Leadership and Contingency Planning in high risk, high consequence environments can be the difference between success and failure, life and death. Leadership is a professional license, and must be treated as such. It will only improve with practice.
Occupation does not define leadership. There is good leadership, and there is bad. The principles of the SEAL Teams are found off the battlefield, in highly successful teams and organizations around the globe.
Andy Stumpf is a man on a mission. Born and raised in Northern California, Andy knew from an early age that he wanted to be Navy SEAL. In 1996, at just 17 years old, he enlisted in the Navy. Shortly after, he began perhaps the most grueling training program in the US military – Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training, known as BUD/s. 90% of the candidates quit during the intense six-month program, but not Andy. He graduated and began his SEAL career assigned to SEAL Team Five, in Coronado, California.
Andy quickly proved himself a highly capable operator and leader. In 2002, he joined the most elite counterterrorism unit in the military – SEAL Team 6. The small unit is tasked with the nation’s most critical missions, some of which have become the focus of Hollywood movies and best-selling books. An Iraqi insurgent shot Andy at close range with an AK-47 on one of these missions. Doctors told him it could be years, if ever, before he’d be ready for combat again. But Andy had a more ambitious timetable and was back in six months.
In 2006, he returned to the Naval Special Warfare Center as the Leading Petty Officer for 2nd Phase BUD/s training. While completing his two year instructor tour, in charge of 13 SEAL instructors and 600 students, Andy submitted his application for commissioning. In 2008, he became the first E6 selection commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer Program in the history of Naval Special Warfare. Upon commissioning, he joined SEAL Team 3, where he led his men during combat deployments to Afghanistan.
In his 17-year SEAL career, Andy completed 10 deployments and executed hundreds of combat operations throughout the world in support of the Global War on Terror. He was medically retired from service in 2013. His awards and decorations include five Bronze Star Medals (four with Valor), the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons and the Presidential Unit Citation.
While no longer wearing the uniform, Andy continues to fight for his SEAL brothers and their families. In 2015, he set two world records after jumping from 37,000 feet and flying over 18 miles in a wingsuit, a nearly-fatal feat that was part of his effort to raise a million dollars for the Navy SEAL Foundation. Andy is also a sponsored BASE jumper who travels the world completing content projects for his sponsors.
His business experience includes managing Corporate Development and Licensing for a global fitness brand, focusing on strategic relationships and sponsorship opportunities with Fortune 500 companies. In addition to his management position, Andy became the company pilot, accumulating 3500 hours of flight time and earning his Airline Transportation Pilot’s license, as well as type certification ratings in the Gulfstream GIV, and Citation 525 series aircraft.
In 2016 Andy was selected to star in the hit television show Hunted, currently airing on CBS. He was also featured in the History Channel documentary “Navy SEALs: America’s Secret Warriors”, a dedicated segment in the Red Bull TV series Ultimate Rush – “Human Arrow”, and a global commercial campaign for Tempur Pedic. Andy is also a frequent guest on popular podcasts, such as UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s.
After entering the private sector, Andy founded a consulting firm dedicated to ensuring that the lessons learned from over a decade of sustained combat in Special Operations are retained by leaders in the business world. Recent speaking engagements include the following organizations:
- Goldman Sachs Asset Management
- Hong Kong Monetary Authority
- GIC (Sovereign Wealth Fund of Singapore)
- Dymon Capital
- DLA Piper
- Boston Scientific
- Tempur Sealy
“Quite simply the best external speaker we’ve ever had”
– HR director, sovereign wealth fund
“Nothing short of outstanding.”
– Regional CEO, global investment bank
“Truly amazing… That training truly prepares you for everything. Lots of correlations for us to draw from .”
– CIO, global asset manager
“I now look at leadership very differently and the reason why is Andy Stumpf.”
– Senior PM, global asset manager
“Easily the most interesting and impactful speaker I’ve heard in years – a master class in presentation.”
– Hedge fund CIO
Leadership touches everyone in your life, personal and professional. Great leaders can elicit performance beyond what an individual considers possible, poor leaders can take high performers and neutralize them. The SEAL Teams do not select for natural leaders, we select for those that can be trained, and mold them into the leaders the community and nation demand.
The impossible only exist if you accept it. After two years spent as an instructor at the most difficult military training in the world, one thing is clear; the only muscle that is important is the one between your ears. We are all born with the ability to learn techniques to improve our mental toughness and resilience, which are directly tied to performance in difficult situations.
Crisis Management/Decision making:
No plan is perfect, no plan is complete, but at some point you must execute. Understanding contingency planning and the decision making process in high risk, high consequence environments is often the difference between success and failure. You will not rise to the occasion, you will fall to the level of your training.
Velocity Training: 2014-2016
- Director of Air Operations Training: Manage, develop, and act as primary instructor for all aspects of advanced Military Free Fall operations, to include High Altitude High Opening, Offset Navigation, Military Tandem, Austere location, and High Altitude jumping.
- Responsible for identifying and defining training deficiencies with multiple active duty Special Operations Units across multiple services and career field requirements.
CrossFit Inc. : 2006 – 2014
San Diego, CA
- Manager, Corporate Development and Licensing: Reporting directly to the CEO, sourced, negotiated, developed and managed all major global sponsorship and licensing agreements and strategic alliances valued at $180 million between CrossFit Inc. and external companies, including Reebok, Rogue Fitness, Progenex, and Hyatt Hotels.
- Identified and defined assets, liabilities, gaps and opportunities within CrossFit that could benefit through new strategic partnerships.
- Consulted with CEO to integrate external brands and brand messages into CrossFit’s own brand-building strategy across multiple properties, publishing technologies and platforms (broadcast, video, digital, print).
- Managed all aspects of sponsor relationships and strategy at an average of 30 CrossFit events per year throughout North America, South America, Europe and Africa.
- Manager, Charitable Initiatives: Worked with CEO to design a protocol for assessing the best strategies to support the company’s chosen charities. Specifically, analyzed internal and external communications policies to improve awareness across multiple platforms and bolster support for charitable initiatives
- Managed a team of 10 people to implement strategies and raise funds for charities that include St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital, ISR – Infant Swim Resource, and Koins for Kenya. Total funds raised: $5 million, and schools built in the Dzendereni district of Kenya: 14
- Identified, planned and executed one-off charitable opportunities to support individuals, families and groups within the broader global CrossFit community.
- Worked with Director of CrossFit Media to analyze and assess shortfalls and opportunities across all digital properties and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) with specific focus on integrating charitable initiatives into broader CrossFit strategy and goals.
Aviation: 2008 – 2014
Part 135 Pilot in Command with International Experience
- Total time: 2900 hours
- Airline Transport Pilot
- First Class Medical, no limitations
- Gulfstream GIV Type Rating
- Citation 525 (S) Type Rating
Lieutenant and SEAL Operator, US Navy: 2008 – 2012
Seal Team Three / Training Officer, Squad Commander, deployed to Afghanistan
- Led a 14-man element of SEALs, Afghan National Army and Police during an eight-month deployment, successfully completing 58 combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
- Managed an Operations department responsible for five combat detachments comprised of 365 special operations coalition force members. Directed the processing, approval, procedures, and de-confliction of 184 special operations combat operations.
- Managed daily operations including budget, manpower, facilities, classified materials, and $6 million of sensitive combat equipment.
- Direct oversight into the pre-deployment training of 130 SEAL operators during 500 High Risk training evolutions prior to deployment to Afghanistan.
Naval Special Warfare Training Center: 2006 – 2008
Leading Petty Officer
- Led 13 senior SEAL instructors and 600 students in the execution of 104 weeks of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, encompassing 1,000 designated high-risk training evolutions.
- Selected 1st out of 25 candidates for commissioning through the Limited Duty Officer Program, the only Petty Officer First Class selection in the history of Naval Special Warfare.
Naval Special Warfare Development Group: 2002 – 2006
Team member for a Joint Special Operations Task Force, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq:
- Conducted numerous combat deployments for the Navy’s tier one special mission unit. Acted as a specialized assault team member across the full spectrum of special operations missions to include the rescue of an American Prisoner of War and the protection of foreign presidents, as well as prosecuting sensitive and strategic national objectives in politically volatile regions.
- Planned and executed over 300 combat missions in pursuit of high value targets through Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Taught advanced high-risk Basic/Advanced Military FreeFall, Tandem, and Jump Master courses under Joint Special Operations Command.
- Researched, developed, tested, and evaluated innovative, cutting-edge Naval Special Warfare tactics and equipment.
- Completed a rigorous advanced maritime special operations selection course that only accepts the top 1 percent of Navy SEAL Operators.
Seal Team Five: 1997 – 2002
- Lead Joint Terminal Aircraft Controller, responsible for planning, coordination, currency, and execution of live fire training exercises with Naval aircraft globally.
- Led, managed and trained a five-man element in preparation for two Western Pacific deployments to Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia.
Awards and Commendations
- Five Bronze Star Medals (four with Valor)
- Purple Heart
- Joint Service Commendation Medal
- Navy and Marine Corp Commendation Medal (with Valor)
- Army Commendation Medal
- Two Combat Action Ribbons
- Presidential Unit Citation.
- Top Secret
- Sensitive Compartmented Information.
- Naval Special Warfare Sniper
- Diving Supervisor
- Advanced Communications
- Advanced Explosive Breacher
- Joint Terminal Aircraft Controller
- Static Line and FreeFall Jump Master
- Tandem Master Instructor Examiner
- Andy Stumpf on LONDON REAL: Danger Brings Clarity How to Conquer Your Fears & Thrive in High Risk Situations
- Andy Stumpf, Retired Navy SEAL: Losing control of your emotions during a stressful situation like the COVID-19 pandemic can be ‘dangerous’
- Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf Shares Most Terrifying And Hilarious Moment Of His Career
- Andy Stumpf’s blog about the death of his friend, SEAL Team 6 operator, as read in congress on CSPAN