Sean Heritage

Connecting The Dots

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Potential Principle

I recently witnessed one of my mentors promote another to the rank of Admiral. It was a wonderful celebration of the shipmates, family, and friends who helped the individual being promoted contribute in ways that so few have. This new… Continue Reading →

Pirates, Passion, Professionals (Guest Post)

Mario Vulcano is a retired Chief Warrant Officer after 23 years and is currently serving as Course Manager and instructor for the Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) at Corry Station in Pensacola Florida.  He has served a total of 10… Continue Reading →

“TED-like” Talk

It was late December of 2012 and I had just finished my list of goals for 2013, or so I thought. The week prior to finalizing my list, a mentor had lent me the book How to Deliver A TED Talk…. Continue Reading →

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 →

Swatting at Gnats

In any organization, there are main lines of operations and there are distractions. Sometimes the distractions come in the form of “good ideas” thrust upon the team by seniors. Sometimes the distractions come in the form of sub-par performers. And… Continue Reading →

Opportunities To Fail

It might sound odd, but I will go ahead and admit that I sometimes enjoy watching others struggle, and the highest highs I continue to enjoy in life are experienced on the back end of a personal struggle. I will… Continue Reading →

Creating Firsts

One of the many cool things about being a parent is watching your child experience things for the first time. Odds are most of us went above and beyond to document our child’s first steps, first words, first day of… 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 →

Prepositional Leaders

A senior officer who had recently been made aware of relevant discussion threads and bulletin boards filled with colorful conversation regarding our profession asked me if I thought a visible online presence was worthy of his time. As you might… 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 →

HOW Leaders

Being both a student and practitioner of leadership, I keep my head on a swivel to identify leaders from whom I can learn, peers with whom I want to partner, and juniors who show great promise. I also am on the lookout… 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 →

Gratitude Ceremonies

Spring has sprung and summer is near. The change in weather signals many things to many people and I am finding that with each year that passes this is the season of retirement ceremonies. Last Friday, two of my valued… 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 →

Are People Truly Our Greatest Assets?

We hear it all the time, “People are our greatest assets.” I used to believe it, but over the years I have grown to believe that claim is both false and misguided. The disconnect between words and actions from various… Continue Reading →

Influencing Lurkers

The value of a meeting is sometimes measured by the side-conversations that accompany it. The quality of a speaker’s talk might be assessed by the number of questions it inspires. The interest in a particular blog post could be gauged by… 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 →

Be Safe? No, Be Smart!

I hear it all too often, but you won’t hear me say it…”Be safe!” We hear parents tell their children before they head out for the day to “Be Safe”, we hear seniors remind Sailors before a long weekend to… 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 →

Advisors, Actors…Leaders

It’s been three weeks since I started my new position and it happened. The it to which I am referring is the reintroduction to the idea that Actors and Advisors live on different planes. They think differently, they approach problems differently,… 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 →

Intoxication is Contagious

Last week I received a note from a junior officer asking me to explain the significance of the piece of art included on my business card. To me, art is just about anything that changes our emotion. This particular piece… Continue Reading →

Try, and Mean It!

I have had the pleasure of spending lots of time with my wife and son during this transition period.  We’ve played, we’ve worked, we’ve explored, we’ve traveled, we’ve tried new things, and yes we’ve made mistakes.  I don’t know that… Continue Reading →

Lidless Leadership

Though I don’t always agree with John Maxwell, I remain a big fan of his teachings. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is my favorite of his books and though I believe in each of the laws contained therein, the… 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 →

Change of Command Remarks

It may not have come out exactly as written, but here were my remarks for OUR Change of Command Ceremony conducted at the National Naval Aviation Museum.  On 16 August 2012, Commander Pat Count became the 11th Commanding Officer of the… Continue Reading →

Sharing The OODA Loop

Anyone who has served in the military understands “The OODA Loop”, and a growing percentage of business leaders in corporate America have studied or even used the same. For those who have not, it’s a four stage decision cycle that… 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 →

Think. Do. Become.

I have come to believe the best way to determine that which is truly important to an individual is by taking a hard look at how he allocates time and what activities she chooses to put on her calendar. While… Continue Reading →

Player Development

Most of the time I consider the insights I choose to share as doing little more than playing the role of “Master of the Obvious”. I also find it enjoyable to have someone share with me that which should be… Continue Reading →

360 Degree Hiring

I like learning about new ideas, thoroughly enjoy formulating good ideas, and absolutely love executing great ideas.  In a previous post summarizing a short visit at the Google complex, I mentioned five key attributes that were commonplace there that I wanted to… Continue Reading →

Because We Can

There are some things we as human beings can’t do, many that we won’t do, and even more that we don’t do. Rather than focus on those lists, I like to concentrate on what we can do, should do, and want… Continue Reading →

Leading Even From Your Desk

Throughout my career, I have heard many people profess that you can’t lead from behind your desk. I’ve thought that to be true, but I must admit that I became less and less convinced each year and now I see how… Continue Reading →

Personal Validation

When I go to bed each night and reflect whether or not it was a day well-spent, I merely ask myself if I did my best to make legitimate progress toward a goal of mine or to help someone else make progress toward one of… 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 →

The Coalition of the Doing

In a recent post, I made mention of the fact that I have a list of people that I refer to as “The Coalition of the Doing”.  It evidently struck a chord with at least a few of you who sent… 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 →

Bunting For Singles

I played my fair share of baseball as a child, but I am not a big fan. Each spring, as many of my friends get excited about spring training, I am left scratching my head. That said, I have a… Continue Reading →

It’s The Network, Stupid

I just finished watching “The Social Network” for the second time. I don’t know how much of it is true, but what an amazing story! Makes me think of many things. The first time I watched it, the main takeaway… 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 →

Well-Rounded Mediocrity

As a father, I am interested in doing my part to help my son find his path. As a Navy leader, I take great pride in mentoring others toward realizing their potential. Clearly, there are many similarities between the two… 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 →

Quitters and Winners

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” -Coach Lombardi Coach Lombardi’s quote about quitters is one that has stuck with me since my childhood. My parents made it clear to us that the merits of seeing things through to the… 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 →

Creating Experiences, Accumulating Memories

The last couple of weeks have been filled with phenomenal experiences that leave me with wonderful memories. In fact, I might go so far as to say that the memories that remain are far better than the experiences themselves. That… 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 →

Willy Wonka’s Mentorship Factory

It happened again. This time it was my birthday outing to see the live musical Willy Wonka. I’ve seen the movie many times, and yes the Gene Wilder version still scares me. I’ve always enjoyed the story, but just like… Continue Reading →

Biographies – WHO not WHAT

For those of us serving in or directly affiliated with the military, the summer months are filled with retirement and change of command ceremonies. At each, we receive a nice program that includes the schedule of events, some background on… 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 →

Succession Planning

As I just about reach the midway point in my current tour of duty, I acknowledge I am having a “Mid-tour Crisis”. I assess the progress we have made over the last year and my immediate response is that there… 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 →

Successful and Significant

When attending any conference we hear many thoughts, some good, some great and some that we wouldn’t give a second thought. Last week I was at a conference and though it is an oversimplification, that was exactly my experience. Of… 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 →

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