An Evening with Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield in Winnipeg

I have been a fan of Chris Hadfield for quite some time.  If you are not familiar with the name, Colonel Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian Astronaut to walk in space, operate the Canadarm and the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station.  He is also quite the musician – perhaps you will remember his revised rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”?

But even before his famous performance, I enjoyed his frequent updates from space.  His comments were funny, smart and most importantly, mind opening.  His pictures of Earth were nothing short of spectacular – how lucky were we to be able to share in his experience? I admired the way he used social media to not only educate us but also to challenge us in our thinking individually and collectively.

So when I heard that he was going to be in town for an evening, I knew it would be a treat to listen to him talk about his experiences.  Chris Hadfield in person is extremely dynamic and the evening went by so quickly as he enriched us with his journey of becoming an astronaut and later his first-hand experience of living out in space.

It had been a life long dream of his to become an astronaut.  He had decided at the age of 9 that it was his dream – and every decision he made after that brought him one step closer to making his dream a reality.  He had said something that really stuck with me.  He told us to think of our dreams, and to think if everything worked out perfectly in the next year, two years or five years, where would we be and what would we be doing? He then told us to take that dream and to ‘hang it on the wall’.  That dream, afterall is unattainable.  The journey is in figuring out what smaller steps to take in the meantime.

For him, his first step was becoming a pilot and learning how to fly. He earned his glider pilot licence at 15 and his powered pilot licence at 16.  He learned to fly various types of aircrafts which enabled him to become a test pilot.  He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Royal Military College and later, a Master’s Degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee Space Institute.  He learned different languages (he was fluent in Russian during his presentation!), learned to scuba dive, and even trained as a doctor in surgery.

All those goals contributed to his dream of becoming an astronaut.  It was impressive to see how dedicated he was and how his decisions all reflected what he wanted to accomplish.

This really stuck with me – even if I have no plans of becoming an astronaut (closed and tight spaces are not for me…).  Why wouldn’t this model work for any occupation… or any goal for that matter?

As a marketer, if I wanted to become successful at what I do – I should be doing the same thing! As I go through my career, I should be collecting more skills to add to my toolbox.  With the end goal in mind, I can now make decisions and life choices strategically so they can take me one step closer to my ‘dream on the wall’.

Not only would I have to be knowledgeable with the trends and best practices of digital marketing right now, I have to continue to grow my knowledge base over the years.  I will need to master traditional media and find my way around radio, TV, and print.  I will have to learn design and typography, how to code and the difference between the different paper stocks even.  I have to refine my skills as a writer – and be able to tailor my writing for creative or technical pieces.  I will have to learn about the different industries that I want to work in – their trends, their vernacular even.  This should seem overwhelming, but instead – it was so invigorating to approach my career this way.  Each of these are manageable and attainable goals and even if my list of to do’s keep growing, I know that they will all help me mature into the type of marketer that I want to be. How exciting!

If you ever get the opportunity to listen to Chris Hadfield speak – don’t miss out!  He is full of wonderful tales that will open your mind and challenge your thinking.  As a marketer, you will appreciate his fresh approach on using social media to connect, unite and educate.  It really is worthwhile and I hope you will get the opportunity to see him for yourself!

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