I provide security for rich people on vacation. We’ll do just about anything except acquire drugs and be photographed.

Former Navy SEALs can join the VIP client’s dive trips. Reethi Rah/Embark Beyond
As part of Servius, former Navy SEALs will join his VIP clients’ dive trips as security.

  • Mike (not his real name), 40, is a former Navy SEAL whose company provides security for wealthy clients’ vacations.
  • Mike’s team inspects ports and yachts, finds secure restaurants, and runs background checks on local staff.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Claire Turrell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mike spoke anonymously due to privacy concerns. His identity has been verified by Insider.

I used to move US Special Forces troops around Iraq and Afghanistan. As a Navy Seal, I was awarded Bronze Star Medal in Iraq and a Bronze Star with V for Valor in Afghanistan. Now I move rich families around the world on vacation.

The idea for the Servius Group came after my cofounder Ethan (not his real name) was on vacation with a wealthy family at the Monaco Yacht Show. The family and other guests would travel between yachts in a small boat, and he was shocked when one of the guests revealed he was carrying $1 million in cash in his bag.

In summer 2020, Ethan and I decided to launch a company that would organize vacations with Special Forces-trained security. Our team consists of ex-Special Forces personnel, such as former Navy SEALs, Rangers, and Marines. Each team member has completed 10 to 12 combat tours, so they are masters of risk mitigation. We are also multilingual – I personally speak English, French, and Farsi.

We start working for clients a month before they travel.

Servius Group will join guests on chartered yachts or are hired to protect onboard art collections. Credit Azimut/Embark Beyond.
Servius often joins guests on chartered yachts to protect onboard art collections and valuables.

We check routes, find English-speaking doctors, and see where the nearest US embassy and police stations are located. We send an advanced team to the destination and make sure their chosen restaurant isn’t in a seedy part of town. We look for the red flags.

We also vet staff working in venues and track private jets. And if a VIP family is enjoying a coastal or lake holiday, and their teenagers are using jet skis or cars, we tag the vehicles and track them for the parents. We also offer cyber protection for bank accounts and our client’s identity.

When we travel, we look like a member of the family.

We don’t wear suits or earpieces. While our services are expensive, we can make our clients’ travel insurance cheaper. When you’re entering a channel known for piracy on a $200,000 vacation, it helps to have ex-Special Forces personnel on board. We protect the family, but we can also protect the yacht’s contents – some of our client’s yachts have multi-million-dollar art collections on board.

Our first clients came by word of mouth, and we now work with luxury travel advisors Embark Beyond to support their VIP guests.

While some of our clients just want to relax on the beach, others want to have a life-changing experience.

Safaris are popular with Servius's guests. Credit Singita/Embark Beyond
Safaris are popular with Servius’s guests.

We have a client who enjoys scuba diving for three months at a time. We dived with him in French Polynesia where it’s common to see humpback whales and manta rays. Safari is also really popular with our guests – we’ve been to the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and South Africa. We’ve even joined clients on chartered yachts to the South Pole.

We recently provided security for a bachelor party that was held on a yacht in Miami. The men wanted to spend the day on the boat cruising around and visit some clubs at night. And no, we didn’t leave anyone behind.

If they want to trek to Everest Base Camp, as one of our clients did recently, we’ll first make a baseline assessment of their physical abilities to know that they can meet the physical demands of the trip.

If we have a guest who has never skydived before, we’ll hook them up with a Special Forces instructor. And if it’s your first-time scuba diving, our ex-Navy SEALs will be next to you with a safety line. But if it’s skiing, it would be more fun for the client if they book professional lessons. Are you going to find an ex-Special Forces person on the nursery slope? No.

The job only gets challenging for us when unexpected guests join the party, but we’re used to dealing with last-minute requests.

As former Special Forces, we’re trained for extractions. We once had a client who found themselves in a dangerous and vulnerable situation, so they contacted us and asked for an extraction. We got them out of that location, collected their valuables from elsewhere in the world, and took them both to a safe place.

So far, there’s only been one request we couldn’t accept, which was to take 15 guys to South America with 24 hours’ notice. The government said it was too short of a notice for visa approval.

We try to help our clients as much as possible, but there are two things we won’t do: We won’t help acquire drugs and we won’t be photographed.

Our guests could hire a ski guide or scuba diving instructor to join them on their trips, but they want to hear our stories. A ski guide may be an expert, but he’s never deployed in combat or sat in at a tribal meeting in Afghanistan.

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Navy SEAL ‘hell week’ is worse than you’ve heard. Here’s how candidates who make it through recover from it.

Navy SEALs Hell Week training
A Navy SEAL instructor assists Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students during a Hell Week surf drill, in Coronado, California, April 15, 2003.

  • The “hell week” that awaits Navy SEAL candidates has been widely documented and is well known.
  • What’s rarely discussed is the immediate aftermath of Hell Week and how successful candidates recover from the ordeal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For those curious about Hell Week, that fabled and terrible ordeal that all prospective Navy SEALs endure during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, there is plenty of information out there in the various forms of media to satiate that desire to experience second-hand a small slice of that infamous week.

There are countless books that discuss it, a fair amount of blog posts and articles that describe it, a handful of podcasts that converse about it, a couple of television documentaries that have documented it, and some scenes in fictional movies and television shows that have attempted to depict the ordeal, usually largely inaccurately (“Lone Survivor” is a rare exception, only because the movie uses actual documentary footage in its opening scenes).

Almost universally, those depictions – both fictional and true – fail to adequately convey to the uninitiated just how terrible and miserable Hell Week truly is.

That includes the articles that this author has written about the subject. It is not always a failing of the authors (surely not!), podcasters, or documentarians (though sometimes it is), but rather, the near-impossibility of translating into words and images Hell Week’s physical discomfort, tiredness, pain, cold, desperation, and meat-grinding churn.

Without making the reader, viewer, or listener feel that hallucination-inducing bone tiredness, that sand-chaffed full-body pain, or that saturated hypothermic cold, one can never really give them a true sense of Hell Week’s insidious nature.

US Navy SEALs
Navy Seal trainees during Hell Week at a beach in Coronado, California in August 2010.

What you do not often find – if ever, in fact – is a discussion of the immediate aftermath of Hell Week.

Most of the depictions end with Hell Week being “secured” (concluded) by the instructors, and then the weary, dazed, struggling BUD/S trainees staggering away into the distance, those still remaining having successfully passed through their terrible crucible. Where do they go? What happens to them? How the hell do they recover and continue through the rest of the training? (Hell Week is in First Phase, and usually around 20 weeks of training remain.)

Have no fear: I am going to tell you. Now, keep in mind, my experience was two-plus decades ago, but little has changed in this regard. I know that because my cousin just finished Hell Week last year.

In fact, not much had changed when I finished in 1999 from when my dad went though it almost 50 years ago. BUD/S is nothing if not consistent in its relentless culling of the not-quite-worthy.

So the slow, limping stagger of that SEAL trainee ends with a quick medical check-up by the on-site medical staff at BUD/S. They essentially want to make sure you are not going to immediately succumb to a flesh-eating bacteria, pneumonia, or some other Hell Week-induced ailment.

If you pass that exam (some do not, and are admitted into the clinic), you are given a whole large pizza and a large bottle of some rehydrating fluid, such as Gatorade or an equivalent. Then you are told that you are confined to your barracks room on base for the next 18-24 hours.

This is so that the staff can keep you on-site in case some medical emergency befalls you in the aftermath of what you just endured.

Navy SEAL BUD/S Hell Week
US Navy SEAL candidates during BUD/S training in Coronado, California, January 23, 2018.

You are also given your first brown t-shirt, stenciled with your last name across the chest. This is a huge deal for a BUD/S student, because it signifies that you have made it through Hell Week.

It differentiates you from the less-worthy and unproven “white shirts” who have yet to pass through it. It is almost unfathomable that you were wearing a tattered and soiled white t-shirt just a short time prior to receiving your brown t-shirt. You are not the same person you once were. You feel that, to your core.

Adorned in that warm and dry symbol of your newly-earned prestige, you take that pizza and drink, and if you are like me, you eat every last bite because you are ravenous, drink as much of the liquid as you can without puking, then you take the hottest shower your body can endure without going into shock (because all of the sudden, it is experiencing warmth again).

Then you call your loved ones for 17 seconds and say “I made it,” after which you fall into your bed and sleep for 18 straight hours, waking only to pee (hopefully), or to take some pain-relief medication because you hurt all over.

If you are like my buddy, Pete, a fellow officer who started and finished BUD/S with me, you don’t even make it through your pizza, or to the shower, before you collapse onto your rack in a coma-like sleep.

Navy SEAL hell week
A sailor in First Phase of BUD/S training recovers during a lunch break, August 18, 2016. This sailor successfully completed “Hell Week,” the previous week.

When I awoke for a pee break at one point, a nagging feeling told me that I should go check on Pete in his room next to mine. I found him, mouth agape, with one leg dangling off the made bed, and the pizza box open on his stomach, with about half the pizza remaining. A line of ants had formed, and was marching up the leg of the bed, onto his pizza, where each ant salvaged what he could, then marched back down the way he had come.

I stared in my post-Hell Week daze, mumbled, “Pete, there are ants on you,” or something similarly inane, and then stumbled back to my bed to fall back asleep.

The next morning, after 18 hours of body and mind-healing REM sleep – despite the trauma-induced sweating and instructor-filled nightmares – I returned to Pete’s room to find him snuggled under his covers, the pizza box out on the front stoop of his barracks room. I was relieved that he too had not been eaten by the ants.

At that point, we were free to leave the BUD/S compound, as we were on most weekends during training. This was Saturday morning. (Hell Week was secured around 1 PM Friday – I think – for our class.)

I had arranged with my Dad prior to Hell Week’s start that we would meet up Saturday morning, if I made it. He had flown into town to be there to see me finish. He took me, Pete, and a couple of other guys who had also made it through the week to the most delicious, filling, glorious breakfast I have ever consumed.

I do not even remember what I ate, but I do know that it was around 10,000 calories of breakfast food and pie at the Coronado Marie Callender’s restaurant. I am pretty sure I experienced explosive diarrhea afterward, but it was so worth it for that meal.

Navy SEAL BUD/S Hell Week
US Navy SEAL candidates during BUD/S training in Coronado, California, April 13, 2018.

The rest of that day and weekend are a blur, but I know I slept a lot more, and limped everywhere I went. I might have seen a movie, and I know I polished my boots and prepped for the next week of training. On Monday, we were right back into BUD/S, barely healed and recovered from Hell Week.

Thankfully, the week following Hell Week at that time focused mostly on classroom instruction in hydrographic reconnaissance.

The instructors still sent us to the surf to get wet and sandy, and generally tormented us, but the physical torture was muted that week. We still spent lots of time in the cold water, shivering and hating it, but we did recover enough physically to go on.

So there you have it, the not-quite-as-glamorous post-Hell Week routine. It ain’t pretty, and it sure as hell was not enough to be completely and fully physically or mentally recovered from the ordeal, but it was enough to allow us to survive the rest of BUD/S, and to graduate.

Just like I cannot adequately convey to you how shitty Hell Week is, nor can I convey the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment one feels in getting through it. You will just have to take my word for it.

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US Navy says it will not take further action against retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher for his remarks on how a captured enemy fighter died

Edward Gallagher
U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher (R), with wife Andrea Gallagher, leaves court after being acquitted of most of the serious charges against him during his court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California , U.S., July 2, 2019.

  • Retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was cleared after being accused of murdering a prisoner of war.
  • But in May, he said that he and other SEALs killed him by practicing medical procedures on him.
  • The Navy said it would not take action against him because it could not corroborate this story.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Navy said Tuesday that it does not plan to take action against retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher after he said in May that he and other SEALs used a dying enemy fighter for medical practice with no intention of saving him. The Navy said it could not corroborate his claims.

Gallagher was charged with killing a severely wounded Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 by stabbing the captured enemy fighter in the neck, but he was acquitted in a high-profile war crimes trial in 2019.

He was convicted of posing for a photograph with the captive’s corpse and demoted, but President Donald Trump intervened on his behalf, restoring his rank and stopping the Navy from taking away his SEAL trident.

The results of the trial aside, Gallagher told Dan Taberski, the host of the podcast “The Line,” in early May that “the grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us and that nobody at that time had a problem with it.”

“We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him. Everybody was on board,” he said. Asked about his statement that the intention was to kill the fighter, Gallagher responded that he and the others intended to “do medical scenarios on him until he died.”

“He was going to die regardless. We weren’t taking any prisoners,” Gallagher explained to Taberski. “That wasn’t our job.” He added that “everyone was like, let’s just do medical treatments on him until he’s gone.”

Gallagher said that when he cut an emergency airway in the prisoner’s throat to insert a breathing tube, he was not doing the procedure to save his life, but rather he was, in his words, “practicing to see how fast I could do one.”

Citing records, Navy Times reported in 2019 that after 20 minutes of treatment, the prisoner’s body “ended up inexplicably spangled with medical devices.”

Denying allegations that he killed the prisoner, allegations which were at the heart of his trial, Gallagher told Taberski “that dude died from all the medical treatments that were done,” further stating that there were “plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.”

In a later an interview with Military.com in June, Gallagher appeared to backtrack, stating that although he and his teammates used the dying prisoner as a training tool for medical procedures, nothing was done to accelerate his death or that was not in his medical interests.

After Gallagher’s May podcast appearance, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the Navy was “looking into” the situation.

“The Navy reviewed the matter and will not pursue further action,” Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Courtney Hillson said in a statement Tuesday.

She said that “after a review conducted by the Navy, it was determined that Gallagher’s statements were not corroborated and no substantive information was found to merit an investigation based on those statements.”

Hillson also said that matters pertaining to the medical treatment and death of the prisoner were “already investigated and/or adjudicated at Gallagher’s court-martial,” so legally under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Navy would be unable to try Gallagher for the same alleged crimes again.

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Navy SEALs explain the danger of overplanning

Following is a transcript of the video.

Leif Babin: Contingency plans, the likely things that might go wrong, those are critical. There’s situations where some leaders don’t even come up with contingency plans for likely things that are going to happen, and that’s a disaster. You can’t do that, ’cause then that’s gonna set your team up for failure and it’s going to certainly impede your ability to accomplish the mission. So what you have to do is balance that, not overplan but have some planning, and what that generally looked like for us in combat was come up with the most likely three or four contingencies that might happen for each phase of an operation.

So if I’m about to kick off a major operation I’m gonna look at what the first- the one, two, or three things that are likely to go wrong. I’m gonna focus on those things, and then I might plan for that and then I might also plan for that worst case scenario as well. So you think through those things so the team knows how to react to those things, they’re prepared to prevent those things from happening or prepared to react to them when they do go wrong. And yet you absolutely can take that too far in the other direction and overplan.

Jocko Willink: So let’s say a business has a project that they’re planning for next quarter. And it’s a complicated project. Now they have to do some planning, there’s no doubt about it. But we see businesses sometimes where they invest so much time and so much effort into their planning that they actually never make any progress on getting the project done. Or at least they take away from their effort to actually execute the project. So what you have to do is you have to be sensible. What you have to do is you have to find the balance. You certainly have to plan but you can’t spend so much time doing your planning that you never get anything actually done.

Babin: One of the first patrols I went out with, with the Marine Corps in a really dangerous area of downtown Ramadi, and when we were going out on this operation we knew we were going to be out there for at least 24 hours, and we knew it could be even longer. So I loaded out for World War III.

I packed extra grenades and extra magazines with rounds and extra water and extra food and batteries and radios and everything that you could possibly imagine to try to cover all these contingencies in the event that we got extended out there, in the event that we were about to be overrun by a larger enemy force. And what that did to me was burden me down to a point where I was so heavy, the weight that I was carrying on my back, in my rucksack that I could barely keep up with the patrol and I certainly couldn’t lead that patrol. And that actually put me in a much more dangerous situation because I tried to plan for every single contingency.

So you can take any of these things too far. You’ve gotta plan but you can’t overplan. Once a decision gets made, you’ve got to be able to get behind that plan and execute the plan as if it were your own plan. It doesn’t matter if you came up with it or if someone else came up with it. If you’re a good leader and you see, “Hey, this person came up with a great idea. Let’s give that idea a shot.” They’re in a better position to actually run with that idea. I’m gonna follow and I’m gonna let them lead, because I don’t care who gets the credit. I just want the team to win. And the best leaders are going to be able to do that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in November 2018.

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What we can all learn from the time William McRaven got fired from SEAL Team 6

SEAL Admiral William McRaven
William McRaven speaks to service members at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas in January 2018.

  • In the early 1980s, William McRaven was just a lieutenant assigned to the relatively new SEAL Team 6.
  • McRaven clashed with the unit’s first commander, Richard Marcinko, and was eventually fired.
  • That encounter was a stepping stone in what would be an accomplished career for McRaven.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last month, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, physician to the president of the United States, delivered a “charge for the graduates” – a brief commencement speech – to graduating students of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where he is also an associate professor and senior medical advisor.

Dr. O’Connor, who was appointed physician to then-Vice President Joe Biden in 2009, has remained the personal physician of the now-POTUS since that time. He was appointed the official physician to the president upon Joe Biden’s inauguration in January of 2021.

Dr. O’Connor is also one of the country’s handful of battlefield medical experts who have changed the face of combat medicine over the past two decades-plus, through the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC).

In his brief speech, Dr. O’Connor spoke to the graduates about “building their brand,” or becoming the professionals and humans they desire to become following the end of their formal education.

By way of example, O’Connor recounted a story told by Navy SEAL Adm. (retired) Bill McRaven on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia, at a Hibernians Society dinner, “a few years back.” (Full disclosure: This author was also present for the dinner and speech.)

In his speech to the graduates, O’Connor recounted how McRaven spoke about being a young SEAL officer when he was assigned to the insular, and still relatively new, SEAL Team 6 in the early 1980s.

william mcraven

At the time, ST-6 was commanded by the legendary (and infamous) Richard “Dick” Marcinko, the unit’s first commanding officer. Marcinko was known for all kinds of inappropriate, and at-times illegal, behavior, as well as for running ST-6 in a bullying, capricious, and tyrannical style.

At one point early in McRaven’s time there, Marcinko attempted to humiliate McRaven through some asinine and pointless tasking, as Marcinko was wont to do at the command.

By that point, however, McRaven professed that he had grown sick of such treatment – and Marcinko’s behavior – and he flat out refused to comply with Marcinko’s order.

McRaven ended up in a confrontation with Marcinko, and possibly even punched the ST-6 commanding officer square in the jaw. That last point is possibly apocryphal and is not mentioned in McRaven’s book, “Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations,” nor is the punch mentioned by Marcinko in the 2015 New York Times article, “SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines.”

Marcinko does, however, discuss firing McRaven, essentially over the two having vastly different leadership styles.

McRaven was indeed fired from ST-6 for taking his stand against Marcinko and subsequently fretted over the incident and what it would do to his still-burgeoning career.

O’Connor told the story as a way of illustrating how McRaven – at the time – was not the Adm. Bill McRaven he would later become: Navy SEAL flag officer, special operations author and historian, National Security Council appointee, and commanding officer of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) when it executed the Osama Bin Laden raid.

No, then he was just Lt. McRaven, standing up to a bullying senior officer and refusing to accept things the way they were at SEAL Team 6 at that time.

In other words, McRaven was “building his brand.”

O’Connor would go on to tell the graduates that he was not charging them with the responsibility of becoming “great,” as they built their own brands going forward. Rather, he was challenging them to be good.

“Honor where you came from by being and doing good,” he concluded.

Definitely words we can all live by.

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Ex-Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner David Goggins is the toughest man on the planet. His latest challenge: convincing the world to suffer on purpose.

david goggins turning joys of suffering into business model 2x1

Everywhere Devin Featherstone goes, David Goggins follows. It starts in the morning when Featherstone opens his eyes and catches Goggins’ thousand-yard stare from the book jacket of “Can’t Hurt Me,” Goggins’ memoir, on his nightstand.

Throughout the day, Featherstone, 36, a firefighter and an avid runner in Calgary, Alberta, ingests YouTube videos and podcast clips of the former Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner, who reminds him to “Stay hard!” And as night falls, and Featherstone crawls back into bed beside his wife, there Goggins remains on the nightstand – inert, gazing blankly into the darkness.

Featherstone acknowledges the reality plainly: “David Goggins is in my head daily.”

The sway that Goggins, who is 46, has over his followers – his ability to occupy their thoughts and persuade them to push past their limits – is hard to overstate. Last month, he oversaw the Goggins Challenge, a two-day test of physical fitness that ran March 5-7. Across 90 countries, tens of thousands of weekend warriors ran four miles every four hours, for 48 hours straight. If you weren’t a runner, you exercised. If you weren’t a gym rat, you just got sweaty. It was free to enter, and if you wanted a T-shirt, you paid $35.

Devin Featherstone did it in full firefighter gear because why not.

While Goggins ended up donating more than $200,000 in profits from the T-shirt sales to charity, for individual people there is still no good reason to do challenges like these. But Goggins regularly inspires such action. Drawing on stories of his difficult past, mixed with expletive-ridden calls to reject creature comforts, he’s found a way to become equal parts drill sergeant, life coach, and superhero for his community of nearly 4 million highly engaged Instagram followers.

“It’s just really empowering,” said Jenny Petersen, a 48-year-old nurse and runner from Lincoln, Nebraska, speaking of Goggins’ list of accomplishments. Petersen – a runner and triathlete – was among those who completed the Goggins Challenge. “People are starting to embrace that it’s OK if you suffer, and that you’re tougher than you think.”

After more than a year of both mental and physical anguish wrought by COVID-19, Goggins’ calls to embrace discomfort may seem ill-timed. But for the newly converted and die-hards alike, he’s offering people more than motivation: an opportunity to reclaim control of their suffering, and practice it on their own terms.

Goggins’ fan base is growing fast, and there are promising signs his ability to monetize that interest – through a bestselling memoir, corporate speaking engagements, merchandise, and avenues yet-to-be explored – could carve out a lucrative “business of toughness” over the coming years.

“I discovered a whole nother part of your fucking brain that a lot of people don’t even know about,” Goggins told Joe Rogan in a 2018 podcast episode. “It’s my job now to take these weak people, in the category that I was in, and say, ‘Uh-uh. Stop reading the bullshit. Stop listening to the bullshit.’ And if my story of success can impact somebody, it is my job, it is my duty, to share the story.” (Goggins declined to be interviewed for this article.)

Achievements born from adversity

It was November 1, 2005, and a 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker of a Navy SEAL was on the starting line of a 24-hour footrace in Southern California. Goggins had signed up for the San Diego 1-Day, an event he entered as a qualifying race for a separate ultramarathon in which he hoped to raise money for charity.

He was no fleet-footed runner. In the lead-up to the race, Goggins’ cardiovascular training included just 20 minutes spent on the elliptical every Sunday. The task ahead of him: Complete 100 laps of the one-mile track before the 24 hours were up.

The race nearly broke Goggins, who describes the hellacious experience in his book and on podcasts as the most painful day of his life. He broke all the small bones in his feet. His kidneys shut down. By the time he got home, having run 101 miles in under 19 hours, he was smeared with blood, urine, and feces, and was unable to walk under his own weight. His wife at the time begged him to go to the hospital.

“She kept talking, shouting, crying, trying to reach me through the haze,” Goggins wrote in his 2018 memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” “And I heard most of what she said, but I knew if we went to the hospital they’d give me pain killers and I didn’t want to mask this pain. I’d just accomplished the most amazing feat in my entire life.”

brent gleeson & david goggins
Navy SEAL training in 2001. Brent Gleeson, second from left. David Goggins, second from right.

david goggins
Goggins during Navy SEAL training.

David Goggins & Brent Gleeson
Goggins and Gleeson at the SEAL training graduation in 2001.

As Goggins described it, that race obliterated any sense of physical limits he’d once had.

Two months after the San Diego 1-Day, he ran the Hurt 100, a 100-mile trail race with 24,500 feet of climbing through hills in Hawaii. In 2006, he completed seven more races of 30 miles or more. In 2007, he completed 14 more, including a third-place finish at the Badwater 135, a race longer than five normal marathons that cuts through the sneaker-melting heat of Death Valley. He’s completed two dozen more ultras in the 14 years since.

Goggins has also competed in the Ironman World Championship, finishing the 140.6-mile triathlon in 11 hours and 24 minutes. And in 2013, he broke the Guinness World Record for most pullups completed in 24 hours with 4,030. He broke the record with seven hours to spare.

For people such as Petersen and Featherstone, Goggins’ core appeal is his mental toughness, which Goggins said he channels into “going the distance,” not winning the race. He speaks often of the “40% rule,” which says that when people typically give up, they’re really only 40% depleted.

“The reason it’s so powerful,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me,” “is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.”

The San Diego 1-Day marked Goggins’ first step on the road to becoming an endurance athlete, but overcoming adversity stretches back to his childhood. Growing up Black in the small, predominantly white town of Brazil, Indiana, he faced virulent racism and struggled with a learning disability, speech impediment, and low self-esteem.

“I damn sure wasn’t going to get into college based on academics,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me.” “All I knew was that I had to get the fuck out of Brazil, Indiana.” He saw the military as his best chance and took the requisite entrance exam three times. On his third try, he met the minimum standard for the Air Force.

To date, Goggins is the only person to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. And “when that glory faded,” about 20 years ago, Goggins set his sights on ultramarathon running, said Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL who graduated from SEAL training with Goggins in 2001.

“He’s always striving, as he would say, to recertify himself as a savage,” said Gleeson, who is now an entrepreneur and the author of several books, including “Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life.” “It’s that continual journey, and I think that inadvertently started to spark something in other people.”

Even in middle age, Goggins seems to have no plans of slowing down. In October, at 45 years old, he ran 238 miles in 62 hours, 21 minutes, and 29 seconds as part of the Moab 240 in Utah. It was good enough for a second-place finish.

David Goggins by Brandon Rogers:US Navy
Goggins ran the Badwater 135 in 2007, in a string of 14 ultramarathon races that year.

Not just transformation – multiplication

But now the 46-year-old veteran is increasingly turning his attention toward brand-building. In 2016, Goggins, along with his team, founded Goggins LLC as a way to start investing in himself, as he told Rogan on his first of two podcast appearances.

“I try to be as real as I can,” Goggins said, “because we’re all fucking suffering in this world. We’re all hurting. And I try to take away all titles you wanna give me to let you know that I did not come from that shit. That’s why I have to be so authentic and so real about my own insecurities and my own faults, and being a fucked-up person.”

Influencers strive to be as authentic as possible; it can make or break a nascent brand. Fortunately for Goggins, who may never even use the word “influencer,” staying true to himself and his story has been the greatest source of his success – and sometimes his stress.

“My biggest fear in life is, people can read right through a motherfucker that’s not real,” he told Rogan. “I do it all the time. A lot of people have these great quotes, and they mass-produce. I can’t mass-produce something, man.”

Instead, he’s started giving talks. He’s spoken at companies such as Cisco and Microsoft and at pro sports teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants. (Because of COVID-19, he has not given a talk since March 2020, a spokesperson confirmed.) Clips from these talks carry titles such as “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great” and “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable.”

There is ample room for Goggins to grow in these spaces: Together, the self-improvement and motivational-speaking markets are worth about $15 billion. And they are expected to grow between 4% and 6% over the next few years, according to research from Marketdata Enterprises.

In 2018, he and his co-author, Adam Skolnick, self-published his memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me.” He said in a 2019 Facebook Live event that, despite being offered an advance of $300,000, he turned it down “at the last minute” and decided instead to invest $800,000 of his own money in self-publishing. (Goggins’ press representative did not respond to Insider’s request to confirm these figures.)

“It was the best decision, business-wise, I ever made in my entire life,” Goggins said in the event, “because I had the mental toughness and also the ability to know what was right for me and my brand.”

The book ended up selling 900,000 copies across print and digital within the first four months, Deadline’s Patrick Hipes reported. It stayed on The New York Times’ bestseller list for 14 weeks and has sold more than 3 million copies to date. According to Bookscan data, roughly 300,000 of those copies are from the two bound editions.

“That’s spectacular for any book,” said Giles Anderson, the owner and founder of Anderson Literary Agency.

Still, even as a businessman, Goggins is adamant that money isn’t what gets him up in the morning. “I’m not driven by the business,” he told Rogan. “I’m a minimalist motherfucker. Gimme a backpack, a fucking ground to sleep on, a pullup bar, some fucking running shoes, and a Subway sandwich, and I’m fucking straight.”

To be sure, Goggins isn’t the only tough-as-nails influencer. Plenty have come before him, Tony Robbins perhaps looming the largest, literally, over the past two decades. Nor is Goggins the only veteran turned life coach to break onto the scene in recent years.

Jocko Willink is a retired naval officer, a podcaster, and the author of several books, including “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” Willink is well known on Instagram, where he has nearly 2 million followers, for posting gritty, black-and-white close-ups of his digital watch displaying ungodly wake-up times. A recent photo showed the time as 4:25:41. The caption: “WARPATH.”

Many of Goggins’ followers also find strength in Jocko, as he’s better known. But where Jocko has posted more than 4,700 times, Goggins has just 335 posts to his name, and each one is a viral sensation in its own right. His videos regularly pull in more than a million views.

To retired SEAL Gleeson, who previously founded and ran a digital-media agency for 11 years, the growth and engagement Goggins has achieved are nothing short of anomalous. “I’ve never seen an explosion of rapid growth from a social-media-brand standpoint,” Gleeson said. “Never seen it before.”

david goggins moab 240
Goggins ran the Moab 240 in October, finishing second.

david goggins moab 240
Goggins’ finishing time at the Moab 240 was 62 hours, 21 minutes.

Goggins isn’t for everyone … yet

Part of Goggins’ appeal has been the mythic quality that’s followed him ever since stories began to surface on YouTube about six years ago. In 2015, the entrepreneur Jesse Itzler published “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet.” Itzler never used the SEAL’s name in the book, but word soon got out that the “toughest man” was in fact David Goggins. More videos emerged; rumors swirled. Have you heard of David Goggins? The man himself began appearing on podcasts, news shows, and social media.

All that organic growth has created a reputation that some find intriguing. For instance, a month after the official Goggins Challenge weekend in March, a handful of New York City-based runners embarked on the challenge to raise money for charity the weekend of April 9. For others, who may be landing on Goggins’ Instagram page for the first time, the catalog of running videos, in which our hero yells at the camera for a minute straight, may seem intimidating. But for every Goggins nonbeliever, there is often a friend close by who’s ready to dispel the myths and spread the gospel.

Joelle Tomlinson, a morning-news host in Calgary, and a friend of Featherstone, regularly runs ultramarathons. When she came across Goggins, in 2020, by way of a running partner, she first thought, “Wow, this guy is absolutely wild” – in a good way, she said. “I’ve never heard of anyone like this. I think he has completely made this recreational suffering more achievable.” She said she was eager to pick up a copy of his book.

But then there are people such as Jacy Cunningham, a 32-year-old professional trainer in Maryland, who admire Goggins for his intensity but find less value in glorifying it as a way of life. “Our society promotes pure extreme,” said Cunningham, who runs his own business on a holistic form of fitness called the Jacy Method. “We’re fanatic about crazy shit. We’re big on pushing ourselves to crazy limits.”

Devin Featherstone said an increasingly comfortable world is to blame. “People are driving more toward that in-your-face attitude of how Goggins tells you straight up: If you’re lazy, you’re lazy. You’re not candy-coating it, and I think more and more people need that.”

Still, even a superfan such as Featherstone said he’s motivated most by his family and his values, and that he taps the fearless warrior in his head only when times get tough. As a dad to a 5-year-old son, he knows the misery of a 4 a.m. wake-up. But after studying “Can’t Hurt Me” and listening to clip after clip, Featherstone said cleaning a mess or settling a dispute doesn’t seem so bad.

“There are things that I would bitch and complain about that were really small,” he said. Now, not so much, and people have even asked where his inner peace comes from. “I’m, like, ‘Honestly? I read David Goggins’ book.'”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner David Goggins is the toughest man on the planet. He wants you to love suffering as much as he does.

david goggins turning joys of suffering into business model 2x1

Everywhere Devin Featherstone goes, David Goggins follows. It starts in the morning when Featherstone opens his eyes and catches Goggins’ thousand-yard stare from the book jacket of “Can’t Hurt Me,” Goggins’ memoir, on his nightstand.

Throughout the day, Featherstone, 36, a firefighter and an avid runner in Calgary, Alberta, ingests YouTube videos and podcast clips of the former Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner, who reminds him to “Stay hard!” And as night falls, and Featherstone crawls back into bed beside his wife, there Goggins remains on the nightstand – inert, gazing blankly into the darkness.

Featherstone acknowledges the reality plainly: “David Goggins is in my head daily.”

The sway that Goggins, who is 46, has over his followers – his ability to occupy their thoughts and persuade them to push past their limits – is hard to overstate. Last month, he oversaw the Goggins Challenge, a two-day test of physical fitness that ran March 5-7. Across 90 countries, tens of thousands of weekend warriors ran four miles every four hours, for 48 hours straight. If you weren’t a runner, you exercised. If you weren’t a gym rat, you just got sweaty. It was free to enter, and if you wanted a T-shirt, you paid $35.

Devin Featherstone did it in full firefighter gear because why not.

While Goggins ended up donating more than $200,000 in profits from the T-shirt sales to charity, for individual people there is still no good reason to do challenges like these. But Goggins regularly inspires such action. Drawing on stories of his difficult past, mixed with expletive-ridden calls to reject creature comforts, he’s found a way to become equal parts drill sergeant, life coach, and superhero for his community of nearly 4 million highly engaged Instagram followers.

“It’s just really empowering,” said Jenny Petersen, a 48-year-old nurse and runner from Lincoln, Nebraska, speaking of Goggins’ list of accomplishments. Petersen – a runner and triathlete – was among those who completed the Goggins Challenge. “People are starting to embrace that it’s OK if you suffer, and that you’re tougher than you think.”

After more than a year of both mental and physical anguish wrought by COVID-19, Goggins’ calls to embrace discomfort may seem ill-timed. But for the newly converted and die-hards alike, he’s offering people more than motivation: an opportunity to reclaim control of their suffering, and practice it on their own terms.

Goggins’ fan base is growing fast, and there are promising signs his ability to monetize that interest – through a bestselling memoir, corporate speaking engagements, merchandise, and avenues yet-to-be explored – could carve out a lucrative “business of toughness” over the coming years.

“I discovered a whole nother part of your fucking brain that a lot of people don’t even know about,” Goggins told Joe Rogan in a 2018 podcast episode. “It’s my job now to take these weak people, in the category that I was in, and say, ‘Uh-uh. Stop reading the bullshit. Stop listening to the bullshit.’ And if my story of success can impact somebody, it is my job, it is my duty, to share the story.” (Goggins declined to be interviewed for this article.)

Achievements born from adversity

It was November 1, 2005, and a 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker of a Navy SEAL was on the starting line of a 24-hour footrace in Southern California. Goggins had signed up for the San Diego 1-Day, an event he entered as a qualifying race for a separate ultramarathon in which he hoped to raise money for charity.

He was no fleet-footed runner. In the lead-up to the race, Goggins’ cardiovascular training included just 20 minutes spent on the elliptical every Sunday. The task ahead of him: Complete 100 laps of the one-mile track before the 24 hours were up.

The race nearly broke Goggins, who describes the hellacious experience in his book and on podcasts as the most painful day of his life. He broke all the small bones in his feet. His kidneys shut down. By the time he got home, having run 101 miles in under 19 hours, he was smeared with blood, urine, and feces, and was unable to walk under his own weight. His wife at the time begged him to go to the hospital.

“She kept talking, shouting, crying, trying to reach me through the haze,” Goggins wrote in his 2018 memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” “And I heard most of what she said, but I knew if we went to the hospital they’d give me pain killers and I didn’t want to mask this pain. I’d just accomplished the most amazing feat in my entire life.”

brent gleeson & david goggins
Navy SEAL training in 2001. Brent Gleeson, second from left. David Goggins, second from right.

david goggins
Goggins during Navy SEAL training.

David Goggins & Brent Gleeson
Goggins and Gleeson at the SEAL training graduation in 2001.

As Goggins described it, that race obliterated any sense of physical limits he’d once had.

Two months after the San Diego 1-Day, he ran the Hurt 100, a 100-mile trail race with 24,500 feet of climbing through hills in Hawaii. In 2006, he completed seven more races of 30 miles or more. In 2007, he completed 14 more, including a third-place finish at the Badwater 135, a race longer than five normal marathons that cuts through the sneaker-melting heat of Death Valley. He’s completed two dozen more ultras in the 14 years since.

Goggins has also competed in the Ironman World Championship, finishing the 140.6-mile triathlon in 11 hours and 24 minutes. And in 2013, he broke the Guinness World Record for most pullups completed in 24 hours with 4,030. He broke the record with seven hours to spare.

For people such as Petersen and Featherstone, Goggins’ core appeal is his mental toughness, which Goggins said he channels into “going the distance,” not winning the race. He speaks often of the “40% rule,” which says that when people typically give up, they’re really only 40% depleted.

“The reason it’s so powerful,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me,” “is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.”

The San Diego 1-Day marked Goggins’ first step on the road to becoming an endurance athlete, but overcoming adversity stretches back to his childhood. Growing up Black in the small, predominantly white town of Brazil, Indiana, he faced virulent racism and struggled with a learning disability, speech impediment, and low self-esteem.

“I damn sure wasn’t going to get into college based on academics,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me.” “All I knew was that I had to get the fuck out of Brazil, Indiana.” He saw the military as his best chance and took the requisite entrance exam three times. On his third try, he met the minimum standard for the Air Force.

To date, Goggins is the only person to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. And “when that glory faded,” about 20 years ago, Goggins set his sights on ultramarathon running, said Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL who graduated from SEAL training with Goggins in 2001.

“He’s always striving, as he would say, to recertify himself as a savage,” said Gleeson, who is now an entrepreneur and the author of several books, including “Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life.” “It’s that continual journey, and I think that inadvertently started to spark something in other people.”

Even in middle age, Goggins seems to have no plans of slowing down. In October, at 45 years old, he ran 238 miles in 62 hours, 21 minutes, and 29 seconds as part of the Moab 240 in Utah. It was good enough for a second-place finish.

David Goggins by Brandon Rogers:US Navy
Goggins ran the Badwater 135 in 2007, in a string of 14 ultramarathon races that year.

Not just transformation – multiplication

But now the 46-year-old veteran is increasingly turning his attention toward brand-building. In 2016, Goggins, along with his team, founded Goggins LLC as a way to start investing in himself, as he told Rogan on his first of two podcast appearances.

“I try to be as real as I can,” Goggins said, “because we’re all fucking suffering in this world. We’re all hurting. And I try to take away all titles you wanna give me to let you know that I did not come from that shit. That’s why I have to be so authentic and so real about my own insecurities and my own faults, and being a fucked-up person.”

Influencers strive to be as authentic as possible; it can make or break a nascent brand. Fortunately for Goggins, who may never even use the word “influencer,” staying true to himself and his story has been the greatest source of his success – and sometimes his stress.

“My biggest fear in life is, people can read right through a motherfucker that’s not real,” he told Rogan. “I do it all the time. A lot of people have these great quotes, and they mass-produce. I can’t mass-produce something, man.”

Instead, he’s started giving talks. He’s spoken at companies such as Cisco and Microsoft and at pro sports teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants. (Because of COVID-19, he has not given a talk since March 2020, a spokesperson confirmed.) Clips from these talks carry titles such as “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great” and “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable.”

There is ample room for Goggins to grow in these spaces: Together, the self-improvement and motivational-speaking markets are worth about $15 billion. And they are expected to grow between 4% and 6% over the next few years, according to research from Marketdata Enterprises.

In 2018, he and his co-author, Adam Skolnick, self-published his memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me.” He said in a 2019 Facebook Live event that, despite being offered an advance of $300,000, he turned it down “at the last minute” and decided instead to invest $800,000 of his own money in self-publishing. (Goggins’ press representative did not respond to Insider’s request to confirm these figures.)

“It was the best decision, business-wise, I ever made in my entire life,” Goggins said in the event, “because I had the mental toughness and also the ability to know what was right for me and my brand.”

The book ended up selling 900,000 copies across print and digital within the first four months, Deadline’s Patrick Hipes reported. It stayed on The New York Times’ bestseller list for 14 weeks and has sold more than 3 million copies to date. According to Bookscan data, roughly 300,000 of those copies are from the two bound editions.

“That’s spectacular for any book,” said Giles Anderson, the owner and founder of Anderson Literary Agency.

Still, even as a businessman, Goggins is adamant that money isn’t what gets him up in the morning. “I’m not driven by the business,” he told Rogan. “I’m a minimalist motherfucker. Gimme a backpack, a fucking ground to sleep on, a pullup bar, some fucking running shoes, and a Subway sandwich, and I’m fucking straight.”

To be sure, Goggins isn’t the only tough-as-nails influencer. Plenty have come before him, Tony Robbins perhaps looming the largest, literally, over the past two decades. Nor is Goggins the only veteran turned life coach to break onto the scene in recent years.

Jocko Willink is a retired naval officer, a podcaster, and the author of several books, including “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” Willink is well known on Instagram, where he has nearly 2 million followers, for posting gritty, black-and-white close-ups of his digital watch displaying ungodly wake-up times. A recent photo showed the time as 4:25:41. The caption: “WARPATH.”

Many of Goggins’ followers also find strength in Jocko, as he’s better known. But where Jocko has posted more than 4,700 times, Goggins has just 335 posts to his name, and each one is a viral sensation in its own right. His videos regularly pull in more than a million views.

To retired SEAL Gleeson, who previously founded and ran a digital-media agency for 11 years, the growth and engagement Goggins has achieved are nothing short of anomalous. “I’ve never seen an explosion of rapid growth from a social-media-brand standpoint,” Gleeson said. “Never seen it before.”

david goggins moab 240
Goggins ran the Moab 240 in October, finishing second.

david goggins moab 240
Goggins’ finishing time at the Moab 240 was 62 hours, 21 minutes.

Goggins isn’t for everyone … yet

Part of Goggins’ appeal has been the mythic quality that’s followed him ever since stories began to surface on YouTube about six years ago. In 2015, the entrepreneur Jesse Itzler published “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet.” Itzler never used the SEAL’s name in the book, but word soon got out that the “toughest man” was in fact David Goggins. More videos emerged; rumors swirled. Have you heard of David Goggins? The man himself began appearing on podcasts, news shows, and social media.

All that organic growth has created a reputation that some find intriguing. For instance, a month after the official Goggins Challenge weekend in March, a handful of New York City-based runners embarked on the challenge to raise money for charity the weekend of April 9. For others, who may be landing on Goggins’ Instagram page for the first time, the catalog of running videos, in which our hero yells at the camera for a minute straight, may seem intimidating. But for every Goggins nonbeliever, there is often a friend close by who’s ready to dispel the myths and spread the gospel.

Joelle Tomlinson, a morning-news host in Calgary, and a friend of Featherstone, regularly runs ultramarathons. When she came across Goggins, in 2020, by way of a running partner, she first thought, “Wow, this guy is absolutely wild” – in a good way, she said. “I’ve never heard of anyone like this. I think he has completely made this recreational suffering more achievable.” She said she was eager to pick up a copy of his book.

But then there are people such as Jacy Cunningham, a 32-year-old professional trainer in Maryland, who admire Goggins for his intensity but find less value in glorifying it as a way of life. “Our society promotes pure extreme,” said Cunningham, who runs his own business on a holistic form of fitness called the Jacy Method. “We’re fanatic about crazy shit. We’re big on pushing ourselves to crazy limits.”

Devin Featherstone said an increasingly comfortable world is to blame. “People are driving more toward that in-your-face attitude of how Goggins tells you straight up: If you’re lazy, you’re lazy. You’re not candy-coating it, and I think more and more people need that.”

Still, even a superfan such as Featherstone said he’s motivated most by his family and his values, and that he taps the fearless warrior in his head only when times get tough. As a dad to a 5-year-old son, he knows the misery of a 4 a.m. wake-up. But after studying “Can’t Hurt Me” and listening to clip after clip, Featherstone said cleaning a mess or settling a dispute doesn’t seem so bad.

“There are things that I would bitch and complain about that were really small,” he said. Now, not so much, and people have even asked where his inner peace comes from. “I’m, like, ‘Honestly? I read David Goggins’ book.'”

Read the original article on Business Insider