Up Periscope

Surfaced from the secret world of Submarines, this book is a guide to effective leadership development and decision making through inclusion. With extreme stress, continuous change and death just outside the hatch, agile, resilient leadership is essential. This book contains specific, actionable tools and advice directly from our training and consulting work over the years that has produced exceptional results. This leadership book is grounded in a patent published model so when we say it is completely unique, it literally is.

There are many leadership books written from the viewpoint of Navy Admirals, Marine and Army Generals, and Commanding Officers of all varieties. I have read many of them and love a few. This book is not written from that viewpoint. My leadership was forged through the eyes of a career enlisted. Approached and encouraged, starting my second year of Naval service on submarines, to “do better and become an officer.” I chose time and time again to remain an enlisted service member.

My view out the periscope is that of a leader who realized the unparalleled leadership impact of a strong senior enlisted, what many in the private sector would refer to as a mid-level to director level manager. Every organization is a pyramid, a few people at the top, the majority at or near the entry, to lower-level positions. The unique application of leadership through the laser lens of a Command Master Chief is this; only a Command Master Chief has complete relatability to the most junior person in the organization and can also get a short notice face to face with the Admiral. When I was in the submarine force, very early on, I knew I was not motivated by power. I also knew I was big thinking with big thinking strategies. I needed to build skills in areas of talent, and I needed to have the authority to carry those ideas out.

I have built my training and consulting company around this view and the belief in the influence and critical importance of these leaders. I now consult and coach executives from Fortune ’50s and lead discussions with entry-level team leaders. The tools and perspective from my periscope, are completely unique, based on this experience, as well as my time with Gallup as a consultant. I respected Gallup over the years as a Sailor from the outside, never imagining I would be on the inside as a consultant, becoming their top, client rated consultant in the world. The combination of this strength-based view, the System learned on submarines, the methodology, and process (patent pending) will become staples in the seabags of executives and first-time supervisors alike. Why? Well, I don’t just remember what it is like to clean a toilet, I still do on occasion.


How is this book different than your other book “Diversity and Inclusion The Submarine Way”?

It has a hyper-focus on the specific tools and steps needed to create an inclusive leadership. Our first book certainly touches leadership but this is the “how-to” of taking our patented inclusion system and applying it.

How has writing helped you personally? And changed the way you think?

It has made me a more critical reader. I had to be able to explain to a level of detail I never had before in my verbal communications on this topic. It has also made me a better leader since I am now much more intentional.

What lessons can a Junior Officer take from your book?

Since I served as a Command Master Chief (submarines) the lessons are very similar to what a smart JO would learn from a great Chief. Be inclusive, listen more than you talk, hold yourself accountable first, never stop learning, and insist others do the same, focus on what people do right more than what they do wrong, and master compassion along with modeling, coaching, and requiring all of the above.

What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will learn from ” Up Periscope”?

Crew-munity is all about how to be intentional in going from a group to a team to a CREW and the power of CREW in any aspect of life inside or outside the military.

This year the class of 2020 earns their commission and heads to their first command.  What specific recommendations do you have for them as they embark on this lifetime of leadership?

Same as my JO advice above: Be inclusive, listen more than you talk, hold yourself accountable first, never stop learning, and insist others do the same, focus on what people do right more than what they do wrong, and master compassion along with modeling, coaching, and requiring all of the above.

Tell us about your consulting company: The Submarine Way

We are driven by a belief every person brings value. I saw it every day on subs and live it every day working with our clients. We work with everyone from the Clemson Tiger Football Team to high-tech manufacturers and public school bus drivers to help them collaborate more effectively manage conflict in a positive way, tap into the best them, and best team, and drive bottom-up innovation. We do this through consulting, coaching, training, and our speeches.

Why is reading important for our Military and/or the Nation?

Continuous learning is a bedrock of effective leadership. The more diverse the input you have, the more lenses you look through the more effective you will be because it will sharpen your talents and build them towards strengths.

General Mattis talks a lot about using reading as a tool to learn from other people’s experiences. Can you provide a specific example or story where reading has helped you learn from others’ experiences? 

Jim Collins in Good to Great taught me the power of “the right seat on the bus” I have used that analogy to observe, evaluate and create solutions to onboarding and succession planning challenges for nearly 20 years!

What else do you want your readers to know?

Deb and I love the outdoors. Hiking, mountain biking, walking our dogs on cool mornings……. We also love work, yup work. Our little goal is to change how the world works, specifically by changing how leaders think and act so we stay busy and we LOVE IT.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.

I was thrown out of college for disciplinary reasons (quasi-military college) and returned 21 years later got my BS in HR and then went on to get my MBA

Deb is the writer I am the talker SHE INSPIRES ME DAILY to learn, to help others, and to make a difference.

Pre-COVID our office was our RV. We call it the land submarine. So we roll up to clients and events in our RV and often just hit the road with our snow dogs and work from wherever we wind up!

What is next for you?

Another book is likely but we will leave that one with God for now. What’s next is to continue to use our gifts and voice to help organizations and individuals be their absolute best. I think I’ll die on stage giving a keynote at age 90………..+ so “retiring” is not likely.

Purchase Up Periscope Here

Reach out to Deb and John here


Deb Fortin is President and Founder of the Submarine Way, after a distinguished career in the corporate world. She was Vice President and General Manager of several fortune 150 companies. Deb has led M&A teams, grown numerous businesses, and turned around failing businesses in her career. Invited multiple times to President’s Club, for meeting and exceeding sales and business goals, her strategic approach to leadership development is a cornerstone of her success. Deb has also served on numerous boards and has been an active volunteer, writing for a diversity magazine, and serving as a Guardian Ad Litem supporting children in protective services.

In 2016 after a keynote she and her husband did to an emotional standing ovation, she quit her corporate job and wrote a diversity and inclusion book based on her husband’s 14 years on operational submarines, where inclusion was a given and highly effective leadership the result. Diversity and Inclusion, The Submarine Way became a best seller, and it has given rise to a training, coaching, and consulting firm that is changing communities and businesses through a patent published inclusion training system. Deb co-authored a second book with her partner John Gregory Vincent. UP PERISCOPE, Putting Traditional Leadership in the Crosshairs, was released in May 2020.

Deb has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and a master’s in human performance. Deb and John live with their snow dogs and cat in their Augusta GA home.


John Gregory Vincent is a 20-year veteran of the Navy’s Submarine Force, retiring as a Command Master Chief. He is a former workplace consultant for The Gallup Organization, where he received the delivery excellence award in his last year with them as the highest, client rated Gallup consultant in the world. John is the world’s preeminent expert in driving behavioral change through an equity and inclusion system known for cultivating leaders and transforming cultures. A successful entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, executive coach, author, and consultant, he founded The Genesis Group LLC in 2008. He later served as the chief talent and learning officer, before assuming his present role. He and his business partner have created a unique leadership model that is trademarked, protected by copyright, and has a published patent. It is the only patent published; inclusion centric leadership training system in the world. He is the author, along with his business partner and wife, Deborah Cake Fortin, of the bestselling book, Diversity & Inclusion The Submarine Way, named one of the best submarine books ever written by Book Authority. He also wrote the critically acclaimed book UPSIDE: A Guide to Achieving
Your Full Potential in Life: John and Deb’s latest book UP PERISCOPE. Putting Traditional Leadership in the Crosshairs was released in May of 2020.

John received a master’s in business administration with a concentration in management from Grantham University and a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Brenau University. He is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, DISC facilitator, and a former Gallup executive coach. He and Deb live with their two snow dogs, cat, and John’s beloved mountain bike in Augusta GA.

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