Steve Morreale chats with Jimmy Capra, former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief of Global Operations on The CopDoc Podcast. We talk about listening and caring, rising through the ranks, and working to help others succeed.
Steve Morreale chats with Jimmy Capra, former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief of Global Operations on The CopDoc Podcast. We talk about listening and caring, rising through the ranks, and working to help others succeed.
[00:00:00.293] - Steve Morreale
Hello, everybody, this is Steve Morreale, and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast coming to you from Boston, snowy Boston, and talking to a colleague of mine, Jimmy Capra, the former director of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration an agency that I spent many years with.
[00:00:15.113] - Steve Morreale
And he is talking to us from Texas. So good morning, Jimmy. Why don't you give the audience an idea about who you are and what got you to this point?
[00:00:23.813] - Jimmy Capra
My brother, thanks for having me on your program, but I appreciate it. Yeah, like I said, we share a similar background. I was with DEA for twenty-seven and a half-years and had a just stellar career prior to that. I was one of those one of those young guys that barely graduated high school. I mean, I barely graduated going to school as a young kid. My fault, not anybody else's.
[00:00:47.243] - Jimmy Capra
People always say, hey, you had great teachers. I'm surprised I graduated, put it that way and tried school for a year and then went in the Navy and realized, I really like that kind of structure and order and actually love the Navy. I was in one of the most peaceful times Carter was president, so I did four years in the Navy, got out, started college, stayed in the reserves, met my wife. The first day of college, proposed about two months later.
[00:01:11.693] - Jimmy Capra
It's almost 40 years is 40 years actually since I met her. And then I went I got tired of I was a corpsman. I got tired of doing blood pressure cuffs. I tried to go with the Marines. I tried to go off the fancy stuff where I could. Marines only have a Navy corpsman as their medics, but everything had slowed down. And then I saw the Air National Guard was looking for medics. I jumped on board and flew around on a C-130 air crew, a lot more places with them.
[00:01:36.233] - Jimmy Capra
And then when my wife and I got married, I transferred schools. Went to Marist College and. Yeah, yeah. And I looked, they just started the ROTC program. I'd already been an enlisted guy for six and a half years. And and they started aviation program. And so I, I jumped on the bandwagon and got into that and was field artillery for a while. When I graduated, my last flight physical, they found a problem in my eyes.
[00:02:02.183] - Jimmy Capra
So I became an intelligence officer and right after Intel school, about a year later, I got picked up by DEA. And so I stayed in reserves till about ninety two because it's still I marvel at the men and women who can juggle two careers reserve. And at one time, fifty percent of the war fighters were Guard and Reserve people overseas. So I just marvel at those those guys. I couldn't. I mean, I couldn't do two careers. So a commission.
[00:02:29.453] - Jimmy Capra
And I'm very fortunate to where I went.
[00:02:32.153] - Steve Morreale
Well, DEA, as we know, is very demanding. And it's never whenever in one place for too long, we're not traveling. We're chasing, chasing bad guys.
[00:02:41.693] - Steve Morreale
But let's talk about the reason for the podcast is really to focus on leadership and police leadership. And one of the things that you had sent me is that you've got a book out there. It's called Leadership at the Front Lines: Lessons Learned About Loving, Leading and Legacy from a Warrior and a Public Servant. So I want to talk about your own trajectory into leadership at DEA. Obviously, we all start off as agents and then we throw our hat in the ring and clearly you threw your hat in the ring.
[00:03:09.173] - Steve Morreale
So, tell us about your trajectory at DEA.
[00:03:11.693] - Jimmy Capra
I describe like this - when I came on DEA, it was the tail end of what I call the cowboy days. I do what I say, not what I do. Our tactics probably weren't the best as a law enforcement agency at the time. And this is not being critical. Today's DEA, these guys and gals are tremendous. They're trained to manage. Their tactics are better in the last, I would say in the last twenty years. It's gotten so much better.
[00:03:32.753] - Jimmy Capra
But I really wanted to do the job. I got excited about it. But as you come in, any organization as you know. I saw more, I want to say mediocre leaders, a few really bad leaders than you saw, really men and women who just struck you as like, wow, it's good. Leadership is palpable. I mean, when you're around a really dynamic and good leader and I mean just charisma. I mean a man or woman who gives a crap about the men and women that he's entrusted to, there is a big difference there.
[00:03:59.783] - Jimmy Capra
There's a level of discontent, according to law enforcement, this level of safety in the team that you're in terms of comfortable, you're the kind of boss builds confidence. And so as I was moving up through the ranks and a lot has to do with how I was brought up to see, my dad was in New York City police officer, a Korean War vet. And he'd say all the time, you say all the time, you've got to care about the people that you work with alongside you.
[00:04:25.913] - Jimmy Capra
And and that was just very important to me. And I would be lying to say that my faith did play into it. My faith, plays into a lot of how I think how I do, and as fallible as I am, is that many mistakes I made that was important. I was coming up on the job. And one of the things I write about in the book and the reason I wrote the book was not because I have all the answers.
[00:04:45.653] - Jimmy Capra
I wanted to talk about my walk, the things that I learn, mistakes that I made as a leader. I don't wake up one morning, go, I got it all. I know everything. You just don't. And people that do that, which is reminiscent of - remember Enron and guys talk about where the smartest guy. In a room, and then the friggin' business went out of business, a kind of ego. And so, I really sat and for years I said I want to write something.
[00:05:07.923] - Jimmy Capra
And I would if I if I ran it to you, I like something that you said or did, I would write it on a piece of paper. And for 15, 20 years I started doing that. And I just sat down one day after my wife encouraged me and started putting this my walk together.
[00:05:21.003] - Steve Morreale
And let me let me interrupt you by asking this. It seems to me, as we're talking, that one of the things that I raise when I'm doing some training, I'm sure you do the same thing. And that is, let's talk about a good leader. Let's talk about a bad leader. What were the elements? How do they treat other people? And ultimately, what we're trying to figure out is and what did we learn from both the bad boss and the good boss?
[00:05:40.023] - Steve Morreale
So my guess is that there were some people in your life that you looked up to to emulate either in the military or at DEA later on.
[00:05:47.733] - Steve Morreale
Absolutely. So so the first thing that you saw right away is egos got in the way. You need a healthy ego to walk any kind of work. I mean, we realize that. But the problem with positional leadership is that guys or gals will make it to the next step and suddenly they think they're taller, better looking and smarter than everybody else. And so that ego gets in the way of them being genuine and that ego gets in the way of them building relationships.
[00:06:10.353] - Jimmy Capra
And there's been a number have been a handful of teams that I've been a part of where first thing that a guy says I don't trust when somebody says I don't trust the outfit, what they're really saying is I don't trust the boss and why they don't trust the boss because they don't have the bosses and have a relationship. And that's the bottom line. Boss doesn't have a relationship with them because he or she don't care to do what I do. And I say not what I do.
And so what? Like, what's it when people ask me, what do you think the best kind of bosses? I said, a boss gives a crap about the men and women that he's trusted to, who gets to know them, who gets to understand that they have families and everything, then that sounds like namby pamby B.S. But it's true. And I know that you're a well-read guy and everything. If you read any of the top leadership books like Good to Great or anything else, the bottom line always comes down to what made this organization or business better.
[00:06:58.563] - Jimmy Capra
And it always came down to the bosses, the men and women, the CEOs, the managers cared about the men and women who worked every day. And that's why I say men and women who trust their organization and trust them to have that kind of trust and organization or bosses, they'll take you to the goals you need, like for us. Right. How much dope did you see? How much money did you see? Nobody cares about that if they're not cared about it.
[00:07:19.893] - Jimmy Capra
So many times. You see that you can tell the difference between a dynamic group and a mediocre group right away. Just watch them. And it's that willingness to say I got to learn how to care about. And that's why I wrote what I was talking about the book. I tell people you got to learn how to love people. And now and as in the warrior ethos of love. Yes, that's right. What do you mean you love people?
[00:07:42.573] - Jimmy Capra
People got they got a crappy idea of what that means. You push your political stuff aside, you push the social stuff aside and you care about that person there and you'd be willing to pour into that individual's life so that he or she personally and professionally grows. And there is there's a lot of guys and gals that don't agree with that.
[00:08:02.823] - Steve Morreale
Here's a fastball for you if you understanding leadership. And certainly I've studied leadership and I still don't know exactly what it is. It is a work in progress. But if I was to ask you to name some of the elements, some of the foundational pieces of leadership, what would they be besides caring for people? What are the other things?
[00:08:21.363] - Jimmy Capra
I think you got to be empathetic. You've got to be willing. You've got to listen. And I don't mean just listen to sit there. I mean, you've got to listen to people you've and you've got to be vulnerable. And here's the deal in our line of work. When you talk about vulnerability, people start getting a little shake. They will. What are you talking about? In other words, we do a lot of us do it anyway.
[00:08:39.723] - Jimmy Capra
We go out, meet somebody or we're part of it. Shields go up. They go up immediately. I don't know this person. That's understandable. But after a while, you've got to be willing to be vulnerable. What does that mean? You get to know these men and women. You've got to be willing to know them personally about stuff. Why is that important? Because it is important. That's critical. You know, I had this notorious the when I was promoted into the senior executive corps, it feels like now one hundred years ago, I had a tendency to grab people as they went by to say, hey, how are you?
[00:09:08.373] - Jimmy Capra
Who are you? Tell me something about yourself. Not because it sounds good and I want to be Joe humble. It's because people want to know, you know, that people care about. So that's, you know, that's part of it. And there's a lot of people in leadership positions that's go I want them to know anything about why not or or the willingness to look at somebody. This is tough and say, hey, dude, I screwed the pooch on that thing.
[00:09:28.983] - Jimmy Capra
You know, I'm sorry about that. I give you a classic example. Going around. I started talking about this years and years ago before I actually was in the senior executive corps. And so finally made it into there. And I was on the phone one day with an ASAC, I'm in the in office. And he was telling me about a situation he had with another police lieutenant. And they got into an argument. And the police lieutenant, by all accounts, according to my guy was being a jerk about stuff.
[00:09:53.763] - Jimmy Capra
And I lost my friggin mind over the phone. So, of course, I do the friggin New York get all excited. What the hell you mean? And I'm going into the phone, my front office staff has never heard me like that, so and then not only that, on the other end of the line, as a melting the phone down, what is my guy think? He thinks I'm mad at him at the situation. So as I hung up the phone, I go back and it doesn't make you an idiot.
[00:10:16.283] - Jimmy Capra
What the hell's wrong with you? You see what I mean? We don't want to we don't want to do that. That's why I said sometimes we lose it. Sometimes we kick the coolers. Sometimes, we have them. And so what I had to do was check myself. First thing to do is call my guy back up and said, hey, Jimmy, I got to apologize to you, man. I'm sorry those I should have not done that.
[00:10:32.213] - Jimmy Capra
I really apologize for that.
[00:10:33.623] - Steve Morreale
So when you're taking the time to apologize and it's genuine, that's first of all, it's a sign of humility. But it's a sign of maturity, too. And one thing you just said is that you took the time to sit back and reflect what did I do? Could I have done it better? Yeah. What kind of an image or impression am I making, as you said, with the rest of people? Because if everybody in the unit that way, you'd have chaos, nuts.
[00:10:55.073] - Jimmy Capra
It is. It's true. And I to do the same thing with my office, that of these ladies are just I love them dearly and tell each one of them, you know, because they didn't ever saw me like that before. I lose my mind. So it's OK to lose your mind, just kind of close your office and yell at your garbage can. And it then became a check for me all the time before I started losing. I take a breath, be quiet.
[00:11:15.203] - Jimmy Capra
Doesn't mean I'm still me. I'm still not trying to be somebody that I'm not. I just got to be cognizant of what am I projecting to everybody? What kind of signals? Somebody send it to the men and women that I'm working with it.
[00:11:25.643] - Steve Morreale
When we walk into positions, nd all of a sudden, like you said, we are bosses. We are no longer only responsible for us, but we're responsible for other people. There is that feeling of power and that power can corrupt you. And I think you have in my mind, you have to marshal that power to say, I want to use the power for the good, not only of me, but for my people, because it's about them, not about me anymore.
[00:11:46.703] - Jimmy Capra
That's a big if you go. That's kind of a theme in a lot of things I write about and speak about science. It's not about you. You're the guy. You're the gal. It's not about you. The problem is that some men and women don't get that. They think they're going to walk in on a cloud, get a classic example, man. Like I said this over and over again, I was working on the 12th floor many, many years ago.
[00:12:06.173] - Jimmy Capra
And there was a senior executive who was in charge of an entire division and headquarters. And this is what he told me. And my old partner who worked were working for the chief of operations back then. He goes, I don't talk to anybody two levels below. What what what do you think the mean duty he met, that he walked around, it was most arrogant SOB. He walked around like, he didn't even nod at people going by and then in a training environment.
[00:12:30.443] - Jimmy Capra
Many, many years ago, I saw a special agent in charge walking down the hall and men and women. Good morning, sir. Good morning, sir. Good morning, sir. Didn't even acknowledge him. I wanted to take a fricken fungo bat memory, kids, little plastic, fungo, but I remember the living halide. And what the hell is wrong with you? Just you can't acknowledge this, but they're basically. Do you like what the what are you what are these young men thinking?
[00:12:51.713] - Jimmy Capra
Oh, who the hell is this guy? Listen to you tomorrow. Tomorrow's not promised to, pal.
[00:12:56.093] - Jimmy Capra
And that's the kind of stuff that would enrage me. You don't even acknowledge these men and women, by the way. They want to feel connected to you. I told John to be careful with names. I told I told an administrator years ago the men and women of DEA, they want to be connected to you. Don't don't ever think that they're not. It's a big agency, but it's still a small outfit. I said they want to be connected to you, and if you lead them, well, they'll follow you.
[00:13:21.633] - Jimmy Capra
What the hell? And back and I got this look back from them that was like, get away from me, you know, so and of course, that individual kind of left it. Pretty crappy legacy. But I was just offered up, you know, just some stuff. As I'm telling you, they do want to be connected. I know you're a presidential appointee and everything, but they want to be connected. And and by the way, they want to serve you and serve you well.
[00:13:41.033] - Jimmy Capra
They want you to be proud of them and they want to be proud of, you know, now you get it in the same place. And then the same is true at the lowest level. When you're running a group, when you're just running the group, those those men and women want to be connected to their supervisor and the supervisor should want to be connected to them. Doesn't mean everyone gets it because there's always somebody there's always somebody who's happy with being mediocre.
[00:14:02.363] - Jimmy Capra
There's always this 10 percent or that they should be on the job. But they are.
[00:14:06.233] - Jimmy Capra
And I got to deal with, you know, as we're talking, we could go on so many different directions. I have my own experience and I'm sure you've had similar experience is that my predecessors didn't seem to care. And so when you walk in and you try to care, it's resisted. In fact, it's cautionary, like what's he trying to do? How's he trying to be? Because I'm not used to that. I remember sitting down with each individual person in virtually every place I have gone where I'm responsible for a new group of people.
[00:14:31.193] - Steve Morreale
And I take the time to sit and listen And I'll never forget. And I'm curious if you had the same experience when you would ask them questions. Tell me about yourself. Tell me about what you've done. Tell me about what the impediments are to your improvement. Tell me about what you're most proud of and tell me what you're working on now and how can I help move the ball forward? Well, I can tell you that most people sat there dumbfounded, didn't have an answer because no one's ever asked them.
[00:14:52.793] - Steve Morreale
And when you're asking them, you're really catching them flatfooted. So I found that, oh, oh this is going to be a double meeting because I'm going to have to let them go. Ask them to think about it and come back after they reflect on. But it began to change the tone. But here I was coming in with a new approach just to say, tell me about yourself. Tell me what's going on, how can I help you do your job better?
[00:15:12.443] - Jimmy Capra
And the other thing is you brought up a good point that they're not used to that. What's going to happen when you first ask them that? They go, OK, let's see where this guy is going. I am going to say anything. Right, because there's no trust. There's a lack of trust immediately. So guys and gals are looking at you like, who the hell is this? It was me, the last guy I know what the last.
But let's see if he walks as well. I'll give you a great example. I take over the Dallas field of business. Just what a blessing and a half. I was fortunate that all the leaders there that the ASAC I knew him well. I knew every one of them. One of them was that was an academy classmate of mine, Danny Salter. And Danny wound up taking over Atlanta Field Division years later. And I think he's the HIDTA director in Atlanta.
[00:15:47.033] - Jimmy Capra
But Danny and I were very, very close friends for years. And then the next thing you know, I came in as the second I had an all-hands meeting and I basically Tell then here's what I'm like. This is what I'm about, here's what my family is. This is what I believe. Here's my expectations. You know, there are people out there that are looking they're looking for their families to I have this whole spiel that I tell them about and what my goal is that we pursue excellence in everything that we do, everything that we do, both in your personal and your professional, trumpet that all the time.
[00:16:14.903] - Jimmy Capra
So but by those few months later, I grab Dennis Hagana. I do think they're getting it now. I know better. I'd be doing the military. I know I'm asking a stupid question. I think there because I really do. My thing is I want I want guys I want them to come and say I love coming to work, man. I enjoy coming to work. This is a great place. And not just a gunslinger's man.
[00:16:33.833] - Jimmy Capra
I mean, the secretaries, the regulatory investigators, the intel people, the people at work contract people, man, you want them to feel like this is a cohesive unit. And a few months later, I ask Danny, are they getting it? He goes, no, I don't get it yet. I'm like, what do you mean you don't get it? This is just the way you see if you're the guy that you say you are.
[00:16:52.643] - Jimmy Capra
Fast forward, buddy. About a year later, never forget. It's funny you say I think it's in the book, then comes into my office. So we work. It's Hey, bro, I said, what's up, man? He goes, they're getting it. This is Jimmy Carter. They're getting what the hell are you talking about? He goes to get it and he starts to share with me what is a young supervisor was walking through, was going through the decisions that they were making and what they were sharing with them and each mid-level manager a year or two after that, we were very, very blessed in that the guys and gals are making some tremendous cases and just terrific relationships with US attorneys, which, you know, that can always be challenging.
[00:17:28.883] - Jimmy Capra
Great task force officers and got a call from from headquarters. One of the guys says I wasn't in and they asked, this is the is the chief of operations at the time, said, how is this little division able to do what they're do? And the response came back from one of the other executives, which is I should have just retired then. But he said those the men and women that work there love, love that division. They love each other.
[00:17:49.343] - Jimmy Capra
They're working with each other. That's why they're able to do what they're doing. It was one of the biggest compliments to my team you could ever have. Now, Steve, I still had I still had banana heads there. I still had guys under OPR investigation. A few of those I still had people that were going to put on the brakes because you still got to deal with all that stuff. And we didn't know hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
[00:18:06.503] - Jimmy Capra
But the division, the whole temperature, the climate had changed dramatically.
[00:18:10.913] - Steve Morreale
So I'm thinking about a couple of things when you were talking about setting expectations. But let me go back a little. It seems to me that one of the things that you were paying attention to, which is pretty hard to do with a hard-charging organization like DEA, but to allow for a work-life balance, because so many people take this job where it becomes one hundred percent. And how many times have you had a family man, somebody like myself, both of us who have been married for forty plus years and you're seeing people just throw disposable income?
[00:18:36.953] - Steve Morreale
This job is more important to me than my damn wife, my damn kids, those kinds of things. And I think that causes an imbalance. So was that part of what you were trying to say, pay attention to your other life?
[00:18:47.543] - Jimmy Capra
One of the things I would I would often well, I always did is to share with the guys and gals that I work with every day. I share my own with my own family. Tell them how important my children are. And Michelle and I. We have six great kids. They're all, all but one is married now. And so I share this with them because I try to make them understand you understand that this is this is my foundation here, but just my faith, but my family, my wife and I mean, that becomes critically important to me.
[00:19:08.873] - Jimmy Capra
But the problem with when you talk about it's a work life balance. Yes. I was so heartless that you always have time got to make time for stuff. Sometimes you've got to come up for air. The problem with the term, you have a work life balance. I wrote a piece on this a year ago. Something about anonymous men and women who pursue excellence is we look at balance as a static thing. But I put it in terms of, listen, I was sitting there one day and I'm completely out of whack.
And and I had some medical issues and my business wasn't running good. And actually in my church and I heard my pastor say something about the season you're in and the rhythm you're in. And I got a hold of that thought that makes that makes sense because your job can at times demand of you much, much. And so there comes a season when you do that. The problem is, we formed those habits and think we've got to be there seven days a week.
[00:19:57.503] - Jimmy Capra
Twenty four hours a day. And I was one of the worst guys I was absolutely so I'm working in D.C. to give you a classic example, and I would hammer it to the guys and gals. When I was on the street when I was a working agent. My wife will tell you I was gone a lot, always doing stuff. Wasn't going out drinking every night. Be honest with you. That just wasn't but working. I was a work a workaholic.
[00:20:16.903] - Jimmy Capra
I love going in and I love putting bad people in jail and seizing dope and all that stuff like a lot of us did. But I always made time for my family. And then I got lost at headquarters, like it went from 12 hours a day, 14 hours a day, 16 hours a day. And at the peak of it was about 16 to 18 hours a day. And I was miserable and I remember pulling into my driveway one night.
[00:20:35.803] - Jimmy Capra
Now, this is coming from the guy I listen to. This is coming from the guy that would ask to go to divisions and speak to men and women about caring about each other, making sure you don't lose yourself in your job, don't lose sight of the things that are important. The job is a priority, always is, especially if it's a calling. And I tell people this has been my calling, but I call myself driving and to drive one night about 10:30 at night, which was an early night.
[00:20:56.053] - Jimmy Capra
And I'm not this nothing macho about that. Just nothing macho about saying I work 16 hours a day. That's stupid machines because some schemes are built to go at one hundred and fifty percent just for a short period of time or else they blow out. Same thing with a human being. I'm sitting in the driveway. It's ten thirty at night. Dude, I realize I'm starting to hate what I do. I'm physically exhausted, mentally exhausted and from a spiritual end of it, from my faith.
[00:21:19.333] - Jimmy Capra
I don't know where I am. And I go out back and kids are all in bed and I go up back and I'll never forget it was my wife again. This side door glass opens brother and she comes out, she says, I need to talk. And so people would think, well, God, she's going to tell you, she leaves you. And I had nothing to do with it. I figured that we missed a mortgage payment, you know, typical big family.
[00:21:34.693] - Jimmy Capra
Did somebody have an issue at school, what the hell? And I turned around. I looked at this woman and she said she goes, the kids are worried about you. She said, I'm worried about you and your aging in front of us. And she said, the kids are worried about you because they don't see their daddy anymore and their daddy is connected to all of us. She's worried about me because she knows my heart and aging, I was.
[00:21:54.623] - Jimmy Capra
It takes a toll on and I had to tell myself, can't do this and I'm not going to do this. I can't I'm not I'm not super executive. I'm not Super Bowl. And I'm losing sight of the things that are just as important to me. If so, more because if, like, fell off the friggin one of my little tractors and ran my legs up could be a DEA agent. I still have to be a dad and a husband and everything else.
Right. So I kind of found yourself getting lost in that issue. And so I had to tell people. So how to have to do is to say, OK, if I'm going to be the conductor of my own life, I got to stop for a minute, take a breath and start telling people I'm sorry, I'm not sticking around at twelve and it's still doing a 12 hour days. That's what I mean.
[00:22:29.473] - Steve Morreale
But not a sixteen.
[00:22:30.433] - Jimmy Capra
And so I would hammer a purposely when I got back into the field as an executive, I'd hammer into guys, hey, listen, this is an important job. Yes. This is your calling. You just job was not meant for you to lose your family, lose your faith, lose your hobbies. This that's not what it was designed to or to lose your life for that. And of course, we live in a dangerous profession, but just don't take it for granted.
[00:22:49.993] - Jimmy Capra
That's why I used to get annoyed. People say, well, you know, most dope cops, they're alcoholics and they get divorced in this house. Who said, who said you have to live like that.,
[00:22:56.263] - Steve Morreale
Well, you know, I've been talking to other people about of wellness and the focus on wellness and mental health and all of those things. And those are very, very important. You also said something, Jimmy, about setting expectations and always troubles me that some managers, leaders, and I want to talk about that difference between managing and leading. But some managers will say I don't have to tell people how to do their job.
[00:23:15.193] - Steve Morreale
They know how to do their job. And I would have to say to wait wait a minute. If they don't know what your expectations are, then how can you hold them accountable for something they don't know you expect them to do? So I think it's pretty important and not just one and done, but to constantly remind what the expectations are. Talking about that
[00:23:32.353] - Jimmy Capra
Man, you are on point, this constant reminder. You tell people, you know, they do these background checks on us, right?
[00:23:37.843] - Jimmy Capra
When we said our job because we get up, get the top secret SCI and all this stuff, and they do it every seven years, do it every seven years, every seven years. I said we should. The mentality of stepping into a leadership position is to remind, here's what here's what our agents, our agency has expectations of us. Here's what they are as a leader. Here's my expectations of you. When you work for me, these are my expectations from you.
[00:23:59.653] - Jimmy Capra
Walk them through the end, then you remind them about that year. Most of our people I don't know what your experience was, but I found that the overwhelming majority of our people that you work with are good workers. They know their job. I don't have to tell them how to do an investigation. I don't have to tell them, you know, I mean, I may have to walk with them, say, hey, I got to do risk and reward type of stuff, but I don't have to tell them how to do the investigation, how to write a report anymore.
[00:24:20.263] - Jimmy Capra
I did that as a supervisor when you're training young guys coming up. But these are my expectations and I would remind. And so when I would meet with men and women, I'd remind them, never forget. This is exactly what I was saying. Never forget who we are. Don't ever forget who we are. We are the premier experts in drug law enforcement. And I would say that when I would be asked to go talk to the bureau and other people, because I would tell them, when you stand up, you guys from the Bureau or ATF or Secret Service, you should tell them we are the premier experts in what we do.
[00:24:45.443] - Jimmy Capra
Be proud of that badge. Be proud of that heritage. You should there's nothing wrong with that. And then remind people that people outside these walls in a division are counting on us, that they we're going to do our job well. So that concern might pursue. You know, it's funny because when I. All right, we've got a couple of things I don't want to play or anything, but I did get a couple of things from my guys from around the division that said we're constantly pursuing excellence because I think pursue excellence in everything.
[00:25:09.313] - Jimmy Capra
Not success because you can cheat and still succeed, but pursuing excellence and remind people how important it is. And by the way, Steve, you remind people how valuable they are to not just to the organizations, but to you as a person. That's and that's work. That's not just, by the way, that's not just sending a friggin memo out that's going around and walking and talking to people and say to keep going. And before you chop somebody's head off about something, you know, what the hell is going on.
[00:25:33.003] - Steve Morreale
You know, and interesting that we're supposed to be collecting facts, right? Investigators and then we fly off the handle. Many do, because we don't know all of the facts and we react by emotion rather than gathering facts. And so many times I've learned that I've made all kinds of mistakes where you blow up. But then you think that was stupid? I shouldn't be doing that. Let me get the facts first. Let me let me sleep on.
[00:25:52.993] - Steve Morreale
Let me not react to it. It may be a little bit different the day after, but, Jimmy, one thing you said in a previous conversation is that when people would seek promotion, you would ask them a question. Tell us about that.
[00:26:02.203] - Jimmy Capra
Yeah. So after a while, people get to know you. They get to know who you are, how you are. They get to see that you're walking your walk. And so you typically find out that somebody is looking to promote whether to the first level, second level. And regardless, I would say that's awesome. I'd go, why do you want to promote? You'd get this look at your face. Kind of we talked about earlier, like, what the hell you mean?
[00:26:21.073] - Jimmy Capra
So why do you want to promote? And I tell you without a doubt that people I listen you want to promote because it's a couple extra bucks in it. That's great. There is you're not going to buy your wife a BMW because you made to GS 14 or 15. Maybe you will. I don't know. I said, why? What's your motive? Why do you really want to do this? And so it gives you an opportunity to say, let me share with you something.
[00:26:42.073] - Jimmy Capra
That's if you want to promote because you want a position of power. You're in the wrong. If you want to promote because you want to make a difference, you see that you can make an impact. And men and women's lives for the better and for the organization. That's what I said. You still got to learn. You'll be learned, but you've got to be willing to give yourself to the men and women who are entrusted to you can't be a coward when it comes to that.
[00:27:00.403] - Jimmy Capra
You're not suddenly the smartest guy in the room. You've got to realize holy back. And once you start to become vulnerable to that, you yourself start to become even a better leader. And you look around, you have some tremendous people. So instead of looking around going 80 percent of these guys are chuckleheads. No, they're not, man. And know that they got up. They're a piece of the puzzle. So that became critical to me to ask men and women.
[00:27:21.043] - Jimmy Capra
And then you brought something up earlier. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of mid-level managers and go, hey, let me ask you something. The guy who's retired long time, is just an amazing guy, a former Air Force Academy guy one hundred years ago and stuff. And he's my go-to guy all the time when he was a 14. And I remember sitting down with many of them. Can I ask, what do you want to do in the next few years?
[00:27:40.933] - Jimmy Capra
What do you just kind of curious, what's your goal? Never forget. This is a smart guy, like I said, Air Force officer, you know, the whole nine yards disciplined. His men and women just loved him every if there was a broken thing in the division, I could I could send him to he would get fixed. And he looked at me and he just looked and I said, Dude, what's what's up, man? And that's how we talk to people, you know?
[00:28:02.173] - Jimmy Capra
Therefore, you don't put on the executive voice. Yeah, no, it's what can I say something I said because no one's ever asked me that. This guy's been on the job for years. So what do you mean no one's asked you? No one's ever asked me what do I want to do, what do I want to see? What can I tell you? Something like that. It hit me in the head like a brick, I said. So it made me think I'm going a son.
[00:28:19.513] - Jimmy Capra
That's with the guys, you know what I mean? And you start going, and it was such an impact. This is what he said. He goes, Can't believe that you care enough to ask. And that's not saying all by yourself because it really impacted this guy.
[00:28:29.053] - Steve Morreale
What you're saying is, leadership is difficult, but sometimes when you're building relationships, it's so easy. If we just ask the right question, we probe and we dig. And really what we're trying to do is to unleash talent by allowing them to get rid of the impediments, the things that get in the way. Kind of crazy. I mean, let me shift as we're winding down, I want to ask a couple of questions.
[00:28:50.203] - Steve Morreale
What's on your to do list now?
[00:28:52.993] - Jimmy Capra
It's too long. It's not honestly in this season that I'm in. One of the things that I want to believe in that one of my prayers at night and say, Lord, I want to finish. Well, I'm not sure how that looks, but I want to finish. Well, both in terms, you know, now we're a legacy law enforcement family now for my kids, our military law enforcement, both. One is in ministry and the other one is my youngest is in Air Force.
[00:29:16.783] - Jimmy Capra
And so my to do list is to continue to pour to them. And now I have six grandchildren and continue to pour into them while at the same time I want to make sure that my wife, who has been the rock of our family, we're going to continue to pour into each other at some point people. But that's what's important to me. I still I like. Right. Tried my best to get out to you know, it's been tough this year with the pandemic and everything to get back on the wagon and talking to groups about the hard of leadership, what it takes to care about people.
[00:29:42.493] - Jimmy Capra
So that's kind of like where my to do list is and. Right. You know, if I have any teacher, Steve, that are still alive and I know probably not. And they said, what do you mean? This guy's got a couple of degrees and he's rich, he'll stay with my baby. Yes. I like the way that guy is going to jail.
[00:30:00.403] - Steve Morreale
I agree with you that.
[00:30:01.903] - Jimmy Capra
I have this heart for for, you know, like when we first started talking, you start talking about leadership and men and women, and I get I get all excited.
[00:30:09.013] - Jimmy Capra
It's a funny question because I had a friend of mine who believed I was a pastor and an evangelist for years, and he used to say, what keeps you up at night? I'm not talking about your health by talking about what keeps you up at night. And I start telling what keeps me up is how do I get involved in talking about things like leadership, caring about people and relationships. So and I've been fortunate, buddy, I got to write three books in the last four or five years working on a couple of more.
[00:30:32.383] - Jimmy Capra
So it's been a fun. It's been a great season.
[00:30:34.193] - Steve Morreale
Spread the word, as they say.
[00:30:35.543] - Steve Morreale
So one last question. If you had a chance to talk with somebody that has inspired you looking from afar, who is either dead or alive, who would that be?
[00:30:43.933] - Jimmy Capra
My father. I would love give the chance to my dad died young he was fifty- seven is very, very tough. My father's family came from Italy, my mom's family came from Portugal. But my dad and my dad was a tough guy, you know, first-generation Italian New York City cops. But my dad would pass these little nuggets on because I was seven children in the family and my brother Tony, the oldest. Why did you always get the nuggets?
[00:31:05.393] - Jimmy Capra
I don't know. I had the cajones to ask Pop things and I would say, hey, dad, what about your dad? What about what about this? He got to see me get my creds and died a year later. He died very young at fifty-seven. I would have loved to have sat down with him because he was a he was when he would talk about the job it was about men and he would talk about people on his beat eking out an existence and how important that was before there was community-policing.
[00:31:28.873] - Jimmy Capra
He was it in Midtown. And so if I had to and I will someday, this is what we believe I will someday to be able to sit there and say, hey, Pop, did I do OK in your eyes? And it sounds corny, but I don't do this for my dad or my mother's approval. But I would have loved to talk to him and I would have loved to hear him say, hey, you did good, kid.
[00:31:48.373] - Steve Morreale
Well, I think you're doing wonderful work. The idea that you are taking your experience and trying to push it forward to others. Right. Paying forward is very important. And to be able to talk with a colleague about leadership and about management and clearly we only scratched the surface.
[00:32:03.913] - Steve Morreale
So I'd love to have you back as a guest again.
[00:32:06.023] - Jimmy Capra
I'd be honored. Thank you.
[00:32:07.333] - Steve Morreale
So we can talk about some more of these things. So I'm going to say goodbye and I want to say thank you for being with us.
[00:32:12.403] - Jimmy Capra
Thank you so much for having me there. I really appreciate it.
[00:32:14.923] - Steve Morreale
This is Steve Morreale and we've been talking to Jimmy Capra. He's the former director of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration and a leadership guru, a thought leader, I would like to say, and he's coming to us from Texas. So make sure that you stay tuned to other episodes as we continue to talk about policing and leadership. Thanks very much.