Tag Archives: Mike Hayes

Roundup: School Reopening, Seed Exchange, Leadership, More


Westport’s elementary and middle school open for full in-person on February 1.

A new Westport Public Schools website offers information on the transition. it includes details on schedules, specials, health and safety, lunch and recess, mitigation and hygiene strategies, classroom cohorts, special education, transportation, technology and more.

Click here for the elementary school page. Click here for the middle school page.


Talented Westport photographer Ted Horowitz posted this photo to his Instagram this morning:

He took the shot years ago at sunrise, in the Lincoln Memorial.

“In the silence of dawn, with golden light reflecting on the statue, the  the sense of gravity and majesty was overwhelming,” he says.

“It was a hopeful moment, as morning light poured in and a  day dawned once again. I felt that this image was appropriate for today, as we seeking relief from the past 4 years, and are hopeful for the new day which is about to begin.”


Next Thursday (January 28) is National Seed Exchange Day.

Stumped for a celebration? Head to the Westport Farmers’ Market. It’s (no coincidence) their annual seed exchange.

People can bring seeds saved from their gardens — or take home a few saved by others.

WFM farmers will donate seeds from their favorite crops for the community to try at home. All seeds except invasive species are welcome, but the market urges people to bring and take home heirloom or organic varieties. (Click here for a list of invasive plants.)

Heirloom seeds are critical to reclaiming the food system. They’re open-pollinated plants passed down from generation to generation, without human intervention or manipulation. They taste better, are more nutritious, and help protect plant diversity.

“Collecting, sharing, and growing seeds saved by our very own shoppers, farmers and vendors – especially heirloom varieties – involves the community personally in the promotion of local food and flora,” says Farmers’ Market executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall.

“This year more than ever we want to seed the year with love and health.”

The seed exchange runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or until all seeds are shared —  on January 28th at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Avenue.

Experts will be on hand to informally discuss the importance of seed saving.


Yesterday’s mention of Capuli — the new restaurant in the old Westport Pizzeria location across from Bank of America — may have left the impression that it’s a pizza place.

It’s not.

The California-Mediterranean fusion menu — filled with healthy options — includes appetizers like chimichurri shrimp skewers and grilled octopus, and entrees like eggplant polenta Napoleon, pansotti, classic New York steak and California hamburger.

Click here for the mouth-watering lunch and dinner menus.


Mike Hayes is a 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, with service in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He had defense policy and strategy roles in the Bush and Obama administrations.

He’s got a master’s in public policy from Harvard, and is the author of an inspirational book, “Never Enough.”

Hayes is also a Westporter. And on February 4 (7 p.m.), he’ll share his thoughts on leadership with former Westport Library trustee Maggie Mudd.

He’ll talk about how decisions get made, particularly under duress; crisis management, conflict resolution and more. Leadership lessons are applicable to every walk of life, Mudd notes.

Click here to register for the free virtual program.

Mike Hayes


And finally (and I do mean “finally”) …

Mike Hayes: Lessons Learned From A Lifetime Of Service

Mike Hayes was born into the Navy.

His grandfather was at Pearl Harbor on the day that lives in infamy. His father served too. The family moved often.

After high school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Hayes entered College of the Holy Cross on a ROTC scholarship.

Navy SEALs were less well known than today. But the more he learned, the more eager he was to join. After graduation in 1993, he was one of only 12 ROTC candidates nationwide selected for the elite unit.

His SEALs training class started with 120 members. Just 19 graduated.

After 10 years, Hayes applied for a Navy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was the first SEAL accepted.

In 2005, 8 SEALs were killed in a helicopter crash. Hayes took over for the survivors. He spent 3 years in Iraq, rising to second in command of SEAL Team 10. That culminated with 8 months as the number 2 man for special operations in Anbar Province.

In his mid-30s, Hayes applied for a fellowship. He became a White House Fellow. In 2 years as director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council, he worked directly with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

It was quite a time. Just 10 days in, he ran meetings in the White House Situation Room about the START Treaty. He helped negotiate in Russia, and handled Obama’s first foreign policy showdown, with John Brennan: a hijacking off the coast of Somalia.

In 2012 he was asked to take over SEAL Team 2, running operations in Afghanistan.

After 20 years in the military — where he was held at gunpoint, jumped out of a building rigged to explode, and helped amputate a teammate’s leg — Hayes retired. He joined private industry, working as chief of staff to Ray Dalio, and COO, at Bridgewater Associates.

That brought Hayes to Westport — to work and live.

Mike Hayes

In 2017 he pivoted again. A friend started Cognizant, a company offering digital, technology, consulting and operations services. Hayes is now senior vice president and head of strategic operations.

In the military, Hayes always wrote. In emails to his family, he said how much he loved them — in case those were his last words they’d ever read.

Now he’s written a book. Encouraged by feedback after public speaking — another of his talents — he decided to share his dramatic stories, and high-stakes lessons learned about excellence and leadership.

Never Enough: A Navy Seal Commander on Living a Life of Excellence, Agility, and Meaning offers lessons from both the battlefield and boardroom. Hayes focuses on what it means to do work of value, live a life of purpose, and stretch yourself to reach your highest potential.

Not everyone can be a Navy SEAL — or work with presidents and hedge fund titans. But, Hayes says, everyone can always try to be a better person.

“Each person has unique gifts,” he explains. He is guided by a Jesuit principle of service to community and planet taught at Holy Cross: “men and women, for and with others.”

Hayes puts his money — literally — where his mouth is. When Never Enough is published next February, he’ll donate all profits to a non-profit he began. One of Hayes’ longtime passions is Gold Star families. He’s already paid mortgages for some. Now, he’ll be able to cover even more.

Hayes’ book is aimed at an international audience. But — since moving to Westport in 2013, after a lifetime of moves — his feet are firmly planted in this community.

He was energized by the town’s spirit during Westport’s run to the Little League World Series final that summer. His children were athletes here, and Hayes has spoken to Staples High School teams about leadership. He’s also addressed the annual “Sticks for Soldiers” lacrosse event.

Our town is less familiar with the military than many others, Hayes notes. But Westporters serve and sacrifice in other ways.

“Everyone has something to offer,” he says. In his new book, he hopes to inspire readers — his neighbors here, and strangers everywhere — to ask themselves: “How can I do better? How can I do more?”

After a lifetime of service to others, Mike Hayes knows that is still never enough.

(To preorder Never Enough, click here.)