ep. 102 - Carey Lohrenz:

America's First Female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot


As the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy, having flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy pilot, Lohrenz is used to working in fast moving, dynamic environments, where inconsistent execution can generate catastrophic results.

The same challenges are found in business: markets change, customer needs evolve and if you do not adapt quickly your company is at risk. In her motivating and engaging keynote presentations, Carey shares her fascinating experiences operating in one of the world’s most challenging environments – an aircraft carrier. She is uniquely qualified in the fundamentals of winning under pressure, reducing errors and overcoming obstacles. Her mastery of these fundamentals can help your team triumph in this high-risk, time crunched world.

Carey Lohrenz’ timely message about High Performing Teams and developing a Culture of Learning is based on the best-practices of high reliability organizations. The processes of Planning, Briefing, Debriefing and Adjusting help businesses manage risk while becoming a High Performing Organization. This message resonates with diverse audiences at every level of the company. Carey has been requested by name from some of the top Fortune 100 businesses. Her ability to connect with both an audience and on a one-on-one level, coupled with her knowledge and experience in leading high-performing, diverse teams, has made her highly sought after as a business consultant and speaker.


Gail Davis: We're thrilled today to have Carey Lohrenz in GDA's office. So live here in studio for today's podcast is Carey. She is the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in The US Navy [00:01:00] and she has flown missions worldwide as a Combat Mission Ready Pilot. Today she takes that knowledge and experience in leading high performance, diverse teams and it's made her a highly sought-after business consultant and leadership speaker. We've already had a lot of fun talking and we're eager to share our conversation with our listeners today on GDA Podcast. Welcome, Carey.

Carey Lohrenz: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Gail Davis: Well, I think the great place to start is how did a wonderful woman like you [00:01:30] find yourself as a fighter pilot? I mean that's not a typical ... I mean I don't remember in grade school saying, "I think I'll grow up one day and be a fighter pilot." So how did you get to that role?

Carey Lohrenz: Well, I was really fortunate. My dad was a Marine Corps Aviator. So my brother and I grew up playing with all of his silk maps from his Vietnam experience and helmets. And we'd flip over the bar stools and pretend like we were accomplishing our own feats of daring do and be the aviators in our [00:02:00] mind that we thought we could be. But it was interesting because as I got a little bit older and still thought, well I wanna be a pilot, I never saw any female pilots. I knew the WASPs had flown in the '40s. But there were no role models. And my dad had flown, like I said, in the Marine Corps and had a lengthy career with Delta and he was like, "No. You can go for it." And I'm like, "I am literally not seeing anybody doing this."

So for [00:02:30] a while there I thought I would be an international business major. Then I got tangled up in an Honors French class in college. But I always knew I wanted to fly. So after my college career, I applied to Aviation Officer Candidate School and ended up going into the Navy from that avenue.

Kyle Davis: So since you're kind of going in for like a specialized job, like just being a pilot just in general, and so you have this special kind [00:03:00] of officer route that people go through. How long is that selection process that you go through before being told or graduating?

Carey Lohrenz: Right. So it's pretty arduous and especially going through that path. You have to do a lot of psychological testing, aptitude testing. Clearly, there's physical testing.

Kyle Davis: So you had a very high ASVAB?

Carey Lohrenz: Ah, well, I probably didn't have the highest one, but I knew how to back a boat and I knew how-

Kyle Davis: There you go.

Carey Lohrenz: ... three different gears would move. So spatially I kind of had that piece figured out. [00:03:30] But I don't know, maybe I had an advantage. I grew up in the Midwest and kind of played around outside a bit, so I was pretty functional.

Kyle Davis: So how long is that period though when you're at the AOCS?

Carey Lohrenz: So AOCS itself was about 16 weeks. So it's a 16 week program that essentially they're trying to jamb four years of academics that you would've learned at The Academy. So whether it's Naval leadership, hydraulics, seamanship, these different subjects, [00:04:00] into a 16 week period. Combined with lots of physical training. Water survival skills. Search and rescue skills. Aviation skills. So it's a very full and round experience.

Kyle Davis: So upon graduation from AOCS you then, I'm assuming, go to the school. Is it school of choice? We're you able to sign a contract and say, "Hey, I want to go fly an F-14." Or [00:04:30] did you have to go through more and more schools and get qualified? I'm just kind of wondering what was that journey like from day one boot camp to the day you're actually flying planes and doing all that.

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah. So it's a little bit different than some of the other military career paths because you at every single phase, really the intention of this level of training is they're trying to wash you out, right?

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carey Lohrenz: They're putting extreme amounts of pressure on you to see if under extreme stress and duress and actually threat to your physical self, [00:05:00] will you still be able to make good decision. And not just good decisions that will benefit you, but more importantly will benefit your team, particularly when it's not the best decision for you. Which is a really big, challenging thing and it's differentiator for most people. It's easy to make decision that's good for your team if it doesn't hurt you. But if it hurts you and it's better for the team, that's bit of a channel changer.

So what every single phase [00:05:30] they're putting a lot of stress on you because they're trying to sort through the people who are going to be able to make it and have those skill sets of being able to be flexible and adapt and really overcome any scenario that they put you in. Because what they're trying to drive towards is not only a mission success perspective from an aviator perspective, but will you have what it takes in the face of the unknown or under extreme [00:06:00] fear or stress. When there is no path ahead, and there's no guarantee of success, will you still take action? Will you be bold and will you be brave enough to go forward in the face of the unknown? And every level of this, while you're doing this, you essentially also have a fire hose of information and demands that are being made upon you.

So you graduate from AOCS and you go into Primary Flight School. And this is where it's [00:06:30] now it's the melding of everybody who went to The Naval Academy, your ROTC graduates, and your Aviation Officer Candidates. So now everybody starts at square one and it's another combination of lots of academics. You're flying, you know, oftentimes several times a day. And you literally have to memorize and get through a stack of books that's a foot and half tall in six weeks.

And I remember in my class our instructor sat us down, we have this back stack of books, [00:07:00] and he just kind of looked around the room and said, "Hey, if there are any of you who think you can't memorize this or get to know all this information in the next six weeks, you're more than welcome to leave." We had people that left and I was kind of like, "Well, how can you even leave? Like you don't even know if there might be pictures, right. This could be easy in here. We don't know." I mean you know it's gonna be hard, but don't walk away from it before it's actually gotten really hard yet.

So you're getting graded on every single flight. Every maneuver. Every answer that you give. [00:07:30] Every response. Every evolution. And at that end of that Primary Flight School, which is about 9 to 11 months, then you make a selection. And usually, the top 10% of graduates will be offered an opportunity to go into the jet pipeline. Generally, the next group will fly propeller airplanes. Maybe you have a couple of guys who want to fly helicopters and then there's a balance of people who will go on [00:08:00] and fly helicopters. And naturally, it's based on the needs of the Navy as well. Maybe you wanted to be a jet pilot and you had great grades, but this week we have helicopters, boys, and girls. So you're gonna go and be the best darn helicopter pilot the Navy's ever seen.

And then you have another year for the jet pipeline. You have another year and a half or so of flying multiple airplanes. Learning weapon systems. Doing very, very high dynamic flights. Lots of academics. And again, every evolution, everything you do, [00:08:30] is graded. So it's exceptionally competitive. So the numbers that funnel of people the that started with you at the beginning of AOCS, or Aviation Officer Candidate School, you generally have about a 50% washout rate before graduation. And then again it keeps going. So it keeps winnowing down and down. And then hopefully, if everything goes well, and you perform, you're able to earn your Naval Aviator Wings after about two years. And then you get to live maybe your dream.

Kyle Davis: [00:09:00] Maybe.

Carey Lohrenz: Maybe.

Kyle Davis: But yeah, no, it's just a long pipeline.

Carey Lohrenz: It is.

Kyle Davis: I mean for essentially going back and getting a master's degree.

Carey Lohrenz: Absolutely.

Kyle Davis: But one that's kind of twenty-four seven, 365, and you're drinking from a firehouse the entire time.

Carey Lohrenz: And upside down, right?

Kyle Davis: And Upside down.

Carey Lohrenz: Trying not to throw-up on yourself, right?

Kyle Davis: 6Gs, whatever. I don't even know.

Carey Lohrenz: Other than that it's totally like getting your master's.

Gail Davis: I'm curious. You know obviously, it's quite a tagline to be the first female. So what was that like? What were some of the challenges and what do [00:09:30] you see today in terms of the number of females that are following your path?

Carey Lohrenz: Right. Well, it was extraordinary, because there was an element for me about probably the way I was raised. I didn't understand why it was an issue. I didn't understand why it was an issue politically because in my mind, and I know from an outsider listening in this might sound very basic, but the jet doesn't know the difference. This isn't about being able to haul a 180- [00:10:00] pound pack or living in a field for nine months alone with four other men. This is literally flying a high-performance airplane. The jet doesn't know the difference. It just wants to go out and fly fast.

So there were certain political issues that I did not, and I still to this day at my advanced age, don't understand how they ever became politicized or that there was this drama or this discussion. Because if we are just looking to have the best and the most highly capable, qualified person, [00:10:30] it shouldn't matter in this environment. So as you can imagine coming up, and through the ranks, as you start running into some of these roadblocks, it was eye-opening to realize that there were people at different levels of the institution that had no interest in seeing you be successful. And I didn't understand that and I still don't. I try to get it, [00:11:00] but I don't get it.

So it was a challenge to try to feel like, especially as a female, where I think we already feel like we need to, especially if you are working in a male-dominated environment, you feel like you need to be performing better than everybody else. And I was young enough, and I was naïve enough, to think, hey, I'm just gonna let my performance speak for itself. As long as I perform, or outperform everyone else, nobody will even care that I'm a female. Nor will they even see my femaleness. [00:11:30] Right? Now you're kind of chuckling 'cause you're like, "Yeah, bless your heart. That's not actually the way things work." And I get that now.

And I think there's actually a lot of similarities that I certainly see now. That there are industries, whether it's in the IT space or in certain science fields, that until you reach a critical mass number you will always have female engineers. You'll have female executives. You'll have, "Oh, look, we're doing diversity and inclusion initiatives." [00:12:00] Because we haven't reached that critical mass number. There are very few people I've run across in my career, not only being in the Navy, but since I've left the Navy and the decades that I've worked with Fortune 500 companies, that I've run across a woman that says, "I want to be known as a female engineer." No. They don't. They just want to do a great job and be an engineer.

So I think we still have a ways to go in some of that and I think there [00:12:30] are some great initiatives that companies are trying to grow that differentiate thought and get solid demographics, which is very smart business because it shows most companies who have really diverse personal and talent on board actually perform better financially. So it's crazy not to have that. It makes great business sense. But we have a ways to go. I think we're making progress, but there's more work to be done for sure.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I think I read a white paper [00:13:00] when I was back in college. I don't know if it was from The Air Force, or it was in the Navy, or whatever branch it was from, but they were talking about how female aviators tend to be far more confident than their male counterparts. Which is-

Carey Lohrenz: Confident or competent?

Kyle Davis: Competent.

Carey Lohrenz: Yes.

Kyle Davis: But the same can also be said, you know, like the C.I.A. team that found Bin Laden was, although ran by a male, everybody else was a female on the team.

Carey Lohrenz: Yep.

Kyle Davis: So I'm just kind of wondering what is it that people feel that the stigma is. [00:13:30] I mean I think as a male I probably know. But just what is it to push through that and then now that you're seeing these women today who are coming through the pipelines. We were talking about a friend of mine who's a pilot, or was a pilot, in the Marine Corps and how she did it and kind of what this opened up and how much better everybody is because of it.

Carey Lohrenz: Well, I think, without putting like an HR velvet hammer explanation around this, there are some mindset believes that I think it's incumbent upon us all [00:14:00] to be cognizant of. And from an emotional intelligence perspective, that generally the majority of the research will show that when it comes to promotions, or taking that next level up, men will raise their hands when they're about 35% ready. Women, however, generally need to feel 125% to 135% ready. Now math can be kind of challenging, but on the fly here I think that's about a [00:14:30] 90% delta. That's a 90% difference. And what's fascinating about that is you see this starting to happen actually with girls at about the fourth, fifth, sixth-grade level. That you have girls that have outperformed boys in science and math, and even up to maybe the sixth, seventh, eighth-grade level.

And then all of a sudden they start sliding into what we think are culturally preferred norms. We need to collaborate. You need to get along. You can't be [00:15:00] too aggressive. You can't be too assertive. Just be nice and play well with others. Where anything that if there's a woman that is ambitious, or outspoken, there's a much different label that's ascribed to them than boys are, which I think inherently starts training us where girls, again, feel like they need to be uber-competent and prepared. And the majority of women even I still work with generally, up until you get to a certain age [00:15:30] or certain point where you start being more cognizant of the playing field, assume that your performance is going to get you an invitation to the party. And that is a fallacy. That is not right.

So what I try to encourage people to do, whether it's male or female, is do not wait for an invitation to make a difference and you have to raise your hand before you're ready. We were talking about this earlier, right. You have to raise your hand before you're ready. [00:16:00] And even with professional women, high achieving, we're talking the C-Suite level, it is something that they've literally had to train themselves and shift their mindset. That what might be foreign to you, these high achieving women still have more self-doubt than the less competent men. So they have to literally force themselves to raise their hand for that stretch goal. The difference is those women and those people, whether it's a male or a female, is [00:16:30] that they are able to step into that breach when it's super uncomfortable. Instead of saying, "Okay. Now I'm 100% ready and now it'll be safe to go for this." Because it's never actually safe. You just have to be able to honor your voice, and your instincts, and your passions, and go for it.

Kyle Davis: So transitioning, or pivoting, out of this, what are your takeaways since now what you do, most of all is leadership consulting. You go out and you speak to audiences and you talk about different [00:17:00] leadership pros, cons, I don't know, all that. I'm trying to put it-

Carey Lohrenz: The leadership stuff.

Kyle Davis: There ya go. Leadership stuff.

Carey Lohrenz: Super technical.

Kyle Davis: Super technical. There's an API for that. So anyways. When you look at that, what are your takeaways that you took during your time in the Navy? Maybe it was even your time as an aviator having a checklist, a pre-flight checklist, post-flight debrief. What is it that you brought with you that helps shape what is a competent and great [00:17:30] leader today?

Carey Lohrenz: Oh, wow. So a couple of elements to that. One of my biggest things is that for us to be able to survive and thrive in this really, really rapidly changing environment, that is a pace that's here to stay, right?

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carey Lohrenz: This is not a situation that we can merely get beyond and then all of a sudden take a breath. We need to be able to adapt to the pace of change right now. That is going to require all of us to be able to find that [00:18:00] courage to move forward even when we're afraid and to empower our teams to do the same. So there are some tricks of the trade to that where from a performance perspective, we always used a very straightforward framework in that we always took the time to plan. Then we would always brief our teams so everybody has a great level of situational awareness. And the reason that we want to do that is because when we're out executing and we're out in the field, [00:18:30] maybe you're launching a new product and you have whole slew of a thousand sales reps out launching something and things change. The environment changes and they need to be able to adapt. We still want everybody to know what success looks like at the end. That will allow them to make those different decisions or maybe even find a third way on that path to success.

And then this idea also of two big things, 80% is good enough. Too often we think we have to have the [00:19:00] perfect marketing plan. The perfect promo video. The perfect piece of collateral or the perfect strategy. And while we're waiting for perfect to happen, the opportunity has passed or somebody who's willing to just get out there and throw it in, you know get around the corner, they get ahead of us and they get ahead of the game. And now the opportunity is there's for the taking. So I think 80% is good enough is a really good ideology to let kind of sit in your bones. [00:19:30] To understand it's about progress, not perfection. And if you're doing these things, if you're planning with your team. If you're going out and executing and you're debriefing with your team, then you're learning faster than your competition is as well, which allows you to operate with 80% is good enough because you're adapting along the way.

The other thing I think is a really big mindset belief, is this idea that adversity introduces you to yourself. [00:20:00] People think that ... I think too often whether from a very human perspective, whether we're looking at Olympic athletes or these incredible world adventurers or somebody who's done some extraordinary challenge. Climbed all seven summits, yes seven summits. That we think, "Golly, that person must have either better resources or they have something I don't have. Or they were luckier than have. They're more gifted than I am." But the overwhelming majority [00:20:30] of the time when you look at these people who have become peak performers in any field, what they've been able to do is learn. Learn from their mistakes and kind of have this mindset of not yet. I'm making mistakes. I'm really at the bottom of the curve right now. I just don't have it yet. And they stick with it. So it's not a matter of being better resourced. It's a matter of the old Japanese saying, you know, "You fall down." I don't even [00:21:00] know the saying. I don't know.

Gail Davis: "I think a thousand, get up a thousand one."

Carey Lohrenz: "I think a thousand, get up a thousand one." Right. All I know is you get up one more time than you fell down. So make the math work for you. You might be on your 5,000 time. But it's thinking that other people are lucky and they don't have it as hard as you when at the end of the day that's not true. It's being able to stay focused on what matters. Control what you can control and don't be afraid to fail. Learn from it. Learn as fast as you can. And keep moving forward.

Kyle Davis: [00:21:30] I love failure. No really, I generally do. But that's like the start-up in me. I think you have to go do something and you'll never know how successful it's gonna be. So shoot for failure, which kind of sounds like an odd thing, but if you're shooting for it you're gonna succeed. Something's gonna stick.

Carey Lohrenz: Right. But I think there's also, and especially when you come into a space of innovation or entrepreneurship, there's the dark side of that that people can think, "Oh. Well, it's okay that I failed, right. It's no big deal. Everybody says celebrate [00:22:00] failure." But you know, and you have the experience to know, oh well, not exactly that. We want to be able to learn from it as fast as we can and live on the outside of the envelope. We don't want to do what everybody says is possible.

Kyle Davis: Don't give 'em all my secrets. I want everybody to do everything because I really want them to fail.

Carey Lohrenz: I know. Go out and be miserable.

Kyle Davis: I know the smart things to do and I want to go to do that.

Carey Lohrenz: Right. Right.

Kyle Davis: So I don't know if it's a Navy aviation term or if it's Air Force or Marine Corps or whoever [00:22:30] does it, but the O.O.D.A Loop. Do you do the O.O.D.A Loop?

Carey Lohrenz: Oh, the O.O.D.A Loop. Sure. Sure.

Kyle Davis: Can you explain for the audience, 'cause it's something that I do in working when it's project and different things. But I don't think enough people know what it is and they really should implement it in their life.

Carey Lohrenz: Yes. So the O.O.D.A Loop was, not discovered, but kind of come up with by I'm gonna say it was Boyd.

Kyle Davis: The guy who came with O.O.D.A Loop.

Carey Lohrenz: Boyd.

Kyle Davis: Boyd.

Carey Lohrenz: My. Ooda. Yeah, it was actually Mr. Boyd, but a fighter pilot. And it goes back and supports that, what I just shared, about [00:23:00] the preparation and the planning stuff because you wanna always take time to observe what is happening. Orient yourself on where it is you want to go and then figure out the direction that you're headed and adapting quickly. Too often what I see and there are certainly organizations that struggle with it right now, what happens, and again this can be in the entrepreneurial world or it is happening at Fortune One and Fortune 10 companies right now. We get so [00:23:30] whetted to a way we believe things should be done and we've maybe invested extraordinary assets and capital, both monetary and human, talent capital into a project. And it goes so far, but it's not kind of getting the results we need but we're like, "Well, we've invested so much. We need to keep going."

And what this preparation phase, or the planning phase, and the fighter pilot ideology is, you always have an exit strategy. Always. [00:24:00] And that you have to know that when you've hit that metric, no matter how emotional it is, you have to go. And that's a business decision, but it's also a smart decision because there's almost not a single person that will make a good business decision, with a positive long-term impact, that hangs on for emotional reasons. It never ends well.

Kyle Davis: It never ends well. No. That's why I think the great thing about if you look at the O.O.D.A Loop and two other, well first [00:24:30] off it's an abbreviation, not abbreviation it's a-

Carey Lohrenz: Acronym.

Kyle Davis: Acronym. Thank you. So it's O.O., so it's observe, orient, and then I think the D stands for decide and the last one, the A, is for act. So you make your decision then you act. But then immediately go back to observing kind of what that action is and what the results are.

Carey Lohrenz: Right.

Kyle Davis: And then you can decide what ... Then you can orientate yourself. It's like, "Okay. Maybe I need to quit this." Because there's so many times that you have to do the pivot or you need the exit, whatever you want to call it. But hanging on [00:25:00] to something for too long, if it's not working out for you, it's a death by a thousand cuts.

Carey Lohrenz: For sure.

Kyle Davis: And no one wants that.

Carey Lohrenz: Well, and I think that goes into, you know when we were talking about action before as well. That only when ... Even if you're not given enough information or too much information, that when we talk about action that you have to have this bias to act. When's the most afraid that you're ever gonna feel? When you're jumping out of an airplane? It's not actually when you're hurtling yourself, squish pink, body to the death. [00:25:30] It's right before you jump. That's the most fearful part. It's not the doing of it, it's right before you take that action.

But what we also need to be careful of is sometimes people think, "Well, everybody says just act. Just go out. Do big things." But the people who have achieved extraordinary things, yes they generally have a better than average intuition, or gut level, which is usually threaded right back to a huge bucket of experience and failures. But it's [00:26:00] taking bold, massive, violent action based on a ton of preparation, right? So you have a great base from which to draw quick decisions from and once you make a decision, even if it's not the best decision, you can adapt very quickly. So it's not just being willy-nilly and not being grounded in good reasons to act. It's being able to make [00:26:30] sweeping judgments. Are you writing this down?

Kyle Davis: No. I'm looking up another-

Carey Lohrenz: You're looking bold.

Kyle Davis: ... quote right now because you just said violence of action.

Carey Lohrenz: Violence of action. So that's probably is beeline some of my Navy roots and Marine Corps background a little bit. I would tend to think if you have SEAL friends.

Kyle Davis: I do.

Carey Lohrenz: Violence of action. Violent action is what we're looking for.

Kyle Davis: It comes from CQE. Hold on, pulling it up. I'll find it. But yeah, no, I mean it comes [00:27:00] back to kind of what you said. Whether you want to call it the O.O.D.A. Loop or if you want to do anything, you prepare as much as you possibly can prepare. Something's always going to go sideways. So you're never gonna have it prepared right. But the way that you overwhelm everybody is just a violence of action. You make that decision and boom you act and you just demolish everything.

Carey Lohrenz: Right. Well it's being all in, right?

Kyle Davis: It's all in. I mean if you're, I don't wanna say the phrase, but if you're kind of just tip-toeing around the pool, you're not doing anything. Like if you know something's out there, you just gotta commit and do [00:27:30] it.

Carey Lohrenz: For sure. And I think that's where get ... You know too often times people get scared or they "what if" it to death. "Oh, well what if this happens? And what if this happens?" And oh for the love of Pete, when you do strategic planning with people, or you pick the challenge of the day right now, and people think, "Well we never thought that was gonna happen." Right? "We never thought there was gonna be a huge data breach." And you know in my mind I'm thinking, "How in the heck was that not 15%, at a minimum, your conversation." Right? "Like how are you not [00:28:00] planning for the worst case scenario?" Because you need to at least consider the worst case scenario and "what if" these conditions. So that, when you're in the midst of that execution, if you start bumping up against what could be a "what if" or worst case scenario, you can adjust to it and hopefully ward it off. So, yeah.

Kyle Davis: All right. So like the two that I was looking for was, "Speed and violence of action."

Carey Lohrenz: Oh, speed.

Kyle Davis: And then, "Slow is smooth. Smooth is Fast."

Carey Lohrenz: Oh. Oh, well that sounds quotable.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I think so.

Carey Lohrenz: Me more with the right picture.

Kyle Davis: [00:28:30] Yeah, but like it kind of comes back. It's just too many people, I think, get hung up on they made a decision and it's not working. I mean one of the start-ups that I worked for we had a product launch and we thought it was gonna be just phenomenal. And it made so much sense. It was using great technology. It was solving a problem. We had the user base there. We had the name. We had the marketing budget behind it. But what does every really smart start-up company do that has really good [00:29:00] leaders? They say, "Hey, these are the legitimate KPIs that we're gonna put behind it. If we don't see the traction, we have to kill the project." There's no emotional investment in something. I mean they invested millions of dollars. It had eight months. It didn't survive. It wasn't viable. And they killed it.

Carey Lohrenz: Well, but that's ... And that can be very hard for people to get their minds around, particularly whether maybe you've invested 12 years in a company, or 17 years in a company or you're working your way up [00:29:30] trying to get into the C-Suite, and you have such an emotional investment in that company. Or that organization. Or even that product. That it is very hard for most people to then suddenly come to the 30,000-foot level and then be objective. So that's where I think it's important for all of us to not shy away from those conversations of, okay, we can talk about failure and okay celebrate [00:30:00] failures, and failure's awesome. And Mark Cuban, "I wake up every day bound and determined to do those things that people say I can't do. Or what nobody else is going to do."

And not everybody is wired that way. Lots of people are wired for safety and security and that feels very foreign to them. To which I would say, you don't have to go out and be a fighter pilot. You don't need to be the next Mark Cuban or an entrepreneur like Gary V. You don't have to do that. [00:30:30] But what if you did one thing every day for the next 30 days that scared you? Where would you be 30 days from now? Probably a little bolder. Quite a bit braver. And more confident in your ability to go after things you never thought previously possible. And that's a game changer.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I mean even from the one example that I provided you, the lessons learned from that then went into other things. The people from that project [00:31:00] went to go lead other projects that were very successful and very viable. And so I think a lot of people just need to understand that failure's okay so long as there's lessons learned. But more importantly, if you're gonna take a risk, make sure that you at least know what you're doing. Just don't do it. So many people just do stuff and you're like, "What are you doing?"

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah. I know. Well-

Kyle Davis: "Did you really think this through?"

Carey Lohrenz: I know. Well and that's ... There's that element, I think, if you look at a lot of the really uber-successful entrepreneurs, [00:31:30] one of the common things that you'll find amongst most of them is that they are rabid consumers of information. And it is not simply scrolling through Twitter in 140 character count bytes of information, not there's anything wrong with Twitter.

Kyle Davis: It's 280 now.

Carey Lohrenz: I know that's my ... For us fancy people it may be. Not everybody has that yet. But they're veracious consumers of information and knowledge.

Kyle Davis: Like me.

Carey Lohrenz: And they always stay curious. [00:32:00] So I think that, again, there's that element of, and we certainly had this, I think for the most part, in the fighter pilot world, certainly in special ops and the entrepreneur space and those who are successful in any endeavor. Even though you may have achieved some level of success, overwhelmingly the majority of those people do not feel like, "I've arrived." And if they do in a second they're like, "Oh, gosh." You know the hairs standing on the back of their neck because they know that means you [00:32:30] are literally a breath away from being complacent.

Kyle Davis: Well, in your line of work that you did, I mean the moment that you say I've arrived. My friends that were SEALs, green berets, delta guys, you name it, all of 'em kind of said the same thing, the day that I thought I'm not fearful anymore when I go on a mission is the day I have to quit.

Carey Lohrenz: For sure. No question.

Kyle Davis: Because that's the day that either I get killed, and I don't go home to my family, or their friends get killed. And it's because they got complacent.

Carey Lohrenz: That's right. That's right.

Kyle Davis: And the risks are so much [00:33:00] more there, but like to your point you gotta keep growing or just quit.

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah. Well and the danger in that complacency piece, especially if you've reached a certain level of success or comfortability, is that you don't see it.

Kyle Davis: You don't.

Carey Lohrenz: And more of than not, other people see it and they might try say something to you, but then they're like, "Oh, no. We're fine. We're fine. We're not gonna have to. We don't nee to pivot. We don't need to, you know, that web thing. We don't need to be on the webs. We're like what are the inner webs?"

Kyle Davis: "My website [00:33:30] looks great."

Carey Lohrenz: And you're like, "Oh my gosh." Yeah.

Kyle Davis: No it doesn't.

Carey Lohrenz: And you're like, "Yeah, not exactly." So it's just having that awareness again. But I think a lot of that is a bit circular and builds, one thing builds upon the other. That thirst for knowledge. That quest for constant improvement. What I always tell my kids, and even people I coach sometimes, is that there are no short cuts to excellence. There's no short-cut path to it. It's something that you have to be constantly working on.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I think it's just [00:34:00] hugely important that people understand that you have to be kind of fully invested in something and you have to learn from it. And complacency kills at the end of the day.

Carey Lohrenz: Every time.

Gail Davis: Are there any take away nuggets that you want to share with listeners that relate to why you named your book Fearless Leadership? For those listeners that want to demonstrate fearless leadership, you got any good takeaways as we wrap this up?

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah, for sure. I would say ... And you know you don't [00:34:30] have to. This idea of fearless leadership it's not just for people who want to hit that C-Suite level or who want to be an Olympian or even be in the military. It's just anybody who wants to be a more significant contributor or the best version, really, of themselves that they can be. A couple of things, you know go for those stretch goals. Go for the difficult. Too often I think that we're afraid that people are gonna tell us "no" or who do you think you are, for asking for that. You know and the way that I look at it is people are [00:35:00] gonna tell you "no" anyway. So I might as well have them tell you "no" when you're going for something big. Just go for it.

Gail Davis: Just go for it. That's awesome. Well I think it has been a great time visiting with you today and I know that the audiences we've had the pleasure of placing you in front of have always given us such amazing feedback. And I think it's really cool that you've taken this unique experience and you've translated it into the business world.

Carey Lohrenz: Thank you.

Gail Davis: Kyle do you want to wrap it up with a little ...

Kyle Davis: Yes, of course I do. [00:35:30] You know the veracious receptacle of information that I am. I will say I think one of my favorite quotes that you brought here was that, "Adversary introduces you to your truth." I think that's what you said?

Carey Lohrenz: To yourself.

Kyle Davis: To yourself? Your truth works too.

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah. I don't know what that-

Kyle Davis: We'll go with that one. But you know what I like about that is that, and I've been preaching this for as long as I can remember on the podcast, and even before this, but being comfortable with being uncomfortable is just such a [00:36:00] huge thing. And I'm glad to hear somebody who isn't from the tech start-up space say that because it's huge. So thank you for that.

Carey Lohrenz: Yeah. Awesome.

Kyle Davis: Look, if you want to book Carey Lohrenz, you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers. The number is 214-420-1999. The websites gdaspeakers.com. To be able to purchase the book, read the transcripts, see great photos, and all these other fun things, you can go to gdapodcast.com. With that being said, thank you.

Carey Lohrenz: Thank you.