Dear Mr. Successful:
Does this sound like you?
Good news, it is you. When you look back at your life and business, most of you, if not all of you, can say with a fair amount of certainty that you’ve arrived at a successful point in your life as the direct result of the decisions you’ve made—obviously. AND, doesn’t it feel great when the decisions you’ve made create outcomes and satisfaction levels that are high? Is it not the ultimate validation of your leadership, decisions, and intuition when positive outcomes occur?
So why is AVIATION immune to this?
Every day we see examples of this subject matter at play in aviation. Budget considerations, existing frame of reference, ego (only sometimes!), and plain old guts, all contribute to the decisions that are made. As we all know, it often takes a tremendous amount of courage to make the tough decisions. This can apply to conducting a particular flight, buying/selling an aircraft, firing an employee, etc. But in every instance, most savvy business folks are able to take the 30,000 ft. point of view. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve built their lives and businesses by doing so! Thus, aviation can and should exemplify where million dollar asset values and human life, meet up with good decisions and resources.
Why would you deviate from this attitude?
I’ve spent the past 20 years in and around aviation. I’ve lost people I loved. I’ve seen various aviation companies and individuals in their successes and failures, etc, etc. I’ve seen really excellent people fail and bad people succeed. But — in every case, the positive results and outcomes contained common core principles. Call it an internal compass if you will. The good ones have it and the bad ones spend a lifetime trying to get it (or fake it). So why do people deviate from this attitude? Common Sense? Money? Adversity? Ego? Character? Perhaps at times a little bit of it all…who knows?
The story of Bill
Years ago I got a call from an existing client. I’ve known this man for 15 years. I’ve sold him several aircraft, with the most recent aircraft sale being only a couple years ago. Bill is successful. He started his business in 1969 with himself and three other people. He employs over 1,000 workers. To say that Bill has made a lifetime of good decisions would be an understatement. Bill exemplifies the best of the core principles needed to be successful in life and in business. He’s a good man—period. When he called me his voice cracked, he was upset and disappointed. His business had fallen victim to the economy and lack of equipment manufacturing. Having a corporate aircraft could no longer be justified. But, like all good leaders, he made the tough decision (once again) to move in a different direction.
I flew up to meet with Bill on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. The atmosphere was solemn. It was as if I was attending a funeral. He had worked his entire life to build a business and achieve a level of success whereby aviation could play a part, and now he was saying goodbye to it. Although, Bill had several choices of who could help him sell his aircraft, perhaps some less qualified and cheaper to hire, he chose to engage us to sell his aircraft and proctor the process. Safe-to-say, Bill drew upon those common core principles that exist within successful people and businesses. He had the courage, the smarts, and the leadership to make the proper decision. So, although it was tough, the results of his decision were positive. We were able to sell the aircraft for a good price and Bill was able to provide much needed budget relief for his company.
In summary, and in normal long-winded fashion (thanks dad for the DNA), I would encourage you to reflect upon “what has gotten me here?” A company like Duncan Aviation is a great example. They can answer this quite easily. I was fortunate enough to be brought up around Duncan Aviation as a young pilot. This company is very well known in the aviation world. It is a text book example of how a business can become superior in what they do, do it very well for many many years, charge the best prices, have the best customers, provide the best results, AND, most importantly, do it right.
Dear Mr. Successful:
Fall back on what led you to this point when it comes to aviation. Surround yourself with good people, engage an expert, etc. If it is Pilatus you seek answers to, call a dealer or another expert. If it’s a Citation or Learjet, engage the factory or expert. There is no “Angie’s list” for aviation. But ask yourself, if there was, who’d be on it? Is it the company/person that does the best job of marketing—to tell you how great or knowledgeable they are? Or is it the company/person that peers, colleagues, and customers validate to you is already great?
Five simple guidelines for aviation:
1. Tap into your history, your core beliefs, actions, decisions as businessman
2. Listen to your gut, it’s served you well your entire life
3. Surround yourself with good people and resources
4. Seek knowledge and understanding by engaging an expert, not a marketing spin expert
5. Do not skip 1-4 because the project is aviation – keep up your streak of making good decisions!