Captain Charlie Plumb; There is an Education in Your Problem

person-iconby Edparcaut calender-icon20 Aug, 2021


If you have followed the Inner Edison Podcast for some time now, you probably know that we hold a special place in our hearts for those who sacrifice their lives in the military. 

This podcast was no different. Like the many guests we’ve had before him, Charlie Plumb is an inspiration for anyone, especially those who have served in the armed forces. 

During the Vietnam War, Plumb served as a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, he was shot down during a mission in Hanoi and spent six years (2,103 days, to be more exact) as a prisoner of war. During that time, he had to find ways to find hope in his experience. 

These exercises in survival taught him essential skills that served him well, not only as a POW but also as a businessman upon his return from the war. 

His Edison Moments In Business

After returning from the war, he opened up a travel agency business. He started the business because he loved to travel. Being in the Navy, he had traveled worldwide and wanted to help others find their escape to paradise. 

He also experienced his own travel bliss while owning his company. He spent time traveling on many cruise ships and vacationed in some of the most remote parts of the world. He skied in the Alps, fished in the Amazon jungle and the Arctic, and went on dozens of free cruises. 

It took him nearly four years to understand that he had lost so much money in the business that he could have paid for all those free trips with the money he lost. It was then he realized that he needed a change. 

I’m No Hero

At the same time, he had gotten a ton of press after coming home from the war that he decided to write a book about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and what he learned from that experience. 

His book was called I’m No Hero

His book did so well that it earned him spots on prestigious speaking circuits. He has spoken to Fortune 500 companies in every state and 26 countries. 

He also started training many companies in leadership. Today he gives presentations about the power of: 

  • Choice
  • Adversity
  • Teamwork
  • Change
  • Empowerment

Through telling his story and the life that he lived in the prison camps of Vietnam, he found purpose and add value to others

What Do Great Leaders Have? 

Some of the leadership skills he shares with business executives worldwide are the same ones he learned as a prisoner with absolutely no rights at all. 

Imagine becoming a leader during a time of complete vulnerability? How do you do that? That is what he shares in his presentations. 

Plumb states there are specific traits you must have to be a great leader. The first is empathy. You must be able to communicate empathy to your workers and for them to believe it sincerely and wholeheartedly. 

The next is trust. You must do what you say you’re going to do. To lose trust takes forever to get back. Trust is a vital issue if you’re going to be a great leader. 

Another is communication. It’s a challenge these days because it’s easy to falter when communicating with people two and three generations above or below you. You must form a baseline. You have to communicate with your mind and your heart. 

Finally, you have character. People of great character understand personable accountability. In the business world, it’s about owning your mistakes and learning from them.

Adversity Is a Horrible Thing to Waste

Charlie Plumb states if you believe there is value in the adversity you are presented with, you’ll learn and grow from it. 

He says that you don’t have to go to a prisoner of war camp to learn this, you can find value in your struggles if you choose to grow and learn from every difficult time in life.

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