Capt. Liggett, a native of San Diego, California graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May of 1996. Following his commissioning, he attended the Surface Warfare Officers School Division Officers Course in Newport, Rhode Island.
Capt. Liggett’s most recent sea duty tour was as Flag Secretary to Commander, Carrier Strike Group EIGHT / EISENHOWER Strike Group, where he deployed aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2009.
Other sea duty assignments include: Operations and Plans Officer, Destroyer Squadron SEVEN; Operations Officer, USS MUSTIN (DDG 89); Navigator and Administrative Officer, USS CURTS (FFG 38); and Navigator and Administrative Officer, USS ANZIO (CG 68).
Ashore, Capt. Liggett served on the immediate staff of the Secretary of the Navy and as the Department of Defense liaison to the White House Communications Office. Additionally, he served as an Action Officer at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
Selected in 2001 for the Navy DC Intern Program, Commander Liggett earned a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from George Washington University. He was commissioned from the United States Naval Academy in 1996 with a degree in Systems Engineering.
Capt. Liggett's personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal (six awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal.
How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Luckily, most of my failures were early in my career. In fact, most of my personal and professional failures occurred at the Naval Academy. When I think back to those times, there were certainly more failures than successes. I really enjoyed leaving the Academy and getting a fresh start on my first ship. It’s awesome that we as SWOs have the opportunity every couple of years to leave some of the bad behind and bring some of the good with us as we start a new tour. Use every tour as an opportunity to learn from failure and bad situations. Those early jobs taught me to make lemonade from lemons which helped me with follow on jobs throughout my career.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
At SWOS, especially since the 7th Fleet mishaps, we’ve had to do a lot of thinking outside the box by breaking the historical mold. I’ve been in an environment where I’ve had to empower junior officer thinking while encouraging innovation and risk taking. In light of that, my quote of the moment is from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I say that all the time, and I’m sure everyone is sick of it, but it speaks to the risk taking that we need in our community today.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you have a morning routine?
Being a good SWO, I would have to say coffee! Any productive morning that I am going to have is going to have to start with coffee! (laughs) Also, during my command tour, I insisted on getting a workout in before I went to work, and that certainly made me more effective. When I’m able to combine a workout with a lot of coffee, I’m going to have a productive day.
What career advice would you give a smart and driven young SWO? What advice should they ignore?
Understand that second tour divos play an enormous role on a ship. It took me until I was an XO to appreciate the positive, enduring impact that second tour divos can have on a crew. Look for opportunities to bring strengths from your first divo tour and have a positive influence on the first tours that are looking for role models.
There is a lot of concern about FITREPS, breaking out, timing, getting to the right job, and anxiety about Master’s Degrees. We’re worrying too much about that stuff. While you’re on sea duty, concentrate on what you can do to positively impact the ship. Loadshed worries about how you’ll break out against your fellow divos. Worrying about who will quality first is not time well spent. When you get to shore duty, do something that you want to do. Look for a job that you would be passionate about. JO’s worry too much about getting the career “check in the box” and too little about doing jobs that they would be really good at.
How do you set priorities and manage time?
It’s taken a long time, and I'm at the B or B+ level- I hope to get to an A- level one day (laughs). It’s really tough. I’ve tried a whole bunch of things with organizational and time management. The key is finding out what works for you. Everyone is different. My system today is Post It note centric, which is not something that I would advise everyone to do. But it works for me. It’s not pretty, but it’s a system that works. Try a few different methods of time management and know what works for you before you show up for your department head tour.
What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?
SWOS are notorious for recommending books. I’m trying to break that mold by recommending parts of books. There’s a fantastic chapter in Good to Great that uses a bus analogy - you need to get the right people on your bus and put them in the right seats. It’s an amazing chapter on talent management. I’ve used it from the time I was a department head until today. I'm also a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. As we’ve developed some of the shiphandling courses at SWOS, we’ve used the milestone’s that are laid out in that book. If you’re looking for some SWO centric books - Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, Neptune's Inferno, and Sea of Thunder. If you need to get your SWO on, these books are great at reminding us of the ferocity of war at sea.
How do you define success?
Early on, I was way too focused on personal success. It was only as a department head that I started to understand the personal and professional satisfaction that I got from organizational success. When I think of the things that I’m extremely proud of, all of them are organizational successes. On DECATUR, our team executed an operational test shot of an SM3. It was only after it was over that I realized how awesome of a team win that was. It was a turning point for us. It’s the team wins that are memorable for me and something that I wish I would have focused on more as a JO.