Please also check out Rick’s Expert Leverage video interview (click here).
Q: Are your presentations limited to the four programs described under the Speaking tab of the website?
A: Of course not! These four programs do build a solid foundation to address leadership, teamwork, execution, and innovation, but are not the limits of my offerings. They all incorporate all the elements of my 4 P Leadership Performance Balance model, and each picks one of those aspects to emphasize. I gladly mix and match and even prepare completely different presentations, all to best meet client needs.
Q: How would you characterize your speaking style?
A: High-content, but delivered via exciting stories, examples and metaphors. Awesome video and imagery to support and supplement. Inspiring and motivating, but not in a jump-around, frenetic, overly-adrenaline fueled fervor. The perfect balance of “steak” and “sizzle.” Spontaneous, genuine, down-to-earth. Nothing “canned” or artificial about it. No BS, as walking my talk is a guiding principle for me.
Q: What sets you apart as a professional speaker?
A: As a high-content expert who speaks, I bring unparalleled real-world experience to bear on the topics of leadership, teamwork, execution, and innovation. I’ve done everything I speak about in one of the most difficult, high-pressure, and even dangerous settings possible. Accordingly, I believe I’m right up there in terms of content with any author or academic-type, and also compared to any adventure/sports speaker. Exercising leadership as a commander in the space program not only required leading at the edge on the final frontier, but many thousands of hours and team interactions down on the ground in office and normal workplace settings. This dual nature of the astronaut commander experience sets me apart from other adventure-background speakers. Extensive exercise of down-in-the-trenches preparation and daily leadership lets me exactly relate to the challenges of my corporate clients.
Q: How do you customize your presentations?
A: My mission is to bring the most relevant, valuable, and helpful content to my audiences. In keeping with that mission focus, I love the process of customizing for clients because it magnifies the value-added tremendously. Once booked, I always set up a call with organization leaders and meeting planners to discuss their challenges and concerns. Then we zero in on the specific theme and objectives for the event. On the call, while reviewing my pre-event questionnaire together, I’ll offer his insights into which elements of my baseline programs fit best. Together we then arrive at a consensus of major emphasis points for me to support their messaging and finally the key takeaway items we want the audience to grasp. Then I craft a tailored presentation to tie my unique experiences to their objectives through the commonality of universal principles.
Q: What other types of presentations do you give?
A: My core speaking expertise of course remains the business-oriented programs described elsewhere in detail, but I have the background and experience to flex in many different directions as a speaker. I’ve given a variety of different themed programs through the years. With a background also as a safety professional, I’ve often addressed safety and risk management themes. Occasionally clients just want an “enrichment” session and firsthand stories of the wonder of flying in space. I’ve also had clients request patriotic-themed presentations connecting to my background as an Air Force officer or “world tours” mixing astronaut earth observations photography with inspiring commentary.
Q: Astronauts are really technically oriented people. Should we worry that the “Astronaut Speaker” will overdo the technical jargon and details?
A: No, not at all! Actually, flying in space is overwhelmingly humanizing and humbling. As a proven leader, I’m as much about “heart-leadership” as nuts-and-bolts “head leadership.” True, like all astronauts, I have a strong technical background. While equally comfortable presenting technical material to peers in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, for corporate speaking I wear my “recovering engineer” hat. I focus on the human side of my experiences to reach the common ground necessary to completely connect with my audiences and leave them with a heartfelt experience.
Q: We’re not doing any sort of space theme. Why book you?
A: My presentations are all about sharing universal principles applicable to any venture. True, I do bring exciting real-world stories from applying those principles during the unique experiences of flying and commanding human space missions, but the presentations in no way require a meeting to be space-themed. With over a decade of experience as a professional speaker presenting to thousands of audiences, I now consider myself a highly talented speaker who used to be an astronaut. Accordingly, my presentations certainly are not just about the spaceflight experience, that’s just the launch pad to spring off into client-relevant presentations.
Q: We’re looking specifically for an astronaut to speak to our group. What sets you apart from other astronauts as a speaker?
A: Unlike virtually all other astronauts, who just express their story without relating to a client’s specific challenges, my deep engagement and highly refined, customized programs address real-world business needs. Very few other astronaut speakers, at least from space shuttle era and later, have been mission commanders. When it comes to speaking about leadership, being the actual mission leader makes a tremendous difference. Coupled with masterful storytelling and unmatched stage presence, I believe I’m the best business speaker who happens to have flown in space. Not coincidentally, I’m the only astronaut to have written a business book. Finally, being the only astronaut ever to have earned the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation shows a long-term commitment to the speaking profession and dedication to being the best in this field.
Q: We’re still searching for a theme. Any ideas how to incorporate a space theme into our event?
A: Although certainly no requirement for booking, various space themes offer superb launch pads to lift meetings and team performance, particularly for sales groups. I love to work creatively with clients to select and refine such themes as “Launching to New Heights,” “Max Q,” “Out-of-this-World Performance,” etc. Such themes set the stage and can energize and motivate by their very nature. Then coupled with the real right stuff of the Astronaut Speaker, audiences leave excited, inspired, and totally fired up to tackle their own challenging missions.
Q: Do you do school presentations?
A: Through the years I’ve given many hundreds of pro bono school and youth presentations. In fact, in one sense, I can truly say that my favorite audiences are fourth and fifth graders. Their wonder and awe at space is contagious and heartwarming. They’re at the sweet spot where they know enough to ask really insightful, fun questions but not old enough to be jaded or shy in the asking. However, as a professional business speaker my schedule does limit how much pro bono work I can do. I have found with some clients though a wonderful mix where, once booked for a corporate engagement, I gladly throw in a school visit in the company’s city at no additional fee, allowing the client to get positive publicity for sponsoring the astronaut visit, making some worthwhile educational outreach, and having fun doing it! Win-win-win.
Q: How do we book the “Astronaut Speaker?”
A: Simply click the Contact tab on the dropdown menu to get in touch with our office. We’ll together launch the process to determine your specific needs and how I best can meet them, complete the necessary but straightforward contracting, then get to the really fun part of the mission – digging in to the customization phase. Overall result: bringing a valuable “out-of-this-world” experience to your group!