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VIDEO : EFX19 Keynote Leroy Chiao - "Work on what will kill you first"

Created 5/15/2019 by Veronica Marzilli
Updated 5/20/2019 by Veronica Marzilli
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Leroy Chiao, astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, sent the EFX19 audience into orbit on May 15.

He started with an intro video of his four experiences leaving the Earth’s atmosphere and six space walks. His lifelong passion was spaceflight. Chiao has launched from both Russia and the US – in both cases, it takes only 9 minutes to enter space after launch....!

Watch the video of the full Day 2 General Session here: https://vimeo.com/337400678

The Three Cs: Collaboration, Curiosity and Creativity.

These fundamentals apply not only to space, but also to any other endeavor that your business is making. He shared the story of a new French rocket, that they didn’t test before launch… it exploded one minute into launch, causing a billion dollars of damage. A post-crash investigation determined that the issue was caused by one line of code.

So, obviously there are consequences to every action. The flip side is that you’ll never have all of the information that you need to make a decision, so trusting your gut is still essential. 

Chiao stressed how important both leading by example is for an organization's success... and how important it is to understand culture when you are working internationally, or collaborating with employees or customers across various cultures. Being curious helps with that - if you are willing to learn, you are more open to change and to innovating and finding creative solutions to your organizational's issues. However, especially when looking at new technology, Chiao cautioned that just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should.. a la Google Glasses.

 Work on what’s going to kill you first

Chiao advised to “work on what’s going to kill you first”- in other words, tackle the biggest problems first.... or the rest will not matter.

 Conduit sat down with Chiao for a Q+A after his talk:

How has space travel changed over your career?  The space shuttle is still most capable and most amazing vehicle ever designed. It was designed in the 1970s, can go into space with a huge payload – and then can come back and be reused. It would be hard to replicate. The US took the shuttle for granted so now are in an interesting place in space flight – NASA has a mandate to go back to the moon, but there’s simply not enough funding to get there.

What do you think is the “next frontier” in the space industry?  Private-public sector collaboration is the most exciting trend. Both Blue Origin and Space X have the vision and the resources to build infrastructure in space. They have a better chance – and will be faster - to do that than NASA. That would be unprecedented in the history of space exploration.

How is the US positioned in the space industry?   It’s no longer really a race – the US is still in the lead position on human and unmanned missions. But… it’s been 11 years since we’ve launched astronauts in space, so we have to be careful to not become complacent.

How does collaboration fit into the space industry?  On a macro scale, when the US got involved with Russia, I was at first skeptical, but was quickly won over. Our joint collaboration helped their space station Mir going, and then after the Colombia accident, they flew US astronauts including myself to the International Space Station.

You advised the audience to “work what’s going to kill you first”- how does that apply to business?”  If you are working in a utility, what are your threats? It could be safety concerns or a threat from outside, like wildfires that impacted PG + E in California. Regardless of your industry, it’s easy to get into a cycle of complacency – be aware of threats on a macro-level as well as inside your own organization.

Any last words of advice?   Stay curious. Get out there and try new things…which gets harder and harder the older you (...and your organization) get.

For more, see today’s article on cnn.com authored by Chiao: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/opinions/united-states-lead-way-mars-astronaut-leroy-chiao/index.html





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