Uncommon Grit – Darren McBurnett
Uncommon Grit – Darren McBurnett
Some might call him “superhuman” … Darren McBurnett put himself through the toughest training there is in order to start a 24-year career as a Navy SEAL. Host Charles Mizrahi interviews “McB” on his training, his passion for photography and the work he does as a warrior who’s “never out of the fight.”
- An Introduction to “McB” (00:02:25)
- A Passion for the Arts (00:04:53)
- Becoming a Navy SEAL (00:08:16)
- BUD/S Training (00:13:54)
- Reprogramming Your Mind (00:20:26)
- “Keep Moving Forward” (00:24:06)
- Evolutions of a SEAL (00:32:46)
- Where Most Quit (00:40:12)
- Transferring Knowledge (00:52:07)
- Never Out of the Fight (00:55:04)
- Spreading the Word (01:02:46)
After joining the military, artist and athlete Darren “McB” McBurnett went on to join the Navy SEALs — a career that would last 24 years. Today, he uses his creative talents to produce works such as his photography book, Uncommon Grit, and acts as an ambassador for the Uncommon Grit Foundation to support those who ensure our freedoms.
Before You Leave:
DARREN MCBURNETT: I mean, it’s just nonstop, physical, grueling exercise—constantly moving. You’re averaging nine miles a day just to eat—just running to go eat. And then in Hell Week, you eat four times a day in Hell Week. So, that’s 12 miles just to go eat just in Hell Week. So, it’s constant moving, constant struggle, constant being cold, constant misery… And if there’s one thing about first phase, it’s simply this: You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s it. There are no comforts. There are zero comforts. So, that’s why we want to mentally break you down. Because war is hard. You don’t get any comforts in war. You don’t get to sit back and do what you want to do and relax. It’s going to be difficult. And we’ve got to make sure you have the mental capacity to deal with discomfort and make discomfort comfortable for you—that you can maintain and have a survivability and have a strong mindset to complete the task at hand while being miserable. And that’s what it’s for.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: My guest today is retired Navy SEAL and professional photographer Darren McBurnett, or McB. McB is the author of Uncommon Grit—a fine art photography book of the journey through Navy SEAL BUD/S first phase training. It’s a unique look at the military’s toughest training for the point of view of someone who has lived it. McB includes descriptions of evolutions which give the reader a glimpse of what it’s like to train to become a Navy SEAL. Uncommon Grit is one of the few books that has a testimonial from Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy SEAL—retired—who wrote: “If you want to know what SEAL training is all about, this book is for you.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: McB also started a nonprofit organization, UncommonGritFoundation.org, where he raises money to help vets and first responders and their families deal with funeral costs, living expenses, health care bills and other expenses. Their focus is on raising awareness, increasing community support and finding ways they can assist those who answer the call, keep us safe and provide us the freedoms we enjoy. I recently sat down with McB to talk about his incredible 24-year SEAL career, photography and leadership lessons from his SEAL experience.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Darren Burnett, McB, thanks so much. It’s really an honor and a privilege to have you on the show today. I want to tell you, I was up really early this morning excited about this. I had several interviews over the past couple of days, and you were the one that got me up early in the morning. Little anxiety. I’ve never spoken one-on-one with a Navy SEAL, especially someone who’s a 24-year veteran. I don’t want to start reading this resume because it’s ridiculous. Basically, you’ve done everything dealing with the Navy SEALs, you spent two years in the Middle East on deployment, combat, parachute, jump… Enough!
CHARLES MIZRAHI: But today, I want to talk about this book. This book is amazing.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Thank you.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Uncommon Grit: A Photographic Journey Through Navy SEAL Training. McB, welcome to the show, brother.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Well, thank you so much, Charles. It’s an honor. It always is, and it’s a privilege. I’m so glad you reached out. It’s just so nice to see people—especially a person of your caliber (by the way, I looked you up, too) and all the wonderful, awesome things you have done. I wish I would have known you 20 years ago.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’ve done reconnaissance on me. I’m dealing with a 24-year veteran…
DARREN MCBURNETT: But thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here. It’s life’s interesting journey. Whatever highway you’re on, you can take some detours. You never know where those are going to go. And mine ended up in the SEAL team. It’s been quite the journey. So, thank you for having me on the show.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Literally, my honor, brother. I want to tell you about this book… First of all, for those of you listening, you’ve got to get this book, Uncommon Grit. It’s a coffee table book. It’s a photography book. And McB is not only an amazing military man, hero, member of the Navy SEALs… He’s an amazingly talented photographer. He was granted access to the BUD/S training—which I’m going to let him talk about in a second—and takes us on a photographic journey of what it’s like to go through all the evolutions these candidates have to go through to become a Navy SEAL. We’ll get into that in a second…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, McB, first of all, does someone wake up one morning and say, “I have photographic talent… Let me take a camera and start taking pictures”?
DARREN MCBURNETT: I’ve always been into art. So, if I didn’t go into the Navy or college, I’d probably be working at a bookstore or working for a comic book or something like that. Or CGI. I mean, even in sixth grade, I’d be sitting at the dining room table drawing Dungeons and Dragons figures. So, that was me as an artist. I always knew I’d been an artist, but just kind of figuring out what avenue that would lead to… And so, as I went to college, I always gravitated toward the arts—especially visual arts, cinematic arts… I just loved the creativity that human nature has. And it’s always been part of me, but I never really cultivated exactly what that was going to be for me.
DARREN MCBURNETT: I joined the Navy out of college. I had a family history of being in the military. I didn’t take history of art as a degree or anything like that. I kind of just moved on with a humanities degree, which is basically a liberal arts degree. When you graduate with a liberal arts degree, a little bit about everything, but not enough about anything to do anything important. And I was in debt and needed a job. I was broke. So, I joined the military.
DARREN MCBURNETT: But that manifestation of that artist in me came through in probably about my 13th year in the Navy. I became a Navy SEAL, did a bunch of combat deployments—from Iraq to Afghanistan to Liberia—and just started teaching military freefall. And I just remember that iconic scene in my head. It’s like five o’clock in the morning, the C-130 of the airplane… The ramp opens up, the sunlight comes into the ramp and I’ve got all these students that are about ready to jump from 16,000 feet to learn military free fall because that’s one of our insertion platforms. And I was the instructor and a video guy. So, you can’t learn anything when you free fall without seeing yourself on video. So, it’s a learning tool. And I became really good at military free fall, which is kind of weird, but I naturally was good at it.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And I remember looking out there one day. I’d have my student terrified, and I’m like, “Look at that beautiful sunrise over the mountains. It’s 16,000 feet. The ramp is open. We’re going to jump.” And he’s looking at me scared. And I’m like, “And we get paid for this. Let’s go.” And in my head, it’s like I really wanted that scene in my head, and all I’m thinking about is like, “Wow, I should take a picture of that.” And then that started my journey with photography. It’s like, “Well, I really want to take a picture of this… I don’t know how I do that.” And so, this is 2007 at this point. And I didn’t know anything about photography, but I knew I wanted that captured scene on my wall. And that’s what started the journey.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow, outstanding. Outstanding that you came out with this book. But I want to talk about the book in just a few minutes…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: First, I’ve never had the honor and privilege of sitting down with a Navy SEAL, and there were so many questions I’ve had about them. Because I don’t think you guys are human. The Navy figured out a way to get superhumans among us and call them “SEALs.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, my first question is this: Any branch of the service can apply to become a Navy SEAL… Is that more or less right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: You can. It’s a lot tougher when you go through another branch. Let’s say you went to the Marine Corps. Actually, we have a small number of guys that go to the Marine Corps first, get down to the Marines and then cross service over to the Navy to become SEALs. It can be done, but it’s a difficult route. The good news is: You’ve already got four to eight years of military experience under your belt. The bad news is: You have to cross service transfer, and then either start at a lower rank, and then move on. And so, that’s kind of hard on people. For the most part, it can happen, but it’s not as successful as individuals just joining the Navy right off the bat and then and then applying for the candidacy to become a Navy SEAL.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How difficult is it to be a Navy SEAL? That’s the first thing I have to know. And second thing is: Why does one want to become a Navy SEAL?
DARREN MCBURNETT: That’s two great questions. No. 1, I think that there’s two types of people out there that become Navy SEALs. The first one—I fall in that category—is not knowing what the hell they were. Or two, people that knew who they were, and they trained most of their adolescent lives trying to become a Navy SEAL because of what they’d heard or read and decided that they wanted to be an elite human being… and that was a path.
DARREN MCBURNETT: I was just a voracious high school athlete. That’s where my work ethic came from. I started in seventh grade running track. My high school career, I ran track, I ran cross-country, indoor track, swim team… I did the Boston Marathon, Cape Cod Marathon, I did my first Ironman when I was 17… I did biathlon, triathlons and that was my whole life—running, swimming and cycling. Because that’s what I wanted to do. And of course, I worked at the Stop & Shop and the McDonald’s to pay for money, and I had this old beat-up clunker that was falling apart every time I drove. But that was what I wanted to do. That’s what I thought, in my head, made a difference in my life: competing. And that was who I was. When I joined the Navy… My physical readiness scores were so good—except for my push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, because I never did strength. This was back in the ’80s where it was like, “Hey, if you want to be a runner, you’ve got to run a long way. If you want to be a cyclist, then you cycle thousands of miles. You want to be a swimmer…”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Strength training was never included in any of that stuff, right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Nope. it was all distance, distance, distance and sprints. And that’s it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Yeah, cardio. A lot of cardio.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yes, exactly. So, you had to do a 500-meter swim sidestroke in 12.5 minutes, and I did it in five and a half. And they were like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… What are you?” And I was like, “Well, it’s what I like to do.” So, I’m in the Navy, and I just got called into my career counselor’s office (which we all have). I know it sounds kind of like in high school and college, but you do have a career counselor. Their job is to make sure they place you where the Navy can best utilize you and you can best benefit the Navy. So, it’s a two-way street. That’s what I like about the Navy. They’re not just going to make you go do something. They find your talent and utilize that talent to benefit you and the Navy. And that’s what makes them good.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And they said, “Hey, we’ve got a program called Navy SEALs.” And, of course, I giggled it a little bit, like, “That just sounds kind of funny.” I didn’t know what that was. I thought of a little seal running around. I was like, “What do they do? And they said, “They swim all day and scuba dive.” Think about it… Automatically, I’m thinking about swimming in the pools and doing water polo and those things, and I’d been doing that for years. That’s easy. And then with scuba diving, you think of like Bahamas, beautiful water, women in bikinis… And I was like, “Oh, man, sign me up.” So, that’s how I got there.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And, of course, when I got to Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training and found out later that is the hardest military training that we have… When you get to the end to become a Navy SEAL, about 95% of everybody you started with—average of 180 people—will be quit or gone by then. I didn’t know any of that. I just wanted to swim and scuba dive. So, I was hit with a reality check when I walked to the front door and I was welcomed to the hardest military training in the country. And I was like, “Oh, wow. That wasn’t in the brochure. My career counselor didn’t say anything about that.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, BUD/S stands for…?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training. BUD/S.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK, so to become a Navy SEAL, the first step is you have to go through BUD/S, right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yes.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You don’t become a Navy SEAL on day one. You have to earn that position.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, it was about a two-and-a-half-year process.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: To become an official Navy SEAL?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Mhm.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: But the first step is BUD/S. How long is BUD/S?
DARREN MCBURNETT: BUD/S is six months, and it’s broken down into three phases. The biggest phase—probably the most sensationalized phase—is first phase, which is basic conditioning. It’s eight weeks, and it’s all basic conditioning. Basically, we’re going to break you down physically, and we’re going to see how hard you can go. We’re going to see how far you can go, how cold we can get you… Basically, first phase is: We’re going to through so many physical tests, and we want you to quit. We’re not going to torture you, we just want to make you quit. We want to see how far you can mentally go.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And, of course, with that is Hell Week, which is five and a half days of everything you do during the day, but you do it at night, too. And that’s like the big crux exercise in the first phase: Hell Week. You’ll do five and a half days of everything you do in the day and at night, about three-hour average of sleep. And usually, by that time, you’ll probably have already lost half your class. The average class starts about 180.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, January 1… Let’s say you start with 180 guys standing on those flippers.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: All at attention. And you have a big Black Lagoon creature there. Look at the book to see what I’m talking about. And the instructor is in front, and he’s telling you, basically, that 95% of you guys will ring that bell—and the bell signifies that you’re out of the program.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yep. Three rings, and you’re out. What’s interesting about what you said is… That happens like way beforehand. That happens at basic orientation after you get your contract to go to BUD/S. They’re all going to tell you this is what’s going to happen.
DARREN MCBURNETT: You’re going to be standing on those fins at zero-four in the morning, and you’re going to be hitting the surf. You’re going to be sandy. And your days are going to start at 3:00 in the morning. You’re going to go to bed at about 11. And then, in four weeks, you’re going to have Hell Week, and it’s going to be conditioning runs, soft sand runs, thousands of push-ups, grinder PT, thousands of sit-ups, dips, running hitting the surf… You’ve got to even run to your meals. Imagine taking 180 guys…
DARREN MCBURNETT: You get done with morning PT from like zero-four to zero-six. You’ve got to take 180 guys a mile and a half away, 10 minutes to eat, a mile and a half back to get ready for the next evolution, which could be a two-mile swim. Get done with that, go back, run all the way to eat again, come back. Then it can be a whole bunch of other things… I mean, it’s just nonstop, physical, grueling exercise, constantly moving. I mean, you’re averaging nine miles a day just to eat. That’s it. Just running to go eat. And then you eat four times a day in Hell Week. So, that’s 12 miles just to go eat in Hell Week.
DARREN MCBURNETT: So, it’s constant moving, constant struggle, constant being cold, constant misery. And one thing about first phase is simply this: You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s it. There are no comforts. There are zero comforts. We want to mentally break you down, because war is hard. You don’t get any comforts of war. You don’t get to sit back and do what you want to do and relax. It’s going to be difficult. And we’ve got to make sure you have the mental capacity to deal with discomfort and make discomfort comfortable for you, that you can maintain and have a survivability and a strong mindset to complete the task at hand while being miserable. And that’s what it’s for.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And so, yeah, an average class starts at about 180 guys. By the time you even get to Hell Week… And when I went through it my fifth week, we had less than half the class. Nowadays, the curriculum is fourth week. And you still lose half your class. And then when you get done with that, you lose guys to injuries after that. And so, the average class starts with 160 to 180. By the time you get through Hell Week, which is your fourth week, the average class that you’ll have, at that point, is maybe 25 to 30.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s just fascinating… You’re going in, and as uncomfortable and terrible as it is those first three weeks, they’re telling you that the fourth week is going to make this look like a cakewalk.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. And it gets in the guy’s minds. Even me. I could barely make it through the day. I could barely do pull-ups. What saved me was swimming. It was like, “Oh, thank God there’s a two-mile ocean!”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Which is freezing!
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah. Which is freezing, by the way. People think of San Diego like, “Oh, it’s beautiful weather!” Not if you’re a SEAL student. It’s miserable. The water is anywhere from 48 to 55. You’re freezing all day long. You’re shivering all day long. But that’s what it’s meant to be. Because you’ll be amazed what your body can do if you just let it happen. If you want to do hard things, you’ve got to do hard things. And me being an athlete and doing all those things, that was the drive that I already had. But I wasn’t prepared for all the physical hard work that it was doing. But I was like, “Wow.” But every day was a different day. And then, I had all these guys that had all these muscles and looked like they belonged there. They had abs. They had bodies like Adonis. And they were doing all this stuff and knocking all this stuff out. And I was struggling. I was I could swim and run—do the pool work—but the logs, the boats and everything… It was basically kicking my butt.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: OK, so what I want to go through the evolutions for a second…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, really what you’re doing here—and I want talk to McB the instructor… You’re taking a candidate and you are separating the physicality of it from the mental part. Because if we shut off the mental part, your body can handle most of the things you’re doing. Your brain is telling you to stop. Like sometimes when I used to work out, in my brain I was like, “Eh, I can’t do it.” But break that out and you can do it. And as an instructor, you’re trying to break that in half and tell them that you can do much more than your mind is telling you. Is that what you’re trying to do here?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, you are trying to do that. But if I was like the instructor McB telling the younger McB… It’s not about the individual—it’s about the team around you. And that’s why SEALs and BUD/S is broken up into boat crews. You get seven guys per boat crew. And that’s why it’s the SEAL teams. It doesn’t say: “United States Navy SEALs, America’s elite.” It’s like “SEAL teams.” That’s emphasized for a reason. Because one of the basic things you have to learn is that you can’t do it alone—no matter what. You cannot do it by yourself. And those of you that the gray man or kind of hiding now and just hoping to get through each day without really interacting with the guys around you… You’re kind of self-centered and selfish. You self-loathe. You’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to be around. I just want to kind of get through this.” They don’t get it.
DARREN MCBURNETT: It’s like once you start caring more about the guys next to you than yourself, that’s when you start to get it. Because you don’t want the guys next to you to fail. You don’t want the guys next to you to have that log collapse on their head and break their neck. You don’t want those guys in that boat to be out there in the surf zone when, out of nowhere, Mother Nature throws 10-foot waves at you and then your boat just gets tumbled and bad things happen. You want to make sure you do your best effort to make sure that they’re taken care of. And they can do it without you giving your best effort. And that’s the trick. And that’s the key.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And I tell that to people all the time. When you stop caring about yourself, your pathetic little self, and start looking at the six guys next to you and they all need you and you need them… It’s like, “OK, we’re going to make it through this day. I’m done being a little bitch and crying about myself and how much I suck. Let’s make sure these guys do what I can’t do to get through this evolution.” And then once you do that, you start to get it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’re taking all of the things which nature has programed us for, in a sense… We care about our own preservation. We care to listen to our brain tell us: “Stop. You might overexert. Go lie down and rest.” And you’re tearing them up, and recreating or reprograming my mind to be a totally different person four weeks later.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yep. Because the mission never ends. Whatever mission’s out there is never going to end unless you make sure that it ends. And we need all of you to take that mission and believe in it. And that’s the thing. Your body can break down like, “Oh, we need to sleep now.” Nope. Have we achieved the objective? Nope. Well, then we’ve got to keep going.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And all the time, you have instructors, like yourself, screaming at candidates: “Ring that bell and we’ll put you all out of pain and you’ll go back to sleep!”
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, you tell them you can quit. Quitting’s easy. I mean, no one remembers people who quit. But I always told students this: You never know how far your potential can go unless you see your potential and then keep moving forward.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Because most people don’t understand that. They don’t understand that you are capable of doing so much more. When you’re given the right environment and an objective, then you keep moving forward. And it’s amazing just to see who’s willing to keep moving forward when they physically can’t. And that’s why so many people fail. So many people fail because they don’t give themselves an opportunity to keep going—which is a huge disservice to themselves. Your body is capable of so many things, and it’s capable of withstanding so much punishment… but you’re not letting it. Because in your mind, once people get tired in their heads, automatically it’s like, “Well, I have to stop.” No. You have to keep going.
DARREN MCBURNETT: That’s what makes Navy SEALs elite. That’s what makes us who we are. That’s why we’re out there on the forefront. People want to be Navy SEALs for a reason. That’s what we train to do. We train you to break down your own mental barriers, break down your own walls you’ve created for yourself, climb over those and see what you can do. Because once you can do that, you can pretty much do a lot of things that you didn’t think you could do.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Did candidate McB ever want to ring the bell? Were you ever temped to ring that bell?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Oh, heavens, yes!
CHARLES MIZRAHI: What was the closest time you ever came where you were inches away from doing it? Do you remember that time?
DARREN MCBURNETT: I’ll be honest, Charles… I was never like inches away from ringing it. The people that are inches away from ringing will ring it every time. But there are times where you start to self-doubt. You’re like, “Wow, I literally can’t make it through this evolution.” But you keep moving forward. You’re just sitting there in the surf zone. It’s freezing cold at 2:00 in the morning and then you start thinking about how much stuff you’ve got to do later… When you start thinking about the overall evolutions that you have that you know are going to suck and be more painful, that’s when it’s hard. But instead you just have to get into your mind. And the mental war between your ears is simply, “OK, let’s just do one evolution at a time. Let’s make it through this evolution. And whatever happens next, we’ll deal with it.” And then you start doing that one day at a time thing. One evolution at a time, one meal at a time… And then you start to break through it.
DARREN MCBURNETT: But every student has multiple times that are like, “Wow.” And it’s not that you’re quitting because it’s hard. You’re quitting because you’re so exhausted and cold and it’s like, “I don’t think I can physically do this anymore.” But then, you’re just like, “Let’s just make it to the next meal—have ourselves all those Belgian waffles.”
DARREN MCBURNETT: It’s funny because there’s these huge buffets. And I’d take a Belgian waffle and put peanut butter on there, slab of frickin’ jelly, another Belgian waffle, cold cuts, sprinkle frickin’ Doritos and chips on top, put a bagel on there, mashed potatoes and throw a piece of chicken on the side. You eat that, and then you get happy. And so, I start thinking about, “Well, I’m going to make this evolution because I know they’re going to feed me in two hours… And then I’m going to look forward to eating.” And so, you work with your guys and say, “Hey, we get to go eat soon!”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s basically like in life. You set these small, little goals. Don’t look at the big picture and worry about things… My son told me that worry is the price we pay for things that might never come.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yes.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Very expensive price to pay. Just focus on the job at hand. One minute gets you to the next minute, gets you to the next hour, gets you to the next day… Don’t look at that whole big picture. It seems that that’s your thought process.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Mhm. Yes. Stop thinking about your own personal comforts. It’s not about you.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s not about you. If I’m chafing and I’m cold, stop bitching about it and think about what? What am I thinking about now?
DARREN MCBURNETT: You’re thinking about making sure you and your six other guys can make through the evolution that you’re doing because of the purpose. There’s a purpose for that—to keep going. And then when you stop and go eat… You don’t really rest, but your eating is your rest. You’re standing up while you’re eating. And then you go back. That’s what you start focusing on. “Let’s make it through this together, figure out what we need to do to survive and be a team.” You’re literally counting on each other to keep moving forward. Because those are the basics. Those are the essentials that you’ll need to move on to get into the SEAL teams to succeed. Just because you graduate Hell Week, first, second and third phase and SEAL qualification training or SEAL tactical training, you have no guarantee that you can become a SEAL.
DARREN MCBURNETT: It’s like these are the steps to get there. An instructor of mine… When we finally graduated BUD/S back in 1996, he came into our classroom. And he was our second-phase instructor. He wasn’t very well liked, but everything he told you was matter-of-fact. And he came to us and he said, “Congratulations, gents. Good job in accomplishing nothing.” And we were like, “What?!” He goes, “What you have there in your hands is your graduation certificate. It’s a ticket to show up to a SEAL team, and that’s it. You have to prove yourself from then on out. You just basically got a ticket to show up—which most people don’t get. So, what, you do with it… That’s up to you.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: After two and a half years of this mindset, I think “individual” would be the worst possible thing that anyone could call you.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, it’s always been a team. And when you get there, you’re still a team. You’re a SEAL team platoon. You all work together. And that’s what separates us, because we understand that. And then you just move forward. That’s why we’re successful. Everything we have done, we’ve failed along the way, but we learn from our failures and we keep moving on.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And that’s why anytime time you hear “Navy SEAL,” the term “excellence” comes into mind. Excellence is a standard for us. Mission completion. The guys that work together, the hardest training in the world. These guys have done it all. But there’s a price for that, and that’s defending our country the best that we can. And we don’t all survive, but we do the best we can.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Just to find these individuals to form them into a team, you have to go through a lot of people to get the handful.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Mhm. And it’s funny… You get them all in the first five weeks of training, which is kind of fascinating. Because pain and cold is a great teacher. It’s a great barrier that most people don’t like. I get asked all the time, “How do I train to become a SEAL?” It’s like, “Do you go to the gym?” “Yeah.” “Do you run?” “Yeah.” “Do you swim?” “Yeah.” “OK, do this… When it’s 2:00 in the morning. I want you to go down to your lake or the ocean. I want you to cover yourself with sand, and then do a five-mile run in the middle of the night. And then every time you do a mile, stop, do about 150 push-ups, roll around in sand, do sprints, go back and sit in the ocean for 25 minutes, get back and then continue the run.”
DARREN MCBURNETT: Because people, in their head, have this comfort zone when they work out. They’re going to go to the gym or on the treadmill, lift weights and think “Oh, I’m ready to go.” That’s nothing. You’re conditioning your muscles, but you’re not conditioning your brain. We’re going to make sure you’re miserable while you’re doing all this.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow. So, how many evolutions are there?
DARREN MCBURNETT: The main one’s in first phase, which is a basic conditioning phase. There’s a lot—depending on what you’re training for. The core evolution is grinder PT. That’s calisthenics—push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, leg levers, burpees, running to the surf and back…
DARREN MCBURNETT: That’s your basic esthetics. You get dropped doing push-ups pretty much every time an instructor sees you do something wrong, your class is going to do 20 push-ups. You have to do them together. So, if you hear the word “drop,” you’re doing about 60 to 80 pushups. There’s conditioning runs in the sand—all soft-sand runs. We have the obstacle course. We have two-mile ocean swims. We have four-mile timed runs, two-mile ocean swim, timed, and then, there’s pool evolutions for acquiring what I like to call “actively participating in saving your own life.” Like the 50-meter underwater swim, the drown-proofing exercise is life-saving, underwater knot-tying. Because those evolutions are to induce stress in the candidate. When you’re under stress, you still have to be able to perform the task at hand.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’ve got to wrap my mind about this. This is just overwhelming. Because what you’re doing here is you’re just reprograming all the things that our mind is there to help us and save us from. You’re breaking all of those things down. In times of stress. Our amygdala wants to get us out of there—fight or flight, get the hell out. And you’re basically saying, “No. Enjoy it. Live with it. Control it. Don’t let it control you. Don’t let the panic set in.”
DARREN MCBURNETT: Control it and solve the problem.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Solve the problem.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yep. Why are you there? Underwater knot-tying is one of the basic things that you start in seal training. And it’s easy. You have to learn five knots. It’s like the bowline, the square knot, the clove hitch… They’re easy knots. But you have to tread water at the 15-foot. So, you’re basically treading water. Your instructor’s there—and you’re already tired from treading water—and you’ve got to go down. So, you dive all the way down—15 feet—and procedure…
DARREN MCBURNETT: You tie the knot that they give you—which is like a square knot—on a string down there, you give the OK, the instructor looks at it and makes sure it’s done correctly, he gives you an OK, you untie it, you get to the surface, you go up, you catch your breath, you tread water for another 30 seconds and then you do the next knot. You swim all the way down, make sure it’s done correctly and then you untie it. You tie it back… And so, you stop thinking about how much your lungs are in pain and stinging because you need air, but it’s like, “I have to get this knot done before I can go up.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, first of all, you’re a funny guy. I read these evolutions here, and I’m looking and saying, “Oh my gosh.” I looked through all these evolutions… Because in your book, you have two-mile ocean swim… And I want to tell you, I read some stuff on the Navy SEALs. I’ve never read anything put so well in a narrative perspective with humor and with biting sarcasm… Just really well done. And I’m looking through all of this. I’m looking for which one I think I could maybe do, and I thought knot-tying. And then you add a little crinkle to it. And I just want to read this for a second…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: “It’s not like you’re tying a double Windsor or anything complicated, but somehow the instructor staff seems to spend an inordinate amount of time inspecting every turn, angle and twist on the thing. And while you’re waiting, you start to feel your lungs burn because your last breath of air was a minute and a half ago. When the knot is finally inspected and you get an OK hand signal to return, the instructor gives you a thumbs up, and then you are sent to the surface to continue to tread water and repeat the process. And it seems the instructor staff will always make it miserable for you.”
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, they always take their time.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Always take their sweet, sweet time.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah. You’ll be down there and you’ll tie that knot, and then you’re like this, and give a thumbs up and he’s nowhere around. And, of course, you’re in your fourth knot. Your lungs are already burning. He’s not even come down yet. And you’re like, “Oh my God. Sweet Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.” But you’ve got to dig deep. You’re like, “He’ll come down. He’ll expect it.” Now, they don’t want to see you panic. Panicking is like you undo it like real quick and bolt to the surface… You do it nice and slow and smile as you go up like it’s no big deal. And then you get up and you’re gasping. And that’s the trick. It’s like we never want you to get comfortable. Yeah, you can do it. But we’re going to push you. Every little thing you do, we’re going to push you just a little bit farther.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And every time, you keep making my comfort zone… You keep taking everything I thought was supposed to be good and tearing it apart and telling me it’s none of that. You’re going to learn what uncomfortable, pain and stress are. This is your world. You’re creating a new dimension for me.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yes, absolutely. You’re right, Charles. Because in the end, war is hard. You don’t get comforts. You can go to war and come back dead. So, we had to make sure that you have mentally prepared yourself in every aspect of struggle, actively participated in saving your own life. We make sure that we have pushed you to the point where, “OK, I’m physically ready, and whatever comes at me, we can persevere.” And that’s the point.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I don’t want to go through the evolutions now. Get the book. Look through them. I read them, and my body was stressed.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Oh, good. I’m glad you read them, though. People get this book and they like open up and go, “Oh, McB, I love the photos.” It’s like, “Oh, thank you.” “You’re such an artist.” “Thank you.” But I struggled writing that. Our first publisher was like, “We’ll get a ghostwriter for you.” And I was like, “What the hell’s a ghostwriter?” “Well, they write it for you.” I was like, “Let me get this straight… Some dude with a journalism degree is going to know how to go through BUD/S when I tell him how it is? No. I’ll tell them myself—my own quirky little things. And then I’ll write it down. If people like it, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. But at least it’s genuine from me.” And so, after a while, I just really enjoyed writing it. Like the photography has always been a passion, but writing has been a lot of fun. That was really cool.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I want to tell you… When I got the book, the first instinct is: “I’ve got to look at these pictures.” But then I said, “You what? I’m not going to really appreciate them. I only have one chance to look at them for the first time.” So, I was so glad that you had a whole introduction of every evolution. So now when I turn to the page, and I saw log physical exercise and I saw the look on these guys’ faces… I understood how much it weighed, what they had to do with it, what pain they were in… The picture took on a totally different dimension.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Oh, good. Well, thank you for that. I appreciate that.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, there were two evolutions that jumped out at me that I just want you to spend a little time on explaining. First, the log physical exercise. How does any human come up with a way to torture someone with a 200-pound log? Explain that to me.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Oh, I don’t know. It’s all creative ways, Charles. That’s for sure. But the log is basically the team. It’s kind of like it’s a SEAL team, but it’s the United States. And it takes all seven of you to make sure we succeed in keeping this afloat.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How heavy is this thing?
DARREN MCBURNETT: It’s 200 pounds.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, if one guy starts slowing it down, everyone’s going to feel that.
DARREN MCBURNETT: We’re all going to feel the pain of that. And that’s that log is just a representation of the United States, a representation of what we do. And our job is to keep it afloat, keep it successful, keep it up, keep it running, keep it moving. And once you give up or start collapsing and can’t hold up any longer and you let it fall, then you fail as a team. But that’s why so many special forces and all parts of the military use the log because you’re running with it, you’re handling it, you’re doing maneuvers with it, holding it over your head, running with it… This is your job as a military person. As an operator, as a war fighter, that log is the country. And everything you do, you’ve got to make sure you take it with you and make sure it doesn’t fail. And that’s your job.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You have to hold that log for what? Do you live with that log?
DARREN MCBURNETT: A lot of the log evolutions… I mean, we have one that we call the “long mile” just for fun, but it’s actually a six-mile sand run with that log.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: First of all, are you all the same height?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, we’re all the same height. We break that down into height. It’s called the “height line.” When you first get there, you’re losing about 20 guys a day, easily. And so, you’ll get out there and do log PT or boats and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Everybody line up by height.” And then you line yourself. Up then we’ll just go down the line of the tallest—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Bam. You’re a boat crew. Go. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Boom. Go. So, it’s by height. And so many people quit. You just get to an evolution like so many people quit. You’re like, “OK, stop. Line up.” Bam, bam, bam. “There’s your new boat crew. Go.”
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow. So, the log physical exercise, you have this 200-pound log, and it’s teaching you teamwork. It’s teaching you to break down every pain barrier that you thought you had. Because I know, lifting weights and stuff, when you hold something over your head, your shoulders give out. It’s only two muscles holding things up with your shoulders. It’s not a squat. It’s not a deadlift. It’s two muscles. So, it’s pain. It’s a lot of pain. And you’re holding this and running with it. Do you see a lot more candidates drop out at this?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yes.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The log is the differentiation, huh?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah. The biggest evolutions that people quit and leave is the log PT and IBS. Because you have to run with an object. And that’s what I find, even as instructor, so many people quit that. And I’m like, “If you all work together, those evolutions are extraordinarily easy.” They really are. I mean, yeah, it’s painful, it’s heavy… but you’re all doing it together. And once you guys understand how to work together, they’re easy. But it’s the ones that can’t work together. They can’t get in step. They start to self-loathe. They start breaking down. The boat comes up and down, the log eventually goes to the ground and they get frustrated. And they start yelling at each other. That’s what we look for is: How’s that internal breakdown going to happen? How’s the internal leadership going to deal with failure within their log? And for the most part, that’s where you get a lot of the people that just quit.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: It’s brilliant how you set up two evolutions that weed out the individuals—those guys who are not teamwork players. Just from a simple 200-pound log and an inflatable boat. how much does the boat weigh?
DARREN MCBURNETT: The way the boat ironically weighs another 200 pounds as well. So, like I said, if you work together, they’re easy evolutions. When I was in Hell Week, my boat crew got along great. And so, we had the log where it was nothing to us. We were like, “Thank God. This next two hours it’s going to be a cakewalk.” Because we all got it. But the boat crews that don’t… They end up going away real quick.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Well, the next evolution—which freaked me out 100% because I’m fearful of this—is drowning. And this drown-proofing that you insane people do… Describe what a candidate has to do for drown-proofing.
DARREN MCBURNETT: OK, drown-proofing is… panic-proofing. It’s your first real introduction to stress, working through stress and solving the problem. So, drown-proofing is… We tie your hands behind your back, we tie your feet together, we throw you in nine feet of water. And it takes about 20-plus minutes. Right off the bat, you have to swim 100 meters with your feet and hands tied.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Time out. I don’t practice first? You basically tie my hands and feet and you throw me in nine feet of water and say, “Alright, swim”?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yep, that and back. And so, you kind of train up to this point, but when it actually happens… When we’re training up to that point, you don’t have any ropes in your hands or your feet. You kind of try to keep them there, but once you actually get them tied, that changes. Something in your head just starts to go a little quirky. Because now, your hands and feet are actually tied. Now, you have to do it. Because I was a swimmer, I just had a breaststroke kick that I did with my knees. I just swam with my knees. I’d take a breath and go down.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: You’re in 100% control.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, but a lot of guys don’t. So, you get done with that. You get to the side, you push off… The next evolution is called bobbing. Now, bobbing is real simple…
CHARLES MIZRAHI: One second, bro. You’re tying my feet and hands, and I’m doing how many meters?
DARREN MCBURNETT: You’re doing 100 meters.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How many laps?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Four.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I’m figuring out how to make my body go without my legs and my arms, and figuring out how to breathe. So, locomotion, as well as breathing. Do you have instructors in the water in case these guys ingest a lot of water and start to drown?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, we’ve got some. We got a placed route—you can see. They’re easy to identify. They’re the ones that go right to the bottom.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I guess you have to have humor for all of this, right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, you have to have humor.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, do you have guys—like these Midwestern guys—who’ve never seen an ocean or anything and don’t know how to swim?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of them make it through, and there’s a lot that don’t. But it’s how comfortable you can be in the water. That’s the whole thing, Charles—how comfortable you can be. And the bobbing portion, you let all the air out of your lungs, you sink down nine feet, you push up with your feet on the bottom, all the way up, you take a big breath and then you exhale as you go down. By the time you get down to the bottom, your air is out. You push back up. So actually, it’s controlled breathing. So, it’s kind of like you let all your breath out, push off, get to the surface, hold your breath, you come down, exhale a little to the bottom and you start to relax. You start to get the oxygen back in your in your system, you’re starting to go and then you’ll float for five minutes. And floating’s easy. You just fill your lungs up with air. And instead of being on your back, you’re on your front. You take a breath of air. You just keep all the air in your lungs. And that’s actually the easiest part of it.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And after that, you go back to bobbing on your station, and then you do a front flip, you back flip, you bob some more and they throw your mask out at you. Then, you go down and grab your mask with your mouth, you push up and you say, “Permission to come aside.” And you do. But basically, your hands your feet are tied. So, what you learn is not to panic, and that you can actually problem solve without using your feet and your hands in the water as well. Just use your lungs as a ballast. And so, once you understand that, it becomes quite simple. And that’s what we want you to understand. We want you to understand that you can problem solve with what you’ve got. Just because you don’t have your hands or your feet, don’t think, all of a sudden, you can’t do anything. You can. Think about it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: I want to tell you—and this is where my fear comes from… And I’m not even trying to compare myself to this… But there was one summer where we went down to the Jersey Shore. And one part of the beach has real bad riptides. A friend of mine and I were both on our backs just floating out. And I’m not a strong swimmer. He’s a very strong swimmer. We got out maybe 300 or 400 yards. And I looked—because we passed the jetties. I realized, “Wow, we’ve got to start swimming back in.” As we started swimming back in, I realized I kept getting pushed further out. We were caught in riptide. First thing I did was the most logical thing: I panicked. I said, “Holy smokes!” And I started to panic more. And you’re so right with this—how your mind just takes over. I saw him, and he was a strong swimmer. I said, “Gosh, if Ralph can’t swim out of this, I’m dead.” And I saw him swimming as hard as he could. And I just gave up.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And then my brain said, “Relax, or you’re going to drown.” And I happened to reach… There was a rope in the water separating buoys that was full of seaweed. I just went hand over hand, all the way, and finally got to the shore. The lifeguard says, “Yeah, if you went down again, we were going to rescue you.” We don’t like to go out there because usually when we save big guys like you, we get yelled at. I go, “Guys, I was drowning!” I was really drowning. But the panic kills. And that’s what you’re trying to overcome.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, it does. You just stop and think for a second. It’s like, “OK, how can I get out of this? Let’s think for a second.” Most people don’t do that. Most people just go straight to panic. It’s like: I’m comfortable… Straight to uncomfortable… Straight to panic. There’s no stopping in there to think, “OK, how can I figure this out?” And if a lot of us did more of that then, we’d probably be a little bit better. But that’s the way it goes.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, when you speak to groups, you speak to businesses… This is not warfare. We’re in business. It’s a different type of warfare, but we’re not going to drown—we’re not going to die that moment. And every step of BUD/S training, you’re a step away from really getting seriously injured or dead. It’s no cakewalk.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: When you’re in the business world, how do you take what you’re talking about and all the training that you had as an instructor as well… How do you have people relate this to running a business or being a good student or being good parent or husband or spouse? How do you transfer that knowledge over?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I just break it down to a lot of components.
DARREN MCBURNETT: No. 1 is: Whatever business you’re in—when you’re in a leadership position—people are looking to you. And they’re looking for you for comfort, looking to you for answers. And how are you going to lead them? And how you do that is by not panicking—not stressing out. But I tell them, remember who you are. Master the basic fundamentals of what you do to the point where you can do them instinctively. Always be prepared. The big thing to talk about is effective communication. Don’t go into the room and start yelling. They’re not going to be able to process that. Make sure you use effective communication.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Be a leader. If you’re in charge of somebody, be that leader. You can’t lead your people if you don’t know your people. And their success is your success, and your failures are their failures. And once you understand that, then it becomes quite simple. It’s like, “Let’s get this job done right now. And this is how we’re going to do it. We’re going to do it together.” And that’s what I talk about with a lot of businesses. Because there’s a lot of individual components of that business, and I find that there’s a big disconnect between the leaders and the people that are working for you. No. 1, you’ve got to break that barrier. They’re not working for you—they’re working with you. Do you understand that? And being a leader is a privilege. It’s not a right.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And if the people that are working with you don’t really like you or can’t work with you, then the whole thing’s going to fail. So, it’s a privilege. And make sure you embrace that and understand that if you have a mission objective and you all agree to it and want that to happen, then you’ll make it happen with all of you. There’s a lot of disconnect between all those pieces of the puzzle. Once you start aligning them, then you can start moving forward and understanding that you’re better off together instead of that one person—or two people—that have that ego and think it’s all about them. No, you’re all in it together. You’re a team. Because you can’t do it alone.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Wow, spot on, man. Just amazing. Before we go…
DARREN MCBURNETT: We’re going? Oh man, this has been great!
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Oh, I could speak for hours… My studio guy here has to get home and see his kids sometime tonight. So, I could speak for hours, but… Let me just touch on this. Because I find, when I speak with guys like you and guys like Mark Geist of 13 Hours, all of you guys have foundations. When you think about it for a second from my perspective, it makes all the sense. Selfless people want to help other people. It’s not about you. And here you are. You created UncommonGritFoundation.org.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Mhm.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Why did you create this? What problem are you trying to solve? And how could I get involved in this?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Well, Uncommon Grit started with the book, Uncommon Grit. But the biggest thing that started it, Charles, is simply this: You’re never out of the fight.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Especially if you’re an operator or war fighter in our country. I always tell people I’m a father, a husband, operator, war fighter and an American. Just because you’re gone and retired doesn’t mean you stopped. You just came off the line. That’s all you did. You came off the line, and now you’re backside support. You’re still taking care of those who took care of you.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And that’s a big problem we have in our country nowadays. We have a huge shift of individuals in this country that think that they all did it by themselves. No. There’s a protection that’s there—the military, first responders, police officers, firefighters… We’re all there protecting you. And you did not do it by yourself—we helped you. And we have families, and they deserve to be taken care of just like anybody else.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And for me, that was my take with Uncommon Grit, because I look at it and it’s like, “Yes, it is very, very special. So, let’s do something special with it.” Because you always want to give back to the first responder community. I’m still supporting those guys who are supporting me. I’m still supporting the people that are supporting America on the front lines. And how I could do it was with photography.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Because I don’t make excuses. I don’t concentrate on what I can’t do. I concentrate on what I can do. And if I can make a difference and help a family of a fallen service member, fallen firefighter or a fallen police officer and I can do it through photography, then that’s what I’m supposed to do. Because I’m not on the line anymore. I’m off the line. But hey, we’re still taking care of those that took care of us the best way they can. Because we’re never out of the fight. We just have a different role capacity.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: And so, your foundation… I think it’s just you and your wife, right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, it’s just me and my wife. We have a couple of board members. And all we do is spread the word of all the people make sacrifices for our country, and then we make sure they’re taken care of. We raise money for vetted charities. For people to come back with PTSD, we don’t have a PTSD foundation here, but we can give that money to Lone Survivor Foundation for Marcus Luttrell and make sure that they can take care of you.
DARREN MCBURNETT: If a police officer loses their life in the line of duty, we can’t bring that life back. This is what we can do… Here’s $20,000, $25,000, $30,000 to help your family try to move forward, even though you can’t recover from that. But this is us saying thank you for what you’re doing, and let us help you keep moving forward, doing what we can to make sure that you’re taking care of.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, you’re doing a great service for me, because you act like a clearinghouse. And you’re getting my donation in whatever hands you feel is going to give most bang for my buck. Investing, right?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Exactly.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Getting more value than you’re paying. Where I’m going to have the biggest impact across charities and foundations I will never hear of. I think there was one you were telling me about the other day with surfboards…
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, One More Wave. The buddy of mine—Kyle Buckett is his name. He started a foundation out in California called “One More Wave.” And all they do is build surfboards for amputees, PTSD and traumatic brain injury for police officers, military personnel, special operators… And all he does is takes a day, and they’ll go out there for surf water therapy. And they build surfboards for it. We gave them a $20,000 check to build surfboards to help these guys the best way we can.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Because we’re just another dog in the fight. There’s lots of charities. And believe or not, there’s so many good people out there that want to do some good, but they don’t want to pick and choose. And it’s like, “I have to pick this charity because they do scholarships, or this charity because they do amputee, or this charity because they’re wounded.” It’s like… Hey, I’m just spreading the word. That’s all I’m doing. I’m an advocate for everything that’s out there for the first responders and people that take care of us as Americans. And then we’re going to put that to people that are doing the good. And that’s what we love to do. So, I enjoy it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The surfboard, for example… How much is a surfboard?
DARREN MCBURNETT: I think they’re like $250 a piece—the really good ones.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: So, your buddy came up with an idea that—for $250—you could change someone’s life.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Yeah, that’s it. “Here’s a surfboard. Let’s get out there and have some fun.” And it’s like that community.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: How difficult was that?
DARREN MCBURNETT: Not hard at all. And it goes back to being in BUD/S in the first couple weeks of training. Take care of those that took care of you. Once you start caring about the people and what they’ve gone through, then it’s real freaking simple. It really is.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: what I always say? Barriers to entry are so simple. We all have talents, whatever they might be. We all have special skills. I took some art classes. And this one lady who gave me the class, she goes, “Well, I can’t give class tomorrow because I’m going to the VA and teaching painting classes for the vets who are there. And they look forward to it all week. And it really relieves a lot of their stress.” This lady is not wealthy. Just taking those small talents… What a better community we’d have if everyone took their small talents and just applied them in a small way.
DARREN MCBURNETT: It’s at one moment… When are you going to stop being selfish as a society? When you stop thinking about yourself… Like, “Hey, there’s other people out there that need you.” The more we grow as a society—as human beings together—it’s like, “Hey, we can do more together than we can as individuals.” And so, I’m just doing what I can do, and I’m doing it through photography.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And then I’ve met great people like you—which, I mean, just talking to you is an honor. Trust me—I looked you up. This is really freaking cool for me. And when you have great people that invest in great things and have that that vision, you can do great things with it—especially when you when you sync those people up. Amazing things can happen. So, it’s just such a privilege to be here, Charles, and I thank you so much.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Well, you’re way too kind, and the privilege is mine. And really, I’m honored. I really am.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: The name of the book is Uncommon Grit. Grab it. Put it on your coffee table. I know it’s in my house. This just came from my coffee table. I left it there, and I just watch my kids, my wife or anyone who passes by just flipping through this. Every time you look through this book, there’s a different perspective. It’s like… You think you had a tough day. When you look at some of these things. Gosh, these guys are going through this… What happened today to me? I got a flat tire. Boy, first world problem.
DARREN MCBURNETT: And the job gets harder. Once you get on the SEAL teams, it gets harder. But I tell you, Charles… I’ve got a couple of prints I’m going to send you. Make sure you text me your address. We’ll get those out for you.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Oh, love it. We’re going to spread the word.
DARREN MCBURNETT: I appreciate it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: McB, you are the man. It was great. Thank you so much for being on the show. The name of the book is Uncommon Grit, the name of the foundation—I’ll put a link down in my podcast description—UncommonGritFoundation.org. Any donation—it doesn’t matter. A dollar from a million people is phenomenal. So, don’t think your number is too small.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: This man is taking it and he’s putting it to the right places. As an investor, I’m always looking to invest $1 to make $10. He’s basically showing you a way… And he takes a lot of the trouble out of my head. I give him the dollar and he’s finding the biggest bang for its buck. And that’s got to be a happy day for everyone. So, Darren McB, you are the man. Thank you so much, brother.
DARREN MCBURNETT: Thank you, Charles. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for spreading the word. I’m looking forward to a long-lasting friendship with you, brother. Looking forward to seeing you again, man.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Same here. Thanks so much.
DARREN MCBURNETT: You’ve got it.
CHARLES MIZRAHI: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Charles Mizrahi Show. If you’re a new listener, welcome. If you’ve been listening for a while, we’re glad to have you back. Either way, we’d love to know what you think of the show. Please leave a review if you listen on Apple Podcast. Reviews make it easier for others to find the show. You can also see the video of the interview on The Charles Mizrahi Show Channel on YouTube.
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