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J.J. Cummings

“Former TOP GUN Pilot and Commanding Officer of USS Gerald R Ford shares sea & combat stories to impart critical leadership lessons learned.”


About Me

CAPTAIN J.J. “Yank” Cummings, United States Navy (Retired)

J.J. Cummings brings three decades of inspiring military leadership to share as s podcast guest.

Responsible for what the Navy Times called the "Miracle Makeover" of the aircraft carrier USS GERALD R. FORD, he has led thousands of men and women in high-stress, "no-fail" environments. His approach to leadership helped his teams succeed and accomplish challenging missions in the unforgiving world of aircraft carrier and fighter aviation.

Using a "SHOW them you care" leadership style, J.J. improved the morale, culture and performance of each organization he led. He is a powerful storyteller and presenter who translates his military perspective and experience into business world concepts. With an understandable, memorable and engaging style, J.J. uses unique military stories to stress the vital importance of:

  • Clear mission communication
  • A questioning attitude
  • Lead by walking around
  • Earning trust and respect
  • Honest briefing and debriefing
  • Ownership
  • Showing genuine empathy

He also shares personal examples that illustrate how, after straying from his leadership fundamentals, he turned mistakes into opportunities.

J.J., a former Navy fighter pilot, was the Commanding Officer of the most technologically advanced vessel in the world, the nuclear-powered USS GERALD R. FORD. He was also Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ, Commanding Officer of the amphibious assault ship USS ANCHORAGE, and Commanding Officer of an FA-18F Super Hornet squadron.

He was the first Technical Advisor for the 2022 film, TOPGUN Maverick.

Prior to assuming command positions, J.J. was an F-14 Tomcat instructor pilot, a TOPGUN graduate, and successfully completed the prestigious Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program.

He completed multiple overseas aircraft carrier deployments, logged 3,900 hours in fighter aircraft and has 137 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds a B.A. in Physics, an M.S. in Education and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Discover More

J.J. Cummings Leadership

Learn how to lead with confidence, build a committed team, earn trust and respect, and create a healthy workplace culture with insights from a Navy leader.


TOPGUN Maverick Panel discussion with JJ "Yank" Cummings (First Technical Advisor), Kevin "Proton" McGlaughlin (Former Commanding Officer of TOPGUN), and Amy...

J.J.'s highlight reel

Show them you care by being a hugger, not a hammer

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