Shannon Polson


True Grit - First Woman to Fly Apache Attack Helicopter

Ep. 101 - Shannon Polson is a true Trailblazer, exemplifying true grit in courage, tenacity, and perseverance! She is a native of Alaska and at age nineteen she became the youngest woman ever to climb Denali, the highest mountain in North America. She then went on to summit Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro. She raced long-course triathlons and took journeys to Alaska's Arctic After graduating from Duke University, she entered the military, becoming one of the first women to fly the Apache attack helicopter in the US Army. Her career as an Army officer and attack aviation leader around the globe spans almost a decade. She led two flight platoons and a line company, serving on three continents before joining the corporate world. In addition to her military service, she spent five years leading and managing in the corporate sector, at Guidant and Microsoft. As a dynamic, in-demand speaker, Polson reaches thousands of people a year at major organizations and large public venues on topics related to leadership, courage, resilience, and grit.

Top Takeaways:

    • How to build confidence by experiencing hard things and taking the available opportunities
    • The power of ignoring the naysayers and focusing on doing the work to reach your dreams
    • The responsibility of the military in eliminating sexism challenges that women in service face
    • Learning how to take care of people at a personal and professional level when in leadership especially during this pandemic
    • Teaching young leaders how to lead with authenticity, adaptability, and other tactical ways
    • The power of grit and resilience in getting over difficult times and how it ties back to empathy

Listen in to learn some of the most important characteristics of leaders who are ready to get over this pandemic.

"Find that thing in the world that breaks your heart and find a way to contribute to it." -Shannon Polson

Through all of these experiences, she learned the lessons of leadership and decided to share those by creating a leadership institute. The Grit Institute is the culmination of five years of research into grit, including most notably the lessons, stories and candid recommendations from general officers, military aviators over three generations, submariners, rescue swimmers and other outstanding leaders.

She has written four books including North of Hope.  After author Shannon Huffman Polson's parents were killed by a wild grizzly bear in Alaska's Arctic, her quest for healing is recounted with heartbreaking candor in North of Hope. This beautifully written book is for anyone who has experienced grief and is looking for new ways to understand overwhelming loss. Listeners will find empathy and understanding through Polson's journey. North of Hope is also for those who love the outdoors and find solace and healing in nature, as they experience Alaska's wild Arctic through the author's travels.

Her new one is called the Grit Factor about the courage, resilience and leadership needed in the most male-dominated organization in the world. She interviews tough, impressive female iconoclasts who shared their candid stories of combat and career. These women led at the highest levels in the most complicated, challenging, and male-dominated organization in the world. Now, in the post-#MeToo era, when positive role models of women leading are needed as never before, Polson brings these voices together, sharing her own life lessons and theirs with storytelling flair, keen insight, and incisive analysis of current research.

Learn why society needs to have important dialogues that bring us together in a respectable manner.

Key Moments:

She narrates how her father's death contributed to her writing her book- North of Hope [2:54]

Shannon explains some of the major decisions she made when she was younger and how they contributed to who she is today [6:25]

The passion and drive that led to flying the Apache attack helicopter [10:50]

Why the military still has the responsibility to reduce the level of sexism in the service and make it a safe place for women [14:26]

She describes her success story as going back to writing and being able to impact the lives of others personally or professionally [15:49]

How she draws her inspiration in contributing and serving other people [20:10]

She explains what inspired and drove her need to write her new book 'The Grit Factor' [22:08]

How her businesses and others like it have innovated to be sustainable during the pandemic [26:47]

The challenge and responsibility of leaders to over connect and overcommunicate with their people during the pandemic [29:28]

Why leaders need to practice empathy, grit, and resilience to get through this difficult phase [32:52]

The society's responsibility in working together and having understanding dialogues [35:42]

Her dream of traveling and making the world a better place where people disagree peacefully [39:32]

How to find a way to contribute to what you're passionate about and the importance of doing the hard things [41:06]


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