Fly With Waldo

Waldo Waldman CNN Interview, Never Fly Solo

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Rob “Waldo” Waldman was interviewed by CNN regarding his new book, Never Fly Solo.


CNN Interview Transcript   To purchase Never Fly Solo click here

WHITFIELD: Focus, discipline, and relying on your wingman: all secrets to success for fighter pilots. As our next guest has learned, these secrets to success can translate in life for those of us who are civilians and who don’t have those stripes. Rob “Waldo” Waldman is the author of Never Fly Solo. Good to see you – Lieutenant Colonel, right?


WHITFIELD: OK, so we understand that to be a great pilot, there is discipline. There is certainly trust. How do we, as ordinary citizens, reach out to someone and say, “You’re my wingman” or “I want to be someone’s wingman?” And what does it mean to be a wingman?

WALDMAN: Well, like you said, being a wing man is about trust. And I remember flying combat missions, 65 total…and when you’re strapped into an F-16, you’re barely able to move, and you can’t see your most vulnerable position which is behind you! So what we do as fighter pilots is we check each other’s six, which is 6:00 on a clock.

So it’s hard for me to check my own six, But, if I’m flying with you Fredricka, and you’re a mile to my right or left, you can easily look over your shoulders and call out the missiles to us. So it’s about encouraging each other and calling out the missiles, because we all have blind spots.


WALDMAN: So I need to build trust with you and be willing to hear you call out that missile and say, “You know what, Fredricka “thinks outside of the cockpit” and cares about me.” Then, I need to take action.

WHITFIELD: So in other words you’re referencing a mentor — finding a mentor or being someone’s mentor. But many of us are so busy in our lives just trying to take care of ourselves and trying to take of family members, and now we’ve got to try and think, ”How can I help someone else?” How do you encourage someone to communicate you want to be someone’s wingman and this is how do you it?

WALDMAN: Well, we have to embody the principles of courage and trust and accountability before we can ask for help. But I believe the most important words in life are, “I need help.” So how do you do it at home?

WHITFIELD: And that’s hard to say, “I need help.”

WALDMAN: Yes! It’s that we all have egos. But “mayday” is the wingman’s call to action so don’t ever turn away a wingman. But be careful here. Wing nuts will try to drag you down, so be selective with who you’re working with…


WALDMAN: But also volunteer. Review somebody’s resume. Wing work; don’t just network. Get out there and find people who you know in your network that can help the person out.

WHITFIELD: So you’re in your workplace. You’re going about your regular routine. You’ve got your morning routine, your afternoon duties, et cetera. When do you make that time to even identify that someone could use assistance or to say, “You know what? I need help.” without looking vulnerable? How do you do that?

WALDMAN: Well, the key is not to call out for help until you build the relationships. In my book, Never Fly Solo, I talk about walking the flight line. When you’re at work, if you’re in sales, connect with the people in tech support and customer service.

Right here at CNN you have makeup people, behind the scenes people. What do they do? What do your marketing people do?

And when you build relationships with them and the missiles do come, you can ask for help and know they’ll be there for you.

The key is this: treat each other as people first and employees second, and they will push it up and go to full power for you.

WHITFIELD: And you know we’re giving thanks this weekend for a lot of things. People need to think about what’s important and not necessarily those material things…


WHITFIELD: … but if someone else’s effort, someone extends a hand to help me along, you’re now saying it’s time to return the favor.

WALDMAN: It’s about being what I call a wing giver. In this economy, people are being shot at. Let’s not get shot down. Let’s give our wings away. And if you look at troops that are serving overseas, we just had Thanksgiving…We need to be thankful.


WALDMAN: Look in your communities. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. You might have a neighbor whose husband or wife might be deployed. Bring over a cake. Maybe they need some help. You don’t need to wear a flight suit or fly an F-16 to be a wingman. It’s the little things in life that acknowledge our humanity and give each other courage. That’s the key.

WHITFIELD: Excellent. Never Fly Solo, Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman, thank so much for helping all of us who are nonmilitary try to apply these military disciplines to our regular civilian lives and help everybody else in the interim.

Good to see you. Appreciate it.

WALDMAN: A pleasure to be here.

WHITFIELD: Very nice.

WALDMAN: Thank you.