Be Nimble with Marty Strong, Episode #112

Be Nimble Marty Strong

Marty Strong is a retired Navy SEAL officer and combat veteran. He’s also an author, a practicing CEO, and Chief Strategy Officer. After 20 years as a Navy Seal, he joined UBS as an Investment Professional. During this time, he focused on high-net-worth individuals. 75% of his clients were self-made entrepreneurs, half of which had no college education.

Marty learned key entrepreneurial lessons about what business leadership and success look like, and what attributes are shared by highly successful people. Marty left the financial services industry to build and lead rapidly scaling companies.

Marty writes about his experiences and insights in his book “Be Nimble: How the Creative Navy SEAL Mindset Wins on the Battlefield and in Business.” Listen in for some great takeaways about leadership and how Marty has turned lessons from the battlefield into daily practices at the businesses he serves.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • [3:45] Learn more about Marty Strong and his background as a Navy SEAL
  • [6:03] How being a successful SEAL officer applies to business management
  • [10:42] Can all leaders learn how to manage severe amounts of stress?
  • [13:12] What surviving The Crucible taught Marty about himself
  • [16:55] Marty’s tips to scale a small-to-early-stage company
  • [19:25] How to create long-term value in the company you lead
  • [24:03] How to create winning cultures in the businesses you lead
  • [28:20] How Marty keeps up with the markets and the competition
  • [32:27] Why Marty emphasizes that humility is a key to success
  • [35:17] The challenges Marty faces in developing new leaders
  • [38:12] What Marty did today that put him in the right mindset for success

What surviving The Crucible taught Marty about himself (and others)

Usually, around 500 people are recruited for Navy SEAL training, who are then screened down to 100–125. 75% of those people are gone by graduation day. Hell Week is in the 5th or 6th week of training—by then there are usually only 60 people left. Half of the class will get injured, get sick, or quit during that week. Marty Strong’s class ended with 13 people.

Eight years after becoming a SEAL, Marty was the Chief Petty Officer in charge of the first phase of training. He saw 17 Hell weeks over his career. It was then that he realized that the goal was to reach a psychological state of mind where the voice in your head says “You made a mistake.”

Then you have to overcome that voice in your head. You have to drive your own narrative. You have to tell yourself to put one foot in front of the other. The people who make it through Hell week usually make it the rest of the way and are successful as a SEAL.

How being a successful SEAL officer applies to business management

When you’re at the top of your game, you’re constantly working to optimize your performance and maintain your edge. You aren’t planning your future or building your resume. When someone in the military steps out of uniform, it can be a shock. They’re often stuck going, “Now what?” It’s both humbling and demeaning. They have to start over. They have to refocus on a new challenge.

Marty found that his clients needed leadership and stability. They needed someone they could trust to be the calm in the storm. That’s when he realized his skills from his time in the Navy could shine.

Loyalty, commitment to a team, commitment to a higher purpose, and a mission focus are characteristics any company would love to have in an employee or in management. Marty works with organizations to help make this a reality.

How to create winning cultures in the businesses you lead

By the time a SEAL is combat-ready, they’ve received at least two years of training. Navy SEALS are willing to be part of something bigger and to work competitively with top professionals.

People in the business world are looking to win. They aren’t looking to bond as a team and rise together to reach success. They want to move up the ladder. They are trained to be predatory opportunists who get stronger and better. They don’t see value in working 80 hours “for the team.”

Blending the two worlds is an extreme challenge. People have to be willing to work with others, work on projects, and flex time when it’s necessary. If someone says “yes” to all that, you get them to onboard and reinforce those values. They need to know what they’re getting into within their organization.

Why Marty emphasizes that humility is a key to success

In Marty’s book, “Be Nimble,” he emphasizes that humility is a key to success. Most people come at every problem with this baggage that impacts their decision-making abilities. But as a leader, you have to leave the arrogance and optimism your victories have given you behind. You also have to forget the defeats and negative emotions that accompany them.

You can’t discount your worth or intellect. You have to problem-solve and adapt—you can’t just apply the same approach repeatedly. You also have to take a leap of faith and try new things. You can’t be hesitant and reluctant but must be bold and forward-thinking. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Create intellectual humility: Clear your mind of past failures and successes. This allows you to take in information from experts and sources. Gather data to break out of your previous mindset.
  2. Create intellectual curiosity: Absorb relevant and irrelevant information to see the world differently. Pars out what’s valuable and what isn’t.
  3. Embrace intellectual creativity: You can’t be creative if you aren’t humble. You can’t be creative if you haven’t looked at every problem from different perspectives.

As a leader, you need to pass this mentality on to others in your company and help everyone move into “think tank mode.”

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Marty Strong


Marty Strong is a retired Navy SEAL officer and combat veteran. He is a novelist, a practicing CEO and Chief Strategy Officer, and the author of Be Nimble: How the Creative Navy SEAL Mindset Wins on the Battlefield and in Business, and a second book, Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization, set for release in December 2022. Marty spent a lifetime meeting challenges head on, succeeding in three professions, anticipating crisis, and leading through chaos.

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

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