Episode 70: Relevant in Your Arena: Leadership at Home and in Your Business with Green Beret, Scott Mann


March 7, 2022


Don’t tell my mother, but she’s currently in competition for my favorite interview of all time. My mom took the cake with her episode…that is until I had Scott Mann on the show. 

18 years as a Green Beret, 23 years in the United States Army, a father, a husband, and someone who has fine tuned his leadership skills and is making an impact around the world beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

Today’s conversation with Scott blew me away. I’ll give you a few previews of what you can expect: (1) he had me in tears, (2) he had me laughing, and (3) he made a fundamental impact on how I will lead within the walls of my own home and in my business for the remainder of my life.


[3:15] Inspiring People Through Relationships and Connection 

Scott knew that he wanted to be a Green Beret since he was 14 years old. From then, everything he did with his education and his training was driven by that mission. 

Scott explains that what Green Berets do is unique. In his words, Green Berets are relationship-based connectors. Their specialty is going into areas and building relationships with indigenous people over a long period of time, to help them stand on their own. It’s about working by, with and through other people. 

His experiences solidified in him an approach to leadership that he still uses today, that’s all around purpose,human connection and inspiring people to take action on their own, through relationships and connection.

[7:44] Losing Touch with Our Primal Nature

The world today is so divided to the point that if you’re in a space with people who don’t agree with you or don’t see things like you, you have to divide immediately. We don’t see the opportunity of how even though we might see things differently, many of us want similar things. We want good opportunities for our families, we want freedom, we want the ability to be present, live a good life, see other people succeed, and lift other people up. 

According to Scott, if we build trust and establish social capital, the oldest form of capital in the world, we will be able to inspire people to take action on their own, to follow us because they choose to follow us. 

Scott explains that as humans, we are still ancient brains in a modern world. Our brain has not changed much in the last 100,000 years. We’re very primal, we’re very emotional, we’re big on finding meaning and purpose in everything that we do and connection is our superpower. The reason why we thrive in the modern world is because of our ability to connect. But for a range of reasons, we’ve lost touch with our primal nature: We lost touch with hospitality, listening, storytelling, reciprocity, presence, being connected; these are all things that have been part of our genetic makeup and our biology, but we’ve completely disconnected with them.

When we do that, we isolate ourselves from each other and we start to go tribal. But we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We’re telling ourselves this myth that we’re all sophisticated but the reality is we’re acting like tribal creatures, and you don’t have to look far to see it. So the more connected you are to your nature and to the essence of what makes us tick (and the fact that we need to be social) the more relevant you are to people who follow you. And most people aren’t doing it, so it’s a huge competitive advantage.

[12:45] MESSS

As a parent, I can’t help but think of this next generation. They’re being raised in this isolating world from day one. Whereas we’re developing bad habits as adults, but we knew a different way. So, where do we go from here for that generation and the leadership they so desperately need? 

Scott shares the definition of leadership that was created by professor James Clawson from Darden University, that he strongly agrees with: “Leadership is about managing energy; first in yourself and then in those around you.” Humans are mostly energy and we have to manage that energy. It starts with how we manage our own energy. Parents first have to learn how to lead themselves. If you’re in a highly aroused state all the time, then nobody’s going to follow you, because you look like you don’t trust yourself. You’re in survival mode and when you’re in survival mode, at a semi conscious level, your kids see it. They know that and so they go into survival mode as well.

A great acronym that Scott uses is: Humans are a messs: meaning-seeking, emotional, social story animals who struggle. Now, let’s break that down:

  • Meaning-seeking. Our kids have to have a value on purpose. If we’re not including “why” in their life and helping them get clear on their purpose, it is impossible for them to take action, and then they are at the whim of whatever the world throws at them. Our little ones are always asking “why”, because we’re driven to know why, it is a primal driver. But what do we do? We shut it down. 
  • Emotional. We are emotional creatures, we’re the most emotional creatures on earth. What do we do? We shut emotion down, we don’t have access to our emotions. And whenever our kids are emotional, we’re almost put off by it. But the reality is, emotions are nothing more than the body receiving a demand signal from the brain to take action on a stimulus. So, we have to understand that emotions are part of the ride and we need to learn how to manage them. 
  • Social. This pandemic has done more damage to children in terms of prolonged isolation, then we will probably know for the next decade. We are wired to be social, we have to connect. Children figure out how to navigate the world in the presence of other children. If they’re isolated, they lose that regulation capability and there are profound impacts. So, we have to fight for ways to keep our children connected. We need to understand that damage has been done and it’s going to manifest as emotion.
  • Storytelling. We’re story animals. As parents, we need to use stories in real time moments, when the stakes are high, to help our kids make sense of the world. All brains make sense of the world through story. The brain navigates the world using narrative, using metaphor and matching patterns. As parents, we need to use stories wherever possible and ask our kids to tell us stories.
  • Struggle. Our struggle is part of our life. Our kids are going through a struggle right now and we need to help them see struggle, not as something that’s taking them off track, but as a biological necessity. Our greatest gifts and connections come from struggle. Struggle is just part of the journey and the real essence of life is forged in struggle.

[21:03] From Sympathetic To Parasympathetic 

People are going through life right now in a sympathetic state, in a highly aroused state, and they don’t even realize it. They’re in a highly aroused state of fear and in some cases, anger, and it’s primal and it’s very dangerous, because if you stay there over time, it leads to violence.

If you have to give a presentation to your boss, if you have to get on a zoom call, and it’s the ninth zoom call of the day, if you just learned that your kids are going to be homeschooled again or there’s a new variant of COVID out, all of these put us into fear-based behavior. We elevate into this state and the problem is that we’re there all the time now.  We’re not designed for that.

Humans are designed to go into a sympathetic state to take action. 20,000 years ago, if a saber-toothed tiger came out at us, we would go into a sympathetic state and we would deal with it. But, then we would go back to our cave and gather as a clan, and we would drop into a parasympathetic state. Sympathetic state is an episodic thing, it is not designed for long term.

So, today, we’re having all these responses that are sympathetic responses, but they’re not appropriate for the situation and they’re long term. That’s where we have to regulate our state, and here are some things to help you do that:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing. The first thing you should always ask yourself out loud in a high stakes moment is: Am I breathing right now? Because you’re probably not. When we get amped up, we hold our breath, it’s an autonomic response. We don’t mean to do it, but we start to limit our breath and in response, we start to freak out. So, the first thing we have to do is a conscious question: Am I breathing?; then exhale and squeeze your belly into your spine, and inhale through your nose into a belly expansion (not your shoulders). Repeat this three to five times
  • Bring yourself to the present. Once you’re doing the breath, notice your feet on the floor. Just notice your feet, feel your feet on the floor. Next, notice the temperature in the room, and lastly, find three new things in the room.

[27:48] The Ultimate Metric for a Leader

We see leadership as a bridge to our next level in all categories of life. But it’s a majorly lacking thing in society today across the board. We’re not taught the strategies to step up and elevate and work through some of the things that are bound to happen. So, how can we do better?

Humans have been leading other humans for thousands of years. And in Scott’s experience, in the toughest of situations where the stakes were super high, people follow leaders who are relevant to their goals. Leaders today are trying to be the best, but that’s not what people follow. People follow another human who is relevant to their goals because we’re goal oriented creatures. 

According to Scott, the ultimate metrics for a leader are (1) are you relevant to the people in your arena; do they see you as being clear on their goals and trying to help them reach them and (2) are you relatable to the pain that they are experiencing with their goals and did they relate to you; do they see you as human? 

Scott’s MESSS acronym can be applied here as well:

  • Meaning. As the leader, have you conveyed to your team, what your purpose is two years into this pandemic? Have you re-evaluated your “why”? Do they know why you do what you do? We all operate off purpose, so purpose should be at the forefront of everything we do.
  • Emotion. Most leaders today have zero emotional access. They don’t have access to their own emotions. So, when they get in front of their people, they bury all that stuff and they just look robotic. They look transactional, and they’re not relatable. 
  • Social connection. Are you emphasizing connection in everything that you do? Normally what leaders do is they roll in, they throw up the PowerPoint deck and they go right to it, and they make no connection with anybody in the room. As humans, if we don’t feel connected to you right out of the gate, we’re not listening to a word you’re saying.
  • Story. Leaders can’t tell their own story and they can’t tell the story of their business. The brain is a metaphorical pattern-matching organ, it makes sense of the world through story. And if you don’t tell them a story, they’re going to make up their own. And they’re going to get it wrong. And they’re going to be a little agitated that they had to do that out of your 78 slide PowerPoint deck.
  • Struggle. As leaders, one of the most generous things we can do is repurpose our struggle in the service of others through our own story of struggle. Because when we do that, we do become relatable. We help the other party transport into our narrative, and they can process their own life through our struggle. Leaders should embrace struggle more as the key ingredient in our journey of life, because that’s what makes us all connected.

[36:04] Everything Else Is Just a Distraction 

I’ve been mentoring entrepreneurs for 10 years, and I kept finding that I was helping them get to a certain place in business, but sometimes it was coming at the expense of what mattered most; whether it be their health, their children or their relationships. Now, so much of the work that I do, at its core, is about family. 

Being in such an intensive world of being a Green Beret while having kids in that journey, having a wife in that journey, Scott shares his perspective on family.

He shares an emotional moment during his retirement ceremony after almost 23 years in the service, where his 12-year old son, Cooper, asked him: “Dad, are you done?” After hearing his father say:  “Yeah, I’m done, pal”, Copper broke down in tears, sobbing into his fathers chest. It was at this moment that Scott realized what his children and his wife went through, what he asked them to go through so that he could chase his dream. Scott shares that chasing your dreams and building something is great, but his best moments in life were with his wife and his 3 boys. That’s all that matters to him….and everything else was just a distraction.

[45:39] Rooftop Leadership 

Noticing how much division and how many trust gaps there are in our country, Scott started to wonder, what if he could take that purpose-based human connection skill set that he spent 30 years building and he could teach other leaders across multiple industries to apply it in their life to overcome these unprecedented challenges that we face today around fear, isolation and distrust. 

And that’s what he started doing. The whole purpose of his company, Rooftop Leadership is human connection. The ability to be a storyteller, the ability to listen, the ability to just be present and make connections, ultimately create social capital. And social capital is the oldest form of capital in the world. Social capital is what compels people to take action of their own free will, at vast levels in whatever it is we’re doing. So, Scott trains people how to use those old school interpersonal skills to make better connections in their life so that they can influence in a way that meets a purpose bigger than themselves. 

Scott’s goal is: 10 million inspired Rooftop Leaders in 10 years. Such a powerful and amazing goal that I’m sure he will reach!

Hopefully, today’s episode gave you what you need. If it really resonated with you, like it did with me, make sure you subscribe because we have some amazing stuff coming your way. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, leave us a review!

Come connect with me on Instagram @elizhartke!  If there’s a topic, a question or a guest you want to hear on the show, just reach out and share that.

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