Speakers

John Foley

Former Lead Solo Pilot, Blue Angels

John’s personal path to High Performance began as a child, when he stood alongside his father at an air show featuring the Blue Angels. From that moment, John knew deep in his heart that someday he’d be carving up the skies as a member of the Blues. Eventually, he lived that dream, but getting there wasn’t easy. In fact, John’s journey from an awe-struck child at an air show to the cockpit of the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Hornet is a study in persistence, hard work and the will to overcome obstacles and setbacks. Those ideals fit within three overriding traits that mark John’s presentations: First, a contagious attitude of thankfulness that he calls Glad To Be Here®. Second, an energizing delivery that inspires High Performance and service to others. And, third, a practical model for living out his message that works in other organizations as well as it works for the Blue Angels.

The model and the message are byproducts of John’s ongoing pursuit of continuous improvement. As a Blue Angel, John was part of a team that consistently performed in intense, high-stakes environments. With thousands of hours as a carrier pilot and hundreds of hours as an instructor pilot, John was an elite aviator when he joined the Blues. But to perform with this team – flying at speeds of more than 500 miles per hour and in formations as close as 18 inches from his teammates – John had to improve his performance by 300 percent!

John’s post-Navy experiences as a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and as an entrepreneur put him in a unique position to reverse-engineer the culture of team excellence found in the Blue Angels and create a model that helps others on their journeys toward High Performance. “What I learned most from being with the Blue Angels had nothing to do with flying itself,” John says. “I learned that the process of engaging at this high level, when my very life depended on successful communication, accurate information, trust and follow-through, is the same process leaders and successful individuals use to achieve excellence.”

John graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also was a defensive back for the Midshipmen, playing in two bowl games and helping Navy to one of the best four-year records in its football history. As a pilot, John was a “Top Ten Carrier Pilot” six times before becoming a Marine instructor pilot and a Blue Angel. He holds master’s degrees in business management, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (as a Sloan Fellow); in international policy studies, from Stanford University; and in strategic studies, from the Naval War College. He makes his home in Sun Valley, Idaho.

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