Mike Mullane


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About Colonel Mike Mullane - Former Astronaut, Inspiring Leadership Speaker:

Colonel Mike Mullane is a retired NASA Astronaut and member of the International Space Hall of Fame. He was selected as a Mission Specialist in 1978 in the first group of Space Shuttle Astronauts, completing three space missions on the shuttles Discovery and Atlantis before retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1990.

Colonel Mullane has established himself as an acclaimed professional speaker on the topics of teamwork, leadership and safety. He has educated, entertained, inspired and thrilled tens of thousands of people from every walk of business and government with his incredibly unique programs.

Mullane is the recipient of many awards, including the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit and the NASA Space Flight Medal. Since his retirement from NASA, Colonel Mullane has written an award-winning children's book Liftoff! An Astronaut's Dream and Do Your Ears Pop In Space? a popular space-fact book. He is also the author of Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut. Colonel Mullane hosted Inside Space, a nationally syndicated cable television program of the USA Network.

Mullane has held a lifelong passion for mountain climbing. Since age 60 he has summited Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro; the glaciered peak of Mt. Rainier; and thirty-three of Colorado's highest peaks.

Mike Mullane's clients include Intel, Chevron, Pacific Bell, Exxon Mobile Corporation, Gillette, Verizon, and many others.

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What Mike Mullane Talks About:

Countdown to Teamwork
In this presentation retired Astronaut Mullane delivers a hard-hitting, substantive teamwork and leadership program that is also wonderfully entertaining. (In places the content is laugh-out-loud funny.)

Guarding Against a Normalization of Deviance: Normalization of deviance is a long term phenomenon in which individuals or teams repeatedly get away with a deviance from established standards until their thought process is dominated by this logic: Repeated success in accepting deviance from established standards implies future success. Over time, the individual/team fails to see their actions as deviant. Normalization of deviance leads to predictable surprises which are invariably disastrous to the team. The Challenger tragedy is an example of Normalization of Deviance.

Mullane continues with a discussion on defending against Normalization of Deviance:

  • Remember your vulnerability. If it can happen to NASA, it can happen to anybody
  • Plan the work and work the plan under the umbrella of situational awareness
  • Listen to the people closest to the issue
  • Archive and review near-misses and disasters

The power of all teams resides in the uniqueness of the team members; in their diversity of life experiences which yields a diversity of insights into team situations. When individuals become passengers and don’t put their unique perspectives on the table for the team and leadership to consider, the team will suffer.

Everyone has a sacred responsibility to get their unique perspectives on the table for leadership to consider; to never assume somebody else is going to fill in for them. Leaders have a sacred responsibility to empower the voices of their people so that no one is allowed to slip into a passenger mode.
Mullane closes this discussion with a real world example of how a medical doctor at NASA (not an engineer or astronaut) had the best solution for an engineering problem associated with the post-Challenger shuttle bailout system. This is an example of how great ideas can exist in the minds of people who are not considered the experts on a particular issue.

Countdown to Safety
In his program, Colonel Mullane delivers a powerful message on the individual’s role in keeping themselves and their teams safe in hazardous environments. Mullane introduces this subject with a recount of his own near-death experience in a fighter jet, when he failed to speak up about an unsafe situation. He assumed another crew member, with more flying time, “knew best” about the safety of their operations. At a critical moment in a hazardous operation, Mullane surrendered his responsibility for safety to someone else and became a safety passenger. The result was his (and the pilot’s) narrow escape during their ejection from the crashing jet.

Mullane continues this thread: that each individual brings to their team a unique perspective on safety. Only when every person’s perspective is available for analysis can a team be truly safe. Another significant message within Mullane’s Countdown To Safety program is his discussion on Normalization of Deviance.

The Lighter Side of Spaceflight
In his program, Mike Mullane will take the audience on a uniquely revealing, captivating and hilarious space journey. Using spectacular video and slides he will answer everybody’s space questions: What does a shuttle launch feel like?, How does an astronaut deal with the incredible fear of launch?, How do you sleep, bathe, eat, drink, etc.?, What do you see from space?, And, of course, he will answer the top two questions that astronauts are ever asked:
#1: How does the space toilet work?, and #2: Has he seen any UFOs or aliens?

The answers to these questions and many, many more are lavishly wrapped with inside, hilarious stories and supported with amazing video. The audience will not only be thoroughly entertained by The Lighter Side of Spaceflight but will they will also find Mullane’s message on goal setting and achievement to be powerfully inspirational.

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 Recent Publications

You will be pleased to hear that your messages are reverberating around the hallways here. I don't recall any other speaker who has created so much positive dialogue. Well done!


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