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Michael Abrashoff

Speaker, Former Navy Commander;
Leading Breakthrough Performance

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Mike Abrashoff is at the center of one of the most remarkable modern-day stories of organizational transformation. Mike took command of the worst-performing navy ship and crew in the Pacific Fleet, plagued with low morale, high turnover, and abysmal performance evaluations, and — within just one year — made it the best in the fleet using the same crew. The lesson was clear — leadership matters and culture is everything. In his riveting talks, Mike shows how business leaders can achieve the same results and success with their own “crews.” +

A popular keynote speaker for audiences looking to ramp up organizational performance, Mike has spoken to every industry and kind of audience — from board retreats to front line personnel; from sales groups to universities; from Fortune 500s to startups. He inspires audiences to rethink their beliefs about leadership and organizational culture and tailors the message to focus on engagement, execution, change, safety, diversity, leadership, teamwork, innovation, accountability, and more.

Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Mike served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. He is currently the founder of Aegis Performance Group, a consulting firm which works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and performance challenges within their organizations.

Mike is the author of It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from The Best Damn Navy in The Country, which has sold over one million copies and is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He has also written the follow-up books, It’s Our Ship and Get Your Ship Together. --

Topics & Categories
  • Business Management & Strategy
  • Change | Change Mgmt.
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Employee Engagement
  • Human Resources & Workplace Culture
  • Inspiring Stories
  • Leadership
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Performance & Productivity
  • Resiliency
  • Risk & Risk Management
  • Team-Work & Collaboration
  • Trainers

Mike Abrashoff Jon Montgomery - Keynote Speaker Presentations for Conferences & Corporate Events:


  • Leading Successful Change
  • Don’t Let Goals Limit Performance
  • Execution – Rethink Every Process
  • Coaching, Mentoring & Training
  • Attracting & Retaining Talent
  • Innovation is a Team Effort
  • Culture of Accountability
  • Increasing Employee Engagement
  • The Power of Diversity
  • Safety is No Accident
  • Leading Virtually

The Virtual Leader’s Roadmap

Mike Abrashoff had to change his leadership mindset when he took over the near-worst performing ship in the Navy. The situation was dire. If performance did not improve, sailors could end up injured or worse. In response, Abrashoff quickly adopted a new set of principles to guide a new way of leading. His focus was on building trust and authentic ways of engaging. It was about listening to and empowering his crew who then went on to make the USS Benfold the best ship in the entire US Navy. +

These very same principles are the foundation of success for organizations that embrace working virtually. In the short term, many organizations have found virtual work arrangements actually increase effectiveness of employees. That effectiveness may not be sustainable if leaders and organizations don’t master a new skillset of how to lead people they can’t see. It’s about measuring results, not activity; and about finding ways to let people know their efforts are appreciated. Those who succeed in leading in the virtual environment will create a decisive competitive advantage. --


Sometimes in our professional lives we believe we are in a battle to beat an adversary or a competitor when in actuality, we are in competition with ourselves but just haven't figured it out yet. When battling the competition, you want to come out on top, if only by one more sale or maybe a few percentage points. Sometimes, someone at a higher level gives you a goal based on some median expectation set for others.  +

When Mike Abrashoff took command of a well below-average ship in the U.S. Navy, his goal was to get to average. He initially set average goals and expectations for himself and his crew until one day it struck him: his ship could be better than average.  Mike's eureka moment was realizing they weren't in competition with anyone but themselves to be their best. They had to stop putting limits on what they believed was possible. That realization changed Mike Abrashoff's approach to leadership and led the same crew to accomplish one of the most remarkable turnarounds that was chronicled in the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company magazine and his New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, IT'S YOUR SHIP.

Many of Mike's former crew members have gone on to accomplish great things in their careers.  They write to tell him their stories.  One of Mike's sailors just ran for city council of one of the largest cities in the U.S. and he wrote Mike to say, "you gave us the inspiration and confidence to know that there are no limits."

This presentation will challenge you to think differently on how to set expectations while realizing the only limits that you have are self-imposed.  --


When Mike Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold, morale was low, turnover was high and performance ranked at the bottom of the Pacific Fleet. Twelve months later the ship was the benchmark for performance – the shining star … using the very same crew. This inspiring talk is based on the vital leadership lessons Abrashoff learned as he led the remarkable turnaround of the ship.  +

The first lesson was Abrashoff’s realization that before the ship’s performance could improve, his own leadership style had to change from the traditional command and control model. When the crew would present a problem, Abrashoff became known for responding “What would YOU do? It’s YOUR ship!” His Leadership Roadmap principles created a high performance culture and empowered his crew to take charge and use ingenuity and initiative to improve every aspect of the way things were done. Abrashoff’s presentation leaves audiences with the tools and inspiration to lead differently and elevate organizational performance to new levels.  --


For organizations that want to get serious about improving performance, this presentation delivers examples of the Leadership Roadmap in action. Abrashoff brings to life stories of how the principles that led the transformation of the USS Benfold have been put into action at companies and organizations looking to harness the power of their most important asset – their people.  +

He shows real leaders achieving dramatic results as they work to address their most pressing people challenges: collaboration, commitment, cohesion, accountability, engagement, rapid and continual innovation and diversity in the workforce. In example after example, the lessons from the Benfold clearly translate across all kinds of organizations – corporations, small business, non-profits and government. Abrashoff shows audiences, by example, how to use their new leadership toolkit. “It’s Our Ship” goes deep into the how-tos of creating a culture where everyone takes ownership and responsibility for taking performance to the next level.  --

Go Deeper With Half- and Full-Day Programs

Dive deep into the Leadership Roadmap with a half or full-day program. The 2-hour Take Action session most often used as a follow-on to Mike’s keynote to create a half-day program that provides attendees with powerful tools and strategies to apply in their work environment.  +

Typically facilitated by a senior strategist from Mike’s firm, Aegis Performance Group, Take Action sessions create an exciting interactive atmosphere that examines the key components of high performing leaders, teams and organizations. Full-day sessions with Aegis senior strategists provide an even deeper dive into the practical application of the Leadership Roadmap for the participants and their organizations.  Inquire for more details and program descriptions.  --

To inquire about Mike Abrashoff's speaking schedule & booking Mike Abrashoff, contact us.

Keywords: Organizational Transformation, Corporate Culture, Turnaround Stories, Teamwork, Military Background, Safety, Change, Reinventing Management, Real Leaders, HR Focus, Improving Performance, Empowerment, Inspiration, Diversity, Innovation, Leadership, Managing/Leading Change, Motivation, Organizational Culture, Peak Performance, Accountability, Popular for Sales Groups, Author,  Practitioners, and Execution.


You 'hit it out of the ballpark' in regards to connecting with our doctor network. Your plain spoken, genuine and sincere persona together with your message of having people focus on what they can control vs. what they cannot, resonated.

–VP Clinical Affairs, Clear Choice Management Services


You 'hit it out of the ballpark' in regards to connecting with our doctor network. Your plain spoken, genuine and sincere persona together with your message of having people focus on what they can control vs. what they cannot, resonated.

–VP Clinical Affairs, Clear Choice Management Services

Mike was super! He was a great storyteller, funny, and tied the message to our business throughout. It was so relevant to exactly what our org needs right now--leadership at the GM level -- and I have received nothing but rave reviews. In fact, several of our vendor suppliers and audience members from other companies have asked me for info about Mike to possibly speak for their organizations. It was awesome!

–SVP Marketing/Creative Director - Houlihans

I thought you nailed it and helped 1) land the message of “Own It”, 2) help them focus on their Leadership, and 3) Help them think about managing through change.  I am so glad that you were our speaker and I think it helped us at this critical point in time.

–EVP, Retail – Office Depot

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the companies attending ask you to speak to some of their internal meetings as well. Many said your message was a great one for everyone, not just a specific segment of the group, and they also appreciated how approachable you were.

–Director of Administration - Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference

I just wanted to send a note and thank you for the very inspiring and humbling presentation you shared with us yesterday. Of all of the professional speakers I have ever seen, you by far were the most inspirational.


Everyone loved Mike. He got a standing ovation. First time I’ve seen a keynote receive one in my history with ADESA.



Our folks loved your presentation – we got lots of great feedback. Corporate people were talking about having you speak to their organizations. And the Q&A was a big hit!



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