Sign in

Family Man. Leader. 3x Top Writer. MBA Strategy and Management. Marine Corps Veteran. Winemaker. emaxklein@icloud.com

Intangible skills that can make or break your career

El Nariz on Shutterstock

The best leader I ever met barely graduated high school.

He was a Sergeant of mine when I was a young Marine. The Marines under him loved him and would follow him anywhere. The Marines above him respected him greatly.

He wasn’t book smart. In fact, he could barely spell, but he was “people-smart” which is much more powerful. He knew how people felt. He felt what people wanted. He had the highest emotional intelligence of anyone I’ve ever met. He knew how to light a fire in our souls then get the very best from us. …

Read everything from Max Klein — and more.

Upgrade to Medium membership to directly support independent writers and get unlimited access to everything on Medium.

Become a member

Already a member?Sign In

A masterpiece is painted with tiny brushstrokes

Photo Credit: OPOLJA on Shutterstock

I’ve found in life that the simplest advice is often the most powerful and that small habits you adopt paint the big picture of who you are. This observation holds true with leadership.

Admiral William McRaven, in his commencement speech to the graduates at The University of Texas, said:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. …


Small tweaks in leadership techniques to avoid huge headaches

Credit: HBRH on Shutterstock

I pictured myself in military prison, my future ruined. Thoughts like this were racing through my head as I sprinted back to the barracks from the rifle range.

“Oh crap, Oh crap, Oh crap….where is it?” I thought as a cold sweat trickled down my brow.

There was an M16 rifle missing. Gone. We couldn’t find it. We were on the rifle range in Marine Boot Camp on Parris Island, South Carolina.

Somehow I’d finagled my way into being the ‘Platoon Guide’, which is basically the leader of the other 75 recruits in the platoon. …


Motivating with more than just money

Photo Credit: ASDF_Media on Shutterstock.com

I remember once in the Marines I was speaking to a man named Joe Dowdy, a “full-bird” Colonel, who was about to lead over 7,000 men and women into battle. This is about as close to having God-like powers as any man can have but he was talking to me like a beloved teacher may speak to one of his favorite students.

I wasn’t his favorite Marine, of course — we all were. This extreme down-to-earth humility made him one of the most well-loved officers in the Marine Corps. A “Marine’s Marine.”

Think of the bosses, teachers, coaches, or leaders…


#1. Disagreement and competence threatens them

Credit: By TeddyGraphics on Shutterstock

“Your job as a manager is to get out of your people’s way,” my boss said during his retirement speech. That mentality is why people loved working for him. He knew if he hired good people then his job was to be the guy leading the jungle safari with a machete chopping through bureaucratic obstacles instead of becoming one.

A study by Life Meets Work concluded that 56% of workers think their boss is either mildly or highly toxic.


Real racists rejoice when we cry wolf to show we care

Masson on Shutterstock

The social media warriors lit their e-torches and clicked up their pitchforks as they virally marched last week for the annihilation of a white supremacist. Just one little problem — the guy wasn’t one.

Kelly Donahue had just won his third Jeopardy match and held up three fingers on his chest. He’d also held up one finger then two for those wins respectively…but who cares about facts? Let’s get him!

In a Facebook post, Kelly initially explained:

“That’s a 3. No more. No less”

But that explanation wasn’t good enough for the offenda-mob. The national news media picked up on…


Choices to create beautiful memories instead of regrets

Credit: Dark Moon Pictures on Shutterstock

I scratched out my will in one of those spiral-bound, blue-lined notebooks we used in high school. I realized I didn’t have much to give to anyone at age 26 — maybe a nice TV to one of my buddies and a baseball card collection to my brother. So I folded up the lined page and shoved it into an envelope to send to my best friend back home to open if I didn’t come home.

It was early March, 2003. …


Believe in the very best parts of others

Credit: fizkes on Shutterstock

Even at the ripe middle age of 44, when I doubt myself, I hear my Mom whisper in my ear saying “I know my son can do it.”

She believed in me. She passed away almost 18 years ago, but that gift of belief has been with me for all of those 44 years. I try to pay that gift forward now to not just with my own kids, but even with people I meet at work.

I’ve found this gift of belief to be of the best ways to really improve these relationships.

Work is work — I believe…


They may seem harmless but your words could be killing morale

Cookie Studio on Shutterstock

“I’d rather be castrated with a plastic spork than come into work tomorrow!” my coworker said after hearing the boss was coming back into town after two weeks of traveling for business. “We get so much good work done when he’s not here.”

This was a common sentiment among this boss’s subordinates. He wasn’t a bad guy but he just did and said things without thinking that eventually just obliterated morale.

Most of the time, if you know someone’s heart is in the right place, you can forgive some dumb things they say, but when dumb words combine with micromanagement…


Humor/Satire

I had my first hit in a maternity ward

“An Oxygen addict takes a hit” — Credit: Antonio Guillem on Shutterstock

I remember my first hit clearly. It was 44 years ago and happened to be on my birthday.

There I was…warm, wet, cozy, and just chillin’ upside down. All of a sudden I felt my head slowly being squeezed. Squeezing harder! Cold! Lights!

Those horrible, painful lights!

Still upside down but freezing now, I saw a large white mass come at me with a rubber stick. The mass shoved the rubber stick into my mouth and sucked hard.

I cried.

I inhaled. It burned at first. But then…that was it. Ahhhhhhhhh. Waaaaaaaa. Ahhhhhhh. Waaaaaaaaa.

Those beautiful hits of air made…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store