Clint Bruce on Catalysts, Conviction & Curiosity

Clint BruceIt’s difficult not to be inspired after spending time with Clint Bruce. Bruce, a decorated Naval Academy graduate, former Navy SEAL and NFL linebacker, is the founder and president of TRG, a global intelligence and advisory group headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Bruce strives to be “somewhere on the map between excellent and elite” in all he does. He was a 4 year letterwinner and captain of the most successful Naval Academy football team of the 90’s. He deployed overseas in high risk environments as an officer in the SEAL Teams during  a career that culminated with command of a SEAL Platoon deployed for 9 months engaged in direct support of the Global War on Terror. And upon his return home to a 7 month old daughter he had yet to meet – Clint quickly pivoted into harnessing the same energy, focus, and passion into fatherhood and entreprenurship. His drive and strong convictions have been the catalyst for the success of Trident Response Group.

The Catalyst: A Fierce Love for His Tribe

TRG is an elite risk and threat solutions firm that helps anticipate and solve problems for influential decision-makers. The organization exists to keep leaders, businesses, and families ready.

It is clear that the source of TRG’s success can be traced back to the tribal convictions Bruce cultivated in the Navy and on the football field. There is no doubt this man fiercely loves and cares for his team of employees – his Tribe.

“I knew three things when we started TRG: I wanted to be the kind of man my daughters want to marry one day, I want to work with and for the best business leaders in America, and I want to create amazing careers for Veterans. TRG allows me to work towards all 3 of those missions daily. Candidly – I fail and fall often. But I always know where I’m trying to go.”

That type of clarity and certainty can accelerate success. It is a catalyst.

The Conviction: Work with America’s best leaders. Create Amazing careers for Veterans.

TRG began because both his first clients, and he, needed it to.

“My transition was rough, and it was my fault. I was failing. I was failing myself, my bosses, my family … at least that’s how I felt. I wasn’t being me. And I didn’t really know who and how to ask for help. Pride, fear, anger, confusion, being embarrassed … those emotions were driving decisions. My faith, family, and friends didn’t flinch. They stayed beside me. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity be a part of a pretty remarkable event, and then to start a business based on our success in that event.”

The genesis of TRG can be traced back to Hurricane Katrina, after Bruce had left the Navy and while he was struggling as a young financial advisor. He along with a few others known for their special operations careers were asked by the Fairmont Hotel to mount a rescue operation for more than 500 patrons stranded at their hotel in New Orleans. After a remarkably successful mission, Bruce was reinvigorated. He realized the unique skills he had developed as a SEAL were still extremely valuable in the corporate world.

“The Katrina rescue showed me I could still serve and protect people.” says Bruce.

TRG matched his clients’ personal and professional security and safety needs with his and other special operations veterans skills. For more than a decade that portfolio of services has grown. TRG works hard to provide unique value to our clients. “We want clients’ and their families to feel ready every day.”  For Veterans, TRG offers a way to provide immediate value with current skills to the types of business leaders that inspire and motivate them.  Bruce says this gives the Vet time to learn what else they enjoy and can excel in as a next profession while providing value to the very men and women they could see themselves being excited to work for one day.

“Proverbs 22:29 says ‘Do you see a man excellent at his work? He shall not speak before small men. He will speak before kings.’ – I had to find and pursue that profession. And I had to build that pipeline for those coming behind me.

“What’s exciting to me is to have a guy who came back from Afghanistan and is now a successful executive,” says Bruce recalling the story of a past TRG employee. “While serving in our Business Risk Practice, he discovered he has a knack for due diligence. Today he works for JP Morgan Chase and is doing extremely well.”

T.E. Lawrence once said, “An opinion can be argued with. A conviction is best shot.”

Bruce’s affection for this quote is in his belief that conviction produces action, whereas opinions most often do not. At least not inspirational action.

During his time as a SEAL Bruce had the opportunity to learn from Admiral William McRaven who recently retired as a four-star admiral after 37 years as a Navy SEAL.

“What I admired most about Amiral McRaven, was his total conviction and clarity,” says Bruce. “He always knew why we where there and was very clear about expectations. He wasn’t expecting perfection but total effort and total commitment to the cause.”

“I don’t know how much I do well at TRG, but I do have total conviction. There is no doubt I want to hire heroes and protect leaders.”

“Being an entrepreneur is the hardest thing I’ve ever done—harder than being a football player or a SEAL,” says Bruce. “The performance terrain of business is delayed gratification and that requires extreme persistence and commitment. Only conviction can help produce that type of endurance.” 

The Courage of Curiosity

“If you make a habit of being curious you distinguish yourself from average people.” says Bruce. “The most successful people I know are also the most curious.”

Bruce attributes much of his success and adventures to an insatiable curiosity.

“I call curiosity ‘intellectual courage’. We all have that momentary knot in our stomach when we raise our hand to ask a question in a room full of people we’d like to believe we already know everything. It takes guts to ask the questions. And the best people I know do it all the time, and encourage their people to as well.”

Bruce says curiosity is one of the greatest indicators of a capacity to lead. It demonstrates a desire to accrue the knowledge and skill needed to be successful before the hard challenges come.

“High achievers want to find out, not be found out,” says Bruce.

When asked what he’s most curious about now, Bruce quickly says “becoming a good listener.”

“Learning to be a good listener is, and has always been, a struggle for me. I wish it wasn’t. I deeply value what other people say and think. Having ADHD and being a passionate, enthusiastic personality to begin with—and then throw in some good ole insecurity on top of that—and you can fail to listen to the answers to the best questions you ask. It’s a skill. Listening is more than just being quiet and letting other people talk. It’s asking thoughtful questions, ensuring you heard the answers well, affirming their thoughts and concerns, and speaking honestly where you have expertise and authority. Every time I’ve focused on listening, TRG is successful. Every time I struggle as a listener, TRG struggles. But when I listen … that’s when the magic happens. So I’m working hard to become a consistently awesome listener. Keep me accountable to that please.”

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