OPENING KEYNOTE: Navy Seal Robert O’Neill

OPENING KEYNOTE: Navy Seal Robert O’Neill

I must admit that I had not read the introductory bio on Sunday’s keynote speaker Sunday morning.

Based on past keynotes, I had anticipated a decent speech from a well-known speaker. However, what I had not anticipated was a keynote straight out of a Brad Thor or Tom Clancy novel!

The speaker, Robert O’Neill, is a highly-decorated Navy Seal combat veteran. O’Neill was the elite warrior in the shadows doing the impossible. As I believe the rest of the crowd did, I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. There was a huge expression of gratitude for his service, which I echo.

The point of his message was simple yet poignant to building owners and managers, “Be prepared”.

Whether it was completing over 1,000 parachute jumps or raiding a building with known insurgents, his success was drawn from being prepared. He and the other elite seal team’s followed a strict three-phase preparation regiment from which we can build success in business:


As property managers, facility managers, building service contractors or providers of facility maintenance services or janitorial cleaning services, these three points are not novel, but how well do we live by them. For O’Neill, it was life or death, for us it could be the life or death of our careers or business.

O’Neill’s message was to take these three points seriously. Do not write them off simply because your daily interactions do not include tracer bullets screaming six inches from your face. Use them to build success. Preparation based on training, repetition, and execution enables you to:

  1. Perform under fire
  2. Trust you people eliminating micromanagement
  3. Manage egos because:
    1. Everyone realizes they are that good
    2. Mutual respect is derived from training, repeating and executing
  4. Succeed under difficult circumstance

So what is my take from the speech? The next time you have a presentation to prepare, an employee meeting to conduct, a sale to win or a client to please, don’t brush off the basics of preparation. Prepare like you are going to war, and when your customer or competition is shell-shocked from your outstanding performance, let success be your victory!

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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