My Story

2013-10-20-11-03-41Hi. I’m Rick.

I believe in people. I work to make the world a better place and improve the lives of those around me. I am a professional who knows that “professional” doesn’t have to mean boring.

I don’t think that we are ever too young or too old to reinvent our lives and start living our dreams.  When yesterday’s dream has become today’s nightmare, we need to understand that it is never too late to redesign our lives around a new dream.

When I was four or five years old, I flew on an airplane for the first time and immediately decided that when I grew up I would be a pilot and see the world. I never thought I’d want to do anything else with my life… until 23 years later. Only four years into my career, I began to realize that I needed a change. I loved flying, but the active-duty Air Force wasn’t where I belonged.

My dream had become a trap.

I wrestled with my frustration. Why wasn’t I happy? I had everything I’d worked my whole life to achieve. It took me two years to figure out the roots of my frustration… learning to fly had been a huge challenge and a tremendous learning experience, but I needed a new challenge, and a way to make a bigger positive impact on the world.

I spent two more years investigating what really inspired me, and only one year after I discovered my core motivations, I had totally redesigned my career.

What I most loved from my career to that point was disaster relief, so I found a way to work that into my civilian and military careers. I wanted to reconnect with engineering and that led me to work on water and sanitation projects in Africa. Entrepreneurship fascinates me, so when an opportunity to work at a struggling startup company came along, I jumped at it. Most importantly, I discovered that I needed to continue learning and growing, and always will.

I also took my first “real” job, in an office, five days a week… and I learned a lot from joining “cubicle nation.” Life looks very different from the inside of a huge bureaucracy, and that can make real change much more difficult. It was also the first break from professional flying I’d had since I started in 2001. That life isn’t for me, but it’s an experience I’m glad I had.

airplane-revealsAfter a few years away, I’m flying again… looking down on the world from
35,000 feet changed my
perspective forever, and part of my journey of discovery was reconnecting with my love of aviation.


I read… The more I read, the better I can think and write.
I tell stories… Life is a series of narratives, and telling the right story matters as much living the right story.
I make connections, between ideas and people, which often surprise people with more conventional career paths.

My career has taken me all over the world, including more than a few industries and roles…

  • Aviation – The Air Force trusted me to fly a two-hundred million dollar aircraft around the world, and teach my students to do the same.
  • Disaster Relief – I’ve worked and led response operations after disasters in NYC, the Caribbean, Central Asia, and the Gulf Coast.
  • Management – I’ve put my MBA to good use, managing multi-million dollar projects and hundreds of people.
  • Logistics – I lead a Contingency Response team, ready to rapidly (re)establish and operate airfields anywhere in the world.
  • Engineering – New York City is a tough place to manage an engineering project, and Africa brings even greater challenges.

One common theme across all my experiences is my love of mentoring, instructing, and coaching. My parents are retired educators, and their influence drives me to help the people around me learn and grow – in the classroom, in the field, in executive offices, or on the flight deck of an aircraft.

Of course, I’m also a student and follower as well as a leader. Nobody has all the answers.

I’ve studied…

  • Engineering – At Stevens Institute of Technology I learned how to combine my natural creativity with structured reasoning.
  • History – Decision making is storytelling. My research focused on historiography – the story behind the story.
  • Business – The more experienced my classmates were, the more they focused on “people issues” where there is no “right answer.”
  • Culture & Systems Theory – At the Marine Corps University I focused on Red Teaming and Systems Theory, and overcoming cultural barriers to communication.
This is an exciting time to be alive. we can build a business easier than probably any previous time in history. It’s normal to leave a “safe” job after a few years, jump in and out of different industries, and even leave or re-enter the workforce.

Want to read more?

Though you cannot go back and make a brand new start my friend, you can start now and make a brand new end.
– John C. Maxwell