I’m a child of both the jet age and Apollo. Growing up in that environment as the son of an Air Force officer, the sheer energy and boundless confidence grabbed hold of me and never let go. From the earliest I can remember, I yearned to become a jet pilot like my dad. Nothing could ever be cooler than flying jets.
Well, almost nothing. Even as a youth, it was obvious to me America had a team, NASA, that could accomplish unbelievable things. I expanded my dream to include becoming an astronaut, working as hard as I could through school, becoming a fighter pilot and then test pilot, and finally competing against thousands of others for a precious spot in the Astronaut Corps.
Eventually I received a life-changing phone call to let me know I’d made it. As I was soon to learn, the program was really about hard work and pooling the efforts of very talented people to execute innovatively in an incredibly complex and challenging operational environment. The flying in space part of it for an individual astronaut was really just the icing on the cake of getting the mission done. My years of previous leadership and team experiences, as much as all the technical background, served magnificently in preparing me to perform as an astronaut team member.
I eventually had the chance to use everything about teams and leadership I had ever learned in commanding the STS-90 “Neurolab” mission on Columbia. I rolled an entire life of execution leadership development and service in pursuit of a greater purpose into that command. It was the most incredible privilege I could imagine to be granted command of an American space mission, to mold a seven person crew including five rookies into a cohesive team, and along with them to influence for good many hundreds of people who supported the undertaking. The STS-90 mission was the most complex human space research mission ever flown. It was as successful within its focused realm as any space mission ever. I’m grateful to have been a key team builder and leader within the Neurolab universe.
Now after having been a “do leader” in that most challenging of environments, what gratifies me most is offering perspective and expertise as a speaker and author “thought leader” to help others along their own leadership and team pathways of service. My keynotes all address the four aspects of my Leadership Performance Balance model: Purpose, Program, People, and Perspective. With that foundation, I always customize, combine, and personally engage directly with clients to create perfectly tailored presentations to bring the exact down-to-Earth message they need!