The Marine Corps prepares you by instilling a hard work ethic, strong moral values and effective leadership traits. The confidence to try something new and different is what I take away the most from my time in the Marine Corps. I had no experience with machine guns, cannons, military tactics, etc. when I joined. You learn and learn quickly all things Marine Corps. As the enemy shifts tactics, we have to learn new ways to attack and defend. Self-study and continuous training were staples for me in the Marine Corps. That training, practice and repetition eliminates the fear of failure. In my civilian job, the relentless pursuit of educating myself to be better and working harder than my peers was instilled in me from the Marine Corps. I’m not afraid to try something new and do not have a fear of failure holding me back.
Ihad the pleasure to interview Benjamin Minor Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services, Inc.Ben is responsible for equity and options block trading and overseeing the team’s third-party asset managers. Additionally, he is involved in the equity research process and is the point person for financial and estate planning consulting. Prior to joining UBS in 2012, Ben was a sales consultant for Synthes Trauma, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Previously Ben was an Officer in the United States Marine Corps, where he achieved the rank of Captain. Ben deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer. Ben received his BA in History from Denison University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ben! Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”? –
Iam the oldest of four siblings. We were all born in Memphis, TN. My family relocated to Washington, PA when I was in 9th grade (1995). I did not have a desire to join the Military growing up. The Military was used as threat by my parents when I got too rowdy!!
Sept 11, 2001 changed my outlook and desire to serve. I was a junior in college at Denison University when the 9/11 attacks occurred. I remember turning on the TV and seeing the second plane hit the twin towers after news of a plane crash in New York City circulated the hallways. Something inside of me changed when I learned it was a planned attack on our country. I decided I wanted to serve and fight. My family has a long line of Marine Corps service. My grandfather fought in WWII on Okinawa and in Korea as a Marine. My Uncle is a retired Marine Corps Major General (two star) and was an active duty Brigadier General when 9/11 occurred. My brother and two cousins also volunteered to serve during the Global War on Terror.
At the time, I knew Marines were “first to fight” and generally regarded as the toughest branch of the armed services. I played football and lacrosse in college and coupled with family history of service, the Marine Corps seemed like the right fit.
And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?
I work in Private Wealth Management for UBS Financial Services. My team is me, my father, brother and senior client associate. We work with some of the wealthiest families in the country. Our mandate is to build and manage custom portfolios that meet our client’s unique needs.
Can you tell us a bit about your military background?
I was an artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps from 2003–2007. I was stationed at Camp Pendleton as part of 2d Bn, 11th Marines. I deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005, 2007). My deployments were unique for an artillery battery. We did not take or fire cannons in Iraq. We cross trained and deployed as a provisional infantry company. We ran convoy security and conducted mounted vehicle patrolling while based out of Camp Ramadi in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. During my first deployment in 2005, I was a platoon commander in charge of 40 marines. We ran over 50 long-haul convoy security missions and drove approximately 10,000 miles across Iraq. The biggest risk we faced were IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and small arms fire. My second deployment took us right back to Camp Ramadi. By this time, I had been promoted to executive officer (2nd in command) of the battery. I ensured the 150-man company was trained prior to the deployment and managed all the commodity heads (communication, motor transport, supply, 3 line platoons) to ensure our company operated smooth and efficiently (similar to a COO role) both pre-deployment and while in Iraq.
Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?
The Marine Corps was the best learning experience of my life. There wasn’t one key takeaway. The Military/Marine Corps is hard and quite often not fun. For me, watching and working with Marines up and down the chain of command was the most rewarding aspect. Seeing hard work turn into success at a young age was motivating.
I’m interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.
I know individuals that are classified as hero’s and personally experienced what many would call a heroic act. It is certainly impressive and awe-inspiring when hearing of what an individual risked in order to save/help/fight off the enemy. Most heroes I know were simply doing their job in combat. In my experience, heroes rarely call themselves a hero. When civilians are told of “heroic” acts of service members, that person being recognized was probably very scared at the time and more than likely found themselves, their unit, and their friends in a very bad and life-threatening situation. The hero emerges because they care more for their comrades than they do themselves and are willing to risk bodily harm or death to help or save their friends. They do this because they know their friends/comrades would do the same for them.
Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?
Heroes happen because of the commitment to fellow Marines/friends/comrades. The bond between men serving in combat is stronger than anything I’ve experienced in life. Heroic acts are a combination of mission accomplishment, duty, love and brotherhood.
Does a person need to be facing a life and death situation to do something heroic or to be called a hero?
I don’t believe facing a life and death situation is the only metric to qualify for hero status. There are many people who give and sacrifice time, money and energy to help others and are heroic in their endeavors. These people set examples for others to follow and inspire similar behavior. That is what heroes do — they get others to strive for excellence.
Based on your military experience, can you share with our readers 5 Leadership or Life Lessons that you learned from your experience”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Leaders embrace ownership: As a leader it is imperative to take ownership of a mission, training exercise, or drill. If the outcome is not a success, then it is my responsibility as the leader to own its failure. Leaders hold themselves accountable and do not pass the blame.
- Ensure the mission is clear and concise to subordinates: The biggest risk with communication is assuming it actually occurred. Make sure your team and unit fully understand the mission.
- Don’t let your EGO get in the way: Leaders need to show humility and accept ideas that are better than theirs, even when they come from subordinates. That helps build a better team dynamic. When a leader can take constructive criticism and not let their ego get in the way, it shows the team/unit that ultimately the unit is most important to the leader.
- Bad teams do not exist, only bad leaders: Good leadership is contagious and should inspire positive transformation in people. Good leaders create a positive culture of teamwork which allows for success of the team.
- Mission accomplishment: Set a goal and achieve it. Push your subordinates or teammates to accomplish the mission as effectively as possible.
Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business? Can you explain?
100-percent, yes. The Marine Corps prepares you by instilling a hard work ethic, strong moral values and effective leadership traits. The confidence to try something new and different is what I take away the most from my time in the Marine Corps. I had no experience with machine guns, cannons, military tactics, etc. when I joined. You learn and learn quickly all things Marine Corps.
As the enemy shifts tactics, we have to learn new ways to attack and defend. Self-study and continuous training were staples for me in the Marine Corps. That training, practice and repetition eliminates the fear of failure. In my civilian job, the relentless pursuit of educating myself to be better and working harder than my peers was instilled in me from the Marine Corps. I’m not afraid to try something new and do not have a fear of failure holding me back.
As you know, some people are scarred for life by their experience in the military. Did you struggle after your deployment was over? What have you done to adjust and thrive in civilian life that others may want to emulate?
I struggled when my deployment was over and eventually my Marine Corps service. I missed my peers, friends, platoon and company. They had become like a family to me. It was hard not having them every day. It almost felt like I was dumped by a girlfriend. I know that is a strange comparison, but the comraderies I experienced in the Marines was very strong.
I had a very positive overall Marine Corps/Military experience. I certainly have empathy for those men and women who suffered visible and non-visible injuries. I’m not a psychologist and can’t say what others need to do to “adjust.” There is no experience similar to war and combat. It affects everyone differently. Surrounding yourself with family, friends and a strong positive network of veterans would be my humble advice for anyone suffering.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Nothing new and exciting at the moment.My brother (business partner) and I are taking more and more responsibility from our father (senior partner). Work occupies a lot of time right now. Both my brother and I are Marine Corps combat veterans, so we try and stay active in veterans organizations in our area.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Listen, be open to ideas that aren’t yours, and take ownership when mistakes occur. Don’t blame others; the buck stops with you.
What advice would you give to other leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Don’t ask anyone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I credit my friend Paul Fischer with inspiring me to be the best Marine Officer and person I could be. I met Paul a few days after I checked into Echo Battery, 2d Bn, 11th Marines in November 2004. Paul was a second lieutenant like me and had also recently checked-in to Echo 2/11. Paul probably doesn’t realize it but by watching him and seeing how he conducted his professional and personal life, it inspired me. I wanted to be like Paul Fischer.
It wasn’t that he was a macho big Marine or did something heroic, it was his mannerism, professionalism and how he treated other people. As a young man, Paul was inspiring. He worked hard and cared more about his Marines than he did himself. I tried to model myself after him. I’m convinced that if I had not met Paul, I would not have embraced the work ethic and desire to be the best person I could have been. Working and deploying with Paul for two years helped shape an immature 24-year-old into a responsible man. I’m forever grateful for my friend Paul Fischer.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My success is relatively modest, so on a small scale it starts with the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated yourself. If we treat those we encounter daily with kindness and respect, hopefully that inspires them to do the same.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My movement would probably be wildly unpopular, but I think every young man and woman should have a two-year mandatory military service requirement. The military can help develop leadership traits, work ethic, and provide maturity to many young people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? I’ll give you two.
“No Man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.” — William Penn
If my life is not in order, how do I gain respect or lead others? The quote is simple enough that it reminds me to make sure I’m doing all I can to set the best example.
“We’re surrounded, that simplifies things.” — Lt Gen Chesty Puller
Remember to keep it simple. Sometimes I overthink problems or tasks which leads to more confusion or disarray. Keeping things simple helps me accomplish tasks and solve problems.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Former NFL quarterback Brett Farve — my favorite athlete of all time.