Modern Leadership with Jake Carlson
Today’s Guest Expert: Diego Ugalde Diego is a retired Navy SEAL turned CEO of The Trident Approach which combines the best of SEAL team practices along with consciousness, emotional intelligence, and connection to humanity.
3 Top Takeaways: The Trident Approach with Diego Ugalde
Pay attention to the subtle signs and that will take you where you want to go.
You will always know the answer once you clear the static.
If you find yourself and heal yourself, your trauma will turn into your strength.
Memorable Moment “ ‘Creating significance in the lives of others is more gratifying than being selfish and only worrying about yourself’.
The Trident Approach with Diego Ugalde - 252
A comment from Diego:
Thanks so much to Jake Carlson at Moder Leadership! In this podcast, I answered Jake’s questions about how I became interested in becoming a SEAL.
Further on, we discuss a deep lesson I learned by reading The Lion Tracker’s Guide To Life where Boyd Varty discusses his deep philosophy statement of “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know exactly how we’re going to get there.” This way of thinking has had a profound influence on how I coach people because everyone has a path that is unique to themselves but the endstate of healing and growing is always the same.
Later, we dicuss how not healing oursleves can carry over in the form of pushing our trauma on to others.
We close out the discussion by talking about the impact Luck had on my career and I added small insight as to how leaders can Combat Workforce Turnover! Enjoy!
Hey, guys. Jake Carlson here, host of the Modern Leadership podcast. Are you ready to focus on amplifying your leadership superpowers? Let's go. Good morning. My friends and fellow elite achievers is happy Thanksgiving. I hope that you are enjoying a break from work and an amazing day with family. Of course, this is Modern Leadership where we sit down each week with authors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders to explore their journey. We dive into their ups and downs, and ultimately we try to figure out or show that everything is Figureoutable today's guest expert. You're going to love Diego Ugalde. Diego is a retired Navy Seal turned CEO of the Trident Approach, which combines the best of Sill team practices along with consciousness, emotional intelligence, and connection to humanity. Diego, welcome to the show. How are you today? Fantastic. Jake, thanks so much for having me on. Really appreciate it. This is going to be a lot of fun because if there's anybody who's been through the ups and downs and shown that everything is Figureoutable, it's you and your fellow So brothers and sisters. So let's go in the time machine just a little bit. Take us back to maybe junior high high school. Back before you embarked on this journey, what did you have in mind? What were you thinking that you were going to aspire to be as you how they say, grow up? Well, this is a funny story. Growing up, I had a very strong relationship by chance with our high school nurse. I used to hang out with her all the time. She used to give me strategies on how to deal with really bad report cards, news that I had to pass on to my father. And one day it was a very terrible report card. And at the end, after she finished calming me down, she was like, J. Oh, what do you think you want to do, by the way? I was like, yeah, I think I want to be a doctor. And she's like, dude, I got a one point 63. Great point average. Where were you growing up? What location? About an hour north of San Francisco in a town called Fairfield. Got you so halfway in between San Francisco and Sacramento. And she's like, do you know what a paramedic is? I was like, well, not really. And she's like, well, they're kind of like doctors, but instead of going to school for ten years, they go to school for about ten months and they save lives. It's amazing. So, man, when I heard about that, I was totally hooked. I was like, man, that is the thing for me. Yeah. And then one day I saw the movie Navy Seals with Charlie Sheen on it, and I'm just blown away because these guys are like jumping out of planes. They're shooting guns or going after bad guys are driving fast and all this. I'm about halfway through the movie, I realized that there was a paramedic on their team. I'm like, that's it. This is me. This is what I'm going to do. Here we go. And I was kind of off to the races from there. When you take off to the races, as you say, how do you plan to do this? Because you don't just fill out an application to become a Navy Seal the next day. What's the process that you got to go through, and how did you find out what you needed to do? Yeah. So Fairfield is actually a military town. It's very close to Travis Air Force Base, which is one of the largest Air Force bases in the world. It's where the Jelly Belly factory is, isn't it? Yes, sir. And the Budweiser Brewery, all that. We got some exciting stuff going on in Fairfield. Yeah. So we had a recruiting station there in the mall, and I was at the age where we kind of cruised around the mall for fun, so I knew exactly where to go. And I remember walking in there and saying, hey, I want to be a Navy Seal. And they're like, you're asking what you're talking about? And so they brought me through the whole process as military. Like, as you can imagine, pretty much held my hand all the way through the process. So there wasn't a lot of research or digging that I had to do. It was like, man, if you walk into a recruiter's office wanting to join in the military, they're going to do everything they can to make sure that all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed to make sure that you actually get in. Yeah, I was thinking that as far as joining the military, but I imagine they get a lot of kids that walk up and say, I want to be a Navy still. And they're like, yeah, let's get you into the Navy first. And then we'll talk about being a Seal. Is that kind of the way that happens? You go into the broad definition of Navy, and then from there, you specialize in being a sale. Well, if I can just be real honest, the recruiters don't really care if you want to be a Seal or a Machinist mate or riding around in submarines and things like that. If you want just to be brutally honest, they're just like car salesmen. Whatever I got to do to get you out of here with a signed contract is what's going to happen. So if I walk in there, tell them I want to be a Seal, they're going to tell me, well, you're going to be the greatest Seal that ever was and all that kind of thing. So they're not like father figures, I would say for the most part. For sure, they're amazing recruiters all over the country. But for the most part, whatever they got to do to get you to sign on the line is what they're going to do. And so then they ship you off to what? Basic training? Yeah. So back when I went through, there were three basic trainings for the Navy basic training locations. One was in Florida, the one that exists now out near Chicago called Great Lakes. And then the one that I went to was in San Diego, which doesn't exist anymore. So I was very lucky to be able to stay in San Diego. And they sent me there and then away I went. And did you end up going into doing paramedic type stuff? Yes. These days every job in the Navy is called a rating. Right now, being a Seal is its own rating. But back then there were certain jobs in the Navy that qualified to apply to become a Seal. And so I wanted to be a medic. So I signed a contract that said right after boot camp, I would go straight on to the Navy's medic course, which would make me a medic, and then allow me to go on to Seal training after that. So, yeah, after I graduated boot camp, I went to hospital for my school, also in San Diego, which also doesn't exist anymore. That's also in Great Lakes now. And then from there I was saying before that I was off to the races, but for sure it was more like an ultramarathon. Yeah. It took me about ten years to get there, ultimately. So now you find yourself in the sales, you find yourself a Navy Seal. Was it all that you hoped it would be? Was there a lot of jumping out of planes and chasing down bad guys? As it turns out? Yes, we did, for sure. I mean, the thing for me, though, is that it took me ten years to become a Seal. It takes most people about six months. But I had to go through a whole lot of things, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of failures, a lot of just really huge. I mean, there weren't even bumps in the road. They were just like the road disappeared sort of thing. And mountains came in between myself and the goal. So, yes, when I finally did ultimately end up getting into the Seal teams, in a lot of ways, I think probably just like most things, in a lot of ways, it was exactly what I was hoping it would be. And then in other ways it was not. I was absolutely surprised at how much PowerPoint skills I had to build and keep honed in on administrative stuff, being the Medicaid to make sure that guy's medical records were up to date. So there were all those things that I wasn't necessarily paying attention to, but I was in during a time of war. So I went to Iraq a bunch of times, and that's all we did was go after bad guys and jumping out of planes, riding helicopters, shooting guns, and the whole thing, all of that was real. Yeah. We've had a few Navy Seals and some CIA agents come on the show and talk. And that's one of the things that's universally found is they don't show all the paperwork and the PowerPoints. When you watch the movies, it's only the airplanes and the repelling and things like that. But the reality is it's a job just like every other job. It's got moments that are what you expected it to be. And you've got moments where it's like, oh, boy, did I really sign up and go through ten years of training in order to put a PowerPoint slide together? As you're going through that process and you experience some of the downs in the job, in the role, how do you overcome that? What mindset do you need to kind of go to the next level and kind of power through some of the tough stuff so that you can enjoy the fun stuff of being whatever role that you may be in. During my sort of ten year journey, I ended up becoming a medic for the Marines. The Marines, they don't have their own medics organic part of their units. It's this historical thing. It's an amazing honor. And it goes back to the very beginning of the Marine Corps where they get their medics from the Navy. And so I spent a lot of time with Marines. I went on deployments with them, I lived with them, trained with them, and that kind of thing. So no matter how bad things got in the field, teams with our annual training with, like, sexual harassment and don't do drugs and here's cybersecurity and all that stuff, nothing was as bad as some of the Hoops that we had to jump through, some of the requirements that were made of us when I was serving with the Marines. So to me, there was nothing really in the steel teams that I can remember since I retired in 2018, but that I can remember. I was like, this is God awful. I don't want to be here. I made a terrible decision that never crossed my mind. Yes. And one of the things we talk about a lot on the show is figure out about this idea that we're going to face obstacles. There's going to be mountains in our way or there's going to be obstacles that aren't speed bumps. I mean, these are literal, real obstacles that we're going to have to climb over, go through, go around, whatever it may be. We love the terminology, figure out about. We'd love to hear a story maybe from your past, your experiences either working as a medic within the Marines or as a Seal where you faced an obstacle and then you had to really go up and over, around or through that obstacle and really show that it was figure outtable. Yeah. So I think it's a really amazing concept, this whole idea figure out about the fact that everything is the reason why I think that is so amazing is because I genuinely believe that at our core, like the highest level of ourselves, has answers for everything we're actually looking for. I was reading this book. It's called The Line Tracker's Guide to Life by Boyd Vardy. And he's this guy who goes through this process of learning to become a lion tracker in South Africa, and he's being taught by the best lion tracker in the country. And so oftentimes they wouldn't have these tourists come on these trucks with them and say, Where is he going? In the lion track? And this quote was kind of said throughout the book, I don't know where we're going, but I know exactly how we're going to get there. And what that means is you just pay attention to the subtle signs of little paw print depressions or maybe some brushed up hair that was left off the side of a tree. And that will take you to where you want to go. You don't have to know the answer. But what I find out a lot these days and also with myself is there's a lot of static that gets in the way from this, knowing that we have from our true self, that really kind of can manifest itself through the ego. Right. So what I have learned in terms of whenever I kind of run up to any problem set that I don't necessarily have answers to or when people come to me in a coaching capacity, how do I figure this out? I'm like, don't worry, you already know. We just need to clear the static out and we don't know where we're going, but we know exactly how to get there. So I think having that mindset on a daily basis, whenever struggle or resistance or obstacles come has always been very helpful to me. So just getting calm and getting quiet, removing the static and answers always seem to manifest and reveal themselves. I love that quote. I mean, that's a quote that's going to stick with me. You'll notice that I was writing that down as we were talking, because this idea that we may not know ultimately where we're going to end up, we know what we're going after. We know our goal. We know our objective. We know how to measure if we've been successful. We know that we don't know where this path is ultimately going to take us. But we do know that we can follow these exact signs, the footprints, the pop prints, the weeds, or whatever it may be. I love this idea. So this is a great opportunity to kind of transition from your experience in the sales. You retired now. You run a company, the Trident approach. Tell us a little bit about what the Trident approach is, what you do, and kind of what it represents. Yeah. So the Trident approached is our approach to being, which encompasses leadership, your role on a team, or even with families. And so the most common question I got when I was active duty from corporate executives was, how is it that you guys communicate and work so well together in the Phillips teams? Yeah. And for sure, I had answers to that. But I also realized that almost always I would respond what we do and also combine that with kind of what I wish that we would do. And those things that I wish that we would do is really had a heavy connection to humanity and empathy and emotional intelligence and compassion and those types of things which you might imagine aren't necessarily huge traits in the Seal community for obvious reasons. There's just a different survival is what we're talking about here. Yeah, but you don't need to survive in business. Not really. Not in that way. We like to make comments or suggestions that maybe we do, but it really isn't. You are not on a battlefield, plain and simple, and thank God you're not. So when I retired and I did this whole huge thing of I finally became a Seal after ten years, and I retired from the community after 20 years of service. I was a senior chief. I've been a war a bunch of times that save lives. I've done all these things when I got to the mountaintop, and I was looking around about this place that was supposed to be everything. It was not enough. And I didn't know at the time what I needed to do to what you needed more. Right. Because you had your eye on this goal, this focus. You are headed that way. Then when you got there, you go, Wait a minute. I need something else. Yeah. So then we ran into the Honor Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that helps special operations guys like myself transition from the military to the civilian world. And they are really all about helping you find purpose. And when I went through there, I was like, Man, I know exactly what I want to do. I've heard this question so many times, how do you guys do this? And I can create a curriculum to help people understand the very best of what we do in the field teams in terms of culture, trust, leadership, communication teamwork, and all that. And then I can also teach this whole idea of understanding the deepest parts of yourself and getting connected to consciousness. So when your teams are not necessarily working on all cylinders, it's not like a production thing. It's a human thing. And so how can I help? And so, yeah, we've been in business since 2018, and we've kind of worked all over the world with different companies and organizations and families and sports teams to help them find this whole other level that our current culture are just not places that we tend to look. We're really excited about that, and we love doing what we do. And let's dive into that a little bit more. So what are some of these areas that we often find ourselves either avoiding or putting on the back burner or not really giving priority to that we need to. And I'm speaking specifically here to business leaders, small business leaders that own maybe a five to seven to ten person shop. What are we overlooking? What are we missing that we need to pay attention to? Everything starts with the self. Everything. There has never been a time where I've had enough time to spend with a client who had some sort of issue externally in the workforce or whatever that I couldn't help them to find the root of the issue within themselves. For example, we were out with the family and very successful father, and we were in a very nice place. I'm like, hey, how are you feeling? He's like, man, it always takes me a couple of days to unwind. Like when you go on vacation, you still got to kind of wind down. I've got seven days of vacation and it takes me three days to unwind that kind of thing. I'm raising my hand. That's me, Diego. That's me right now. So help me here, my friend. Well, it was funny, because one of the reasons why we were there, he was talking about his son. He's like, now my son is involved in all these things. He's got everything you can imagine from the best schools, the best tutors to sports and all these things. And he has time in the day to get all the stuff done, but he just doesn't do it. Why is it. Yes, doesn't worry about money, doesn't have all the pressures that he's going to have as he continues to age. Yeah, for sure. And to me, as we're talking about, it all starts with the self. You could very easily see that this dad was like 1000 miles an hour, 24 hours a day, get all this stuff done, make sure that his company is functioning properly. But he was taking that mindset and was also taking it home and everyone else. I think parents a lot of times see kids as their legacy instead of their own individual, special human beings. And so kids can see, Whoa, I need some me time. I need some time where I'm just staring at a wall and not doing anything. And we lose that whole idea when we become adults. We jampack our calendars all the way through and we're like, Why can't I relax? Why can't I do this? Because we don't have any training. The kids already have all the training they need. It's just we sometimes as adults, can overpack them because, dude, you got 15 minutes. You can do this. You can make this happen. You can do this, whatever. And so this big problem about his kid not necessarily being able to meet because any human can meet a timeline. They can. If you want me to be there at eight, I can be there at eight, but if it happens over and over again when I'm not, there's something else going on there. So we did talk about what really can look like, what it can look like to really appropriately manage your time so that your kid can meet these timelines and maybe he doesn't have to accomplish everything under the sun by the time he's twelve years old. That was a really powerful lesson, as always. There's a lot of crying going on and a lot of really good shifting and moving going on. And he was like, and then at the end when we saw it, I asked, how are you? And I realized, man, that I do this to myself. I'm like, thank God, because I do everything in my power not to tell anybody anything. I just wipe the line, try everything I could do guided discovery, right. You want the person that you're working with, the person you're coaching to discover for themselves what their opportunity, what the growth factor is, because if you tell them, it's just like your kids, right? I can tell my kids to go do the dishes. They'll go do the dishes because dad told them to, but they're going to grumble the whole time. But if I can help them learn the importance and help them decide for themselves to do this action or to do that, well, then it sticks. Then it becomes not I did this because of dad, but I did this because it's the right thing or because it will help me. Yeah. And I don't know that I help anybody decide anything either, because that's my agenda. So that would be my ego going on to them all. I do the best I can, sort of paint a picture of what's going on and they look for themselves and they come up with a decision or not again, for themselves. It doesn't matter really, but I try to have as little influence on what their decision making is as possible, because for sure, I don't know everything. I don't know anything, to be honest with you, but I'm really good at helping people find their way. So I think the more I endurgia myself or insert myself, the more problematic things can be. They're not Diego, they never will be and they don't want to be. They want to be damned. So, yeah, I think it's a really important thing regarding our approach. We just don't tell people what to do. We just help them. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they find their way. And that's something that's really rewarding for us. And I think this dovetails greatly with being a business leader and a business owner because you can go and give your team a checklist of things that they can and need to get accomplished and they'll go get them accomplished, and then they'll come back to you and show you the list of things that they did. But when you want to get your team to work cohesively as a team, you need everybody having input, using their own special skill set and background, their own knowledge and their own passions and desires to move your company in a way that is positive for everybody, but may not be a way that you see it, Diego. I think sometimes as a business owner, I see kind of with binoculars or Blinders on, I can only see in one direction. And as I allow my team to help expand my vision, to show me things that I didn't consider or didn't even know to consider, I think we can all move so much further. And the important thing at this time in stage in our lives and in the country, we're seeing a lot of people leaving the workforce or leaving jobs. We call it the great exodus or the great resignation, right. Where everybody's resigning and going elsewhere. How do we combat that? Well, we get our teams on the same page with us working together. So one of the things I like to talk about, Diego, is this idea of luck in our jobs and our companies and our careers in the life that you played. What role did luck play, if any, in where you're at today? That's a huge question. And if we have time, I'd also like to go back to what you were talking about before, about combating, how the workforce leaving. But yeah, so I look at luck in a couple of different ways. I don't know what it is because I'm certain that luck has inserted its way in my life without me ever even knowing it. I mean, things like missing a green light or whatever, you don't know how these things are going to manifest and unfold life can be really magical that way, I think. But one way that I know clearly that luck had its influence on my life was just even making it through Seal training, for sure, there was preparation and training and all that, but that doesn't matter to everyone. Some people break their hips in bud, some people get budge is basic underwater demolition Seal training. That's what we call sort of the Seal boot camp, supposed to last six months. Some guys get pneumonia, some guys get sick, some guys have family emergencies outside and they have to leave. And there are amazing human beings that have gone to buds and not made it through for all kinds of reasons. The first time I didn't make it through, I wasn't running fast and I got injured and all this stuff. And I was like, you're not welcome here. You got to leave. And the second time I went through, I separated my shoulder, but I still ended up being able to make it through. But not everyone is that lucky. So, yeah, that is one clear way for me to tell like, yes, luck is around it's there. Here's how it helped me, because for sure it doesn't matter that I wanted this thing more than anything. It doesn't matter that I worked for ten years for that to kind of come to pass if it wasn't in the cars and it wasn't going to happen. So I was grateful that it did work out. Yeah, that's a great perspective on that. And I'd really love to dive in a little bit more on that, but I think we need to go back because you were so excited to talk to us about the great resignation that this is a great time in history for us to really look at this like we've never seen before. So tell me, what was on your mind as we were going through that? Yeah. Two things kind of crossed my mind. One was when you were talking about having everybody contribute to the team. This kind of goes back a little bit to some of the things that I share with families and sports teams and companies about what the teams do. That's amazing. And what you were talking about with unleashing every individual is a daily practice in the Seal community. All they do is they come to us and say, this guy, we need to arrest him. Go figure it out. And you got like me as a medic, I'm planning the medical scenario. And then we got the Breacher who's figuring out how to gain access into the location. We got the intel guys finding out how we're going to get there. We got the point man who's trying to figure out how to patrol all these things. So all of these it is the way we do things. So coming to a place or working in an organization where the leadership says, hey, this is what we want to do, and this is how you're going to do it. It's completely foreign to me. And I can see how detrimental that can be to the team because all of a sudden you're disengaged and you're like, all right, just tell me what to do and what leader wants their team saying, what do I have to do? You want to unleash these people a micromanaging leader, a leader who basically just wants you to check the box and be done and go home, and they're not going to progress. Right. But the other part to that that I thought about when you mentioned it is I think that there's a real big reason. One of the big reasons for these exodus is because in our culture, it's not necessarily common for us to be balanced and really understand who we are and heal from all the traumas that are just a factor of being alive. And so what happens is I'm not happy here. This guy, he sucks, and so does she. And I'm completely sick of this. So I quit. And then they go to the next job. And the thing is, they are bringing themselves with themselves. Yeah. They didn't leave some of those problems behind they brought them. Right? So I think that if we are going to I don't know that I would use the word personally combat, because forcing anything in these things, who knows what that's going to create? But just giving people space to really and genuinely approach their mental health and succeed through and fix things and heal from things that have nothing to do with work, that can show them that there is fulfillment to be had anywhere and everywhere. It's why you see some of these villages of people who just don't have running water and they're celebrating and smiling and laughing because we don't need all of these things. They have found something within that creates the happiness. That's all that they need. And that happiness is there with you wherever you work. So you leaving job after job to go search for something external. You're never going to find it. As I was saying before, it all starts with the self. So if you find yourself and you heal yourself and turn your biggest traumas, no matter what they are, no matter what they are, into your strengths, you can work anywhere and be as happy as you want. And that is the Trident approach. Diego, we've had so much fun on this podcast, and I look at the time, and we've already run past our 30 minutes. So we're going to have to wrap this up. But before we let you go, we got a couple of other questions that we want to ask you. One is we want to get a book recommendation from you. We want to know what the number one book that you recommend for small business owners and elite achievers is. Yeah. So this book is Stealing Fire, How Silicon Valley, the Navy Seals and Maverick scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Jamie Will and Stephen Kotler. And it's just a really cool way of it's, just an insight as to the shift that we are going through as a culture from everything we do and being motivated and driven by fear to everything we do, being motivated and driven through love and what that can create. And one of the things that it creates is flow in teams and flow in the self. The flow being you're just like, man, I don't even know flow being in this interview that you and I were doing, at least the time was just gone. And I'm having a great time. And you and I are connected for sure. And there's good energy going by. I mean, you can spend a day at work in that capacity. And so the book kind of goes into how to tap into that. And I feel like if you have a really good handle on that, you can implement a lot of that stuff for yourself and for your teams. We're like, oh, man, this is 400. And let's go and want to go to the bar. Right? And we love Stephen Kotler around here. We've read a bunch of his stuff. He's co authored some of our favorite books with some other authors that are great personalities that we love. So that's a great recommendation. Sure appreciate you sharing it. Before we let you go, Diego, how can we find out more about the Trident approach? How do we connect with you and learn more about what you are up to? So our website is the tridentapproach.com. You can reach me at Diego so that's D-I-E-G-O, same as San Diego, email@example.com. We can connect from there. We got a book coming out next year. We got training, virtual training. We got impersonal training stuff that's going on. So yes, you go to any one of those places and we can for sure connect and just love to learn more about your audience. And then we love working with human beings for sure. Well, when that book comes out, we'll have to have you back on to pump that one up a little bit and learn more about it. Until then, of course, everything we talked about they can find on the show notes. Diego, it's been a blast hanging out with you. Thank you for coming on. Thank you for being this week's modern leader. Jay, thanks so much for having me on and I really, absolutely appreciate you, buddy.
All right, my friends, happy Thanksgiving. I know you're kind of sitting around right now feeling all kind of full and happy and you're not thinking about any more food, but I tell you, you missed a great conversation with Diego and I after we stopped recording and we had to talk about our favorite steakhouses, our favorite barbecue joints, our favorite places to eat in California. And I was sharing, of course, Phil's barbecue down in San Diego. Love it. And then he shared with me, Harris, what do you call it? Harry's restaurant, Harris's restaurant up in Kettleman city, California. Boy, we just had a lot of fun. And I know you're probably sitting there going, oh, no more food, Jake. But isn't that what's great about these relationships, these podcasts? I love getting on the phone, talking to these guys gals, learning about their business, Learning about their leadership traits, Learning about the lessons that they have to teach us, but also connecting as humans. It's just fun to see their background and hear their stories. Of course, everything that we talked about in this episode, episode number 252 can be found on the show notes for this page, which is jakeacarlson.com ML. Two, five, two. And until next week, I want to wish you the very best of days an even better happy Thanksgiving. And remember, everything is figure out.
Thanks for listening to the modern leadership podcast. You can find me on Facebook at Speaker Jake on Twitter at jakeakarson, of course, the website jakeacarson.com. See you there.