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Marty Steele’s Advice to My Students

Martin SteeleLast week, I introduced you to U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Martin R. “Marty” Steele. But, I didn’t tell you that, upon retiring from the Marine Corps, he served as President and CEO of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. Standing on deck on the morning of September 11, 2001, Marty saw a plane flying down the Hudson River and told an assistant it was a terrorist going to hit the World Trade Center. He contacted the FBI and offered the Intrepid as a staging area following the terrorist attack.

How did he know? While COO of the Marine Corps, Marty testified before a U.S. Senate committee, sharing classified intelligence reports that terrorists were likely to attack the World Trade Center. A senator called a recess and told him to stop discussing a possible terrorist attack because it would scare the public. On September 12, 2001, the senator apologized to Marty for not letting him testify. By then, of course, it was too late.

In my leadership class, I devoted an entire class meeting to Marty. During the first half of the class, he responded to questions from students. During the second half of the class, he shared how he used the Myers-Briggs personality assessment in his leadership journey. To ensure diversity on his teams, he included as many different personality types as he could.

Beyond Marty’s comments regarding leadership included in Why It Matters, he shared the following with the students:

  • “Be the best you can be every day.”
  • “It was never about me, but about doing the right thing.”
  • “Live in the moment!”
  • “Treat all people with dignity and respect.”
  • “Tomorrow is not guaranteed!”
  • “You really do make a difference.”
  • “One day, you will be someone’s hero.”
  • “Learn how to respect one another.”
  • “The influence we have must be used for others.”
  • “Extremism is extremism, regardless of its origin.”
  • “Use lived experiences to shape your life and inspire others.”
  • “Impactful experiences shape who you are, what you do, what you say, and what you don’t say.”
  • “Flush your ego.”
  • “When my truth is not your truth, then it becomes an opinion.”
  • “You know intrinsically and without a doubt that you cannot do it alone.”
  • “The gift of life is precious. Consider what you do with it.”
  • “Although the Marine Corps prioritizes accomplishment of the mission over the welfare of your people, I believe if you take care of your people, they will always accomplish the mission.”
  • “People first, mission second.”
  • “Traumatic events shape our lives.”
  • “Be proud of the life you live, but inspire others.”
  • “What will you do in the moment of truth?”

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