Commander Holman Agard is a native of Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He enlisted in the Navy in June 1992 as an Engineman. He was selected into the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program in 1995 and subsequently attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a commission through ROTC in 2000.
After completing the Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS) Division Officer Course, CDR Agard reported to USS PHILIPPINE SEA (CG 58) as the Strike Officer and Training Officer from 2001-2005. From 2005-2008 he served as a Training Liaison Officer in Afloat Training Group Mayport, FL. During this time, he earned an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Webster University.
CDR Agard reported to USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL as the Operations Officer in 2009, conducting one deployment in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN in the Fifth Fleet Operating Area. He then transferred to USS SAN JACINTO as the Operations Officer from 2010 to 2012. Following his department head afloat assignments, CDR Agard reported to Afloat Training Group Norfolk, serving as the Operations Officer from May 2012 to July 2014. In this capacity, he was responsible for the scheduling and execution of initial pre-deployment training of over 50 Atlantic Fleet ships. After his assignment in ATG Norfolk, he was an Information Operations Planner in the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center, where he has conducted two individual deployments in support of Joint Special Operations Command.
CDR Agard most recently completed his assignment as the Executive Officer in USS HOPPER in June 2018.
How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
I had a relatively big failure when I was standing OOD as a LTJG. I allowed a sailboat to get way too close to the ship. I made a misjudgment based on my seaman's eye, which wasn’t calibrated properly. (laughs) My CO looked out a porthole with his calibrated seaman's eye and saw that the sailboat was in his reporting criteria. He came up to the bridge and gave me a very motivating speech, which could also be called a chew out session. (laughs) After that, he went right down to his cabin, typed up a NPLOC, and relieved me for 7 days. As you can imagine, that was a big wake up call! Here’s what I learned from that mistake: use all the resources at your disposal. I should have used some other means of determining the sailboat’s position and not just relied on my seaman’s eye. I could have just called the CO and spared myself the trouble! I’m glad that it happened early in my career because it helped me realize that it’s okay to ask for help.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.” I think of that quite often. The other one is from the Bible: “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” God gave us two ears and one mouth - so listen twice as much as you speak. I openly tell my JOs that they are smarter than I am, so I try to do a lot of listening to what they have to say.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you have a morning routine?
The first thing I do is instill an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness. I try to remain thankful and give myself positive affirmations, whether that is time in meditation or just thinking positive things to myself throughout the day.
What career advice would you give a smart and driven young SWO? What advice should they ignore?
To all you young officers out there: don’t chase the money! It’s nice to have the money, but it shouldn’t be a motivating factor for the next milestone. I stayed in because of the ability I knew that I’d have to impact JOs. I had a great department head, so I wanted to return to the community what was being invested in me - namely good leadership and sound mentorship.
I’d ignore any advice that says you don’t need to say “thank you” or “I’m sorry.” Those words are starting to fade away not only in the Navy but also in our culture. People tend to think that saying those things is a sign of weakness; in reality, it’s a sign of strength.
What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?
I always give books about leadership, human development, and building people up. Those types of books help you leverage human capital, which is what our job is all about.
How do you set priorities and manage time?
I struggle because I want to do everything! (laughs) I’ve learned to stop multitasking, and ask, “What tasks need the highest amount of energy from me today?” I identity those areas, and then work to create whitespace around them so I can be present and focused while working on my most important tasks.
What is your most effective daily habit?
I try to make one person laugh or smile each day. If I can make someone feel good about what they’re doing, I think that’s a win.
How do you define success?
Success is doing something that you love that is helpful to people, and getting a paycheck while doing it.