SAN DIEGO-Mark Kelly has had many high-profile jobs over the years, but he said one of his most important is being a messenger for his wife.
Kelly was a combat pilot during the first Gulf War, he has flown the Space Shuttle several times, including having the honor of piloting Endeavour on its final flight, and he has visited the International Space Station four times. But he is better known to millions as the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz. She was known as a staunch supporter of credit unions during her time in Washington, and prior to that, in state government in Arizona.
During a keynote address at the recent Harland Connections client conference here, Kelly told his audience his career taught him concepts that are applicable to any business. As the Space Shuttle is a very risky vehicle to fly-akin to storming the beach at Normandy, with a one-in-52 chance of dying-he said NASA takes many steps to reduce and/or mitigate risk.
"The commander must pay attention to the details, be involved in planning and execution, and strive to have the best team possible," he said. "It is important not to have yes men/women. All of us are not as dumb as one of us, so a leader needs to have people around to question decisions-just not out loud where I can hear you," he joked.
Kelly said he likes risk takers-people who ask for forgiveness rather than permission-because "they get things done."
Giffords has had a lengthy recovery from her head wound, Kelly reported, including having to relearn to speak. When Kelly told Giffords he was going to a credit union conference, she painstakingly wrote down a message for him to deliver: "Be passionate, be courageous, be strong, do your best."