Q & A Series for Military Appreciation Month: Waldo Waldman, Fighter Pilot Strategies to Impassion Your Workforce

Posted by Alexis Washington

This May, Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau takes pride in honoring the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to fighting for our country. 

Individuals like…. Waldo Waldman!

gI_131707_Waldo CPAE talk 30 Jul 13Waldo Waldman is a graduate of the U.S Air Force Academy and also holds an MBA with a focus on Organizational Behavior. Waldo combines real world business experience and a background as a fighter pilot into an exciting program that empowers attendees to break performance barriers in highly competitive environments. 

Q: Teamwork is a big part of your presentations. What are some ways that you feel leaders can encourage effective teamwork?

A: Great leaders foster teamwork by facilitating environments of open communication where people aren’t afraid to be brutally honest. They tell each other what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. The key is sharing problems and challenges when they arise as early as possible, and working together to come up with solutions. Being approachable to feedback and getting one’s ego out of the way is vital to this process. A great way a leader can foster this collaborative environment is by sharing their mistakes and oversights with the people they supervise. In the fighter pilot world, we call it “exposing our chest to daggers.”  By doing so, a leader can facilitate environments where people will also admit their mistakes and oversights. Great leaders model the behavior that they want to see in their wingmen, and create environments where it’s ok to take risks, offer constructive feedback, and have difficult conversations. 

Q: How can building a “culture of trust” positively impact businesses? 

A: When people trust each other, they know their teammates will come through with their promises and responsibilities without having to be watched all the time. This allows each division/individual to focus on their particular job/responsibility. It’s ultimately about being fully accountable and depending on each other to deliver for the good of the whole.  This dramatically improves morale and the cohesion of a team.  Finally, by calling out threats, providing mutual support to other members of your team, and appreciating the efforts of those behind the scenes, people become more committed to the organization’s mission – even when resources are low and stress is high.  They put in extra effort, collaborate on projects, innovate more readily, avoid finger pointing, and are willing to ask for help.

Q: How has your military background helped you excel in business? 

A: My attention to detail, work ethic and relentless commitment to prepare has been instrumental to my success in the business world.  I learned very early in my military career that my commitment, preparation and skill affected others. To succeed in business, one cannot fly solo.  Realizing that I was part of a team that depended on me and that I had to build relationships with the unsung heroes of my squadron (i.e. the maintenance crews, intelligence staff, and administrators) helped me to nurture those same types of performance enhancing relationships in business.  I believe my service focus both towards my clients as well as my peers has paid huge dividends to me in business.

Q: What do you feel is the biggest lesson that being a fighter pilot has taught you? How do you apply it to your everyday life?

A: Winners are the most prepared!  As a fighter pilot, I never “flew by the seat of my pants.”  I always prepared relentlessly and had a plan before I stepped into the cockpit.  And so did my wingmen.  That’s why I believe “wingmen never wing it!”  Before I pick up the phone to connect with a client, follow up on a lead, or give a speech, I do the research, plan the mission, and rehearse.  This preparation helps me build the confidence necessary to focus, connect, and most importantly, adapt to adversity and change.  More often than not, stress and fear are a bi-product of poor preparation. In the fighter pilot world and in business, you have to earn your wings every day and demonstrate excellence in all you do. So I avoid complacency at all costs in all aspects of my life.  Sure it takes hard work. But I truly believe that “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle.” 

Posted by Alexis Washington
Alexis Washington writes about expert keynote speakers and Motivational Speakers, as well as tips and tricks for corporate meeting planners. If you need a guest professional speaker or corporate entertainer for your next convention or conference, you can visit

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