation for his mother, Lynn. She and Brandon’s father, Jack, tried everything they could to break that pattern – to no avail.
Brandon was high energy and high activity. crawling and climbing with complete abandon. When he started to walk at just 9 months-old, there was no containing him. Growing up, his parents got him involved in every sport possible, in an effort to channel his energy in a positive direction. That seemed to work. Brandon loved sports and competition – especially snow skiing – and those activities kept him out of trouble.
Brandon’s father, Jack, had created a successful construction company in the small town of Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada. For her part, Lynn was very entrepreneurial. In addition to caring for Brandon and his younger sister, Rhiannon, she started a restaurant with her sister-in-law. When things took a bad turn and Jack lost his business, the family moved to the state of Washington.
That move represented a life change for each family member. For his part, Brandon began to get in fights, but again, channeled his energy into sports. He found a passion for baseball and wrestling. His father was eventually able to once again start a construction business. That went well enough that he and Lynn bought a 50-foot sail boat in hopes of fulfilling their dream of sailing around the world. The boat became the family home. They moved to Seattle, then sailed to Ventura, California to live. Over the next few years, Brandon became a deck hand on a scuba diving boat where he learned diving, drinking, and poker. He was 13 at that point.
Eventually, his parents decided to set off on their global sailing odyssey, which didn’t sit well with Brandon. By the time they reached Tahiti, he and his father were about to come to blows. Jack, threw sixteen-year-old Brandon off the boat, telling him he was on his own. Ironically, at the age of sixteen, Jack had been thrown out of his home by his father. Brandon eventually made his way back to California, going back to work on the dive boat.
One day, a group of Navy SEALs chartered the boat. When they noticed Brandon’s boating, diving, and nautical talents, they told him he should join the Navy. At seventeen, Brandon did just that, eventually making it his mission to become a SEAL. To even be accepted into SEAL training was an enormous accomplishment – the U.S. Navy SEALs are one of the most elite military groups in the world. Once there, only 10-20% of the candidates successfully complete the SEAL training. Brandon was one of the few who graduated.
Once he was a SEAL, Brandon became a sniper. He’d also fallen in love and gotten married. His wife was pregnant with their first child on September 11, 2001. Almost immediately, Brandon was deployed to the Middle East, he and his wife only having enough time to agree on a name for their baby. He would serve two combat tours there – one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Afterwards, Brandon and two others were tapped to update the training procedures at the SEAL sniper school in San Diego. The new training introduced hunting elk and studying positive thinking techniques. Before long, the sniper trainees were consistently scoring perfect 100 on tests, the first time that had happened.
After ten years, Brandon decided it was time to retire from the Navy. He went to work for a year at a company doing contract work in Iraq, before leaving them to start his own business. His first business plan was to build a shooting range in Southern California. He raised $4 million and bought 944 acres in the desert outside of San Diego when his plans were challenged by the Sierra Club. That challenge led to him losing everything – all $4 million of friends and family money.
Unrelated, he and his wife, Gretchen, who had three children by then, divorced. Brandon was at one of the lowest points in his life. However, it wasn’t in his nature, as a man or a SEAL, to be defeated. He was determined to start over.
Brandon is the founder and CEO of the Hurricane Group, a media and e-commerce company currently valued at over $400 million. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, and is committed to supporting the efforts of his fellow SEALs in any manner he can. These are significant and powerful accomplishments for anyone, especially for a person who is just 43 years-old. These results are because Brandon Tyler Webb, is a fearless brand.
Fearless brands are determined, focused, and tenacious
It’s impossible to effectively communicate all of Brandon T. Webb’s life, his accomplishments, and his trials in a single post – and that’s not my goal. Webb’s first book, The Red Circle, (co-authored with John David Mann) chronicle’s much of his life, yet not all of it. Those two have partnered to write several other books which both expand on Webb’s life and share many of the lessons he’s learned through his childhood, his military service, and his successful business endeavors.
Two of those books are The Killing School, which takes a deep dive into the training, practices and psyche of SEAL snipers and Total Focus, a book which shows how Webb applies principles from his military training into his business practices. I urge you to read them both.
For my purposes, I want to focus on what we can learn from Brandon T. Webb when it comes to building a fearless brand and achieving success.
Build mental toughness – As many as 90% of those who first enter SEAL training wash out – only 10-20% of the candidates successfully finish the training. What’s the difference between those who succeed and those who fall short? One might think it has to do with physical prowess, they’d be wrong. The deciding factor is mental toughness and positive thinking – attitude. That’s why Webb introduced positive thinking practices developed by Lanny Bassham, a former Olympic gold-medal shooter, into the SEAL sniper school training. Each of us has the opportunity to build and increase our mental toughness. It’s that positive attitude which will make the difference between achieving success or not.
Stay focused – Shortly after retiring from the Navy, Webb was approached by a very successful business man who wanted to take shooting lessons. Webb had no interest and flippantly said, only for a fee of $1,000 per hour and $500 per hour of travel. To his surprise, his fee was accepted. During the course of the lessons, the businessman counseled Webb, telling him that he needed to focus on one business, that his efforts were too scattered. The next week Brandon called his client and said “I’m through with shooting lessons. I’m taking your advice and getting focused.” The first of seven principles in the book Total Focus is “Front Sight Focus”, a shooter’s term. Webb integrates that military training into his business – and life – always staying on target and embracing the freedom of saying “NO”.
Tell your story – Brandon T. Webb understands the importance of telling one’s story. Realizing the importance of telling his story is what led Webb to writing the books he has co-authored. Doing so is part of his healing process – it’s a path to finding a semblance of peace. Doing so, however, has led to him being criticized in some circles. There is a belief that a SEAL is not supposed to talk about his training, his experiences, or his missions. That’s only partially true. Webb has never shared any information which has not been vetted and approved by the appropriate military channels. We need to learn from Webb. It’s important for us to know our story and to tell our story – it’s a basic tenet of personal branding.
Brandon Webb is a high-achiever and a truly fearless brand. It’s obvious that we are not likely to ever become a Navy SEAL – some may not even aspire to. By the same token, most of us won’t achieve the type of business success that Webb has. Those two facts won’t keep us from building our fearless personal brand. As a start, we need to be mentally tough, stay focused, and tell our story. We need to embrace our passion, find our purpose and be persistent. Doing so will lead us to becoming a fearless personal brand and achieving the success that we desire.