SGPT: Tell us about yourself and what you are doing these days?
JM: I work in endurance sports and live in Coronado, a place I felt I’d always come back to. I started up a company 2 ½ years ago called ‘Easy Day Sports’ and I’ve been able to take two skills I am passionate about -endurance sports and operational planning and start a business planning sports events- primarily running based for clients such as Nike and the NFL.
SGPT: What influenced you to want to join the SEAL Teams?
JM: At a time, my junior year in high school maybe, I knew I wasn’t ready for college, I was smart and doing well athletically and thought competing in college (cross-country running) would eventually be the natural next step. I wasn’t focused on school, I wanted some adventure, and knew I wouldn’t be as successful in college as I could be because I didn’t have the desire to be there like I did for other things. I also was rock climbing and mountaineering quite a bit and had gotten scuba qualified as a sophomore in high school. I started looking into different branches of the armed forces, first the army, my dad and mom both served in the Army, then the Marines, I kind of overlooked the Air Force, and then the Navy- a family friend happened to be the local recruiter. At first I thought I was going to go Marine Recon- at the time there was very little info about SEALs out there. My senior year I read an article in Newsweek-(Jan 1994) about Hell Week. I knew then it was what I had to do. I only told close family and friends and then 3 days after high school graduation in June 1994 I joined the Navy. Most of my friends had no idea.
SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
JM: Always a runner. I loved cycling and swimming but being from a small town in Eastern Washington there wasn’t a lot of exposure for sports outside of Football, Basketball, and Baseball. I won the school jog-athon in 8th grade with 33 laps (8 ¼ miles) in one hour, so when I got into high school I pursued Cross-Country and Track.
SGPT: Which BUDS class did you go through?
JM: BUD/S class 200
SGPT: What was the hardest part of BUDS for you?I think I’d answer this differently depending on when I was asked. Immediately after graduating I would have said 1st Phase- lifesaving, 2nd Phase- pool comp, and 3rd Phase- heavy rucksack carries. Now what I would say and what is truer was my maturity and emotional intelligence I was 18/19 when I went through and had a lot of growing up to do. BUD/S is a tough environment to do that in and fortunately I was a good enough athlete that I could compensate for some of my weaknesses in maturity and not having life experiences outside of high school.
SGPT: What tips would you give to an aspiring BUD/S candidate?
JM: Evaluate your reasons for wanting to be a SEAL. If it’s because you want others to admire you, you want the accolades or the bragging rights to post on social media, there is no place for you. Being a Navy SEAL is a very real and tough job that comes with an intense level of commitment and focus. It is a job that is tougher than any job you can do in this world and that commitment continues on past training and receiving a trident. The day-to-day job of being a SEAL is centered on the 3rd paragraph of the SEAL Ethos. If you aren’t up for that, don’t bother.
SGPT: They say that BUD/S is 90% mental and 10 % physical. How was it for you? Can you elaborate on that more?
JM: I wouldn’t say that but here is what I know- You have more than 50% probability of failing if you aren’t meeting a base level of fitness- call it 9:00 min swim, 75 push-ups, 75 sit-ups, 15 pull-ups, and a 9:00 min run on the physical screening test. Once you have scores at that level it’s very hard to predict who will make it through the program because it comes down to intangibles. How comfortable you are in the ocean, how you perform in a team environment, and emotional intelligence (what you call mental). Just like physical training, emotional intelligence is something that can be trained and people can become better at. The 5 core traits at the basic level are- self-awareness, self- regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation. I believe the next level of SEAL training will focus on this type of training to increase the graduation rates.
SGPT: What SEAL team did you serve on? Overseas wars?
JM:SEAL Team ONE. I was overseas in 1998. There wasn’t any wars/conflicts at the time, but we were enforcing the embargo and policing the demilitarized zone in Kuwait and Iraq.
JM: I’ll deflect on this question and recommend a book I think all BUD/S candidates should read. I read it much later in life, but it has been important to my success outside of the SEAL teams and key to understanding concepts on personal achievement. It’s a book called Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills That Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed. It’s dense and I recommend reading and digesting a chapter every couple of days or once a week. There are a lot of concepts that just have to sink in, not a book you can read in one sitting. It was recommended to me by the President of Sony’s Mexico division when I was in business school, I bought it and it sat on my shelf for a year before I read it. I wish I had read it much early!
SGPT: What elements of past training do you carry with you today?
JM: The perseverance and professional factors. Nothing is ever really going to be that hard when you put it in perspective and my expectation for excellence in all that I do- groomed by the silent, elite professionalism mantra I learned in training.
SGPT: You keep yourself in really great shape, what kinds of training do you do now?
JM: I’m 40 this year and I have a goal of breaking 5 minutes in the mile. I think I’ll do it- probably just so I can say that I did- we all have egos I guess. I’m most excited about a local Coronado non-profit Proteus Academy where I volunteer my time as and coach running for future SOF candidates trying to get contracts. There are huge advantages to being a proficient runner in BUD/S so I do my best to coach that. I probably run 20 miles a week, ride my bike, surf and golf. I don’t have any long term athletic goals currently, so I try to listen to my body and ultimately do what is fun. I also know that I represent an elite community of warriors and it’s important for me to stay in shape to be a great example, as a former SEAL and hopefully role model to others.
SGPT: Tell us about your Company, Easy Day Sports. Do you have a website?
JM: I produce events- primarily running -for the masses and have been very fortunate with some of the clients and events I have done. My company’s website is http://easydaysports.com.
After Navy/college my first job was producing a national series of obstacle course running and mountain bike races called ‘Muddy Buddy’ (via my good friend Bob Babbitt. This was in 2001-2002. At this company, we were really the pioneers for all the other obstacle events out there before it became common place- Spartan, Tough Mudder, Battle Frog, etc.) We were the only obstacle course race out there for almost 10 years. It’s not around anymore as all things tend to evolve but there didn’t seem to be a better fit for a former SEAL to leave the Navy and put on running and obstacle course races. We didn’t promote the races that way, it was for the weekend warriors, so not many people knew I was behind the scenes designing obstacles and pulling the strings. After getting experience working for large endurance event management companies, I went out on my own and started Easy Day Sports. Now I focus on projects that get people in shape and drive the message of health and wellness. It feels great to wake up in the morning and know you make a real difference, even if small, in getting people off the couch and active.
SGPT: Where is it located and how can someone get help from you and the services you offer?
JM: It’s in Coronado on Orange Avenue near the San Diego Bay and I ride my beach cruiser bike to work every day; it’s an amazing place to live and work! If there are folks with connections to corporate sponsors that want a professionally managed event branded with their company name or if anyone has the next great event idea, pass it along. Our contact info is on my company’s website.
SGPT: Anything else that you would like to add to this interview that our readers may benefit from?
JM: The decisions we make today affect the outcomes we see tomorrow. Everything is a process and if you are serious about becoming a SEAL do something every day that will advance that goal. Own your poor life decisions along the way and don’t blame the Navy or others for not getting what you want. You can control the journey. If it’s not meant to be, accept that and quickly move on to your next big life goal. Success is driven so much more by our own positive perception of the world and the daily decisions we make that will ultimately determine our destiny.
SGPT: Thanks so much for the interview Jamie, we appreciate your time.
JM: Keep up the good work!
SGPT interviews Navy SEAL Kyle Defoor