Confessions of the First Female F-14 Fighter Pilot Carey Lohrenz – Episode 49

Today’s episode features Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy. How did we land this amazing guest, right? Phil Gerbyshak, the better looking half of this show, has known Carey through their work together at NSA (National Speakers Association). Since we love talking about fear and failure, what better person to join us for this conversation about “shutting up” than the person who pioneered women in aviation?!

Hold on to your seats, this is going to be the ride of your life.


Watch the show (uncensored & unedited)
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Share Some Shut Up Love –> There was this back chatter about women going to combat. I had this mindset: The jet doesn’t know the difference. @CareyLohrenz #shutupshow (click to tweet)

Fun Facts:

  • Carey Lohrenz is the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy
  • Carey is a fellow member of NSA (National Speakers Association) with Phil
  • Carey is a Leadership expert and keynote speaker
  • Carey helped Berni deal with a fear moment through a DM on Twitter after Berni tweeted about the dog peeing on her purse
  • Carey graduated from UW-Madison, in the same state where Berni and Phil currently live

Defining Shut Up Moment:

ON BEING THE FIRST FEMALE F-14 FIGHTER PILOT: You have to be one of the top performers to get to that spot. The  whole time I was going through that–it takes about 2 years–there was this back chatter about women going to combat and is the country ready for that. It was a very visible position to be in. I had this mindset of “The jet doesn’t know the difference.” As a country and as a business, we need to put the best person in the seat. So that’s what my goal was, to be the strongest aviator that I could be so if the spot opened up, my performance was at a level that, if I was assigned to the Strike Fighter pipeline, no one could ever question and say “She got it because she was a girl” or “We needed a chick to fill it.” I worked my tail off to get there.

ON BEING TOLD SHE WOULD NEVER WALK: When I was born, my hips were not fully developed. The doctors told my parents that I’d probably never walk. I would be a cripple for my entire life and I wouldn’t be able to achieve a lot. My mom would wear white to match my full body cast so, as I sit on her lap, people wouldn’t notice it as much. I had this beginning of  people telling me nonstop, “You’re never gonna do it” and there was a little something in me that clicked and said “Really? Just watch me.” I worked really hard to prove people wrong and, more importantly, myself worthy.

Shut Up Tips:

If you want something big, you gotta show up big. – Phil

The ones who say you can’t do something are actually the ones who are afraid you’re going to be successful at it. – Carey

Silencing the critics is one of the hardest lessons we can learn in life. It bridges the gap of maturity. Once we’re able to silence them, that’s when we start breaking through the performance barriers. – Carey

When people say “Gosh you were lucky, weren’t you scared?” Well, hell yeah you’re scared all the time. It’s being able to get your gear on and step into that zone of discomfort. To go for it any way and get knocked on the nose a little bit. – Carey

The actualization that the difference between who you are and what you will become or what you want to do is decided in the actions you are willing to take on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s not pretty. More often than not it’s not easy and that’s when people back off. – Carey

We forget that from the time you decide you want to be an Olympic swimmer or a fighter pilot or a small business owner to the time that actually happens successfully, there’s this huge learning stage. It’s that point we have to stay committed and not give up on our hopes and dreams. That’s where you separate yourself form the pack. – Carey

You have to be willing to dare greatly. You have to have big dreams. – Phil

Do I have some regrets? Heck yeah. But what I would have regretted more was not at least trying and with all my effort. – Carey

You have to break it down into little chunks. You take it step by step by step. The people who quit are the ones who think “I can’t do this for another 3 months.” You have to tell yourself I can do this for one more minute. I can make it to lunch time. All I gotta do is make it to 3 o’clock. – Carey

Keep picking up the phone. If you stop at 10, number 11 is the one who might say yes to you. – Carey

What are the next steps to move my performance needle or my team’s performance needle? You don’t have to solve the whole problem today normally, just take a step in the right direction. – Carey

It’s hard to look in the mirror and say “I think I might be the problem here.” Ask for unbiased advice. Be willing to listen, take it on-board and decide what next steps are to move past that. – Carey

The distance between aspiration and awesome is action. Take it to the next step. – Phil

Knowing you’re going to be okay and somebody out there probably has it worse than you… understand the expectation that things won’t always be perfect. Failure must be a part of that process but you must be able to learn from those things, integrate them and keep moving. This is the part where resiliency comes in. – Carey

You’re probably going to have 50 things get in your way before you even reach a modicum of success. -Carey

When you become complacent is when the ninjas start coming in at you. Complacency kills. It’s dangerous because it’s going to keep you there. – Carey

I lost good friends of mine where I thought I couldn’t breathe for days. But being able to identify it and not give it so much power where it takes over your life and that you grow from that experience is the key to understand the fear of failure and resiliency; you weave these things together. It’s about being happy where you are and taking time to be grateful. – Carey

Carey Recommends:

Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Find Carey:

Carey is working on her first book expected to launch in August or Sept 2014! It will be about fearless leadership, what it takes to move through fear of failure and achieve things people tell us we can’t do.

Check out Carey Lohrenz on her web site at