Who is Jay Dobyns?

In case you haven’t already heard of him, Jay Dobyns is a retired Special Agent with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, University of Arizona football standout, New York Times Best-Selling author, actor, public speaker and high school football coach.

Jay is the author of several books about infiltrating the Hell’s Angels and being betrayed by the government he worked for. He is the inspiration behind the new Gerard Butler’s character “Big Nick” in the recently released movie, Den of Thieves.

Spotter Up caught up with Jay for a quick question and answer session about life, philosophy and teamwork.

Q. Where are you from originally?

A. Indiana.

Q.Tell us about your line of work.

A. Federal Agent, retired, 27 years, undercover.

Q. How did law enforcement career change you?

A. It gave me sense of helping others. It also exposed me to things I would never want anyone else to see or experience.

“Energy. Effort. Attitude.”

Q. What three words best describe your personality and how does it translate into your line of work?

A. Energy. Effort. Attitude. Those traits will help you achieve in any line of work.

Q.What is your favorite book?

A. No Angel or Catching Hell, haha.

The cover of Jay’s book No Angel.

Q. What is your favorite food?

A. Tacos.

Q. Favorite song and how did it affect you?

A.Gimme Shelter. Historical significance.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to when you work out?

A. 60s/70s RB.

Q.Anything on your bucket list?

A. Move to the beach some day.

Q. What is your training philosophy?

A. I’m not here to f%$& around.

Q. What is the most important lesson you learned in life so far?

A. Be humble and gracious.

Q. What motivates you?

A. Fear of failure.

Q. What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

A. My wife.

Q. What’s your best talent?

A. Screwing things up.

Q. What is your biggest weakness?

A. Seeing people bullied or preyed upon.

Q. Do you ever find yourself in a creative dry spell?

A. I have lots of different projects working so when I’m stagnant on one, I move to another until something hits me.

Q. How do you challenge yourself at work?

A. Trying to be the best at whatever it is I am doing.

Q. What’s one professional or creative thing on your bucket list?

A. I would like to paint something some day that would not be embarrassing for others to see.

Q. Who is your mentor today?

A. God.

Q. Future Plans?

A. Live where I can surf every day.

Q. What personal struggles have you had and how did you overcome them?

A. Failure, many, many of them. Perseverance to pick myself up and try to fix them.

Q. What has been your biggest success to date?

A. My kids.

Q.What mental or physical areas did you personally struggle with and how did you overcome them?

A. Selfishness. Still working on the answer to that.

Q. What do you tell yourself when things look bleak?

A. When things are bad, hang on, they will get better. When things are good, enjoy them, they are going to get worse.

“When things are bad, hang on, they will get better.”

Q. What do you specifically do for goal setting?

A. Write them down.

Q. Any lesson learned today that you wish knew a few years ago?

A. Goals change, roll with it, don’t fight it.

Q. Where does your motivation come from?

A. The satisfaction of proving people wrong.

Q. Who is your hero in life?

A. My dad.

Q. Tell me about things that didn’t go the way you wanted it, and how you moved on to a better success. I mean, really, what is your biggest failure to date?

A. I failed as a football player. I wasn’t able to achieve my goals. When that door closed the door to law enforcement opened. It worked out the way it was supposed to.

Q. What has been your biggest success to date?

A. My kids.

Q. Have you ever completely annihilated yourself before?

A. Every day. Not a night comes where I don’t lay my head down and ask for forgiveness for all the things I did or said wrong, what I didn’t do or say that would have been right.

Q. What mental or physical areas did you personally struggle with and how did you overcome them?

A. Depression. I fight it non stop. I took medication for a while, but now I just confront it and ride out the wave.

Q. So, what is your training philosophy?

A. Do the best you can in whatever you are doing, wherever you are at.

Q. What do you believe to be the most important value that a leader should have? Please provide an example of how you have displayed that value in your role as a leader.

A. Trust others. You are never the smartest person in the room.

Q. The Spotter Up motto is, “Find a way or make one.” Give an example of when you have applied this concept in your career, or in your day to day life.

A. Been told many times something is impossible. That is all I need to hear. Give me a minute and let me show you.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to the future leaders in the military, what would that be and why?

A. Others before self.

Q. Describe a time that you witnessed what you believe to be a failure in leadership, or felt as though you had failed as a leader. What would you change about how the situation was handled for a better outcome?

A. Seeing people ignore the wrong for self-preservation or comfort. The right thing to do is always the right thing, even if no one else is doing it.

Q. Describe a situation in which you learned something about being a leader that affected how you now fulfill your role.

A. Don’t ask someone else to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest strength as a leader?

A.Respect and admiration for great effort.

Q. What area do you feel you need to improve upon the most as a leader?

A. Delegation. I tend to try and do too much myself to make sure it is done the way I want. Trust others.

Q. Please describe a situation in which you disagreed with a decision of a fellow leader, and how you handled the situation.

A. I spoke up. Cowards keep their mouths closed when they are afraid to say they believe something is wrong.

Q. What techniques would you use to bring about comradery and cohesion in a group that lacked these things?

A. Get to know people beyond the surface. Their families, hobbies, passions, goals, objectives.

Q. How would you motivate a team to accomplish a task that they view as undesirable?

A. Show them the end game. If something is easy, then everyone would be doing it.

Q. What are some techniques you have used to gain the trust and support of your team?

A. Let them see that you are vulnerable. It makes you real.

Q. Please provide an example how you have handled conflict between team members effectively.

A. No one accomplishes anything on their own. Show them how they contribute individually to a greater good.

Q. Describe a time where you felt you went above and beyond your job description to fulfill your moral obligations as a leader.

A. When I stood up to the government for their abuse of undercover agents.

Q. What motivates you to be a good leader?

A. Trust from others.

Q. Who is someone that you look to as a leadership role model, and why?

A. Pat Tilman. Selfless sacrifice for something larger than himself.

Q. Describe a situation in which you were inspired by another leader to be a good role model.

A. Kindness and encouragement to someone struggling or less fortunate.

Q. In your line of work, you are often asked to make intelligent decisions that affect your life and the life of those around you in dangerous situations. What advice would you offer to those new to this field who struggle with keeping a level head in the line of duty?

A. Everyone comes home at night.

Q. Any last lesson for our readers?

A. The Golden Rule.

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For more information on Jay or to schedule one of his trainings click here

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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By Bill Farmer

Bill Farmer is a 12 year law enforcement veteran He is a defensive tactics, tactical driving and active shooter instructor. Bill has worked in school resource, violent crimes, plain clothes and patrol assignments. Bill is an avid outdoorsman, backpacker, hunter and shooter.

One thought on “Spotter Up Interview: Jay Dobyns, Author and Retired Federal Agent”
  1. I attended a debrief with this dude as part of an investigative course we did for my former agency. That guy is off the hook, huge brass balls. The Red and White still deny he infiltrated. Amazing what he did and the way he got treated after.

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