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Guest: Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of jetAviva, which is one of the biggest sellers of business jets in the world. Cyrus is also a client of CEO Coaching International.
Episode in a Tweet: Could stepping away from your business give you the perspective you need to make your business BIGGER and better?
Quick Background: One of the reasons that I started the annual CEO Coaching International Summit is that I wanted our clients and friends to have a forum where they could learn about what’s next. Our speakers have talked about new products, emerging markets, outside-the-box problem solving, and some really mind-blowing tech.
Thanks to Cyrus Sigari, we can add flying cars to our list. And if you think that sounds far-fetched, think again. According to Cyrus, heavy hitters like Google, Uber, Boeing, and Airbus are all battling to be first to market with small, affordable aircraft that are as easy to drive as a car. This space is going to explode sooner rather than later, and the implications for all businesses could be huge.
But I’m so proud that our Summit is also a place where CEOs can learn from leaders like Cyrus, whose personal story is maybe more amazing than the work he’s doing. His family fled the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and as he grew up in the States, Cyrus fell in love with aviation. He learned to fly while he was a teenager and started his company right out of college.
Then, a series of personal challenges led Cyrus on a spiritual journey that’s helped him redefine everything he does in business and in life.
In this presentation, recorded live at the 6th Annual CEO Coaching International Summit held in Santa Monica, CA, Cyrus Sigari talks about how he arrived at his Most Transformative Purposes, and how all CEOs have to step outside of their businesses if they truly want to make BIG happen.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights on Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Growth from Cyrus Sigari
1. Live an interesting life.
No successful leader is all business all the time. Being passionate about pursuits outside of the office is a BIG point of emphasis in our coaching best practices.
Cyrus Sigari has developed seven rules that he says have helped him to practice, “the art of being interesting and living an interesting life:”
- Live an interesting life – take risks and do hard things.
- Be curious – being curious is a practice. Practice!
- Living and sharing about an interesting life will be inspiring to others.
- If we inspire others, we have the opportunity to learn their dreams.
- If we help others achieve their dreams our relationship strength will skyrocket.
- It’s STUPID to be humble. Every one of us should be proud. Poor storytellers just haven’t practiced enough.
- SHARE – it takes practice – so let’s practice!
What I love about Cyrus’ rules is that they encompass so many of the things that I’ve seen turn good leaders running good companies in to GREAT leaders running BIG companies. If you’re living by Cyrus’ list, you’re always learning. You’re not afraid to push yourself outside your comfort zone and set some Big, Hairy Audacious Goals. And you’re setting the kind of example that will inspire the people working with you to test their own limits as well.
2. Follow your passions, even if they lead you away from your business.
Seeing “Top Gun” after his family moved to the States sparked Cyrus’ interest in flying. And despite all the social challenges his Muslim family faced, Cyrus pursued that interest with real passion.
“I soloed an airplane at 16,” he says. “I got licensed as 17. I was the youngest commercial pilot and flight instructor in the country at 18, and I got my airline transport pilot license at 23. I was a competitive aerobatic pilot. I also had a dream to be an airline pilot, so I learned how to fly a 747, which was really freaking cool.”
After 26 years of flying and 13 years in the jet sales business, Cyrus Sigari was running his dream company, selling a product he loved to people he loved being around. He had billionaires on speed dial.
And it wasn’t enough.
“My cup was empty,” he remembers. “I couldn’t believe it. I had everything and anything I could possibly want, but I just felt empty inside. And that’s scary when you do all these incredible things and yet you’re still not satisfied.”
Cyrus realized that he had to unplug from his company and spend some time on himself. So he hired a top CEO who could run the business in his absence. He took an inventory of things that were and weren’t helping him in life and tossed out all the negative items.
And then he set out on a sabbatical. He traveled. He attended religious and business retreats. He learned to fly a helicopter. He built a school in Malawi. He completed a 200-mile survival training course in the wilds of Utah.
Some CEOs with their noses stuck on the grindstone might consider Cyrus’ journey indulgent, or a waste of time. But in my experience, these are the same CEOs who don’t take a couple hours every week to exercise, or attend industry events, or leave work early on a Friday to catch their kid’s dance recital. These are the CEOs who end up burned out and left in the dust by business leaders who understand that personal growth and business growth are intertwined.
“I’ve learned so much,” Cyrus says, “and I’m so grateful that I forced myself to take the time to go through this because I have legitimately become a new person. And it’s so easy when you’re running your businesses to just be stuck.”
3. Find your Most Transformative Purpose.
As Cyrus Sigari neared the end of his sabbatical, he started to think about how he could synthesize all his new experiences with his lifelong passions and recharge for a new phase in his career.
“I realized I’ve got to have two Most Transformative Purposes,” he says. “I have to have a spiritual one, then I have to have a physical one. My physical one is to open the skies to all mankind. At 11 years old, I was affected by aviation in a way that has allowed me to see this planet in ways that people could only dream, to meet people that you could only dream about, to experience things you could only dream about. And so I have a passion and dream that every human being on the planet can experience flight in the way that I have, or some version of it. The majority of people on the planet, 7 billion or so, have never been on an airplane before. We are all very, very lucky.”
“Let every person on the planet experience flight” isn’t just a line on a balance sheet. It’s a vision that reminds me of some other BIG mission statements:
“To be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” – Amazon
“Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” – Facebook
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google
Cyrus plans to realize that vision via a new $200 million airspace management firm and an investment fund focused on the future of mobility. Because he had the courage to unplug from his business and reassess what was really important to him, Cyrus was able to discover MTPs that have rejuvenated both him and his business.
1. Unplug. Bill Gates locks himself in a cabin for two weeks every year just to read. Trust me, you can hit the gym 3 days a week and take your spouse out to dinner.
2. Push yourself. Following your passions and interests outside of work creates a more adventurous mindset that will push your business forward too.
3. Find your MTP. I don’t care what you’re good at. What can you be GREAT at? What can you do that will have the biggest impact on your business, your community, and your life?
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 350 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.