The 3 M's of a Blue Angels pilot

20160803_051851000_iOS While it shouldn't be relevant, it is a fact that Captain Katie Higgins is the first female Blue Angels pilot.

The first female

Blue Angels pilot

Eventually this will be the norm. But, until then it was great to hear an American hero or heroine as the case may be talk about her trials and tribulations of becoming the first female Blue Angels pilot.

To learn more about Captain Katie Higgins see this article in WIRED.
Follow Captain Higgins on Twitter
Follow the Blue Angels on Twitter
This is also posted to LinkedIn here.
To learn more about her 3M's ... read on!
Checking the Flight Path

Today she started out singing the theme from DuckTales. Proving that she has a great sense of humor. She also talked about why she was wearing her yellow uniform instead of the more traditional blue uniform. She shared this with a great sense of pride and honor. Which she explained and showed in great detail throughout her speech and in the Q&A.

She also talked about how she spoke at Microsoft last year and that she wanted to give a new speech this year. So, she wrote a whole new speech just for us today and, we got to be her guinea pigs her "test flight" subjects if you will.

Giving Back is Part of the Role
She also took the time to sign pictures afterwards.
Kids and Adults were queued up with huge smiles.
She shared with us …
The 3M's of a Blue Angel's pilot
I took her points and condensed them for reading. If you get a chance to hear Captain Higgins speak you might get a slightly different version, but the key points are spot on.
  • Really successful people are motivated by something much greater than themselves.
  • One of her primary motivations for wanting to fly and so much more was from her grandfather. He was also a pilot. She said he instilled in her a strong sense for:
    • Love of country and a life of service
  • Money is NOT the motivation. As she jokingly pointed out the life of a government employee. (again her self-deprecating humor was spot on) and she used this to make a point:
    • "The juice isn't worth the squeeze… If you are only interested in the money"
  • Attention to detail
  • In the Blue Angels we fly 18 inches apart. Fat Albert flies 40 feet away. Just a minor change is a catastrophe. Details Matter! 
  • As a Marine - you can tell when they have "their stuff together " - their Boots shined, hair cut, work done on time (and complete)
  • They project reliability, dependability, trust
  • Minutia Matters!
  • Debrief for up to 2 hours – The Blue Angels team will take up to 2 hours after each event and each practice run.
  • Everything is sweated
  • You call yourself out. YOU are accountable!
    • She noticed … and called out something NO ONE else noticed (if you were there you know what I mean)
  • It requires a LOT of introspection.
She spoke about relentless and rigorous training. That way when a situation arises you don’t have to think about it. You can react with proven techniques to overcome the situation. When that fails … your training helps you adapt and overcome … again with the rigor instilled by the extensive training.
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

She also spoke about leadership. She pointed out that there is no such thing as "leadership by email" - walk down the hall, pick up the phone, really see the person. As a leader in her squadron she said she has to make tough decisions and sometimes deliver hard news. She prefers to do that in person and with a touch of the human element to let people know that their Three M’s are part of who they are.

So, how did she do?

Mission Accomplished

Captain Katie Higgins I am proud that you are serving in our military. You set a fine example of what can be done when grit, fortitude and sheer smarts are applied to goals.

For both the adults and especially the kids in the audience you showed what can be done.

Thank you for making and taking the time to come to Microsoft and speak today. Your emphasis on STEM was noted and appreciated. Also your stats on the number of women in the military was noted and compared to how it currently is almost 4x lower than the number of women in tech. Clearly, we all have some work to do. Thank you for doing your part and clearing the path.

I look forward to seeing you captaining 'Bert at your next airshow.

Fly High!

PS - this is what she signed on some of the pictures after she spoke.

Image credits: Microsoft, US Navy, Blue Angels

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Jeff is business advisor, mentor and community engagement expert. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2.

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