Editor's Note: This content was provided exclusively to Roofing Contractor by Owens Corning

Decorated retired Navy SEAL, leadership instructor and executive coach Jocko Willink spoke to an audience of nearly 600 roofing contractors and their guests attending the Owens Corning Platinum Conference last March in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Willink, author of “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win,”and host of the Jocko Podcast, inspired and challenged the crowd to take their business to the next level of success by drawing on lessons gleaned from the battlefield and from working with teams, companies and organizations across a breadth of industries.

Following his presentation, Willink, affectionately known as 'Jocko' spoke with Owens Corning Roofing about similarities between the hard work of being a roofing contractor and a Navy SEAL. Below are parts of that conversation.

Q: You talk about the importance of using “brains more than brawn.” How does this advice relate to folks doing the hard work on the rooftops?

A: Even in the SEAL teams, we say work smarter, not harder. If you aren’t using your mind, you aren’t doing things in the most efficient manner. That won’t help you win over the long haul.


Q: What parallels do you see between being a Navy SEAL and a roofing contractor?

A: It is hard work, but you have to get the mission done.

Q: What insights from being a commander in the special forces can be applied to managing a roofing business and how do leaders develop and maintain qualities like loyalty and respect?

A: If you want loyalty from your team, you show loyalty to your team. You take care of them. You go the extra mile for them. You put their welfare above your team. It is the same with respect. If you want respect from your team, you have to treat them with respect. In order to build loyalty and respect, you have to give it.


Q: Retention is a huge topic in the military and in roofing. What advice you offer to contractors to keep their teams engaged when the going gets tough?

A: Build relationships in your team up and down the chain of command. Hard times make good teams tighter, but they destroy teams that are weak. If everyone on the team is looking out for one another and putting the team ahead of themselves, the team will be strong. If everyone is just looking out for themselves, the team will be weak. And that attitude—good or bad—starts at the top.

Q: What are the three best pieces of career advice you’ve ever received?

A: Take ownership. Discipline equals freedom. Stay humble.

Q: As a real estate investor and a supporter of military men and women, do you have a personal roofing story you’d like to share?

A:  I had a leak by my chimney, so I went up to replace a few shingles. Well, it turned out to be much worse than I thought and I ended up re-roofing a third of my roof by myself in about 10 hours. GET SOME!

Q: What made you want to speak to the contractors at the Owens Corning Platinum Conference and how does your message tie into Owens Corning’s conference theme, Next Level?

A: The American dream is to have a home and put a roof over your family. It is great to talk to the people who actually make that happen. Contractors literally build America. It is an honor to talk to the hard working men and women who put in the work every day to make America what it is. The “Next Level” is always looking to get better, to improve, to be exceptional. That is the American way.

Q: For fun, will you share something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

A: People might be surprised to know that I have a wife and four kids.