Dave Berke is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, fighter pilot, Top Gun Instructor, ground combat leader, and now a leadership instructor and speaker with Echelon Front, where he serves as Chief Officer of Development and Curriculum. As a F/A-18 pilot, he deployed twice from the USS John C Stennis in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spent three years as an Instructor Pilot at TOPGUN where he served as the Training Officer, the senior staff pilot responsible for the conduct of the TOPGUN course.

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Be on time. It’s not okay to be late. As the leader, we have to set the right example.
  • There is a narrow path to Top Gun, but Dave made it…
  • Dave served as an ANGLICO Forward Air Controller supporting the Army’s 1st Armored Division during extensive urban combat operations on the ground in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006. He led his supporting arms liaison team on scores of combat missions into the most dangerous neighborhoods and accompanied SEAL Task Unit Bruiser on virtually every major operation in the Battle of Ramadi. He was the only Marine selected to fly the F-22 Raptor having served as an exchange officer at the Air Force’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron as the Division Commander. He became the first operational pilot ever to fly and be qualified in the F-35B, serving as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps’ first F-35 squadron from 2012-2014.
  • Balancing courage and confidence with humility – It’s a must to surround yourself with others who continue to push you and keep your ego in check.
  • The attributes of a Top Gun instructor: Willing to learn and Able to teach. Great leaders seem to have those same qualities.
  • Dave’s choice to volunteer to fight on the ground is what led him to meet Jocko Willink and thus change his life. Stepping up and doing a job that others don’t want to do, and taking that responsibility can lead to amazing opportunities.
  • A Top Gun pilot must balance courage and confidence with humility.
  • You need a great support group around you to keep in check.
  • Your ego, however, can be helpful at times. “It allows you to do things that others say can’t be done.”
  • How to deal with negative self-talk?
    • “We all deal with it. Relax. Take a step back. Breathe. Detach from the situation.”
  • Apply to be part of my Leadership Circle

Time Stamps

00:20 – Early Is On Time

03:03 – Dave Berke’s Early Days

07:01 – Action Taken After 9/11

13:05 – The Experience of a Top Gun Graduate

16:55 – The Attributes of a Top Gun Pilot

21:47 – How Do You Balance Conviction, Courage and Humility?

24:39 – Surround Yourself With Great People

27:13 – Imposter Syndrome Is A Good Thing

35:38 – Self-Talk During Fearful Times

40:26 – Experiences in Ramadi

46:14 – Helping Self and Others With PTSD

50:28 – What is Echelon Front?

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership