Mark Horstman is the Co-Founder of Manager Tools, a management consulting and training firm that regularly consults to and trains managers in Fortune 1000 companies around the world. His podcast - Manager Tools - has over 800 ratings on iTunes, and focuses on specific skills to improve management performance. He started out at West Point and served as an Officer in the US Army for five years. He and his Co-Founder, also a West Point graduate, have run Manager Tools for nearly 14 years. His podcast is listened to over 2M times per month in every country in the world except for North Korea. He is also the author of the book, The Effective Manager.
Mark is a wealth of knowledge of tactical advice for managers, having coached two Presidents of the United States. His advice is listened to by over 2M people per month and shares insights about how Veterans can lead in the civilian workforce, tips for interviewing, and more.
- PinPointPrep - Where you go to school matters, and it's important that you find a program that is well suited to who you are and where you want to go. PinPoint Prep is committed to helping you get into your dream school. They make it simple to achieve the standardized test scores needed to get into your dream school by providing top-tier tutors who understand the schedules and needs of the Veteran community through a flexible, 1-on-1 format. But, more importantly, their tutors (who all scored in the 99th percentile on their standardized tests) only charge by the hour. This means that you're not locked into a long-term, expensive package. It also makes it easier to schedule your test prep around your schedule.
- Mention Beyond the Uniform for a 15% discount on your tutoring.
- The Effective Manager
- What You’ve Been Taught About Management is Wrong - a fantastic, 20 minute video about effective management
- HBR - What CEOs do with their time
- PCS to Corporate America - Mark’s old boss wrote this and it is good preparation for interviewing
- The Interviewing Series - $150 (firstname.lastname@example.org) - they will give BTU listeners a discount. Helps you get your resume ready. They will look at your resume and give advice. They go through the Resume Workbook that exhaustively covers what to do.
- Your Resume Stinks - podcast on how to improve your resume
- “Tell me about yourself"
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining us today from Pebble Beach, CA is Mark Horstman. Mark is the co-founder of Manger Tools, a management consulting and training firm that regularly consults to and trains managers in Fortune 1000 companies around the world. His podcast - Manager Tools - has over 800 ratings on iTunes, and focuses on specific skills to improve management performance. He started out at West Point and served as an Officer in the US Army for five years. He and his Co-Founder, also a West Point graduate, have run Manager Tools for nearly 14 years. His podcast is listened to over two million times per month in every country in the world except for North Korea. He is also the author of the book, The Effective Manager.
We got very lucky with our podcast, I will say that. My co-founder and I served together in the Army. I helped him get out of the Army. He and I started the podcast the day after iTunes implemented support for podcasts. So we were very lucky in the way. It is now the #1 business podcast in the world. We’re humbled and pleased and the fact that we can help hundreds of thousands of people all around the world is amazing. We have close to 1500 podcasts. We do a podcast every week. And we have two podcasts - Manager Tools and Career Tools.
When did you start the podcast?
I went to West Point and studied mechanical engineering. I got out after serving five years in the Army. I went to work at Procter and Gamble selling toothpaste. I left there to become a recruiter. I then left there to start my own consulting company. Horstman and Company was a predecessor to Manager Tools. I was thinking about wrapping up my career when my business partner suggested we start a podcast. That was in 2005. He came up with a six month plan about how we were going to do this. We went down to Best Buy and bought a microphone to plug into our laptop and just started talking to each other about management. We’ve been surprised by two things people tell us about the podcast - it’s actionable and that they like the way Mike and I talk to each other.
One thing I appreciate about your podcast is the specific and actionable advice you provide. You really get into the nuts and bolts.
I got sick of the platitudes, frankly. At some point I got a little cynical. I saw people acting as if they were management experts but they weren’t providing any actionable advice. We have a 1-on-1 section. We teach people how to do 1-on-1s with their direct reports. Your direct goes first and you take notes. One our website we have a draft email that you send to each member of your team to schedule 1-on-1 meetings. If your team is dispersed, use Skype or the phone. If you have five guys working for you, provide them 8 time slots.
I’ve had managers tell me that they don’t have time for 1-on-1s but that’s crap. I’ve taught two US Presidents and CEOs of major companies to do 1-on-1s so you can find the time if this is something that you value. Look at your calendar a month from now - there’s probably nothing on it. There was a great article recently in the Harvard Business Review about what CEOs do with their time. The average CEO works 60 hours a week. In the corporate world, you don’t need to work ungodly hours to be successful.
So you send your team various time slots that you can meet with them. Before you start the meeting, you give each member a briefing. We have a PowerPoint on our website that can help you. Let your team know that you want to build a better relationship with them. A lot of people think they know their direct reports well. A good test is whether or not you can name the first name of the all the children of each of your direct reports. Many managers can’t do that and they really don’t know their people. Yet they still expect that person to be devoted to the company.
Then in the actual meeting, you let the direct go first and bring up anything they might want to address. Then you make a commitment to meet with that person on a weekly basis. This can build a powerful relationship.
I mention all of this just to show how actionable the advice on our show is. We give you actual and specific steps you can take as a manager.
It seems like the advice you provide can really help manager take steps to become better at what they’re doing.
One of things that I learned in the military was “mission first, people always.” And people tell me, ‘well that’s confusing’. To me, it’s not confusing but it is hard. You have to get the work done and also take care of your people. There are too many managers that don’t want to lead people and there are leaders that don’t want to worry about the technicalities of managing. But you really need to do both. And I believe that the stronger your relationship with your people, the more productive the team will be.
We just put out a podcast about how to on-board a new hire. And we offer an Excel spreadsheet that has very specific tasks listed that should be accomplished with any new employee.
How do you think leading and managing in the military is different from corporate America?
I believe that it’s not that different. I’m not the perfect guy to ask that question because I came out of the Army in 1987. The Army that I joined was nowhere near as professional as today. Today it’s a much better force. The modern force today is so impressive that I get choked up about it. My nephew graduated from West Point three years ago and I went to the graduation. I looked at him in the eyes and told him that he was better prepared to be a Lieutenant than I had been leaving West Point.
I do have some suggestions for your listeners that are leaving the military. You need to get a suit. For ladies, a blue or black pants suits and cream blouse. Don’t worry about your hair, your hair is fine. You do need to do some reading. I recommend PCS to Corporate America.
It gives you really good preparation for the interview process. We also have an interview preparation product which we offer to military members and veterans for a discount. We’ll tell you every single thing that you need to prepare. We have example resumes. You can also send us your resume and we’ll give you feedback. I can guarantee you what you’ve been told about your resume is crap. You do not need to civilianize your resume. What ends up happening is that you don’t know that civilian terms that you should be using and the product ends up being laughable. In my career, I’ve probably seen 10,000 military resumes and only about 5% are good. But it’s not hard to make yours good. We’ll give you guidance. A classic mistake is listing your accomplishments with bullets.
You also need to write a cover letter. We’ll tell you exactly how to write one. You also need to prepare for the interview. 99% of what you can read on the web about interview preparation is garbage. The primary misconception about interviewing is that it’s a two-way street. It’s not a two-way street. It’s about getting offers that you can accept or decline. At that point you have control and that’s your time to interview the company. The primary purpose of the interview is to earn an offer from the interviewer. So you need to prepare for that.
Think about your experience and what it proves about your skills. How can you characterize and communicate that? You also need to practice. There are five basic questions that you’ll can asked in almost all interviews. You need to practice your answers for these questions. In our series, we explain to you exactly how you can do this.
Another big question you’ll get asked in an interview is about your leadership and management style. We guide you on how to prepare for the interview.
We also help you with tips for the actual interview you. What questions you should ask during the interview, how you close your interview and how you should follow up after the interview. We have a total of 60 podcasts on how you should approach the interview process. I’m very blessed to have had experience as a recruiter in my background so I’ve seen a lot of what works and doesn’t work in this process.
An interview is an artificial reality created by employers and is designed to end with a “no”. Because if it was designed to end with a “yes”, you wouldn’t even interview people, you would just accept everyone and then weed them out within the first 90 to 180 days. As a veteran, you have the skills and knowledge to perform admirably in entry level and higher positions. There are tons of programs to help corporations do better at hiring veterans. But you have to get through the interview. You have to prepare. If you don’t get through the interview, nothing else matters. If you’re getting out in the next three months, you’re behind if the things I’m saying are new to you. In three months, you can become a massively great interviewer. But it’s going to take time every day. With your phone, you can record yourself and practice answers to these questions.
Do you have any advice on how veterans can effectively sell themselves?
I don’t think we’re boasting when we advocate for ourselves. There’s an old saying in Texas, “It’s not boasting if you’ve done it.” Justin, if you’re the VP of our division and I’m a Director in the division. I’ve identified a new product that will address customer concerns. In this instance, should I go into you unsure of myself and looking to be humble? No I should be confident in what I have learned from our customers and how we can more effectively serve them.
If I’m in an interview and I’m talking about my accomplishments, that’s not boasting. There’s potentially a job offer on the opposite side of that. So you need to talk about the things you’ve accomplished. In our podcast, we also talk about how to create an effective resume that you can then develop further in the interview.
I used to live in Texas and still have a lot of Texas in my heart. When I was there, the Cowboys won a bunch of Super Bowls. Emmitt Smith won the Super Bowl MVP. If you asked him about what his most significant professional accomplishment is, he would tell you that it was winning a Super Bowl MVP award. He would give you background about how the game went and what happened. He would list what his job was within that setting. This isn’t bragging. He’s talking about something that he did.
If people don’t understand what interviewing is about and what questions are coming, you won’t be prepared to effectively provide an answer. But that’s about a complete lack of preparation.
I really appreciate you being here, Mark.
I’m happy to be here. If there’s anything else I can offer you or your listeners, please let me know. West Point and the Army gave me so much so I’m happy to share my knowledge with other members of the veteran community.