When people think about survival and preparedness, they tend to think of dealing with an end-of-the-world kind of scenario. But lots of bad things can happen, and are more likely to happen, that fall short of the apocalypse. My guest can help you prepare for any worst case scenario, whether it’s the worst thing to happen to mankind or just the worst thing to happen to you this year. His name is Mike Glover, and he’s a former Green Beret, the founder of Fieldcraft Survival, and the author of Prepared.
Today on the show, Mike and I first talk about the softer skills of preparedness. We discuss how to create plans using military concepts like war gaming and the PACE methodology, build your tolerance to stress, and develop your situational awareness so you don’t freeze in a crisis or let one catch you by surprise. In the second half of our conversation, we discuss the harder skills of preparing for worst case scenarios. Mike outlines what capabilities every man should develop. He shares his own EDC and what he recommends you carry and wear on a day-to-day basis. We talk about how to stock your home and car for emergencies and more.
Related Resources From AoM’s Extensive Survival and Preparedness Archives
- Podcast #820: Escape the Safety Trap
- How to Make a Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Emergency Evacuation Survival Kit
- How to Bug-In: What You Need to Know to Survive a Grid-Down Disaster
- What Every Man Should Keep in His Car
- A Beginner’s Guide to EDC
- How to Use a Tourniquet to Control Major Bleeding
- A Complete Guide to Home Fire Prevention and Safety
- How to Develop Situational Awareness
- The Complete Guide to Making a DIY First Aid Kit
- Podcast #610: Who Lives in Survival Situations, Who Dies, and Why
- A Complete Guide to Home Security
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Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. When people think about survival and preparedness, they tend to think of dealing with an end of the world kind of scenario. But lots of bad things can happen, and are more likely to happen, that fall short of the apocalypse. My guest can help you prepare for any worst case scenario, whether it’s the worst thing to happen to mankind, or just the worst thing to happen to you this year. His name is Mike Glover, and he’s a former Green Beret, the founder of Fieldcraft Survival, and the author of Prepared. Today on the show, Mike and I first talk about the softer skills of preparedness. We discuss how to create plans using military concepts like war gaming and the PACE methodology, build your tolerance to stress, and develop your situational awareness so you don’t freeze into crisis or let one catch you by surprise.
In the second half of our conversation, we discuss the harder skills of preparing for worst case scenarios. Mike outlines what capabilities every man should develop He shares his own EDC, and what he recommends you carry and wear on a day-to-day basis, and we talk about how to stock your home and car for emergencies and more. After the show’s over, check out our show notes at aom.is/prepared.
All right, Mike Glover, welcome to the show.
Michael Oliver: Thanks for having me.
Brett McKay: So you are the owner of Survival Fieldcraft. It’s a company that sells survival gear and also does survival training. Tell us about your background. How did you end up doing what you’re doing today?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, so I started Fieldcraft Survival in 2015 when I was a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency. I was overseas and had a long run in the military. And as a contractor, it kept me basically outside the country, and realizing for the first time after a long time, two decades of just being overseas and deployed and kind of just working for the government. I kind of wanted to do something for myself, and I grew up in an entrepreneurship family and felt like I had the right skill sets, at least as a baseline, to start a business. So, yeah, I started Fieldcraft Survival in a shipping container in Pakistan.
Brett McKay: And how has your experience in the military influenced your approach to survival?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, that’s a good question. I did a lot of different things. And my background in the military, I was a Green Beret, and most people who understand what that job is, they associate the operational side or the execution side of what that job does. You know, direct action missions, Hoss’s rescue. But really, that was one component of a very complex job. And a lot of the things that benefited me and had to do with, I would say, like the soft skills of what we did, the not so cool stuff. That included planning. You know, planning was really important for me to lay out detailed contingency-based plans and being not afraid to adapt on the fly in real time as things happened.
Brett McKay: So it sounds like you spend a lot of time doing like the soft, sort of the mental side of survival, not just the tactical gear skill-based stuff. That stuff’s important, but that soft skill, those are probably more important.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, 100%. I think a lot of people, because the other stuff, you know, it markets well. You know, it’s always a cool hashtag, the tactical environment. But certainly that’s a technical capability versus the foundation of resilience, the foundation of survival, which is your ability to get through difficult circumstances by adapting through adversity. And those things come with time, but they also come with training and experience. And so my focus did not want to be on, I think, the statistical improbability of the everyday carry pistol. Instead, I wanted to focus on what I think foundationally is the most important aspect of survival, which is mindset and resilience. And as you build that baseline, the technical skills will come. So, yeah, exactly. That’s where I wanted to be focused, which is like the full spectrum of preparedness instead of one technical skillset.
Brett McKay: So you got a new book out called: Prepared, a Manual for Surviving Worst Case Scenarios, in which you present some of the big ideas from your survival training. And you start off the book defining what you mean by catastrophe. Because I think when most people think about prepping, they’re think in probably like grid down disaster or an end of the world type of event, but your idea of disaster catastrophe encompasses more than that. So what’s a catastrophe for you?
Michael Oliver: You know, that’s what most people think, right? They think worst case scenario is the zombie apocalypse. And there’s plenty of Hollywood evidence to back that. But the reality is the catastrophe in your life could just be a bad day. You know, it’s basically how we react and respond to stress. And that stress comes in different volumes. It could be low volume or low grade or high grade and high intensity. That includes typically a short duration of time and a heavy volume of intensity. But that doesn’t have to be the EMP exploding in the atmosphere, creating an electromagnetic pulse that destroys all your communication, all your electronics. It could be a vehicle accident, which is very probable in this country. I mean, two million people a year are injured from vehicle accidents. 40,000 Americans die every single year in motor vehicle accidents. So when you look at statistical probability and you look at being prepared for really your worst day, that’s what we’re talking about. It’s everyday natural man-made disasters that happen to people all the time.
Brett McKay: So in the first half of the book, you talk about the mindset needed for surviving a catastrophe. And as you just said, this is something you like to focus on a lot when you’re doing your training. So you mentioned a little bit about stress, but like what happens to our minds and our bodies when we experience an unexpected event or disaster? ’cause You spend a lot of time getting into the science of this.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, I think that’s the misnomer and misrepresentation of this idea of surviving or prepping or this worst case scenario. A lot of the things that we think we are capable of under normal circumstances is not how it’s going to work under difficult circumstances, because we forget the suppression of stress. Right. If we if we look at it like a heavy weight, that heavy weight comes on to our back immediately. And if we’re not prepared for it, because we haven’t conditioned ourselves for that stress, it overloads us. And then we start losing capacity and capability. So a lot of people understand the sympathetic nervous response, otherwise known as fight, flight or freeze. What they don’t understand is they will be in cognitive decline because the primal instinct, the primal survival mechanism, which is very ancestral, is depend on physical movements. This fight or flight is a mobility tactic to survive. So if it’s leaning on that side of adaptation and survival, it’s not going to lean on cognitive processes.
But we live in a more modern world where we need to lean on those modern processes, like staying cognitive, making sound, rational decisions under stress. And so if we don’t understand how that works because we haven’t trained it, experienced it, even just talked about it and understood it in ourselves, then when those things come on, when we identify the symptoms, then typically it’s too late because we’ve already hit the tipping point. And after the tipping point is just a cascade going downhill. So just understanding the basics of it allows us to operate in it.
Brett McKay: Well, in the book you gave… You’ve experienced that fight or flight response firsthand when you were in the military. I think you described an attack you had and the first time it happened, like you froze, like you didn’t think you were going to freeze, but you did.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, it’s a good story. It’s not my proudest moment in my military career. Luckily, it was early on. But I trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, called Camp McCall. It’s where Green Berets train. And before I was at Green Beret, I was an infantryman. I’d been to Ranger school. I had been exposed to a lot of training, a lot of stress. And so I thought I was pretty conditioned for it. And then Camp McCall made me more conditioned for it. And what we were trained for was specifically the war in triple canopy, like patrolling in the jungle. In this case, it was pine trees in North Carolina. But what I wasn’t prepared for was a 107 millimeter rocket. You know, this this 107 millimeter rocket sounds like a freight train. It is very dangerous. It has a kill radius of about 25 meters when it impacts the earth, which is massive. And when that started happening in my first attack, while I’m holding a rifle that I was trained with and trained on, there was no battle drill or reactions that I could utilize in that moment to save my life. And so I ran behind a vehicle, I took a knee and I essentially froze. And part of that was finding cover and concealment, trying to get out of harm’s way.
But I remember having to talk myself through the stress, realizing that I was clammed up and then saying to myself, hey, you got this, here’s some self-affirmation, get out of your head, you got this, breathe, do this. And then I got back to my feet. Now that only was a few seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. And it was profoundly something that I didn’t realize was going to be my reaction. But that’s how we take on stress. We can’t always identify the exact elements of stress to train or condition for. And sometimes the best we could do is adapt to what we think is going to be the worst case scenario, but even that’s not always good enough.
Brett McKay: So yeah, while you didn’t train for that specific stressor, you’re able to take the training you did with the other stress and apply it on the fly. And I guess that’s what you’re saying. So like for just a civilian, they don’t know the types of stress that they’re going or the disaster that they’re going to encounter, but what you can do to become more resilient is just train under stressful situations so that you know how to handle the stress when you experience it. What would that look like for a civilian? How do you train to prep under stress?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it’s the most profound question in this whole idea of training and preparing. It’s exposure, and exposure takes on various forms because what we realize the science tells us about survival, is it’s just not our training and our conditioned for stress that’s going to benefit us in the worst case scenario in surviving, it’s actually things like triggers. Like how do we know that a 107 millimeter rocket is going to affect me in a certain way, a sound, a noise, an event. So if you have a trigger that exists in you and you haven’t conditioned yourself to stress because you’re exposing yourself to stress, then you’ll never know. And then in the worst case scenario, it might clam you up. And, you know, we talk about this hyper arousal, which is this fight or flight response, but what’s not often discussed is the hyper arousal on the backside of that sympathetic response, which is a shift back into parasympathetic and being extremely hyper aroused, where the playing possum, which is an autonomic response where you’re playing dead and can’t move, could lead to a egregiously bad outcome on the backside of that because I haven’t exposed myself.
So what we recommend is one, the exposure to stress doesn’t have to be training at Camp McCall or operating in the military or combat operations. It could be your workout of the day because when you start to do something difficult, your mind is telling your body, essentially you’re going to die. If you continue to do this, you’re going to die. So what you’re doing every time you hit a wall and you push through is you’re building resilience, and you’re becoming more comfortable with this idea of embracing this pain and this suffering and you’re doing so in silence. And you’re coming up with tools and tactics in your head to get through these difficult circumstances. So exposure is not just the most difficult thing you could do. It’s taking yourself to a place that’s difficult and a workout of the day, a long rock march, a long run. When I tell guys, if your wife is into an orchestra or a symphony or a ballet and you don’t like that, well, there’s a reason you don’t like it. So have you ever thought about actually going? And if you do go and you work through that difficult thing like, Oh, I don’t like this. And then you realize, Oh, it’s not that bad. What you’re doing is building resilience because you’re adapting through adversity. And that’s the single cell organism all the way to the most advanced species of primate, which is us. You know, we all need to be exposed to those stressors because that makes us better at operating under stress.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Another thing you do is like if there’s survival skills, you want to practice, practice them in uncomfortable situations. So instead of trying to start a fire during the day, when you can see, try to start it at night, maybe make things wet, like just do things that it gets you frustrated and that’ll help you work through that stuff.
Michael Oliver: Yeah. And that’s a good point. What we realized in training, especially technical training, you could practice and do all the technical skillsets, but most people do those under optimal conditions. So when you add stress, the benefit of adding stress, which we call culmination, when you add that stress, you start seeing your technical skillsets degrade. And that actually is a good way to identify your weakness and your technical skillsets. And then when you identify those weaknesses, you go back and hone them and then re-practice them, but only when you validated them in stress. So like you said, like tourniquet application. Yeah, it’s real easy to apply a tourniquet to a leg as you loop it around your ankle while you’re standing. Except if you’re applying a tourniquet to your leg, you have likely a high fracture and the most painful experience of your life. You might even be in your seatbelt upside down in your vehicle in a ditch late at night. So you need to practice that as much as possible to get as close as you can to stress.
Brett McKay: All right. So that’s resilience in the mindset. So just learn how to be comfortable with stress and then learn how to overcome it. You mentioned one of the things you learned as a Green Beret was the importance of planning and being prepared. What does it look like for getting ready for a catastrophe or disaster for a civilian?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, what we tell people is the common sense approach here is, you can’t take a five paragraph operations order format and apply it to most civilians. You know, that military translation just does not translate. I mean, that was years of training and application in a military career over two decades for me to get a sense of it. What I tell civilians is planning starts with course of action development and course of action development starts with a conversation with the ones you love or the ones that you want to be integrated into your survival plan. So take fire disaster, for example. Fires across this country kill a lot of Americans, and it’s very unfortunate, very preventable instances most often. So how many people go out and train on a range or carry the tourniquet or first aid kit in their vehicle, but they don’t have a fire plan for their family? So what we say is it starts with the conversation and identifying the weakness by asking the conversation and what we call war gaming.
You know, that’s a very military procedure. But war gaming is essentially playing the devil’s advocate as you’re communicating through the intent. So if the objective is we need a fire plan, you would say to your spouse, “Hey, honey, what would happen if we have the kids in their bedrooms and we need to get down to the first floor because the upstairs bathroom is on fire?” Well, oh yeah, we would grab them and then move to the front floor. But yeah, what if the fire moved down the wall and is now blocking the front door? Oh, well, maybe we’ll go out the back door. Well, what if the front and back door? Oh, what if it’s at the base of the stairs? How do we get off the second floor down to the ground? Oh my gosh, I’ve never thought about that. So in that deficiency, you just identified, well, you got continuances because not all fires are the same. They grow, they expand, they evolve. And now you go, well, how do we get down from the second floor safely with our children? Do we have a rope ladder? Do we have an escape plan? Have we rehearsed it? Have we done the technical training? Have we educated our family on how this is going to work?
It simply starts with identifying deficiency and vulnerability, making a list of those vulnerabilities and then looking to make those vulnerabilities now your assets and reduce your liabilities. This all starts with basic conversation. We do this in what’s called an isolation facility. And sometimes for weeks, we’re doing this course of action development, refining the plan. I would say this could happen at your dining room table with your family, which is simple conversation.
Brett McKay: Besides a fire escape plan, what’s another plan that a regular family could have in place?
Michael Oliver: A bug out plan is insanely important. You know, three years ago when I started talking about bug out plans because bug out plans are something that we plan for in war zones, but often we planned in international travel. Well, this last two, three years has shown us through both the pandemic and natural disasters, including wildfires and floods, that bugging out or having a plan to displace from a bad situation to a better is very important. So right now, I would tell people if a law enforcement officer came and knocked on your door and said, you have 10 minutes, you need to get your stuff and you need to get out of here as soon as possible, is the tank of gas full in your vehicle? You could have a hundred thousand dollar Raptor that’s really capable off road. But if you have a tenth of a tank of gas, then you got a couple of miles of capability. Do you have gear that’s pre-packed to be able to displace in the worst case scenario? Is that gear redistributed through your vehicle and your home so you have the concentration of increasing capability through the capacity, which is the space that you have?
So if I have a tourniquet on my person in my pocket, in my purse or in my satchel, do I have a first aid kit that’s upgraded in my vehicle? Do I have a aid station and antibiotics in my home? So a bug-out plan is a good place to start in thinking about, “Well, honey, there’s a huge wildfire threat, ’cause you live in California. If you live in the Panhandle of Florida, there’s a huge hurricane threat.” A lot of the people who perish in worst case scenarios, especially natural disasters didn’t do basic planning, and they did like everybody else, they bought bread and water six hours before the storm. That’s not when we should be getting prepared.
Brett McKay: In the military, there’s this idea of PACE planning, what is that and how can civilians apply it?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, PACE plan is a very easy way to apply contingencies or the back-up for the back-up. Basic redundancy in your planning scheme. A lot of institutions plan for everything to go right. What we do in special operations, ’cause we know Murphy’s Law is we plan for everything to go wrong. And what that means is… Let’s say it’s communication. That’s a really basic one. Communication is your lifeline especially in a modern society like America, where picking up that phone and getting a call out to help, even if you’re gonna be your own First Responder is imperative for sustained survivability, because if you have the fracture in your leg and you treat that, well you need upgraded care, and having that lifeline in your phone is important. So in a PACE plan, which is the acronym, which stands for primary alternate contingency and emergency, I would add a combo PACE plan. So primary is gonna be common sense, it’s gonna be GSM or CDMA, it’s gonna be my basic cell phone. But what happens if you’re in the back country, you likely are using offline maps, you don’t have reception, if you don’t have a booster because you’re on foot, then that might not be your primary.
Well, your alternate could be SAT or Iridium, it could be satellite communication, as long as you have a view of the sky, your sound and you’re good. But what if you’re in triple canopy? What if you’re in the forest and not in the open desert? Well then your contingency might be RF or HF-based radio communication. Or it might be a HAM radio. It might be GMRS. It might basically be a walkie talkie. And then my emergency would be, “I have no ability to get communications out, I am resorting back to time and place.” Basic communication. And all of these factors include training, include service and support, where I’m checking the communication and checking and coordinating with people. If your emergency plan is time and place and you haven’t communicated that to your spouse who doesn’t know where to go, or the time in place, then it’s not part of your PACE plan. But if I’m going through my PACE plan, I’ll write it out and I check all my equipment, and then I go to my spouse and say, “Honey, if I’m not back by 12 o’clock noon, I want you to go to the trail head at one. If I’m not there by one, I want you to call the authorities because likely something is wrong, if you can’t ping me on my SAT phone.”
And that’s basic redundancy that could benefit you in every facet of your life and preparedness and everything else you do, ’cause it’s better to have a back-up plan than not.
Brett McKay: Alright. So we talked about resilience. We talked about planning. Another thing you talked about when it comes to mindset, the soft skills is situational awareness. What is situational awareness and how do you develop it?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, the simple answer there is paying attention. And the problem is situational awareness for me, 20 years ago, was just staying focused in the environment. And most of the time when you translated that from military over to civilian life, we were good, we just paid attention because that’s all we had to do. Now with introduction of technology, the integration and saturation of technology, most people aren’t paying attention. So more kids, more teenagers are killed in vehicle accidents than ever in history, because they’re on their cell phones while they’re driving and more accidents are frequent. So when we talk about situational awareness, we’re just saying, “Deliberately pay attention to your environment when it is appropriate because you need your attention, you need that heads-up display to navigate the situation.” As a rule of thumb, for example, driving with your family, you shouldn’t be on your cell phone. Make it a habit to take your cell phone, put it down, get your hands at the 10 and two, and keep your focus on driving versus trying to multi-task while you’re trying to drive with your family. That will increase the probability that you’ll survive. We also mean paying attention in environments where a lot of people who… If I said, “Whatever time I go into a restaurant or a unknown environment, I scan from left to right and look at anomalies or spikes in the pattern.”
People would go, “Oh, you’re paranoid.” And I would go, “No, I’m just paying attention.” Now, these aren’t things that I have to communicate out loud or that shut me down from being able to operate normally in society, these are just methods of focus where I’ll intentionally scan from left to right, I will look at anomalies, I’m not looking at hands and demeanor on every single human being, I’m just looking for things that stand out in the pattern. So most of us, because we are very complacent in our environments, and we’re not paying attention, when we hear spikes, when we see them when we observe them, we begin to get very curious. We pick up our cell phone. We wanna record it. What I tell you is, if you see an anomaly, there needs to be an appropriate action that needs to take place. So if you have a domestic dispute in a restaurant and that is elevating or increasing, then it’s not gonna be just observation and me saying to myself, “Hey, check this out. Look at this crazy stuff that’s happening.”
It’s gonna be, “Honey, let’s go to a different restaurant.” Or, “Can we ask the host? Can we be seated somewhere else away from this? Because if you look at worst case scenarios, something that’s universal about survival and the people that survive is displacing off the X or where the bad stuff is happening. Getting further away with distance, time and as many obstacles as you could put between you and that circumstance. And that comes with observation first and foremost, but the tactics to bear.
So we’re not just identifying, we’re not just observing, but we’re coming up with solutions to react and respond. Lastly on that, most of us default to denial. A good case and point is, if you’re comfortable and you’re sitting upstairs with your wife and you’re watching TV, and you hear a noise downstairs, what’s our immediate default? We write it off. We go, “Oh, that’s the dog.” And your wife’s like, “Honey, we don’t have a dog.” And you’re like, “Oh, well it must be something that fell off the shelf.” Except things just don’t magically fall off the shelf. There’s a cause and effect. Something happened. So make it a habit to say, “Oh, I just heard a noise, I’m going to get up immediately to go identify what that is.” Because more time that goes by, especially the early onset of a disaster, it’s going to lead to that tipping point where there’s no point of return. So build the habit. It’s hard, especially now with cell phones and distractions. But it’s gonna benefit you in the long run.
Brett McKay: Okay, so situational awareness, when you’re in your car, pay attention in your car. Obviously you need do that. But then also when you’re out and about, pay attention to what’s normal in your environment and then what are anomalies. And again, this can be tricky. You have to pay attention ’cause it could differ from place to place, I think you talked about in your book when you were… I think over in Iraq, or Afghan… Over there in the Middle East. The normal situation was for people to be angry at you, yelling at you, and that was normal. The anomaly was when everything was quiet and everyone’s being friendly to you. Then you knew like, “Wait something’s up.” And I think a lot of people, they might think, “Oh, if someone’s friendly to me, everything’s fine.” But it depends on the situation.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, it’s a good point, ’cause there’s environmental factors everywhere you go. And I frequent and travel the country. I used to travel the world. And I could tell you the way I react, the way I adapted environments, the way I maintained situational awareness for each environment that I’m in differs, right? So what I tell people, the best advice would be to lean on intuition, and intuition is just basically a primal survival mechanism to tune into the environment and identify things that will get you killed. So that is the extreme version of that, but in the world and society that we live in today where man-made catastrophes could be somebody getting mugged in the middle of broad daylight at a gas station and you’re in the vicinity and things go really bad on that crisis site, and you could be in harm’s way because of how close you are to that bad situation. So when you’re in these situations, we’re looking for the thing that drives our intuition to go, “Wait something doesn’t seem right here.”
And when you feel that, like I used to tell my guys in special operations, if we’re on a mission, and I have a guy who’s a kid from Wyoming who grew up in the country hunting in the back country of Wyoming, and he says, “Hey. Hey, Mike I got a weird feeling about something.” We stop. And we take a knee, we stop, look, listen, smell. We just try to identify any anomalies in the patterns ourselves, but I’ve turned around and circumvented feelings and intuition that have led us to good outcomes. So have that feeling when you identify it, have an action to displace. And don’t write off things as just, “Oh yeah, it must be.” That is a very complacent mindset in survival, and it’s something that’s very preventable, and read about it on the late night news, ’cause you go to pull in that gas station at two in the morning and you’re like, “Yeah, we probably shouldn’t go to this gas station in this neighborhood at two in the morning. There’s one a little bit further down, or you know what, I’ll just get gas in the morning.” And if something went wrong, you’ll never know about it, but that’s a good thing.
Brett McKay: We’re gonna say a quick break for a word from our sponsors. And now back to the show.
Okay, yeah, so situational awareness. If you notice something then get off the X. Get yourself… Put time, distance between you and whatever is… Potentially is freaking you out. ‘Cause that could potentially save you. So we’ve talked about the mindset stuff. Let’s move into skills. Average guy, what skills or survival skills do you think people should develop and maintain in order to be prepared for most disaster situations?
Michael Oliver: Yeah, the biggest skill set, which I think is the foundation of survival and preparedness is health and wellness and physical fitness. I get guys who show up to my gun fighter pistol course. Which is basically just self-defence pistol. And it’s one nuance of many technical skills that are required, but in statistical probabilities, the less probable. When you take a tourniquet application class, that’s a lot more probable, but likely not gonna show up for that. Now, the guys who show up, a lot of Americans, over 60% of Americans are considered obese or overweight. And when you look at that and you got the guy with 5000 dollars worth of gear and calisthenics are free, we communicate that, “Hey guys, the first step in preparedness here is you showing up as a foundation. I’m not doing a block of instruction on how to do calisthenics. You need to show up fit because that needs to be the foundation.” And we have the conversation. A lot of men don’t wanna have that conversation, but when I see men that are overweight I look at them and go, “Alright, what can we do to get you in better shape.” That’s the foundation. Health and Wellness, which seemingly, in a men’s universe, especially entrepreneurs, is a weakness, right? “If you get four hours of sleep, then you’re grinding, and that’s adapting and that’s success.”
It’s not. Getting seven to 10 hours of sleep a night and taking care of your physical person is the way that you overcome and succeed. So if you don’t have those things, if you don’t get good sleep. If you don’t have good habits built into your routine, including getting physically fit in eating right, you’re not gonna be prepared to do the technical training to become more technically proficient. So you could shoot, move, communicate, but if you can’t pick up your spouse and put it her on our back and run a couple of miles because that might be the natural disaster response of getting away from the wild fire that we saw in Paradise, California, then you’re not going to survive. So it starts with health and wellness and physical fitness as a start point.
Brett McKay: Okay, beyond that, what are some of the more hard skills people should develop?
Michael Oliver: Well, I always consider security as a primary factor. This country is very unique in the fact that we have an American society that has many guns and the bad guys have guns. And I tell people the statistical probability of you using your EDC pistol is very minimized. But the actual statistics of you using that to defend somebody else’s life, including your family or people in your environment are higher because we’re not talking about you being a victim, we’re talking about somebody else potentially being a victim, and you need to be a responsible citizen and Samaritan. So I would weigh security as the primary skillset always. So that’s going to be self-defense, the protocol. But we don’t just teach the technical aspects of drawing the pistol to save the day. We teach people about the psychology of making the decision to have to use deadly force, because it’s a serious decision. That’s important.
Michael Oliver: Other skillsets include survival. So do you have the right equipment? Are you trained on the right protocol? Can you start the fire when you fall in the river on your epic man trip to Alaska? Well, fire starting in the back country is going to be a primary skillset. I tell people, first aid falls in line with survival. Because if you are like me and you do back country hunting and you wanna live this rugged life, and you wanna be in the back country off grid away from people getting balanced and you don’t have the equipment because you are going to be your first response, then that’s a bad set up. You’re setting yourself up for failure. So learning to apply a tourniquet. Learning how to stop the bleed with the right equipment. Those are basic hard skills that everybody needs to learn, which is security, first aid and survival as a start point.
Brett McKay: And the first aid, that can apply in an urban environment too, or just your day-to-day life, you might encounter someone who has a heart attack, right? Do you know what to do when a loved one has a heart attack? Or if you get in that car wreck and there’s some sort of bleeding, would you know what to do to stop the bleeding?
Michael Oliver: Yes. We teach at Fieldcraft Survival, we teach basic CPR. How to utilize an AED. More people are dying from cardiovascular events than ever in the history of this country. Most of it because of bad health and heart disease just being the number one killer of Americans. But if you don’t know how to use an AED and re-kick and start somebody’s heart during a cardiovascular event, they’re in a point of no return. They’re circling the drain, and it’s basic skillsets that take minutes and sometimes in some occasions hours to learn, and you could sustain that training, but also you could include your family, and it makes you more capable as a family unit too, which is very important.
Brett McKay: Wait, another thing with these skills, you just mentioned that you have to sustain them. The skills, they degrade if you don’t practice them, so if you took a CPR class a couple of years ago, you should probably do that again, or if you went to a pistol class a couple of years ago. Well, you should probably be doing more than just that.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, they’re perishable. They’re very perishable. And what I tell people is, for example, if you take a tourniquet. If you carry a tourniquet every day, as part of your staging or load up procedures, we talk about staging because it’s important to stage your equipment out, but it’s more important for the inspection that you do prior before you put it on your person, put it on your physical body, because it builds confidence that you know your equipment. Well, if you pick up your tourniquet and you just unravel it and you kinda look at the components. You might even apply it to your forearm as a practice and then fold it up and put it inside your pocket, that took you less in a minute, but that rehearsal, gets you in the right mindset of doing the mental modeling and practice that are gonna make it easier for you to use that, especially under stress in the worst case scenario. So definitely these are all perishable skills, we tell people… You know… FieldCraft Survival isn’t the end all be all solution in all things, preparedness. Go out and get training from local firefighters, from local institutions. And do it often. That is going to make you better as an individual, and it’s gonna make you better again, as a family unit.
Brett McKay: Alright, let’s talk about the fun stuff. And that’s gear and EDC, Every Day Carry. What do you think are the essentials of an EDC to be prepared for any situation?
Michael Oliver: So it depends on your position in life, because I would say your capacity to carry those things is important as a understanding. Like I’m a father, I have kids. And so I wanna have First Aid on my person to treat them, because certainly kids are at the bottom of the barrel of people who survive and who perish. They’re at the bottom of the barrel because they’re not developed. They don’t have pre-frontal cortexes that are going to rationalize and make good decisions, so we need to do that for them. So mostly I carry a fanny pack. Inside that fanny pack, I carry a 365 AXL macro, which is a 17 plus one round magged gun from Sig. It’s one inch thick so it’s very streamlined. I carry it inside of a FieldCraft fanny pack which I designed for low vis dad operations.
But essentially, you could fit a first aid kit on the front end of that, which is a bleeding control kit. I carry a sure fire cloud defensive light either, or I usually carry a bench-made folding pocket knife inside my pocket in my pants more for utility than anything else. But these are things that I carry, but habits that I institute into my life no matter what. So the pistol is kind of fire and forget, where the pistol exists there, but it’s behind all the things that I use in utility. So it’s not exposed and carrying it a fanny pack allows me to not bear it on my body, and it’s just a lot more comfortable to do it that way.
Your capacity could be increased depending on what you’re doing. A Patagonia fly fishing bag, a purse, a murse, a European man satchel, whatever you’re into, that is going to help you extend your capacity, but carry the right things. The baseline is EDC pistol, a light source, a fire source, and a first aid kit.
Brett McKay: You also talk about the importance of being dressed, to be prepared for any situation. I think you gave an example from when you were in the military, you were wearing flip flops around camp, and your guy was like, No, you shouldn’t do that, and you’re like why. It’s like, well, you’re gonna find out why.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. I look at EDC as not only as what you wear physically, but it’s also your demeanor, your posture. But on the physical side, in that situation where I was wearing flip-flops where I’m like, “Oh, I’m on duty and then I’m off duty.” Well, technically, if you’re living a preparedness lifestyle, you’re always on duty, and so in that case of that capacity, my job was to protect case officers overseas. So there was no off-duty and the place that I was at was very remote, so I had a responsibility to be prepared at all times. And if things went bad, which statistically in that country, they often went bad, I would not be able to effectively and efficiently operate to save people with flip-flops on. So when I go out with my kids, if I’m going somewhere like the zoo, where I could be a mile into the park and something bad happens and I need to pick up my kids and move off the X, then I’m not gonna be wearing flip-flops.
So I look at it as distance and time and my current capability, so from the hat I wear to the sunglasses I bear, down to the shoes that I’m gonna put on, I’m considering all of those factors, and again, it doesn’t have to be difficult to assimilate in your life, because if anything is difficult to assimilate, you’re not gonna do it in your routine, you’re gonna be like, Yeah, that’s cool. But it’s just not comfortable. I’m not gonna do that. I’m not telling you to be uncomfortable, I’m telling you that when you weigh certain factors like, Hey, I’m going to Walt Disney World where you potentially will be miles into the park away from the parking lot, and that you have to get out before everybody else. You might wanna consider dressing the part, parking in the right place, and then looking at a plan to get you out of that worst case scenario with your family in the most effective way. That literally as long as it took me to say is probably how long it takes you to effectively consider those things, so it’s just considerations from head to toe again, including posture.
Brett McKay: Yeah, I thought about, it’s important to dress for the weather, I think there’s always a temptation for people during the winter, it’s cold outside and like, Well, I’m just driving my kid to jujitsu. I’ll just wear shorts, pair of flip-flops, I’ll be fine. Nothing’s gonna happen. Well, you can get a wreck and you’re gonna be outside and it’s gonna be 20 degrees outside in flip-flops and shorts, that’s probably not a good situation to be in, so put on your pants.
Michael Oliver: Yeah. It happens all the time in this country. All the time.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Yeah. Got any recommendations on transportation in a catastrophe.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that we talk about in mobility, we call mobility, basically over-landing or off-roading or recreational travel, but the concept for mobility is your transportation vehicle that you use mostly every day. If you’re listening to me on this podcast, you are likely either in your car or in a place where your car is in the vicinity of you. So your vehicle is a logistical lifeline, and in the worst case scenario, it’s not only a logistical lifeline, it’s literally the vehicle that you’re gonna use to this place to get away from the bad situation. So what we say is, how capable is your vehicle? Does it have the right ground clearance, does it have the right tires, do you have a full tank of gas? And there’s a whole bunch of things, but what I would say is the best consideration from translating EDC and to advancing into more capacity in your vehicle is you just got a big rucksack, it’s the extension of your rock. If I had my rock on my back, well, I have for a certain amount of capability because it’s on my person, it’s on me, but if you look at your vehicle and the empty trunk, the empty dead space you have on your floors, you have a lot of space, so why not fill that void with…
You just used the example. How about shoes? An extra pair of shoes. Extra pair of socks and some cold weather gear, because if you live in Montana, or like I do in Utah, where you have 40-degree swings depending on the day, where it could be snowing in the morning and sunny and 75 in the afternoon… Well, things could happen. And if you have that capacity filled with capability, then your vehicle becomes an extension and it actually expands your capability and survival.
Brett McKay: Do you recommend people will take any sort of driving course or defensive driving courses?
Michael Oliver: Absolutely. I think when you look at the statistics of people dying, tragically motor vehicle accidents, a lot of it, like one example, The number one tragic thing that happens in motor vehicle accidents is over-correcting and then hitting a vehicle head on. So you over-correct because you react, you come off the road, you lose traction and then you snatch to go back the other direction, you catch traction, your wheels aren’t aligned, and then you land dart either into trees or onto oncoming traffic. That is the number one thing that kills people in motor vehicle accidents. So that is a very easy thing to learn, and Team O’Neil, a commercial rally school up in New Hampshire, which I’ve been to several times in the military, but it’s open to civilians as well. So my kids and my children, they’re already in UTVs, they’re four years old and they’re on UTVs and they’re on different kind of power wheels, because they’re learning traction, and I’m teaching them how to drive for fun, but that recreational adaptation of going to go to Rally school is going to help you understand traction and control, which most people don’t.
They get 16 years old, they get the permit, they almost fail because they back into a car, they know nothing about how to drive, so defensive driving and driving schools period, BSR Bondurant, Team O’Neil, very important skill sets to learn, especially at a young age. I think if you’re going, if you’re a man and you’re taking yourself, take your spouse. Include it into a family trip and have them learn as well, ’cause it’s very important.
Brett McKay: Yeah, that idea of stocking your car so you’re prepared for whatever situation, you talk about in the book, your car can serve as a shelter in a bug out situation, so if you’re trying to get to your bug out location, your car can be sort of like a mobile shelter at the same time. And my dad actually experienced this. This was like a lot. This is like 30 years ago, he was driving back from Albuquerque to Oklahoma city. He was on I-40, I think he was right outside of Groom, Texas, and there was a blizzard and it just stopped traffic, and he couldn’t go anywhere, but he had his car really well stocked. Blankets, everything, and he was able to ride it out until the next day when they had the plows come through. But if he didn’t have that stuff, it probably would have not worked out great for him.
Michael Oliver: Yeah. The vehicle is one of the most capable things that we have at our disposable that’s a part of our everyday lives.
Brett McKay: So we’ve talked about having plans for your home in the event of a disaster or catastrophe, having a fire plan, A bug-out plan, but anything we should think about, just the physical aspect of our home that we need to gear up on, so we’re ready for any situation.
Michael Oliver: Yeah. Your homestead or your house is certainly going to be your bed down location in the worst case scenario. Most people aren’t gonna bug out and go to grandma’s in the worst case, they’re gonna go home, and most people’s homes aren’t homestead on five acres off grid, most people live in apartments and condominiums and suburban homes, and so what I tell people is the number one factor is most of your reliance is outsourced in institutions. So your water is connected to city plumbing, your trash is taken by trash guys, your security is outsourced to first responders, your healthcare to the hospital and the insurance company. So what I would say is start insourcing as many things as you can to not rely on supply chains when they fall apart because there’s a gas strike. Just these little nuanced things that happen, if they happen in a certain sequence, they could disrupt our lives entirely. We saw that during the pandemic, where people were fighting over toilet paper.
Well, how about you think about capacity, even if you live in an apartment complex, people ask me all the time, Mike, how much food, how much water, how much hygiene. And I said, Well, what’s your budget? How much are you willing to invest in your resources and your sustaining survivability over the long haul. How much do you care about this idea of being prepared, because that’s really the question. If you cut back on your Starbucks habits or your coffee habits every day, your energy drink at the local 7-11, then $5 a day will be a real sound investment in building your food and water supply, so take a slot closet that you have that has a broom, take that, remove it, make it your preparedness closet and start stock piling on the things that you need in the worst case scenario, start looking at insourcing and taking back these things that you’ve outsourced so much, and you don’t have to get crazy, you don’t have to grow a garden in your apartment.
What I’m saying is like, Have you ever hunted? Because most of your protein in your refrigerator, you likely buy from a local grocery store, but if you hunt, you could fill your freezer with good protein that could feed your family for a year, and also the process of preparing and getting ready for the hunt and then exposing your family and yourself to that is gonna build resilience, so that’s a good start point, so it starts with the microcosm of looking at your space and then building out, and it’s a constant UDA loop, it never is like I’m standing on the pinnacle and the high horse of preparedness. And I’m prepped, I’m prepared. This is a constant work in ethic.
Brett McKay: And then you also talk about the importance of thinking intentionally about home security, so putting layers and a lot of people don’t even think about home security except for locking the door, but there’s more you could do.
Michael Oliver: Yeah. I’m a technical guy, I’m a technical nerd, it was part of my expertise in special operations. And when I look at mitigating risk, I look at early warning as a number one security protocol in home defense, a lot of people think of home defense as you’re shot gun in your closet, if you got to your shot gun in your closet and you’re racking it, a lot of things have gone wrong. So I look at observation and fields of fire obstacles, these basic things I learned in the military, but what you could do to start it off right is look at closed circuit Television cameras, I mean technology and adapting, things like Vivint and your home security plan, where you can have sensors, you can have cameras in certain positions where it notifies you via text if somebody’s standing in your driveway, and then it turns on an early warning device that says, “Hey, you’re being videotaped.” Those things are going to mitigate risk, most certainly in your home, over the last ditch, worst case scenario where you’re thinking about the firearm and tool, think about it all, but certainly integrate technical security into your home defense plan.
Brett McKay: You also talk about the importance of developing social connections in being prepared, what role does social connections have in being prepared for a disaster.
Michael Oliver: Yeah, the lone wolf idea briefs well. I like Mark Wahlberg’s depiction in Shooter. I was a sniper, I wanted to live that life. I did for a little bit in Colorado, and then about a week into it, I was like, Yeah, this isn’t fun anymore. I don’t have anybody to talk to. It’s just me and the dog. And the reality is, every single major catastrophe we’re talking were war II to a hurricane in Florida, the way to survive is through your social networks, the people that you’re gonna lean on are gonna be your neighbors, and more so in our communities we don’t know our neighbors, we don’t know the people who live above and below us in the same apartment complex, all I want you to do is build your social connections and have those conversations, Hey John, we’re neighbors. If something goes bad, what’s your capabilities versus what’s mine.
Start developing assets versus liabilities. And most people think their liabilities because they don’t have a specific skill set, but I promise if you’re a breathing walking human being, you have assets to bear, you just haven’t identified them yet. So maybe you’re the morale booster or maybe you’re the person who’s very organized, who could put a list together, a communication plan? It’s one of the reasons we started Americancontigency.com, is developing these social networks across the country where people come together, they’re doctors, lawyers, blue-collar people, just normal human beings trying to live their best life, and they start building these things called communities back into the fabric of our country, because you’re certainly going to lean on that when things go wrong.
Brett McKay: Well, Mike this has been a great conversation, where can people go to learn more about the book and your work…
Michael Oliver: So prepared is available right now. It’s a manual for surviving worst case scenarios, it’s everywhere that books are found, you could probably find it at your local vendor or on Amazon. And we’re launching an application the same day in conjunction with this, because prepared is like, Hey, this is preparedness. It’s not that scary. We hope that you wanna get education on this, and so we develop an application on fieldcraftssurvival.com is where you can find it. But the idea is, it’s not just like all the scary stuff, it’s like canning and jarring, it’s family preparedness, it’s CPR, it’s CPR for kids. It’s basic stuff that is gonna allow you to get educated virtually, and then all of our stuff is available online for free, the fieldcraft survival application, you can get free content, the fieldcraft channel on YouTube and the field craft survival podcast. Those are all free resources to see what we’re talking about when we talk about this idea of being prepared.
Brett McKay: Fantastic. What, Mike Glover. Thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure.
Michael Oliver: Thanks for having me. Was an honor.
Brett McKay: Well, my guest here is Mike Glover, he’s the author of the book Prepared, it’s available on Amazon.com and book stores everywhere, you can find more information about his work at his website, fieldcraftssurvival.com. Also check in our show notes at AOM.is/prepared where you can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
Well, that wraps up another edition of the AOM podcast. Make sure to check our website: Theartofmanliness.com, you’ll find our Podcast archives, as well as thousands of articles that we’ve written over the years about pretty much anything you think of. And if you’d like to enjoy ads free episodes of the AOM podcast, you do so on Stitcher Premium, head over to Stitcherpremium.com, sign up using code: Manliness to check out for a free month trial. Once you’re signed up, download the Stitcher app on Android, iOS, to enjoy ads free episodes of th AOM podcast. And if you’ve done so already, I’d appreciate if you take one minute to give reviews on Apple podcast or Spotify, helps a lot. And if you’ve done that already, thank you, please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member, who you think can get something out of it. As always, thanks for the continued support, until next time, it’s Brett Mckay, reminding you to not only listen to the AOM podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.