Man is a sum of their experiences: Eric Kapitulik – Founder and CEO of The Program LLC


Mental and physical toughness are characteristics Eric Kapitulik has strived to achieve his entire life. But it’s not his toughness that he wants to talk about; it’s yours. This week’s episode brings a discussion with the former United States Marine and founder and CEO of The Program LLC for a fascinating look at what it means to be a better teammate and team leader. Eric created The Program, a team building and leadership development company, in 2008, and its mission is “to develop better leaders and create more cohesive teams.” But how he got to that point is just as interesting as what he does each day.

We discuss how his life as a three-sport athlete led to him attending the United States Naval Academy and ultimately becoming a Marine, how a coach he never even played for was one of his biggest influences for life philosophies, why being happy with yourself helps you help others, and the values he tries to and hopes to instill in his children. He also breaks down what The Program provides to those who enroll, the way his team makes a plan for a client, and how not everybody will have the same type of training. You’ll learn about mountaineering, climbing summits, participating in triathlons, but why it isn’t sports that teach great life lessons. Tune in this week for tutoring in toughness with a man who teaches it.


  • The most important success needs to come at home. Anything that you do in your professional life means the most with those you share your life with.

  • The more well-rounded you are, the more you have to offer. This works in your professional and personal lives, as expanding your abilities and horizons will have a lasting effect on your life.

  • Always be willing to learn and, if you have others working under you, always be willing to teach.

  • Are you using your position of authority to instill life lessons or just show someone how to do something? Take advantage of your position.

  • At the end of the day, you want to be able to make yourself happy. Whatever you’re putting into your work and personal life, make sure it’s making you happy.

  • See a challenge as an opportunity to grow rather than a possible place for a setback. This is a great way to instill values in those around you.

  • Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing what can make you happy.

  • Being the best teammate and team leader will help you and the people around you accomplish what they want in life.

  • You’ll be prouder if you help others succeed than if you live through their successes.

  • If you’re not at peace with yourself, it will be hard to help others.

  • Working outside of your comfort zone will lead to the best version of yourself.

Eric Kapitulik Career Accomplishments

  • Founder and CEO of The Program, LLC

  • Infantry Officer and Special Operation Officer in the United States Marine Corps

  • Co-author, THE PROGRAM: Lessons from Elite Military Units for Creating and Sustaining High Performance Leaders and Teams

  • Four-year varsity lacrosse letterman at the United States Naval Academy

Key Conversation Takeaways

  • 2:42: Eric’s background and family life growing up

  • 9:45: His collegiate career and experience in the armed forces

  • 11:37: The people who have helped shape his philosophies about leadership

  • 25:21: How he pushed himself physically and professionally to reach happiness

  • 32:55: The values he wants to instill in his kids and those who take part in The Program

  • 41:58: What The Program provides to those who are enrolled

  • 48:50: What he considers a success from working with a team or individuals

Notable Quotes

  • 3:03: “Man is a sum of their experiences.”

  • 10:17: “Outside of husband and Daddy, the greatest single title I’ve ever held is United States Marine.”

  • 12:10: “Sports do not teach great life lessons. Great coaches do through sports. Parents teach great life lessons through sports.”

  • 16:55: “The toughness that he (the high school wrestling coach) influenced inside of me is something that, at The Program, we talk about to this day. The mission critical need to be tough. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

  • 21:30: (while talking to his son) “Look, Dad was very fortunate because I did things in life that made me happy. And what’s going to make me happiest is for you to do the same thing in your life. Don’t do the things that made Dad happy if they’re not also the things that are going to make you happy. Because your job in life is to make you happy.”

  • 27:36: “Mountaineering is a different type of toughness because it’s a lot like the Marine Corps in that you wake up in the morning and go, ‘Okay I’m cold, wet, tired, and miserable right now. And I’m going to be cold, wet, tired, and miserable for a really long time.’ Can you still perform, number one? Number two, what sort of teammate and team leader are you going to be right now when you’re miserable? That challenge is so different.”

  • 30:13: “I don’t want fear to run my life.”

  • 31:03: “Why do we do what we do? To help everybody simply be the best versions of themselves.”

  • 35:59: “If you’re going to define yourself by wins and losses, championships won and lost, you’re going to not be very happy in life.”

  • 41:25: “Once people lose their identity and become your utility, then you have problems, because you start losing the human concept.”

  • 46:21: “Everyone is a hero when it’s 70 degrees and sunny out. Unfortunately, that’s not when you need them. We need great teammates and great team leaders when it’s not.”

  • 47:47: “We only grow as individuals and as a team when we’re outside our comfort zone.”













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