Interview with Errol Doebler
Written by: Scott Mullens
Errol Doebler is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. During his time as a Naval Officer, Errol served as an Assistant Operations Officer, an Assistant Platoon Commander at SEAL Team FOUR, and a Platoon Commander at Seal Team ONE. After spending time in the private sector as a sales leader he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Errol left the FBI after 13 years of service to begin his leadership consulting firm, Leader 193, in 2016. Errol has worked with executives and teams from Fortune 100 companies, professional sports organizations, small technical startups, and individual executives across a vast array of industries around the world as the Founder of Leader 193.
Errol, can you share with us what prompted you to start Leader 193? First of all, there’s a lifelong passion for leadership, and when I served in the military after the naval academy, that was validation that leadership was the key to any problem or challenge that was faced. I left the SEAL teams after an injury and worked in the private sector for a number of years. Then when 9/11 happened I got myself medically cleared and joined the FBI. I traveled the globe investigating terrorists and was a member of the NY Swat Team, so the work of an FBI special agent was something I loved. What I struggled with, was the leadership and management at the FBI. It was the leadership culture that was something I was frustrated with. I realized I had options. I could either bang my head against the wall and fight it, ignore it, or leave. So I left. And I left with an even greater appreciation for great leadership. At that time I didn’t know leadership consulting was a thing until I spoke with a friend of mine. And that was the impetus for us to start Leader 193, which I run together with my wife, who I actually met working for the FBI.
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your business over the past few years? The challenges I faced early on were the same challenges any other small business owner faces. The original “how do I get business? How do I get clients?” questions. I realized I was having a hard time articulating what I was trying to do, in order to sell it. We continue to work to streamline new messaging to show what we are about, and there’s always the clarity of message factor in all the applications and channels we use including online, which is challenging. The challenge at this point, since we’ve been in business for a while now, is growing our team. We currently have two coaches and that takes a lot of work because I have to put them through our leadership process and find people who fit our brand. We hired an operations manager which was great, we’re currently trying to hire a sales team, and we’ve moved from clarity and message to growing and branding our business. As far as our operations go, out of the gate, we were very successful and continue to be. When Covid came, the main thing that was hurt was our in-person events. Our online program continued to operate and grow. We took a hit like other small businesses because companies that were going to sign on with us were being cautious, which was completely understandable, and our in-person events were postponed, but ultimately over time we made it through and were able to keep our current customers and pick up a few new customers as well.
Can you share with us what’s new at Leader 193? Leader 193 was named after my Navy week hell week class since the SEAL teams were where I really learned the most about leadership. But on May 1st we’re going to be doing a rebranding of our name, to try and better encompass all that we are offering. Please stay tuned for that. All the content we offer will stay the same but we’re doing a rebrand. Another thing that’s new is that we’ve got a series of open retreats we’re doing. We’ve got a 1-day open retreat in the summer at 13 moons, and 2-3 day open retreats coming up as well, one this summer in Beyul and the second in October at Copper Rose Ranch in Montana. People can go to our website, www.Leader193.com for all the information on those retreats.
Errol, I saw a photo of you sitting casually in a river in winter on your website. How does one get used to doing something like that, and also, why? The why is the important part. We use a leadership process that I developed as well as wellness techniques. The cold exposure falls under the wellness portion. There are two prongs to that: 1) getting into an ice bath or a river in Colorado in winter is essentially an induced panic attack. I teach people to get calm and relax in that type of environment, to sit in something like that and breathe easily and calmly, and be aware of how they can do that, by calming their breath, breathing in through the nose and out the mouth, and the knowledge that calms you down, and the ability to practice it is vital. So now, if I’m in any environment whether personal or professional and I get stressed, I know I have a process for calming down. That’s vital from a leadership standpoint. If you can get things from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, now you can see challenges big or small with absolute and complete clarity. The second prong to cold exposure is the actual physiological effect it has on us. Among other things, what’s happening when you get into the cold – and this is all science-based, not speculation, the chemicals released when you do this – norepinephrine, increase by 500% which helps with your mental and emotional well-being. Physiological – you’re exercising your cardiovascular system. Blood flows more easily. The heart isn’t working as hard so you’re getting more beats, and it increases the positive blood flow to your brain. When you are healthy from a physiological standpoint, you can now think with clarity, and think through problems and challenges from a leadership perspective.
How can the Aspen Business Connect community further support you? That begs the question of how can I further support them as well. I think by engaging in the activities Aspen Business Connect offers is important. If someone is engaging in our community, and are going to the coffee talks, the sit downs, staying tuned into the content Jillian is providing us including online, then by definition, they are supporting. Engagement, for all of us, is how we support each other. That’s what it’s really about.