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I recently had a chance to ask several United States Marine Corps (USMC) veterans (AKA – A Marine Is Forever A Marine) their advice for post-military career success and they provided a wealth of advice and planning principles.

The themes included servant leadership, strategic planning, mission accomplishment and team leadership just for starters. Check out what they had to say below and let me know what your advice is!


Examples of post-military leadership with veterans helping other veterans succeed:




Alex Runyan, “Servant Leadership”. I am currently a manager of consultants, and while they report to me in our HR system, they don’t work for me they work for our clients who we serve, and I work to support them. No one in my current organization sat me down and explained this to me nor demanded that I operate this way, I brought that philosophy with me as that is how I was professionally raised as a Marine Officer and it has appeared to translate and work well in a for profit professional services organization. Strategic Planning. Don’t get caught in a vicious cycle of firefighting. If all you do is make ‘now’ a little better, who’s making sure tomorrow or next year are a better experience for both our employees and those we serve? As a pilot and operations planner in the Marine Corps, I learned how to make sure we were set for the next year or two, I knew how to make today a good experience as well (and did plenty of firefighting), but I split my time between firefighting and planning for a better future. In business, we need to do things that keep the lights on and the revenue coming in today, but we also need to plan and act today in ways that set up future success for our people and our organizations and I’m focused on that because of how I learned to operate while serving as a pilot and operations planner.”




Rob Arndt, “Mission Accomplishment always comes first. Marines know that Missions are not negotiable and although they may not always have the right tools, people or resources to get the job done easily...failure is never an option. This same mentality and adaptability transfers seamlessly into the civilian workforce because companies need people of action to make the impossible possible.”




Matt Disher, “Team Leadership”.  My most valuable lessons have been in leadership. If the team knows I'll crawl in the dirt for them, they'll crawl in the dirt for me. So always put the team first and they will accomplish the mission.  There's power in the element of the team and their expertise. The leader doesn't always have to have all the answers, nor should they feel the need to have them all.  Strong leaders employ the right people in the right places, playing to strengths and delegating responsibility.  Gathering great people and getting out of their way makes for a more efficient leader who can impact the result better than a micro-manager.  In the Corps, you must rely on the team, strong NCOs and the proficiency of the team members. If the team fails, it's your fault, not theirs.”




John Herwick, “Some Small Steps for Big Leadership Results”.


  1. Take care of your people and they will take care of you; even the smallest of gestures by a leader can have powerful effects on those he/she are responsible to lead.
  2. Seek advice and inputs from those up and down the pay scale; good ideas aren't the sole domain of those at the top.
  3. Tell your people what you need, not how to do it; not doing so can be perceived as mistrust and stunts initiative and ingenuity in team members.




Joey J. Eisenzimmer, “Leadership by Example”.  Leadership is the same whether you're on active duty or in the civilian workforce. You should always be leading by example, never saying that's not my job, and taking every opportunity to learn as much as you can. The most successful leaders in business and in the military, I’ve seen take care of their teams and advocate for them as servant leaders.”




Ian Bonnell, “10 Tips for An Effective Transition”,


  1. Leave your former rank and title at the door.
  2. Follow your dreams and not the advice off social media.
  3. College might not be the best route for you and if the only reason your attending is for the housing allowance.
  4. Hope is not a good plan.
  5. Just because you were a senior rank in the military does not mean that will retain that in the civilian realm.
  6. Military HR is not the same as civilian HR.
  7. You can’t cuss all day every day and military humor is not a good thing for the office.
  8. Learn to listen to others no matter what.
  9. Just because you oversaw million-dollar equipment and hundreds of personnel doesn’t mean you know everything.
  10. Be humble, stay flexible.




Thanks to all the Marine Corps veterans that shared to make this story possible and all the USMC veterans that help other veterans every day.


Share Your Story – What Is Your Favorite Piece of Post Military Career Advice?


Check out more articles in this series of learning military transition success tips from veterans:

  1. Business Lessons from US Navy Veterans
  2. Lessons from US Air Force Veterans
  3. The Number One Thing That I Learned from My Military Service
  4. US Army Veterans Share Their Business Lessons for Success
  5. USAA Leaving the Military Page


Author Biography: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 360 articles in over 185 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and