Complete Story


AFT Vantage Point

Ex-Fighter Pilot Steers Keynote on Managing Partnerships

Carey Lohrenz 4“Most people don’t want to be part of the process; they just want to be part of the outcome. But the process is where you figure out who’s worth being part of the outcome…” — Carey Lohrenz

Carey Lohrenz, a former combat-mission-ready F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, steered attendees through a stirring keynote presentation, focused on “Managing Strategic Partnerships,” at the 2019 AFT Spring Summit in Tucson, Ariz.

Lohrenz, who also authored the Amazon and Wall Street Journal best-seller, “Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons from the Flight Deck,” emphasized the truths she found from her time in the military. Operating in the challenging aircraft carrier environment, she found herself responsible for some 250 to 300 people and around $1 billion in assets.

“There are some very common core, important characteristics in order to be successful,” Lohrenz said. Those traits center on:

  • Purpose: “No matter what happens, if you lose sight, you lose the fight.”
  • Focus: “We need to be really clear and take the time to reflect on what is the most important work, so that we are able to focus on what matters.”
  • Discipline: “Be tenacious. If you are not moving, you can't adjust.”

She also learned that effective teamwork entails the awareness that all team members are interrelated, and reliant on each other’s decisions and accomplishments.

However, she noted when executives become accomplished in an industry, they feel there is no room for error. “Everything needs to be 100% before we launch it. I want you to let that go. Eighty percent is good enough and it's the only way you are going to keep up in this rapidly changing marketplace.” That is why Lohrenz suggested leaders must let go of some of that control and trust in the process, team and partners.

This means that sometimes, especially in an industry that's done business a certain way, finding a different way, not necessarily the way it’s always been done before, is important. That might include partnering, strategic relationships or talking to competitors (appropriate given the AFT audience).

Lohrenz advised AFT attendees to stay committed and gritty in the short term while still having the long-term play in mind. “Keep showing up and doing the work.”

Lohrenz held, “When you think about that 80% rule, I want you to think of it as a bookend. I followed the prepare, perform prevail process.” What this translates to in organizations is always taking the time beforehand to strategize and brief sales teams on the preparation no matter how long they've been in the industry. She advised the presentation should reflect that groundwork.

Then on the backend in order to tie it altogether: debrief. Lohrenz proposed its problematic if organizations do not do it daily, or at least weekly, as opposed to a quarterly hot wash or in a 180-day report. If firms wait 90 days or more to debrief something, they have lost countless opportunities and money. “The debrief is where you make your money and keep your money.”

However, this way companies can move forward at 80%. “Because tomorrow they need to be just a little bit better, fill in those gaps and allow their firm to adjust. So, everybody knows what's going on or what is expected of them,” Lohrenz said.

Printer-Friendly Version