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As the CEO of my own business, I’m on a plane a lot. But at the Entrepreneur Organization”s annual Thrive conference in Cleveland, I flew like I’ve never flown before!

For me, this conference kicked off with a wild flight with Air Combat USA. I can tell you right now: It was the most awesome thing I have ever done in my life! We took flight in two fighter planes. The pilot told me we were skipping 18 months of flying lessons and going straight to the hard stuff. I could not believe what I was doing. We dove straight down, then pulled straight up toward the sun. We looped and stalled the plane at zero gravity. It was so radical. I threw up twice, but kept on going.

You might ask: What the heck does this experience have to do with business and dentistry? Other than the obvious lesson to brush one’s teeth after puking, I had to trust my judgment. I had to make decisions on the fly (literally!). I had to take risks. I mean, REALLY take risks. I had to trust that the guidance I was getting from an expert (the pilot right beside me) was sound advice. And I had to rebound from a bad situation (hurling) and persevere to triumph in the end.


Take a look at my experience, and let me know what you think! Buckle up!

DentalPost CEO Tonya Lanthier Engages in Air Combat at Thrive 2014!                                            Click here to view video:

In addition to this incredible adventure, I learned from some fantastic speakers at Thrive 2014. Jodi Berg, President/CEO, Vitamix, is the third generation of her family to lead that company. That’s a pretty big deal, since only 12-13 percent of family-owned businesses make it to the third generation.

We hit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue – a former New York Times writer and contributor to several television shows – made me laugh until my muscles ached. His talk on “Let’s Get Disruptive!  The Unrecognizable New World of Technology & Culture” really put the spotlight on how high tech is changing our world.

Another highlight was the headline event from the last day called “An Apple a Day Keeps Innovation at Play” with Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder, Apple Computers. “Woz” told so many stories about his best friend, Steve Jobs, and the passion they shared for their company. The moderator at the event asked Woz a question, and he talked for 25 minutes without taking a breath. The crowd cheered with laughter and applauded when he finished his long, passionate response. The collaboration between Steve Jobs and Woz was just amazing. Woz described the relationship between the two friends and business partners, which included good times and bad. It was a true collaboration, with Jobs the moneymaker and Woz the creator. The shared passion is part of what made the company a runaway success and household name.

We, as business leaders or practice leaders, should bring that kind of passion to our work, too. It might not make us a household name – or maybe it will! – but passion is directly related to innovation. We’re more willing to take risks to find new products or ways of achieving goals. When we are passionate, we don’t want to leave things the way they are; we constantly want to make them better.

Flying by the seat of my pants really brought these points home for me: If you’re going to do it, do it BIG, and be willing to take risks because that’s when innovation happens. Oh, and don’t forget to always take a toothbrush with you. You never know when you’ll need one!

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