December 29, 2020

They Come From The Water

 

John reconnects with his friend and former Navy SEAL, Adam Weiner. They bask in the glory of the good old days and discuss Adam’s journey to the United States Naval Academy, becoming a SEAL and transitioning back into civilian life. 


Episode Transcript:

John:
Well, we're going to talk a lot about Navy SEAL stuff today. You're a former Navy SEAL. I am very interested in all things Navy SEAL. And we're also going to talk a lot about what you're doing these days anyway, but I want to kind of start with the SEAL stuff. We go back pretty far back to the high school days.

Adam Weiner:
Indeed. It's pretty, it's, it's an awesome opportunity. I love that reconnecting and, you know, obviously we're, we're friends and we have mutual friends, so it's it's been a real pleasure just reconnecting. So this is fun.

John:
And I've talked to a few friends of ours as well, just to see what, what things I should be talking to you about as it pertains to the old days. And there's a lot of things that were, there were good memories. I remember the banjos from back in the day with the the soccer team. You remember any of those, any of those times?

Adam Weiner:
I do. I only fond memories. So yeah, you know a few of us would come out to cheer on the the high school soccer team, Plano Senior High School and specifically you know, I'll call him out. So Ryan Walker was our big star there that we were cheering for. But at any time the, the team would, you know, do something or score a goal, we'd all go into our chant. And you know, of course we had to have our shirts off, our chests painted and our big hats on. But that was that actually, it got a little, you know, I think we got, got a little press. I want to say the Plano Star Courier, got a picture of us in there at one point or another. So there's just great times. Great memories for sure.

John:
Ryan was a star. He is he's good. And the team was good too. They won the state championship. And if we're going to date ourselves here in 1995, I believe.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Junior year, I want to say they were state champs and senior year. I think they went to state and they lost in the finals if I'm not mistaken.

John:
Yeah. But those were good years for soccer and good years for the banjos, right?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. Probably better for soccer, but pretty solid for the banjos as well.

John:
And it was, it was those times for you when you were trying to figure out what, what you're going to do in your life. Just like, just like everybody else was, but you'd kind of, I think, made a decision in your mind of what you wanted to, what you wanted to do.

Adam Weiner:
I did, I, I had aspirations to be in the military and specifically I wanted to attend service academy. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy. It seemed a bit out of reach. So I was, I was kind of preparing to enlist, but as it turns out, you know, I, I, in a roundabout way got myself to the Naval Academy. And so yeah, that was it consumed a great deal of time. Kind of like trying to get my grades up and retaking the SAT many, many times never really getting what I needed to get. And, and then of course the banjos took up kind of the other half of the time.

John:
That was probably yeah, probably would, it would have stayed away from the banjo is maybe what got you to that a little quicker, I think, but like, I think also physically speaking too, you're talking about grades and things, but I mean, you were, you were cross country runner. I know that, and I think that that probably does well for you, especially kind of going forward with, within the Naval Academy and with the SEAL stuff, as well as I think you were really into swimming back in those days, too. Right?

Adam Weiner:
I wanted to, I had it in my head that maybe one day I could put in to be a SEAL. I never really took it too seriously, but seriously enough that I did some prep. So I swam just to stay in shape. I was, I was never a fast swimmer per se, but just wanted to be comfortable in the water and just get, you know, a healthy way to cross train and yeah, for sure. Anyone who does a sport wrestling, cross country, swimming, you know, kind of, you're trapped in your own head to push yourself. I think there's a lot of good kind of individual lessons learned on, you know, that internal conversation of, "Hey, did I give my best today? And do I have a little bit more?" So that, that always helps in, in any endeavor where you're going to be challenged, having those experiences.

John:
You said you wanted to serve, did you have any family experience with that or history rather, or you just had felt like you had a calling for that, or how did that, what was the Genesis of that?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah, it was really just, it was pure. I just liked the idea of giving back. I thought we, you know, had a pretty good deal growing up in North Dallas Plano. And I noticed that kind of the news would catch my eye where places on the other side of the globe were not doing so well. And I thought, gosh, you know, these kids, they didn't do anything to deserve that. I didn't do anything to deserve how good I have it. So it was, it was more of a, hey I like to, I only appreciate things that I earned. And so in a way I just kind of wanted to get back in arrears. And so I was excited for the opportunity to serve. I would say that paired with the fact that I wanted to be successful and I struggled academically. So, you know, I wasn't a total rock, but, and the school didn't come easy to me. And it just seemed like a good fit. You know, I was, yeah. I like the idea of hit now opportunity to travel, work with different people, work on teams. I love being on teams. So just the more I kind of wrap my head around the military, the more it appealed to me and it just clicked. It was like, yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense as it relates to family. My not really. I mean, my father did spend a little bit of time in the Vietnam timeframe and the army reserves, but it wasn't a pleasant experience for him. So it was really just more something that I wanted to do. There was no real family pressure there, if anything, it was probably the other direction.

John:
Okay. So you're swimming, you're trying to get your you're working on your grades, your your cross country experiences, helping you, the banjos are doing everything they can and you get to the point where you, this is what you're going to do. So like walk me through the, the process for being accepted in the Naval Academy. Not everybody gets in there and there's, there's some things you have to do to get in, right?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. I mean, just like any other college you're applying to it, but the, the service, all the service academies require that you have, you have to have a nomination from, you know, your, your respective Congressman or woman. It can come from a state Senator, a US Senator rep, but the whole point of that is like, these are federally funded institutions. So know the idea is that we don't want the, the crazy military guys to run off with the institution. So we will make sure that the civilian led government has an appropriate say so, and that's the Genesis of that, that extra requirement. And people think, Oh, well, you have to be in the pocket of the politician. It's not really that way. I mean, the politicians, they respectively farm out a committee to build a board and you're applying to, did that respective Congressman Congresswoman, just like you would another school. And so yeah, so you have that extra wicked obviously, so that more wickets to jump through, but that's the process and it gets competitive because only so many people from each district can get into the school. So it's tight.

John:
Okay. So do you remember who you got the nomination from and what happens from there?

Adam Weiner:
So I got my nomination from Congressman, Dick Army. And what happens from there is, you know, that's exciting if you know, you get your nomination. So that's back into that day, that was a physical letter and actually showed up in the mailbox. There was no email in 1996, or maybe there was, but I didn't have one.

John:
Now, is there like a, is there like a party that ensues there? Do you have a

Adam Weiner:
You know what, I remember playing basketball with some of our mutual friends and I started running around cause I was, you know, I was looking forward and my buddy tackled me and he, he was excited for me that I had gotten in, but actually it was like, I just got the nomination. Well, you know, it's not nothing that's not getting in. So, but once you have the nomination, then yeah. You know, you got a real shot now. And then I did get a letter from the Naval Academy after that. And you're either going to get accepted or you're not. And then there's, you know, a group of folks that can go to a prep school. So you essentially do, we call it 13th grade, if you will, and reapply. And so in short that's what I did the long of it is that it was a tough decision because, you know, there's the excitement of, hey, you're going to go to college and if not, you're going to enlist. You don't want to go to high school for another year. But because it was very laser focused for a very real opportunity, the following year to get into the Academy and the the likelihood was jacked way up once you do something like that. So yeah, it was like, I'm all in. I got the support of my parents and I went off to a boarding school that was actually out in New Jersey. So it was definitely a year of more cultural awareness growing up in Dallas, Texas, and then going out to New Jersey for a boarding school reapplied. And I got in the following year, but that, that's how it played out for me.

John:
Okay. So now you're at the Naval Academy, which is again, no small feat. So we're, we're really making some big leaps here to get there. So kind of tell me about what happens at the Naval Academy. What's life like there?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. It was similar to what it was like in Lubbock for you I'm sure. At Texas tech, right.

John:
I would imagine it was a little bit different.

Adam Weiner:
It's yeah, it's a, yeah, it's a military institution. So it's very regimented as far as the schedule goes. And I think a good way to summarize the Naval Academy is it's a leadership laboratory. So among other things that they're focused on teaching, you're called a midshipman at the Naval Academy, the students is leadership. And so you really can't be a great leader unless you can appreciate what it means to be a good follower. I guess that's my opinion. I think the Academy has that opinion too. Maybe others don't, but so your freshman year is you learn to be a follower and then your sophomore year you're like this mentor. You're just happy that you're not a freshmen, freshmen are called plebes. And so you're, you're helping train the freshmen, but in a very mentoring way. And then as a junior or second class, that's kind of the, the heart of the training is that junior to freshmen is a responsibility to develop and train those freshmen. And then as a senior, you're kind of have opportunities to have, we call it executive level leadership where you, you got some of the pain of being a bit removed from, we'll say the ground truth or the real training, but you're, you're ultimately responsible. So it kind of gives you a taste of all those layers in that leadership ladder. And you know, and meanwhile, obviously you're going to class, it's a very heavy math science curriculum. Everyone graduates with a bachelor of science and they purposely tried to, I don't say try, they're very successful at overloading your schedule. So you learn time management. You know, one of the things in the service is that the stakes are high. And a lot of times you don't have the time you would want to be thorough enough in something that you're dealing with in the art of prioritization gets to be very critical. So just spending four years in that environment kind of naturally gets you accustomed to learning how to prioritize. And you got to get comfortable, you know, letting some things go, it's kind of the, the metaphor of, you know, what are the, the rubber balls that can bounce and what are the glass balls that can't be dropped because they'll break, but it's a four-year program. You know, I'll say that's an accelerated program these days. It's not a five or a six year deal. So it's four years are failing. And it's a packed four years. The summers involve a summer training. So you go out into the fleet and join up with ships or Marine Corps units or submarine units and get a taste of what it's like to be in the fleet. And now upon graduation there you graduate. It's also your commission days. So you go from a midshipman to an Ensign in the Navy or a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

John:
You graduated at a pretty unique time in world history.

Adam Weiner:
Well, obviously 9-11 is, you know, a day we won't ever forget. And certainly changed the dynamic of many things in May of 2001 was when I graduated. So to us at the time, right? Yeah.

John:
Is when for you, or maybe this is how it goes with most people in Naval Academy that decided they want to be a SEAL. When did you decide you wanted to be a SEAL?

Adam Weiner:
I made a conscious decision my sophomore year, because there was just a tremendous amount of growth that I needed to accomplish if it was even going to be a reasonable quest. So you're already under a lot of stress for your time, you know, and you have to pass your classes, otherwise you're not going to graduate. So I just was pretty thoughtful about it and made a decision that I did want to put in for it. And the only way I could put in for reasonably speaking to have any shot at making it, I had had to get a lot stronger. So I started carving out the time saying, you know, it's okay. The worst thing that happens is you get stronger and you don't get it, but it's okay. You still graduate. You can still serve. And there's other opportunities that I would have been very happy and proud to do, but I wanted to be a SEAL. And so I just started taking the requisite steps to prepare myself. So that was my sophomore year.

John:
Is there like a, a path or things that you, somebody would do normally if you'd make that decision at some point that these, other than what you just said, the things that you were doing is there, is there some like unofficial pattern or path or something that you take through the Naval Academy or

Adam Weiner:
Anything that you're going for? So in that case, there's to become a SEAL, there are certain things that you'd have to do physically. So I was concerned about the physical attributes of it, you know, and having a distance running background that wasn't one of the areas of concern. So it was really almost every other space. So I, I just started getting up early, getting out to the pull-up bars and just getting a lot of reps under me of a lot of push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups knowing that I had to be, I had be able to like, carry your body through the obstacle course. And I just, I was so far from what I had seen was necessary. And so I guess what I'm trying to say is it's different relative to the strengths that a person has, because those are different. And there's certain things that are critical.

Adam Weiner:
So certain weaknesses that you have, you don't have to be the best at it, but you have to be over a certain bar. And so that's how I structured my training. And I think that's natural. I don't think that was unique. I think anybody that would go for something like that is going to key in, on those areas that they're concerned about, you know, the, the critical failure line. And as far as like a path at the Naval Academy, there kind of was an unofficial path because you see the same people at the pool, at the pull-up bar doing similar type workouts. And, you know, there's a friendship that builds there. And if not a friendship, there's a deep mutual respect cause you're all kind of have some of the same, you know, as you get closer to your, into your junior year, some of the same tryout gates, there's certain milestones that you have to participate in to put in for it.

John:
Okay, what is it about SEALs that makes them different than other special ops or special forces?

Adam Weiner:
Good question. It's actually one, I think the military wrestles with a lot, but I, I would say it's just the maritime component of it. So the, at a very fundamental level that the, the SEAL community, you know, that the forefathers and SEAL communities, underwater demolition teams, so that's, so they got their start in the water and demolition. And so the, the overlap, as it relates to let's say, army special forces or, you know, air force, combat controllers or PJ's is the SEALs are coming from the water. So coming from the water, going over the beach, then going on in patrol, or then going potentially through a house, but probably not an ideal setup. And then it just so happens that nowadays in the service, there is a lot of overlap in the missions, but I think the differentiator for the SEAL community is that there's something that requires over the beach or underwater. It's not to say that some of the other services don't do that because clearly, you know, the Marines spend plenty of time coming from the water, but in this spec ops realm, the SEAL community spends more time and resources training to that mission set.

John:
Okay. So like a fictional situation where we need the SEALs, like, what is the, what's the job that you guys are designed to do?

Adam Weiner:
So the acronym stands for sea air land SEAL, and that's referencing the ability to be able to, to serve the function of surveillance, reconnaissance direct action and a host of others, but I'll kind of leave it. Those is like some basic big umbrellas of mission sets and be able to do those missions starting and leaving from the sea, the air or the land. And again, I think what differentiates the SEAL community is the, the level at which we can do those missions and still come from the sea and go back out to the sea.

John:
Okay. So you graduated from the Naval Academy and at that point you're you want to be a SEAL. So do you apply to be a SEAL? And if so, what happens from there?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. So you do so everybody at the service academy puts in an application, if you will, there's a process of call it service selection, you know, what warfare community you want to be a part of an aviator, drive submarines, drive ships, be a Navy SEAL. So, yeah, so you put in your application and there there's a process. There's, you know, each community has an interview board and there's they call it the needs of the Navy. So there's a certain amount of spots available. Billets is the word that they would use. And, you know, it's a numbers game. Some communities have more spots than others. My year it was very selective. The SEAL community, it's always selective meaning there's, there's more people that put in for it than they have built available. So there were 16 spots in my year for, for our class and I'd say just shy of a hundred put in for it.

Adam Weiner:
And it was a great company. And to this day, I'd say it's one of the most kind of humbling in a positive way. I mean, I couldn't believe that I was one of 16 from the group that put in, but it just really betting that that's the process. So then what happens is, okay, then, you know, that that's about it. Does that happen right before you start second semester? I think, or right. Yeah. Right about then. So you got about a semester to go before you graduate, you know what you're going to do. And upon graduation, you know, you literally get orders, paper, print it out. And your orders from the Naval Academy to, in the case of the SEAL, you going out to basic underwater, demolition SEAL school in Coronado, California, and, and you'll have a different start date. So they'll kind of stagger out of the 16, you know, four would be in a certain month and for another, for like three months later and you, you have a class and there was a BUD/S class number. So like I was BUD/S class 238.

John:
How many people are in that class?

Adam Weiner:
So we started, we started with 150 and we didn't finish. We finish, we certainly didn't finish with 150, but yeah, the class, the classes they can't, I don't think they can take more than 150. It's kinda kind of a cap on the program they're running, but maybe, maybe they can, or now I'm not sure.

John:
It sounds like anywhere between one and 16 of them came from the Naval Academy, where did the other, where the other people come from?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. So there's, so there's a certain percentage of the folks that are officers and that's a smaller number. Our class had a lot of officers think normally you'd have like 8%, maybe, you know, five to 10% of a class is going to be officers. And then the rest are enlisted guys, meaning they're coming from either the fleet or they came, I'll say kind of straight from bootcamp. And the other officers are coming from another officer, a session program, if not the Naval Academy. So there, they were part of a ROTC unit at Penn State University, let's say, or there are guys that go through officer candidate school, and then they come out to SEAL training. But I'd say on the officer side, those are the three paths. And then the rest of the classes enlisted sailors that were either in the fleet and work their way to earn a spot, to go over to BUD/S, or they kind of came straight through from bootcamp. And there's different reasons for why somebody can and can't do that. But that, that, that's kind of your, that's your group that makes up the 150.

John:
So how long does BUD/S last?

Adam Weiner:
So it's about six months, you know, through, is that right? The, the phases first phase, there's three phases to call, you know, two months of phase, not quite, and it's front loaded on the attrition. So there's hell week is kind of this storied crucible. And that happens the fourth week, the third or the fourth week. So

John:
Yeah, I think that's what everybody knows about or romanticizes about the SEALs is how we can get in wet and Sandy and all that, you know? I, I can't even, I'm not gonna do it any justice as far as what happens there, but that that's where most people leave. If they're going to leave, is that right?

Adam Weiner:
That's what the numbers show. And that was certainly the case with my class. And typically that's the, the trend. So you will, there's a tremendous amount of attrition before you even start hell week. Like my class, we were, we lost a third of the class just in those first three weeks. So then we had a hundred in hell week, and then we finished hell week with, with 36 standing on the beach. So then, you know, you go from 150 to 36 and you're a month in. And so now it really kind of narrows the focus harder to hide.

John:
But there's still attrition after that. Right.

Adam Weiner:
There is it's much less, but yeah, there definitely is. Yeah.

John:
Is that mostly due to like injury or some sort of physical thing that may be out of their control?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Generally speaking, well injury for sure. Unfortunately, and then also just a standard of performance. So pool comp was one that almost got me. So that's where, since you're like crawling on all fours, the bottom of the pool with your diving gear on, and the instructors just tackle you underwater and tie all your hoses into knots and you have to like undo everything under water. So that'll get a lot of people and it's just a standard, you know, it's not, you got four shots at it. You fail, you fail. Land nav is one that sometimes we'll get some people that's in third phase, sometimes on the range, you got guys that just struggle to understand the safety issues with the firearms and safety violations can get somebody dropped from the program. So that happens, but those are, that starts to get into the onesie twosies ground. But clearly, you know, that's pretty painful for a guy when they're that far through the program and they get bumped from land nav or making safety violations on the range.

John:
You mentioned underwater, I'm fascinated by underwater. Take me under water. What, what kind of things do you guys do underwater? Where, I mean, are you, are you always with air? I mean, they're, they're tying up your tubes and your, you can't breathe. You go through training about holding breath and, and those kinds of things?

Adam Weiner:
So ironically there's no, there's no intense training on breath holding. Cause I, I kinda, I was stationed out in Hawaii. So there were guys that were getting into free diving and stuff. So I, I have seen in witness incredible breath holds. I, I can not hold a candle to. It's more about just being comfortable under water and yeah, you're going to have to be able to hold your breath for a little bit, but nothing, you know, no one wants to caliber breath is going on. It's more about it's getting now. It's kind of dark and scary and being able to just keep your composure and still accomplish what you have to do. I think that's the goal. And so the training, you know, creates certain, certain milestones to kind of help you get to that point. You know, one of the things that you'll do in second phase is you, they call it combat swimmer.

Adam Weiner:
So you're, you have essentially a compass and, you know, watch and you have to figure out, you call it your kick count. And you're kind of, you're doing land navigation. If you will underwater with your compass and they drop you off at a starting point and underwater, you kind of have to navigate your way to appear. Let's say so it's, it's pretty overwhelming. Cause you're kind of like the first time you hear this, like, come on seriously, but you listen to what they say and it works as it's, it's amazing. Like just thinking about it now kind of blows me away now I'm in my, yeah. Married with three kids, domesticated, not something I'm suiting up to do these days.

John:
So when they drop you off or are you in a group of people or you by yourself or both for those types of training missions.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. You're never going to be by yourself. So that's just kind of one of the, the rules of the community. So we're all about teams and so the, the, the smallest you'd ever slimmed down would just be with a partner called a swim buddy. And as a matter of fact, that's how you do all your dives. You always have a swim buddy. So yeah. So that, that, part's pretty cool. You know, it'd be rough to be all on. You're all by yourself. But yeah, to answer your question, they, you know, you plan a dive, there's a known point where everybody gets dropped off. So let's say you got like a dozen guys, you've got six swim pairs and kind of everyone just kind of rolls out side of the boat and off you go. And ironically, like, you're worried about bumping into, you know, like a dolphin or something under there, but it's generally, it's usually just the other guys. It's like another swim pair. You end up getting tangled up with some that

John:
You've blown stuff up underwater.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Which I don't want to leaves a lot to be desired. I wish I could have had a chance to blow up more stuff underwater, but I've done training with underwater demolition. Sadly. I've never really blown up something for, for good reason for mission. Just preparing for the mission that in that case we never got called to do, but yeah, that's gotta be pretty cool though. It's great. Yeah. Some good pictures too. Right. You got to back before digital, when you actually had to catch it on film and to try to get the big water balloon coming up there.

John:
Yeah. Get the one shot and then you had to get it developed. Right. That's right. I don't know. I don't know if people even know that anymore.

Adam Weiner:
So I, that was right when I was going through training. Cause I remember I got my first digital camera just as I was going through the advanced side. I remember I got my first digital camera. That would be like 2000. It's like 2002 timeframe.

John:
So you make it through BUD/S and you're now a SEAL. I'm sure there's a pretty big ceremony for that. And the small number of guys that made it through all that you guys are probably a pretty good group or a pretty tight bunch of guys by the end of that time. Right?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. Some just, again, anything in my, you know shared misery can bring a group together.

John:
And then you get your first deployment call or mission call or whatever, whatever it's called, what's going through your head. I mean, at this point, this is, this is really happening.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. And then we're really blessed in the SEAL community to get so much solid training. So for me, there's quite a timeline there even relative to, you know, good friends that I have, that when it's the Marine Corps, I'm still on the advanced side of trainings and they're like deployed to Iraq and going up to Kodiak, Alaska for winter worker training. But I started BUD/S in September, October of 2001. And I showed up to my first SEAL team 2003. Yeah. It's like April of 2003. So essentially, you know, it's like two years of training before you show up kind of day one at your first SEAL team. And then you got to get onto a platoon, which I would say normally happens fast, but sometimes there's a bit of a backup. And so in my case, I kind of had to wait for a little bit to get on a platoon, but to answer your question.
Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Eventually I got on my first platoon, there was a lot of tragic loss that the team had faced prior to our deployment. And a lot of people familiar with like the lone survivor stories. So I'm familiar with that. So those, those guys were on alpha platoon. I was on Charlotte platoon. There's only four platoons at the team I was at out in Hawaii SEAL delivery vehicle team one that, that obviously, you know, makes it, I'll say more real for lack of a better term, but you know, what it did was, you know, you go around to, to mourn the loss of your friends and you're attending those funerals and kind of see the aftermath of, kind of people that have their affairs in order or don't have their affairs in order. And it's not coming at you, you're at the moment from like an administrative perspective, but really just kind of appreciating that, you know, you love your friends, you love your family and it's bad enough, you know, if you're not coming home from deployment alive, I'll say, but you really want the people to know, you know, like, you're you did, you did what you wanted to do.

Adam Weiner:
Like saying I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees. And so I, I re I remember for me, I was, that was kind of what was that? 24 after all those, like when that happened, I was on my first platoon. We had a huge mission that we were training for. So there's heavy stress in the platoon. And I just remember, like, I actually sat down and I had, when I had some time off and I like wrote my will and I wrote a letter to my brother and, you know, it was a little like overly dramatic, probably just cause I was emotional after losing those guys. But it, it was actually really helpful cause it just kind of set my mind right. It's kind of like, yeah, this is, you know, there's no guarantees signed up for this proud to be a part of it sort of means it's part of the service and not breaking any new precedent and you know, it's mission focus and it's a weird place to be when you're more scared of failing than you are dying. But that's where I was on my first mission. And you know, I, I'm not, I don't know if I could have got there mentally, you know, if those guys didn't come back, I'd like to say that I could have, but that wasn't my personal experience. So I don't know. But yeah, it's, you really got to get your head in a very serious place and, and you're hanging it out there. And we were like that, that first mission on that platoon that we had, it was, it was a big deal and thankfully it was a huge success. So I don't know a little bit, long-winded answer to a short question, but it's happened to some, some, some harsh memories from, from that timeframe for me anyways.

John:
I'm sure it does. You went on to, I'm probably going to butcher the rankings and stuff here. I don't know them, but did you go on to be a commander?

Adam Weiner:
I phone commander is what we'd say in the Navy. Right? So a Lieutenant commander will answer the phones commander. I would never do that, but so yeah, I, I came off active duty. I had 14 years. Yeah, just over 14 years of active duty time. And I was a Lieutenant commander and then I joined the reserves for a little bit and I actually made commander in the reserves. But as far as my active duty time, I got out as a Lieutenant. Now,

John:
What is the role of the Lieutenant commander in the SEALs?

Adam Weiner:
Well, you know, Lieutenant commander is just a rank and it, it's more important. It's kind of like, what's your function? Like, what's your role? It depends where you are for me. You know, I, I was an operations officer at a SEAL team and I rose up to become the executive officer to a SEAL team. So on the operations officer, that's kind of the nerve center, you're kind of making sure all the platoons, get their training and get their gear, their deployment missions, their training lines up with their missions. You know, all the logistics are lined up to get everybody out the door. And that's just when you were in Garrison that doesn't, it's not what happened. You know, once you're deployed, then, then you've got all deployment responsibilities that an executive officer is kind of your second in command. So you've got a commanding officer. That's the top banana, that's a commander of full commander. And the Lieutenant commander executive officer is supporting the commanding officer. Generally speaking like a simple way of saying it is the, the operations officer is taking care of everything outside the fence line. So you think you actually have a physical geographic physical location of the team. And the executive officer is all the issues inside the fence line to include, you know, like family issues, personal issues, pay issues. And that that's a lot of how the functions get split up. The CO's just kind of in charge of everything is up and out and down and in when they want it to be. But I, I guess my answer to you is somebody tells me they're a Lieutenant commander. It doesn't mean much to me other than they served between, let's say nine and 14 years on active duty, you know, but they could be the best officer that I've ever seen, or it could be somebody that leaves a lot to be desired. Typically once somebody is given the responsibility of a certain function, that will kind of be an indicator of how they're thought of, of hopefully their peers, but then, you know, certainly the more senior members of the community and the boards that kind of place those positions. So is that it's just military culture. It's just kind of like, I'll say it's similar to corporate net, you know, I'm sure there's politics involved on both sides there.

John:
During your 14 years as a SEAL, I know you can't get real specific on anything, but were there places that you were that you're just like, I can't believe I'm here. I mean, you were, were you lots of places? Were there things you did where you're like, I just, I can't believe I'm doing this right now? Like is this real?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. And yes. Yeah. And you just, you just get used to that. It's kinda like one of the rules that I had when I went into SEAL training was expect the unexpected, you know, so the only disappointment to myself would be, you know, with, you know, your internal dialogue, why are you surprised? Like if you totally appreciate that everything is going to be unexpected, nothing should surprise you. And that worked well for me. And so I just kind of carried that through my experience on active duty, you know, you're so limited in what, you know, you know, you're always fighting the learning curve of there's so much more you should know, and then you have no idea where they're going to send you and then what mission is. So it's almost like there's not a lot of time to do the wow factor, but there is time to do it. And typically it's, you know, at the end of the day, when you can take a shower, you're like, where am I? Right. Like, you know, I'm in Bangladesh right now. It's like, wow, all right. Or on a nuclear submarine, you know, underway. And I loved it. I just feel lucky and blessed. I mean, I wanted to do it. And I was around amazing people. And it, it, at times it was a blast and you know, most of the time it was very hard work, but it was meaningful work. And then there are times when it was a blast. So, you know, it was all good as far as I was concerned.

John:
And life after being in the Navy and, and being a SEAL you learned all kinds of invaluable things. And one of the most compelling things I've heard you talk about is intentionalism and mindset and, and coaching and all those types of things. So that's kind of what you do now.

Adam Weiner:
It is. I mean, that's been a passion of mine since I've gotten out a lot of people talk about the military transition from, you know, taking the uniform off to, you know, we'll say putting on the business attire for a civilian job. Of course it's a tough transition, but I mean, I'm just here to say for me, it's like, I think I'm just now finishing the transition. It's been over six years, I out in the summer of 2015 and knocking on the door here at 2021, it's been rough for me, meaning I've been disappointed in how I've been all over the place as far as like, you know, pick a profession like in stick to it. I'm not somebody who quits things obviously, but you know, it's this precious life of like, Hey, what are you going to dedicate yourself to? And I, and I can appreciate much more now being where I'm at, why so many veterans struggle with the transition, because you're so blessed to have like this purpose driven profession where you want to wear the uniform and you're, you're fighting for God and country that it just doesn't parallel over. And so there's a kind of a mourning period, I think personally, and to get over that and then just understand how you're going to repurpose yourself and still, still do good in other ways. But yeah, at least for me, it took me a while. The coaching piece was like my therapy with the transition. So, you know, I've had several corporate jobs, but I just wanted to, I missed the leadership. I missed like the mentoring and I couldn't believe what I was seeing in grown adults and leadership positions missing what I thought were kind of basic things to people that I worked with in the military. So I got real passionate about trying to share those techniques. So, like you say, intentionalism, and, you know, having a purpose, purposeful mindset and sharing with people, how I used that to make, you know, things I wanted to do real and not just allow them to be a dream, but be purposeful in reality and, and bridge that gap. And then I've kind of morphed that into really talking to just about individual character, because one of the things that's been real upsetting to see is there's so much sacrifice to individual character for just superficial crap, as it relates to positions with jobs, sales numbers. And I just watched people gradually good people chip away at their integrity because you know, they're going to get extra percentage here or there that's kind of been my, been a message that I really been sticking on is really. So I, I like to talk about journey greatly that it doesn't matter where you end up, it matters how you journey, you know, that's the real stuff. That's what you're most proud of. So I don't know at this point, what question you asked and how I'm talking about that, but you got me going a little bit on my soap box that way, so.

John:
You're also connected with Victory Strategies. What do you do with them?

Adam Weiner:
What happened was I actually started my own company and I'm terrible at marketing myself, I've learned. And I love to do the work and I've, you know, I'm married, I've got three young kids. And so I, I, wasn't going to make it, full-time doing the coaching. I was already in the finance space. I partnered with a great guy and I'm really enjoying being a financial planner full time. And then it was just kind of like a side household. So it was no big deal and I would do it occasionally. It was just much less. But then I got connected with Victory Strategies and it's just been, it's just a blessing. It really makes me believe it's not coincidence. Cause it's just such a great team. It's kind of this boutique consulting group that has great experience of success in different spaces. And we teach a lot of leadership, a lot of team building and do it in the form of executive coaching workshops in some keynote speaking. But that was just the perfect fit because what I love the most about Victory Strategies is this selfish piece of working alongside these other folks. And we're a little family, you know, we're a little, you know, in my work world that I, I still love like a little SEAL platoon where we kind of feed off each other and we share ideas and we can learn from each other. And then, you know, it's a lot of fun when we can go out as a group and we can help other people develop and we can actually see real progress. It's, you know, it's that old adage, the, the best gift in life is giving not receiving. So that is work that I love to do. And I'm really blessed that I get to do it with a great team and I don't have to worry about any of the marketing stuff. Yeah. They do a great job with the marketing and I just like doing the work and then you know, when there's work to do there, I do it. And I've really gotten to enjoy my day job, working with my clients, just doing retirement planning. I use a lot of the same skills I've learned in the Navy for risk mitigation and understanding the importance of contingency planning and just putting a lot of math behind it. So go figure all that math science curriculum from the Academy finally paid off for me. Right.

John:
It all comes full circle. All right, Adam. Well, we started with the banjos and the good old high school days and we ended with the family man possibly filling out spreadsheets and going to meetings and just living life as a former Navy SEAL. So I want to thank you for your service and anybody that served to protect our great country and everything you've done and continue to do in the future. And thanks for coming on with me. And hopefully we can, we can talk again.

Adam Weiner:
Well, I really appreciate it, John. I'd love that. And I think it's cool what you're doing. I love the title and we'll stay connected. I mean, the perspective you have with what you've gone through and just keeping the conversation going with your podcast. It's, it's great. And I really appreciate that. I had an opportunity to be a part of it. Thank you.