LCDR Marvin Jones Sr.
LCDR Marvin Jones Sr. is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after high school where he served for eight years. He graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Administration and received his commission through Officer Candidate School in August 2008.
LCDR Jones served his division officer tours onboard USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) as the Main Propulsion Officer and First Lieutenant. Subsequently, he reported to Costal Riverine Squadron Four (CRS-4) where he served as Landside Security Officer-in-Charge. His Department Head tours were onboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) as Weapons Officer followed by Combat Systems Officer.
Ashore, he served as Officer-in-Charge at Training Support Center Hampton Roads, Dam Neck. As an individual augment to Afghanistan, he supported Operation Enduring Freedom as Operations Officer at Combine Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF-435) TF Biometrics.
LCDR Jones holds a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Public Administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Arts in Military Studies with a concentration in Joint Warfare from American Military University.
His awards include the Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and various other personal medals, unit awards, and campaign ribbons.
How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Failure can be the end of one's means, or one's means to an end—it is only a question of resolve. I was commissioned as a naval officer, with a liberal arts degree. Engineering and other technical fields did not come to me readily, and my Commanding Officer was not generous with qualifications. Despite my best efforts, I had to reboard for multiple qualifications. For my EOOW, I actually had to reboard five times with my Captain. It was frustrating and downright discouraging every single time, but I had some good mentorship from our MPA, who encouraged me to keep pushing.
My persistence paid off, as only persistence does. When I finished that tour, I was a qualified SWO with an EOOW letter, and my hard-won engineering qualifications truly represented a familiarity and expertise that serves me well to this day. Anyone can fail a qualification board, but the key is to keep working and keep coming back.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
At an early age, my father told me that "If you do what's hard, life becomes easy. If you do what's easy, life becomes hard." I have found this to be true throughout the course of my life. When I start a new tour, I strive to work harder than any of my bosses, and I expect my team to out-staff their staffers. If you can put in that level of work early, you'll find yourself in an advantageous position more often than not.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you have a morning routine?
I'll generally either work out at the gym or go running at the beach, followed by at least ten minutes of meditation. Then I arrive early at the office so I can get ahead of my admin before the morning rush. This allows me to check my inbox, message traffic, the news, and every other piece of information that might affect me or my team's priorities for the day.
What career advice would you give a smart and driven young SWO? What advice should they ignore?
Always listen to your people, but never be afraid to hold them accountable. Seize every opportunity to recognize excellence and to address shortcomings. Almost as much as their paycheck, our Sailors are fueled by recognition—we all know that recognizing a Sailor's stand-out performance will encourage more of the same from everyone. Evaluations and awards are much easier to draft when you have been tracking the success of your Sailors. As far as accountability, document short-comings early and often, and ensure that your Sailors and particularly your Khaki are being held to a known standard. Doing this early in the game will ensure that you're getting peak performance from your team.
What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?
I do not often give books—I find that personalized gifts are generally more meaningful in most circumstances. That said, I would recommend Sun Tzu's The Art of War—it is an invaluable treatise on timeless concepts in strategy, and a good read for anyone developing a warrior ethos. I also give my Officers a pocket copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This is not only symbolic of our sworn commitment, but also practical, because before you can uphold the Constitution, you need to know it. The Declaration of Independence is a formative step in establishing the ideas behind modern democracy, and ultimately those ideas are encapsulated in our Constitution. The Constitution is a living document, establishing a system of not only checks and balances, but also guaranteed rights for our citizens. At the end of the day, everything we do is an extension of those two documents.
How do you set priorities and manage your time?
Change is the only constant, so priorities must be set and reset on a semi-regular basis. By necessity, a great deal of my prioritization is based on the needs of higher command. Being a MK VI Company Commander means reporting not only to the Squadron Commander, but also the Group Commanders for training cycle and deployment requirements. Their visions do not always meet in the middle, so this can be a balancing act.
As Commanding Officer, I delegate the management of my work obligation schedule to my officers, occasionally offering course correction or adjustments for unexpected last-minute obligations. I meet with my officers and my Senior Enlisted Leader every morning, and at least once each week I have Company Planning Boards for Training, Maintenance, and Operations to ensure that communication is flowing properly.
What is your most effective daily habit?
My most important daily habit is taking some time to mentor my leadership team. Developing your people is not something you do for an immediate return, but it pays off in the long run. Mentorship is not one-way—it involves listening as much as speaking, and I learn a lot from the process. Our people are our most important asset, so developing them is vital.
Meditation really tends to be an effective way to clear the mind before the controlled chaos of a workday. I take time in the morning to meditate, and if I need to, I take time in the afternoon, as well. You can't put in your best work if you don't have a clear head.
Additionally, I am always looking for ways to further my education, whether by podcasts, articles, or books. It doesn't really matter what your line of work is—if you're not regularly reading up on the subject, you're going to fall behind the power curve.
How do you define success?
Success is being able to look back with pride, but also to move forward to the next challenge without hesitation or fear. From a more practical viewpoint, though, our success is measured by the success of those above and below us. If you can help make your Commanding Officer (or OIC, Department Head, etc.) and junior personnel successful, that's a direct measure of your success, and a good CO will recognize and reward that work. Those junior to you will appreciate your candor, support, and intrusiveness. Ensuring the well-being of our Sailors and their families is our most important responsibility. Success is not a solitary prospect—as a Crew, as a Company, as a Squadron, and as a Navy, we succeed as a team!