David Rutherford had an epiphany in the laundromat during his fourth year of college. He had turned down the wrong path in life, partying too hard and studying too little. He was going astray, so he made a drastic change.
His effort to right himself led to eight years in the military, priceless training as a Navy SEAL and, these days, a career as an author and motivational speaker, sharing the tools that helped hone his success as part of the Navy’s elite special forces with everyone from children to CEOs of major companies.
“What I did was, I took all the lessons I learned going through training, and I learned in teams, and I learned in my life, and I came up with eight simple missions for kids to use to enhance their self confidence,” Rutherford said, explaining how his experiences as a SEAL trainer and later among children in Afghanistan led to his first book in 2006, “Field Manuals for Kids: Get Squared Away.”
What started as a guidebook to inspire children has grown to apply to adults in the business world, as well. Rutherford shared his missions for success with Memphis recently, with three back-to-back appearances last week, including one at the monthly Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club meeting.
The keys to overcoming negativity, he said, are maintaining self-confidence and living a team-oriented lifestyle. Businesses especially need to make certain their employees are committed to operating as a team in order to reach their potential.
“Once that team life sets in, you can start to achieve,” Rutherford said Thursday, Feb. 23, before meeting with about 100 business and military leaders for a question-and-answer session hosted by CB Richard Ellis at The Peabody hotel, then addressing nearly 500 supporters of the Chickasaw Council, Boy Scouts of America at a fundraiser in an adjacent room.
He called the Boy Scouts “one of the greatest organizations in the history of our country” and said he was honored to share his knowledge with scouts and their supporters. The local Boy Scout council hoped to raise $1.1 million at Thursday’s fundraiser at The Peabody, which attracted guests including Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.
“I took all the lessons I learned ... and I came up with eight simple missions for kids to use to enhance their self confidence.”
Rutherford, who has appeared as a guest on FOX News, is riding a wave of interest in the SEALs following the killing of Osama bin Laden by a team last May. “Act of Valor,” a new movie starring real-life Navy SEALs, hit screens nationwide Friday, the same day that his second book, “Field Manuals for Adults: Self Confidence” was released by his own publishing company.
After the military, Rutherford worked as a contractor in Afghanistan, where he witnessed a generation of children growing up amid extreme poverty and war. The experience inspired the concept for his company, Team Froglogic – “frogman” is a name for Navy SEALs – along with his first book and a series of YouTube videos.
“Whether you’re an 8-year-old kid in Masar-i-Sharif (Afghanistan) or an 8-year-old kid in Memphis, Tenn., the same things are true across the world: Kids need self-confidence, period, and I feel like I’ve developed another tool for people to use in their toolkit of life.”
Jeremy Park, communications director for Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, invited Rutherford to Memphis to speak Friday for the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club meeting, which attracts business leaders from across the city. Businesses are looking for military-style organization, Park said, which made Rutherford a natural fit for his group. But Rutherford’s experience as a mentor and role model made him a good fit for the Boy Scouts too, he said.
Life is hard and even motivational speakers get down sometimes, said Rutherford, who now lives with his wife and child in Asheville, N.C. But physical and mental exercise and a relationship with God refuel him when he is low on energy. His mission is to keep others as motivated as he is.
“I lived in a very dark place for a lot of years and I feel like I’ve been given a fourth or eighth chance,” he said. “With all these things, I feel this energy in me that just comes out. I can’t contain it.”