The Original Blog of the NISSAN Whistleblower 
Performance Matters
This "Thought" is dedicated To Frank in Oklahoma City.
Performance Matters

My college education was self funded.   While in school I was always on the lookout for a better job.   The local paper had an ad it read 'take a government test and make 60k a year'. That sounded good, especially in the mid 80"s so I took the test.  I passed and after peeing in a cup I was sent to Oklahoma City to learn how to become an Air Traffic Controller.   History, a few years back Ronald Reagan fired a bunch of people for wanting more money and better working conditions.   The US government had a massive search for new talent.  

Once I arrived I was given a nice salary and per diem.  WOW.... Life was good. That is until my first day at the academy we went into an auditorium and the head of the FAA spoke to us about Success.  He motivated us then said "look at the person next to you, now soon one of you won't be here".   My "thought".... This might not be as easy at it looks.  Turned out most of the people there had taken the test several times.  They were passionate about being air traffic controllers and most had experience doing the job in the military.  We were broken into groups and mine was led by Frank a former Navy controller who had seen it all and had opinions on EVERYTHING, our group had 22 people, 3 women 19 men.   The word was out that the women needed to stay.   The activist in Washington wanted the FAA to integrate.   Frank told us he didn't care about what DC told him.  Performance Mattered.  Ouch.  Frank was tough.  

The first day we were given a map and told to memorize it.  Then we had to draw it from memory. I passed that one.   Then we had training with labs.  Continuing the program was based on a combination of scores.  Each week we were taken aside given our lab results, test results and instructor rating.  People kept washing out.  In about a month our group was down to 14 people.   I noticed that my instructor scores kept me in the program.   One Friday during my review I asked Frank "Why am I here"?  The answer was "it's the chick thing".  He then told me if I really wanted it I could succeed.  Then I asked him some questions.  I knew that the Navy controllers were doing better than the Air Force controllers.  Frank was a Navy controller and he was a bit biased but i wanted his opinion.  He said "when you ship out you have to have the BEST on board.  There is not room for excess luggage".   Huh???  He expanded,  "When you land a plane on a ship there is NO room for error.  If you make a mistake people die".  OK... I got it.

Frank told me to think about my life and what I wanted.  He liked me.  He'd keep me till the end.  I would get paid and get my per diem.  He told me I was smart enough to do the job.  With Franks advice I stuck it out.   I even studied a bit when I wasn't at Sullivan's drinking with new friends.  Eventually it was time for the final lab.   Those that were still in the program were terrified.  This test would make them or break them.  I went into the room confident....My first challenge 5 planes flying over McAllister airport.  My first move was to land the top one first......Metal to Metal. 

The next day Frank gave me my results.   He said Why???   I told him "Performance Mattered".  I liked to travel and when I fly I want to think the BEST are in the towers and radar centers controlling traffic.  Frank thanked me.  We actually hugged.   

Less than a year later I was working a political luncheon.  I was told to take an empty seat at any table.  The Secretary of Transportation was at one of tables with an empty chair.   I needed to sit there.  I had something to say, you got it.... Performance Mattered.

My new "thought". 
It's a tough economy.  
The ship needs the best. 
Thanks Frank!!!

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