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Carol Martin

Corporate Flight Attendant

Pebble Beach, CA

I just couldn't make the mental leap of how I could possibly follow my passions to be really successful.

Truly successful people say the key to success is to follow our passions. I started hearing it in business school and read it in publications when I was a flight attendant for a commercial airline. Yes, you read that correctly; I never quite fit into a regular mold and after I graduated from college I decided to take a little time and enjoy myself as a flight attendant, much to my parents’ dismay. I just couldn't make the mental leap of how I could possibly follow my passions to be really successful.

I searched for many years. I became an accountant, founded and ran an international nonprofit, volunteered when I could and flew all around the world meeting thousands of people. All the while, my true passion was taking shape, and one day on the way to work from Kalispell, Montana, to Salt Lake City, Utah, I sat next to another flight attendant who told me about the world of private aviation. That's when I really leaned in.

Being a flight attendant on private and corporate jets is the perfect job for me! It requires independence, ingenuity, integrity and management skills that I had but weren't being used in commercial airlines. I also loved fine culinary training and etiquette protocols and procedures.

When I took my specialized safety training for private jets, the final piece fell in place. I learned about an accident in which the humans on the plane survived but the dog on board did not. I’m a huge animal lover and advocate and this story stopped me dead in my tracks. I had many years of safety training but hadn't considered the animals in the cabin, and I could not understand why there were no safety provisions for them, so I leaned in a little further.

I knew the clients I had who traveled with their pets thought of them as family members, and they deserved the same safety considerations as their humans. I wasn’t sure if others would care as much as I did about this, but I knew I would feel better knowing that I could help all of my passengers if an accident happened. I developed the first standardized safety protocols for pets flying on private jets and in the cabin, covering everything from turbulence to bracing positions and evacuation. I also got trained in pet first aid and CPR.

Next I developed a business identity based on my story and how my innovations can satisfy a client’s unmet needs for safety protocols. I studied search engine optimization and social media integration and worked to get the word out about what I was doing. The best part was that I enjoyed every minute of it because I loved what I was doing!

Here’s the key that anyone can take away from this: Start with what you know how to do well. Then think about what you love to do most. Finally, examine where there is an unmet need in the workforce combining your skills and your passions to satisfy that unmet need.

Think in terms of how you can help others. Lots of folks are out there with his or her hand out these days and it gets exhausting for those doing the hiring. Plan to do plenty of giving for a while to show how you can help and why life can be better with you around. Don’t wait, leaning back in your chair, for the perfect job to find you. Lean in and get up and create the perfect job and take it to others!

HGTV interviewed me about my work and the host said I had the “dream job.” All I could do was agree. When I was a commercial flight attendant, if someone had asked me to combine my passions into one dream job I would have come up with: Flight Attendant on Private Jets, Specializing in Traveling with Animals!

Then I would have laughed and said, but of course, that’s impossible. Well, it turns out it is possible after all.