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Meet the Team: Interview with Todd Sullivan, RBLP-T

Photo of Todd Sullivan

Welcome back to another edition of #MeetTheTeam, where we interview one of our outstanding faculty members at #RBLP; today’s chat is with Todd Sullivan, RBLP-T!

Photo of Todd Williams in the serviceHi Todd! Tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from. 

I am a Christian, a husband, a dad, a “pop”, an athlete, a coach, and a veteran.  I joined the Navy from Rockford, IL but now reside in middle Tennessee.  My last duty station in the Navy was in Nashville and we fell in love with the area.

What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP? 

My education is a long story: I joined the Navy through the GI Bill.  I started taking college classes through the PACE program while on my first submarine, and six transcripts later I had completed my bachelor’s degree.  I had already commissioned when I finished my undergrad work and was going to shore-duty.  I immediately enrolled in a Master of Science in Management (MSM) program at Troy University and completed it during that tour. I just finished up my courses through an accredited program associated with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and will be earning my coaching credential shortly.

I spent a total of 30 years in uniform.  I jokingly tell people I had three 10-year careers: I was an enlisted submarine sailor.  I served on two submarines and was promoted to Chief Petty Officer before earning my commission through the Limited Duty Officer program.  I was a Supply Officer after my commission.  I served one a surface ship, ran an aviation. logistics command, was a department head on another sub and then went to an Admirals staff.  While on staff duty, I spent six months in Iraq working with the Marines.  It was in Iraq that I submitted my paperwork to convert to Human Resources (HR); as an HR officer, I served in Kabul, Afghanistan on the NATO Training Mission team, working to develop their National Police.  I then spent my last six years in recruiting, retiring as the Commanding Officer of Nashville Recruiting District.

Todd Sullivan during his Navy serviceWho is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory? 

Wow – there are so many.  My grandfather was my first.  He had to quit school after 10th grade when his parents both died, and he started with a company sweeping floors and shoveling coal. He retired from the same company 48 years later as Vice President of Production.  We often spoke about leadership and learning; he was a big supporter of mine, a great mentor and sounding board.

In the Navy, I had several.  One that truly stands out was a Lieutenant from my first sub, Ashish Vazirani.  He spoke to me often about getting my degree, about earning a commission, and advancing.  Those talks really stuck with me, and I accomplished all of them. There were many more, great leaders like RADM Barry Bruner; Captain Bill Traub; Master Chiefs Gary Johnson, Ken Biller and Bob Rankin.  So many stories could be told about each of these men.

What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor? 

I have a passion for helping make people and organizations better, which I believe helps to make the organization better.  I see my role with RBLP as doing exactly that: I am building relationships with real people, and real leaders that are making a difference.

In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers? 

I believe resilience is both adapting to adversity and persevering through it.  You must be able to think and act without succumbing to emotion.  Resilient leaders are connected to their teams and organization, they understand the culture and how to navigate problems when they arise, but they do all of this while maintaining a sense of decorum and evenness.

Todd Sullivan working outWhat are the three most important components, in your opinion, that you try to convey to every team that you train under the RBLP certification program? 

I really think when you look at the structure of the course, there is a great flow.  I am very much a fan of the first three sessions; the “soft” sciences as I like to think of them.  This is all about building relationships and your team.  Then when you move into Team Learning and Organizational Learning, it is almost like a Lego kit – it all just snaps together.  So, to me understanding how to develop and cultivate a great team – understanding that a culture of learning, real learning is vital to sustained performance in an ever-changing world, and then making that learning holistic across your enterprise.

What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training? 

My Navy career culminated in me having “command” of the best team I could imagine.  While serving my crew as the CO, I realized I was a coach, a mentor, an instructor…but more importantly I was there to support my team.  We had a lot of things thrown at us – and we flourished.  Today, three of my former Operations Officers are serving as Commanding Officers.  These three Naval Officers are my “reliefs” – and they made me realize how great it is to see your team continue to do great things.

In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories working with a client and why?

I spent some time training with the Armed Services YMCA – a great non-profit that supports our military families.  Seeing the young leaders of this organization really embrace these key leader attributes is so heartening.  I also love that since the ASYMCA is a non-profit, we are training them for free and giving my time is so worth it.

Todd Sullivan with his wifePivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love? 

I truly love to work out.  I was a competitive CrossFit athlete for years, now I co-own a CF gym (we opened during the pandemic) and spend some hours each week coaching.  I love seeing people make life changing improvements to their health, and this happens both physically and emotionally in the gym.  I also love to read, I typically have 2 or 3 books going at once.  A lot of business/leadership books, some health and nutrition books, some biographies, and an occasional fiction novel – for an escape. Most importantly, I spend a lot of time with my wife; after eight addresses and a lot of deployments, she still likes me!  We are empty nesters, became grandparents last year to a beautiful little girl, Maeve, and we have two dogs to hang out with.

Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others? 

My favorite thing to tell people when talking about development or leadership is: “Leadership without love is just barking orders.”  I believe that.  You can lead people when you care about them, otherwise you just want to be in charge.

 


RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together! 

Learn more about the requirements for the RBLP Certification program, and if you’re interested in getting certified to Build Resilient Teams, feel free to fill out our application!

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