brad pierce Posts

Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures

Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 1 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 2 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 3 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 4 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 5 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 6 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 7 Bahamas Boy Trip Adventures 8

We’ve just concluded our annual Bahamas Boy Trip Adventure so I thought it would be fun to share the story behind this phenomenal tradition.  Our boy trip consists of a week of fun in the sun with my two little buddies at the Atlantis Resort at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.  I turn off my cell phone and disconnect from my e-mail for a week to dedicate 100% of my time and energy to my boys.  The entire trip from start to finish is all about having fun and building amazing memories together that will last a lifetime!

Way back in 2010, my twin boys were just five years old.  I travel a lot for business and had recently missed out on a weekend of playtime with them.  I was airborne heading home to Orlando thinking about what sort of special treat I could do to make up for our lost time apart.  As I cruised along at 10,000 feet, I looked out the window at the bright sun, then glanced at my airplane’s display – and there it was, a moment of clarity and inspiration as I spotted the Bahamas in the upper left corner of the map.  It was one of those times in life that you know you’ve just stumbled upon something special, even without experiencing it yet.  I landed safely and then formulated my plan for what would become the legendary Bahamas Boy Trip.

Brad’s 2015 Was An Amazing Year!

Brad Pierce Cirrus Event Brad Pierce Speaking Brad Pierce NRA Show Brad Pierce Bahamas Boy Trip Brad Pierce Cirrus Cockpit Brad Pierce Milan, Italy

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!”

Flying an Angel Flight to Help Save a Life

Brad Pierce Angel Flight MedEVAC Miami KMIA   Angel Flight Southeast Logo

It’s not often an individual gets the opportunity to help save a life, but for the great volunteers at Angel Flight Southeast this is a regular occurrence.  I’ve been a volunteer pilot for this charitable flying organization for many years now and have always been very impressed with the incredible results they’ve been able to achieve.  Most routine flights are scheduled ahead of time with plenty of notice to prepare.  My most recent mission, however, was far from routine.

It was 7:23pm on a Thursday night when the call came in for help.  The Angel Flight Southeast mission coordinator explained that two organs which were needed for a young girl in Orlando just became available in Miami.  They had already reached out to seven other pilots who were unable to fly the trip for one reason or another and had reached the end of their list (it’s sorted by airport proximity to the patient).  This particular organ had a “shelf life” of only four hours so there wasn’t a moment to spare.  I immediately responded “yes” as I rushed out the door to head towards the airport.  Along the way I called the good folks at Showalter Flying Service at Orlando Executive Airport and requested their assistance pulling my aircraft out of the hanger so it would be ready to go the moment I arrived.  I also made a confirmation call to my mission coordinator to ensure that Miami International Airport (KMIA) was the correct destination for my flight plan.  South Florida has numerous airports and I couldn’t risk delivering this patient to an incorrect destination.  KMIA was confirmed and my special MedEVAC flight plan was filed with the FAA.

I pulled into the airport knowing it was game day, this flight would be among the most important I’ve ever flown in my life.  Every aspect of this mission needed to be performed flawlessly.  I did a quick (yet thorough) pre-flight of my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft and determined everything was in a safe condition for a flight.  Moments later my passengers arrived – a courageous young woman and her caring father.  I typically do more coddling of new passengers before taking flights, explaining every aspect of the flight to ease their comfort level.   Tonight was different however, we were racing time which was an expiring commodity so there was only time for the necessary safety briefing.  Before starting the engine however, the father turned to me and simply said “thank you” as he extended his hand.  I looked at him and replied, “I’m happy to help – my job tonight is to get you to Miami quickly and safely – yours is to relax and enjoy the flight.”   With those quick sentiments exchanged, it was “go time”.

As I turned the key my powerful aircraft engine roared to life.  I called up the clearance controller with my special mission call sign, “MedEVAC 225HL”.  Typically Angel Flights use the “Angel Flight” call sign which often leads to air traffic control issuing favorable flight routing. The MedEVAC call sign however essentially adds steroids to the term “favorable routing”.  I was cleared DIRECT TO MIAMI – never in my life would I have imagined such expedited routing though some of the busiest airspace in the country.  Needless to say, I quickly became a huge fan of the MedEVAC call sign.

Seconds later I was taxiing my aircraft to the active runway.  A quick (yet important) pre-takeoff checklist was performed and we were ready to launch.  I received an immediate take-off clearance from the tower and pushed the throttle forward as we rapidly began accelerating down the runway.  We were airborne!  Less than an hour after receiving the call for help we were launching into the night sky.  Years of need for these new organs had come down to a game of every minute counting.  We were given an expedited climb to our assigned altitude, only having to level off briefly to allow for a 747 to cross above our flight path.  Soon we were soaring along towards our destination.

The night was perfect.  The weather was beautiful with no clouds in sight and a we even had a little tailwind to help give us a bonus push.  Air traffic control continued working their magic ensuring other flight paths wouldn’t converge with ours so we could continue our direct heading towards Miami.  My passenger’s moods changed as we glided along.  Their thoughts and worries of the upcoming surgery eased and turned into ones filled with excitement and awe as they gazed out the window at the beautiful city lights below.   We began to chat as we sat on the magic carpet ride racing along over a mile above the earth.  Our conversation was wonderful, they were both incredibly friendly and I was thankful to be able to help such good people.  We chatted about life, school, career aspirations and more.  We also touched on details of the upcoming transplants, although I tried to let them drive that part of the conversation as I didn’t want to pry regarding her condition.  She was very happy to share though and I found it very interesting to learn about the long road she’d endured to get to this point.  Needless to say, hearing stories like this make you realize that the problems most people face in life are insignificant in the scheme of things.  I was inspired by both by her and her father – they were simply great people who were facing adversity with positive, uplifting attitudes.

Approximately 53 minutes after take-off it was time to bring this bird home.  Miami air traffic control arranged for an immediate approach so that no delays from inbound airline traffic would slow us down.  We lined up with the runway and I received my landing clearance as we descended towards the city and hospital below.  Winds were gusty so I expected a more challenging landing, yet it went as smoothly as every other aspect of the flight.  Two minutes after touchdown we were pulling onto the Landmark Aviation tarmac where numerous team members were gathered awaiting our arrival.  The staff at Landmark was fantastic welcoming my passengers, complete with a red carpet to make them feel like they were the most important guests in the world – which they were.

There wasn’t much time to be sentimental, yet my passengers and I expressed some quick thoughts as we walked through the doors towards their waiting transportation.  They thanked me again and I expressed what an honor it was to have the opportunity to fly them on this special evening.  I expressed that everything had gone perfectly that evening.  The mission coordination, timing, air traffic control, weather – everything.  I told them we should consider that a sign – a sign that tonight was meant to be and that her upcoming surgery would be successful as well.  I watched as their car raced away knowing my part of the mission was complete.  Less than two hours after the initial phone call came in, I had successfully transported a patient and her father more than 200 miles to their destination where vital organs were waiting to be transplanted.  Her life would now be in the hands of the skilled surgeons at the nearby hospital.

I took a moment to catch my breath before my return flight to Orlando.  I chatted with the fantastic mission coordination staff from Angel Flight Southeast who are the ones whom really made this all possible.  I gave them a thorough briefing on the details of the mission performance including expressing my gratitude for all that they do each day.  A short while later, I was lifting off once again, a bit lighter with no passengers, but with a heart filled with joy.  The flight back to Orlando was smooth and allowed for reflection of all that transpired over the past few hours.  The special nature of this mission really began to sink in.  Although I was no longer using the MedEVAC call-sign, air traffic control provided extra courtesy as a returning Angel Flight and allowed me to return home quickly which was appreciated.

As I reflect back on this flight, I can’t help but to think of the profound effect it had on my life.  I thought I was simply giving these passengers help in a time of need – the reality is they were giving me a lesson in life that no amount of money can buy.  They inspired me to look beyond the little problems in everyday life and to realize the things that are truly important.  Success is about having a good attitude, believing in yourself and being appreciative for what you have in life.  Keep up the hope no matter how dire the situation and good things will come to you.  This life lesson was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received.

If you’d like to learn more about the mission of Angel Flight Southeast, you can do so by clicking here.  Angel Flight Southeast is a non-profit organization comprised of volunteer pilots and earth angels who volunteer their time, resources, aircraft and fuel at no cost to the patients and families they transport.  I encourage you to learn more about their mission and consider supporting this fantastic organization.

Additional Follow-up Articles:

Brad Pierce Angel Flight Orlando Sentinel Transplant Article The Orlando Sentinel – “In a race for time, Clermont teen gets double-transplant” – Aubrie and Fritz’ story made the front page of The Orlando Sentinel on December 21, 2013.  It’s a fantastic article which goes into a lot more detail about Aubrie’s transplants than I was able to share here (due to patient confidentiality at the time I wrote this article).  I invite you to read this fascinating Orlando Sentinel article by clicking here.
Brad Pierce Angel Flight Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board Weekly Champ vs Chump
Click to Enlarge
The Orlando Sentinel – “The Editorial Board’s Weekly Champ” – A week later, I was named The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board’s Weekly Champ!  While I’m honored to receive such recognition, I was just a teeny part of a much bigger team who worked together to make this mission a success.  You can read this article by clicking here.

Thank you for all the wonderful comments and for your caring and compassion for this special family.  I know Aubrie is going to do great things in life and you’re all a part of her story.


Brad’s Guide to the Best Unique Hotels in America

Brad Pierce Guide Best Unique Hotels in America

I’ve literally stayed thousands of nights in hundreds of hotels over the years in my travels throughout the world.  I’ve visited every state and have had many fantastic experiences at all of the major high-end hotel chains.  That’s not what this guide is all about though.  Instead, I’d like to share my guide to the best unique hotels in America.  Many of these properties are smaller with a cozy feel – some are modern – some are historic – but they’re all fantastic.

The James (Chicago, IL) – I’ve got to start my list with The James.  It’s simply the best of the best.  Located right in downtown Chicago near North Michigan Avenue, The James offers a personal experience like no other.  It has a hip and modern feel and a staff who’s second to none.  Many of the staff members have been there for years – don’t be surprised if they begin calling you by name after a visit or two.  The recent expansion of their bar area provides a great lounge environment for relaxing.  You can walk everywhere in the city from this centrally located property and the concierge is always quick to offer great suggestions for nearby restaurants.  If you’d rather stay in, David Burke’s steakhouse is located right inside the hotel.  It’s arguably one of the best steak houses in Chicago.  There’s no close second place, when I visit The James, “I’m home”.

Hotel Valley Ho (Scottsdale, AZ) – A funky retro style hotel that takes you back to the days of staying in a motor lodge with a fun twist.  The decor is lively and energetic.  The pool and bar areas get crowded on weekends which drives a great vibe that flows throughout the property.  Downtown Scottsdale is filled with art and entertainment and is accessible via a short golf cart ride.  The outdoor fire pit area is a great spot to spend the night chatting with new and old friends alike.

The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs, CO) – A trip to Colorado isn’t complete without a visit to the historic Broadmoor.  This property has two distinct types of rooms on opposing sides of the beautiful lake.  On one side, you’ve got very elegant traditional rooms.  On the other side, you’ve got modern rooms, yet they retain a sense of class and sophistication from old world times.  Outdoors there are numerous fire pits which always attract a crowd in the evening as you breath in the fresh Colorado are from the nearby mountains.  The views as you walk around the property are gorgeous.  Everything about the Broadmoor is simply perfect.

Hotel Valencia (San Antonio, TX) – Located right on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio, the Hotel Valencia is a splash of modern vibrancy in the heart of a historic city.  If you’re hungry for a bite to eat, the Acenar Restaurant is located right next door which has some of the best Tex-Mex food you’ll ever eat.  The rooms are large with very modern amenities and the location is fantastic.  You can walk everywhere that you’d like to go in the city from this centrally located property.

Travassa (Austin, TX) – If you’re in the mood to really relax and unwind there’s absolutely no hotel on my list that’s any better to visit than Travassa in Austin.  It’s a very outdoorsy type of property with most meals and resort activities happening outside in the sunshine or under the moonlight.  There are dirt walking trails between each of the buildings on the property which really make you feel like you’re having a nature experience versus staying at a hotel.  Relaxation and fresh air are always in plentiful supply every day at Travassa.

Palomar (Dallas, TX) – I found this gem nestled at a busy intersection in Dallas. This hotel is sleek, ultra modern and the service is top notch. The location is great for hopping onto the major highways and plenty of restaurants and nightlife are just a short cab ride away.  In a city that resembles a concrete jungle, this property was a great find after I was tired of a long string of nights staying in big chain hotels.

21C Museum Hotel (Louisville, KY) – It’s a museum – it’s a hotel – no, it’s BOTH.  This hotel is unique even on a list of unique hotels.  Who would have ever guessed that combining a museum with a hotel would be a winning combination?  Certainly not me… boy, was I wrong.  While there’s a full traditional museum downstairs, every hallway and room also serves as an art gallery.  There’s so much to see it’s hard to take it all in during one single visit.  Certainly the most visually stimulating experience one could ever have staying at a hotel.

U.S. Grant (San Diego, CA) – This property is ultra historic and is located in the Gaslamp District right in the heart of downtown San Diego.  You feel like you’re stepping back in time when you walk through the doors away from the hustle and bustle of the city life surrounding you.  The entire place just screams “grand” and “historic”.  The service is five star all the way and restaurants and entertainment are just a few steps away.

Royal Sonesta (New Orleans, LA) – If you’re in New Orleans there’s only one place to stay – right on Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter.  It’s far from the most modern, most hip or trendiest hotel on my list, but it’s one I’ve really enjoyed over the years.  The hotel has a very old time traditional New Orleans feel to it, complete with the old style message boxes located behind the check-in desk.  My only cautionary tale with this property – if you’re expecting to get a good nights sleep, politely decline a room with a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street.  If you’re in town with friends however, live it up and enjoy watching the crazy parade go by from the comfort of your balcony overlooking Bourbon Street below.

The Prescott (San Francisco, CA) – Located right near the heart of Union Square, The Prescott Hotel is a charming property that’s a blast from the past compared with all the modern mega chain hotels in the area.  Afternoon cookies in the lobby are a yummy treat at the end of a busy day.  The gentle creaking sound of the hardwood floors under your feet in the rooms gives a feeling that you’re staying in a place with a rich history.

Driskill Hotel (Austin, TX) – Yet another Austin favorite, this one is located right in the heart of the music capital of the world.  The Driskill is a historic hotel that makes you feel like you’re staying somewhere special from the moment you arrive.  The property is located right on 6th Street where you can find every type of music imaginable seven nights a week.  There’s a very comfortable lounge area to relax and spend time with friends chatting the night away if you’re looking for something low key than another night out on the town.

Hotel Derek (Houston, TX) – While Houston is a big, bustling city with plenty of impersonal chain hotels, the Hotel Derrek sits in the center of it all with a unique look and feel.  The lobby and lounge feature overstuffed chairs and couches that are perfect for relaxing after a day of work in the city.  There’s a cool feel to the place, a mix of ultra modern along with traditional comfort.

Hutton Hotel (Nashville, TN) – If you’re looking for a modern hotel experience in downtown Nashville, look no further than the Hutton Hotel.  Every aspect of this hotel screams techology.  Even the showers are high tech – you set your desired temperature on a digital screen for the perfect shower temperature every time.  Downtown music venues are just a short cab ride away.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide and embrace the opportunity to stay at some of these great hotels during your own travels.  Life is all about the experiences you have along the way.

Live life to the fullest and enjoy every second of the ride!