BTU #234 - Career Advice #2 with Mark Horstman

It’s not hard, it just requires discipline. And this discipline is how veterans can win in the job market.
— Mark Hortsman

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Why Listen:
This is my second interview with Mark Horstman, and if you haven’t listened BTU #193 - Army Veteran to iTunes' #1 Business Podcast (Mark Horstman), you don’t want to miss it. In this interview we talk about combating negative self-talk, about the “Horstman Christmas Rule,” and we go through a very tactical and detailed process for understanding one’s self. I’ve placed my notes from this process in the show notes as well, because I think it’s so valuable for listeners. As a reminder, the Beyond the Uniform coaching program is a fantastic way to delve right in - with a certified coach - with deepening your self-knowledge and identifying your next career move.

About Mark:
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.

Our Sponsor: 

  • StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at

Selected Resources: 

  • WSJ - recommended reading every day 

My notes from the process that Mark describes:

Rehearsal & preparation of understanding your own background

  • 3 nights - 1 hour each. Notepad

    • First night: high school

    • second night: college

    • third night: work (2 nights and skip of High School if 10+ years)

    • What did I accomplish that is significant

    • Every resume bullet becomes the core of an accomplishment

    • Someone in one of your interviews will ask about a bullet on your resume

    • Front of 3x5 card, 1 card per accomplishment - what did achieve

      • Examples: Graduated top 5% of class, co-captain of basketball team, 1st trombone in the school band

    • high school 4-6 accomplishments, even if a few are weak. 10 years of experience, 15 accomplishments

    • then - think about each accomplishment, on the back of the card - 4 words to describe the skills used to achieve it, the abilities you used, the traits of personality / characteristics (STAC). What does this show about me? Grittiness, drive, enthusiasm, ability to work with others, determination, marketing, personal relationships.

    • Make as many copies of the 3x5 card as there are abilities (example: Co-captain of basketball team. You write out 5 traits for this accomplishment. So you make 5 copies of this 3x5 card). Do this for everyone of your cards. Then highlight ONE on each of the 5 cards (a different on each card)

    • Take the first one in the stack, whatever trait it has highlighted (eg. Leadership), start a stack called “leadership”. Create a new stack for every single trait.

    • When interviewer asks you, “tell me about a time you showed Leadership” you can just grab one of the stories mentally that relates to the accomplishment. 

  1. Offer - send Wendii resume and she’ll highlight experiences to focus on for interview prep

  2. Then work on the answers to these questions

  • First sentence - one of my most significant accomplishments was when I was salesman of the year at P&G. (avoid commas in this sentence if at all possible)

  • Context - In my first year I was responsible for Crest Toothpaste, and I was one of 6 people reporting to my boss for a territory in Houston. And I drove all over Houston convincing doctors and dentists to use our product and recommend them to drive grocery store sales for us.

  • Describe approach & detail approach in more detail - there were three thins that were really important to me. Key areas that led to me being highly successful. 1 - a concerted effort to build ta relationship with the largest dental practice in my territories. 2 - relationships with the dental society that got me introduced to many dentists in my area. [3-4 minutes long… going into detail, and the interviewer may ask questions here making this 6-10 minutes long in total]

  • Every quarter, take time to look at the last 90 days to meet the level of some accomplishment. You can throw away the bottom ones and keep the top 10 questions going.

  • Start practicing. “Tell me about yourself”and “give an example of a significant accomplishment"

    • First day 15-20 minutes, talk into your phone or mic on your computer and give your answer. The first time will not be great. Key thing is to be smart enough to try it a second time and get it better.

    • Carry around those 3x5 cards to quickly recall the example. choose 2 different accomplishments and practice it. After you’ve done ir 20-30 times you can move to just doing it once a week

    • Practice for 2 weeks audio only

    • Dn’t listen to the recording until the next morning. It takes 24 hours to forget how you did and then you’ll be more critical the next day.

    • After that, e very Saturday night, sit down across from your phone with the video on, and do this again.Don’t watch the video until the next morning. Sit up, smile more, look at camera more, stop saying um. Do this for 2 weeks