Knucklehead Podcast Ep. 161: How To Overcome Ego with Cordell Bennigson of Echelon Front

Knucklehead Podcast Ep. 161: How To Overcome Ego with Cordell Bennigson of Echelon Front

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and they can happen to everyone. It’s normal to look back on them with regret. But what we learn from these mistakes is more valuable than anything else we could have learned at the time of doing something right. The point of making mistakes is not to avoid them altogether, but rather to learn from them and use that knowledge in the future.

In today’s edition of the Knucklehead Podcast, Stephen talks with Cordell Bennigson, Advisor at Echelon Front, about one of the biggest mistakes he made in his corporate career, why he moved from large to smaller companies, and how ego is the most common pitfall people make.

Cordell Bennigson is a former U.S. Marine Corps officer, pilot, and forward air controller. Since leaving active duty, he has led business teams in the United States and around the world in a wide variety of industries, roles, and companies.

Cordell brings a blend of Marine Corps, combat and extensive private-industry leadership to the Echelon Front team. He continues to provide leadership within private companies today and has first-hand experience with the power, effectiveness, and challenges of implementing a culture of Extreme Ownership within business teams.


In This Episode

5:33 – Backstory of Cordell Bennigson

8:27 – What compelled him to join the military

9:41 – Cordell’s perspective on risk

12:01 – How the military has taught him the real value of learning from mistakes

12:51 – The biggest mistake Cordell made in his corporate career

17:02 – How he communicated with leaders about the issue they were confronted with

20:11 – The reasons for his decision to move from large to smaller companies

23:33 – What attracted him to become a military pilot 

29:01 – The impact of military camaraderie on the business world

31:18 – Cordell’s journey to the corporate world

33:04 – The most common pitfall people fall into

35:36 – The difference between ego and self-confidence

39:48 – What’s next for Cordell Bennigson

Favorite Quotes

14:30 – “I got so focused on this one quality issue, I let the company run out of cash. In fact, that issue of running out of cash, of potentially bankrupting a business ended up being a bigger problem to have to sort out than the original quality issue was to start with.” – Cordell Bennigson

9:07 – “The upbringing definitely gave me a perspective of the world that there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot you can go do and it’s attainable. It’s not a big, scary place. It’s not something for other people to do. You can get to it.” – Cordell Bennigson

11:22 – “The learning throughout my career and throughout my life, it’s a series of mistakes and failures. You learn from things that go well without a doubt. But you learn a lot from things that don’t go right.” – Cordell Bennigson

15:09 – “In a leadership role, it doesn’t matter how big the issue is. You have to be able to keep your emotions in check. You’ve got to step back from the situation and maintain some perspective on what’s going on because you’ve got other things you have to be thinking about.” – Cordell Bennigson

33:17 – “The number one common pitfall is ego, when anybody lets their ego get into the decision-making process, get into leading a conversation, get in the way of letting them learn, getting in the way of letting them accept that maybe someone else’s ideas are better than my ideas. There’s a lot of ways that it can manifest itself. And the root cause is that his ego steps in.” – Cordell Bennigson

35:46 – “Keeping our ego in check doesn’t mean we don’t have self-confidence. Because self-confidence is what propels us to go do challenging things, set high expectations for ourselves, and believe we can accomplish those things. Ego is the counterbalance to that, that steps in and says, I know how to do it right, I know exactly how it’s going to go, and I’m not going to listen anymore.” – Cordell Bennigson

39:23 – “Get yourself surrounded by really smart, hardworking, committed people. Learn, ask questions, and absorb everything that you can from them. Don’t think that you got to prove to them what you know. The really valuable thing is for you to learn from them, what they know. That leads to our own growth.” – Cordell Bennigson

Engage with Cordell Bennigson



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