How I Lead This: Behind the Leadership Brand of NYT-Bestselling Author Craig Mullaney

Welcome to How I Lead This, an ongoing questionnaire that asks top business leaders about their work, their brand, and their inspiration.

In the spotlight in this edition is Craig Mullaney. Craig is the New York Times bestselling author of The Unforgiving Minute, a memoir about his education as a soldier. He was educated at West Point, went to Ranger School, and attended Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Following 9/11, he led a platoon in Afghanistan and later became a teacher at the United States Naval Academy.

Once his time in the military concluded, Craig built a career as a sought-after leadership expert and advisor. In addition to advising Fortune 50 CEOs at some of the world’s biggest companies on crisis communication issues, Craig built the Global Executive Program at Facebook and even served on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

In his off-time, Craig has crossed the Alps on foot, jumped out of planes 450 times, sumo-wrestled in Japan, and run the Boston Marathon in just over three hours. He advocates for veterans and US-Japan relations. He has studied, worked in, or explored over 60 countries.

On his LinkedIn profile, Craig writes: “I love meaty challenges where I can build a winning team, apply my creativity, mobilize my global network, and overcome impossible odds.” In person, he’s incredibly down-to-earth and disarming — a deep thinker and sincere listener who quietly boasts an incredible leadership resume.

Here’s what Craig Mullaney had to share with The Helm:

Emoji you can’t live without: 🤔

TED Talk you’d really love to give: The journey from consultant to guitar hero.

Secret sign from childhood you were destined to be a leader: Affection for blueberry pancakes.

Stories are everything in business. What’s your go-to story that consistently moves people? How failure in Ranger School showed me “it’s not about you.”

As a leader, what keeps you up at night? Reading, praying, thinking. At night is when I recharge my spirit so that I can give all of my energy during the day.

What three words or phrases define your leadership style? Brave, bold, persistent.

My biggest insecurity about how people perceive me as a leader is… Too rigid, demanding.

Social media as a leader: love it or leave it? Tell us why. Love it. Social media is leadership technology. It makes you more productive at influencing others, building community, and achieving your objectives.

Your #1 must-follow account on social media: My wife.

The ROI question — biggest benefit you’ve seen from building your leadership brand: Helping younger leaders make different mistakes than mine.

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