John Brennan grew up in New Jersey as the son of Irish immigrants. In 1977, he earned his BA in political science from Fordham University, and in 1980, he earned his MA in government with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, during his time in college, John spent time studying at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where he learned to speak Arabic and spent time learning about Middle Eastern culture.
As a result of his studies, John was the perfect person to lead the United States in the war on terror. He understood Middle Eastern culture, and he had a better sense than most of what it would take to operate covertly in that part of the world. Still, he had to rise through the ranks first!
In 1980, John responded to an employment listing in the New York Times and took a job working for the CIA. He served in numerous positions throughout the organization, most often working in counterterrorism intelligence. He also helped lead efforts to form the National Counterterrorism Center.
For a few years, John retired from the CIA, and worked in intelligence in the private sector. However, soon after, under President Obama, John was appointed as the assistant to the President for homeland security and counterterrorism. During that time, John oversaw the use of drones to target terrorists in the Middle East. It was during this time that he oversaw the mission to target Osama Bin Laden.
Then, in 2013, John was named the director of the CIA. During his tenure, John led the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. And in 2017, John retired from the CIA.
Since then, he’s published a book: Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad. This book contains an inside account of John’s career as a public servant with numerous stories about his fight to keep America safe. I’d encourage you to check it out!
But first, make sure to listen to this episode! John shared a ton of fascinating stories with me, and along the way, he shared a lot of wisdom too. I truly enjoyed this conversation, and I think you will get as much out of it as I did. If you’re ready to learn how to make mistakes and be a true leader, join me for Episode 1,051 with John Brennan!