Lohrenz delivers powerful keynote message

Oct. 19, 2021

The ARA Show™ kicked off Monday, Oct. 18, with the Keynote Session featuring Carey Lohrenz — the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy and a pioneer in military aviation — who delivered a powerful message. The event, held at Resorts World in Las Vegas, was sponsored by ARA Insurance.

The session started with Tony Conant, American Rental Association (ARA) CEO, welcoming the equipment and event rental industry back together for the first time since the last show in February 2020.

“Welcome to The ARA Show 2021. I’ve been waiting for a while to say those words. It’s so good to be here,” Conant said. He spoke about the strength of the industry and what ARA and its volunteer leaders have done to help ARA members navigate and make it through the pandemic. This includes Clean. Safe. Essential., an annual program focusing on safety, along with other training, the formation of the Economic Bridge Coalition and creation of social media groups that helped members share stories and advice throughout the pandemic.

The event continued with messages from Beth Hoff Blackmer, president, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., and ARA chair; Dan Hooks, CERP, president, Party Reflections, Charlotte, N.C., and ARA president; and the introduction of the 2021 ARA Board of Directors. That was followed by Rachel O’Brien, president, J & F Reddy Rents, St. Louis Park, Minn., and chair of the ARA Insurance board, who introduced Lohrenz.

Lohrenz spoke of leadership, integrity, tenacity and focus to achieve goals. She shared some of her own experiences including overcoming obstacles, mindsets and stereotypes about a female fighter pilot.

Lohrenz said she learned the value of teamwork while in the cockpit of a $45 million jet reaching speeds up to 500 mph. As she operated and navigated 350 switches and three different radios, it brought her an appreciation of how crucial it is to work together.

“It takes an entire high-performing team to get this done,” Lohrenz told the audience.

Lohrenz gave examples of teamwork, but also said as individuals, “we have to figure out what we are going to focus on, what is our purpose. You are the leadership catalyst.”

To find that purpose, she said to focus on what matters and have discipline. “You lose sight? You lose the fight!” was one of the quotes she displayed on the screen behind her along with “Focus on what matters.”

In her military training, Lohrenz said she had to learn to adapt and overcome along with thinking under stress.

As for the fear of failure, Lohrenz said it is a universal feeling, but added when you’re afraid to fail and don’t do something, you potentially pass up an opportunity.

“Don’t be afraid to fail,” she said.

She added to try and do one thing every day that scares you and to try, “something that moves that performance needle.”

She also spoke about taking the time everyday to debrief.

“If you want to figure out quickly what’s working and what’s not so that we can incorporate it into tomorrow, this is how we don’t leave success to chance,” Lohrenz said. “And, the debrief is always going to be about figuring out how we get to a place that’s more valuable than we are right now.”

“And, the debrief is not about who is right. The debrief is what is right, and we get better at this. Because everytime we show up, we get a little more strength, a little more courage and a little more confidence to work through whatever tsunami might come at us the next day,” she said.

She said to honor your passions and not wait for an invitation to make a difference.

Ken Followill, RentalMax, Carol Stream, Ill., said he enjoyed Lohrenz’s presentation.

“She’s somebody that made a difference on a big stage,” Followill said. “She did something that affected the world. She’s someone you can respect and aspire to be like.”

Carol Knight, Knights Tent and Party Rental, Pontiac, Mich., said Lohrenz’s presentation was amazing. It was great. I think just more of getting a plan for the day and coming back and debriefing was great advice. A lot of times we’re running around so fast. I’m in the party rental part of it. You’re just trying to get the job done and not coming back and looking at everything again. That, to me, was a good takeaway.”

Since leaving the Navy, Lohrenz has worked with thousands of business leaders, from Fortune 500 executives to middle managers, helping them and their teams flourish. In her book, “Fearless Leadership: High Performance Lessons From the Flight Deck,” she discusses three fundamentals a leader must possess to exhibit fearlessness: courage, tenacity and integrity.

Lohrenz graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she was a varsity rower, also training at the pre-Olympic level. After graduation, she attended the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School before starting flight training and her naval career. She is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration in Strategic Leadership.

Don’t miss the latest news from the equipment and event rental industry. Click here to subscribe to Rental Pulse and Rental Management magazine.

An official publication of the American Rental Association.
Produced by Rental Management Group. Copyright © 2021 Rental Pulse all rights reserved