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Advice for the coming yearAdvice for the coming year

Fortunately for me my business is not tied to the Mayan calendar. It has not come to a screeching end—it is plodding along at a slow pace. Sometimes I wish I could find a magic Jet-A kick-start for it, just so I could do the work I do without worrying so much. As a CFI/business owner, my job is to be the Chief Enhancer, making sure my customers don’t get discouraged, while seeking solutions to business problems large and small—from dealing with the sudden departure of a leased-back, primary trainer to finding a new water cooler. But who inspires me to pick up my flight bag every day, fly the pattern for the 1,001st time, or call the bank to see if they will loan me any more money? (By the way, they won’t).

Here is my short list of “Notes to Self” that I have gained from those who have inspired me.

It’s a serious world out there—laugh a little! The late Mr. William K. Kershner.
While considering whether or not I should become a flight instructor, I discovered Mr. Kershner’s books (this was before the modern Internet and even before cellphones). I got up the courage to call this famous pilot and aviation author to ask him for his advice. I figured I would leave a message and never hear from him again. Wrong. He took my call, and in his languid, Southern accent, extolled the many virtues of becoming a CFI. This former Naval aviator empowered me to believe that this was the most important job a pilot could ever want to have. He gave me one fundamental piece of advice that, like the voice of my primary instructor during my first solo flight, still rings in my ears to this day. “Dorothy, never let your guard down, even if you are giving a BFR to a pilot with 10,000 more hours than you have, remember be prepared, they may not be all that they seem.” (And, he’s been right more times than I care to say). Mr. Kershner also had a wonderful sense of humor. A few days after my call, I received a package from him with a set of plastic, coke bottle lens eyeglasses—the kind you see at novelty stores. He included a note that said I should wear them while greeting new customers.

Reach out. It’s OK share your fears. Greg Brown.
The first time I knew of Greg Brown (the same one who writes for Flight Training magazine), he was calling me about a product I had just created. Creating a product or being an artist can be both lonely and frustrating. How cool is it to get a call out of the blue from someone you don’t know but who is excited for you to be creating something from nothing? The ability to share a common thread with others, like we were able to share about being afraid of failure, may now have moved to social media arena, but Greg’s call that day started a lasting friendship and camaraderie in both aviation and entrepreneurship.

One tough mother. Gert Boyle
Gert Boyle, now in her late 80s, is chairman of the Columbia Sportswear Company.� If you haven’t read how her family fled Nazi Germany and then she went from being a grieving and broke mother to building a billion-dollar sportswear business, you should. If no one else can inspire you, she will. Here a few of my favorite Gert Boyle business axioms:

  1. Be flexible and change with the times.
  2. Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.
  3. Business schools can teach you many things but they can’t teach good luck and timing.
  4. I always tell people that running a business is a little like running a household, only much more so. Because you’ve got a lot of other people in there who say, “You can’t do that.”
  5. I think everyone’s potential is much greater than they think it is.
  6. I get up in the morning and go to water aerobics, then I come to work, then go around and verbally abuse as many people as I can. You know what I’d have to do otherwise? Stay home and do housework. That’s not my bag. They asked my son, what are you gonna do when your mother dies? He said, “we’ll have her stuffed. In Columbia gear.”

It is not wrong to spoil with abandon or love unconditionally. My dog
Actually this inspiration comes from every dog I have had the pleasure of having at my side. Currently it is our Basset Hound, Loosey. She is a rescue, as all my pets have been. She is stubborn, a really big couch hog, sneaky, demanding, and playful. Most of these are attributes that may not seem inspiring, but taken on any given day when the world feels like it might end at any moment, they have a way of bringing me back to what really matters most about life. Giving yet another biscuit won’t hurt anything!

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