Five Things Our President Learned from a (Brief) Life at Sea

MediaFace President Jason Colbert shares his takeaways from participating in the Royal Canadian Navy’s Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) program.


When a colleague from my CEO Global Network group invited me to join him on a naval adventure, I was a little nervous, but excited. Our CLaS experience in Halifax involved a tour of Canadian naval bases and a three-day journey aboard a frigate (the HMCS Ville-de-Quebec) to the remote Sable Island. We also took part in several training exercises from firing arms to firefighting.

On the trip, I gained insight about the Navy as a military institution in Canada. In addition to hearing a lot of background information and anecdotes from the officers behind the CLaS program, we visited the Naval Museum of Halifax, located in a historical house right on the base. You may have seen some of the updates and photos on my LinkedIn page or on MediaFace’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels.

I also took away lessons on being a better leader and team member. I’ve passed some of those along below.


  1. Repetition is key

You’ve probably seen at least one movie montage where a beleaguered military recruit does the same drills over and over again. As I saw in the Navy, repeating the same activities until they become reflexes is essential for survival. While the circumstances of our business aren’t quite so dire, the more we “drill” in our organizational best practices, or even the more we speak and meet with our clients, the better we become.


  1. A culture of support

When we were on the frigate, we never heard Navy personnel respond to a request with “that’s not my job” – that mentality doesn’t exist. I work to cultivate the same culture at MediaFace, and am proud to see my colleagues jumping in to help on all kinds of things outside of their job titles. A team has to rely on each other.


  1. Close quarters mean friendliness

We didn’t have a lot of space to ourselves on the ship – we slept twelve to a small room – so there’s also a not a lot of space for negativity. My CLaS colleagues were friendly, as were the crew members and officers we sailed with, and that made sharing quarters much easier. It was a small reminder to respect the shared spaces that we keep in our offices.


  1. Look after your people

The Navy has access to powerful weaponry and likewise, they have a lot of responsibilities. Because of this, they really value taking care of the mental and physical health of their personnel. From friendly competition on what number the engine wheel will stop on after a voyage, to the gym they keep on board for the crew to exercise, the Navy encourages a balanced work environment where the whole person is taken care of.


  1. Be an ambassador

On the trip, I was able to learn more about what the Navy does. Historically, they’re a military organization, but they’ve leveraged their position to be able to build positive, cooperative relationships with other countries as ambassadors for Canada. It’s a great lesson for our own businesses: to be about building connections first in whatever we do.

This was an amazing experience, and I’m looking forward to applying what I learned here at MediaFace. Thanks again, Royal Canadian Navy!

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