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John Gretton "Jocko" Willink (born September 8, 1971)[1] is an American retired United States Navy SEAL, podcaster, and author. He received the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War[2] and was commander of SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi. Willink is co-author of the books Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership (alongside fellow retired SEAL and former Task Unit Bruiser platoon commander Leif Babin) and is co-founder of the management consulting firm Echelon Front, LLC.[3] Willink also hosts a weekly podcast with friend and Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner Echo Charles, called the Jocko Podcast.[4]

John G. Willink
Birth nameJohn Gretton Willink
Born (1971-09-08) September 8, 1971 (age 47)
Torrington, Connecticut
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1990–2010
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
UnitUnited States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png U.S. Navy SEALs
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsSilver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal with Combat V


Early life and educationEdit

Willink was born and raised in New England and played soccer in high school. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1990 and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in English.

Military careerEdit

After Navy recruit training and Radioman (RM) "A" School training, he then reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at Coronado, California. Willink served eight years on active duty, as an enlisted Navy SEAL with SEAL Team ONE and SEAL Team TWO. Willink was part of the SEAL team that seized Russian Tanker Volga-Neft-147 in the Gulf of Oman which was carrying Iraqi oil in violation of a U.N. economic embargo. Willink earned his commission via Officer Candidate School and eventually served as a platoon commander. Willink completed multiple deployments to Asia, Middle East and Europe. During Operation Iraqi Freedom he deployed to the Iraqi town of Ramadi in 2006 with SEAL Team THREE as commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which included Marc Alan Lee, Michael Monsoor, Jonny Kim, Kevin Lacz, and Chris Kyle. Willink also served as a Navy SEAL instructor during his career. He retired in October 2010 after 20 years of service.[5]

Awards and decorationsEdit

U.S. military decorations
  Silver Star Medal
  Bronze Star with Combat "V"
  Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold award star
  Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
  Combat Action Ribbon with gold award star
  Navy Unit Commendation
  Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
  Good Conduct Medal
U.S. Service (Campaign) Medals and Service and Training Ribbons
  National Defense Service Medal
  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  Afghanistan Campaign Medal
  Iraq Campaign Medal
  Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
  Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon
  Navy Rifle Marksmanship Badge
  Navy Pistol Marksmanship Badge
U.S. badges, patches and tabs
  Special Warfare insignia
  Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia

Post-Navy careerEdit

Willink is an avid Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and received his black belt from Dean Lister. Willink also owns Victory MMA and Fitness in San Diego, California, and often trains and corners professional fighters.

Along with Leif Babin, Willink formed the company Echelon Front, which offers "practical, experience-based solutions to complex problems based on our own lessons learned through a myriad of dynamic leadership challenges."[6] Based on their careers in the United States Navy, he and Babin co-authored the leadership manual Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win.[7] After appearing on the podcasts of Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, and Sam Harris to publicize his book, Willink started his own weekly podcast, The Jocko Podcast,[8] with Echo Charles on December 22, 2015, covering topics from war, leadership, jiu-jitsu, exercise, and lessons learned as a Navy SEAL.

Extreme ownership is a philosophy coined in a book co-written by Willink. It is one commonly taught by Echelon Front (as detailed in the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win).[2] Willink expands on the philosophy in the book Extreme Ownership, but it can be best summarized in the excerpt: "Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame."

Willink lives in San Diego, California. On his September 25, 2015 appearance on the Tim Ferriss podcast, Willink stated that, after retirement, he does not drink alcohol but has nothing against others who do. He also said he is motivated to get up extremely early because it gives him "a jump on the enemy."[9]


  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win (2015) (ISBN 9781760558208)
  • Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual (2017) (ISBN 9781250156945)
  • The Way of the Warrior Kid (2017) (ISBN 9781250151070)
  • Marc's Mission: Way of the Warrior Kid (2018) (ISBN 9781250156792)
  • The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win (2018) (ISBN 9781250195777)
  • Mikey and the Dragons (2018) (ISBN 9781942549437)
  • Way of the Warrior Kid 3: Where there's a Will... (2019) (ISBN 978-1942549482)


  1. ^ a b "Extreme Ownership". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "These former Navy SEALS explain why you should wake up before dawn to win at life". Maxim. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Echelon Front". Echelon Front. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  6. ^ "Why this retired Navy SEAL commander has 3 alarm clocks and wakes up at 4:30 a.m." Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  7. ^ Schawbel, Dan. "Jocko Willink: Career Advice From a Former Navy SEAL". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  8. ^ "The Scariest Navy SEAL Imaginable…And What He Taught Me". The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2018-05-03.

External linksEdit