SPS 071: Extreme Ownership, The Dichotomy of Book Publishing, And Using Publicity To Help Sell 2.5M+ Copies with Leif Babin

Today, joining me is Leif Babin. Leif is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, co-author of #1 New York Times bestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he serves as President, COO, leadership instructor, speaker, and strategic advisor. In this episode, we will chat with Leif about how he launched one of the most successful books ever published.

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A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Leif served thirteen years in the Navy. During his last tour, Leif served as Operations Officer and Executive Officer, was again deployed to Iraq for a second time with Special Operations Task Force. He is the proud recipient of the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. Upon his active duty departure, Leif co-founded Echelon Front, a premier leadership consulting company that helps others build their own high-performance winning teams.

Leif served with Jocko Williams, another author, in sustained combat regions as Navy SEALS. They talked and realized there was a real need for leadership training in companies. “Everything we learned in combat applied to any team in any organization and any situation.” As they started working with companies, many of their clients and followers were looking for a reference manual. “We wanted to get the message out about leadership from Navy SEALS that can humbly speak about this, reflect well on the SEAL teams, and pass these lessons onto others.”

“We launched the Echelon company in 2012, and our book was published in 2015.”

He had talked with people and found out he didn’t want to go with a ghostwriter because once they had given over their story, they completely lost control of the end product. Leif notes two examples of fallen servicemen who were written about as “bravados.” However, in reality, they were two humble men who gave their lives for our country.

On writing their story, “We didn’t want to write a memoir, we wanted to write something that talked about leadership lessons learned and gave the application of those leadership lessons learned so that people could take and implement them in their professional and personal lives.”

Listen in to find out how Leif and Jocko decided to tell their story when they co-authored their book, why you shouldn’t let your ego get in the way, and how Leif and Jocko marketed their book.

Show Notes

  • [03:38] How Leif decided to write his book and his process of creating Extreme Ownership.
  • [07:34] His experience shopping for a literary agent and sending out their proposal.
  • [10:30] Why Leif decided to write this book himself instead of hiring a ghostwriter.
  • [13:51] The daunting process of pitching publishing houses.
  • [18:33] Co-author process pros and cons for Jocko and Leif.
  • [21:43] How the two authors were able to keep each other’s voice when editing the other’s manuscript.
  • [23:25] Marketing their book and how many months before their sales started to climb.
  • [27:01] When Leif decided to send an advanced copy of the manuscript to the press.
  • [30:26] Publicity elements authors want to consider when marketing their book. 
  • [31:46] When did their book make an impact for their business?
  • [34:34] Why Leif feels it’s more important to be an Amazon Best Seller than be on the New York Times Best Seller list.
  • [35:01] How his book has increased and expanded his business.
  • [43:48] Stories of readers loving the concept of dichotomy.
  • [46:56] Leif’s advice to upcoming authors. 

Links and Resources

Darrell Darnell

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