Total Focus

Total Focus

Make Better Decisions under Pressure

Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Penguin Random House, New York, 2017, 288 pages

Book Review published on: September 15, 2017

The concept of an experienced Navy SEAL writing a book about how his experiences in the Navy prepared him for success as a business entrepreneur electrifies the imagination. How did Brandon Webb translate sniper skills to business skills? In Total Focus: Make Better Decisions under Pressure, Webb demonstrates how many of the principles that military members learn through experience, mentoring, and education are applicable within the sphere of business entrepreneurship. Many former military members reflect on what they learned in their military career and how it applies to the career they have chosen for their post-military lives. Webb, with thirteen years as a SEAL and eleven years in business, is uniquely suited to enlighten his readers on how his military career gave him the tools he needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

Total Focus contains seven chapters, with each chapter devoted to one of seven principles Webb learned as a SEAL. In each chapter, the principle is explained in-depth and broken down into relevant subparts that relate it to application for entrepreneurial success.

If you have had a military career you may have heard the expression, “One Team, One Fight.” Webb applies this maxim as the core of chapter six, and relates it to people as the key to business success. For example, he says to treat all people related to your business like family, including employees, customers, contractors, partners, suppliers, and shareholders. Webb also recommends using hiring practices that ensure your employees fit well into your company’s corporate culture.

“Embrace the suck,” a common expression, is the basis for chapter five, in which Webb discusses how to view the aftermath of business failures. Webb is very candid about his first business start-up ending up in a complete failure. After that first failure, Webb began to apply the principles he learned in the military and needed for his future business success.

Other chapters cover the core principles of maintaining focus, awareness of your circumstances, taking rapid action, excellence in all things, and leadership from the front. As a bookend for each chapter, Webb tells a story from his personal experience that illustrates the principle covered as it applies in a real-world situation.

To Military Review readers who have a passion for entrepreneurship, this book provides a clear connection between their military and civilian careers and will be an interesting read. If, however, the reader is not interested in business entrepreneurship, this may not be a book that holds your attention. One easy way to judge if this book will appeal to you is to immediately read the appendix, which summarizes the Webb’s seven principles. If they sound intriguing, then this is a book for you. As a final point, if you are this buying book to learn more about the exciting life of a Navy SEAL, you may be disappointed. Webb has chosen military stories that relate to business principles and have relevance to business practices but are not titillating sniper war stories.

Book Review written by: Harold A. Laurence, PhD, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas