MAC’s Anniversary: “Strive Not to be a Success, but Rather to be of Value”

July 1st marks McFarren Aviation Consulting’s fifth anniversary! I can’t believe it’s been five years since I went out on my own. That first month of July 2009 was a little slow, as one would expect just starting out, and I remember being at my condo’s pool by 3 or 4 PM every day thinking, “Wow – self-employment ROCKS.”

Of course self-employment isn’t all about pool time and cocktails at 4 in the afternoon. I work hard when there’s work to be done and I play hard when work is quiet. And more than anything, I keep learning. After five years I’ve realized I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I am fortunate to have a motley distinguished group of mentors who are kind enough to share their experience in our industry, in relationships, and in life. These guys make up my personal “board of directors” and I’m grateful for their differing perspectives. One is always asking about my ten year plan (what’s that?), another knows just how to help me fill up my luck bucket when I need it the most, and others provide brilliant tactical advice that has helped me grow my business over the past 5 years.

Sadly two members of my board slipped the surly bonds of earth this year. I will be forever grateful to these two men for their guidance, love, and support. Jim Christiansen served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and suffered serious injuries there. He taught me that every day is a blessing and that in almost any situation if you look hard enough “there’s a pony in there somewhere.” Henry Ogrodzinski (also a U.S Army veteran) taught me what it means to be a true statesman but always knew I wasn’t wired to be so distinguished and graceful. Instead he encouraged me to make a positive impact on the industry in my own sometimes quirky way.

Most importantly, these men showed me how to make a difference. Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Jim and Henry lived this ideal and in doing so, each was not only incredibly successful in their own right but helped those around them be successful too.

I have made a few course changes in my life and career that I feared would disappoint my board. Amazingly, each time I said, “I’m going to quit/leave/move/start something new,” I found this group of gentlemen pushing me forward to pursue my dreams. One of those dreams took off 5 years ago today with my board’s enthusiastic support.

Some businesses have anniversary parties (“I heard there’d be punch and pie!”) to show their gratitude to their clients but since my clients are spread all over the country, it is my tradition to give donations to charitable organizations to share the year’s successes. This year I chose the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC), First Book, and the Henry M. Ogrodzinski Scholarship Program to honor my dear friends and board members.

I don’t mean for this anniversary post to be a downer. Although I am deeply saddened by my friends’ too-early departures from this world, I am so, so blessed to have known and loved them and that makes this a happy post. I am very grateful to my unofficial “board”, as well as my family, friends, colleagues, and clients who have supported and encouraged me over the years. I can’t wait to see what year 6 brings!


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