Nov 6, 2019
COO of the To the Stars Academy and Former Director of Advanced
Systems at Lockheed Martin’s esteemed Skunk Works, shares what it
takes to lead projects when the specifications challenge the laws
of physics, the stakes are literally life and death, and the
nation’s national security is on the line. Steve shares what it
takes to develop cutting edge technology by studying the past, and
setting team expectations that challenges conventional assumptions.
He also describes the mission behind To The Stars Academy, and why
“revolutionary is too mild a word.”
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[1:44] Steve can’t talk about a
lot of the work he did, but he did help develop the F-22 Raptor
(the coolest plane you can ever see at an air show). You will also
see his name on the patent for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff
[4:22] With high stakes
projects, Steve had to make sure expectations were clearly stated
before his team even began to work. When Steve was at Skunk Works,
the programs he asked his bosses for were the ones that had a low
probability of success.
[7:30] Writing down the
operating rules and expectations presents it in a different context
than just speaking it.
[9:02] Steve asks
a lot of questions, but explains to his team the reasons behind it.
It typically breaks down into 5 reasons:
an earlier question, but it wasn’t answered yet.
- Didn’t understand what you said, looking for
is new, and I’m asking questions to understand the answer - and the
educating other people in the room.
- I am
testing your conviction.
[12:27] Values such as
precision, clarity, focus, and learning from mistakes really
[16:28] Steve is the Aerospace
Division Director at To the Stars Academy, and leads the efforts of
developing advanced craft using revolutionary technologies that go
beyond capabilities most can only imagine.
[22:28] Great leaders think
beyond what is in front of them and dig for answers considering
[28:51] Steve was one of the
Skunk Works historians, and it’s helped him think about futuristic
important qualities of a leader:
- Curiosity and
what they say they are going to do.
- Strong character.
[42:06] We all have failings,
but recognizing and learning from them is the
[48:17} Two pieces of
- “It’s amazing what you can accomplish
when no one cares who gets the credit.” - Ronald
- Stand in the future to solve today’s
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- Stand in the future to
solve today’s problems.
- “As a
leader, your success is 100% dependent on how your team
- “As a
leader, you are on 24/7.”
down with a team and defining expectations is
love proving people wrong.”
always amazed by the dramatic amount of wonder and inquisitiveness
some people can have, and the very small box other people want to
To the Stars Academy
Website: The Leadership Podcast