It’s not often that you get to introduce, and also interview on-stage, a national hero like Admiral (ret.) William McRaven. I was honored to do so at Insight’s annual meeting this month.
Former Commander of Special Operations Command, a Navy Seal for 37 years, and a retired four-star admiral, Admiral McRaven was instrumental in the Osama Bin Laden raid, the capture of Saddam Hussein, and countless other missions we’ll never know about. He also most recently was the Chancellor of the UT System, and gave a UT commencement speech in 2014 that has been viewed almost 10 million times on YouTube.
He’s the author of three books, including Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World. Making your bed sounds mundane, but is a small accomplishment to start your day with – that everyone can do. The SEAL instructors demanded that trainees make their bed to exacting standards, because, as Admiral McRaven pointed out, how could they trust you with the complex missions, if you can’t do the small things well? I appreciate the importance of paying attention to detail – and also now make my bed!
His stories about resilience in the face of adversity – recovering from a near-fatal parachuting incident himself, or visiting with servicemembers at Walter Reed – inspired us all, with many misty eyes in the crowd.
And as someone who served on the Defense Innovation Board, Admiral McRaven talked to us about the need for DoD to buy great software from venture-backed companies that are scaling (like the ones that Insight invests in). The DoD and its contractors can no longer build everything itself, and it needs to look to Silicon Valley and growing private-sector companies across the country to bring important technology to our servicemembers. Admiral McRaven noted that traditional government acquisition processes are part of the problem, and DoD will need to scale up innovative acquisition efforts like those of the Defense Innovation Unit, which are focused on rapidly accessing cutting-edge technology from promising private sector companies.
Thank you Admiral McRaven for spending time with us at Insight – and for a lifetime of leadership, integrity, and service.