Sean Heritage

Connecting The Dots



Letting Things Break

I have always enjoyed being a member of a team. Whether it be my family, a team on the athletic field, a command, or an informal group working toward a common goal, I prefer to be an active contributor to… Continue Reading →

Engage. Connect. Grow.

A recent status update on my LinkedIn account resulted in a nice conversation with a Department of Defense (DoD) civilian on the topic of mentoring, networking, and actively engaging with others. He made mention that in his 20+ years working… Continue Reading →

The Vortex (Guest Post)

LTJG Kelly Ryan commissioned in the Navy in 2010 through Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI after a successful career as an equestrian dressage coach and trainer.  After she commissioned, she underwent training at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence… Continue Reading →

Shared Values (Guest Post)

ENS Kyle Hunter is an Information Warfare Officer, commissioned in 2011 through the Seaman to Admiral-21st Century program. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 2001, and after completion of basic training reported to Monterey, California to become a… Continue Reading →

Building Trust

I know I am far from alone in my belief that a team is not a team merely because members happen to work in the same building or wear the same uniform. Rather,  a group of people becomes a team… Continue Reading →

Defining Success

We all define success differently. The cynic in me acknowledges that some measure their success by their bank account, their job title, or their perceived superiority over their friends, neighbors, and coworkers. The people I enjoy most are those who… Continue Reading →

Subject to Change (Guest Post)

Petty Officer David Hennessy is a 29 year old, single with no dependents, American Sailor, who hails from the great city of Chicago. Taking a varied path that did not directly lead to service in our Navy, but did lead directly… Continue Reading →

Public Accountability

Have you ever thought about doing something and then never got close to actually doing it? Have you ever written something down as a goal or task and then not seen it through? I know I am among the many… Continue Reading →

Being There

We all live “busy” lives and we make numerous decisions each day about how we choose to spend our most precious resource, time. Some of us even care enough to think about how the choices we make about our time… Continue Reading →

Culture Clash (Guest Post)

Ensign Lukas Dwelly was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer last fall through the Navy Reserve Direct Commissioning Program. Enlisting in the Marines in 1995, he obtained the rank of Sergeant and deployed as an infantry squad leader aboard the USS… Continue Reading →

Leadership AND Followership

It’s no secret that I am both passionate about leadership and appreciative of the opportunity to follow those who truly lead. I believe effective followership is the path to effective leadership. In fact, I would go so far as to… Continue Reading →


I continue to notice that most public sector organizations, as well as many of the people working within them, are especially mindful of the authorities that they may not enjoy. They hold themselves back from doing some of the things… Continue Reading →

Flattening your Tree of Monkeys – Observations on Leadership (Guest Post)

CTR2 Willoughby is a 23-year-old first-term Sailor with a driving passion for learning and understanding; a rational, positive outlook on life; a distaste for the superflous; and, if not uncensored, a tongue which expresses his distaste. Since enlisting in 2009… Continue Reading →

Cover Bands

“Cover bands don’t change the world.”  That is a call to action from Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative and PODcast by the same name. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and subscribe to both his blog and PODcast. In… Continue Reading →

Has the Term Shipmate Shipwrecked? (Guest Post)

LT Jim Legg is an Information Warfare Officer. He enlisted in the Navy in 1994.  After completing boot camp, Jim reported to Pensacola, FL for Cryptologic Technician Administrative “A” School.  He was commissioned in 2006 through the Seaman to Admiral-21st… Continue Reading →

Sixty Day Update

I like to sleep well at night. I have trouble doing that when I begin to question if I might be doing anything that may be perceived as not “walking the walk” (because I certainly do a great deal of… Continue Reading →

Practice To Become

I remember being told this throughout my childhood and continue to hear it today… Practice Makes Perfect! I appreciate the message and make that philosophy a priority, while encouraging my son, and those with whom I serve to do the… Continue Reading →

Mentors: “Being” and “Doing”

Of late and as a result of recent posts, I have enjoyed the pleasure of many conversations on the topic of mentorship.  These conversations have left me believing that there are two kinds of mentors…“Doing” Mentors and “Being” Mentors.  Both… Continue Reading →

Operate Forward (Guest Post)

LTJG Jason Pawlak is an Information Warfare Officer originally from Mason, Ohio.  After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Computer Science, he commissioned through Officer Candidate School in October of 2010.  Jason took orders to NIOC… Continue Reading →

Confidence and Clarity

With the move to Maryland and joining a new team, I have made it a point of late to reach out to some of the proteges with whom I now share geography. I have also incorporated guest posts on my… Continue Reading →

Expectations of a Mentor (Guest Post)

ENS Zaki Rucker is an Information Warfare Officer. After enlisting in the Navy and attending boot camp in 2004, Zaki attended the Modern Standard Arabic course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. He then spent six years at… Continue Reading →

Family, Intersections, and Legacy

Simultaneously starting a new job and planning for a new year is proving to be rather fortuitous. Like many people, before I settle into a new job I arrive with a list of goals (short and long term) that I… Continue Reading →

Thanksgiving, Giving Thanks, and Just Plain Giving

Over the last week while I was experiencing yet another wonderful Thanksgiving with family, like so many others, I spent a good portion of time reflecting on the many things for which I am thankful in my life. As my… Continue Reading →

The Power of the Voice Over

I recently partnered with two remarkable military leaders to write a paper we titled  Sharing Our Message: The Migration from Embedded to Social Media. In it, we contrast two military operations. One failed in part due to an absence of embedded… Continue Reading →

Chiefly Expectations: A JO’s Perspective (Guest Post)

LT Ryan Haag is an Information Warfare Officer. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he served onboard the USS Hampton (SSN-767) as the Electrical Officer and Assistant Weapons Officer, at U.S. Second Fleet as a TLAM Senior Mission Planner… Continue Reading →

Rolling With The Wind

Sometimes it’s just obvious that certain people come into our lives for a specific reason. Nine weeks ago, the class I am currently attending started and as customary with any first day of school, we did the standard around the… Continue Reading →

New and Improved?

Last week, I made my final post on Connecting the Dots (CTD) 1.0 and have migrated to this forum, which I affectionately refer to as CTD 2.0. There is no doubt I will have the need to make incremental tweaks… Continue Reading →

My Top 10 TED Talks

I have been watching TED Talks for several years. In fact, I often spend Sunday mornings with TED. Given the popularity of these videos, I am continually surprised at the number of people I meet who have never heard of… Continue Reading →

The Daily Readboard

It’s been almost eight years since I got serious about making personal improvement a deliberate part of my life. Prior to that turning point, anything I may have been getting better at (less physical fitness) was not especially intentional. I… Continue Reading →

Settlers and Shapers

As we spend our days carving out a living, most of us do so by switching between chasing our pension and pursuing our passion. I don’t know that I have been “chasing” either over the last few years, but I… Continue Reading →

Culture: Defined

I recently attended Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training and can confidently state that much like the training received for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it was both extremely well thought out and presented. There were many… Continue Reading →

Making Personal Recommendation Meaningful

Note: I am repeatedly reminded of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such great people. The below post (my second guest posting) comes from a Shipmate whom I have known since 2005. A leader, a critical thinker, and… Continue Reading →

Enjoy the Taper…

It’s less than two weeks until the big event. I say “event” and not “race” because my upcoming half Ironman is far from a race for me. It’s an “event” and more than that, it is an “experience”.  I’ve only… Continue Reading →

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, Did…

As information continues to become more easily accessible, two very different things begin to happen. The Indecisive Leader quickly becomes more overwhelmed and finds it even more difficult to commit to a decision, while the Decisive Leader is just as… Continue Reading →

Apologize? Only If You Care

There are many personal attributes I value in my friends and Shipmates and there are a few that are absolutely non-negotiable. I won’t share the entire list and will instead focus on one characteristic that I cannot overlook…a willingness to… Continue Reading →

Luxury Items No Longer

It was a long time ago, but Plebe Year at the Naval Academy is an experience I will never forget. As time goes on, the memories may become a little exaggerated, as we recall “The last real Plebe Year” just… Continue Reading →


The team with whom I currently serve is made up of Sailors and civilians. We have far more Sailors than civilians, but our civilians are equally valued and critical to our success. Civilians bring much specialized expertise to the team… Continue Reading →

More Commitment

Those of us who serve in the Navy are very familiar with our three core values, HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT. We personally witness, read stories about, and celebrate a long history filled with examples of heroic actions exemplifying a tradition… Continue Reading →

Collective Ownership

Collective Ownership is a rather simple concept founded on the philosophy of a shared commitment to making decisions (and following through on them) based upon the benefit for the greater good. This is not necessarily a democratic model where majority… Continue Reading →

Dr. Maxwell, I Respectfully Disagree

Last week, a little more than 20 of us from the Command were fortunate enough to attend a speaking engagement featuring John Maxwell (Leadership Author) and Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness). Making the time to attend this event was important… Continue Reading →


I must admit that I enjoy “giving high-fives”. That is to say that I enjoy recognizing others for a job well done, and I feel comfortable admitting that doing so is far more satisfying than being on the receiving end…. Continue Reading →

The No Jar

There are two verbal answers to a Yes or No question: Yes and No (Note: For those who migrate to “sure”, please consider showing a little less apathy). It is my experience that over time too many of us are… Continue Reading →


As the end of 2011 draws near, my annual ritual of assessing the year in review is here. As it turns out, I, along with my wife and son, are on a plane flying to California to visit my parents… Continue Reading →

Deciding: To Kill or Create

I must admit that I enjoy making decisions. I enjoy committing to a way ahead. I enjoy turning idle chatter into deliberate action. As much as I enjoy doing those things, I enjoy empowering and observing others doing the same…. Continue Reading →

Team AND Family

Often times, I refer to my family as “Team Heritage” and the team with whom I work as “The NIOC Pensacola Family.” Recently, I spent some time with one of my best friends who happens to be a CEO of… Continue Reading →

Everything is a Choice

We hear it repeatedly and see it daily across our respective Facebook news feeds, too many people mentioning all of the things that they “Have to do.” Very little about what it is we want to do, or need to… Continue Reading →

Waiting to Lead

Note: I am repeatedly reminded of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such great people. The below post (my first guest posting) comes from a Shipmate whom I have yet to meet in person. Though we haven’t met,… Continue Reading →

Wanted: Elephant Killers

For the unindoctrinated and according to my favorite reference Wikipedia, “Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or… Continue Reading →

Speaking Decisively

It never fails. Whenever I consider a new purchase, it is made very clear to me just how abundant that very item is. If I am shopping for a new car, the road becomes filled with the same make and… Continue Reading →

Mistakes, Yes; Accidents, Never

Of the many life lessons I was taught as a child, there is one that keeps coming back to me. That simple lesson is… NOTHING HAPPENS BY ACCIDENT I am not speaking in the spiritual sense of “Everything Happens for… Continue Reading →

Authentic Followership

I have heard the term “authentic leadership” used frequently of late, and each time it is used in such a way as to describe one of the many people I have come to admire. So, it must be a positive… Continue Reading →

Mine, Mine, Mine

At work, my computer sits on my desk next to my phone in my Office. When I am not there, no one uses in my office, no one dials out on my phone, no one sits at my desk, and… Continue Reading →

Seeking Inefficiencies

We see it all of the time and last week I read and heard it repeatedly, the terms “effective” and “efficient” used as if they were synonyms with the assumption that an efficient process is a de facto effective process…. Continue Reading →

Please Say "Rats!"

Over the last two months, my son has been preparing for his roles as both a rat and a child in the Pensacola Little Theater’s production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The production has since ended, but before it… Continue Reading →

Work – Play Alignment

“Work – Life Balance”, we’ve heard the phrase many times and each time my stomach turns. Either the intended message is completely miscommunicated or the primary assumption that one’s work and life have to be at conflict is flawed. According… Continue Reading →

The Innovative Treadmill

I have often wondered why we in the Navy are so quick to use the word “innovative” (and derivatives thereof) in our daily vocabulary. In doing so, I am convinced most don’t realize how meaningless the word really is (or… Continue Reading →

Opportunity, Mentorship and…

Each week we welcome new Sailors to our command, and I am impressed by each addition. Monthly, I get the opportunity to meet with the newest Information Warfare Officers to join our community. The high quality of person we continue… Continue Reading →

Celebrating Life…Dealing with Loss

A week ago Friday, I had the pleasure of participating in my first American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Like so many other great things associated with where I work, this idea was not mine. A core of Sailors have… Continue Reading →

Chasing Collar Devices

Promotion board result season is upon us, and yet again, the questions fill the air as members of our team attempt to do their own analysis of the results. Despite the numerous flaws in such analysis, individuals will use their… Continue Reading →

Experiencing, Sharing, Multiplying…

Those who know me are well aware of the fact that I work both directly and indirectly with incredibly smart, creative people. In fact, I often celebrate the fact that I am rarely (if ever) the smartest person in any… Continue Reading →

Experimenting Without Positional Authority

One of the fallacies that too many people believe is that one must have positional authority to lead. I have heard it too often when speaking to protégés, “What do I need to do to set myself up for a… Continue Reading →

Experimenting with 360 Degree Feedback

Life is an adventure and WE have every opportunity to both succeed and fail as WE try new things, experiment with new ideas and create opportunities to both improve ourselves and those around us. Life is easier if WE stay… Continue Reading →

Little League Baseball – The Second Time Around

Over the last month, I have been reintroduced to Little League Baseball. My observations of the very same situations from the perspective of a parent, as opposed to that of a child, are so very different! I have no reason… Continue Reading →

Implementation: We’re Getting Better

Though spending a few days in Orlando (to include “The Happiest Place on Earth”) celebrating my son’s birthday was clearly the highlight of the week, the most surprising was the two hours I spent on Monday before the drive attending… Continue Reading →

Heirarchy of Needs

In the wake of a recent post about Loving What You Do, I have enjoyed a few off-line discussions on the topic. What I found interesting about those who chose to engage me in conversation on this particular subject was… Continue Reading →

A Second Grader’s Vantage Point

Though I spend a good portion of my days with a second grader, I don’t find myself in a room full of them very often. Over the last two weeks, I have had two opportunities to do just that. Earlier… Continue Reading →

Football Fans and Product Loyalty

The Super Bowl will soon be over and with it the beginning of far more productive weekends for me. Admittedly, I spend more time watching football than I should. I consider myself a college football fan and fantasy football has… Continue Reading →

True Vacation Requires Delegation

I write this as we fly from Sacramento back to Pensacola after a wonderful time spent with Family and Friends. It was a special adventure for many reasons and the greatest was that it was a true vacation, far more… Continue Reading →

Please Don’t Focus on the Retention Rate

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of re-enlisting another valued member of our team. In this case, the venue was just as unique as the Sailor…we were on the roof of our building. As unique as the venue was,… Continue Reading →

Respect and Gratitude

Undoubtedly, the best part of my job is interacting, sharing ideas and learning with fellow members of the NIOC Pensacola Team. One of many mechanisms to ensure we get the opportunity to exchange ideas, perceptions and experiences is by requiring… Continue Reading →

The Delete Button

Last Friday, a great time was had by all at our Command Holiday Party. Our Holiday Party Committee did a great job creating an opportunity for all of us to have some good fun with some great people! It was… Continue Reading →

Giving Ourselves Permission

I grew up the son of a (now retired) police officer and, as you might imagine, he and my Mom created a rather specific environment in which to nurture my brother and me. As children, my brother and I would… Continue Reading →

Pace Matters

Two weeks ago, I enjoyed a nice telephone conversation with a colleague where I pitched him on how we (OUR Command) were going to create additional value for our existing customers and at the same time posture ourselves to significantly… Continue Reading →

The Means is the End

Like so many others, I have spent too much time in my life chasing what I interpreted to be the end goal. It might have been a sports trophy, a diploma or a specific qualification. No matter what it was,… Continue Reading →

Focus on Shortcomings and Watch Strengths Atrophy

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my second-grade son’s parent-teacher conference. When considering the standards of measure our school has chosen, I left the hour-long session feeling very good about the school, the teacher and my son’s… Continue Reading →

The Diversity Box

Earlier this week a colleague was kind enough to share some very insightful feedback on a selection process in which few have meaningful visibility. Within his feedback, I was struck by a statement regarding the role of diversity in the… Continue Reading →

Mentorship, Sponsorship and Favoritism

Mentorship – A personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The focus of mentorship is on the personal and professional development of the individual, and just about… Continue Reading →

Teams Failing Leaders?

As I look forward to witnessing another good friend realize the career milestone that is Command, I am reminded that it has been less than two weeks since the Navy relieved our 13th Commanding Officer (CO) this year. It stings… Continue Reading →

The “C” Word

Just like every other Weekly Operations Brief at NIOC Pensacola, I witnessed something new. The difference last week was that my observations had little to do with the subject matter and everything to do with the words chosen to communicate… Continue Reading →

Commuting Dilemma: Fun Trumps Work (For Once)

As mentioned in an earlier post, my family very much enjoys the nomadic lifestyle. Once we are notified of an imminent move, we begin picturing life in our new home with new friends and enjoying new adventures. (That is not… Continue Reading →

Wealth: Freedom of Choice

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day on the beach with two childhood friends, Dan and Mark. After catching each other up on our journeys since our last interaction, we began talking of our current place in life… Continue Reading →

Roots of a Nomadic Family

Every couple of years the Navy provides us with the opportunity to move to another part of our great nation or even beyond its borders. Though the purpose is to facilitate individual professional development, optimize the contributions of the service… Continue Reading →

Command Leadership School Takeaways

Over the last two weeks, I had the pleasure of attending the Command Leadership School in Newport, RI. The purpose of the two weeks was to help those of us fortunate enough to be selected to be Commanding Officers think… Continue Reading →

The Millennial Mindset

It is said that thoughts, moods, and attitudes are contagious. I agree 100% and for that reason, I choose to associate with people who are positive and have a passion for life and continual improvement. I do so in hopes… Continue Reading →

Closing Another Chapter

It’s time to move yet again and like every other time, we leave thankful for the experience and equally excited about the next adventure. Personally, my family and I learned the Memphis area has much to offer in the way… Continue Reading →

Passion, Purpose, Progress

As leaders, followers and any variation thereof, we find ourselves needing to influence the behavior of others and incentivize them to take specific action. In the role of a Community Manager, we have the charter of shaping community health which… Continue Reading →

Big Team, Little Me

“We can accomplish anything provided no one cares who gets the credit.” – (then) CDR Joseph Rochefort In my current job as Information Dominance Corps and Information Warfare Officer Community Manager (OCM), I serve on a team of four uniformed… Continue Reading →

Trail of Gratitude

There are many things in life for which I am extremely grateful. When I consider each and every blessing, I see a trail of gratitude lined by others who continue to contribute to my good fortune whether they know it… Continue Reading →

Well Liked and Average…Really?

It’s Parent-Teacher Conference time again, which means both parties get to share positive and constructive feedback (neither of which is mutually exclusive, mind you). After such a conference earlier today, a friend of mine lauded her friend for telling the… Continue Reading →

All Stop or Full Speed Ahead?

As an avid reader of blogs (so much to learn from so many), there are a dozen that I monitor regularly. Chris Brogan’s is one of them and he recently described a decision point in life as an intersection on… Continue Reading →

“Wait Till Your Father Gets Home”

As a child, I rarely heard my mother make the statement, “Wait till your father gets home.” When she did, it was a request for us to demonstrate some patience before doing something we were eager to do. It was… Continue Reading →


As a native of California, fires were a constant on the evening news during the summer season. I remember on many occasions local firefighters traveling long distances to help the cause well outside their assigned jurisdiction. Though neither lives nor… Continue Reading →

Leadership Versus Power

Regardless of our current employment status (executive, individual contributor, stay-at-home spouse, etc.), each of us is presented with opportunities in both our personal and professional lives to lead on a daily basis. Those of us who take such responsibility seriously… Continue Reading →

“Building LEGOs”

When I came home from work today, my 6-year-old son had a friend over and they were making planes out of LEGOs, or as he calls it “Building LEGOs.” By the look on my son’s face, it was clear that… Continue Reading →

Fourth Quarter

Another week of the football season is behind us, and as always there was plenty of drama in the fourth quarter of more than a couple of games. As a football fan, I enjoy the last-minute comeback as much as… Continue Reading →


The adjective “authentic” is used to describe someone or something that is “not false or copied; genuine; real.” There are many people in my life who can be described in such a way. Unfortunately, there are more than a couple… Continue Reading →

Collaborate, Integrate, and Educate

As one who takes the role of mentor very seriously, I consider myself privileged to be sought out by juniors for career advice. Recently, I was approached by a fellow officer who was fortunate enough to be preparing for his… Continue Reading →

Basketball Season is Here…so what?

Though it is a sport I never really enjoyed playing and only watch in March, I see the goodness in any team sport. In honor of the fact that the NBA season kicked off last night, I dusted off the… Continue Reading →

Politics in the Workplace

Many people believe that politics has no place in the workplace. If that is how you feel, think about politics as relationships and your opinion might change. The term “relationships” has a much more positive connotation than “politics,” and at… Continue Reading →


One of the keys to continual improvement is constructive 360-degree feedback. The problem is, we are not accustomed to providing others with honest feedback, nor do we ask others to provide the same to us. Those of us in the… Continue Reading →

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