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Mike Massimino

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Astronaut, Columbia Professor, Media Personality, Author and Inspiration for the Movie, Gravity

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7 Video(s) By This Presenter

Sizzle Reel
A Citizen of Earth
An Astronauts View of Space
Virtual Preview – Working With Your Team and Clients Over A Distance
Virtual Preview – Dealing With Isolation
Virtual Preview – Recovering From Adversity, Tragedy, and Disappointment
Virtual Preview – Being Resilient and Adaptable in Times of Change and Uncertainty

12 Programs By This Presenter

Mike’s dream of becoming an astronaut began when he was six years old watching television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon. The path to achieving this dream was wrought with unexpected challenges, failures, disappointments, and self-doubt. Mike was rejected three times by NASA including a medical disqualification which Mike overcame by teaching his eyes to “see better.”

His persistence paid off with two missions on the Space Shuttle and four spacewalks on the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike stresses that as long as you keep trying no matter what the obstacles, achieving your goal is possible.

Upon arriving at NASA, Mike discovered he was part of team that put the success of the team and the mission above individual accomplishments. Teamwork and leadership was developed through the
extraordinary experiences that Mike and his fellow astronauts shared during their training and spaceflights. Through these experiences strong friendships and working relationships were forged that enable Mike and his colleague’s to complete astronaut training, overcome tragedy, and repair the greatest scientific instrument in space – the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike discusses how teamwork and leadership led to success during his spaceflights and in life.

Mike’s second spaceflight was the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission Mike was tasked with the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted: the in-space repair of a delicate scientific instrument inside of the telescope. A major miscue during that spacewalk nearly led to failure. But the ground control team and the astronaut’s in space worked together to come up with an innovative solution that saved the day and the mission. Mike explains how although not every problem has an obvious solution, preparation and innovation can help us overcome unforeseen challenges.

Mike’s second space flight was one of the last of the Space Shuttle Program. It was time for NASA to retire the space shuttle and move on to the next phase in space exploration. That next phase included, flying exclusively on the Russian Soyuz for the foreseeable future and working with commercial companies in the coming age of private space travel. Many at NASA did not want to accept these changes. But the last few years have shown that those who accepted these changes have thrived, while those who resisted are no longer contributing. Technological progress and entrepreneurship are inevitable in every industry, and the NASA team learned to embrace the changes in order to move on to that next phase. We now have partnerships and burgeoning private space industry.

Many of Mike’s students are still excited about working for NASA, but many are also excited about the new opportunities with private space companies and our future in space is bright because of these changes.

No matter how much we enjoy our jobs we sometimes get caught up in the day to day activities and can forget the big picture. This can even happen to astronauts.

Mike stresses the importance of trying to remember the reason why we work as hard as we do. In addition to supporting our families and enjoying the challenges of our jobs, we should always remember how we are making the world a better place through our work.

For Mike as an astronaut it was servicing and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Arguably the greatest scientific instrument ever built, Hubble made some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history while showing us the beauty of our universe. Contributing to great projects makes all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.

After a realizing a dream, there comes a time when one needs to find that next dream in life. For Mike, his astronaut career was a little boy dream come true. After 18 years it was time to find a new challenge in life and a new dream. Mike discusses the difficulty of giving up the most exciting and interesting job he could ever have for the next phase in life. New challenges are needed for happiness, and there is no reason why one dream job cannot be replaced by another. In Mike’s case that has meant a new career as a university professor, museum advisor, author, television personality, and speaker sharing his lessons and experiences from his life as an astronaut.

After a realizing a dream, there comes a time when one needs to find that next dream in life. For Mike, his astronaut career was a little boy dream come true. After 18 years it was time to find a new challenge in life and a new dream. Mike discusses the difficulty of giving up the most exciting and interesting job he could ever have for the next phase in life. New challenges are needed for happiness, and there is no reason why one dream job cannot be replaced by another. In Mike’s case that has meant a new career as a university professor, museum advisor, author, television personality, and speaker sharing his lessons and experiences from his life as an astronaut.

Over the past few months a common joke I hear from family and friends is: “Hey Mike, I bet you wish you were in space now!” As a former NASA astronaut with two space shuttle missions and four spacewalks worth of experience, I am finding that my NASA training and spaceflights have helped to prepare me for what we are now all going through. I am familiar with feeling separated from the Earth, sheltering in space with my crewmates, executing our mission with our ground control team back on the planet, coping with loss and tragedy, not letting fear get in the way of success, and being resilient to overcome unforeseen challenges while away from traditional support systems.  When I was selected for NASA Astronaut Class of 1996, astronauts were preparing to be sent to space for longer periods of time and increasingly challenging missions. It became apparent to NASA that this transition in space exploration was not going to be an easy one for the crew members and their families. We looked to endeavors with similar challenges, such as polar exploration, to help us prepare to engage with isolation and hardship. Some of our guidelines were: embracing the situation as best we could; concentrating on meaningful work and developing hobbies; keeping open the lines of communication between friends, family and co-workers back on Earth; enjoying the beauty of our planet; keeping a regular schedule, including an emphasis on exercise, hygiene, and health; putting the well-being of our crewmates first by being respectful and practicing good “expedition behavior” while sharing our living area; being flexible to handle unexpected challenges while away from our normal channels for help; and using time away from the hustle and bustle of our normal daily routines to think introspectively about our lives.

I am very grateful that I can help people and organizations get through this difficult time with relatable stories that illustrate lessons learned and provide takeaways to call upon when inspiration and hope is needed, while also mixing in the wonders of spaceflight and a bit of humor.  I enjoy tailoring each talk to effectively connect with the specific audience. My traditional messages of persistence, leadership, and teamwork are still paramount in these stories, and drive home my experiences that our finest moments can come out of our most challenging times.

With the recent SpaceX launch of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, a second golden age of space exploration has begun. In the future we can expect to see more entrepreneurial companies, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, exploring space not only for scientific benefit but also for profit. We are transitioning from over 50 years of human space flight programs conducted exclusively by governments, to programs that provide new opportunities for private enterprise.  It is similar to air travel a century ago when airplanes were used primarily for government and military purposes, and for barnstorming.  Those early years led to today’s commercial airline industry. Just imagine what the recent accomplishments can lead to in the near future: space tourism, utilization of space resources, and science and technological developments to benefit life on Earth.

Mike and his fellow astronauts spent hours in simulators practicing how they would work and communicate with their support team in the Mission Control Center (MCC) while literally a world apart. He also spent years as a Capcom (Spacecraft Communicator) in MCC communicating with and supporting astronauts in space. Critical problems arose during Mike’s final spacewalk on the Hubble Space Telescope, and even though support team members were at various locations on Earth, they were able to save the day for Mike in space. Although we are now physically separated from each other today due to COVID-19, we can strive to be the person that people can call for help. Reach out and try to be someone else’s Mission Control Center.

Mike’s NASA training taught him valuable lessons on how to thrive in isolation.  Some tips are: try to embrace the situation; concentrate on meaningful work; keep open the lines of communication between friends, family and co-workers; be respectful of the well-being of your crewmates; keep up your self-care and exercise; enjoy the beauty of our planet; and use time away from the hustle and bustle of our normal daily routines to think introspectively about our lives.

Mike’s first spaceflight was on Space Shuttle Columbia. On Columbia’s next voyage, the crew and the space shuttle were lost during re-entry. It was devastating to lose seven of his friends in an instant. While grieving and consoling the families of those fallen heroes, another reality set in: what would happen to the future of the space program? The International Space Station was not yet completed and the Hubble Space Telescope needed repair. Mike and his colleagues would not let the loss of their friends be in vain. Innovative procedures, tools, and techniques were developed to get the shuttle flying again to finish that important work. Mike shares stories of how that same effort and attitude is needed now to recover from the effects of COVID-19 on our businesses and lives.

Mike’s second space flight was one of the last of the Space Shuttle Program. It was time for NASA to retire the shuttle and move on to the next phase in space exploration. That next phase included flying exclusively on the Russian Soyuz for a few years, and working with commercial companies to provide launch services in the future. Many at NASA did not want to accept these changes. But the last few years have shown that those who accepted these changes have thrived, while those who resisted are no longer contributing. We may not like the new world we are now living in that has forced us to change the way we do business. But by accepting change and knowing that change can provide unseen opportunities, we can still shoot for the stars.

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Reviews

“OMG – he was awesome! Everyone loved him!! He stayed to sign books and I think all 300 people waited in line to have him do so. We extended lunch by 30 min. so that everyone could have a chance to meet him, get their photos with him, and get their books signed. Mike is so genuine and so personable. He mingled with everyone before and after his talk. He is truly fabulous. We’ll certainly recommend him to other groups within UnitedHealth Group. We couldn’t have had a better motivator for our team.”

— United Healthcare

“We can’t thank you enough for your inspiring kick off presentation. You set just the right tone for our meeting and inspired our guests to create innovative approaches to solving some of our thorniest business issues. The meeting was a rousing success and you played a big part teeing it up.”

— Zurich North America

“We have gotten an incredible amount of positive feedback about your talk, and to say you ‘delivered’ would be a complete understatement. Thank you for helping to inspire my team to be at their best with this amazing advancement for myeloma patients…for helping Janssen Oncology to DREAM BIG and GO FAR.”

— Janssen Oncology

“Thank You on behalf of all my DuPont colleagues who created, developed, and hosted the Emerging Leaders Conference. Your professionalism, sincerity, and heartfelt connection with our emerging leaders resonated beyond belief.”

— DuPont Safety

“As anticipated you delivered a talk that was spot on!  The comments have all been on how relevant your content was to our business.  Thanks for your prep and tremendous message!”

— Terumo Aortic

“I sincerely appreciate the obvious thoughtfulness and effort to incorporate all the points we discussed the other day.  I know this is going to be a big hit at the conference.  I can’t think of a better message to close our meeting. Thanks for putting this together so quickly on what I know was very short notice.”

— National Council for Air and Stream Improvement

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