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Lessons from a Fighter Pilot: Inspiration from the 2020 Aspire Conference

John and Rick at a conference session
John and Rick at a conference session

Focal Pointe Controller John O’Connell and Integrator Rick Fadel recently attended the 2020 Aspire Client Conference in Tempe, Arizona. (Aspire provides business management software for landscape, construction, and snow professionals.) The three-day conference included breakout sessions and panel discussions on current industry trends and issues, as well as networking activities for attendees.

One of the most inspiring talks was from keynote speaker Lt. Colonel Rob Teschner, also known as “Cujo.” Teschner, a former Air Force fighter pilot, spoke about improving human performance through teamwork.

“Real teamwork leads to transformation,” says Teschner. “Transformation leads to true excellence, and true excellence is enabled when you can learn from failure. You grow and learn through your failures.”

Teschner commanded a mission that deployed the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, just four short years after he graduated from his pilot training program. Starting out, he viewed being a fighter pilot as a solo job; he soon learned it is anything but that. This lesson translated into his personal life after years of ignored illnesses unfortunately turned into a serious tumor on his colon. “I was trying to fly solo at home, too,” he said. While his illness resulted in surgeries that would end his career as a fighter pilot, he went on to become an F-15C instructor pilot at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

“Cujo” leading a breakout session

In his talk, Teschner discussed the difference between teamwork and task work, how to appreciate the challenge of accountability, and introduced attendees to a new process called the Teamwork Operating System. This debrief-focused system highlights new ways to continuously improve performance.

Other seminars concentrated on how to improve sales in water management; new tools that are on the Aspire road map to improve performance; sales tips and documentation in Aspire to improve close rates; better numbers through best practices; and how to create a winning culture.

Inspired by Lt. Colonel Teschner and the other conference sessions and discussions, John and Rick returned to Focal Pointe ready to implement new processes and share the lessons they learned in Tempe.