My Thoughts on NBAA13

Author By Jim Lara

Last month, many of Gray Stone Advisors’ clients, affiliates and industry colleagues had the opportunity of attending the 2013 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA13) Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition held in Las Vegas.

This year, three team members represented the practice: Darlene Lara (Business Manager), Kim DiMetro (Strategic Marketing Manager), and myself (Principal).

We certainly missed the presence of our team members Steve Brechter (Senior Advisor-Operations) who was home recuperating from pneumonia, and Jay Povlin (Senior Advisor-Marketing & Analytics) who had a schedule conflict.

Now that we’ve had time to reflect on NBAA13, I wanted to share some of our insights with you.

Pre-NBAA13—Monday, Oct. 21

Single Pilot Safety Standdown
As a single pilot of a Beechcraft Baron and King Air, I took great pride in partnering with Jay Van Der Werff of Garmin to present a 1-hour talk focusing on the impact of technology in single pilot operations. We asked the group, “Is technology our friend or our foe?” And, the answer, of course, is either. The determining factor is the pilot in command!

For anyone who operates as a single pilot for business or pleasure, I encourage you to attend the next Single Pilot Safety Standdown (sponsored by Cessna) on Monday, October 20, 2014 in Orlando.

To further explain the success of the Single Pilot Standdown, I received this email message on Oct.30th from NBAA’s Operations Service Group Specialist Brian Koester:

“This year’s event was the largest ever with 101 registered attendees, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Multiple attendees pulled Ed [Bolen] aside during the Coffee Social on Tuesday to tell him how great all of you did. One attendee responded with email feedback, ‘Brilliant production overall and give you 5 of 5 stars!'”

Aviation Personnel International’s 42nd Annual Shrimp & Champagne Celebration
This invitation-only industry gathering hosted by API’s Sheryl Barden is HANDS DOWN the best networking you can do in 2 hours during the course of any given year.

It’s simply a can’t-miss event at NBAA, and if you’re not on the invitation list and supporting API as a client or candidate, you should be. In fact, you should also consider becoming an API Registered Professional if you aren’t already in their vast database. As I always say, it’s best totalk about getting a job while you already have one.


Day 1—Tuesday, Oct. 22

NBAA Safety Town Hall
As the outgoing NBAA Safety Committee Secretary, I moderated this year’s Town Hall where we had what seemed like three times the attendance over last year! Truly amazing. The topic was our Top 10 Safety Focus Areas as identified by the Safety Committee. We also had many representatives from the various regional operator groups to ensure we are focused on the correct issues.

Also, as a side note, the committee deployed brand new polling technology during the meeting to survey the audience and display their live responses on the screen. The interaction seemed well received so you may see this interactivity at future presentations!


Day 2—Wednesday

Creating High Performance Business Aviation Teams Through Transformational Leadership

Gray Stone was also invited to present a 90-minute educational session on Transformational Leadership,which was available for Certified Aviation Manager credit. Again, we had a great showing with more than 100 attendees! My special thanks to Sheryl Barden of API for pinch-hitting as my co-presenter since Steve was unable to join us. We discussed whether or not each person has what it takes to become a leader.

(News Flash: some people are not meant to lead, and would much rather ‘do’).

We also shared the three requirements of a leader as well as the 10 things to do to implement a leadership culture in your aviation organization.

On an interesting note, one attendee came up to me at the end of the session and said this was the best presentation he attended in the two days at NBAA. That’s excellent feedback!

For those of you who attended the seminar, please feel free to download our complimentary one-page assessment which contains 20 questions to determine your leadership style. It will also help you gauge whether you’re up to the challenge of leading a team (vs.doing the work). If you need the link, please email me a request.


Day 3 – Thursday

With our three speaking gigs behind us, on the third day of NBAA I was able to spend a little time walking the exhibit floor to see industry colleagues. When I was on the floor, traffic was very light. There were a lot of exhibitors talking to one another.


Closing thoughts:

  • It appeared that exhibit traffic was slower than usual, but traffic in the sessions was standing-room-only. If you were upstairs in the sessions, that was the place to be for much of Day 1 and Day 2.
  • The educational content this year was excellent, although I find some presenters still need help keeping the audience alert and engaged.
  • There were several sessions our team would have liked to attend. On Day 1 and Day 2, there were up to seven sessions going concurrently. None of the GREAT sessions were offered multiple times so difficult choices had to be made.

A big ‘aha’ for me was the recognition and brand awareness that Gray Stone is achieving. It was amazing tome how many folks complimented us on “The Advisor” newsletter as well as the content on our website.

Overall, we had many very high quality meetings at NBAA. I returned to Knoxville exhausted, but with a smile.

Your Turn

If you were able to attend NBAA13, how did it go? If you exhibited, how was traffic at your booth? If you attended the static display, what did you think? Which speaking sessions were your favorites? Please share your feedback in the comments below!