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By David Harder on November, 10, 2015

A Marine General Steps Into His Unexpected Life

Mel Spiese has devoted his entire life to doing the right thing.

That one serendipitous commitment has led to a rightness and integrity that shows up in every aspect of his being.

He grew up in a very loving and supportive family. But, they didn’t push him to excel. At college, he walked into an ROTC office and realized he wanted to stop being disappointed in himself. In the Marines, he saw an opportunity to grow from being an average young man into a potential life of excellence.

I met Mel Spiese about thirty years later. He walked in the door of our Inspired Work Program as a highly awarded and regarded Major General in the US Marines.  For many years, Mel was the Commander of Training and Education Command where he led one of the largest learning organizations in the world.

I have always been touched by participants who grow and succeed in one organization. They often have particular challenges in moving forward because their identities are so tightly connected to that organization. There is no evidence they can succeed someplace else. Mel was going through that experience.

There was a magic moment. I have come to realize when a participant is really close to “getting it.” Mel was right there grappling with the answers he had given to our questions.

I said to him, “You hatch people.”

His eyes lit up and he quietly responded, “Yes.”

“How many people have you hatched?”

“Over 300,000.”

“Is there one other person in the world that can make that statement?”

I love watching other participants in moments like this. You could hear a pin drop.

For both of us, a turning point.

In the months since, Mel Spiese has been preparing a new leadership development company for the private sector. I have been with him every step of the way and it is a journey filled with discoveries.  For example, the US Marines are recognized by McKinsey, Forbes and The Corporate Executive Board recognize the US Marines as the single most effective leadership organization in the world.

Most leadership development programs are directed towards “high potentials.” Lives depend on every member of the team at the US Marines. Many of us in thinking about military training are drawn to the images of someone yelling at recruits and pushing them into risky maneuvers. However, the core training, the one that turns everyone into a leader involves values.

In studying the values embraced in Marine Corps training, I learned and grew as an individual. Building values from within and growing them throughout an organization is one of the few ways we can create sustainable improvement. The values that Mel Spiese teaches can quickly become a transformative way of living.

I suggest that everyone gets to know these values.

My experience with Mel has changed my bias about the military.

Today, knowing how Marines are trained and how they live elevates my recommendation in hiring our Veterans.

On the day Mel and I met, I brought up Inspired Work’s commitment to bring full employee engagement to organizations.

He responded, “The US Marines don’t have a problem with engagement.”

My first reaction was, “Well of course, their lives depend on it.” But, I found out there isn’t an off switch when we devote our lives to positive values and that, my friends, is why this work is so important. Mel Spiese prepared hundreds of thousands of Marines for war. Let us not forget that he actually trained these individuals to become good human beings.  His new company is Leaders Can Be Made and over the next couple of weeks you can see more about it at

I am also quite happy to make introductions to Mel.

I am constantly humbled by the progress of our graduates. I learn just as much from them as they learn from me. In Mel’s particular case, I have come to treasure our friendship. I have grown from all that he teaches but also from what he represents. Here is a gifted leader who practices all he preaches, who lives in a state of kindness and humility, who brings these values to his work, his marriage and his family.

It does not get better than that.

Upcoming Events:
Saturday & Sunday – December 5 & 6

At the beautiful Luxe Summit Hotel (Los Angeles)

Join us for the last program of the year.

So how is your relationship towards work?

Our process sorts out the issues about work whether you have a job, own a business, thinking of a change or simply want more.

The Inspired Work Program is an immersive experience that draws out each participant’s truth in ways that can be immediately actionable and life changing. Time and time again, the breakthroughs are lasting because they are based on your truth – not ours. We just offer the best organizing process in the world!

Feedback about the December program and facilitator:

“For most of us, there are only a few people that we can say have truly changed our lives. David is one of these people for me. I was introduced to David by a colleague and took the Inspired Work program. It was transformational. His approach and philosophy get to the heart of why we work and why we are here. I can’t recommend him or the program highly enough. I have continued a lively, enjoyable, and fruitful professional association with David and he continues to add incredible value to my business and my professional development. He is a true professional partner, thinking how to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts, always considering your best interests. I look forward to a long, productive, and enjoyable association with him.”

Scott Lochridge – President, Dragonfly Organization Resource Group

Reserve your place by calling (310) 277-4850.

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