"Four Secrets To Steal From The Marines To Be The Best At Your Job"
Our CEO and founder Ken Marlin was recently interviewed by Vicki Salemi of The New York Post about several military principles he learned as a Marine and which Ken believes can be leveraged for a successful career — even when you’ve never set foot in combat boots. Read more below.
It’s easy to gawk at Ken Marlin’s accomplishments: He received an MBA from a top school, spent years working in business and became a tech entrepreneur, all before founding his own investment bank on Wall Street.
The secret to his success? The Marine Corps.
Marlin spent two years in the 1970s in the Philippines aboard the USS Tripoli, an amphibious assault ship, where he was responsible for overseeing the ship portion of the ship-to-shore movement, around the clock and for days on end.
“That meant we had to take the long view, had to understand the organization’s long-term objective and how we fit in,” says Marlin, a former infantry command officer. “We had to be flexible in our tactics to achieve our part of the mission.”
This mindset, he says, is what has allowed him to succeed in the business world. As the founder and managing partner of Midtown-based investment bank Marlin & Associates, he’s applied principles learned over 10 years of service in his new book, “The Marine Corps Way To Win on Wall Street” (St. Martin’s Press, out now).
Here are several military principles to leverage into a successful career — even when you’ve never set foot in combat boots.
Take the long view
“Leaders should know how their tactics advance the organization toward their goal,” says Marlin, explaining this applies to opening or closing offices, adding products, making acquisitions and more.
He kept the long view in mind when he worked at Dun & Bradstreet for 10 years — specifically when asked to lead the selling of three South African subsidiaries during apartheid. Now, he keeps the end goal in mind when running his firm and advising clients.
Trust and verify
“At some level you must trust the other side, or you will never get to agreement — but verifying key assumptions is always smart,” says Marlin. “Marines are famous for various degrees of detailed inspection when verifying unit combat readiness.”
Marlin was responsible for the security of his ship’s weapons; though they never did carry nuclear weapons onboard, they had to always be prepared for the possibility.
This level of preparedness taught Marlin to always conduct due diligence in business and always research every move before following through. “It’s important and can’t be skipped.”
Take a stand
Decisiveness is a core Marine Corps leadership trait, but so is “being willing to speak truth to power,” says Marlin. “Bankers and consultants are famous — or should I say infamous — for listening to the client and then agreeing. But Marines are not trained to be obsequious.”
Instead, they’re encouraged to state what they honestly think — even when it conflicts with their self-interest.
Marlin has advised clients against pursuing certain transactions because he believed the deal wasn’t heading toward their goals, such as advising a European client against buying a company. “The deal died, but we earned their respect and later they came back to us for advice on subsequent deals.”
Know the enemy
The difference between winning and losing, says Marlin, is understanding the people on the other side.
He recalls arriving in Japan aboard the Tripoli only to discover port workers on strike, and having to negotiate with them to get ship cargo offloaded.
“In most cases, when negotiating — whether with a local villager or with a counterpart in a business negotiation — it is also important to understand the motivations of those on the other side of the table.”
The key to a successful negotiation involves knowing what your enemy is after — so conduct background research to get to know your adversary inside and out.
“Once you understand the other side, you have a much better chance of creating solutions that both sides can live with.”
This article originally appeared on the NYPost.com on September 11th, 2016 and was written by Vicki Salemi.
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