GAIN THE PASSION
GAIN THE PASSION
May 27, 2022

Marty Strong - Navy SEAL: Be Nimble and Be Proactive

Marty Strong - Navy SEAL: Be Nimble and Be Proactive

Marty Strong has been a leader for decades, first in uniform as a combat-decorated Navy SEAL, and then in commercial business. In this episode, Marty discusses his career as a Navy Seal and prolific author – the rigors of Navy Seal training, and the transition from a military career to the business world.

After leaving military service Marty spent seven years as a successful investment advisor focused on high net worth clients, ending that phase of his career at the United Bank of Switzerland. He transitioned into business management as a senior vice president for a billion-dollar-a-year defense contracting company.

In 2009, he joined a small, early-stage growth company in this same industry as an equity partner. Since then, Marty has led first one, then two employee-owned healthcare startups as CEO, and Chief Strategy Officer.

He is a thought provoking guest with over 350 appearances to his credit on national cable TV. He is a popular Podcast personality and has conducted hundreds of stimulating interviews in large metro radio markets across the United States. Marty plans to continue writing business insight books over the next few years and is currently working on, Be Exceptional: Personal and Professional Leadership in the age of Optimization.

Episode Transcript
https://www.gainthepassionpodcast.com/marty-strong-navy-seal-be-nimble-and-be-proactive/#transcript

Learn more about Marty Strong
https://martystrongbenimble.com/

Find out more about GAIN THE PASSION Coaching
https://www.gainthepassion.com
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Transcript
Voiceover:

This episode is brought to you by GAIN THE PASSION Coaching and Consulting. Visit gainthepassion.com to find out more about our coaching, consulting, training and speaking services. Welcome to GAIN THE PASSION with hosts Todd Foster, Alyssa Stanley and Kelley Skar.

Alyssa Stanley:

Thank you for joining us today, Marty.

Marty Strong:

Thank you for having me.

Alyssa Stanley:

All right, let's take a minute and you give us kind of an overview of who is Marty Strong.

Marty Strong:

I guess at the core, I'm, I'm a Nebraska farm boy, even though I didn't grow up on a farm, both my parents were Depression era farmers, children, oh, farmers, and big families, etc. And, in case my mom, she moved to Sioux City, Iowa, pretty early in her childhood, my dad ended up moving off the farm, he was the youngest of six kids, when his father was killed in a tractor accident at the age of like 26, or 27. So he worked the farm with his siblings for a little bit, ended up moving to Sioux City and my grandmother worked in the Singer sewing factory for 40 years. So I say that because that is, you know, your traditional typical World War Two, pop up generation. Background and anybody it's a baby boomer that comes from that background, you know, you, you always return things and you make sure they look better than when you borrowed them. There's all those cliche lines and you know, you don't get an allowance, you don't work here, you you're part of the family, on and on and on. So that kind of that kind of start really shaped me as a person. And I ended up leaving Nebraska when I was 17 to join the Navy, and ended up in basic SEAL training. And eventually having successfully completed that ended up in the SEAL teams starting out at SEAL Team Two on the East Coast. As an enlisted man. I was enlisted for 10 years and got to the rank of chief petty officer had been going to school at night and was selected for Officer Candidate School. So then I went to officers candidate school and it was a seal officer. For the next 10 years for a 20 year career. I finished that I went into financial services versus a financial advisor for Legg Mason wood Walker out of Baltimore. And then I moved after a couple years to United Bank of Switzerland as a portfolio manager. And all in about seven and a half years and that career track, then 911 happened, sold my book of business to another broker, because I didn't feel comfortable making money for people while the war was starting up. And they wouldn't let me back in there was no real capacity for me in the government because of my, my disability with my back. So I went ahead and started doing consulting on counterterrorism and anti terrorism, did that for a couple years as a consultant ended up with a large defense firm. And eventually with a very small defense firm, as a as an equity partner. And I am CEO and Chief Strategy Officer of a an ESOP an employee owned enterprise that has two operating companies, the original government contracting company, I joined about 12 years ago, and a healthcare company that I worked to purchase about five years ago. So there's actually two operating companies, and then I'm in a management holding company about

Kelley Skar:

Wow. So first off, I want to thank you for your them. service. It's, it's amazing to me, I just I Todd and Alyssa will tell you, I'm obsessed with the SEAL mindset and it's just it's it's such an interesting culture, you know, being on the outside and having the opportunity to look at it from you know, multiple books. And obviously, it's become, I think, more and more part of, you know, part of our kind of our culture as a society as a whole, you know, more popular Navy SEALs or become you know, the movie Navy SEALs with Charlie Sheen. I think maybe it started there. And it just kind of unfolded the, you know, the more and more the seals were became part of the, you know, part of the conversation part of the media, but I don't want to go there just yet. What I'm really interested to know is we're, we're seeing a lot of seals, you know, leave, leave the teams leave the service, and enter into corporate America and enter into business. I'm curious what the crossover is between seal mindset and success in business like what is it that no, I'm not saying that every seal leaves the teams and goes into businesses and is a success, but there are a select few that either go into corporate America or they they write books and they go on the speaking tours and all this stuff. What is it what's the crossover? What is it that that makes these people so special that there is a certain level of success that they can achieve outside of the teams?

Marty Strong:

Well, the first one would like think would be the discipline that goes along with not being willing to quit. And that's a selected character trait. It's not something that they train you to do. It's, they test you. And they run you through all kinds of different challenges in the beginning to weed out the personalities and I guess the cycle, the psychology profiles, that kind of grin and bear it. And and then later on, they do they just keep amping up those those experiences those challenges, not so they're testing to see if you're going to break whatever. But just so that you realize that, when you're going to be used as a seal, that's going to be in a really crazy dramatic and sometimes I guess, unsafe way, because you're you're designed to go in and the Army Special Forces and, and marine, Special Forces MARSOC. Now the Marine Raiders, same kind of pedigree, you're supposed to go out and do something that the conventional forces can't do for some reason. And Mission Impossible is kind of kind of a quaint way of putting it because if it can be done by a jet, if it can be done by an artillery round, if it could be done by conventional infantry force, they'd be there, they'd be the ones doing it. And that's they have missions, and they're well defined, and they're equipped for that. But go find some guy in the middle of nowhere, where there's bad guys everywhere, and it's not clearly a war, or it's not a well defined boundaries of, of, of who the good guys are. And the bad guys are having discretion and being able to exercise judgment on the scene with what you see. And being trusted, to have the intellect to have that judgment. These are all things that are unique to Special Forces, Special Operations and to the seals. So those character traits, which you have, I think they're innate, when you're when you first come to the process. They, they, they rise to the top and then they get honed and trained and sharpened. Now when you step out of uniform, you may not know how to apply them in the outside commercial context. And that's usually the wandering part for most of the guys in Special Ops, when they get out they go from having a an intense, fulfilling, very, very high value task in life. Because nobody sends them to do something that's frivolous. And suddenly, you're out there and you ask, you know, you're being interviewed. And you say, Well, what are you guys? What's your goal? Oh, we're trying to get our EBITA up to so and so. And it just, it falls flat. And none of the none of that makes make sense it or clicks. So the hard part of this is, I'm actually working with the seal veterans foundation right now, to define this interesting question. Nobody's ever asked me that before. To try to figure out is it one path or multiple paths, and I think we're at the point now, it's, it's like any other person in the United States coming out of high school, whatever, what's going to drive your passion? What's going to excite you? You know, what do you align with, economically, because some people want a job, they can't become a self made entrepreneur, that takes a lot of risk. And maybe you're Hawking your home and you maybe have little kids and stuff. So there's there's essentially the same approach. And like when it color's your parachute for seals, I like that plan if the parachute jump. And we have to lay out all these different lanes and all these different levels on the ladders for each of these lanes. And, and then it's like anybody else? Where are they going to sync up? Where are they going to line? Where are they going to feel comfortable? But they're almost everybody has that first disconnect I did to that. You come out and it's you know, for God country, you're always the missions are always about real bad guys. You're you're protecting you're rescuing people that would die otherwise, and you go from this level of wow, this has got to happen because we've got to do this because it's so important to it's a paycheck.

Todd Foster:

Marty. I love your last name Marty strong. So when you came out of the womb, you knew you're going to be a Navy SEAL. And you probably thought to yourself I don't want to be a Navy SEAL yet with a name Marty Strong. You must be a Navy SEAL. At what point in your young life did you say you know what? With a name Marty Strong, I'm going to be a Navy SEAL.

Unknown:

I don't think I thought that until the day I graduated from SEAL training. I I was a very undersized guy going in there. And I mean, if you can imagine somebody who's 17 and 125 pounds, trying to do a walk on to the Cornhuskers or Notre Dame's football teams. That's how bad he was like, you know, the Rudy thing. And there were other other guys my size but out of our class of 126 probably 80% of them look like super athletes, you know, and I was in awe and I didn't think there was a chance in hell I was going to get through the whole thing. And you end up getting a humility along with understand And what's your, what's your risk tolerance is and what kind of your internal drive is as you're going through the six month process. And that humility keeps you from asking that question or assuming that until the day till the day, you actually hear the bell ring when your class leader rings the bell three times at graduation, which brings your class out, and now you're going off to be a seal the SEAL team. And that moments when you stop looking over your shoulder wondering when they're gonna say Just kidding you out of here.

Todd Foster:

What I love about it is that you clearly have changed. Now you look like you're 350 all muscle and six foot 10. For those that can't see you.

Marty Strong:

I'm sitting on a book. Yeah.

Todd Foster:

Yeah, when you think about the mental mindset, because we've discussed the Navy Seals and how it is all mental, and who you are the guy that's not the, I guess, typical picture of a Navy SEAL. And I'm guessing there's also people that were much bigger than you, who did not make it through the entire seal program, because they were thinking that they could get through it with their physical. And so their mental abilities. My question for you is this I follow a lot about military PTSD. And one thing I don't see, at least from my perception is that the seals and the rangers and things aren't having the issues that other people are having, although it sounds like you probably see worse things than most enlisted people do. Is that true? Or is it something that maybe the seals and all these elite teams are discussing or exactly what is that?

Marty Strong:

It's not true? Statistically, it's true that PTSD for more for most units, and most members of units that weren't elite, is derived from some other things. It might be a traumatic event, something they did or participated in, or something they witnessed. And that's kind of what the classic images of being shell shocked are or battle fatigue cetera, what is now PTSD. I think in the elite forces, it goes to what I was saying about the fog and the wandering, after you're out of uniform, you lose yourself, you are a part of something that's extremely impressive, you come right out of multiple rotations of battle, and either because of being wounded, and you can't go can't stay. Or because the war ends, whatever. And I when I was in the Vietnam guys, we're all kind of in the same mode, you know, what do I do if I know what I'm really great at, I know I should be used for but there's no reason for me, there's no purpose. At least if I'm in the team, I'm around guys like me. But if I leave the team, I've lost all that. And I've left all that behind me. And it's not that it's not gonna be found outside. So my understanding nowadays, it's mostly about the lack of connectedness with the other guys, the other warriors, the other people that they knew, first off the big feeling of guilt, that you aren't back in the fight. I was funny. I mean, as soon as I saw the second plane hit the tower, and I've been retired for six years, I immediately thought, how the hell do I get back in? Now I've got a guy working for me right now. That's exactly what he did. He quit his job. And he went, went right to the SEAL team on base here and said, How do I do it? And four or five months later, they'd gotten back in and lots and lots of guys did that in all the service all the services, but that's, that is a psychological problem if you can't figure out what you are and what matters anymore. And it's a little bit different than the trauma related PTSD cause and effect.

Kelley Skar:

Well, it's almost like they it's not that they train your personality out of you but they just they have you so laser focused on you know, like that front sight focus, right that that mission mentality. It's it's everything to do with the SEAL teams, everything to do with the with the mission, everything to do with the training, and you're just so immersed in it. And once once you leave that once that once you leave that immersion, there's just like you said, you're just kind of wandering through life at that point. So I'm interested to hear about your work with with the the seal, what is it the seal? SEAL Foundation, SEAL Veterans Foundation. SEAL Veterans Foundation, so what is it that you guys are what's the focus there? Is it helping guys transition out of the teams out of special forces out of those endless groups and into regular corporate life or just isn't managing life just simply or is it kind of all encompassing?

Unknown:

Yes. Okay, that's the problem. That's the problem. I spent three hours with one of the people from the foundation last week. You can't be all things to all people, unless you have you know, $100 million sitting in the bank. And then you can you can try to be all things to all be People, but there are so many different resources and so many different channels and lanes out there, which, you know, weren't around after Vietnam, but they're there now, which is great. So what we were thinking was that, you know, is there a niche that that the foundation can focus on. And it's not transition assistance, in the way it's practiced in the military, which is, you know, how to wear a suit how to how to write a resume, how to do an interview, that kind of stuff, which that's, that's good if you've never done all those things, but it's more about the reality of the jobs outside that are available to you. And I give speeches and I and I give pro bono speeches to military groups. And, and I've evolved over the last couple of years into more of a scared, straight, tough love kind of approach to the speech. And I'll just ask everybody, you know, how long did it take for you to become a seal? Or how long did it take for you become a ranger Marine, where you are in good standing, you are considered what they call an operator, somebody would go to combat, anybody would trust that they wouldn't mess up? And the answer is usually three years, on average. So why would you expect if you come out of uniform that you can go work for target, or you can go work for IBM, or you can go work, you know, start your own landscaping company, and it's going to happen any sooner than three years. That's, that's the way the universe works. You have to start out as an apprentice, you got all the drive you got, you got so much more going for you that you don't understand. But everybody has to start and understand the business you want to you want to own a restaurant, go work in a restaurant, learn all the parts and pieces of being in a restaurant, don't, don't just come in and say because I'm a seal, and I had enough money to buy a restaurant, my restaurant is gonna be successful, you may try to outwork that that problem said, it's not going to work because you're not that you're still an apprentice. Right? So that's I think we're we're kind of honing in on is a high, you know, highest and best use for that particular Foundation. Because and then the other thing is to be phone a friend and pass it for find all these other organizations. And if you have issues with your financial management, if you have issues with a medical problem, if you have issues with you know, getting a college education, something, be a link set up, set up a structure that they can come in there, and we're a hub for passing the baton to the right, the right organization that's doing it well in a niche fashion.

Todd Foster:

One thing you learned when you were in the Navy SEALs was things don't always go as planned, is that correct?

Marty Strong:

Never go as planned. But we always have to have a really cool plan and rehearse that plan, even though we all know it's not gonna go to plan.

Todd Foster:

All right. And so you can have a crisis there. And what I like about Be Nimble is that you discuss crisis management. Could you discuss and tell our listeners what you mean by that when it comes down to business itself?

Marty Strong:

Sure. So I put the word creative in the subtitle, the creative Navy SEAL mindset. Because in thinking about what what was different Think, think of this. Yeah, Navy SEALs, and they all have to pass a certain IQ, competency test. That's way up there with other sailors that are operating computers and missile systems and everything. So kind of like a college level athlete with that kind of that kind of capability, intellectually. And then they're taught how to work together. Because it'd be easy. If you if you didn't teach this, they'd all be superstars. They'd all be alpha alphas and you know, and I've often thought, when I was became an officer, I'd have a roomful of Napoleon's if I bumped my head, all of them would stand up. So I'm in charge now, you know, no delay, no, no, no hesitation. So the creativity part of it, the way to really kind of picture it, I think, is think of like, what you would imagine a really good superstar band must feel like when they're right in the zone, and they're creating incredible music, where they're just you're thinking each other's thoughts, they're anticipating they're, they're adding things that nobody complains about, because it was the right thing to add at the right time. That's what it's like to have a bunch of guys with that kind of pedigree in a room. And there's a problem to solve. And that doesn't matter whether it's a problem to solve, when you've got time, and you've got to put it into a nice pretty plan and PowerPoint and to rehearse it and then but also when you're when he when you get off of the boat, or you jump out of the plane, and you're sitting there in the dark and everything they told you was gonna happen or be there isn't. And now you got to do it all over again, you just don't have the brief anybody rehearse it, but the same same creative creativity, the same kind of and dealing with a problem with challenge requires that that kind of approach to the threat of the challenge if if you see it as a threat that that you have to run away from or defend against it a whole different set different kinds of psychology and a lot of commercial people, employees management doesn't matter who they are, if they haven't been involved in, you know, threat recognition or they haven't been confronted with a threat COVID would be open Perfect One, all of a sudden, your supply chain shuts down. What if nobody in that entire company had ever seen a supply chain completely shut down for even a day, let alone a month or two months? That's devastating. So what do you do, you can crawl in the fetal position in the corner. Or you can do that psychologically as a management team. Or you can roll your sleeves up and say, Okay, we got to figure something out here. And, and that's kind of like the pickup game I was describing, when the when the facts that you base your plan on don't turn out to be there on the on the actual target site. So those are the kinds of things that, that I realized, both in managing money, because there's a lot of you have a lot of clients, and when, like today, you know, today, you know, last couple days, the market goes down 2000 points, phones are ringing off the hook emails are exploding, and there's guys managing money, and people want to know what's going to happen to it, what's gonna happen to me. So it's a crisis. And if that money management person is comfortable with handling crisis and chaos, they're gonna take each call and each email at a time, and they're gonna reflect on the plan, they're gonna give some historical context, they're gonna talk about the real true long term impact or lack thereof on the United States, as opposed to Europe, and he's gonna talk him off the ledge, and then he's gonna pick up the next call. But that's going to be 10% of them. 90% of them are going to just walk away from the phone and hope and hope Putin stops tomorrow morning. And it's all goes away, the market comes back, that applies to any business, any industry and any team of leaders, managers, and technical experts within an industry when they're confronted with with crisis. And the chaos is usually created by the people's reaction to the crisis. Right? If COVID a pandemic is a crisis, maybe the chaos is the government decided to shut everything down, but not everywhere in the United States equally, and not have the same rules and change the rules every couple of days. That's the chaos part. So they reacted to crisis by creating chaos, because there was uncertainty, but you can also leave when that crisis happens to try to try I guess, manage and master the chaos a little. It's it is an achievable art, but it's a leadership art.

Todd Foster:

How does someone realize that crisis is actually a crisis and not just smoke, or there's no fire right now.

Marty Strong:

I think the there's a, you know, a phrase has been tossed around a lot the last couple of years, the zoom in zoom out concept. If you're if you're comfortable, and in my second book is more about that it's it's a be visionary, the strategic leadership in the age of optimization, it's basically that strategy is the enemy of optimization, everybody in business is focused on measuring and KPIs and all that, and so they're not zooming out. If you zoom out, and look at the horizon, that's when you see the little enemy heads pop up over the horizon, and you go, Oh, I've got I've got some time, I've got to figure out what I'm gonna do. I see them coming. If you've never looked up. If you're focusing on how we're going to do this week, I think you get what our where I'm going here. Now the perception is based on the the model that each person uses to look at the world. And if they look at the world, in one day increments, if they're moving through life, looking at the tips of their toes, they're going to be surprised, and in crisis, almost all the time. So you can't you know, one of the greatest lessons from all the military books that I've read and repeated often, doesn't matter whether it's a war college, it does it or a scholar, one of the key reasons you fail and war is failure to anticipate that simple sentence. And to anticipate means you have to think through and game through in your mind what the future might look like. And therefore what the threat might look like. Or the opportunity might look like.

Alyssa Stanley:

Marty, you are the CEO for companies also a an author of both be nimble and be visionary. All of this is around mindset and leadership lessons learned. I can't help but wonder if your view around mindset and leadership shifted from when you were in the seals versus in the world of entrepreneurship and building these four companies? How did that change?

Marty Strong:

I think the the biggest difference is the materials you have to work with. So for example, if I wanted to build a house and and in the SEAL teams, I had steel and glass and I had a team of people that were absolutely expert in building, and they could build it within a very short period of time, it would be done almost perfectly. Outside of the SEAL teams, I find I have some old bricks, I don't have any mortar, and only half the people that are there to try to build it and I've ever built one before. And the other half are arguing with each other about how to build it. And if it does get built, it's going to take a really long time. So that's the challenge the actual principles haven't changed as and objective is a goal for me ever, in any company, whether it's my own personal performance, as a money manager, or, you know, as a consultant, or any of these, these different jobs I've had, you go in, and you take inventory of what you have in front of you. And it really, it's not the people's fault. As they come out of high school, they come on to college. And there's so there's so few true leaders that care about grooming, and guiding and mentoring and coaching. You're basically if your first couple of jobs, it's you know, sitting cubicle 47, shut up, execute the job that your resume said you could do and go and then that's it. And I'll tell you even in the companies that I run, the bigger the companies get, the harder it is to push it down to all levels. If it's just me and five people in a startup, I know what's happening, because I'm watching in and I only pick leaders that work for me that would do the same thing and care about the people holistically, not just did they do their job today, back to that anticipation thing, you know, the future look, invest in people because, you know, someday you may need more from them than you, then you're asking from them now. But when you get to the point where you're managing 600 people, and you've got layers of leadership between you and them, I guarantee you, I don't care what kind of leader you are, it's eroding. And if it has, if it's happening, it's happening, because there's some other odd situation where a leader who cared popped in somewhere, it isn't by policy or by design, because people always kind of default as managers and leaders, they default to whatever they think the standard is, and if they were mistreated, or if they were treated neutrally, or if they were, you know, really mentored coached and given a lot of insight into how to be a good leader, they tend to reflect that background, their own experience. And then that's what you end up working for one of those three characters.

Kelley Skar:

So let's let's build on on the book, then a little bit to be nimble. So one of the parts of the description talks about a clear and straightforward approach to decision making that can be employed, regardless of personal or business objectives. Can you kind of walk us through what you mean, what you mean by that?

Marty Strong:

Sure. So the books focused on companies, situations can be organizations can be a nonprofit, for all that matter. And people that are in leadership positions are aspiring to be leaders in those kinds of situations. Because that's where all the drama happens. Now, I'm talking about real drama I'm talking about we can't make payroll next week, or we lost our one big customer, or, you know, all we have to do is, is get the inspector in here to clear the restaurant and we're live but we're two weeks behind schedule. And, you know, trained those staff, all those kinds of situations where the dynamic is fluid, it's not your set piece, big company, everybody kind of knows what they're doing. You have 100 pounds, if one quits or breaks their leg, you have 99 accounts, you know, you have one accountant in a small organization and that accountant quits, gets sick, or whatever, you have zero accounts. So there's there's a, there's a dynamic in those structures. And sometimes it can be an entrepreneurial division or department in a bigger organization, like a subsidiary being treated like a startup. So you have the same kind of stress, that kind of stress that kind of dynamic, really requires more leadership and management. And I make the point in the book that my my definition of management is what somebody does to maintain the integrity of the processes and the systems and the people the talent as designed. And how that keep rolling forward nice and steady. So if every time you you turn on TV with remote, it turns on, the systems are working. If every time the person that you hired to be an accountant does what they were told to do as an account, the standard, the systems working, and if the process works, the process works. That static kind of steady she goes maintenance thing is kind of what management is, in my mind. Leadership, for some reason, fell out of vogue about 20 years ago, and there's a big push about management being the be all end all. But there's a distinction in my mind and in the book. You don't need leadership until everything's falling apart. You don't need leadership until the one accountant quits, you don't need leadership until the process fails to perform and deliver what the process is always delivered. When the world changes, either internally or externally, and the system start to fall apart or can't keep up or the people started to fall apart or can't keep up or the processes do likewise. You can't manage your way through that. You have to lead your way through that. And nine times out of 10 the decision process from beginning to end for managers and leaders is to try to anticipate failures and people systems and processes in enough time that you can start kind of Wargaming amongst yourselves Was that we never ever get to the, to the crisis moment, we never get to the leadership requirement, because we're thinking this through and we're being proactive. And we're making decisions in advance of the problem. And therefore always scaling, not just scaling, when we run into a problem, we're always changing and adapting and being nimble, essentially, right. And that should be an everyday methodology for decision makers. It just doesn't have to be when the buildings on fire.

Voiceover:

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Kelley Skar:

Yeah, I love the concept of decentralized command, which is, you know, the concept that you guys I believe, is employed in Special Forces. How does that translate over into the business world then exactly what you're talking about in terms of leadership and management? And do you do you give the managers the ability to, you know, maybe lead and step up and have that that opportunity? Or do you give them decision making capabilities that would typically in a traditional business structure where you've got the CEO top down type management, where they've got to go up the chain of command to get the get the go ahead to go and do the thing under decentralized that that theory under DT centralized command in business, you're giving the manager the opportunity to go ahead and make the decision now, obviously, not to spend a million dollars on you know, that they don't have, but to make, you know, smaller decisions, where it's taking it off the plate of the the ultimate leadership of the company, it might kind of nailing that on their head. Marty, or am I off base there?

Marty Strong:

Yeah, you're there. The, in the military, there's leading and there's delegating. Again, leading is something you do when you have to lead delegating is something you do and it's kind of fire forget, in, in the more high end units, you know, enough, the Rifai pilot isn't going out there and micromanaging with the maintenance crew did or what the the crew that's coming in putting the you know, the weapons on into the aircraft, you know, sitting out there for 48 hours watching them, and taking pictures on them, trying to catch them doing something wrong, he trusts that they're going to execute their role. And the same way in the SEAL teams. And up basically, it's kind of that trust or trust but verify thing, you watch, you look, you hope your subordinate leaders are having the same mindset and the teams they have to, because it'll muck it up, you can't do lots of parallel activity, through a central command process of leadership, you can only do one thing at a time he shut everything shut 14 people down when you talk to the one person and don't let the other 13 people do anything until you're done talking to the one person, it just doesn't make any sense at all. It doesn't make sense in any kind of human activity, I believe. So we're back to kind of the difference of the culture in a company and the mixed bag of prospects you have when you step in, and leadership. All the people that you have all your employees came from all these different backgrounds. And I'm talking my professional backgrounds, they may have been abused, they may they every time somebody says hey, we're thinking of moving to another building, three accounts may quit, because that's always in their past has been the foreshadowing of a merger. And they're gonna lose their jobs. I mean, I'm not kidding, I'm not making this up, this is the kind of feedback we would get. Because someplace else they were treated that way or someplace else, they ended up with a phobia or fear that was developed, and they were carrying it forward like baggage and leaders in the same way. So if you came from a situation where you were managing a leading, and you were browbeat by the senior leaders about failure, then failure is not an option. And failure is you have to be perfect. Essentially, there's no no failure authorized, you turn around, and that lightning bolt comes all the way down the chain of command all the way through that company. Everybody's concerned about their job, everybody's concerned to fail. Now, if you're doing brain surgery, there might be some room for that, right. But if you're doing things like strategic development, nobody, nobody wants to take a shot, because everybody's afraid to fail. So in that environment, the leaders are all going to give you little incremental baby steps that have zero failure attached to them, no risk, and therefore there's no strategy therefore there's no stretch. So in both those situations, tactical execution, or bigger picture thinking, you have to let people fail. I have a really good as a chapter in a my 85% rule, I tell everybody, hey, I figure you're gonna get 85% of it, right? Because you're supposed to pay to you're qualified to, you're not gonna get 100% of it, right. And because things move so fast, I don't care about the other 15% Because by the time you get to the end of the 85, we may have shifted, shifted focus, and now we're gonna work on something else. And if you can't get the last 50% on your own, and it's critical that we do, I'm going to pile resources on it. It's not just you, all of us are going to jump in there. But it goes he does go from the top down. If if the CEO or the president or the owner is a stress bucket every day and you know scaring the hell out everybody and making them feel like they're gonna, they're gonna get fired if they fail. That you're gonna have centralized control whether you want to call it that or not. They're gonna ask the boss every day. What next boss? Yeah.

Todd Foster:

Do you believe that goes back to ego a little bit? The reason I bring that up, it's you're looking at elite teams like you're a part of. And if I was a Navy Seal, I'd probably put a tattoo on my forehead said, I'm a Navy SEAL. And like I won the Cub Scout. Pinewood Derby contests I won first place. I don't tell the story that was only 12 year old there, my car was only one that went dow the track yet I won first place. How do you keep ego out of a role like that not just the Navy yet. And any high position leader or management without having that fear, or people are fear base, and they're almost, as you said, micromanaging without knowing they're really doing that in the first place.

Marty Strong:

It's hard, it's easier. As somebody who's mentored a lot of leaders, it's easier from that perspective, because you're outside here and you know, potential victim in the organization. Good place to be like the number two guy trying to, you know, set things straight for the guy who's got the problem. You know, I'll tell you what, seals have huge egos. Absolutely huge egos. And, you know, when I was in, you didn't talk about the seals, or the Choshi movie came out the year before I got out. And there was one book at that time. So, you know, it was kind of frowned upon and, and amongst the peer group, if you if you showed off, if you got too much, you you heard about it really fast. But we all had huge egos I just told you a while ago, you know, a roomful of Napoleon's right now, the egos are purposeful, it's more about I think I'm smart enough and knowledgeable enough experienced enough to lead this, or my idea is a good idea and should be incorporated. It's very functional kind of ego. The other thing that offsets the ego, though, what most people would see as a negative of ego. And I almost called the first book be humble, because I realized that humility is also kind of like the flip side of the coin was most special operators. And it's definitely there if you've been in combat, but it's, it's there even before that, because you fail a lot. They put you in all kinds of situations where you're mostly failing. You know, for a long time as an individual as a team, small team, big team. Once in a while you you succeed in every way. If I had a group of seals in a room with a case of beer, and the four of you were sitting there, and we started talking about seal stories, you would not hear I don't care how many hours we're listening to the case of beers gone. So let's say 20 minutes was kidding. But, but if you were sitting there for two hours, you will not hear one single story about a success. Because they're no fun. And they're not funny. So part of the humility is you have to laugh, the fact he screwed it up as a team as an individual, you know, you feel bad when it happens, and then you double down. So how do I how do I keep that from happening? Again, you seek help you ask other people can? Did you see what I did? What did I do? Can I fix that, because you're like a professional athlete that we always try to tune up to the standard, and not let anybody down. But what the humility part of it is, you know, if you walk into a bar, and you're six foot three, and a five foot two guy beats you up, the next time you walk into a bar, and a five foot three guy comes up to you, you got a different mindset. You may have had ego before, but you realize, hey, there's some guys out there that I got to be a little bit more humble here, because I got really worked over the last time. And that's how life is you know, and you can have ego until you run into reality and reality such as straight. The problem is if you're a co founder, and you have no control, there's no board, there's no other mechanisms of restraint. That's usually where you see an ego or you know, either the predominant owner and a big corporation or something. You can, your ego can be a negative or can be a positive, it can be the light, you know, the jet fuel that's making everything go. It can be the insight, like Steve Jobs. I know you guys don't agree with this, but, you know, you engineers are gonna build a phone. That's like a computer the size of this pack of cigarettes, you know? And they all said, yeah, no, no, we're out. Are you okay? But they're not going to be here. And eventually he got the engineers that would do it. He's he's seen as an obnoxious guy, big ego, but look at all the things he did with the ego. I mean, he was extremely creative. And what he was really bumping up against was a whole bunch of people that didn't want to take risks. A bunch of people that have been trained as engineers not to take risks. And and, and they didn't want to take a risk when the boss was saying, I want you to take a risk. So ego is not always bad, but that's the way it happens in the team just gets kind of balanced with the humility part.

Alyssa Stanley:

In all your years of experience, have you found that anyone can be a leader or are there certain character Risk sticks that will make someone maybe a better leader or be more prone to be a leader within an organization.

Marty Strong:

I think there's an absolute natural percentage of the population doesn't matter what your gender is, that innately knows how to lead, without training being applied. Now, I don't I what I mean is not not overt leadership training, it came from parents, it came from observing other leaders and saying that's the right way to handle situations. That's how I will do it whenever it happens to me. It's other influences, and a sense that, that good things need to be done. And sometimes not everybody wants to step up. And so when that moment happens, I know, I should step up. Without anything else, there's just, you know, it's like a core value system. And that's where you hear the, you know, the anecdotal stories of, you know, every screaming in a room and there's a fire or whatever, and then somebody just stands up, takes charge direction to the door calms everybody down, gets him out. And it turns out, he's just a regular dude, you know, or just, you know, a soccer mom, not an ex Marine colonel, you know, with combat and just a person, right. And then you go back to being a regular person. That's about 40%. I'd say the other 40%. That could be good leaders are trainable. And there's probably 20% that they're just their core, their upbringing, etc. They're so risk averse, they're so concerned about self, they can't get into a selfless mode, you have to be a little bit self, celibate, selfless, to be a good leader. Because you can't be focusing on how do I look while I'm leading, because you're gonna be leaving, or what's gonna happen to me, you know, as I'm leading, because that's not really leading. So where you have a disconnect, as maybe you don't have a way of finding the first 40% They don't You don't look for my college, there's not a training academy in college, you know, to find the the instinctive leader, group, and then move them to an MBA program or something, you know, it's, it's not like that. And the Navy, believe it or not, when I went to officers Candidate School, it was four months, and it was all naval engineering. So I'm a seal enlisted guy. And I'm being asked to go up on the board and draw out turbans and, you know, schematics from memory, and then go through tracing problems. Everyone else in the room has an engineering student, that's why they came to the Navy, they're all going to a secondary engineering school after that, then they're gonna go to a ship to be engineering guys. And I actually asked the guy in charge of officers Kent School, at one point. Why aren't you guys teaching any leadership? This is these are the officers, what he said, We don't have time and four months, they teach the teacher that the academies like West Point, Annapolis, but they didn't feel like there was a priority in a four month initial course, and like the bootcamp roster, so you have to, it'd be nice if they did that, but they don't. So the second thing is the kind of training people get for leadership. If it's managers, teaching people to be leaders, they're really teaching them to be managers. So they're kind of missing the target. Right. And I haven't had much problem. And guys, I know, for more collective in similar backgrounds have not had much problem. A lot of it is it's almost like you're, you're a coach and a little league team or something, you come in, and you're like, Hey, guys, this is gonna be this is gonna be a mess, but I'm gonna put some you guys in charge, we're gonna rotate who's in charge. And don't worry, if you screwed up, I'm here, you know, I'm putting you there. And I don't care if this I'm talking to VPS, it could be any group. And let's just go at this thing. And if they came from weird backgrounds, they're staring at me like it's a trap. Right? But if you're consistent that way, that becomes a way to wean them away from their fear, wean them away from their, their, their poor management or leadership training in the past, and start getting him to kind of an exponential leadership training process because that's the only place you get humbled because you have to go in just like in the seals, you have to go and try fail, try fail, try fail, get sharper, smarter, stronger, more resilient, and calmer and a lot wiser.

Todd Foster:

How do you remain calm because my perception of you is you have no blood pressure, or a very small one. And you think about everything in advance like just walking out the front door, you have 18 Different escape routes. What stresses you out and then when you do get stressed out, how do you handle it?

Marty Strong:

Well, first off, Todd, if you're a Navy SEAL when you're walking out your house, you don't need any escape routes. The other guy guys need the escape routes.

Todd Foster:

Yep, there's no ego there.

Marty Strong:

You know when physical stress has a lot to do with your, your physical health, so I stay in really good shape. As soon as this is over, I'm going in and doing a peloton. Interval run, I'm going to do a half marathon here in middle of March, you have to watch what you eat, those things are all important because they all degrade the foundation of your ability to be anything. And I do have a really low blood pressure. But it's it's, I think it's the part I was trying to allude to earlier where the more you fail, and survive, the more calm you get, especially in very specific situations. So the first time you get shot at and, and usually you don't realize you're being shot out when you're shot out, believe it or not, it doesn't sound like they don't, they can't train you by shooting at you and say, Oh, that sound you know. So you get out there and you've heard shots fired, you've trained, you've heard that, but you haven't heard them maybe crack over the top of your head, or you haven't heard them hit a bullet hit a piece of wood or hit a piece of corrugated steel or hit dirt or hit a person. I mean, I almost feel like they should have recordings of this stuff. Because when it first happens, you're not really aware. And then you start to become aware. And then depending on what your job is, you start thinking, okay, you know, am I ready was Am I prepared for this? So after the first time, the second time is a lot easier. The third time is like a non event. And by the fourth, fifth six times actually guys who've been in sustained combat, you see it in movies, you'll hear something that's an outgoing mortar. That's not even nowhere near us, guys. That's because they've been there. And now they've got they're tuned into the environment that those threats are identified. And, and they've got it, it's the same way in every other walk of life. If I went in to something I'd never been involved in before, I'd have to go through that first apprentice experience, I'd have to react to it, I'd have to deal with my reaction and have to think it through, and then maybe not do it ever again. Or maybe do it again. And I'd be stronger work where you get screwed up here as if you experienced it. And you walk back and said, I'm not gonna do that again. Because all you've left there is the fear and the barrier that you were that close to pushing through. And making decisions is another one of those types of things. I mean, if you make a decision, make a multimillion dollar decision make a hiring firing decision, you make decision, like I'm doing a real estate commercial real estate thing with one of the companies, there's 50 different moving parts, every one of them could go wrong, you know, and so I'm sitting there looking at it going, okay, at some point, I gotta pull the trigger, make it happen. And if I never done any of that before, I would probably fret and analyze it to death and not decide. So that's a big part of it, you the wisdom, the calmness has to do with, you know, knowing what you can do, and knowing that if something bad happens, you know, you can handle it, because you what you're gonna do is you're gonna settle yourself, open your mind, and think through exactly what you're seeing in front of you, you know, without using kind of old information to color it in a way that was kind of skewed the new information. You know, that's the other part of being nimble is when you get a crisis, you get a challenge, you get a threat thrown in front of you, trying to clear all that crap out, you know, all the good stuff. You just got a bonus last week, you're not a superhero, forget about that, you know, you your wife dumped you last week that doesn't have anything to do with this, you know, clear your mind and listen to what somebody's saying. Because if you came in in a crisis mode that morning, and then something happened, you're gonna treat it like it's twice the crisis, because you're in that mind state. It just takes time and repetition, quite frankly,

Todd Foster:

I believe and let me know if I'm wrong, that a Navy Seal is a mix of reactive and proactive in management leadership. I've always thought that leaders are more proactive and managers I'm sorry, leaders are more proactive, and managers are more reactive. Do you see that's the case? Or am I just all over the place? And I should go take my blood pressure right now?

Marty Strong:

Actually, that is a great question, Todd. It really is because we actually are prep proactive all the time. Almost never reactive. And here's the reason why when you're being proactive, you train on how you're going to react. That makes sense. So in military units, infantry units, etc. They're called immediate action drills. You're walking down a trail, somebody fires from the right or somebody spots somebody with a gun to the left and somebody else out contact, right contact left, and everybody is trained like a football team to go through the football players, they know exactly what to do. There's no commands required. Nobody has to tell you how to operate your weapon. Now you can take that simple example and go much much further. So when we have in our environment, the seals, we know what we're going to be doing. They're not going to ask us to go to war. straight and open up a kiosk and start trading stock. So within within our world, we anticipate we think through we wargame, in our minds individually, down to what where our gear is on our on our combat vests, you know, we think it through we practice it, we try a couple different ways that didn't work. So we're always predicting and anticipating something that's going to stop us from doing kind of a linear progression of what we want to do. And then we have a whole list of practiced reactions. It's like, if you were a nuclear power plant, you would have thought through all the things you have to do for all the potential symptoms that are displayed on, you know, the systems dashboard, or whatever, you wouldn't just call get in a room and go, What the hell, what do you want to do first, you know, you wouldn't do that, it's all thought out, somebody would get a big book, they whip it open, they go through some kind of computer, that would have an algorithm and says, it's in this area, it's the water, it's cooling containment thing, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, isolated, because it's all thought on ahead of time, it's already premeditated reaction. That's more like what you see in the SEAL teams. And I tell you, it's very valuable outside, I tried to do it. I tried to instill that in all the organizations I've been involved in, and actually takes a lot easier than say, leadership and training, training, you're mentoring your people, everybody gets that, you know, because it feels like an insurance policy. And so if they're risk focus, they're all in on that.

Alyssa Stanley:

I do have to say, I found it completely fascinating. When I was listening to you talk about stressors, and you went from bullets whizzing by your head, hitting wood and knowing whether it's at you or whether it's not at you to walking into a boardroom. Like, to me that those are not interconnected. Like do not put me in the same place where bullets are whizzing past me walk me into a boardroom any day. But it's a real testament to your ability to stay calm and kind of keep emotions out of situations and hyper focus on what you're doing right then in there, to be able to even bring those two components into the same comparison. I found that fascinating.

Marty Strong:

Yeah, well, emotion can emotions can either be a distraction, or they can be fuel. And I tend to, I tend to focus on like rocket fuel, I still feel all the emotions that are there, whether I'm going to use I'm going to use this to some good purpose.

Alyssa Stanley:

So So essentially, you don't let emotions control you, you almost control them.

Unknown:

As much as I can, yeah, well, I don't want to control it, I just I feel the same kind of build up the pressure, etc. I don't let it take over my brain. So my brain stops thinking through whatever it is, it causes me to be emotional. And then I try to use that as energy to focus on whatever it is that made me emotional. I mean, I mean, I, I'm, I'm more of a positive emotional guy, I laugh a lot. And I don't really get upset with people very often, because I've seen a lot of weird people. And so back to that, three, three right here. Makes perfect. I mean, if you've had a lot of people scream at you shout at you, if you lived in New Jersey, in New York, and guys are yelling at you and everything. You're used to it. If you're from Oklahoma, and you're walking down the street and in in Manhattan, and some guy goes, Yeah, you're mad, you want to go, you want to kick the guy's butt? Because you haven't had that happen to you before you know. So the more the more that you have emotional events happen to you, you know, again, you, you have a kind anyway, especially in business of leadership, you tend to build up a reservoir of strength and judgment and insight and the emotion isn't as out of control.

Alyssa Stanley:

Yeah. And I think so much can be learned from you with leadership and mindset. Where can people find your books.

Unknown:

So I have a author's website, it's martystrongbenimble.com. And there's a there's a lot of articles and things on that site. But there's also at the bottom, the covers of my two books, be nimble and be visionary, which are both on Amazon. And then there's also two covers for my two novel series, which one's based on the seals. That's a four, four volume series right now. I'm halfway through the fifth one. And the other four or time travel, that's a time travel series, called the time Time Warrior sagas, which there's a lot of seals stuff in there. It's a seal ethos, way of writing about the seal ethos and the warrior brotherhood and all that without guns.

Todd Foster:

I like to go with the time travel thing. Do you see if we could go into the future? Do you see seals being humans? And 50 years from now or do you think it will be completely all robots?

Marty Strong:

Yeah, if I was going to do that movie, it would be the robots are in Space Force and they're doing stuff and then there they all get wiped out someplace and nobody knows why. And they have to Greeno scrounge up a bunch of old seven year old SEAL Team guys, because it's all about being able to do the impossible with without any information. And they can't trust the robots anymore because they obviously failed. And then they'll go off and then you'll you'll see what happens.

Todd Foster:

Well, I think the Rock will be proud to play you in that movie.

Marty Strong:

I'd be happy. That'd be great. Then I get a new nickname.

Todd Foster:

What was your nickname?

Unknown:

Well, my nickname would be Pebble if he was playing me because I couldn't be the rock. I didn't have I didn't have a nickname. Everybody. Everybody has call signs in the old deal. You don't get to pick your own call sign. And I had lots of different call signs I had thunder one was probably the coolest one I had I was Yoda one time. I was Plissken which I thought was pretty cool for Snake Plissken and Escape from New York. I actually liked that one. And I was virus I was virus one time and I got virus embroidered on a hat that somebody gave me because I was virus for a while. They said I was in to everything and I was everywhere in the costume to get rid of me.

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