Sebastian Junger is the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of THE PERFECT STORM, FIRE, A DEATH IN BELMONT, WAR, TRIBE, and FREEDOM. As an award-winning journalist, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and a special correspondent at ABC News, he has covered major international news stories around the world and has received both a National Magazine Award and a Peabody Award. Junger is also a documentary filmmaker whose debut film “Restrepo”, a feature-length documentary (co-directed with Tim Hetherington), was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

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  • Human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives, and they need to feel connected to others.
  • Definition of Freedom: “We walked 400 miles, and most nights we were the only people who knew where we were. There are many definitions of freedom, but surely that’s one of them.”
  • Running a company versus LEADING a company — “You can run a company or lead a company. If you want to lead a company, you have to make sure that when things take a downturn, as the leader you’ll be the first to experience the downside. Before jobs get cut, you’ll take a pay cut, you will suffer with the people you lead.” One great example of this is Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya. All employees are part owners of the company. He comes from a family of Nomadic Sheep farmers from the Turkish mountains. He learned a collective approach to life and work where he grew up.
  • “When people are actively engaged in a cause their lives have more purpose… with a resulting improvement in mental health.”
  • How becoming a dad (at age 55) changed his life: “they are the point of life.”
  • Sebastian’s dad was a refugee from two wars… War has had a significant impact on his life.
  • As Sebastian grew up, he decided he wanted to be a journalist and cover wars. He went to the Civil war in Bosnia.
  • Guts – “Most scary things are more frightening before you go. I have a formidable capacity for denial.”
  • People want to feel like they have agency. They’re more scared when they feel that they don’t have it.
    • Front line vs backline soldiers – The backline soldiers are scared because they feel like they don’t have as much agency as the front line (even though the front line is more dangerous). Uncertainty is scary.
  • To help with fear, go in front of your mirror and make the “fear grimace” face…
  • When Sebastian was competing in track events for the 1500m race, he would yawn in the faces of his opponents to intimidate them
  • Freedom – We aren’t subject to the whims of the largest male in a group anymore… You remain free by being mobile
  • He organized his new book, Freedom, in three parts: Run — Fight — Think
  • Sebastian went on a walking trip and called it, “The Last Patrol.” – They walked on a railroad from Washington DC to Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh
    • “Met America from inside-out”
  • What did he think about at night when he went to sleep outside during “The Last Patrol?”
    • “Always thought safety first.” “The most meaningful experiences happen when I’m physically dirty and security wasn’t guaranteed.”
  • How to help your children push their edges?
    • “We traveled to Liberia with our daughter.”
    • “The core value children value is closeness. We sleep on a mattress on the floor with our daughters. They want to be close.”
  • Collaboration/Working together — Football and the military. The football locker room is a beautiful place. It’s democratic. People join from diverse backgrounds. And create a common goal. A theme of collaboration. A “we can’t win games without each other.” And when it comes together it’s a magical feeling. 
    • There must be a core commitment to the group. “Being ego-driven is an emotional burden.”
  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Principle driven – In politics, democracy should be #1
    • Sacrifice own interest for the group
  • Life/Career Advice — FAIL. If you’re only doing things you know you can do then you’re never near your limits. In order to grow, you have to push those limits. And sometimes that means you’ll fail. That’s ok.
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