This time of year I always enjoy reflecting on the events that shaped the past year of my life. In a nutshell, 2015 was simply AMAZING! I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines, but this past year I was especially engaged in the game of making the most of every moment in life.
My year started out with a trip up to the Cirrus Aircraft factory in Duluth, MN to surprise all the great folks who make such a phenomenal company thrive. I was accompanied by country music superstar Dierks Bentley, baseball hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr. and Red Bull airshow champion pilot Mike Goulian. We all spoke passionately about our love for their products and how they’d changed our lives. Dierks stole the show by playing hands-down the best acoustical concert I’ve ever heard in my life. Afterward, we toured the factory and saw the Cirrus SF50 Personal Jet coming to life. Each of us are position holders eager to take delivery of our own new jet powered birds so it was especially exciting to see the production facility humming along so strong. An incredible adventure which really kicked off the year in a big bold way. A few months later, we even got to re-live the experience doing it all over again for an equally amazing Cirrus Life event to kick off EAA Airventure at Oshkosh.
I’ve always done a whole lot of shows and conventions, but this year I really took my engagement of the industry to a whole new level. I began by attended the NAFEM Show in California – and it was awesome! I always go into the show thinking there’s no way they can outdo their past performance – yet, they continually prove me wrong and raise the bar to a whole new level. NAFEM’s executive leadership team presented me with a Doctorate of Foodservice degree – I was beyond honored and humbled to say the very least! This show reminded me of why I love my industry so much, it’s made of up of so many great people whom I’m proud to call friends.
My next show was a visit to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. I’ve attended for years, but this year was a bit different. As I walked into the show, right there in the center foyer, I found myself standing below a gigantic photo of my myself on a sign hanging above. Next, I moved on to badge pickup area, once again, there I was, bigger than life. For months the organization had used my image in magazine ads, mailers and e-mail campaigns, but it was fun to see my portrait prominently displayed throughout the show itself as well. The team at the National Restaurant Association has been incredible to work with and I think so highly of them all. It’s a fantastic show and if you haven’t ever been, I strongly recommend you plan on it this year… you may even see a familiar face on a sign or two at the show!
Moving on to other shows/conventions, I also attended CMAA, FEDA, SEFA, CFESA, NBAA, EAA, ASHORE, HOST, APGA, ESC, FPGA and many, many others in various industries. One notable addition to my normal convention circuit was the addition of the the HOST Show in Milan, Italy. The show was out-of-this-world gigantic – to give you an idea of the scale, the sidewalk connecting all the pavilions stretched a full mile long. Such an incredible experience filled with extremely productive meetings. I certainly plan to make this show one I attend regularly. As an added bonus in the after-hours time, it was so much fun spending R&R time with industry friends enjoying some fantastic Italian wine and food. We even had an opportunity to visit the World’s Fair together which was conveniently located right next door. I’m so incredibly thankful for the Italy America Chamber of Commerce for their gracious hospitality in making making this trip possible.
This year I was also on stage in the spotlight giving more speeches than ever before in my life. I’ve really gotten into a solid grove and love sharing my thoughts and knowledge with an audience. The best part for me is when folks come up afterwards and share their thoughts about what I’ve said during my speech. This was amplified exponentially after concluding a speech on personal branding and achieving goals I’d just presented to a few hundred SEFA folks. One person came up to me at dinner that night and gave me a hand written note about how I’d just changed their life with my motivational words. Wow. What an impact. That was worth a million dollars in how great it made me feel knowing I’d been able to help shape the future of someone’s life for the better. In additional to my motivational speaking, I also gave many professional speeches throughout the year in the foodservice and aviation industries as well as others. One particular highlight was speaking on behalf of the US Commerce Department regarding e-commerce and exporting. I truly love this country and it’s an honor to work with such a great organization who does so much to help small businesses succeed on a global scale. Along with all this speaking, I also did a whole lot of video shoots, magazine photo shoots and interviews. I’ve become very comfortable in the public spotlight and really enjoy engaging all of these media opportunities.
In addition to my work activities, a huge personal highlight of my year was the Bahamas Boy Trip Part VI. This trip is an annual tradition where I spent a week of fun in the sun with my two little buddies. No cell phone, no e-mail, completely disconnected from the world dedicating all my time and energy to spending quality little boy time together with my twins. They get as much candy as they can fit into a shopping cart, stay up late, jump on beds, no rules, just right! We laugh and play from dusk until dawn and beyond – and this year, we even got a little more adventurous and walked in the shark tank (literally). It was especially fun to see ourselves on the in-house TV channel in an advertisement showing activities at the Atlantis Resort. You may have even seen us on national TV as well this past year, our commercials were running on more major TV networks than I could even count (CNN, HGTV, Discovery, National Geographic, Cartoon Network and many others). It was so cool to be watching TV at home or on the road and recognize ourselves on the screen during commercial breaks. I’ll be writing another blog post all about our Bahamas Boy Trip adventures in the near future, including a behind-the-scenes look at the filming we did there.
Looking back at where I’ve traveled, I visited a total of 22 states (several of them many times) and several countries this year. Less than my usual count, but I spent extended time in several locations at events so it makes sense. My Cirrus Aircraft performed flawlessly, safely and efficiently moving me between each of my destinations in record time. Needless to say, I gave the airplane a great workout along the way. I spent hundreds of hours in the cockpit and at times was in a dozen or more cities and states over the course of a single trip. During one particularly busy time, I had six speeches in six days in six different states spread throughout the US. Try doing that without a private aircraft. What can I say, I simply couldn’t keep the demanding schedule I live without this phenomenal business asset. I’ve affectionately termed my utilization of this hyper-productive tool as “Doing Business at the Speed of Flight”. Best of all, I also was able to have some fun and see some amazing sights along the way too. One particular achievement was landing a Cirrus in Hawaii during a spontaneous trip I took in May – my 50th state landing! This makes me one of the few people (possibly the only person) to successfully land a Cirrus Aircraft in all 50 states in the United States. You can read more about this accomplishment in another blog post wrote by clicking here. I was also an Angel Flight Pilot of the Year Honoree, it felt beyond incredible to receive recognition from such a wonderful organization that’s so near and dear to my heart. Throughout the year, I flew frequently from sea to shining sea between the East and West coasts enjoying the unique landscapes that make up this great country. I especially enjoyed my many flights over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado – the most beautiful spot on earth in my opinion. It’s incredible to realize all these adventures became a reality with just a set of wings and a short mile of runway. I’ve already got my first 14 flights covering 8 states planned for next year – and that’s just my travel in January. By next December, who knows the places these wings will have taken me… One thing’s for sure, I’m certainly looking forward to enjoying the adventures ahead!
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank my customers, friends, business associates, staff members, vendors and family. I’m incredibly successful at all that I do in life, but I realize it’s these folks who make it all possible. I’m beyond thankful for all the support so many people have given me not only this past year, but throughout my life. If you’re one of those people who’ve always believed in me and are reading this blog, thank you. I’m eternally grateful for all that you do to enrich my life and make me a better person.
That wraps it up, Brad’s 2015 year in review. It’s truly been an AMAZING year that’s been wildly successful by every measure imaginable. I’m even more excited about engaging 2016 as I set my sights even higher. I’ll be living more of life’s adventures as I continue focusing on turning all my goals into a solid wins. Best wishes to each of you as you start off the 2016 New Year in a big way. I’ll conclude this post the same as I’ve ended every single speech I’ve given this past year…
“Life’s short. Live life to the fullest and enjoy every second of the ride!”