Jim Mattis, the former Defense Secretary for the Trump administration, said that his email was hacked by a young marine trying to impress a girl, and his "punishment" was a surprising life lesson.
Mattis was speaking to the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce in southeast Washington state about leadership when he told the story.
"It's like all organizations in the world, the leadership of the Marine Corps gets the behavior they reward," he explained.
"Whatever your leadership rewards in your organization, that's the behavior you're going to get," said Mattis. "Eventually an organization reflects the personality of the boss, of whoever is given the responsibility of being up at the top."
He told the story of a young marine who was trying to impress a female colleague, so he hacked into Mattis' email account and sent her an email praising himself in the voice of Mattis.
"By the way, Private First Class so-and-so is the greatest Marine in the entire division," Mattis recalls the email saying.
"Well she actually fell for it, and she immediately hit reply, and sent me a note, which I was surprised at," he explained.
"Great initiative, not the best judgment," he told the audience.
Instead of punishing him, Mattis saw that the marine could be encouraged to channel his talents to a positive for the marine corps.
"He was young enough to make a mistake like that, which would have been an ethical mistake up above," he said.
"He got punished by being assigned to my personal staff," Mattis concluded, "so I could keep an eye on the lad."
Here's the full speech from Mattis:
A Conversation on Leadership with General James Mattis www.youtube.com