From Commanding to Coaching: How a Marine Corps Career Lead to a Passion for Executive Coaching

Episode #1009: Explore the phenomenal story and journey that led Larry Cassidy to executive coaching after a career in the Marine Corps and corporate America. Tune into the discussion to learn how Larry, an award-winning Vistage chair, encourages clients to achieve their full potential through asking forward-thinking questions and emphasizing the importance of perseverance.


About Larry Cassidy


Larry Cassidy, a retired U.S Marine Corp Captain and Lieutenant, Fortune 500 leader, and master executive coach has an immense amount of wisdom and knowledge from his successful careers. Larry’s journey to coaching came from his roots in the military, as well as his experience in corporate America. He has received multiple awards including: the Star Award, Chair Excellence Award, Master chair Award, Regional Chair Award, Robert Knauss Chair of the Year Award, and the Don Cope Award which is the highest honor that Vistage has. Larry has also been named in the top 50 individuals who made a difference in the first 50 years of Vistage.


With his ample experience and awards, Larry has positively impacted the lives of many and continues to do so through his executive coaching. Larry firmly believes that in life, two things are essential: lifelong learning and facing life’s challenges. By asking for permission and diving deeper with his clients, he is able to encourage them to reach their full potential, accomplish their goals, and grow as an executive leader and individual.


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Key highlights


Larry’s introduction to executive coaching

Timestamp 02:57

After a successful career in the Marine Corps, Larry entered corporate America as the CEO of a major company in Los Angeles. Larry then entered an organization called Tech. A fellow member, John Galardi of Wienerschnitzel, recommended that he lead as Tech Chair. At first, Larry stated that it wasn’t for him, but by ’87 he became a Tech Chair.


Coaching for the mission

Timestamp 04:26

Larry’s experience in the Marine Corps taught him to complete his duty, regardless of his stance towards it. One of Larry’s colonels once told him, “Lieutenant, it’s the mission, the mission, the mission. You complete the mission.” This gave Larry a great amount of endurance as he entered his career in executive coaching. As Larry reflects on his experience in the Marines and field of executive coaching, he states that they are similar “in that they’re both roles where you’re serving.” Larry sees his work as an act of service to his clients.


From commanding to coaching

Timestamp 07:41

When asked what he had to “unlearn” from his experience in the Marines, Larry responds with his realization of the difference between commanding and coaching. Larry explains that in the Marines you tell your officers to execute a goal and they do it, but in the coaching field you need to encourage your clients to reach their goals and reach their full potential for themselves.


Moving from Marine to coach

Timestamp 09:28

After his time in the Marine Corps, Larry pursued his education through graduate school at Northwestern. After his education, he then moved on to corporate America. It was then that he was introduced to being a Tech Chair by a fellow member of Tech. His experience being a facilitator for Tech introduced him to one-to-one meetings, which he developed a passion for. This passion led him being the executive coach his is today.


Asking deeper questions

Timestamp 16:28

Larry states that he recently learned a lesson he wished he learned earlier. “Ask even more questions and shut up.” He uses this learning in his practice by asking clients big questions and giving them space to dream. Larry asks forward-thinking and future-focused questions to his clients, supporting them to chase their own dreams and potential. Larry quotes Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he states that it is important for his clients to “begin with the end in mind.” To reinforce this idea, he asks clients questions that define the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. This gives Larry an opportunity to encourage clients to chase these goals and confront the roadblocks ahead.


What you say matters

Timestamp 20:58

When reflecting on world-changing questions he has asked his clients, Larry states that every word said matters. He shares the experience of how he has been approached by multiple individuals who have heard him speak or joined his sessions who all state different things he said that changed their lives. Larry states that he often doesn’t remember what he said when those he impacted remind him. Because of this Larry believes that:

“Everything you say matters. It’s going to affect somebody in some way…”

Becoming the best version of yourself

Timestamp 22:26

Larry states that after being introduced to the idea of “becoming the best possible version” of yourself, he embraced the idea and continues to encourage clients to embrace it as well. In his coaching career, he reminds clients that they have to work to be the best version of themselves and that it takes hard work. Larry pursues this idea in his personal life as well as his career through always striving to have a positive impact on those around him.


Finding the courage

Timestamp 24:46

When asked about life changing experiences and his best day ever as a coach, Larry shares his desire to see clients find the courage to make difficult decisions. In an example of this, Larry shares a story of a client that grew into the ability to make difficult decisions and become a better version of himself. Larry uses three questions to support this pursuit of courage: Who are you? What do you want? What price are you willing to pay? These questions push his clients to acknowledge their internal goals and potential roadblocks.

Learning through experience

Timestamp 33:27

In Larry’s experience of being an executive coach and CEO, he advises those interested in becoming an executive coach to experience the corporate world. In his experience, his knowledge of the responsibilities that come with being a CEO have allowed him to further relate to his clients in their goals by meeting them where they are.


From commanding To coaching

Timestamp 33:27

Larry shares a story of how he learned that a coach's role is to encourage clients to reach their own goals, not his own perception of what their goals should be. In discussing this, he quotes the Marine Corps 7th Leading Principle: “Employ your unit in accordance with its limitations and capabilities.” Larry uses this realization in his daily practice by encouraging clients to realize their own goals and potential. Using this new information, he then aids their development in confronting fears and difficult questions. In response to this, Severin shares his story of encouraging versus commanding in fatherhood. When he realized his children would rather play soccer, he redirected his goals to accomplish theirs better.


The importance of peer support

Timestamp 38:32

In his creation of an executive coaching discussion group called the “Romper Room,” Larry sought to increase communication and connection between coaches during the Covid pandemic. This group of individuals inspire and motivate each other through discussion on current global and corporate issues. Larry has had a great response to this group and individuals keep coming back which, according to Larry, is the greatest reward to him.


Learning through Life

Timestamp 42:39

The clients that Larry works best with are those that seek to learn throughout their lives. Larry lives his life with the perspective that his goal is to make his clients a better version of themselves. He believes that the desire to continue learning is key to the accomplishment of this goal and is essential for any client that he has. Throughout his coaching career, Larry has continued learning. Specifically, Larry states that he has furthered his understanding of himself. This has helped his coaching sessions immensely as it encourages him to push himself toward greater accomplishments daily.


Fighting the good fight

Timestamp 45:33

As Larry measures his life by the positive impact he has had on people, he encourages the audience to never give up. He explains this concept by sharing the story of how he beat a hard battle with cancer through endurance and perseverance. He relates this experience to his career and how he has never given up; he has only strengthened his knowledge, experience, and abilities.

“Who you really are is written in the times things don’t work out…”



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