CDR Bryan Schneider
Commander Schneider, a native of Brooklyn, New York was a 2002 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a minor in the Russian language. He is also a 2008 graduate of the Naval War College, earning a Master of Arts degree in National Strategic Studies.
CDR Schneider took command of USS GRIDLEY (DDG 101) in April, 2020. Prior to taking command, he was Executive Officer of USS SHILOH (CG 67), forward deployed in the C7F AOR from December 2017 to October 2019.
A Surface Warfare Officer, Commander Schneider began his at sea career aboard USS ROSS (DDG 71) in Norfolk, VA, from 2003 to 2006 serving as Combat Information Center Officer and later, fleeting up as the ship’s Navigator and Administration Officer. During this tour, he deployed to FOURTH, FIFTH and SIXTH Fleets, participating in BALTOPS 2003, UNITAS 47-06 and Neptune Warrior 2006. He served as Engineering Officer aboard USS HALSEY (DDG 97) in San Diego, CA from 2010 to 2011 where he deployed to FIFTH and SIXTH Fleets participating in Operations RED DAWN and ENDURING FREEDOM. He then served as Operations Officer in USS CHANCELLORSVILLE (CG 62) also in San Diego from 2011 to 2013.
Ashore, CDR Schneider served as both an instructor of Seamanship and Navigation and later as Executive Assistant to the Director of Professional Development at the United States Naval Academy from 2006 to 2009. Following his Department Head tours, he served as the Force Personnel Officer for Commander, Naval Surface Force Pacific from 2013 to 2015 and served as the Aegis BMD Requirements Officer at OPNAV N96F at the Pentagon from 2015-2017.
CDR Schneider holds various unit decorations and awards; his personal awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, five Navy Commendation Medals and two Navy Achievement Medals.
How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Being human implies failure, but how we deal with failure will challenge one to become a better person and leader. It is all about perspective - Thomas Edison had a great quote about inventing the light bulb. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Extracting the positives from failure as a way to improve yourself and your command is one of the most important things a leader/commander can do to ensure success down the road.
Not only does being human imply failure, but failure defines who we are as human beings. The desire to not fail is what drives me to work that much harder, although at times, failure cannot be avoided. It is vital to step back and evaluate/assess the steps leading up to failure; understanding the contributing factors in a particular circumstance or outcome, helps make informed decisions going forward as to avoid experiencing the same failures over and over again. For me, learning from what caused me to fail in the first place, then making course corrections, really drives me to success in the future.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
One of my favorite quotes is by Rudyard Kipling when he said, “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.” This quote rings true every day; there should never be a single excuse as to why one failed to perform a task, meet a promise or expectation, or simply do their job.
I am a person who is driven by always wanting to do the right thing, always striving to be the best and never wanting to say I could not complete something; this quote reminds me to give it my all every day because that is what is expected of me. It also helps me encourage my team to problem solve and come up with solutions in order to help ensure command and mission success.
Doing the opposite and accepting mediocrity is dangerous because it compromises standards and lets people off the hook from doing what is expected of them. Never having either a reason or excuse of why a task was not accomplished drives me every day to improve both personally and professionally.
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 every morning is to go for a run. This early morning run is my time to help me clear my head, organize and prioritize my thoughts and review what needs to be done that day and in the future so I can refocus the efforts of the team. Once I get back, I enjoy a cup of coffee, stretch and put on the local news to see what is going on in the community and nation in order to get ready for the day. Whether in port, on shore duty or sea, the routine is the same, though the time this occurs will change.
This serves two purposes: one, which I already mentioned, but the second and perhaps more important is it keeps me active and in shape. I know that if I waited until I got home or said, “I will run during lunch,” neither would happen, and in this job, endurance is everything and keeping mind healthy along with your body is necessary.
What career advice would you give a smart and driven young SWO?
Simply put – do your best! These three simple words can imply so much and if throughout the day, a smart, driven young Surface Warfare Officer can answer yes to the question, “are you doing your best,” they are doing something right. This coupled with having fun will really make the job satisfying and they will look forward to coming to work each and every morning!
As to what to ignore – do not be influenced by others opinions and perceptions of another person or command…develop your own opinion based on your experiences. Trust your gut, and allow yourself the opportunity to see the whole picture and give everyone a fair opportunity.
What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?
The book Legacy, by James Kerr is a book I read a couple of years ago; I find myself drawing from its 15 lessons in leadership on a daily basis and want to share it with my team. I have made it a point to give it to the officers that depart the ship because it is a unique book about leadership. It is not your typical military leadership book; it provides lessons on leadership, but also provides lessons on life, which I think is as equally important in our line of work.
I stress the concepts of responsibility, authority and accountability in my Wardroom and this book touches on each, providing insight on how a team, which had huge hurdles to overcome, applied and developed these concepts of responsibility, authority and accountability in the group and these players became one of the best rugby teams in history.
How do you set priorities and manage your time?
Priorities and time management are very fluid and giving myself as much flexibility as possible is very important. First, I look to see what needs to be accomplished, or in another words, what does the end result need to be; on sea duty, this is an easy question to answer – ensure the ship is combat ready to answer the call to deploy where she is needed. Once that part is completed, then it is a matter of executing the plan to get the command there. There is an ebb and flow to the execution piece, but ensuring the team understands that and knows what the priorities are for the week via a 1MC announcement, POD note or what have you, it will help make the process easier.
Second, I manage my time similarly to how I manage and set priorities for the command. I know what has to get completed immediately, tomorrow and what can wait and plan my day around those events. Sometimes, that is not always the easiest to do as there are instances where tasking or issues arise that I was not planning for, but, being adaptable helps with ensuring the “now” stuff get taken care of first.
What is your most effective daily habit?
For me, limiting the amount of work I bring home is a very effective habit. Obviously, being the Commanding Officer, I cannot completely disconnect from the ship/work and I am always available via the modern conveniences of phone and text messages, but as far as taking folders, or stacks of paperwork home, I limit it as much as possible. I am able to spend time with the family and this precious time helps me decompress for the day, so the next morning, on my run, I will go through the process of organizing my thoughts and priorities to help me manage my time effectively.
How do you define success?
Success is a word that many people associate with being the best or winning. I think success is beyond the obvious, and is a process of continuous improvement. Getting better and achieving results each and every day in every sense of the word will make someone a better person and an effective leader. Learning how previous failures impacted decisions and outcomes of events, and using those lessons to improve is how I define success.