The Modern Traveller Blog

I’m 75 Years Old and I Joined a “Start-Up”

Written By GI Aviation

March 05, 2018

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I was asked on part 2 of the GI Aviation podcast, why, after 53 years flying and 75 years old, would I join this company, an aviation “start up” that’s barely two years old. I replied:

“My wife asked me the same question. Basically, I think I would be bored stupid retired. How much golf can you play? Probably some golf courses would pay me to stay away…”

If you’re anywhere near retirement age and share in my personality defects, I hope you can relate… some people just love working, especially if there’s a new challenge ahead. Please click here for the podcast.

Well things are going great – I can’t complain. At this stage, each new customer is generally a happy customer. But for me, the challenges lie in making this company a little more great every day, whether by growing it, or trading my experience for innovative ideas from my team. But it all starts with educating our customer base about these wonderful single engine airplanes that we fly. I think these opportunities are rare.

Lucky much?

100%. This is something I cannot take credit for. I’m blessed with a genetic make up that is only enhanced by regular exercise. My brother is 91 years old and still going strong. My Mother was a teacher on an American-Indian reservation until she was well up into her 80’s. So I’d be silly to not take advantage of that genetic foundation.

But… I went through hell to get here. I can’t trade that. Not yet.

Early in my career, I wasn’t making enough money to make a living but knew I wanted to be a pilot and I went through hell on earth. I still feel for my young, up and coming colleagues. Becoming a pilot is tough if you’re a civilian and not going through the military ranks. It’s downright difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

A favor in the form of a “No”

In the podcast, I tell a story of my buddy Tippy Bone, who suggested we go to Alaska and make big money working on the Alcan Highway that connects into Canada. In those days as a twenty-two year old, the idea of making $18USD an hour would have been like winning the lottery everyday. But we couldn’t get a job without joining a Union.

Luckily, Tippy’s father was the Head of the Union.

His name was “Red” Bone, a straight-shooting Missouri man who sat in a liquor store rocking chair firing tobacco into a spittoon between serving customers. As working class as this man could be, he offered me an intervention that answers a lot of why I took this GM role.

Redbone looked at me and said “Sit down Son. Tell me, what do you really LOVE to do?”

My answer came from the most honest part of me, which was that I loved flying planes, but I knew the money would be good up in Alaska. He quickly concluded that chasing money would be my biggest mistake and that doing what you love is the best way to attract the bucks. I didn’t even notice the Alaskan dream disappear as he said, “I’m gonna do you a favor and I’m not gonna let you in the Union. You’re gonna stay here doing exactly what you’re doing. Keep grinding away and the bucks will follow.”

Tip went to Alaska and made those big bucks. But Red’s favor kept me on a path that no GPS invented since could have. And here I am, five decades later, writing it here for anyone that’ll read it.

Outside of my advice to you about following your dreams – why would I retire? I’m sure the time will come after 5 or 10 years where I may look at retiring, but then we have Warren Buffett at 86 still running a company worth billions, so let’s see. I’m taking it one year at a time.

I honestly waited until my third post to start going off course with my blogs and stories, but I’d be on the end of a tongue wagging from an overpaid social media guy in our office if I didn’t mention that we, at GI Aviation, all share in the outlook that I’ve instilled here as GM. When you add it up, it’s dizzying to think of the years of combined aviation experience my team have. And so, whatever you need from us as far as getting you, your family or your colleagues across the GCC, look us up at www.GI-Aviation.com or just email me at p.gordon@gi-aviation.com.

I hope you enjoy part two of the podcast above and I appreciate you taking the time to like, share and comment on these posts. Each bit of feedback make me want to write some more.

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