Oct 18, 2017
Rear Admiral Kerry Metz (USN, Ret.) started his
career as a Navy SEAL, and eventually served as the first commander
of Special Operations Command North. In this discussion, Kerry
talked about career success, career setbacks, and how “you can’t be
a shiny penny without a few wire brushings!” Kerry shares his 5 H’s
when it comes to leadership: honor, honesty, humility, humor, and
happiness. He discusses the differences and similarities between
the military, sports teams, business, and the shared commonality
regarding leadership. Listen in to gain insights from a modern-day,
[3:01] Kerry progressed as a SEAL from the tactical area,
through operational roles, and then to the strategic level as an
admiral. The Special Forces, SEALs, and Rangers are tests for the
human body and mind to do 10 times more than they think they
[5:48] A good team requires a common purpose or mission. Next,
comes a shared experience or sacrifice. Everyone contributes to the
best of their ability. These are the ingredients for a
[7:33] Kerry talks about sacrifice in a startup. Employees
sacrifice high salary for shares. Founders are often on the road
more than most executives, for a later payoff. Sacrificing now
gives you future options.
[9:25] Kerry discusses how Naval officers achieve rank.
Evaluations are not only for what they have done, but also their
potential. Leadership is developing the leaders behind you. If
something happens to you, the one behind you has to step up and
take your place.
[13:29] Kerry talks about his advancement. He was passed over
for Lieutenant Commander once, but not the second time. When he was
up for Commander, it also took two times. But he made One Star
Admiral before his contemporaries. Kerry follows five ‘H’s: Honor,
Honesty, Humility, Humor, and Happiness.
[21:13] Military groups fight in a mission to win or lose;
sports teams play a game to win; but business can be a long slog.
He cites Admiral Jim Stavridis, who said to be open, honest, and
collegial, and Admiral Michael Mullen, who said to listen, learn,
and lead. Leaders who apply these principles will lead well.
[25:49] Competition among peers is healthy if it is balanced
with cooperation. Leaders should lead people the way they need to
be led. Some need a push, some need a pat on the back. Tell the
contributors how they are doing, and what they need to do to be on
[29:44] In 1989, Kerry tells a hard leadership lesson he learned
as the Team Commander of SEAL Team One when they deployed to the
[37:27] Put people in the right spot for them, nurture them, and
empower them, and they will surpass your expectations and surprise
you with their achievements.
[41:42] No one starts at the top. He would like to help others
have a smoother ride, go further, and go faster. The world needs
leaders to handle complexity.
LinkedIn: Kerry M. Metz
Navy Bio: Navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio_ret.asp?bioID=655
Hall of Valor: Valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=315229
Whatever you can do, think 10 times that. You are capable of
Don’t let someone else determine where you’re going. You
determine where you’re going. Stay on that path.
You’re going to get through that obstacle. You’ve just got to
A high-performing team has a common purpose, a shared sacrifice,
and everyone contributing to their best ability.
“A good leader can get the most of his personnel even that
aren’t going all the way to the top.”
The bottom line is sustained superior performance.
If something happens to you, the one behind you has to take your
place. If they’re not ready, then that’s your fault.
“If you’re doing something that you absolutely hate, my
suggestion is, do something [about it].”
“You can’t be a shiny penny without a few wire brushings, and I
got more than my share.”
The simplest solution is not always the best if there are
unknown factors. Always listen to input.
Rear Adm. Kerry Metz holds a Bachelor of
Science in Business from the University of Colorado at Boulder and
a Master of Business Administration from the University of Denver.
He completed courses at the Air Command and Staff College, the
Armed Forces Staff College and the Defense Language Institute.
Commissioned via the Aviation Officer Candidate School in October
1984 and after a very brief time in aviation, he was assigned to
the surface fleet where he served on USS Enhance (MSO 437).
Transferring to Naval Special Warfare, he completed Basic
Underwater Demolition/SEAL training with Class 149 in April
He served in both Naval Special Warfare and Joint Special
Operations assignments. Previous commands include a Naval Special
Warfare Task Unit, a Joint Task Force, Naval Special Warfare Group
11, and six Naval Special Warfare Reserve Units. His service
overseas includes multiple deployments to Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Metz served as the first commander of Special Operations Command
North, a subordinate unified command of U.S. Special Operations
Command under the operational control of U.S. Northern Command.
Promoted to rear admiral in October 2011, he served first as the
deputy commander and then as interim commander of Special
Operations Command Central from September 2011 to July 2013.
Books mentioned in this episode
Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating
Lasting Value, by Bill George
The Littlest Green Beret: On Self-Reliant Leadership, by
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in
Crisis, by J. D. Vance
Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and
Sacrifice, by Adam Makos
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe
the World, by William H. McRaven
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant
Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established
Knowledge and Why it Matters,
by Thomas M. Nichols
Letters from a Stoic, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering
Everything, by Joshua Foer
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex
World, by General Stanley McChrystal
and Tantum Collins
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take
Action, by Simon Sinek
The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the
American Desert, by Craig Childs
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy — Until You’re 80
and Beyond, by Chris Crowley
and Henry S. Lodge