From Navy SEAL to CEO: A Journey of Resilience and Creativity

Hello everyone, I’m Doug Thorpe, your host, and today I’m excited to share with you an insightful conversation I had with Marty Strong, a former Navy SEAL turned executive and CEO. Marty’s journey from the Midwest to Japan, then to the Navy SEALs, and finally to the boardroom is nothing short of inspiring.

The Making of a Navy SEAL

Marty’s story begins in the Midwest, where he was born before moving to Japan with his parents. After his parents’ divorce, he returned to Nebraska and joined the Navy at the tender age of 16. A twist of fate landed him at the Navy SEAL training command in San Diego, where he was convinced by a senior enlisted SEAL to volunteer for the SEAL program.

Marty served as a Navy SEAL for 20 years, both as an enlisted SEAL and as an officer. After retiring, he transitioned into the financial services industry as a portfolio manager, later becoming an executive and CEO for several companies.

The SEAL Mindset: Creativity and Resilience

Many of us are fascinated by Navy SEALs and their leadership abilities. When I asked Marty about the qualities that make SEALs stand out, he explained that SEALs possess a creative and resilient nature that goes beyond their military training. They are taught to think in a free-spirited and open-minded way, which aids them in mission planning, assessing threats, and finding opportunities.

SEALs have a drive to be creative and think differently, not accepting the status quo or relying solely on historical data. Through their experiences, they learn that planning and looking in the rearview mirror doesn’t always guarantee success.

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life

Marty’s transition from the military to a new profession was not without its challenges. Initially, he struggled with the idea of selling because he lacked training in sales. However, he soon realized that 90% of selling is having faith and confidence in what you’re selling and in your own abilities. This realization boosted his confidence and he started doing seminars, which allowed him to utilize his transferable skills from the military, such as standing up in front of people, communicating, and presenting complex materials.

In his financial career, trust was crucial when working with high net worth clients. He positioned himself as a strategic partner, using his skills in mission planning to help clients navigate challenges and make informed decisions.

Building a Client Base: The Power of Personalized Outreach

When asked about attracting people to his seminars, Marty explained that he used a three-part mailing system, sending out personalized invitations to potential attendees. He also followed up with phone calls to those who RSVP’d and those who didn’t attend. This method required a lot of effort, but it proved successful in growing his client base.

The Inspiration Behind Marty’s Books

Marty has written nine novels, divided into two series: a time travel series and a SEAL series. The SEAL series is not about Marty himself, but rather a fictional character based on his experiences as a senior enlisted SEAL officer.

The time travel series, called the Time Warrior Saga, focuses on themes of truth, honor, brotherhood, and bravery in a medieval setting. Marty drew inspiration from his own late-life experience in Thai boxing and incorporated his training and knowledge into the story. He mentions that all the proceeds from his novels go to the SEAL Veterans Foundation.

Essential Thinking for Running a Business

Marty shares the themes of his three business books: “Be Nimble,” “Be Visionary,” and “Be Different.” He emphasizes the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and taking calculated risks. Marty believes that even leaders of larger organizations should think in an entrepreneurial way and be ready to seize both negative and positive opportunities.

Being different, according to Marty, involves being creative and innovative in how you structure your business or approach problems. Being visionary means thinking about the future and not getting too caught up in the day-to-day operations.

Overcoming Insecurities and Inhibitions

One of the biggest struggles Marty has noticed in business leaders today is the need for individuals to overcome their own insecurities and inhibitions in order to affect personal and professional change. To address this need, Marty created a program called “The Voices in Your Head.” He incorporates vignettes from his experience in SEAL training and missions, as well as practical business situations, to help individuals understand that everyone, including Navy SEALs, has doubts and fears.


I want to thank Marty Strong for sitting in and contributing to this enlightening discussion. I also want to express my appreciation for you, the listeners, for your valuable time spent on the podcast. I encourage you to check out our YouTube channel, where you can find a video version of the show and other content.

I look forward to connecting with you again soon and encourage you to make the most of your day. For more information about my coaching and advisory services, please visit my website.

BIO – Introduction

Marty Strong is a retired Navy SEAL combat veteran and CEO. He is a consultant, motivational speaker, and the author of nine novels and two business leadership books; Be Nimble: How the Creative Navy SEAL Mindset Wins on the Battlefield and in Business released in January 2022 and Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization, released January 2023

Social Media

Twitter:  @MStrongSEAL

Website: Marty Strong Author, Speaker, Top Business Consultant (martystrongbenimble.com)

LinkedIn:    https://www.linkedin.com/in/marty-strong-9676bb13/

Doug’s Social Media:

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