TOPGUN’s Top 10

TOPGUN’s Top 10: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit by Commander Guy M. Snodgrass (Center Street 2020, 157 pages) 

TOPGUN. The Navy’s most elite fighter pilot school, the problem-solving and decision making skills they learn there, and how to apply them to everyday life. 

Commander Guy M. Snodgrass had a successful Navy career spanning two decades, that included being a TOPGUN instructor, a commanding officer ,and serving as the director of communications and chief speechwriter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. At TOPGUN, he learned many leadership skills which he applied throughout his Naval career and, in turn, his life. This book takes Snodgrass’s top ten lessons he learned at TOPGUN and teaches you how to apply them to your life. 

Key Takeaways 

1. Have integrity in everything you do. This means doing the right thing when no one is looking. From the time we can begin to comprehend the world around us to our last day on earth, we all have times that we want to take the easy way out, but having integrity will ensure you always do the right thing. Your actions will always speak louder than words ever will. 

2. Do not go through challenges alone. We always have the chance to make friends and connections, but we let the opportunity slip by from time to time. You don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t have a wingman or someone who has your back. Don’t wait until it’s too late to realize you don’t have anyone in your corner. Make connections and build those friendships when you have the chance. 

3. Make talent, passion, and personality your calling card. Make tomorrow better than yesterday. These three aspects will be how people see you and potentially play a role in your success. 

Final Thoughts 

To become a TOPGUN student is difficult, but to become an instructor is even harder. The men and women at the school learn some of the best leadership skills necessary for problem-solving and quick, efficient decision making. Commander Snodgrass has written these leadership skills in a way that readers from all walks of life can use them to be successful. He used them to go from a successful Naval career to working for the Secretary of Defense, and now the founder and CEO of a strategic consulting and advisory firm. By reading this book, and applying the skills Commander Snodgrass describes, you too can become a successful leader and mentor.

Review submitted by Sydney Balmer (See also a previous review of the book by Marina Theodotou posted November 10, 2020)

Balmer who is on active duty in the Navy until July and on a Skillbridge Internship with DODReads. She hopes to join the FBI after completing her bachelors degree. Her favorite pastimes are reading, hiking, visiting Disney World, and gaming. She can be reached at: /

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