Mike Abrashoff Headshot

Mike Abrashoff

Mike Abrashoff led the transformation of the USS Benfold into the #1 performing naval ship. Today, he shares the lessons that generated that change.

Meet Mike Abrashoff

Mike Abrashoff led one of the most remarkable modern day stories of organizational transformation. The most-junior officer in the Pacific Fleet when he took command of the near-worst performing ship, the story of the stunning transformation that followed has lessons for every organization: leadership matters and culture is everything. Mike Abrashoff is available to be booked for corporate and private events. He is also well-known for his keynote and motivational speaking. Contact the Mollie Plotkin Group today to inquire about Mike Abrashoff’s fees.

Want to book Mike Abrashoff for an event?

Contact the Mollie Plotkin Group at 215-510-6607 to book Mike Abrashoff for corporate or private events, keynote speeches, workshops, fireside chats, motivational speaking, or virtual appearances. Our agency will work directly with your organization and our keynote speakers to create an unforgettable event.

The Mollie Plotkin Group is the leading keynote speakers agency and entertainment bureau bringing excitement to audiences, clients, and employees. We represent subject-matter experts in every possible field, so whether we’re your partner in creating a memorable meeting, or your meeting planner’s secret weapon in securing the perfect keynote speaker, we’re in this with you.


Before commanding the USS Benfold, Mike served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait; and served as the executive officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf supporting United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Then at 36, Mike Abrashoff was selected to be Commander of USS Benfold, making him the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific fleet. The challenges of this underachieving destroyer were staggering. Specifically, low morale and the highest turnover rate in the Navy led few to believe the ship could improve. 

Yet 12 months later…it was ranked #1 in performance using the same crew. 

How did Mike do it?

To start, Mike Abrashoff established a set of management principles that he calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach is a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion. Further, his approach emphasizes engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers with conviction and humility.

“The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. The idea is to empower every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence.”

By every measure, these principles achieved breakthrough results. On the USS Benfold, turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1%, the rate of promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25%. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness.

Mike Abrashoff’s Leadership Roadmap

Mike Abrashoff’s Leadership Roadmap offers clear, battle-tested, and actionable steps. He shows people at every level of the organization how to engage and take incremental steps toward change that can make a dramatic difference at work. Mike is clear, “I didn’t turn the ship around – my crew did. What I did was create an environment where they felt safe, empowered and supported. When you do that, anything is possible.”

Mike Abrashoff is also the founder of Aegis Performance Group, a consulting firm that works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent, and performance challenges within their organizations. Mike and his team prompt leaders at all levels to re-imagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team, and organizational performance. Since leaving the Navy, Mike has worked with over 1200 organizations instilling leadership initiatives at every level and achieving phenomenal change in unexpected places. 

Mike Abrashoff Keynote Speaking

A popular keynote speaker for audiences looking to ramp up organizational performance, Mike has spoken to every industry and kind of audience – from board retreats to front-line personnel; from sales groups to universities; from Fortune 500s to startups. He emphatically inspires audiences to rethink their beliefs about leadership and organizational culture and tailors the message to focus on engagement, execution, change, safety, diversity, leadership, teamwork, innovation, accountability, and more. 

In many ways, what Mike was able to do with the USS Benfold was an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today. Mike focused on the one thing he could influence – his crew’s attitude. “When my crew came to me with a problem, I’d say ‘It’s your ship – how would you fix it?’.” In short, Culture is the ultimate competitive weapon for any organization. That’s why dozens of publications including Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company have cited Mike’s story as an inspiring lesson for businesses. 


Mike is the author of four books. His first, It’s Your Ship, has sold over 1.4 million copies with its timeless message: don’t use outside forces that stand in your way as excuses – control the things you can influence and amazing results will happen. His next books, It’s Our Ship and Get Your Ship Together, showed how these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their organizations. Mike’s latest book, Ship Happens (co-authored with Stacey Cunningham), serves as a guide for leaders, detailing his strategies for transforming USS Benfold into the top-performing ship.

How to Hire Mike Abrashoff

Find out how to hire Mike Abrashoff to appear at your next event. Contact the Mollie Plotkin Group to inquire about Mike Abrashoff’s availability and cost. When booking Mike Abrashoff for an event, we need to know the type of venue and location the event will take place. Mike Abrashoff is a popular choice for corporate events, private events, and virtual events. So, you can click the Check Availability button or contact us and an MPG Mike Abrashoff booking agent will get back to you within 48 hours.

Mike Abrashoff Booking Price

How much to book Mike Abrashoff depends on the type of event. So, the cost to hire Mike Abrashoff for corporate or private events is available by contacting a Mollie Plotkin Group Agent. Notably, Mike Abrashoff is available for conferences, festivals, private parties, and events. Just contact the Mollie Plotkin Group and tell the booking agent the proposed date, time, and location.

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Fill out the form to find out when Mike Abrashoff is available.

Upcoming Engagements

Our speakers are in high demand! View their upcoming events.

Jun 17 - 20 2024

Kinexions 24 Annual Conference – Keynote Speaker Lisa Bodell – Miami, Florida

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa
Jun 22 - 23 2024

Atlanta Women’s Expo 2024 – Keynote Speaker Laila Ali – Atlanta, GA

Gas South Convention Center
Jun 24 - 27 2024

HFMA Annual Conference 2024 – Keynote Speaker Suneel Gupta – Las Vegas, NV

Mandalay Bay Convention Center
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Key Audience Takeaways

It’s Your Ship – Achieving Breakthrough Performance

This inspiring talk is for every individual and organization looking for practical and usable ways to take organizational performance to new heights. In Mike’s case, he realized that before the USS Benfold’s performance could change, he had to change his leadership style. So Mike worked to create a culture of trust. Simultaneously, he empowered his crew to take charge, innovate, and initiative improvement themselves. Top-down leadership is dead, so when the crew would present a problem, Mike became famous for responding “What would YOU do? It’s YOUR ship!” Mike’s presentation leaves audiences with the tools and inspiration to lead your organization to new heights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leadership lessons from Mike’s story of turning one of the Pacific Fleet’s worst ships into the ranked #1 performer – using the same crew.
  • How to drive high-level decision-making down to the lowest level of your organization.
  • Ways to create a high-performance organizational culture.

The Virtual Leader’s Roadmap

Mike Abrashoff had to change his leadership mindset when he took over the near-worst performing ship in the Navy. The situation was dire. If performance did not improve, sailors could have gotten injured…or worse. In response, Mike quickly adopted a new set of principles to guide a new way of leading. 

Specifically, his focus was on building trust and authentic ways of engaging. It was about listening to and empowering his crew who then went on to make the USS Benfold the best ship in the entire U.S. Navy. 

These very same principles are the foundation of success for organizations that embrace working virtually. In the short term, many organizations have found virtual work arrangements increase the effectiveness of employees. 

However, that effectiveness may not be sustainable if leaders and organizations don’t master a new skill set of how to lead people they can’t see. It’s about measuring results – not activity; and about finding ways to let people know their efforts are appreciated. Those who succeed in leading in the virtual environment will create a decisive competitive advantage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Authentic leadership skills for all organizations.
  • How to improve performance by making employees feel appreciated and seen.

No Limits – Don’t Let Goals Become Limitations

Sometimes in our professional lives, we might think we are in a battle to beat an adversary or a competitor. But in actuality, we are really in competition with ourselves, we just haven’t figured it out yet. 

When battling the competition, you want to come out on top. From time to time, you might want to win by only one more sale or a few percentage points. Other times, leadership gives you a goal based on some median expectation set. When Mike Abrashoff took command of a well below-average ship in the U.S. Navy, his goal was to improve to average. He initially set average goals and expectations for himself and his crew. Until one day, it dawned on him. His ship could be much better than just average. It was Mike’s eureka moment: realizing they weren’t in competition with anyone but themselves. 

To be their best they had to stop putting limits on what they believed was possible. That realization changed Mike Abrashoff’s approach to leadership and led the same crew to accomplish one of the most remarkable turnarounds. This presentation will challenge audiences to think differently about how to set expectations while realizing the only limits that you have are self-imposed.

Key Takeaways:

  • Important considerations when setting personal and organizational goals.
  • The means to make those remarkable goals a reality.

Go Deeper with Half-day and Full-day Programs

Dive deep into The Leadership Roadmap with a half-day or full-day program. The sessions are most often used as a follow-on to Mike’s keynote. These longer sessions provide attendees with powerful tools and strategies to apply in their work environment. Depending on the circumstances, these sessions are facilitated by a senior strategist from Mike’s firm, Aegis Performance Group, or Mike himself. These sessions create an exciting interactive atmosphere where participants examine the key components of high-performing leaders, teams, and organizations. Inquire for more details and program descriptions.

Client Testimony for Mike Abrashoff


Ship Happens Mike Abrashoff Book Cover

Ship Happens

Captain Mike Abrashoff’s mission on USS Benfold – Be battle ready.He spent countless hours engaging, developing, and training his crew to be ready for action, knowing SHIP HAPPENS. Our job as leaders is to do the same.In “It’s Your Ship,” Captain Mike Abrashoff reveals WHAT he did to turn USS Benfold into the best performing ship in the Pacific Fleet. But through “Ship Happens,” Stacey Cunningham will show you HOW to do the same.Mike and Stacey will help you take incremental steps toward change to make a lasting impact on your leadership, engagement, and performance.

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