Wow! Who Knew?

If you follow me at all or know anything about me (which I’m assuming you do otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), you probably know that I’m on a winding path of discovery.  I’ve been acquiring new knowledge in all things aviation and running two businesses, one of which is a non-profit organization.  

Since beginning my aviation journey, people have been asking me where I hope all of “this” will lead.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s to let things unfold.  I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring!  There are many different paths that I’ve been led down over the past three years.  Some of these experiences have been painful.  Some have been thrilling and left me giddy.  This whole journey has been educational and enlightening.

Telling a teenager or a young adult to let life happen and see where it leads is most likely confusing and frustrating.  That’s understandable.  Honestly, as a parent, it’s not the most economical advice either.  When I was a teenager (just a short while ago…:)), my life needed to be mapped out.  There needed to be a plan and a direction, or I felt like a drifting, dismal failure.  Many kids feel the need to choose a major in college before they’re even a senior in high school.  It’s very overwhelming and daunting.  Admittedly, it’s definitely easier as a financially secure adult to “wander” a bit.   

Adults also understand that the best-laid plans don’t always lead to success or fulfillment.  

What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up?

Life’s been good to me in a number of ways.  I won’t deny it.  Is it perfect?  No.  Am I still alive? YES!  So, in my book, that gives me permission to keep going, keep dreaming, keep growing, keep achieving (that rhymes and it should be on Pinterest this instant!  It will definitely be a flyGIRL post soon. Stay tuned)!   Life is remarkable in the fact that at any given moment, we can step forward into growth or step back into safety.

1) Pilot.  I love flying airplanes and traveling.  There’s a word for a person that enjoys this type of lifestyle. It’s “wanderlust.” At some point, it would be nice to get paid to fly instead of burning through my own cash.  Traveling isn’t just about going to new places and seeing the world, it’s about meeting people.  Everyone has a story.  I try to find out what that is and learn something from it.  Passing that knowledge on to someone else is a priority for me.  We can all learn from one another and everyone’s life has value.  

2) Creator.  Writing and constructing videos are enjoyable ways that personal stories, information, and insight can be shared.  There’s a lot of fulfillment for me in using both of these platforms.  They’re both time-consuming but creative as well.  Creativity fuels me.  Other than writing and making short videos, I love all kinds of music. I enjoy playing the piano, singing and creating graphic art.  There have been many solo trips to the art museum where I’ve just meandered the halls for hours.  I’ve also enjoyed designing and selecting the flyGIRL products.  We are continuously evaluating and researching new products to offer.   

In the past, when conjuring up a description of a professional pilot, “creative” was definitely not the first adjective that came to mind.   These are “left-brainers,” right? However, it’s my belief that many pilots actually are very creative beings.  They must be in order to be great pilots.  “Not every decision in an airplane can be solved through the use of a checklist. Some emergencies are not by the book.”  This excerpt from wildbluepress.com illustrates this belief.  Pilots are very systematic but the best pilots should have the ability to be creative in a moments notice, if need be.  

Without divulging too much information, flyGIRL has another creative project in the works with a few more females in aviation.  We will be able to announce this project in the near future.  It is exhilarating to be able to work with some fine women that have the same passion and drive as me.  This endeavor is in the beginning stages but will be entertaining, constructive and helpful in a variety of ways. 

3) Chief Operating Officer. Starting flyGIRL, LLC and the Fly Foundation, Inc. was fairly easy.  Actually promoting and managing them actually requires a great deal of effort.  The sole purpose has never been about making a lot of money for myself.  It is about building brand awareness and raising money for scholarships.  In order to attain this brand recognition, there are time commitments.  This includes social media engagement and post creation.  These are both enjoyable activities because they tie in my love of creating and engaging with people.  

Networking is a word that many loathe.   It’s become a part of my life in aviation that is a highlight.  After a huge event, I may be drained, but it’s a satisfying, good kind of fatigue.  It must be a good sign when you enjoy something so much that time flies and you continue to look forward to the next day and opportunity of future events.  

As the COO, I bare the responsibility of also researching products and suppliers.  My radar is always on, looking for new avenues, new designs, new offerings, and distribution logistics.  It can be time-consuming, making sure the knowledge is current but it’s broadened my knowledge in multiple ways.  Not to mention, I’ve had the benefit of learning from many already in the business, who are generous with their expertise and advice.  Never be afraid to ask questions from someone who knows more than you.   

4) Sales.  There have been new opportunities for practicing my sales abilities.  With much excitement, I can announce that flyGIRL has secured two sponsors and is working on a couple more from some big names.  Acquiring sponsors involves some sales capability.  It was a little intimidating at first but it’s grown on me.  Convincing someone or some company to affiliate their name on a brand and invest some of their dollars into a fairly new institution requires some level of confidence and a dose of persuasion.  The chase is energizing and addictive.  Through this process, I’ve learned that any type of sales is right up my alley.  Moms may have an advantage when it comes to persuasion.  Some of us have had years to hone our skills and can “sell” just about anything: broccoli, milk, clean socks, antibiotics, mowing the lawn, vacuuming…(never underestimate the talents of a mother).

Someone recently suggested that I should consider getting into aircraft sales.  What?!?  That avenue had never occurred to me.  It is interesting though.  It seems perfect, actually.  Demonstrating different types of airplanes?  Networking with people, chatting about aviation, building relationships with people all over the world.  Traveling. What about this doesn’t sound perfect?  Well, possibly cold-calling, and inconsistent, sporadic sales.   Guess what?  I’m not afraid of any of that.  I’ve faced a lot of challenges and nothing scares me anymore.  Why not?

Students??

 5) CFI.  Admittedly, this one is the least appealing to me.  Although, there is some mild attraction.  It has to be rewarding to witness someone learning to fly and seeing that look of astonishment as they take-off for the first time, master the steep turn and take their first cross-country flight.  

I have a theory as to why this may be least tempting right now for me.  There are a lot of college students and post-millennials in the aviation program at my home base airport.  Currently, there are a few of these living in my home and/or periodically torturing me in some fashion.  It hurts my brain to try to motivate this age group.  If there was a guarantee that my students would NOT be post-millennials or act like a post-millennial, I’d be way more enthralled about trying to teach them.  Apparently, however, they already know everything.  😜 Maybe my school director will only assign students to me after it’s been determined that they are teachable, dedicated and hard-working?  I have little patience for anything less.

6) Fundraiser.  The recent #FUNDAFLYGIRL fundraising campaign was a tremendous success.  It was a blast to plan, organize, conduct and manage.  When first suggested, it seemed too daunting and way out of my comfort zone.  Still, I jumped in!  The experience taught me many things.  It was exciting, revealing and instructive.  After the first few days, I knew this was something that would be carried out again.  When you believe in what you’re offering, it’s easy.  Supporters were popping up from everywhere.  They offered financial assistance and pushed the cause to their circles as well.  We fed off of each others energy and it was all positive.  

Because of the success of the fundraiser, self-funding scholarships are no longer necessary.  Weighing the options on the best ways to move forward and who to help is a bit overwhelming.  There are several organizations that want to work with flyGIRL and support the cause.  This requires some thorough research and planning.  I want to work with the right organizations and have our money go as far as possible in helping others. I am learning new things once again through this process.  My brain is packed and being pushed to the limits but man is it fun!  Yes!  I can’t wait to run another fundraiser!  

The Future.  Surprise!  It’s A Job…

All of the things listed above have become things I love to do and get excited about.   Over the past three years, there have been all kinds of new developments, challenges, skills, and revelations.  Is it time-consuming?  Yes.  There isn’t a day of dread when I’m working on some piece of this whole journey, however.  I have spent hours and hours building flyGIRL and establishing its reputation and foundation.  People recognize the brand now and genuinely support the cause.  There are still many things I want to do with it.  Each day there are new ideas I have to expand and spread the mission.  Now what?

Life is always changing.  Being a pilot was first and foremost three years ago.  There is now a job opportunity as a pilot sitting in my lap.  The job sounds like everything I’ve dreamed of.  It’s based out of Dallas, Texas.  My schedule would have me living half the time in Dallas and half the time in Cincinnati.  It’s within my grasp.  I want it.  

It has sort of thrown me for a loop though.  How will this affect flyGIRL?  Is it possible to keep pouring the same amount of time and energy into it?  No.  How is this going to change my ability to spread the mission of getting more women involved in aviation?  How will this change my life?  It’s fantastic and at the same time, a little mind-boggling.  Sometimes, I’m not sure how many more curveballs my mind and body can handle.  My life has been a whirlwind over the past several months.  The idea of bringing on a partner or partners for flyGIRL has been playing out in my head.  This is uncharted territory once again!  Yet, I’m no pansy and refuse to back away from a challenge.  I’m an energetic, optimistic go-getter who believes everything will transpire in the best, positive, most rewarding way.  

These next few weeks will be spent sorting through many details and prioritizing. There will be a few more sleepless nights and unending lists churning inside my head, including “pro’s” and “cons” of this or that. We will see how this plays out over the next several weeks.  Whatever happens with this potential position, flyGIRL will continue in some capacity.  There are still lots of goals to reach!  Maybe it won’t work out, but maybe seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever!  In the meantime, feel free to reach out and send me your thoughts.  To be continued…

  

 

2 Comments

  1. Michael Cordova

    Natalie, you might also consider becoming an author. You clearly love to write, and your enthusiasm comes through in your writing. It also helps to hand someone a book along with your resume when you are closing a sale.

    Reply
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