Astronaut, Fighter Pilot, Test Pilot, Humanitarian
Having enjoyed an illustrious career that has cemented Colonel Ron Garan’s place as one of the world’s most influential individuals, the iconic father of three is a decorated NASA astronaut, fighter pilot and test pilot, a humanitarian, and a social entrepreneur.
As part of a select group of individuals who have been fortunate enough to see the world from space, Ron champions his “orbital perspective” message to improve life on earth. Ron is celebrated not just for his research in space but also for his humanitarian contribution to life on earth.
Ron has spent 178 days in space and has traveled more than 71 million miles during 2,842 orbits of our planet. He flew on both the US space shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, where he accomplished four spacewalks. Ron also spent eighteen days at the bottom of the ocean during a research mission held in the world’s only undersea research lab, Aquarius.
Later, Ron was assigned to the US Agency for International Development, leading the Unity Node project. The project’s task was to develop a universal, open-source platform, enabling humanitarian organizations to work toward mutual goals. In 2007, Ron co-founded Manna Energy Limited. Created with the goal of leveraging the carbon market to finance humanitarian projects, Manna is the first organization in the world to register a United Nations Clean Development Mechanism carbon credit program for water treatment.
From representing Manna as one of ten global innovators in the field of water purification during the inaugural Launch Water Forum to his role as advisor to the social business movement, Ron continues to work toward a cleaner, safer, and more peaceful planet. Ron’s breakthrough book, The Orbital Perspective : Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles, is published by Berrett-Koehler. His latest book is Floating in Darkness: A Journey of Evolution.
Leadership & Risk Management
Ron’s strategy allowed him to effectively navigate risk while flying in combat, while pushing the envelope as a test pilot, and during two space missions and four spacewalks. Ron also shares how he has applied his strategy to risk in his many entrepreneurial endeavors. Key Takeaways: • Risk is the price we pay for a greater benefit. • Maintaining the “tried and true” in rapidly changing environments can be the riskiest decision. • Where’s the way out if everything goes south?
Finding Unity in Divisive Times
Highly engaging and inspiring, Ron uses the International Space Station and many other examples of profound collaboration to drive home the incredible power of being able to set aside our differences and work together toward a shared goal. Key Takeaways: • Work as one team to achieve overarching goals. • Break down silos in your organization. • Build a foundation of trust.
Embracing Change & Technology
The business landscape has been changed in part by positive things like revolutionary technical innovations, powerful new ways to reach consumers and customers, an explosion of collaborative tools, and many other positive trends that together are rewriting the fundamentals of business. Change is also caused by the disruption and uncertainty all around us. We are living through very uncertain times, and many factors impacting our business operations. Change and uncertainty can cause us to shrink and become more conservative in our business approaches, or we can see them as opportunities. In order to successfully capitalize on the opportunities that are all around us, we need to take a holistic approach and strive to see how everything fits together. In today’s climate, the riskiest course of action is to simply continue to do what worked yesterday. Key Takeaways: • Turn problems and challenges into opportunities. • Take advantage of revolutionary new ways to reach customers and consumers. • Zooming out allows us to see who has the pieces of the puzzle and what picture they form.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Business enterprise has the incredible power either to destroy our world by clinging to a two-dimensional, us-versus-them, winner-take-all mind-set at all costs, or to save our world by embracing the reality of the interdependent nature of all things and incorporating a new paradigm of long-term thinking and profound collaboration. Companies that cling to the old models will begin to see themselves being left behind and will have to adapt, evolve, and take on a much more cooperative approach to keep up with the economic growth that true collaboration will spark. Key Takeaways: • Learn how to write corporate social responsibility into the DNA of your organization. • Open and transparent collaboration will fuel tremendous economic growth. • The three-key pillars are: interdependence, profound collaboration, long-term thinking.
Innovation & Planetary Stewardship
We can take an environmentally sustainable business approach while developing new and exciting products and services, creating more jobs, and increasing profitability. Issues such as global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, and biodiversity loss can’t be addressed as stand-alone issues when in reality, they are symptoms of an underlying root problem, which is that we do not see ourselves as planetary. Key Takeaways: • We don’t live on a globe. • Go after the root cause rather than the symptom. • Work with our biosphere, not against it.
Financially sustainable efforts are able to incorporate long-term planning and play the “infinite game” for the benefit of all. Key Takeaways: • People are not one-dimensional; they are motivated by many diverse factors. • We can do well by doing good. • Give your contributions multiple lives: invest and reinvest in self-sufficient efforts.
“Ron’s opening keynote talk perfectly framed the rest of our offsite. True collaboration requires us to step outside of our comfort zones in order to embrace innovative approaches. Ron was able to article the value of our specific function to the rest of the organization, as change happens through people.”
- Gregg School |
“Ron is a tremendous inspiration to our global health students and faculty at Duke. His global perspective and message that ‘nothing is impossible’ resonates with audiences young and old.”
- Duke Global Health Institute |
“Ron Garan delivered the perfect opening keynote to start our conference on mobility. His unique orbital perspective not only inspired our very international and diverse audience, it also put things into perspective, big time. I would recommend Ron for virtually any kind of event where people wish to be inspired.”
- EV Box |
“Uniquely and intellectually engaging. Ron has a way of sharing his experiences in space and on earth without bravado, but instead with a unique humility and perspective about how we can all participate in making the world a better place. He is truly inspirational and it is impossible to walk away without having engaging conversations and a new view of the fragile oasis we all share.”
- Cisco |