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:
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.
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
CrossFit Inc. : 2006 – 2014San Diego, CA
Aviation: 2008 – 2014Part 135 Pilot in Command with International Experience
Lieutenant and SEAL Operator, US Navy: 2008 – 2012
Seal Team Three / Training Officer, Squad Commander, deployed to Afghanistan
Naval Special Warfare Training Center: 2006 – 2008
Leading Petty Officer
Naval Special Warfare Development Group: 2002 – 2006
Team member for a Joint Special Operations Task Force, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq:
Seal Team Five: 1997 – 2002
Awards and Commendations
“Hi Kenny! On behalf of our staff and members, I wanted to say thank you for a great performance at our 2022 Winter Meeting this past weekend in Wausau, Wisconsin. All feedback received so far has been nothing short of positive. Our members truly enjoyed your presentation, and your performance was extremely engaging. You were so gracious to have dinner with our group, meet our members and pose for photographs. In my ten years of planning these events for our chapter, I have never seen as many of our members take to the dance floor as they did on Saturday night while you were playing. You were such a huge “hit” at our meeting, that you created a memorable event our members will be talking about for years to come. You were so pleasant to work with that I hope we cross paths in the future. Thank you again for the fantastic weekend,”
“Kenny, It was our great pleasure to have you at our meeting. One word…..AWESOME!! People are still talking about you! I hope you had a good time with us as well! I look forward to inviting you back to a future meeting.”
“Kenny Aronoff is the total package! In my 30+ years of marketing and organizing events all over the world, few keynote speakers have had such a significant impact on an audience, such as Kenny! He was passionate! He was engaging! He was charismatic! Kenny shared life-lessons and lessons learned from the music industry that were entirely relatable to the business arena. Leadership, communications, creativity, collaboration, innovation, passion, and teamwork are all key values of any organization. Achieving these values are lofty goals for any organization, or culture. These values drive business results. Then he created a one of the most memorable moments I have ever personally witnessed. Kenny played a medley of hits on his drums that completely ROCKED our audience! Every conference attendee had their phone out to capture the moment. They were singing and/or weaving enthusiastically in their chairs. It was an absolutely incredible performance. At the end, 400+ business leaders rewarded his effort with a thunderous standing ovation!But there is one thing that really separates Kenny Aronoff from traditional keynote speakers. The majority of keynotes simply deliver their presentation and leave the venue immediately, per their “contractual agreement”. He stayed for the entire event and greeted every attendee who wanted to meet and talk with him. It is not often the average person gets to personally meet a true legend – much less a famous music legend. I received many verbal and written responses from attendees that they were shocked at how friendly, humble, intelligent, and conversational Kenny was. Needless to say, he created a whole new legion of fans in the Mid-West!As an event organizer, Kenny was the consummate professional to work with. Aside from his amazing talent, I so appreciated his positive energy and willingness to engage at every step in the process. The bottom line is, I give Kenny Aronoff my highest recommendation as a Keynote Speaker for any event. He’s simply the best!”
“Wow. That’s all I can say is Wow! What an amazing Keynote! Kenny Aronoff’s energy and enthusiasm during his presentation kept the audience engaged and looking for more. We had many members say they wrote down thoughts about how they could implement Kenny’s ideas on how to work together for the greater good of the team and set themselves apart through hard work and commitment. Kenny was the perfect Keynote Speaker to wrap up our event! Kenny Aronoff is an insightful, energetic and entertaining speaker with thought-provoking ideas who did a terrific job!He made a huge impact on our group and made the event a huge success!I highly recommend considering what he has to say and to inviting him to speak at your event. He kept the audience riveted for a full hour. It was impressive.”
“Fantastic show. Kenny is a terrific speaker and performer. High energy. Yet smooth and polished. I remember all the trade show conventions I went to where there was some luncheon or dinner where there was some motivational speaker, usually a washed up athlete telling old stories. They were so boring I would fall asleep and my face would fall into the pudding. Long and short of it. In my business career I have seen dozens of motivational speakers, including an astronaut who walked on the moon, and Kenny puts all of them to shame. This guy is the real deal. I like the way he adapted his talk for your purposes, referencing tools and the need to adapt or die. He really put his heart and soul into this for you. Obviously a really great guy.”
“My students are still buzzing with enthusiasm and insight from your recent guest lecture. One thing I’d like to pass along to you (as someone who’s worked with college kids for a long, long time) is that you seem to have a special gift for connecting with this cohort–not just in a way that’s informative and entertaining, but also in a way that is “changing.” I’ve seen a lot of talented, high-level keynote speakers come and go. Yes, you are good at speaking to a room full of individuals. But you have that higher-level ability to go beyond speaking to an audience, into the realm of connecting with each audience member individually/personally, so that in the moment you are “with them and bonding one to one.” I mean this seriously, Kenny–not just as a fan trying to blow ingratiating smoke.”
“Kenny is such a force, he’s such a physical force–that’s the thing you have to start with–he is a ball of fucking energy who’s bringing it. He reminds me of some of our great pass rushers, like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis!”
“I think he is, without a doubt, one of the greats. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the greatest in the world and I’m lucky enough to have him in my band. I know Kenny has his own idols that he looks up to, and so do I, and he’s right there as far as his ability and his personality–as far as how he plays and presents the music that he’s doing–he’s at the very top of the mountain.”
“Our success was a matter of a million things, but of course Kenny’s dedication to work–which I don’t think anyone could ever slight in any fashion–was a big factor. There’s no question that Kenny can tough it out, and everybody who knows Kenny would have to admire him for that.”
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