Developing as a Marine Corps Manpower Officer

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1 Developing as a Marine Corps Manpower Officer Tools to Improve Performance (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Courtney G. White) Major Mark Nicholson, USMC May 2016

2 Introduction... 4 Where is the practical roadmap for improvement?... 4 About the author... 4 Recommended Reading... 6 Second Lieutenant... 6 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie... 7 Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy... 8 The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson... 9 First Lieutenant The Time Trap by Alec Mackenzie and Pat Nickerson Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen Captain Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life by J.D. Meier Field Grade Ranks Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business by Bruce R. Gabrielle Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack General Recommendations Memory Military Studies Productivity Tools Processing Note-taking Evernote... 23!2

3 OneNote Time Management Pomodoro Technique CommitTo Learning Tools Audible Overdrive Podcasts Manager Tools The Productivity Show Read To Lead Beyond the To-Do List The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast YouTube Channels & Videos Blinkist Flipboard A Learning Framework Concluding Thoughts... 36!3

4 Introduction Where is the practical roadmap for improvement? This short document is intended to help Marine Corps Manpower Officers think about methods to develop professionally. Being an 0102 is both incredibly challenging and rewarding. Although our MOS school has improved significantly since I joined the Marine Corps, there are many topics that are not covered in school. The contents of the document are recommendations based on some hard lessons I ve learned during my career. My goal is that this will help you develop more completely as a leader. The Marine Corps needs good manpower officers who can find ways to help us adapt. For myriad reasons, we struggle as a community; I don t think we ve found a cadence that works in promoting institutional development and information exchange. The recently-created adjutant page on Facebook is a step in the right direction, and we do have some individuals who are really making progress. I believe that we will become more relevant over the next decade if we adapt and get ahead of the problems on the horizon. This document is a draft. I, like you, have limited time to work on projects like this. And, I certainly don t have all the answers. But, I do think that a document like this would have been helpful if I had it when I first arrived at my first unit. If you don t agree with my selection of books, that s fine. There are so many good ones that I haven t had a chance to read. But, I m more concerned with our community having a genuine desire to improve. We owe it to those we lead to be the best at what we do; our senior leaders also require the very best we have to offer. I welcome your feedback and am looking for ways to improve as I update the content of this short guide. About the author Major Mark Nicholson is currently assigned as the G-1 Operations Officer at 1st Marine Division. He served as the adjutant for Combat Assault Battalion; 3d Battalion, 3d Marines; and 3d Marine Regiment. Additionally, he was the MAC-17 Monitor and Head Company Grade Assignments Monitor. He is a graduate of Expeditionary Warfare School and Command & Staff College in Quantico, Virginia. His combat deployments include Operation Iraqi Freedom with 3/3, Operation Enduring Freedom with 3d Marines as the Command Element for SPMAGTF - Afghanistan, and as an advisor with the Afghan National Police in Helmand Province. Major Nicholson can be reached via at

5 The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears. -General James Mattis (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ricky S. Gomez)!5

6 Chapter One Recommended Reading Second Lieutenant There is just about nothing more intimidating than arriving at your first unit as a second lieutenant right out of TBS and MOS school. Your peers who made it through IOC have what seems like 100 peers in the unit; you have none. You re all by yourself right beside the battalion commander, executive officer, and sergeant major. It takes all of about five minutes to realize that you re going to have more on your plate than you can handle (or so you think). Right now, you ve got to decide if you are going to take the necessary steps to adapt and succeed or struggle to stay afloat throughout your first tour. The books listed here, I believe, will help make a difference in how you approach your responsibilities and make you more effective.!6

7 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie If you haven t read this yet, regardless of rank, stop what you re doing and get this. Seriously, if you don t believe me, just check out the reviews on Amazon. Don t borrow it from the library. Don t buy a book that summarizes the main points; BUY THE BOOK! This book is the single best resource I ve found for working with others. After reading this and applying the principles in the book, I felt like my performance immediately started to improve as a leader, staff officer, and administrator. Review This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to "the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people." He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated. Carnegie says you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person's point of view and "arousing in the other person an eager want." You learn how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. For instance, "let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers," and "talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person." Carnegie illustrates his points with anecdotes of historical figures, leaders of the business world, and everyday folks. --Joan Price!7

8 Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy Honestly, I initially wrote this book off based on the cover, but the quirky title will make sense after you read the book. I listened to the audio version of this and wished that I knew the principles discussed in the book earlier in my career. This is a quick read and distills some of the very best productivity ideas without getting too academic. You might also want to encourage your Marines to read it and give short classes on the concepts and how they might be applied within your section. Asian Efficiency book summary (excerpt) Eat That Frog is the most accessible book on time management and personal productivity I recommend you read this one before you learn any particular time management system. There are tons of exercises and techniques that you can implement right away, and that is what I like the most about the book it gives you actionable steps so you can start right away. There is not a lot of theory and the book s focus is on implementation. Once you have read the book as your foundation learning or adapting a productivity system will be easier. If you are serious about getting more things done, this would be a great book to start with. --Thanh Pham Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. -Mark Twain!8

9 The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson I first came across the previous version of this short book as a first lieutenant. At first I hesitated since I, after all, was a leader not a manager. Well, I m glad I decided to read it because it helped me realize that there is a lot of useful information out there geared towards managers. Manpower officers do end up managing S-1 shops, G-1 sections, etc. I don t know that this book made me radically shift gears in my approach, but it did seem to provide a missing part of the foundation from Personnel Administration School. There are a whole series of One Minute books by the same authors that are good if you find this one useful. Because this book is so short, you can easily read it in one sitting. Book Overview A new edition based on the timeless business classic updated to help today s readers succeed more quickly in a rapidly changing world. For decades, The One Minute Manager has helped millions achieve more successful professional and personal lives. While the principles it lays out are timeless, our world has changed drastically since the book s publication. The exponential rise of technology, global flattening of markets, instant communication, and pressures on corporate workforces to do more with less including resources, funding, and staff have all revolutionized the world in which we live and work. Now, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have written The New One Minute Manager to introduce the book s powerful, important lessons to a new generation. In their concise, easyto-read story, they teach readers three very practical secrets about leading others and explain why these techniques continue to work so well. As compelling today as the original was thirty years ago, this classic parable of a young man looking for an effective manager is more relevant and useful than ever. Everyone is a potential winner. Some people are disguised as losers. Don t let their appearances fool you. Kenneth H. Blanchard, The New One Minute Manager!9

10 First Lieutenant The Time Trap by Alec Mackenzie and Pat Nickerson I discovered a previous edition of this book as a first lieutenant, and I honestly think that applying the concepts in this book gave me a significant advantage over the other junior officers in my battalion. This has immediate, practical suggestions on how to handle the most common problems that keep us from being productive. Read this, and you ll know exactly how to handle the steady stream of people coming by your office asking, Hey, Adj, got a second? Book Overview One of the all-time bestselling books on time management, "The Time Trap" has shown countless readers how to squeeze the optimal efficiency--and satisfaction--out of their work day. Based on decades of research with businesspeople around the world, "The Time Trap" shows readers how to: - avoid so-called "time savers" that don't really work - set realistic goals and make commitments they can keep - juggle multiple demands - estimate time needed on new tasks - pinpoint and combat the most tenacious time-wasters - protect their priorities - upgrade personal productivity for professional success filled with smart tactics, revealing interviews, and handy time management tools, the fourth edition has been extensively revised to include technology-based solutions to the challenges and opportunities we all face in the virtual world. For those who feel swamped by work and overwhelmed by information, this is the proven guide they need to get everything under control. each time you accept random interruptions, and undue expectations, that same human nature will nag you, later, into resenting the people who broke your momentum. On those nights when they ve all gone home, and you re still working, you ll feel the frustration, realizing that the choice was and will remain yours.!10

11 Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin This is a new book, and the ideas will echo leaderships lessons for OCS and TBS. However, I still think it is a great read that will add value and build upon leadership concepts by connecting ideas to implementation. This is one of the books that I strongly recommend you get as an audiobook instead of just reading it. The audiobook is narrated by the authors, which adds to the experience. This is one of the top three books I ve read over the last year, and my guess is that it will resonate with you as well. Book Overview Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed all but lost. In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership at every level is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. Now, detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment. A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.!11

12 Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen This is an updated version of a book I discovered as a lieutenant that has proven very helpful to me. Now, some people take the ideas in this book to the extreme; I don t think that is necessarily a good idea. But, I do think that the more tools we have in our leadership/ productivity toolbox, the better. The concept of next actions can be very helpful for administrators. I would recommend using the system described in my section on productivity tools as a part of the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. If you want a good overview of the system with some helpful commentary, take a look here: Book Overview Since it was first published almost fifteen years ago, David Allen s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era, and the ultimate book on personal organization. GTD is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots. Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with important perspectives on the new workplace, and adding material that will make the book fresh and relevant for years to come. This new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by its hundreds of thousands of existing fans but also by a whole new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.!12

13 GTD Workflow Processing and Organizing If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves. David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity!13

14 Captain Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram Yes, this book is on the Commandant s Reading List, but let s be honest not everybody reads all the books on there. A fellow officer recommended this to me as a captain, and I was skeptical at first. During a short visit to The Marine Shop for a uniform item, I decided to pick this up and couldn t stop reading after I started. This book highlights a provocative figure who literally changed how to approach warfare. Don t let the fact that this is about an Air Force fighter pilot keep you from reading it. We need manpower officers who think deeply about how we do business and are willing to challenge the status quo in the way Boyd did. This book is fairly lengthy, but don t use that an excuse to delay reading it. The author also wrote the biography on Brute Krulak, but I enjoyed Boyd far more. Thinking about operating at a quicker tempo - not just moving faster - than the adversary was a new concept in waging war. Generating a rapidly changing environment - that is, engaging in activity that is quick it is disorienting and appears uncertain or ambiguous to the enemy - inhibits the adversary's ability to adapt and causes confusion and disorder that, in turn, causes an adversary to overreact or underreact. Boyd closed the briefing by saying the message is that whoever can handle the quickest rate of change is the one who survives. Robert Coram, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War!14

15 Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt Success as an 0102 often has a lot to do with handling processes efficiently. This book challenged me to think about the value in creating rules to run my section within the G-1 more efficiently. I wish that I would have been able to read this as a battalion and regimental adjutant because I believe it would have helped me deal with the sheer volume of work more efficiently. As a word of caution, some have criticized this book for a variety of reasons. Although there are ways it could be better, I have been able to overlook the minor shortcomings and use the lessons to improve as a leader. Book Overview Complexity surrounds us. We have too much , juggle multiple remotes, and hack through thickets of regulations from phone contracts to health plans. But complexity isn t destiny. Sull and Eisenhardt argue there s a better way. By developing a few simple yet effective rules, people can best even the most complex problems. In Simple Rules, Sull and Eisenhardt masterfully challenge how we think about complexity and offer a new lens on how to cope. They take us on a surprising tour of what simple rules are, where they come from, and why they work. The authors illustrate the six kinds of rules that really matter - for helping artists find creativity and the Federal Reserve set interest rates, for keeping birds on track and Zipcar members organized, and for how insomniacs can sleep and mountain climbers stay safe. Drawing on rigorous research and riveting stories, the authors ingeniously find insights in unexpected places, from the way Tina Fey codified her experience at Saturday Night Live into rules for producing 30 Rock (rule five: never tell a crazy person he s crazy) to burglars rules for robbery ( avoid houses with a car parked outside ) to Japanese engineers mimicking the rules of slime molds to optimize Tokyo s rail system. The authors offer fresh information and practical tips on fixing old rules and learning new ones. Whether you re struggling with information overload, pursuing opportunities with limited resources, or just trying to change your bad habits, Simple Rules provides powerful insight into how and why simplicity tames complexity.!15

16 Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life by J.D. Meier Getting Results the Agile Way brings a different approach to productivity from other systems such as Getting Things Done (GTD). While the differences are significant, I enjoyed the method described in this book. I m not sure which system is the best, but I do believe that we should be familiar with different styles. In fact, many people adopt aspects of this method and combine with GTD to adopt a hybrid system. You can get a sense of the system from the website here Book Overview In Getting Results the Agile Way, author J.D. Meier introduces Agile Results -a simple system for meaningful results! It's a systematic way to achieve both short- and long-term results in all aspects of your life-from work to fun. It offers just enough planning to get you going, but makes it easy to change your course as needed. It also provides fresh starts for your day, week, month, and year. Even if you already use another time management system, Agile Results can supplement it to increase your impact and sense of fulfillment. In today's world, change happens quickly; learn how to be flexible and responsive to new opportunities. Don't just check off tons of stuff from your to-do list; do the things that make a difference. Stop trudging your way through life; bolster your energy with habits that will carry you forward each day. Quit sacrificing your personal life for your work life (or vice versa); give each facet of your life its due and find balance. In other words, learn the skills to go the distance in an ever-changing world. The beauty of Agile Results is that you don't have to adopt the entire system to see the benefits; just start with the following three basic tenets. First, adopt The Rule of 3 and you avoid being overwhelmed and become mindful of your results. Second, adopt the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Refection pattern and you set the wheels in motion for weekly results while giving yourself a fresh start each day and each week. Third, set up boundaries for your Hot Spots and begin to experience work-life balance. When you're ready for more, flip through the chapters to learn how to use stories to design your day, week, month, and year; how to find your motivation; how to improve your productivity; and many more. Agile Results is a time-tested system that J.D. Meier has honed through his years at Microsoft: learning from some of the best minds, leading virtual teams, and mentoring people around the world. It is a system he can bet on time and again. This guide is the playbook for getting results that he wishes somebody had given to him so many years ago. Now, he's sharing it with you.!16

17 Field Grade Ranks Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown This may be the most important book I ve read within the last year. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can use my time as a leader within our G-1 to the greatest effect; this book has helped in providing clarity to that effort. I ve encountered some Marine Officers who desperately need to read this book. Although I don t purchase many hard copy books anymore, this one is an exception. Book Overview Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. The Way of the Essentialist isn t about getting more done in less time. It s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing it s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.!17

18 Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business by Bruce R. Gabrielle Regardless of how you feel about using PowerPoint to create presentations, it is hard to avoid using it in the Marine Corps. As I ve gotten to be a little more senior as an administrator, I ve had to use it more than I would like. However, I decided to embrace the process and found this book to be a useful tool. Using concepts I learned in the book, I ve built briefs given to multiple General Officers, some of which have been distributed widely across the Marine Corps. The ideas in the book and in Gabrielle s blog have helped me deliver information to senior leaders more effectively. Of note, one criticism of the paperback version of the book is that the images are in black and white; you can, however, download the color images in one PDF document from his website. With that said, I believe that this book will benefit all administrators, particularly those who spend any amount of time putting briefs together. Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack This is another book that has helped me become a better communicator. Whether writing s, preparing briefs, or discussing ideas with senior leaders, communication is the area that affects our ability to lead and influence others the most. I ve seen very smart Marines ignored because they were unable to convey ideas effectively. As a staff officer, communication skills can either set one apart or hinder one s ability in getting things done. This book is equally suited for junior officers, but being a mediocre communicator as a field grade officer is a lot less tolerated. This book can help you learn to communicate more effectively and go farther as a leader.!18

19 General Recommendations Memory One quality of the best leaders I ve served with is that they have the ability to process and retain vast amounts of information. I m sure some are naturally gifted in this way, but my assumption is that many have actually devoted time and energy to improving their memory. There are a number of good books and courses devoted to the subject, but these are two that I ve found useful. The point is not to get good at party tricks like memorizing decks of cards or long strings of meaningless numbers; rather, being able to retain information is something that can make us that much more effective as leaders.!19

20 Military Studies We need to be good in our occupational field; we have to be well-rounded MAGTF officers who understand our warfighting culture. I ve seen good administrators who lose sight of the fact that we belong to a profession of arms. The Army, Navy, and Air Force may have a place for officers who are specialists; I would argue that the Marine Corps does not. The Marine Corps needs manpower officers to be great Marine Officers first and foremost. Going to EWS and Command & Staff isn t possible for everyone; in fact, the majority in our MOS will not get to attend. However, you can and should devote time and energy to learning about our profession of arms. Do not use business or your MOS as excuses to not be a scholar of our profession. There are a lot of ways to continue the education you get at TBS. I recommend getting an Audible subscription to get courses like this one. It won t replace formal PME, but it is certainly far better than doing nothing. Once you complete this one, there are numerous courses on areas such as the Civil War, World War I, World War II, etc. Lectures!20

21 Sample courses!21

22 Chapter Two Productivity Tools Processing The majority of manpower officers spend hours each day reading, responding to, organizing and filing s. However, one of the biggest tragedies is that we re not taught how to use Microsoft Outlook effectively. The simple fact is that if you don t learn an effective method of handling your s, you will end up wasting hours each week (and possibly each day). I would be cautious of anyone who claims to have found the best system; each person is different. The system I have found that works best for me is one described by a company named Surface7 Associates. Please consider taking the time to watch the video series. Management - Managing Tasks - Managing your Calendar - Managing Contacts - Search Folders -

23 Some of you will watch the first video of the series, get overwhelmed, and decide that setting your up like this is too much work. BIG MISTAKE. Or at least I think so. I ve lost weeks of my life setting up needless folders, agonizing over where to file something that falls into two categories, and generally just being inefficient in handling a high volume of traffic. If you think you are the kind of person who stays in your all day so you don t miss something, this set of videos is for you. I would argue that you can become far more efficient by checking just three or four times a day for brief periods of time. Note-taking Evernote Over the years, I ve stumbled across a lot of useful information on the internet. Unfortunately, great tools like Evernote didn t exist early in my career. Only within the last two years have I started to capture useful information in one place. If you aren t familiar with Evernote, a simple Google search or YouTube videos will get you started. Evernote is the place where I keep the vast majority of the useful articles, websites, briefs, etc. that I come across. I highly recommend using a tool like this.!23

24 OneNote OneNote shares a lot of the same functionality as Evernote, but it has become the collaborative tool we use within the G-1 at 1st Marine Division because it resides on our shared drive. One benefit is that there is no steep learning curve with OneNote; you can watch a few videos, play around with it, and be up running in a very short period of time. OneNote now replaces a lot of the collaboration and information sharing that we used to rely on to accomplish. Some people get caught up trying to find the perfect tool. That is a waste of time; the perfect tool doesn t exist. Look around, pick something that looks like it might help, and just start using it. Also, check to see what the business world is using. Personally, I try and keep up with what growing Silicon Valley companies are doing and follow their lead (specifically on technological advances). Time Management Pomodoro Technique Several of the books I recommended previously have accompanying recommendations for tools to use time more effectively. There are lots of others out there that can help you accomplish more in less time. One tool I m using right now as I write this is a Pomodoro Timer. If you aren t familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, you can learn more about it here: productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodorotechnique When I really need to focus completely to accomplish an important task, this is what I use.!24

25 CommitTo3 One of the Executive Officers early in my career had a quick stand up huddle each morning at 0745 and it never lasted more than ten minutes. Five minutes was the average. During that stand-up, the primary staff members would briefly cover our top three items we were working on for the day. If we accomplished our three, nothing needed to be said later in the day. If we failed to accomplish one, we had to mention it the following day with a brief explanation why. As you can guess, seldom did anyone ever fail to accomplish the top three items he set for himself. This app operates on the same premise; pick the top three things you need to do that day and get them done no matter what. Sure, you don t need an app to accomplish this, but using something like this can really help. I keep the app on my phone and have found it to be quite useful. Check it out and see if you like it. Perhaps it will help you (and your Marines) accomplish the top three items that need to be accomplished each day. If you think this is pointless, I ve got countless examples of when I ve asked my Marines to identify the top three items they ve accomplished before leaving at the end of the day. The blank faces point to no clear identification of what important things were done. Don t fall into this trap of working all day and not really accomplishing much.!25

26 Chapter Three Learning Tools Audible For a long time, I thought that listening to books was cheating like somehow it didn t really count. I have since changed my mind and am now able to read five times as many books as I used to. A gunnery sergeant working in my section amazed me by the number of books he read; it was clear that he wasn t doing this to impress others, but he was extremely well-versed in so many subjects. After a while, I asked him about his readying habits, and he admitted that he just listened to a lot of books during his morning and afternoon commute to and from work. Although his approach to education inspired me, I used the cost of a subscription as an excuse to not take the plunge. Ten dollars a month just seemed a little too pricey to justify for getting one credit. Anyway, I found a deal for a three-book trial, and I was absolutely hooked after that. At this point, Audible is the app I use most frequently on my phone. The second I start my truck up, Audible starts streaming. All of The Great Courses are available on Audible for one credit. To me, this is an incredible deal. I listen to books and courses in my spare time (shaving, driving, unloading the dishwasher, etc.). Why not use that time to get through the Commandant s Reading List and catch up on great books. If you think reading is wasting time, do a quick internet search for how General Mattis responded when someone claimed to not have the time to read.!26

27 Overdrive Overdrive is the app through which I get a lot of free books (digital version and audio format). Did I mention FREE? What you do is register at the Navy General Library Program site and you can get lots of great books. You can access the entire CMC Reading List here without having to go to a library or pay for the books online. You select the books through the Navy website and then listen to them using Overdrive or your browser. The digital copy of books can also be opened using the Kindle app if you have that on your computer, tablet, or phone. There is a lot on here besides military-related material. You typically won t see new books as soon as they are released, but with a little patience you can get great books. There aren t endless digital copies of books, so sometimes you have to put a hold on a copy to get it, but the site will send you an once a copy is available.!27

28 Podcasts I m always surprised to talk to young officers who don t listen to podcasts. Maybe everybody else doesn t get tired of listening to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber on the radio, but I do. My New Year s resolution was to commit to listening to Love Yourself no more than five times straight before switching to something more meaningful. And, listening to podcasts has been the answer. For those who don t know me, the Swift/Bieber thing is a total joke. But seriously, I do listen to a lot of podcasts between audiobooks. Sometimes I ll listen to podcasts on the way to work and audiobooks on the way home each day. Anyway, the following are some of the ones that I enjoy because I think they give me an edge in developing in so many ways. Manager Tools This podcast also has a dedicated app that is very good. I would recommend by starting with the podcast Manager Tools Basic, which contains many of the most important topics. If you feel like you re having a hard time managing your section and leading your Marines, you aren t alone; listen to several of these, and I think you ll be on the right path. If you want a place to start, jump right in with the episode called One on Ones - Part 1 (Updated). You can find it here:

29 The Productivity Show I don t listen to every episode of the The Productivity Show, but there s enough here that I come back to it routinely. The group that does this podcast is called Asian Efficiency, and if you like the podcast, you should definitely check out their webpage here: The guys are a little quirky, but their content is good/ Read To Lead This podcast features some great authors. Every episode doesn t appeal to me, but there s enough good material that one is worth checking out.!29

30 Beyond the To-Do List If you like the previous productivity-oriented podcasts, you ll probably like this one too. I don t listen to this every month, but I do check it out periodically. You can get a look at the episodes here to see if it interests you: The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Andy Stanley is a church pastor, so there is some religious content in this podcast. With that said, his leadership discussions are very good. Again, if the religious aspect is going to offend you, look elsewhere. But, I have found this podcast to be particularly useful. New episodes come out once a month, and I listen to them immediately upon their release. The leadership lessons are top-notch in my opinion. I don t believe the complete podcast list is available at this site here: If you re interested, check out an episode such as The Questions Great Leaders Ask here: i= &mt=2. Another good episode is Ask It available here: ? i= &mt=2.!30

31 YouTube Channels & Videos Colonel Arthur Athens, USMCR (Ret.) Those who attended the U.S. Naval Academy are likely familiar with Colonel Athens. I first heard him as a student at EWS. I highly recommend getting on YouTube and searching for videos of his speeches. His insights on leadership are incredible. Chances are, you can find an hour at the end of the day to watch one of his talks. Here s one of my favorites: Again, don t miss this opportunity; you will be a better leader if you apply the principles from his speeches. Microsoft Excel Training I have used Microsoft Excel a lot as an administrator. If you don t know how to create pivot tables or VLOOKUPs, I highly recommend you check out one of the expert s channels like: ExcelIsFun In addition to Excel training, I taught myself how to use Microsoft Access with a lot of late nights watching YouTube. The same goes for PowerPoint. Bottom line - learn how to best use the tools we employ every day.!31

32 Philosopher s Notes I really enjoy Brian Johnson s YouTube channel. You can access his content via podcast, but viewing on YouTube works better for me. Basically, he reads a lot of books focused on personal development, and he provides short summaries on his channel. If getting the wisdom from great reads in less time appeals to you, check it out. Blinkist Blinklist is a subscription-based service that has 15 minute summaries for a lot of books. I did the free trial, read a ton of the summaries (unlimited in trial period), and now I just get the one free book summary a day. I don t read them all, but you get an each week letting you know what is coming up that week.!32

33 Flipboard There are countless news aggregator sites out there, but Flipboard is my current favorite. Besides being able to catch up on current events quickly, Flipboard allows you to include various topics of your choosing and then displays them in an exceptionally smooth way. You can access this via the webpage, but the interface really shines when accessed through an iphone or ipad. The app occupies a prominent place on my iphone home screen and is the way I access curated articles on topics I follow such as productivity, decision-making, data visualization, leadership, etc. If you aren t using this already, I think you ll be hooked after using it a few times. Using it is intuitive enough that no explanation is needed. Spend ten or twenty minutes with it, and it should be very obvious how it works. The screenshot on the right is from my phone and shows some of the topics I follow. The screenshot below is a generic image showing a little more of the interface.!33

34 Chapter Four A Learning Framework One of the most important aspects of improvement is having a well-developed plan. Many are haphazard in the way they approach growth. If your intellectual plan lacks the structure of your physical training, I would urge you to consider making a more formal plan. Bouncing from book to book every now and then doesn t amount to a good growth plan. During a conversation with Major Jason Schermerhorn, one of the 1st Marine Division planners in our G-3, he showed me his approach. Quite honestly, I was very impressed as he explained how he came up with this kind of plan and how he sticks to it. A glimpse of his professional/personal growth plan is captured in the two shots below. Development Plan (Feb 16 Jan 17) For: Jason Schermerhorn (as of 1 February2016) February 16 Intelligence Cri4cal Thinking & Intel Analysis (Moore) Op Art Command or Control? (Samuels) Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Pt. 3 (Grant) March 16 Planning & Planners- o The Select Military Wri4ngs of Mao Tse-Tung Leadership: o A Passion for Leadership (Gates) April 16 o The Paths of Heaven (SAASS) Diplomacy Diplomacy (Kissinger) Team of Teams (McChrystal) May 16 U.S. Navy- o Neptune s Inferno (Hornfischer) Success Living Forward (HyaI) June 16 Intelligence The Tet Offensive: Intelligence Failure in War (Wirtz) DIRINT 0-5 List Strategy/Vietnam Derelic4on of Duty (McMaster) July 16 Counter Insurgency o Uphill BaXle: Reflec4ons on Vietnam COIN (ScoXen) OIF/OEF o Why We Lost (Bolger) August 16 U.S. Civil War o BaXle Cry of Freedom (McPherson) Interpersonal o Difficult Conversa4ons: How to Discuss What MaXers Most (Stone) September 16 o Derelic4on of Duty (McMaster) Management o The Effec4ve Manager (Horstman) October 16 Coaching Becoming a Coaching Leader (Harkavy) Leadership Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals (Willink) November 16 The Aviators (Winston Groom) Other The General and the Genius (Kunetka) December 16 Smarter, Faster, BeXer (Duhigg) o Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business (Gabrielle) January 17 Other Flow: The Psychology of Op4mal Experience (Csikszentmihalyi) Intelligence Preven4ng Surprise (Posner) Podcasts Coaching for Leaders- Dave Stachowiak Manager Tools/Career Tools- Mike Auzenne & Mark Horstman GTD Connect- David Allen This is Your Life Michael HyaI The Look & Sound of Leadership- Tom Henschel GTD Connect- $36 Manager Tools License - $20 - $15 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever Periodicals Proceedings Marine Corps GazeXe Success Magazine Foreign Affairs Other Projects Journal PublicaWon!34

35 Seeing Major Schermerhorn s plan has helped me focus my approach to becoming a better Marine Officer. I would encourage you to consider putting something like this together for yourself; then share it with others. Ask others for their feedback on the best books in different subjects. Most importantly, challenge your Marines to focus their efforts as well.!35

36 Chapter Five Concluding Thoughts My goal in putting this document together has been to provide the kind of resource I wished I had as a young lieutenant arriving at my first unit. I hope that it will prove useful to you as well. Surely some will criticize my recommendations or focus on content omissions. If you don t like this, that s fine. With limited time and a short self-imposed deadline to put this together before I execute PCS orders, I view this as a draft. Your input can help me put together a better document in the future. If you feel like this is way off target, please put something together and share it with our community. As we continue to discuss advocacy and ways to improve our occupational field, everyone is responsible for contributing. If you don t, I think you forfeit your right to complain and criticize. The more I m around new 0102s, the more I am encouraged. The Adjutant Facebook group is a great example of forward progress. The more seriously we take our responsibilities, the more others will realize the importance of what we bring to the collective table. If you aren t happy that you are an 0102, that s fine; however, I hope that you keep your complaints to yourself. The hard-working Marines under your charge deserve someone who is committed to leading them towards mission accomplishment. Please consider the small steps you can take to improve and help those within your circle of influence. Semper Fidelis. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Valero)!36

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