Something René Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, said to me in the course of our interview stopped me in my tracks because I recognized myself in what she was saying. I also realized it is true of many who are not only starting their careers but who have reached a plateau. Her message is, in fact, especially important for those who are wondering what their next step will be if they decide they want a second, or even third, act.
“The biggest hurdles to overcome are limitations you put upon yourself, either from doubts or fears or lack of willingness to work hard,” she said. “There are a lot of obstacles in the climb to the top of any industry and aviation is no different. If you are a young woman, many of the obstacles are not men or even other women trying to hold you back.”
Banglesdorf knows this from experience because it is a lesson she learned about herself and it took one of her customers to make her realize it. Before co-founding Charlie Bravo Aviation with her husband, Curt, she never saw herself in a leadership position. Balancing her life as a very involved mom, Banglesdorf toggled back and forth between her work as a marketing specialist and freelance writer for Phillips Publishing and Billing World Magazine.
“I started the company with my husband nine years ago when we decided that we could leave a better legacy by owning our own company than by working for someone else,” she told Runway Girl Network. “I became the CEO when one of our clients recognized my leadership potential and recommended that we seek certification as a woman-led company.”
The move toward certification was strategic, she explained. “It had an unexpected benefit. It forced me to move into the top leadership role. We definitely feel it had a positive impact on the company although it was well outside my comfort zone at the time.”
For Banglesdorf, however, as hard as gaining that certification was, it was only the beginning of her road to becoming the confident CEO she is now.
“While I had a lot to learn and more growing pains than I care to remember, becoming successful as a CEO has been a great experience,” she said. “I had to take some chances. I wasn’t shy about graciously asking others for help. And I push the boundaries of my comfort zone every day. You have to get comfortable with the idea that true leadership, whether you are leading a team, leading a company, or leading change in an industry, always will push you outside of your comfort zone.”
In addition to morphing into her new leadership persona, it also opened her to a new world, one in which she became part of the solution. Government contractors are required to do a certain amount of business with minority or woman-owned companies, while others – many of which own planes – have set goals or quotas for supplier diversity. Her work then became a catalyst for improving diversity in the business. Today, Banglesdorf pays it forward by sitting on the board of the International Aviation Women’s Association and contributes her leadership expertise as a member of the President’s Council of the National Air Transportation Association.
She has also taken those lessons and turned them into a book about breaking through mediocrity to achieve success. Her inspiration for Crushing Mediocrity, 10 Ways to Rise Above The Status Quo is a simple quote from a man.
“If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known,” Poet Matthew Arnold wrote in the 19th Century.
That quote, is not only an inspiration for those rising through their careers but for our times.
Take chances, graciously ask for help and push the boundaries of our comfort zones. These are the keys to success in business and in life.